Articles by D Crowley

A listing of all the articles written by D Crowley for the RotoWire Blog.

Come On You Royals!!!

No, not the Kansas City Royals, I am writing about Reading’s Royals and this is not an article about a minor-league baseball or hockey team it is about my favorite club soccer team on the precipice of playing on England’s biggest stage. Reading Football Club, currently fighting to get back in the playoff hunt in England’s second division, are poised to face Premiership giants Manchester City Football Club on Sunday, March 13th in the FA Cup quarter-final. If the Royals can somehow take down Man City they will be among the final four teams playing at Wembley Stadium in a winner-take all tournament to bring home England’s oldest piece of hardware.

So why am I blogging about it on rotowire? I used to be just like you. A typical U.S. sports fan wrapped up in the NFL, MLB, NHL and a bit of NBA. But something changed in the last ten years, let me tell you my story and you will see how I wound up here.

Some would say I choose Reading as my club, but just as likely Reading choose me to be a supporter. I played football (soccer) with Marcelo Balboa back in Jr. High School (1979/1980). When I discovered a decade later that he had made the U.S. National Team I started watching the World Cup. This was in 1990. I started off a follower of the World Cup and would cheer for the US, England and Ireland (I have both English and Irish heritage). Then in 2006 after the World Cup I decided that it was silly to wait every four years to watch the beautiful game and wanted to support a team in the Premiership. Plus, Balboa had retired and was now in broadcasting.

So I looked over the Prem teams and immediately eliminated the top four. I am not a front-runner and I found the idea of supporting Man U, Arsenal, Chelsea or Liverpool revolting. When I came to Reading everything started to make sense why they should be my team. They were new to the Premiership (as I would be), they had two Americans (winger Bobby Convey and keeper Marcus Hanhemann, who was from Seattle and a Seahawks fan like me), they had three Irish players in the team (Kevin Doyle, Stephen Hunt and Shane Long), hearing Steve Coppell talk was like listening to a General you would go into battle with full confidence following. Finally, watching the clips of what how they played in the championship sealed it. They played the game the right way, using an attacking brand of football that was exciting and fun to watch.

So that was my team. You have to understand that I picked my football team the same way as a 9-year old living in Los Angeles in 1976. The Seahawks were new to the NFL, their QB (#10, I still use seahawk10 as a username on many a forum) was from my hometown of Cerritos, CA. He was a lefty like me and once I started to watch them I was hooked. An under-manned Jack Patera coached the way I would have using onsides kicks, fake punts and fake field goals, doing anything he could to bring home the win. I have been a loyal Seahawk fan ever since despite living thousands of miles away and having to watch them from afar. It is much easier these days with the NFL Package and the internet.

So I started to watch Reading FC games on Fox Soccer Channel, a few months later I found their fan forum Hob Nob Anyone?, and now I try and tune in to BBC Radio Berkshire every Friday to listen to current players be interviewed and to learn about Reading’s past. It was disappointing when they were demoted from the Premiership back to the Coca-Cola Championship in 2008. But they resisted the temptation to splash the cash and go deep into debt like so clubs have these days. They have followed a frugal path to re-build their team. Selling players off when their value is high and purchasing bargain players when their value is low. In many ways they are following a ‘Moneyball’ style of team building in order to balance the books while at the same time putting a solid and fun team on the field.

 
Long gone are the members of the 2005/2006 squad the won promotion. Goodbye Bobby Convey (never recovered from a knee injury), Marcus Hanhemann (let go when his contract was too expensive), Kevin Doyle (sold off to the Wolverhampton Wanderers when it was clear we could not bounce back up right away to the Prem), Stephen Hunt, Dave Kitson, Glen Little, etc. There are only a few players left from the last Premiership team of 2007/2008. Shane Long has emerged as Reading’s top striker, after spending most of his time as a super sub on the prem team he has realy come into his own on this team leading them with 20 goals scored on the season. Also still at the club are Ivar Ingimarsson and Bynjar Gunnarsson. Both of them up in years but still capable of putting in a good performance for the club.
 
