Wacky Leagues, Week 1 Recap: Catching Thieves
Baseball is back, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Okay, yeah, baseball was back two weeks ago, but now that we have a full fantasy baseball matchup in the books, it really feels like the season has truly begun. With the end of the first week’s matchup comes the excitement of stealing players from each other in Grand Theft Baseball, the anxiety of what to do with this week’s acquisitions in Beat the Waiver Wire, and all the fun of watching players fail over and over again in WorstBall. I mean, isn’t that the kind of stuff everyone lives for in fantasy baseball?
In case this is your first of my Wacky Leagues article and you have no idea what on Earth is going on, here’s my introduction of the three Wacky Leagues and what they mean. As the season goes on, I’ll be checking in weekly so you all can join me on this adventure into the wild and colorful unknown that is the Wacky Leagues.
Grand Theft Baseball
“I didn’t think exposing 5 players would be all that bad. I was wrong. It is very bad.” These were the words that Dave Cherman wrote to our group chat, before he had to submit his list of five unprotected players that his opponent, Nathan Mills, could steal from. That’s because Dave lost the matchup, 6-4, after his miraculous comeback effort fell just short on Sunday. As late as Wednesday, he was losing 10-0, but perhaps he had an outside chance at taking WHIP or OBP, and at least tie up the score. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be, and with the loss, it meant he had to give up one of his prized possessions to Mills. (This is completely unnecessary to point out, but I think it’s funny: Cherman lost 36 to 13 in home runs. Even if you had stripped Mills’s team down to just three players, Cody Bellinger, Mike Trout, and Khris Davis, he still would have beat Cherman in dingers.)
So Cherman looked over his roster, knowing he would have to choose five players, any one of which Mills could steal from him. Obviously, it wouldn’t be guys like J.D. Martinez or Jacob deGrom, but even the end of his bench was filled with high-upside plays and late-round sleepers that he believed would have productive seasons. He didn’t want to let anyone go. It took him some time, but he finally submitted his list: Matt Shoemaker, Shin-Soo Choo, Stephen Piscotty, Garrett Hampson and Wilson Ramos. I’ll admit, I raised my eyebrow at the last name on the list. Ramos is a catcher, sure, and Cherman is known for his weekly catcher streaming article, but Ramos was a top 100 pick, a guy you could leave in there week in and week out and not be concerned at all about his production. Whatever his reasoning, it seemed like Cherman didn’t want to give up any of his pitching depth, and was more willing to let some hitting go. And even though Mills already had a solid catcher himself in Willson Contreras, he took the highest value, and stole Ramos from Cherman.
It was on Sunday, as teams were starting to put together their unprotected lists, when we realized that we had an issue with the league. We never accounted for what to do with a tie. Surely, we had to do something. We got into this league to steal players from each other, to cut throats and take what’s rightfully ours. One solution quickly rose to the top, the obvious solution in case of a tie: both teams should get to steal a player from each other. It’s only right, that in a league called Grand Theft Baseball, that every matchup ends in a theft. And if we can’t decide which team has earned the right to steal from the other, then doubling up on the theft and making it both teams is the only way to go. It’s a good thing we thought about this, because in Week 1 we had our first tie indeed, between Austin Perodeau and Dan Wist. Perodeau opted to steal Yadier Molina (replacing the failed-to-launch Danny Jansen), making it the second catcher of the week stolen, and Wist retaliated by taking Kyle Schwarber.
Here’s how the rest of the thefts went in Grand Theft Baseball:
Myles Nelson stole Alex Colome from Dave Fisher
Hunter Denson stole Cesar Hernandez from David Fenko
Brandon Lundberg stole Cody Allen from Daniel Port
Mills stole Ramos from Cherman
Perodeau stole Molina, Wist stole Schwarber
As I was looking over how the WorstBall season has started, the best teams, the best players, the surprise performers, one player stood out to me as the perfect epitome of WorstBall: Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Matt Koch. Koch has pitched 7.1 innings across three relief appearances, and has allowed 15 earned runs, 6 home runs, and only has one strikeout to his name. In fact, he has more hit batters (2) than he has strikeouts. Koch is the top-ranked WorstBall player, with 97.33 points, and lives the motto of the league: Be bad. Have playing time.
It was an exciting first week of WorstBall, as everyone wanted to win their first matchup and prove that they could pick out the cream of the crap for their team. Most teams scored between 200 and 300 points, with Scott Chu’s Big League Chu taking the throne as Team of the Week with 344 points. He got quality performances from pretty much every spot in his lineup, and had some real deuces going all week between the aforementioned Koch, Sean Reid-Foley (who only made it through 2 innings in his start against the Orioles), and Reynaldo Lopez. On the other side of the spectrum is Kevin Dalby and his team Elbow Discomfort, who only managed 183 points. He got Snaped hard by his first-round pick Yoan Moncada, who only managed 2.5 points as he actually started living up to his potential as a good hitter. He also suffered from Domingo German‘s Golden Nugget, who scored him -21 points across two strong starts. He’s hoping to bounce back in Week 2, but it may be hard for him to do that, as he will have to face Big League Chu.
