I’ve been playing in the same fantasy baseball league – Blogball since 2008 and usually add in one or two public leagues each year to keep things interesting. Especially, those years when I am not doing that great in Blogball.

Which was the case again this year.

It wasn’t the year I envisioned when I drafted my fantasy league teams last spring.

At the start, I was doing pretty well, at least until mid-May when the bottom fell out. Then I dropped like a rock in both of my league standings. I quickly found my level in both leagues — somewhere between 8th and 12th, in the 12-team leagues the rest of the way.

At the end of the year, I finished towards the bottom in both of my leagues. Surprisingly, I had nearly identical records in both leagues.

I have finished about this same place over the years.

But why?

As I reflect on this season and some of the why’s, I am going to focus on my Blogball 22 team, and for the most part, what I discuss about it, pertains to the other fantasy baseball teams I have managed in the past.

Pre-season

My woes began when I picked my four keepers from my Blogball 21 team based less on performance and more on potential, age, players, and teams I like. In other words, I screwed up royally to begin the season.

  • Matt Olson, Rafael Devers, Walker Buehler, Kyle Tucker

Some of the players I let go of were the ones I should have kept:

  • Aaron Judge (#1 ranked OF 2022) is the probable AL MVP and he of more than 60 homers. Yeah, I probably should have kept him.
  • Paul Goldschmidt (#1 ranked 1B 2022 and potentially the NL MVP),
  • J.T. Realmuto (#1 ranked catcher 2022)
  • Xander Bogaerts (Possible AL batting title champion)

Oh well, that 20/20 hindsight thing.

Then before the draft, I didn’t do any pre-draft research, had zero draft strategy, and picked the name of players I recognized or on a team I like (err Red Sox), that was in the vicinity of where I was drafting each round. I’ve done this most years.

Roster Management

One of my biggest problems this year was that I tinkered too much with my lineups, adding and dropping players each week, while never waiting for them to produce. With 129 moves this season, I nearly doubled the next person (66) in the total transactions I made this year. It seems that I do this most years. I can also say with certainty that this doesn’t work.

In late July, I was at or near the bottom of the league and not going anywhere. At that point, I decided that the keepers and players I had were not helping. So I opened up for business, proposed whacky trades, and more than a couple of pretty lopsided trades which the recipient loved, but got me a player that I wanted. Other trades were rejected out of hand, but at least I made the offer. Hell, I couldn’t give away a top 20 pre-season pick.

Learning Fantasy Baseball

It also “finally” occurred to me that I needed to learn more about what makes a successful player when it comes to playing fantasy baseball in the Yahoo leagues. I am tired of ending up in the back half of the league most years. I even bought a book on how to interpret the advanced stats, got to looking beyond Yahoo.com’s articles, stat packs, and made daily rounds of other sites as well. Including stopping at MLB.com’s website most days, looking at the prospect lists, and learning more about the players, scouting reports, and reading more than a few fantasy baseball blogs.

As a result, I focused most of my attention on acquiring highly-rated prospects for the rest of 2022. Then got lucky and traded for an injured Mike Trout. Who I believe still has a few great seasons left in the tank, if he can stay healthy. This trade was validated when he came off the injured list and did quite well.

Over the rest of the summer, I continued to add/subtract different players that I wanted to look at closer for 2023’s roster and get familiar with their scouting reports. I even waived one of my keepers, because I knew that he wasn’t going to be a keeper in 2023 and I wanted the roster spot to look at other players.

What did I learn in 2022?

