May 1st marks the opening of the main competition within Fantasy Baseball UK (FBUK). After the April practice period, there is now more than pride to play for, there's prizes as well. At the moment, it doesn't look like many will be coming my way though!
I posted my thoughts about Fantasy baseball at the start of April. If you want a reminder of my approach to the game, here's a good example. So far this season I have been lamenting the bad injury luck that has once again hit my Oakland A's. Not least, the loss of Houston Street has been a real hammer blow. Street hasn't pitched since April 18th due to a strained pectoral muscle. Street is a big loss to Oakland's bullpen, but his injury has also hit my fantasy team as I chose him as my closer in my opening day line-up. My main problem however has been that it was only two days ago that I remembered Street was still in my team! Yep, that's the best part of two weeks with no saves and strikeouts. You can probably tell I'm not the most dedicated Fantasy owner in the competition.
My overall performance in April was about average really. As of today (e.g. with all the April games accounted for) I'm sitting 18th out of 75 in the Oakland mini-league, and 823rd out of 3255 in the main competition. So I've not been terrible, but there's plenty of room for improvement.
My top three players during April were Alfonso Soriano, Jason Bay and Chone Figgins. Jason Bay is a particular favourite of mine. I picked him up in my opening day roster at the start of the 2005 season for absolute peanuts, and he ended up as my best-scoring player. Although he was obviously more expensive this year, I knew he would be worth the investment and so far he has repaid me yet again. As for Soriano and Figgins, well those are just guys who are going to consistently rack up good points in this Fantasy competition. Figgins is a bit of a compromise pick for me as he plays for the (stupid rally monkey, stupid thundersticks, stupid name etc.) Angels. However, the fact that he was gaining me points whilst stealing bases and scoring runs against the A's didn't stop me hating him, so there we go!
It's been a bit frustrating so far to tell the truth. Many times I have looked through the box scores and predicted a move up the rankings, only to find little or no improvement. Therefore, heading into a new month, I decided to make a few bold moves before the rosters updated at 18:00 yesterday (Sunday). Having to replace Rich Harden due to injury was one of the reasons behind this. So far two of the three Oakland players in my Fantasy team have gone down with an injury. Prior to the season opener, I was close to picking Eric Chavez and Nick Swisher, both of whom have started the season on fire. I have mixed feelings on this. On the one hand I'm a bit gutted that I didn't pick them. On the other, the superstitious side of me thinks that they would have been terrible had I done so (incidentally, the other Oakland player in my team is Danny Haren, not Dan Johnson as you may have been thinking!).
Whilst it is far too early to draw any conclusions from my latest moves, the signs are not encouraging. I picked Jeff Francoeur as one of my outfielders due to his tremendous showing after being called up last year (and the fact that he is cheap). Jeff had started the season slowly, and after reading an article on Baseball Prospectus that questioned whether he was really ready for the Majors, I decided to cut my losses. A few hours later, Francoeur went 4 for 5, with a home run and 5 RBIs against the Mets!
Hopefully my moves will work out well over the rest of May, and I will start climbing up the rankings. I don't want to give too much away right now (spies everywhere and all that). However, if Pujols starts hitting less like Prince Albert, and more like Uncle Albert from Only Fools and Horses, Cards fans will know who to blame!