Fantasy baseball ain't what it used to be. Back in the day, you would have maybe one or two people in your league who did any research beyond glancing at last year's Triple Crown stats and buying a couple of magazines. Any knowledge above and beyond that level and you were a virtual lock to finish in the money and maybe get labeled a witch for your prognostication skills.
That's history now. Even the biggest Luddite in your league can fake his way through a conversation about new-age stats. The key is to wield those advanced numbers, then combine them with other factors — age, health, team, competition, park effects, and dozens of other considerations — to produce usable intel you can take to the draft table.
One of the easiest ways to find a gap between last year's fantasy stats and this year's expected results is to scrutinize a pitcher's Fielding Independent Pitching. FIP seeks to strip out events over which a pitcher has little to no control, and focus on his core skills, especially strikeout and walk rate. (You can read a longer-form primer on defense-independent stats here.)
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports over the weekend.
Phil Mickelson out-dueled Tiger Woods by 11 shots in the final round to win the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. At the press conference, an angry Woods said that the only reason Mickelson beat him is that he was able to stabilize his putter by nestling it between his ample breasts.
The Yankees are in trade talks with the Pirates that may involve sending A.J. Burnett to Pittsburgh. It turns out the Yankees are on the lookout for a DH and a few young prospects, while the Pirates need someone who can belch redneck anthems and get arrested for cooking meth in a motel bathtub.
On Tuesday, the eighth-ranked Connecticut Huskies visited the Rock in Newark, N.J., to play the Seton Hall Pirates in a game that matched two of the best teams — according to their records — in the Big East. After 40 minutes of play, Seton Hall had beaten the favored Huskies, 75-63. With any upset, especially in college basketball, certain things happen that allow the underdog to win. There’s usually a gimmick, a shock, and a disappointment. You see them in every upset, and Seton Hall's win over UConn was no exception.
I've watched the replay of Michael McKenry's attempted tag on Julio Lugo about 30 times. Replays from different angles. Still photos. Reenactments performed by trained chipmunks. Consensus has it that McKenry's swipe tag caught Lugo on the leg well in front of home plate. Given the Braves and Pirates had played six hours, 39 minutes and nearly 19 innings to that point, and that this game had major playoff implications for both teams, this was supposed to be a cruel, unjust, tragic way to end it. Worse than Jim Joyce's blowing the call that cost Armando Galarraga his perfect game. Given the technology at the disposal of everyone on the planet except the four umpires on the field, this is supposed to be a final, nail-in-the-coffin example of why baseball so desperately needs instant replay.