Like the San Francisco Giants and Tampa Bay Rays, my fantasy baseball team is endlessly waiting for Buster Posey and Evan Longoria to be Buster Posey and Evan Longoria again. We’re past the half-way point in the season, so perhaps we’ll all have to wait until next year, at which point I’ll fire myself as the general manager of my fantasy baseball team.
I can’t separate fantasy baseball from, like, who I would want on a real baseball team I was in charge of, and I don’t really care about speed. However, in fantasy baseball, things like stolen bases matter. I have nothing against the stolen base or speed in general (full disclosure: I’m fast), but I just wouldn’t really want a guy like Ben Revere playing center field for my favorite team. He’s fast, but he doesn’t walk, hit for power, or get on base at an above-average clip. It’s fun to try to get a time on a fast guy down the line or on a stolen base attempt on your stop watch. One of the joys of watching the Giants over the past few seasons has been the speed of Angel Pagan when he’s in the lineup, which is becoming increasingly less of a common occurrence these days. Unlike Revere, Pagan has some slug to his game in addition to plus-plus speed.
Despite not wanting players like Revere, in fantasy baseball, I just couldn’t find outfielders this season, so I had to go slumming with Revere—picking up his light stick off the waiver wire. He rarely strikes out, hits for a good average, and steals bases. Additionally, he’s been better overall with the bat in June and July, slashing .298/.333/.383 in June and .316/.350/.342 thus far in July.
I mistakenly built my team around Posey, Longoria, Matt Carpenter, and a bunch of young pitchers because I forgot or didn’t care that things like stolen bases and home runs matter more in fantasy. Or maybe I thought Posey and Longoria would have drastically better seasons than they’ve thus far produced.
Recently, I started playing some recreational soccer to try to get back in shape even though I haven’t played soccer since I was cut from a traveling team like 17 years ago. I am absolutely terrible because I don’t know how to kick or head the ball. So every time I get the ball, I turn it over or take a terrible shot on goal that doesn’t go in. However, despite being extremely out of shape, I’m probably the fastest person on the field and have the most stamina because most of the players are much older. I’m the least skilled player, however, and an old-timer on my team got pretty fed up with my shtick after two games and started yelling at me to pass him the ball more. And getting yelled at is no fun, particularly when you’re just there to exercise because jogging is absolutely miserable and you don’t really know how to play soccer.
So in a lot of ways I can relate to Ben Revere. In this soccer league, I’m a plus-plus runner with 80-grade range up and down the field, but I have no power because I can’t kick the stupid ball properly. Yet maybe there’s hope that Revere can hit for a high enough average to mitigate his 3-percent walk rate. His .314 OBP is just below the MLB average of .316, so it’s not like he’s a total disaster in that regard. He’s never going to hit for any power, but because he doesn’t strike out, he could have a huge second half fueled by the BABIP gods. Given his speed, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him have a random season where he hits .330.
Sometimes, out of necessity, you’ve got to let go of your concept of the ideal baseball player and accept a flawed player with the notion that you shouldn’t let the perfectly adequate be the enemy of perfection. In baseball, even seemingly perfect players like Buster and Longoria will let you down.
Mark Reynolds graduated from Dominican University of California in 2008 with a degree in Political Science. Since graduating, he's been "blogging" about baseball and other topics.