As the 2011 major league baseball regular season comes to a close, we are left to look back at the fantasy baseball season which just ended. However, it is also never too early to look ahead at the coming fantasy baseball 2012 season either. There are several lessons to be taken from this season and several which we can apply to coming years as well. I was lucky enough to have won my fantasy baseball league title in the final game on the final day of the 2011 season on a Jemile Weeks single. This proves one thing for sure: in fantasy baseball, you are never out of it.
Keeping in mind that you are always in the hunt for your league championship, it is never too early to look back on ‘the season that was’ in order to learn some lessons for next year. Here are some lessons we learned from 2011:
Never Give Up
The major league wild card race in both leagues took until the final day of the season to decide. In fact, it could be argued that the final day of the 2011 season was the most exciting night of baseball in decades. In regard to the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays, their fate came down to the final at bat of the 9th inning. The lesson to be learned? It is never too late to be out of the championship, so keep battling right until your final at bat. In daily leagues, keep making changes all the way until the last day and never give up.
Shoulder a Grudge
When it comes to choosing pitchers for your fantasy baseball roster, do not shy away from pitchers coming off of recent Tommy John elbow surgery. Stephen Strasburg proved that a full recovery from the procedure is possible. However, when it comes to shoulder issues, you should not be so optimistic. The Texas Rangers signed Brandon Webb to help shore up their perennial pitching woes. Coming off a shoulder injury, Webb did not throw a big league pitch in 2011 (and hasn’t thrown one since April 2009). Josh Johnson came into 2011 having missed the latter part of the previous season with shoulder issues. After starting 2011 strongly, Johnson did not throw a pitch after May 16th. The lesson to be learned? Be very wary of pitchers with shoulder problems.
When it comes to dynamic pitching performances, young arms led the charge in 2011. Time after time this season, we saw rookies coming up big and making fantasy owners jump for joy. Craig Kimbrel, Cory Luebke, Jeremy Hellickson, Michael Pineda, Josh Collmenter and Brandon Beachy all seemed to come out of nowhere in 2011 and surprise with outstanding statistics. The lesson to be learned? Keep an eye out for good young talent in 2012, as a pitcher like Matt Moore may have more value than bigger name veterans.
There’s No Such Thing as a Sure Thing
Coming into the 2011 season, there were 3 sure things: death, taxes and Adam Dunn’s offensive statistics. Dunn was the epitome of a ‘sure thing’. His home run totals from 2005-2010 read like clockwork: 40, 40, 40, 38, 38. Likewise, his RBI totals were also machinelike in their regularity and predictability: 102, 101, 106, 100, 105, 103. Then, came the summer of 2011. Dunn finished with 11 HR and 42 RBI and set a major league record with a .159 BA. He also ended up with 18 more strikeouts than points on his batting average, beating Mark Reynolds mark of 13 more Ks than BA points. Somewhere, Rob Deer is smiling. The lesson to be learned? Never draft a player and consider it money in the bank.
The 2011 season was one for the ages, to be sure. The lesson to be learned? Baseball is truly magical.
Chris McBrien is a baseball writer for numerous websites and may be found at Dear Mr. Fantasy. He may also be followed on Twitter @cmcbrien.