FNTSY FIGHTNETWORK ROTOEXPERTS

Valuing Starling Marte, Carlos Gomez, Dan Haren And Michael Saunders

STARLING’S GOLD

Sometimes being an excellent salesman can come back to haunt you. In Fantasy, that is, when you’re working on commission it’s rarely a negative. But I outdid myself this preseason hyping Starling Marte, and that’s not a solipsistic statement, it’s one that could have potentially destroyed my Fantasy team.

If you’re lucky enough to have been bestowed the honor of Fantasy “expert” – a term that is about as legitimate as a PhD from “The Intelligence Institute of Texas” or being a “vice principal” – you end up playing in oodles of industry leagues, so many that they all just sort of blend together. I pick a few to really concentrate on, and basically make sure I have no one on the DL in my starting lineup in the others.

Of course, I’m trying to win them all, but eventually that’s just too taxing, and I’m strictly anti-effort. Really, I’m no different than anyone else; all these leagues are just white noise compared to the one I do with my friends. That’s the one I truly want need to win. Not for monetary gains, but for sheer bragging rights. We tried collecting money the inaugural season, but you’d be surprised how little disposable income freshmen have – any surplus in the bank account was exclusively reserved for the Five Cs: Cocktails, Coffee, Cigarettes, Cabs & Condoms. And most of that money came from sacrificing required books, my mother and essential meals – mainly breakfast, the most important of all!

It doesn’t matter now, though, what began as a simple league of ten pals over a decade ago – ripe with moronic categories like fielding errors and singles – has evolved into a 16-man death match. And it means significantly more today, now that 15 of us have jobs and half have kids – it’s our only escape. Well, that and Vegas. What’s that last guy doing, you ask? I guarantee he’s sitting in his parents’ basement either playing Call of Duty or figuring out what to name his new bong, and whichever activity he’s partaking in, it certainly involves heavy Dorito consumption. Once a day I have a Trading Places type nightmare involving he and I, then I quickly snap back to reality and go check the frozen concentrated orange juice futures.

The main drawback writing about Fantasy is that none of my league mates feel comfortable trading with me anymore. They inherently assume I’m rooking them in every deal. Which, in fairness to them, is what I’m trying to do, so I have to transform into a common huckster if I’m going to swap my delicious doorstop for their crummy old Danish. And when I exited the auction with Jedd Gyroko as my starting third baseman, I had some serious shilling ahead of me.

In my infinite wisdom, I decided to shop Marte around the league. I bought him for a dollar in hour four of the auction, mainly because he had an opportunity to be a five-category contributor, if he took the leap this year that is. So when I received a DL’d at the time Chase Headley in exchange for his services, it was preceded by about two hours of pontification about how Marte had legitimate Top 20 upside. I thought I was lying to the guy.

As it turns out, I really should have just believed my own dogma. While I still feel like Headley was terrific return, at the time, for Marte it looks like I may have given up the breakout star of 2013 before he ever played a game for my hypothetical baseball team.

Now, I’d love to transition to how I think Marte’s start is a total fluke and how advanced stats show there’s simply no way for his current production to sustain itself, but I can’t. I’ve gone all Jonestown on him. Maybe it’s just extreme seller’s remorse talking, but besides his BABIP assisted .325 average, the numbers look totally legit. The spike in his Isolated Power (.203 from .180) is consistent with his final season at Triple-A, the bump in his HR/FB rate is only three percent – something to be expected from a maturing player – and while his steals are up, he’s not actually running any more than he has in previous years, he’s just not getting thrown out as often. It’s far too early to make a determination on whether that will persist, but it appears Marte has the green light to go whenever he damn pleases, so unless you’re league counts “net steals” all that matters is that he keeps running.

Right now, Marte is a Top 5 player, not at his position, overall. Will he end the season so highly rated? No, probably not. Remember, he only had 167 major league plate appearances coming into the season – an extended slump shouldn’t come as a stunner. But there’s no reason to think he won’t wind-up among the league leaders in runs and steals, and if he can just remain slightly above average in the remaining three categories, a Top 25 finish is almost a certainty. So while everyone is eager to sell high, you be the one who’s buying-high.

Then go purchase some Doritos.

SEGA OR NES?

Through my random daily interneting, a came across this version of Drive told through the prism of glorious 8-bit SEGA graphics. You’ll notice not much happens, besides an awesome early-90s synth version of College & Electric Youth’s “A Real Hero”, but that goes hand in hand with the film. Since nothing happens in it after the first five minutes either.

