Not the Gladwell book, but the ability to make splashy predictions yet still trail in one's roto league.
I've gone on record with three fantasy predictions so far this season:
1) In a March podcast, I named Russell Branyan as my top fantasy sleeper for the season. Branyan just bashed his 21st homer of the season last night. He's on pace for 40+. You probably got him for $12 or less in a deep league, and maybe a few bucks (or less) in a shallow mixed league.
2) In an early-June interview with Beyond the Boxscore, I pegged Alexei Ramirez as my top fantasy sleeper for the rest of the season. At the time that I answered the interview questions, Ramirez was hitting .247/.292/.335 with 4 homers through 2+ months. In the four weeks since, Ramirez has popped six more homers and hiked his line to .273/.326/.405.
If all this seems like a thinly veiled excuse to brag, it isn't. Sure, it's pretty unusual to make only three predictions and have them all work out so well. But–and here's a topic I've often discussed with Chris Liss–what is the measure of a baseball/fantasy baseball writer's success? Is it making big, bold predictions that work out, or winning their individual leagues? Chris has argued that nailing the former may go further toward building a solid reputation. But I'm not in the same position as he is, being more of a catch-all sports writer than a fantasy writer. In that case, I'd probably prefer to win my leagues.
So far, it's not happening. Sure, I was savvy enough to snag Branyan for $10 in my deep, competitive, 12-team AL-only league. Better still, I nabbed Washburn in the fifth reserve round of that same auction. But I was never fortunate enough to land Ramirez, even when his value was depressed after a slow start. Plus I also made many errors at the auction table. Part of this may have been because I seem to draft better facing a live room of rivals than flipping through online, unable to maintain my concentration.
Whatever the case, you're not winning many leagues when you spend a combined $92 on Jason Giambi, Melvin Mora, Orlando Cabrera, Delmon Young, Magglio Ordonez and Scott Kazmir. I've made up a lot of ground through other avenues, and do have a slim hold on 2nd place in that league (top 4 cash in). But my lousy decision making may well come back to trump whatever clever predictions I may have had.
...like, say, trading Washburn for Marco Scutaro just before the start of this week. Granted, we lose all stats after a trade to an NL team, Washburn might be dealt to the NL, and I desperately needed an infield bat. But still. I'm an idiot.
So what say you, folks? If you write about fantasy for a (quasi-) living, better to win leagues, or Washburnify your way to fame and fortune? And readers...what wins more credibility in your eyes: a bunch of LABR or Tout Wars titles, or shot-in-the-dark predictions that turn to gold?