Reading is in the quarter-finals for the second year in a row. Last year Reading took out Premiership giants Liverpool before falling to Aston Villa despite a 2-0 lead at halftime. This year, the Royals have taken down two Premiership sides on its way to the quarter final, 1-0 wins over both West Brom  and Everton. I am already proud of my Royals for getting into the final eight of a competition that started with an amazing 762 clubs (any club can enter the F.A. Cup from amateur ranks all the way up to the Premiership). But very few are giving Reading a chance this weekend. Manchester City has spent upwards of £200m on transfers alone this year along with a £100m wage bill while Reading FC had to sell its best young player in Gylffi Siggurdsson for £7m in order to balance their ledger.
But while this may look like an impossible feat to the accountants the game is played on the pitch. I will be glued to my television set this Sunday and I hope we get a few more neutrals to join our side as we attempt to defy the odds and live another day. Come on you Royals! URZ!

The Ultimate Strat-O-Matic Fanatic

     Strat-O-Matic recently celebrated it’s 50th Anniversary with a unique opening day celebration. The usual opening day sees a group of middle-aged men standing in line in Glenhead New York in frigid Jan/Feb weather to pick up the latest card set for Strat-O-Matic Baseball. Hal Richman, the founder and inventor of the superb cards and dice baseball game will sometimes hand out donuts and chit chat with Strat enthusiasts that come from all across the country to be one of the first ones to look at those beloved Strat cards.
                                   Typical Opening Day:
       Typical Opening Day

     This year was special, not only would you be able to pick up your order, but Strat rented space at a local Church and brought in a star-studded panel to talk about how the game has affected their lives. There was also a question and answer session with the team charged with making decisions on the ratings and card value of MLB players. The panel members included, Hal Richman, John Dewan, former Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson, Doug Glanville, Steve Barkan, head researcher for their brilliant past season sets, and Glenn Guzzo, author of the book Strat-O-Matic Fanatics. While New York radio man Bill Daughtry emceed the event. On top of that there was a contest held to see who was the Ultimate Strat-O-Matic Fanatic with a prize of free strat for life for the winner!

The winner of the contest was Brett Carow from River Falls, Wisconsin. I know Brett from the Strat Fan Forum and was able to get the inside scoop on what was in his submission that earned him the title of the Ultimate Strat Fanatic. Below is a portion of what he submitted to Strat that earned him the bragging rights (and free Strat cards for life!) that were coveted by many of us.

The Stats:
3 sports – all cards & dice.
More than 10,700 baseball games played, 200 football games and even 20 basketball games
20 years of playing at least 22-game seasons with ALL stock teams in each year from 1990-2009 then doing full postseasons & World Series with qualifying teams.
Participated in three separate baseball leagues in three states.
Took inherited team to World Series (82-game season) in 2nd season before losing under interim-manager.
Have started 4 other solitaire leagues including the following card sets: 1941 (full season), 2000 HOF Set (82-games per 12 teams), Negro Leagues (6 teams, 30 games) and 1905-1946 stock teams, basic rules – 40 teams, 74 game season – that I’ve called the Old Timers League.
Non-solo league currently going: uses cards, best players from 1920, 24 & 34 seasons in two eight team divisions with 3 other owners each one running 4 teams.
Have personally introduced strat-o-matic to more than 50 people from high school to college and beyond.

The Intangibles:
Purchased Strat Fan magazine from the 6th issue until it quit printing.
Personal checkbook always holds my previous season’s World Series MVP.
Skipped college classes on Opening Day when cards came each year.
Created audio-tapes of football league drafts from mid-1990s with all league members who also went to high school with me.
The six of us made the league official (RFMBL – River Falls Men’s Baseball League complete with a jug trophy) and assigned titles. I’m the President of the league.
Played Strat during honeymoon with first wife.
2nd wife bought me 1941 Yankees team photo for our 1st Christmas.
She scanned Ted Williams 41 card onto a cake (along with a SOM 10,000 games played shirt). |STAR| See Below For The Cake
Used MVPs (and 98 McGwire & 93 Mickey Tettleton because I can’t get him to stop rolling that 3-9 HR) from 1990-08 in two teams by league in best of 7 series to commemorate that event
In addition to more than 500 games per year for last two decades, I’ve done stats for virtually every one of them. Most stats in the last two years have been done during down time at my work.
Once slept through prom so I could have an overnight strat-o-fest with the league.

