So, for many of us, the season ended on Tuesday night (finally) with the first one-game play-off in the American League since 1995. In some (most?) leagues, this meant an anticlimactic finish, but in others it meant a down-to-the-wire game where every AB mattered.
In my A.L., the eventual second place finisher lost by 1 1/2 points, but it was a much closer finish than the point total indicated. If his team had only picked up another win and another hit, he would have won by 1/2 a point. Looking at this in real world terms, if he hadn't dropped Roy Corcoran in favor of Brian Tallet going into the final week and if his Tigers and Justin Morneau had done more than go 1-for-15 in the final two games, we would have had a different champion.
As for me?
Well, I deserve either a pat on the back or a kick in the butt, depending on your perspective. After winning my "regular" A.L. last year, I finished 4th this year. On the positive side, this is a competitive league where it's hard to finish in the money back-to-back. I was the only owner who repeated in the Top 4; the other top finishers finished in the bottom three after having emptied all barrels in an effort to win or place in 2007. While 4th place isn't the goal, you could look at what I did and see it as a minor accomplishment.
On the other hand, I was in a tight race for first place through mid-August before the wheels came off. The last six weeks of the season were a painful stumble, and the only reason I didn't finish lower than fourth is that I had built up enough of a pitching lead to take 44 points out of a possible 48.
So what went right and what went wrong (You can go back and look at my draft here)?
Rather than write a long piece re-hashing my auction player by player, I thought it might be more useful to look at some of the things I wrote and see how well I predicted the outcome.
I got all of the power I wanted, though not quite as much of an excess as I should have. I might have been better off getting Miguel Cabrera at $43 (assuming the bidding would have stopped at +1) and going dollar derby on my second base and catcher slots.
Frankly, there might have been some wishful thinking here on my part. Carlos Pena, Luke Scott, and Jose Guillen were a nice start for me in the power department, but Richie Sexson, Scott Rolen, and Jason Varitek were all disappointments to one degree or another. I wasted a few slots attempting to get production at middle infield and catcher, and definitely would have been better off spending big bucks on Cabrera or Vladimir Guerrero and letting guys like Sexson and Rolen go in favor of $1 corner infielders.
One point in my favor, however, is that it was indeed difficult to dump for quality middle infielders this season. I lucked out and got Mike Aviles through FAAB...but then tried WAY too hard by flipping him in a larger dump deal for Carlos Guillen. It was the right move (at the time, Aviles had all of 27 AB for me), but it didn't work out.
I'm light on speed and my batting average projects terribly.
Somehow, I managed to finish 5th in stolen bases despite correctly identifying this fundamental flaw in my team. Trading for Bobby Abreu and Chone Figgins in separate deals definitely helped; I wouldn't have been able to dump two categories and win.
Boy, was I prophetic about my batting average. I finished 11th, and Abreu, Manny Ramirez, and Michael Young were the only hitters I owned for 150 AB or more who hit .280 or higher. When you plan to spend $220+ on offense, your goal certainly isn't to tank an offensive category, but that's exactly what I did. Granted, there was a little bad luck here, but by buying and freezing hitters like Pena, Sexson, and Varitek, I certainly didn't do myself any favors.
My biggest surprise is that I actually like my $37 pitching staff. Litsch, Lee, and Eveland actually aren't a horrible front three, and I can tolerate Contreras for a while as I push toward the IP requirement. I'm one of four teams with two closers, but one of those teams has Putz, and another has C.J. Wilson/Todd Jones. If I can get some garbage time/injury saves from Guardado, I could actually sneak the category.
This turned out to be the understatement of the year.
Obviously, the big story for me was Cliff Lee. I was targeting him as one of my cheap starters and hoping for a 4 ERA with an OK WHIP. I clearly wasn't expecting a Cy Young award candidate at $3.
Lee was the only pitcher of that front four I kept all season. I held on to Contreras for too long, but managed to move Eveland and Litsch before they started stinking up the joint. I did wind up winning saves...though with a completely different cast of characters than I started with. Bobby Jenks, Joe Nathan and Fernando Rodney wound up replacing Joakim Soria and George Sherill, as both were flipped in dump deals.
Ah, trades. How did those work out? Since this post is getting very, very long (like you or I have anything else to do this winter), I'll look at that in another post.