Last season was my first in LABR, the long run experts league piloted by Steve Gardner of USA Today. I was honored to be invited and then I went out and drafted a team that was roundly called the worst club people had ever seen. Literally. By the time the season was over I finished 2nd in the NL-only league (I was tied for first place with three days left in the season). I wanted to win badly in 2013 after just missing out in 2012. How did my AL-only team do?
WHAT WENT RIGHT
I spent $6 on Josh Donaldson. He’ll finish in the top-10 in the AL MVP vote, maybe top-5, after going .301-24-93-89.
Eric Hosmer started slow but in the end he hit .300 and nearly went 20/10 as well.
Kelly Johnson had 16 homers, 52 RBIs and seven steals while qualifying at 2B, 3B and OF.
If I’m not mistaken I may have set an AL LABR record with 179 steals. No one else was with 26 of me. That’s 179 steals in an AL-only league. That’s a huge number. I also led the league in runs scored, 52 more than anyone else, and my .268 team batting average was second overall.
Grant Balfour was nails with 38 saves.
I astutely added Danny Farquhar for $22 of my $100 FAAB budget right before he took over as the Mariners’ closer. I also took Jose Valverde in the reserve rounds (he wasn’t on a roster when we had the draft). He was admittedly terrible but I got nine free saves out of him and that’s big in an AL-only league.
I made one deal with the principle pieces being me giving up Ben Zobrist and receiving Greg Holland. It was a winning move, as you saw above my offense killed it but my pitching was a bit weaker. His late season add pushed my team to 73 saves, I was able to get 11 saves out of Holland, but I ended up one measly save out of second place in the league in that category.
WHAT WENT WRONG
I went on vacation.
For the first time in seven years I took a one week vacation to Hawaii. The trip was a blast (who knew that drinking Pina Colada’s at 10 AM was so wonderful? And don’t look down on me. You would be doing the same thing). However, the trip cost me dearly. I drafted Chris Archer for $4. You’re able to store players who are in the minors on your reserve list in LABR, but when they are called up to the big leagues you have two weeks to activate them or you lose the player. I didn’t want to activate Archer for his first start so I left him reserved. Guess when week two was? That’s right, when I was in Hawaii. Forgetting to activate him, who can blame me really (it was Hawaii folks), I flat out lost him to waivers. That’s a crushing loss in an AL-only league considering he went 9-7 with a 3.22 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 101 Ks in 128.2 innings. I was missing one starter all year. I had him on draft day but blew it and lost him.
Kevin Youkilis missed virtually the entire season. So much for my starting corner infield option.
Michael Pineda never threw a pitch that counted.
Jeff Niemann only lasted eight starts before his arm failed him.
Joe Blanton, and this is what cost me dearly, went 2-14 with a 6.04 ERA and 1.61 WHIP. So, do you think my club would have been better if I had Archer with his 9-7 record, 3.22 ERA and 1.13 WHIP instead?
I tossed $8 at Sergio Santos looking for saves. Injuries limited him to one save and 25.2 innings. I lsot that gamble. Still, he dominated when healthy with a 1.75 ERA, 0.58 WHIP and 28 Ks versus four walks.
Not going the extra $2-3 on Max Scherzer. I bowed out when I thought I had more holes to fill than it made sense to keep bidding on Max, but boy if I had added him to the squad…
FINISH: 3 out of 12 teams. Two top-3 finishes in two years is pretty solid. Unfortunately, this was my only real highlight of the 2013 fantasy baseball season.
By Ray Flowers