The beginning:
I was 9 years old and bored on a Sunday afternoon. My Dad and I decided to hit the road and see what we could find. I’m not sure we knew we were destined for something great, but I was fully enamored with collecting baseball cards as well as gluing, painting and creating replica models of transportation vehicles. Whenever I saw statistics on a baseball card I could almost “picture” what 30 doubles, 7 homers and a .286 batting average looked like but that didn’t mean anything to me at the time.

When I arrived at Games By James with my Dad I started wandering aimlessly and before long my father brought me over to his side of the store where he was holding a Strat-O-Matic baseball game. He said his brother had played something similar in the 60’s (APBA) and thought that this game might be good for me. Three hours later we are lumbering through a 1989 A’s vs. Brewers (my favorite team) and of course the Brewers lose 4-1 just like they do for real on that day. The contest goes about three hours – all basic of course – and it’s about a year later that I start playing Super Advanced and never look back.

The Presidency:
In 1991, also known as 6th grade, I was playing SOM in my basement and a friend came over. Still being shy and a bit embarrassed about my enjoyment for this new game I tried to cover it up as he came to greet me but I was unsuccessful. Sam sat down and played a 1990 Royals vs. Indians match up (part of my newfangled season where each team plays every team once at home and once on the road). Brook Jacoby had a good game is about all I remember, but my friend was instantly wanting to play more. Sam is a great salesman (then & now) and soon we had a third member by the end of 1991. Sam would ask friends and soon I would sit down and had the patience to explain the game and let people determine their level of interest for themselves. KJ, the third member, has an obsessive personality like the rest of us and bought the 1991 season. Strat Fan opened my eyes to the other facets of the game company and soon I had an interest in the football game. Upon purchasing the 1990 football season, we ended up with the fourth guy, Matt I liked playing football; Matt thrived at it and was soon outmaneuvering us up and down the field. Until the 1997 Barry Sanders and the rest of my draft team came along. Okay, I only ended up with one league Super Bowl, but still. To this day, Matt still buys every complete football set. The four of us formed the RFMBL and we added three other guys and one, Perry, is still extremely active in our league.

Library Field Advantage:
During high school lunch hour, I would often head to the library to play pick-up games with friends. We were in the 3rd inning of a game and must have gotten a little loud. When the librarian came over, we were surprised because he didn’t ask what we were doing; he simply said “put the Strat-O-Matic away.” It dawned on me then that this game was WAY bigger than I thought. The next day, the librarian recanted and said we could play as long as we kept the “dice noise” down. Awesome!

Homeland Security:
Whenever I’ve been stuck in an airport for more than 30 minutes I will play on my lap. I’ve had dice roll under the seats and have humiliated my brother and friends just to get another game in. I’ve even had the TSA take my cards out of my carry on and spread them out because they didn’t know what they were. It was fun to try to explain it to them before they told me to put them away and move along – pre 9/11.

Bits and Pieces:
I had to give a “how-to” speech on anything I wanted in college. I chose how to play Strat-O-Matic baseball. I created larger charts and it was supposed to be a 3-5 minute speech. They stopped me when I hit 10 minutes and I was still on a roll!
I took a baseball tour on the east coast in 2008. I played on the bus with friends and of course got some other people on the bus to play with us as well.
I purchased about 20 “create your own” players for my 1941 replay to help complete my set.
In middle school, high school and college I “created my own” card as well each year.
I’ve taken Strat-O to every family vacation since I was 10. We go for a week each year and I typically get about 3-5 games per day played!
The groomsmen gift for the gentlemen – every single one of whom is in my Strat-O league – in my first wedding all received autographed copies of Glenn Guzzo’s Strat-O-Matic Fanatics book. (I had no groomsmen in my second wedding…)
I was the victim of theft in January 1996 by my fellow league members. I lived two blocks from the high school and the Treasurer of my league opted to “keep” my new set of cards for a full week before finally revealing that they had them. I was not happy but the guys had a great time with it. Jerks.
I once left a college girlfriend stranded at my parent’s house so that I could finish a football game that had gone to overtime. I ended up losing the game to our Secretary and my girlfriend’s night only got worse.
I lived in southern Minnesota and would regularly drive 90 miles each way for a four game series with guys in the JEM Minneapolis League I was a part of in 2002-03.
I also commuted from Grand Rapids to Battle Creek every Monday night for half a year when I filled in for someone who quit a Michigan league before I moved and had to resign.