  1. That there is a certain way to construct rosters in Yahoo’s fantasy baseball to be successful. With the way our league is organized, you do need to follow a particular script or get rather lucky. In the past, I pretty much ignored that script, the league rules, and got to enjoy my usual position as a bottom-feeder.
  2. I had never taken learning how to play fantasy baseball very seriously and made too many moves this year and in other years that made no sense. Other than to make a move, only to have it become another version of “I should have kept him.”
  3. Next year I won’t have a pitcher as one of my keepers. The years I have kept pitchers, have not been kind to me.
  4. Focus more on a consistent daily lineup and not change it, unless my usual starter isn’t playing that day or is injured, and then put him back in when he gets back in the lineup or has a game.
  5. Not to worry about April and May stats so much for established players as long as the teams keep playing them. A lot of the hitters will struggle in April and May. June is when many start to hit.
  6. Don’t watch the position player waiver wire to the point where I am grabbing the hot player of the moment and then hope he doesn’t cool off too soon.
  7. Be patient with the players I have and make changes primarily based on injuries or demotions by their team due to poor play, not my willy-nilly thoughts about who’s hot at the moment. If the team continues to play them, I need to keep them. When a team sits a player and consistently plays someone else for a while, then it is time to look on the waiver wire or make a trade.
  8. When I do need to look for a replacement player, especially for a keeper, look for players with 3-5 years in the league who are beginning to hit their stride. If I am not getting rid of a keeper, then finding an older established player who is going well, is a consideration as well.
  9. Pitching is very important in Yahoo leagues and I have to get a better handle on identifying the good ones. I used to completely ignore this facet of the game and focused 80% of my time on the hitters, which isn’t how most Yahoo league players who do well play.
  10. Looking at the next day’s starters for both position players and pitchers is something that I need to do a better job with.
  11. Plus a bunch of other things that I am learning as I read more about WAR, ERA+, and all the other interesting advanced stats.
  12. Finally, over the past 3-4 years baseball had gotten so boring and there wasn’t much going on to change it. Looking back, I was going through the motions in the league and hadn’t watched too many baseball games during that time.
  13. Each at-bat took an eternity, either the pitcher took too long or the batter was frig-farting around with their gloves or whatever. There was no flow to games and sitting there watching nothing happening, while being forced to listen to announcers fill the space when there wasn’t any baseball action caused me to look elsewhere for entertainment. Three to four hours to watch a baseball game is simply too long unless there are extra inning or lots and lots of baseball action (hitting). Pitcher duels are okay, but I watch baseball to see hitting and runs being scores by more than simply hitting a home run. I love stolen bases, going from 1st to 3rd, and great defensive plays. Yeah, they call it small ball, but that to me is a necessary part of baseball beyond home runs and strikeouts. That wasn’t the game I was seeing on television anymore.

Rediscovering My Love for the Game

However, the best thing in 2022, was that I rediscovered my love for baseball again. I had gotten rather jaded about and very bored with the current version of baseball. After watching Field of Dreams (the movie) again this summer, and then watching the Field of Dreams games on TV, the honest joy that the players were exhibiting by being there, re-ignited something in me that had been missing from my joy of baseball for far too long.

The cornfields of Iowa brought me back to the game I loved even though I wasn’t there to feel the vibe, it was enough to see it on TV. Someday I will go to the Field of Dreams and hopefully one of my grandsons will be willing to toss a ball around with their grandad. I will pack my old glove – just in case.

After watching more than a few minor league games I honestly believe that the change to a pitch clock and bigger bases are a good thing. I enjoyed them much more than the major league games. The shift ban will not be as big a deal as some believe, but then again, it might be a good thing too. If what I saw from the minor league games happens, the changes will speed the game up and allow for a better flow for the players and spectators. It will also lessen the amount of endless drivel that the color commentators have to come up with between pitches or plays.

These rules changes will also make me and others focus on different skill sets for players in next year’s draft I have a feeling. Not the least of which might be more athletic pitchers and position players where being able to run more will be more important to the game.

Looking to 2023

While I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, after this year I have a much better understanding of how a roster needs to be constructed to do well in the Yahoo leagues (along with being a bit lucky). Plus I am developing a realistic draft strategy and will keep abreast of player movement – trades, free agency, DFA’s, scouting reports, and all the other interesting tidbits that I have learned more about in 2022.

I am already looking forward to the Hot Stove league and preparing for the Blogball 23 draft. Even though there are still the playoffs for the rest of the 2022 baseball season.

It will be interesting to see how I draft differently next year than I have in the past. Who knows, I might even have a particular draft strategy and have an idea of different players that I want on my team next year, once the keepers list is published. Which may or may not be the same as the other managers.

Who know I might even do a bit better than I did in ‘22.

While Blogball 22 didn’t provide the results I wanted, it was still fun, and the other players are great.

Now to figure out who my four keepers will be, I do have a few options.

I will however repeat those famous last words today – wait till next year!