Real vs Fantasy in Baseball

As I watched the Sox rally against Mariano Rivera, and fall agonizingly short, a discussion between Tim McCarver and Joe Buck got me thinking.  They were talking about what the Sox were going to do with Varitek at the end of the season.  Tek is 36, and having a miserable year at the plate.  Rumor has it that he’s looking for Jorge Posada type money and deal (4 years).  But Tek isn’t around for his offense.  What he gives is bonus as far as the team is concerned.  It’s what he does calling a game, managing his pitchers, and how he controls the club house, or why he wears the “C” on his jersey.

So this got me to thinking.  I play Stratomatic Baseball, and have for almost 20 years now.  I’ve also been involved in several other Roto type leagues.  There is a definite disconnect from players of value in MLB, and players of value in fantasy leagues.  Sometimes the gap between the two is very, very wide.

Jason Varitek is a prime example.  He’s a bust in fantasy leagues.  Crap average, little power, no SB, few RBI’s.  Few owners of Roto leagues, and few Strat owners (especially those in leagues with a salary cap), will have him on their teams.  He’s just not worth it.  Yet in MLB, he’s invaluable for things that don’t translate into fanatsy numbers, or a Strat card.  It’s a “problem” of Fanatsy leagues and games, and often times skews fanatsy owners perceptions of players.

And yes, the converse is true as well.  There are players who would be a third stringer on a MLB team, yet get hyped up value on fantasy and especially Strat teams.  I’ve been in leagues where a bozo ripper, who had 60-75 AB’s, with a bunch of HR’s one way (against either left or right), gets drafted, yet an every day guy, who doesn’t have gaudy numbers one way, drops low in drafts, if he even gets drafted at all.

Call it the “Bill James Effect.”  Player performance and value distilled down to a set of numbers.  Sabremetrics.  Yes, these can be indicators of a players over all effectiveness, and thus value, but cannot always take into effect the intangibles a player may bring to a team.  Again, Jason Varitek is a prime exmaple.  How he calls a game, how he handles the guy on the mound, are all just as important, and sometimes more so, than the number of hits or HR’s, or RBI’s he produces.

Video games are even worse.  Take MLB The Show.  The trade AI is just nuts at times.  CC Sabathia for Willy Mo Pena?  Straight up?  Can you imagine the outcry in Cleveland if that ever happened?  Mark Shapiro would be strung up on the nearest lamp post, and Theo Epstein would be in jail for grand theft player.  But, the numbers indicate this would be a good deal, with Willy Mo’s power numbers (when he connects).  Tell me, who would you rather have on your team, CC or Willy Mo? 

I’m not even going to get into all the unrealistic aspects of the various fanatsy games for PC and Consoles.  I’ve sort of done that before, but I’ve got more details to use now.  Maybe that’ll be my next post.