Why am I the ulimate strat-o-matic fan?
There are certainly guys who’ve played longer than me. I’m as pure as it gets in terms of fan-dom. I have never played the computer game (but considered it when I set up my 78-game 1993 season – where Tettleton hit 30 homers), but my obsession with SOM has become the stuff of legend. There are people from my high school class who remember me playing SOM on the grass during lunch break. In 20 years, I’ve amassed an average of more than 500 games per year every year. There are guys who play in leagues with 80-90 game seasons. I do that in July and August alone.

This award is a “self” award but I tell my story including my friends because without them it’s no fun and without them I don’t do this for 20 years and “keep the band together.”

Brett's 10,000 game cake purchased for him by his understanding wife!

Strat-O-Matic Founder Hal Richman and The Ultimate Strat-O-Matic Fanatic, Brett Carrow:

Strat-O-Matic: How To Build a Bullpen from Nothing…

     Going into this year’s draft in one of my Strat leagues my bullpen consisted of Aaron Heilman and Hong Chi-Kuo. Coming off a championship the previous season the offensive pieces were in place to make another run at the playoffs. But my starting pitching was shaky at best so I knew I would need a strong bullpen to compete. Lucky for me that putting together a bullpen is one of the easiest things to do in many Strat leagues. Why? Because there are always those anomalies of  an older player putting together that unexpected year out of the pen or some journeyman scrub figures out a new pitch or a young kid finally figures out how to pitch or a failed starter was sent to the bullpen for good. These are not long-term bets for the most part but they can be essential cogs in a winning team.

     The league I was drafting for is a 20-team mixed league that allows you to add up to three uncarded players to your roster. For that reason, the players you might normally expect to be there in the first round of the draft are typically gone. I tend to leave the uncarded’s until late and pickup cards to help me win now. In this draft I did not have a 2nd and 3rd round pick and spent my first round pick on a starting pitcher. I did though have multiple 4th and 5th round picks, giving me a great shot to re-build my bullpen on the fly.  Here is who I would up with in my later picks:

Round 4: RP – Sean White (4.6/10.6/8.7 vs. L | 14.5/23.5/17.5 vs. R). White came out of nowhere last year to post a tiny WHIP and ERA for the Mariners. The card, while lacking in K’s, will perform quite nicely in a hitters park like mine (Coors Field). He is only 28 years old and in a good pitchers park in MLB. He might put up a useable card next year as well, but for now you get 64 premium innings.

Round 4: RP – Juan Gutierrez (20/36/25.2 vs. L | 10.1/13.1/16.6 vs. R). Gutierrez was converted from a starting pitcher to a reliever last year and did quite well. He was solid as a late-inning setup man for Arizona and might be given a shot to take over as the closer at some point. Only 26-years old and a hard-thrower he might have the best chance of producing several good cards in the future and he gives you 71 very good innings right away.

Round 4: RP – CJ Wilson (8.9/23.9/9.9 vs. L | 16.6/25.6/25.1 vs. R). Every pen needs a lefty to come in and shutdown those power-hitting left-handed batters. Wilson has put up decent cards in the past but coming off a shaky year he will be available in most drafts. At 29 he is not going to make any giant leaps, but with 74 very good innings he is not just a LOOGY either. All of three of the relievers taken so far also have no HR’s or BP HR’s vs. Left or Right. That is another key to them being effective in my park.

