Time to Look Deeper for New Fantasy Edges
Sandora, David, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Outside of steroids, it could be this generation's most hated (yet loved) development in baseball. The No. 1 best-selling book about the Oakland A's was as hot a topic to baseball fans as Iraq was to politicos. Yet the stat-analysis philosophy also continues to be misunderstood in many corners.
Moneyball is not about on-base percentage or taking walks. It's about finding an edge over your opponents. And believe it or not, the book that either canonized or villainized (depending on your view) Oakland general manager Billy Beane helped those "traditional baseball men" it denigrated more than anybody else.
Now, every team in baseball analyzes the statistics inside and out, and top-notch scouts may have become the undervalued commodity that puts organizations over the top.
Moneyball-style analysis can be -- no, must be -- applied to your fantasy team, too. Your competitors are getting smarter and now know how to use statistics that used to be cognoscenti-only. Here are some of the new areas to explore for edges that can keep you ahead of the curve:
n Using positional scarcity in trades -- The most abundant resource in baseball is mid-level starting pitching, so cash in your top starter(s) for position players, and rely on a glut of mid- level pitchers to carry you. In the stock market, they call it diversifying.
n Go for the extremes -- If you're in a standard 10-team, head- to-head league, the average squad will have three closers on its roster. If your team only has one or two, you're losing saves most of them time anyway. Punt the category, and trade the closers for help elsewhere.
n Batted-ball data -- There are plenty of places online that track how hard baseballs are hit by individual batters, how far they go and the trajectory. To wit, the White Sox's Carlos Quentin is tied for the American League lead in "Just Enough" home runs, the ones that barely made it out of the park. …