TDG Roundtable: On Rostering Rival Players for Fantasy
The Roundtable is back! This week, Phil, Brett, Ryan, and Taylor ponder how rostering (or not rostering!) rival players (at least from a real-life fan perspective) has affected our fantasy games in the past. A fun, light-hearted article for sure. As always, thanks for reading.
I am a Cubs fan, from my first game as a kid back in 1989 (they played the Giants), to watching games in the bleachers in the 90s when it was not cool to be in the bleachers (because the team stunk), to watching the Marlins eliminate them while listening to the game on the radio while making sandwich deliveries in college. I loved Sammy Sosa and hated Mark McGwire. In the 2000s, while living in St. Louis, the belly of the beast, I saw the Cardinals win two World Series and watched my friends celebrate while I knew it might never happen for me.
Admittedly, I was an Albert Pujols fan, because watching the Machine in his prime was watching one of the best baseball players ever (and he was my key keeper for the first decade or so of my original friend’s keeper league), but the rest of the Cardinals I hated. Never was I trading for, or drafting, any of them. Literally, any of them, except Prince Albert. But then, 2016 happened, and my Cubs won their first world series in 100+ years. My good friend and I talked on the phone after it happened, and we cried tears of joy. A weight was lifted. And I became more than a Cubs fan, I became a baseball fan.
Now free of the burden of not having my team win a World Series, I could just be a fan. The Cubs are still my team, but I appreciate all baseball teams all the more and don’t feel the hate and jealousy I did toward the Cardinals all those years. So last year I traded for Tyler O’Neill. I started Adam Wainwright on multiple teams, helping me to the playoffs. I drafted Juan Yepez in every offseason minor league draft I could. Harrison Bader is getting my team’s steals as fast as he can this season. I do not roster Jack Flaherty anywhere, but I do hope he gets healthy. The only exception is the playoffs. No way I could root for the Cards against my Cubbies, but until that happens, in fantasyland, (some) Cardinals will find a home on some of my teams.
My real-life team is the Texas Rangers. I have Ohtani in one league. I had Trout in another league a few years ago. I try to only roster a solid Texas Rangers player if I can. I have some rangers prospects in leagues and I have Adolis Garcia in a deep dynasty league. I struggle with having Ohtani only when they play my Rangers. It isn’t enough to make me want to trade one of the best players in the game but it does mess with the heart strings! I want my Rangers to win but I also want my fantasy team to win.
You can call me a fair-weathered fan, but really I am not one. I preface with that because when the Rangers are bad, like they have been for the last few years, it makes it easier to cheer other team’s players in fantasy because I don’t have many real-life expectations. But now that the Rangers are semi-competitive, I cheer on my Rangers over fantasy. Baseball is a team sport.
At the same time, here is this: one player can change a game but one player on a dynasty isn’t going to win you a league or match up single-handledly, so I will also cheer on my fantasy player. You can fight me on that if you disagree. I guess my take on this is the following: real life over fantasy but I want the fantasy results!
Ryan Felix Fernandes
The one player that I cannot have on my fantasy team because (sigh)… I’m a Cubs fan.
There is only one team that has scarred me to the point that to this day if I see anyone wearing the color red I will run away from them screaming, “Willie McGee looks half asleep, how the hell did he bat .353 in 1985!?!” And yes that has ruined many Valentines and Christmases for me, but I save those stories for my therapist so I will spare you of that.
I’m speaking of course of those Ozzie Smith backflippin’, Tommy Herr permin’, Mark McGwire andro takin’, Albert Pujos copy machinin’, and Yadi Molina.. Ummm I don’t know…. Just f*ck that dude. Yes, I am speaking about the St. Louis Cardinals.
And yes I know if you are a Cardinals fan you are saying “Don’t forget we are the 11x time World Series Champions St Louis Cardinals a**hole!”
Then I say, “I get it… calm down buddy! I am just playing around….don’t forget in 2015 when we knocked you out in the playoffs! Guess we made sure it wasn’t 12x time champs that year!”
You’d then come back with, “Congrats it only took you over 108 years to win one again!”
And that is when I’ll say, “Isn’t 2016 a lot more recent than 2011… Like five whole years or 60 months or 1826 days?”
Wait… Who am I arguing with?