Round 5: RP – Brian Sanches (13.8/14.8/16.1 vs. L | 8.1/16.1/15.3 vs. R). At 30 years of age we are now rolling into the journeyman area of the draft. Sanches has a very nice card, similar to Sean White in that he doesn’t give up many hits but he will slip due to age and lack of prior success. He only has 56 innings too, so that will push him down a round or two over the guys above.

Round 6: RP – Sean Green (6.8/32.8/17.4 vs. L | 17.4/21.5/25.4 vs. R). Another journeyman here, but this card is great for a back of the bullpen guy. No HR’s or BP HR’s vs. R  and only 1.4/2|STAR| vs. Left. He is a perfect mop-up man who will keep your team in it while your offense tries to chip away at your opponents lead.

So in five picks in the middle of our draft I was able to put together an entire bullpen. Add Heilman as a reverse Righty and Kuo as a second lefty (albeit with only 30 innings) and that is an above average pen. Another method I will use is to see how teams are doing and if they are not playoff contenders go after them for their current bullpen aces who may be hurt or having off-years in MLB. This will allow you to pick them up cheaper than if you tried to trade for them right now.

Other RP’s to keep an eye on that could be available in your draft: David Aardsma, Kiko Calero, Jeremy Affeldt, Darren O’Day, Mike Wuertz, Craig Breslow, Ryan Franklin, Nick Masset.

Strat-O-Matic Sleepers

Strat-O-Matic Sleepers

     It is that time of the year again. Spring Training is in full swing and Strat’s opening day (although being delayed this year) has come and gone. Now it is time to dig into the cards and start figuring out how to put together a winning team. So what makes up a sleeper in strat? It’s very similar to Roto or Fantasy. You really are trying to get the best group of players on your roster for the lowest price. Now in Strat (unlike Roto or Fantasy) we know exactly what we are getting when buying (since the cards are built cased on last years stats). What I have found is that a players value may have as much to do with their reputation as it does their cards. So the idea for this article is to try and identify players with good cards whose owners may not realize exactly what they have on their hands.

Starting Pitchers:

There are four absolute studs this year that will lead many teams to championships (Tim Lincecum, Zack Greinke, Chris Carpenter and Felix Hernandez). If you have one (or two) of them then bully for you. But for the rest of us here are some names that will come close to replicated their stats at a more reasonable price.

Javier Vazquez: He gives it up a bit vs. Lefties (25TB/2.6 HR/4 BP) but is a monster vs. righties (12.1 OB/14.6 TB/.2 HR/0 BP). He is older so go after him if he is on a rebuilding team.

Ubaldo Jimenez: There are still some folks who don’t really feel comfortable owning a Colorado pitcher. But in humidors we trust! Ubaldo has a fantastic strat card. A little high on the walks vs. Lefties (30.3 OB/20.1 TB/0 HR/0 BP) but rock solid vs. righties (14.8 OB/12.4 TB/1.2 HR/1 BP).

Gavin Floyd: A very solid strat card and some people may not trust that he can keep it up. He gives up a few HR’s vs. Lefties but his TB is low enough to prevent too many big innings (24.6 OB/19.9 TB/2.4 HR/ 3 BP) and against righties he is solid and does not give up the long ball from this side (23.5 OB/27.1 TB/1 HR/ 0 BP).

Barry Zito: I know, I know, so many people have been burnt before by the soft-tossing lefty. But that just means his price may be much more reasonable than you envision. Despite the normal caveats that come with owning a lefty SP in Strat, Barry has a decent card (17 OB/24 TB/1.2 HR/2 BP) vs. L and (26 OB/23 TB/1.6 HR/ 3 BP) vs. R. I would feel very comfortable with him in the middle of a rotation in a 20-team mixed league.

Relief Pitchers:

Darren O’Day: Every year there are great RP cards available in almost all Strat drafts. You shouldn’t go overboard with these if you are rebuilding since they are so unreliable from year to year. O’Day’s card is fantastic vs. L (13.9 OB/13.9 TB/0 HR/0 BP) and vs. R (17.3 OB/4.9 TB/0 HR/0 BP).