With that said, it’s time for our first official WorstBall Weekly Awards! There were a lot of excellent nominees for each award. For Hitter of the Week, we had four different hitters eclipse 70 points scored for their respective teams: Brian Anderson, Giolite Em Up; Willy Adames, Snapes On a Plane; Rougned Odor, BuckFarmersOnly.com; Ian Desmond, Big League Chu. For Pitcher of the Week, there were three starters who hit the 60-point mark: Tyler Anderson, Snapes On a Plane; Matt Harvey, The Dark Knight Falls; Reynaldo Lopez, Big League Chu. As for the Golden Nugget award, which is given to the player that cost an owner the most points, and the Wasted Player award, given to the player that scored the most points but did so either as a free agent or on the bench, each had players that stood head and shoulders above the rest.
Hitter of the Week: Ian Desmond, Big League Chu, 78 points. He went 3-for-f35 at the plate, with 15 strikeouts, 1 GIDP, and 1 error.
Pitcher of the Week: Tyler Anderson, Snapes on a Plane, 67 points. Anderson posted two losses, 11 earned runs, 18 hits, and only 5 strikeouts in 9 innings pitched.
Golden Nuggets: For hitters, the award goes to Aledmys Diaz of You May Be Wright, who scored -11.5 points. They only made the mistake of starting him for one game, and in that game Diaz went 2-for-4 with a home run, 4 RBI, and 2 runs scored. For pitchers, Snapes On a Plane seriously regrets starting Matt Shoemaker, who put up an astounding -49 points. He pitched 14 innings of shutout ball, with 15 strikeouts and two wins to boot. Snapes refuses to give up on his player though, and he’s starting for them again this week.
Wasted Player of the Week: This is a rough one, as these players ranked second and fifth after the first week of matchups. For hitters, it’s Jurickson Profar who proved to be the worst of the worst in Week 1, with 80.5 points scored, the most among any hitter in WorstBall, going 6-for-50 at the plate and committing four errors as well. It’s particularly painful for me to hand out the pitcher award, as it is someone I dropped before the season even started, but Rick Porcello is this week’s winner of the Wasted Player award. He ranks second among all pitchers with 75.33 points, as his 11 earned runs, 16 hits, and 3 home runs allowed across only 7.1 innings did him no favors. Both of these players are owned and starting for their respective teams now.
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Beat the Waiver Wire
So we’re 12 days into the fantasy season now, and my roster feels just as barren now as it did when I started this whole process. I’ve had a few solid pick-ups already, including snagging Brian Dozier as an impatient owner didn’t want to waste the roster spot on him, but I still have eight empty active spots in the lineup (as Yahoo is fond of reminding me about daily). With only three hitters on my roster and six pitchers for much of my first matchup, I wasn’t expecting for anything good to really happen after week 1. In fact, my strategy going into my first matchup was to bench all my hitters as soon as I got a good batting average from them. There’s no at-bat minimums, so if they could have gone 2-for-4 on the first day and given me a .500 batting average, I was ready right then and there to bench them all and take my one category. As for pitching, I was just hoping and praying that I could beat my opponent in saves, as he punted on saves and only had Brad Hand. I was able to pick up Pedro Strop, Mychal Givens, and Shane Greene right away, and hoped that between the three of them, I could beat Hand.
Well, my hitting never got off to a good start. In fact, my team batting average never rose above .250, thanks to a horrific start to the season from Ramon Laureano. Strop and Givens also failed to do anything of value for me, and things were not looking good. I did manage to take saves though, as Greene has been the hottest closer so far and beat Hand by himself in saves, 5-4. Saves wasn’t the only category I won though, I somehow managed to win four categories and only lose my first matchup by a score of 4-6. I had nine active players compared to my opponent’s full roster and yet managed to squeak by with an almost .500 record. Mallex Smith almost won me steals by himself with four, and with one stolen base from Cesar Hernandez and Laureano each, I was able to take that category 6-5. Finally, I’d like to send fruit baskets to Jake Arrieta and Yonny Chirinos, whose efficient innings got my ratios down to the point where I inched past my opponent in both; 2.79 to 2.85 in ERA, 1.10 to 1.11 in WHIP.
I know that I’m not going to be this lucky every week, and I’ll continue to be hoping to win one or two categories for the next few weeks as I build up my roster. But my 4-6 “moral victory” has put the league on edge, with a handful of managers messaging me right away saying that they could see me making the playoffs now. My opponent for the week, who goes by Frankensteezy, said about our matchup, “I definitely underestimated your team. I can’t believe how close this matchup got. It’s pretty incredible you were able to put up that ERA and WHIP with waiver wire fodder. I think after about 3 weeks, when you have a full roster, you’ll be able to start collecting wins. Before the season, I thought you had no shot at even making the playoffs, but now I see there is a path for you to do so.”
Frankensteezy also had said before the season started that a “loss to the waiver wire team would bring shame to my family. I can’t handle that.” Well, you just got past me this week bud, but you better watch out for our rematch.
I’ve already used a few of my adds this week to grab some interesting pitchers, including Merrill Kelly, who put everyone on notice when he dismantled the Red Sox on Saturday. Given how he came to the MLB by way of the Korean Baseball Organization, I think he might make for a great rallying point for this team, a real-life representation of what this Waiver Wire team stands for.
I can’t give too much away of what my strategy for this week is and which players I’m looking closely at on the waiver wire, because I know the second I do that these other owners are going to take those guys away from me. But looking at the wire and seeing the players out there, I feel more confident than ever that I’m going to be able to at least field a competitive roster. It’s not going to be a well-rounded team, and it’s certainly not going to strike fear into any of my opponents, but there’s definitely upside to be had still. And I’m going to be the one to have it.
My roster as of April 9th:
Hitters: Cesar Hernandez, Mallex Smith, Ramon Laureano, Brian Dozier
Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)