That was Drive for  SEGA. Here’s the NES version. It took 30 years, but SEGA finally put one in the win column.

FANTASY TEAM ALCHEMY

Michael Saunders swiped 21 bags and cracked 19 home runs last season. Even after a DL stint this year, he’s still on pace for 22 HR and 27 SB. There’s no explanation to why a legit 20/20 guy’s available in so many leagues, outside of no one staying up to watch/caring about the Mariners, rendering them oblivious to his production. And, as a bonus, he’s Canadian, so he’s bound to be a positive influence in your clubhouse – gotta have that Fantasy team chemistry! Do yourself a solid and go pick him up immediately. That is all.

GOMEZ THE MIGHTY

I’ve garnered a reputation for seemingly always being down on every player, which isn’t true, but for whatever reason I do tend to write and talk about players I don’t like a lot. So it’s an understandable position. But eventually, you have to buy into certain guys or you’re never going to be satisfied with anyone on your Fantasy Team.

When I was sorting outfielders for our preseason rankings I was flying through, eventually coming to Carlos Gomez and it gave me pause. Where should he go? So I went and took a third glance at his stats, especially what did from July on last season, and just felt it wasn’t a fluke. Why? He was a former top prospect, who had been seeing inconsistent playing time, and then something seemed to click. So I dug into the advanced stats to see if there were some weird aberrations at play. Nope. Gomez just took the leap. So at worst, he still had 40 steal upside, and if the power held he was a Top 10 outfielder being drafted outside the Top 30, which still seemed like good value. That’s how he wound up inside my Top 25 at OF, which would be eight places higher than the next closest RotoExpert – shout out Dr. Roto! Now, like Starling Marte, he’s not going to end up as a Top 5 overall player, but if he can keep his average in the .290 -.300 range by the end of the season he’s definitely Top 10 at his position.

HAREN THE UNDERRATED

Thats what she said.

Since I’m giving myself a Barry Horowitz pat on the back with Gomez, I feel obligated to mention that I was the only ranker to have Dan Haren inside the Top 20 of starting pitchers. In fact, I was just one of two with the Nats righty inside the Top 30. I liked him a lot. And even though he’s struggled over the first month, I still do.

You’re probably saying, “Pat, YOU’VE LOST IT PAL!!!”, to which I would respond, “that happened ages ago” or issue the ultra-confusing counter, “gotta have it to lose it”; either way, it doesn’t apply with Haren. While he’s striking out significantly fewer batters per nine than his career rate (6.68 K/9 from 7.59 K/9 lifetime), the rest of his numbers are fairly encouraging; all he needs to do is give a cease and desist to the long ball. Historically, Haren is around league average in HR/9 – career 1.07 coming into the year – but that number has hit DefCon 1 in 2013, rising to 1.95 HR/9. Could it persist at such an elevated level? Sure, but it’s unlikely. But, even in his laborious 2012 season, during which it seemed like there was a moon-rocket every fifth pitch, his final tally was a less than impressive, but not egregiously bad – 1.43 HR/9. And with his improved command (1.39 BB/9), a BABIP (.330 to career .291) that’s certainly going to fall and a strand rate (69.7 LOB%) that sure to rise; the time is now to target Haren. He probably won’t achieve the lofty heights I set for him before the season, but he has the proper amalgamation of division, ballpark, lineup and talent to thrust him back into the Top 30 SP conversation. I’d say he’s a buy-low, but he’s been dropped in so many leagues that you can probably just scoop him off waivers, stop reading and go check, RIGHT NOW.

SERIOUS SLAPSTICK

I’m going light on the Mad Men this week, only because instead of writing anything insightful or witty on the topic I’ve been watching Pete Campbell set a new record at the GIFs Olympics for the last two days.

The new RotoExperts Daily Clubhouse has all you need to win big every night in Daily Fantasy Baseball – expert picks, tools to identify hot and bargain players, plus official lineups and podcasts/radio shows just prior to game time! Don’t set your lineups without visiting the Daily Clubhouse first. Then set your winning rosters on DraftKings.

About the author: Pat Mayo (@ThePME) writes “The FLEXPERT”, the reigning Fantasy Sports Writing Association award winner for Football Series of the Year. Pat led all writers with five nominations in 2012: Baseball Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year, Baseball Series of the Year & Baseball Article of the Year.

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