Cold Reality for Giants Fantasy

Jeff Gross

Will Tim Lincecum soar or plummet in 2013?

Ah, Fantasy Baseball. You time suck. Masticator of mornings, nosher of nights.

Did you know that more Americans obsess over their fantasy lineups than their own family? It's true. I looked it up.

Did you know that my fool-proof system of randomizing my strategy every year finally worked last year and I won hella leagues? Do you care? Probably not. But I'm going to waste your time telling you about my fantasy strategy anyway. The first and only rule you need to know as a Giants fan when playing Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball is

DO NOT DRAFT GIANTS!

"But Bryan, I love the Giants. Certainly more than your words of wisdom. Definitely more than my own family (second only to Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball, of course). I have no intention of listening to this terrible advice," you'll say.

Fine! Ignore the first and only rule you need to know as a Giants fan when playing Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball.

The last time I drafted a Giants player was 1999, when I drafted... BARRY BONDS. And he got hurt and that was that. Never again, I said. Never. Again.

We already kill ourselves watching each game. Why add the drama and pressure of Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball standings to another 1-0 Padres game?

But okay, you're committed and you hate me for suggesting this. I suppose the least I could do is try to give you some guidance. We all have a general notion of who the best players are, so that's not really difficult:

PLAYER R/W HR/K RBI/ERA SB/WHIP OBP/SV
Buster Posey 78 24 103 1 .408
Matt Cain 16 193 2.79 1.04 0
Madison Bumgarner 16 191 3.37 1.11 0
Pablo Sandoval 59 12 63 1 .342
Tim Lincecum 10 190 5.18 1.47 0
Hunter Pence 87 24 104 5 .319
Angel Pagan 95 8 56 29 .338
Sergio Romo 4 63 1.79 .0.85 14
Brandon Belt 47 7 56 12 .360
Ryan Vogelsong 14 158 3.37 1.23 0
Top ten players based on Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball O-rank:

Posey (29), Cain (34), Bumgarner (48), Sandoval (53), Lincecum (109)
Pence (118), Pagan (142), Romo (136), Belt (184), Vogelsong (186)

I decided to dump everything into one table for the sake of simplicity. These are the most typical categories anyway. Some thoughts on this list:

Pablo's injury situation is a bit tricky and I think that his health should be considered when drafting. Pence could have a meaningful season for the Giants and another pretty okay season in terms of fantasy. In both these cases, though, you can find value elsewhere. It certainly depends on what categories your league might have, too.

People and Yahoo! underestimate Ryan Vogelsong at their peril.

I like Pagan if your league includes slugging percentage or even a triples category, and I love him if you're in an NL-only league. But if I were to pick a player or situation that could prove to be a fantasy bust this year it would be the entire Giants' outfield. It's possible Pence provides more offense than RBI next season. It's possible Angel Pagan is able to play 154 games, but drafting anyone in the Giants' outfield seems like a big risk. There are definitely more "sure things" out there.

On the other hand, Brandon Belt could be a late-round or low-bid first baseman who could really break out this year. Hot spring stats, a more confident-sounding player... all the makings of a break out. If your league uses OBP he has value and you can actually get some stolen bases out of the 1B position which is really nice. Power might not really be there for that position, but OBP and stolen bases and an overall better line in terms of RBI and runs will cover the lack of home runs.

Finally, I'm in a league that's doing SAVES + HOLDS as a category. Romo may not get every save chance and he may not remain as the de facto closer all year, so a category like this is really great for the majority of the Giants' pen. Casilla and Affeldt are sure to get save chances and they'll certainly come in for holds, but even a guy like Kontos and even Javier Lopez could get you numbers here if you're desperate.

It's tough to prognosticate the fantasy values of players and you see that I really just talk out what I think could happened based on what information I have and my experience from watching baseball and playing fantasy before (NO GIANTS!).

You can certainly look at Grant's community projections for some of the players (Crawford, Torres, Pence, Romo, Pagan, Scutaro, Belt, Zito) as this series is still ongoing (also, if I've missed some of these, link in the comments below). See also Grant's post discussing the Giants' PECOTA projections (or subscribe to BP, you animal) or FanGraphs' positional rankings or Dan Szymborski's ZiPS projections.

But really, don't draft Giants. Don't jinx the season. Do draft Clayton Kershaw, because he helps you in three possible ways: 1) you get a dominate pitcher 2) jinx his season or 3) lord it over Dodgers fans who might be in your league. Win-win for a Giants-loving Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball player.

Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball supports SBNation and fantasy league families everywhere. Get better experts, better tools, and better stats with the #1 free fantasy baseball game. This season also features a brand new iPad app, so sign up now. Get ready for opening day with better play on Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Baseball.

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