Foosball is over! Soon we will exit our collective spiritual hibernation and return to the impossibly glorious world of baseball. It's time to consider the questions that really matter: Will little Juan be raising this trophy in Chavez Ravine come October? Will Dontrelle once again pee in the streets of Miami? Will Sydney Ponson punch another judge? Oh, and how do I win my fantasy league? Well, we're glad you asked. Let us, dear friends, begin!
Tonight after work (someone's got to earn enough to pay all the Lion In Oil chimney sweepers), I sojourned to Borders to look at fantasy baseball books and magazines. Unfortunately my desired quarry -- Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster 2007 -- was not to be found, but I ordered it and it should be in within the week. While browsing the bevy of fantasy baseball magazines -- forgive me, but first we must have an aside. Can we do that? Thank you. Here is the aside: the irrefutable sign of man's primitive nature is that we cannot help but stare at magazines like FHM (which is discontinuing American publication -- should we mourn?), Maxim, and the like. In fact, I would put forth that these magazines attract our eyes even more than their x-rated ilk because they are so brazen, so exposed, and virtually part of the mainstream. Like any hot female, they tempt our eyes with an unshakable magnetism. Some men look occasionally, some stare, some pick them up and leaf through the pages and scratch and sniff. But all heterosexual men are drawn. It is something we cannot ignore. We are animals. End aside.
Now, let us continue. If you browse your local newsstand, you will see numerous fantasy baseball magazines. Some of them will be recognized and respected brands like The Sporting News. Others will claim to be the number one rated, to have particular inside information, obscure Bill Jamesian statistics, the ultimate player projections, or to be from some fantasy guru, a 28-year old fantasy maverick who has won his Sandbox league for the last eight years and lives in his parents' basement where he sleeps on a bed formed from the Collected Works of Buster Olney. All of these magazines are worthless. They're a waste of money. Don't buy them.
You can plunk down $5 on a mag or think you're outdoing your buddies by buying the whole rack, but in the end, this information will simply not help very much. These magazines pad their pages by including the statistics of every single major leaguer, many of whom will have as much fantasy impact as Rich Garces' latest diet. (Sorry, Rich, it had to be someone.) Then there are the lists of auction values, which are mildly useful if you have an auction league, position rankings, and some sleepers/busts/breakout players. Most of this information is available online for free or for a nominal fee: ESPN.com, ESPN Insider, CNNSI, The Sporting News, Rotonews (where this writer was once a humble beat reporter), and on and on. The intrepid fantasy player can find all of this information online for free or get a subscription to a site that offers much more content for just a bit more cash.
There are some books I would recommend. These books may require more work on your part. You will be faced with those Bill Jamesian stats I mentioned, terms you may not be familiar with, measurements such as "BABIP" or "LIMA plan" that sound like the names of Brazilian soccer players. But if you spend some time with these books, you will be rewarded. And not only will you better understand what makes a good baseball player and consequently how to better predict performance, but you'll likely have a greater appreciation for the game. Shandler's book should be out now. Also check out Baseball Prospectus, released sometime this month.
In the coming weeks and months at Lion in Oil, we will be bringing you comprehensive fantasy baseball coverage, much of it culled from these books, writers we respect, and hard-earned experience. Why are we doing this? Because we love you, and because I, the HAK, will dominate my fantasy leagues no matter what. There simply is no other way. So stay tuned.
Thank you to the Libberachi for sharing this link to a line of MLB action figures created by Todd McFarlane, creator of Spawn, co-owner of the Edmonton Oilers, and purchaser of multiple baseballs from the '98 home run chase, including Big Mack's 70th, and Bonds' 73rd. The bro likes sports. And guys on 'roids.