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Baseball Handicapping from a Fantasy Perspective

   by Bryan Leonard - 05/23/2010

There are a lot of fantasy baseball leagues and players around the country. Drafting and analyzing players on a day to day basis is an excellent tool for handicapping baseball games. The fantasy players need to examine each player’s stats and injury status to see whether they should be in the lineup or not. Players go into slumps, get hurt, or don’t necessarily match up well against a particular opponent on a given day, therefore they can be left out of the lineup by the fantasy manager. Keeping up on players for fantasy leagues provides the manager with an excellent knowledge of individual players and how to best utilize them. A player like Johnny Damon, for instance, has switched teams, going from Boston to New York and now to Detroit. Notice that Damon hasn’t lost any of his offensive prowess on the young season. Simply put he still appears to be a catalyst atop the order.
The fantasy player keeps daily tabs on the performance of players, but that can carry over and help you in your daily handicapping. If a player has a nagging injury, like a hamstring pull, the fantasy player would often know about that because they are tracking their small circle of players. Then it could be time for the manager to rest that player and bring in someone normally on the bench. Again, this helps the fantasy manager in handicapping because it better explains the reasons why a particular player is slumping or ineffective.
Therefore when you examine games from a handicapping perspective, you can better understand why a team is in a slump. If a good hitter like Damon is hurting, maybe the Tigers offense slows down for a few games, going 3 straight under the total, for example. Or if a pitching staff is forced to go with relievers of Triple AAA caliber as starters because of a double-header, anyone tracking those players in a fantasy league would have a leg up on most handicappers.
Another area where this can come into play is the ballpark. With so many new stadiums in baseball the last few years, it’s imperative to keep a daily count of how hitters and pitchers fare in these parks. We’ve seen stadiums in Seattle and San Diego with large outfields that have become excellent pitcher’s parks. When fantasy offensive players go into those parks for 3 games, for instance, their offensive production may tail off. Or, a pitcher making the jump from a good pitcher’s park to a home-run friendly field, like the Ballpark In Arlington, Coors Field, or the newer parks in Cincy and Philly, would likely fare very differently. For example, I recall when Randy Johnson went from the NL to the AL in 2005, and his production diminished considerably the first half of the season. The time spent in fantasy leagues can be very productive for handicapping purposes, as long as you now what to look for and how to use it.

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