I Woke Up a Fantasy Baseball Champion

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I’ve won fantasy baseball leagues before – I do it every year. But I’ve never had to do it to remain in a league. When the curtain fell on the regular season yesterday – and Wilson Alvarez went all Billy Chapel on everyone – I was toasting my fantasy baseball glory. Again. This time in a league I actually cared about winning.

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I called my shot back in January. The commish of the league, the villain; the grandaddy of them all Maryvale Marty Cohn (translation: Maryvale Mother Fucker) bit off more than he could chew. From the opening bell this was a season of magic for me. I’ve had teams that I put together who lucked out and won titles before. But this was something different.

It all started last year when I dealt for Chris Sale. Sale would serve as a holdover keeper for this year. But I needed more arms. Before the draft I dealt lower round picks for Yu Darvish and Matt Moore. From there I would just need to load up on bats and find the 2012 R.A. Dickey of 2013. Or a few of them.

Here are the gems in the rough I found: Francisco Liriano and Hishashi Iwakuma, and Dominic Brown as waiver pick ups. Doug Fister was selected in the final round and cut before the season. I used an early waiver on him and stashed him. I used later round picks on Carlos Gomez, Jason Grilli, Everth Cabrera, Carlos Beltran, and Johnathan Lucroy. I took a lot of criticism for taking Wilin Rosario off the board in the 8th round; and had two catchers on the roster a lot of the year to combat how much sitting Rosario did under Walt Weiss’ watchful eye. I added Koji Uehara as a free agent and he went on to have one of the most dominant seasons that a closer has had in fantasy in a decade.

I dealt Justin Upton (my first round pick) and a draft pick for Andrew McCutchen before the season started. I dealt Michael Bourn while he still had relative value and a draft pick for Jay Bruce. I traded Moore and Beltran at their highest value for Prince Fielder. I dealt keeper Bryce Harper for Robinson Cano and Craig Kimbrel. I dealt Fielder and several high picks for Encarnacion and Harper back to me.

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Every time this team looked like it would falter, someone else stepped up. It’s the greatest collection of guys I’ve ever had on one roster, and everything fell into place. From David Wright to Mat Latos to getting just the right amount out of Jed Lowrie and Marco Scutaro and Chase Headley and spells of Stephen Drew; it all fell into place. I even allowed Adam Dunn 30 games at first base after Encarnacion went down with injury.

I’ll win more leagues next year. I’ll win this league again at some point. But I’ll never have another wire to wire job where from the opening bell (I picked up Justin Maxwell to get a huge opening night from him in Houston) I seemingly jump out in front and run away and hide. Rarely in fantasy does everything go according to plan. When I sat in my living room in January and did spreadsheet after spreadsheet, looking at algorithm’s and what won the league last year and knowing what numbers it would take to better than this season; did I ever think that I would have things go 99% according to plan.

Due to the contributions I found of the aforementioned, I will now spend the off-season doing what a champion does: devising a game plan to defend my title in 2014.