Brian Sanches: Another card with very little HR’s on it either way. Both O’Day and Sanches are ideal for a park with a lot of BP HR’s. Sanches vs. L (14.8 OB/16.1 TB/.6 HR/0 BP) and vs. R (16.1 OB/15.3 TB/.6 HR/1 BP).

Alberto Arias: Some people will not like the walks, but I love cards like this as I usually play in HR friendley parks. His card vs. L (32 OB/34 TB/0 HR/0 BP) and vs. R (25 OB/22.4 TB/0 HR/0 BP).

Evan Meek: This card will likely be real easy to pickup in the draft. High OB, but low HR’s is my type of card. Meek vs. L (30.8 OB/35.6 TB/0 HR/0 BP) and vs. R (28.8 OB/3.2 TB/.8 HR/0 BP).

Hitters:

Derek Jeter: The name brand with Jeter is as high as ever. But let’s face it, he isn’t getting any younger. So if you see him on a roster of a non-contender see if you can pry him away from his current team. He absolutely crushes lefties (61 OB/56 TB/2.1 HR/2 BP) and has a great OB vs. righties (47.5 OB/39 TB/1.4 HR/1 BP).

Todd Helton: The luster was off his star the last couple of seasons and I think this might be a swansong as opposed to the start of a resurgence but this card is solid. And the price should be low. You might think of platooning him with someone who crushes lefties, but his card vs. R is great (52.1 OB/45.5 TB/2.3 HR/4 BP).

Michael Young: The shift from the middle infield to 3B over the years might have left his current owners with no place to play him. If you can grab him in a deal he should serve you very well at 3B. He card vs. L is nothing special, another canidate for a platoon. But his card vs. R is well above average (42.8 OB/54.2 TB/3.2 HR/5 BP).

Garrett Jones: Ok, ok, he won’t be cheap. Maybe you can get lucky as he did come out of nowhere to post a monster card. The AB’s are low, but look at these numbers vs. R: (45.4 OB/57.3 TB/6.4 HR/8 BP). He can still mash vs. L but his 15.7 OB vs. southpaws will leave you wanting to maximize his 314 AB’s vs. righties.

Michael Cuddyer: Boing! This guy has bounced on and off Strat rosters the last several years, but last year his numbers vs. lefties has me longing to get him on my team (36 OB/71.9 TB/11.6 HR/8 BP). Yes, 71.9 TB vs. Lefties!!! His numbers vs. righties are servicable as well. So bat him 3rd vs. L and down in the 6-7 spot vs. R and he will put up some numbers for you.

Strat-O-Matic 2009 Card Review – Part 1 (The Hitters)

Spring is in the air! That means it is time to prepare for your Strat-O-Matic league. Sometimes the difference between coming home with a championship are those handful of ‘freak’ cards that may not be the best long-term talent, but will do a fantastic job in a platoon or as a pinch-hitter in the right situation. We will cover pitchers in an upcoming blog entry.

Hitters vs. Right

Pablo Sandoval, C/1B/3B (41.1 Hit / 43.2 OB / 59 TB / 2.1 HR / 3 BP)

Pablo has the benefit of not only being a freak card but also a legitimate prospect. This is exactly the type of player I love to draft. He has 145 impact AB’s available this year from the catcher spot. Which means you could get away with starting him for three of your playoff games. Plus he has the chance to develop into an everyday player. He also has a great shot at regular at-bats in San Francisco.

Josh Anderson, CF/LF (38.4 Hit / 40.4 OB / 56.4 TB / 2.5 HR /  4 BP)

Josh is 26-years old, so not likely to be a star. He looks like a classic fourth outfielder at the moment. But with 136 decent at-bats and an ‘A’ steal rating plus 16 speed he could be a perfect complement to someone like Chris Young or Vernon Wells in a platoon. Or you could keep him on the bench and use him as a pinch-hitter or pinch-runner. A perfect guy to add as your 25th man on your roster.