Anyway sorry back to that one guy who will give me that sick feeling in my stomach for the next ten years when he comes up to the plate against my Cubs. That man is Juan Yepez and yes I refused to add him to my fantasy team even though many colleagues recommended him throughout the last couple of years.
Summary and Stats
Signed out of Venezuela in 2014 at the age of 16 by the Braves. Yepez, who I will give the nickname Yupperz, muddled around class A ball for a couple of years while dealing with injuries before being traded to the Cardinals in 2016. WHY!!!! Atlanta, did you really need Matt Adams for those ten days Freddie Freeman was on the IL in 2016?
After the trade Yupperz didn’t set their organization on fire either for the first couple of years. But, in 2019 he developed some power and a better understanding of the strike zone. He tripled his number of home runs while doing it with 78 fewer at-bats while still being able to maintain the same average with better slugging and on-base percentage against tougher competition in Double-A. In 2021, after the 2020 canceled season he just got better and took his game to another level becoming a MiLB All-Star with improvements in every hitting category yet again. That year he slashed .286/.383/.586 and almost tripled (again) the number of home runs from the year before with 28 along with 77 RBIs to go along with fewer strikeouts and more walks per plate appearance. In 2022 after starting the season in the minors Yupperz forced the Cardinals to change the Albert Puljos appreciation tour to have him fill their DH, 1B, and OF roles.
The Big Picture!
Now I can continue regurgitating stats for you or give some sort of prediction that I really have no clue will actually happen so I rather bring up something that some of you might not have noticed from our site.
In all likelihood, Yepez has already been scooped up in your league because every fantasy baseball site has talked about him the last month or so. I am guessing if you are reading this you are the type that tries to get as much information as possible on prospects, players, and especially those under the radar type players like Yepez to help your team succeed in winning your league. I want you to take a look at this article my colleague Patrick Magnus (@thegreenMagnus on Twitter) wrote about Yepez back in April of 2018.
Patrick’s analysis of Yepez pointed out his progression back in Single-A and said if he showed the necessary improvements in his plate discipline you should put him on your watch list back then. And if you missed that article you just had to keep an eye on the monthly and annual prospect rating and watch articles and podcasts throughout the last three years from the site from Jesse Roche (@jaroche6), Jordan Rosenblum (@rosenjordanblum), Shelly “First Rate” Verougstraete (@shellyv_643) and Taylor Case (@TCasesloaded and yes I am also jealous of Taylor’s Twitter handle) to see that all of the insight and progression that led to them saying that Yepez is on all of their radars as well.
Even if you didn’t just pay attention to any of those for whatever reason and just have been paying attention to the site this year. Just look at this Triple Play article of the St. Louis Cardinals from April of this year written by my guy Phil Barrington aka the Brain in Spain (@barrington_phil)
All of these great fantasy baseball minds are in the same spot here at Dynasty Guru to help you find that next player (like Yepez) that can help you get closer to winning your league. What I pointed out is just a sample size of all the information and content that these amazing baseball minds have done. I suggest you take a look and subscribe if you really want to have an advantage in your fantasy league.
Just like a lot of those other sites and what I wrote about Yepez in this article, I piggybacked off of a lot of their hard work and insight to confirm to you what they knew years ago. And if Yepez doesn’t pan out? You also know I’m not the only one who got that wrong.
I’ve softened a bit on my “rostering rival team players” stance in the last few years. Yes, there are still some certain Dodgers third basemen and Yankees save-getters that I avoid at all costs, but in rethinking my fandom since I got into the dynasty world, I find myself drifting less toward not rostering any players from specific teams, and more toward not rostering any players who I find it hard to root for. It’s not the team’s fault!
Well, sometimes it is. Alas.
In any case, what I’ve determined is that life’s too short to root for fantasy players you don’t like. There’s nuance there, of course, and I’m sure there are players I know nothing about who, if we were ever to compare notes, or swap morals, or talk politics – well, let’s just say I’m positive I roster some players out there with whom I share very little common ground. It is what it is. Nonetheless, I try to go about my teams with the mindset that if you’re on my team, you have my implicit support. Because hey, it’s fun to root for the players! And honestly, dynasty baseball is still a game for me – one I try not to take too seriously.
I know it’s something I don’t always get right. Do I stress about it? Yeah, sometimes I do. But I’m doing my best to remember that who I roster in my baseball leagues is but a fraction of a sliver of a piece of the pie that is me.