And we’re off!
The 2017 Major League Baseball season began last Sunday, which means the long, grueling undertaking that is fantasy baseball officially is underway. This time of year is when fantasy hopes spring eternal — when you predict a championship run after your big first week or find a positive trend despite an underwhelming opening stretch.
So, what’s real and what’s fantasy after Week 1? Let’s take a look in the mirror. NESN.com is running a year-long “experts league” on Yahoo! Sports, featuring a head-to-head points format and 10 teams: eight of our finest “experts” and two lucky readers determined to knock them down a few pegs. Here’s what we learned in the first seven days.
1. Home runs are king. There obviously are a ton of scoring formats out there, but most favor the long ball, including ours, which awards four points per dinger. No owner benefited more from homers in Week 1 than Mike Cole, who was this week’s overall high scorer thanks to an impressive 15 jacks produced by his lineup. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy was his only hitter who didn’t go deep at least once, with guys like Nolan Arenado, Freddie Freeman and Miguel Sano (two homers each) leading his scoring charge. Home run hitters often have high strikeout rates, but Mike’s team proved the upside of loading up on power.
2. Horses are better than ponies. Our league rewards pitchers who eat innings and rack up wins. Case in point: Ricky Doyle’s team, whose trio of aces — Noah Syndergaard, Jake Arrieta and Danny Duffy — posted a combined 39 innings pitched and four wins in six total starts to power him to a Week 1 win. No matter your league’s format, it pays to own at least one or two aces who at the very least will pitch deep into games on a consistent basis. If you’re lacking in that department, it’s worth exploring the trade market.
3. Don’t overreact! It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Cincinnati Reds pitcher Brandon Finnegan tossed a gem in his first start, leading Andre Khatchaturian to scoop him up on the waiver wire. Finnegan then rewarded Andre with a huge clunker in his second outing Monday, walking four batters while lasting just two innings. There will be flashes in the pan all season, and a good owner’s job is to sift through the riff-raff and find out who’s actually the real deal. That’s easier said than done.
4. Double-check your league settings. Our league got off to an inauspicious start, as our trusted commissioner (yours truly) accidentally placed the league settings on weekly roster edits, preventing owners from changing their lineups on a daily basis during Week 1. The settings have been fixed for Week 2, but Andre felt the full pain of a static lineup. His pitching staff is devastated by early-season injuries, and without the power to bring in fresh arms, he easily finished as the league’s low scorer in Week 1. I would say I owe him one, but that’s what he gets for drafting David Price in the seventh round.
Thumbnail photo via Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports Images