Nelson Cruz, RF (28.2 Hit / 43.2 OB / 55.7 TB / 7.1 HR /  8 BP)

This is the perfect pinch-hitter. With only 115 at-bats you will need to be selective when to use him. He can get on base very well vs. lefties although he loses much of his power. He has a 2e11 rating in RF which can also be used as a defensive replacement.

Russell Branyan, 1B/3B (21.4 Hit / 36.3 OB / 66.5 TB / 12.8 HR / 8|STAR| BP)Braynan seems to pop up every year or two with a very useable freak card. This is one of those years. With only 132 at-bats and his specialty being against RH’s he won’t be able to platoon for you. But he is the perfect power pinch-hitter. When you really need a home run then pull out Branyan’s card and hope for some friendly dice. Do NOT under any circumstances let him hit against lefties. His card is literally empty against them. One strategy you can use is bring in Branyan to force your opponent to bring in a lefty from the pen, then counter with your lefty-basher from the list below.

Hitters vs. Left

Gabe Kapler, LF/CF/RF (36.5 Hit / 37.5 OB / 67.1 TB / 4 HR / 6 BP HR)

Talk about coming back from the dead! Kapler, at 33 had missed all of the 2007 season while trying his hand as a manager in the Red Sox organization. But after tiring of seeing his underlings unable to pound left-handed pitching Gabe decided to show them how it is done. He absolutely pounds lefties and has some serious pop with six BP homers. He also can still go get it with the glove earning a 2e3 in left and right field and a 3e3 in center field. He also has 229 at bats which makes him the perfect platoon partner for one of your outfielders.

Anderson Hernandez, 2B/SS (41.5 Hit / 51.5 OB / 49.5 TB)

Anderson only has 81 at-bats and at 26 he will likely never be a star. But he is penciled in as the starter at 2B for the Washington Nationals. This is definitely the time to pick him up cheap in trade or in the draft. With a 51.5 OB percentage vs. L and a 2e18 as his defensive rating at 2B he is a nice fit as a playoff platoon partner for someone who hits righties well. He might be a nice defensive replacement for someone like Dan Uggla.

Marcus Thames, 1B/LF/RF (14.9 Hit / 23.9 OB / 57.6 TB / 14.3 HR / 8|STAR| BP)

Marcus does one thing and he does it well: Hit for power vs. lefties. He will frustrate you with so few OB or HIT chances. But when you are down three runs with the bases loaded and Billy Wagner on the mound he might be your best chance to steal a win.

Brian N. Anderson, LF/CF/RF (13 Hit / 14 OB / 50.5 TB / 12.5 HR / 8|STAR| BP)

Brian does two things well: On top of hitting lefties for power Anderson also has an excellent glove. With a 1e3 rating in CF he might save as many runs as he creates. He is also has a ‘B’ steal rating and above average speed. So when he isn’t platooning in center field for you he can act as a pinch-hitter/runner/defense replacement.  

Jeff Keppinger, 1B/2B/3B/SS (41.1 Hit / 48.1 OB / 59.3 TB / 2.8 HR)

At 28 Jeff will probably settle into a utility roll with the Astros. But for strat purposes you can pencil him into your starting lineup whenever a left-hander is on the mound. His defense is adequate that you can safely play him just about anywhere in the infield. He will give you the best value at SS or 2B but be sure to get him out of the there as soon as your opponent summons a RH to the mound as he just can’t hit them.

Utility Players

Jerry Hairston Jr. 2B/3B/SS/LF/CF/RF (35.3/52.3/54.2 vs. L | 35.4/43.4/47.9 vs. R)

This is the perfect utility man. He can play every position except for C and 1B. His defense is adequate everywhere and he can hit! You wouldn’t mind seeing him facing a LH or a RH and his flexibility will free you up to add one or two extra freak cards from the list above.

Martin Prado 1B/2B/3B/SS/LF (29.5/42.5/59.2 vs. L | 34.8/43.8/48.6 vs. R)

Prado is on the fence between prospect and utility man. The Braves may wind up giving him a chance as a starter at some point. But for now just be happy that he is getting playing time. For your strat season he can play all the infield positions aside from catcher and has over 200 at-bats that you can use. Plus he can hit! Not too shabby for your utility man.