A look back at how I almost won Tout.
If you didn’t hear, I came in second place this year in AL Tout falling to Lawr Michaels in an amazing battle on the final days of the season. When the dust settled and I had a chance to really think about my season I wasn’t as disappointed as much as I was proud of the year I had. Not only is this league the most difficult I have ever been in, but I fell victim to a rash of injuries that may have caused panic or submission, for me it made me fight harder. I will go over some of my players that got hurt and how in one case I became a better team because of it.
On draft day my main goal was to get Ian Kinsler and Nick Markakis as high ticket bats and then start bargain hunting. A funny thing happened though when Carlos Quentin’s name got thrown out and as I was helping inflate the bid it suddenly stopped at $25. I was ecstatic, if Quentin could stay healthy this was an enormous steal, by May 26th I had my answer as Quentin got hurt and would not return until July 20th. Joining Quentin would be Jed Lowrie who would miss 130 games and Carlos Guillen who went from a no big deal injury to missing half the season. Lowrie and Guillen may not be the biggest players in the world but in a deep 12 team AL only someone has to take these spots over and it’s pretty hard finding a replacement worth a damn.
I mentioned earlier how a player getting hurt somehow made me a better team. The player was Quentin. In early May I could tell that I was going to need some extra speed and wanted a mini hedge against Quentin getting hurt so I bid and won Scott Podsednik, little did I know that when Quentin would go down three weeks later that Podsednik now starting and free to run wild would vault me up three points up in the steals standings. On May 11th I acquired Torii Hunter from Ron Shandler for Justin Verlander. When I made this trade Hunter was supposed to supplement my power and add speed, not replace Quentin, but if I don’t make this trade I never have a shot and that’s with Hunter missing over a month due to injury later on in the season, more on that later. The big move though the one that losing Quentin really made me do was bidding on Gordon Beckham on June 1st which happened to be the same day I placed Quentin on my DL. There is some back story to this I want to share because it shows you how aggressive behavior pays off and how it’s a lot easier to get a player too early then not get him at all. I had been eyeing Beckham’s progress all May and I could sense that his call up was coming. In Tout Wars if you bid on a player you must start him for that full week. In essence I was weighing the call up and subsequent value of Beckham versus a dead week of stats and in this kind of league a dead week does not help. I knew that if I didn’t pull the trigger this week there was a good chance others would get on the gravy train and then I may be outbid. On Sunday May 31st I put in a low double digit bid and on Monday June 1st while turning my phone back on after getting out of the subway a text message said it all. It was from Nando DiFino of Team Walker. He called me a bad name and I knew right there that not only had I won Beckham, but I picked the right week and this could be big. On June 4th Beckham made his major league debut and after a 0-13 start he would start helping replace Quentin and turning my offense into what I needed to have a shot at winning AL Tout.
Injuries and luck are a part of this fantasy dance. Anyone who denies that just isn’t paying attention. What isn’t luck is putting yourself in position to fail, but sometimes you have to roll the dice. Did I draft Quentin knowing there was real risk? Sure. I also drafted Kinsler, but except for one stint on the DL he finally finished a season. I also drafted Hideki Matsui knowing the price was low enough to off-set the risk and when not in an NL park or needing a week to rest up he had a tremendous year for me. The Torii Hunter injury was just bad luck. The guy plays hard in center and the two crashes caught up to him, if he never goes down for that month I very well could have won the whole thing, but I also had 60 points in pitching fairly late in the season and finished with 55 so maybe I should blame Roy Halladay for being distracted by trade rumors. I didn’t mention pitching injuries because I really only had one and yes it was significant but funny circumstances played a big role as well. Bobby Jenks was my closer and when he got hurt I was in first place in saves. Jason Collette was in second place in saves at the time and guess who he had? Matt Thornton. He would pass me and never look back, by the way I lost Tout by one point.
In the end my point is to ignore projections after a draft (I was projected to come in last) and never underestimate the power of the deal or the wire and injuries are not always a good excuse because through it all I fell a blade of grass short of taking this home…..Siano