A week or so ago (see article below) I
opened up the question of what separates a top owner in any given
league. I asked you what qualities you thought were important to
the best players. I asked what you thought they did better then the
rest of the owners. The response so far has been great.
Many of you took some time to write
some very interesting notes with your thoughts on the subject and
the whole process has been an eye-opener in many ways. And reading
your answers has been some of the most fun Iíve had in this job.
This turns out to be a fascinating question.
Now this isnít a scientific survey. I
just wanted a feel for the answer to the question of what
distinguishes a ďtop owner.Ē
Of course, as many of you wrote, there
is no one answer. The reason any given owner is good is because he
does a number of things well. But to get a handle on what things
itís most important to be good at, I turned this into and MVP-style
of voting. I went through all the notes and grouped the qualities
mentioned. You guys worded things a bit differently but you were
basically talking about the same things.
Then I used your notes as votes. The
quality you said was most important got 5 votes, the quality you
said also very important got 3 votes and anything else you mentioned
got 1 vote. Then I divided the score by the grand total of votes to
get an importance percentage.
Hereís how itís going so far. Here are
the things you think separates top owners from the rest of the pack.
a balanced team
and implementing a plan
the urge to over manage
Now Iím hoping to get two different
views, one from the top players themselves and those of our
Insiderbaseball.com subscribers who consider themselves ďTop Player
in TrainingĒ. But to this point only two people who wrote donít
consider themselves top players, so I donít have enough data there
yet. Most of this is self-explanatory of course, and in some cases
your answers touched on several of these areas, so I gave a vote to
all that applied.
Tenacity simply refers to what I
talked about in the original note. Itís the idea of being into your
team up to your elbows every day, gathering info, staying on top of
the rest of the league, making improvements to your team no matter
how small. Itís basically showing up every day and not resting until
youíve done something to help yourself, even if itís just reading
about a hot player in AA somewhere. Those who are tenacious are
simply looking to improve at least a little everyday.
I didnít really want to separate out
ďbuilding a balanced teamĒ but it was mentioned specifically in many
notes so itís important in your eyes. Itís very similar to having a
plan or overall roster management, but again, when the phrase is
used repeatedly, the concept is obviously of particular interest.
As I get more notes, these categories
may expand, but for now these are the things that came up, pretty
often in fact. The concepts talked about in the notes were
remarkably similar in many cases.
So now we have something to work with.
I donít think there are any real
surprises here, but the results so far are interesting. The things
that stick out to me are the importance you put on the draft, and
the relatively low level of importance you assign to two concepts we
deal with a lot, trading and patience.
Itís funny that tenacity and the draft
are #1 and #2 because in one sense you say it takes a season to
build a team (tenacity) and yet much is determined on Draft day. I
think thereís truth to all of that. There are no wrong answers here
after all. And while as I told you in the original piece I believe
tenacity is my own most important quality, we here at
Insiderbaseball.com are charged with the responsibility of your
draft, the supplying of your information, and much of your player
evaluation. I suppose the fact that you are here on the team with us
shows the importance you place on those qualities. And while we
already knew how important all of that is, this is just additional
fortification for us, and tells us that our priorities are straight.
The relative percentage of patience in
this poll is fairly low, but the thought came up in a majority of
the answers I received. Itís just that it was usually something
listed as ďalso importantĒ. Basically owners felt that itís
important not to panic based on April and Mayís stats and
itís important not to buy high and sell
low. I think that to most of us, the concept of patience is like
keeping your left arm locked in your golf swing. We understand the
concept and buy the concept, but putting it into practice isnít
always easy. And like most of us, when we lock that arm (or stick
with a struggling player through April and May) and start to get
good results, our faith will build.
We preach patience a lot here because
we know that the numbers tend back towards where history tells us
they should be a very large percentage of the time (80% in the case
of our projections, by the way) . Thereís
always a few high-profile cases every year that turn out to be
exceptions, and that always drops a few owners off the ďregression
to meanĒ bandwagon, but those that stick to it will come out ahead
in the long run.
Thereís one thing that to me is
conspicuously absent from this list and all of your answers, and to
me itís one of the big things that identify also-rans. This is good
(that it hasnít come up yet) because I get to delve into the concept
in a First Pitch or two before the end of the month because I feel
itís incredibly important in an owners development. If youíve read
Moneyball you will find this concept
familiar, but owners in my league, and regular readers here, will
tell you itís a dead horse Iíve been beating for years.
The one thing that is omnipresent in
most perennial also-rans in any given league is their inability to
rise above their biases and accepted beliefs. Once they get an idea
in their heads, or form an opinion about a player or thing, that is
it for life. And nothing changes. What was true in 1980 is still
true today, by gumÖ.
These are the guys who wouldnít take
Mark Prior and Roy Oswalt because they were rookie
pitchers. These are the guys that donít think Preston Wilson and
Alfonso Soriano are any good because they strikeout too much and
donít walk, and yes, these are the guys that donít think that
31-year-old pitchers donít suddenly bloom into Cy-Young caliber
starters and stay that way an entire season.
See? I was one of those guys this
year. I had a belief about the possibility that Estaban Loaiza would
continue to excel this year. And at the point where I had to decide
what I thought he was going to do, instead of re-examining my
beliefs and challenging those beliefs, I simply blindly clung to
them and I blew the call. I was stubborn, lazy and closed minded
about him, and I blew the call.
Itís important to constantly challenge
your biases and beliefs, because once you find separation between
the truth and your fellow ownerís biases and beliefs, you have
Later in the week, Iím going to start
looking at some of the individual answers I got from this question.
There are some terrific notes to in the pile to talk about and itís
obvious this is something you are anxious to get into a little.
You really responded to this question,
and I hope you will continue to respond. You donít have to write a
thesis if you donít want to. Just drop me a note listing the 2 or 3
or 4 things you think separate the top owners from the rest of the
pack and also if you will, tell me if you consider yourself a top
owner. I want to see if thereís a difference in each groupís
answers. So donít be shy. I want to here from you guys who are
improving, but arenít where you want to be yet. Simply use the
categories above or give me a new item if thereís something that
hasnít come up yet.
So please keep those cards and letters
What separates the top fantasy owners?
Let that question linger and weíll get
back to it.
At this point in the year, while the
wounds are still fresh, I like to spend time trying to figure out
what Iíve learned from this season. My team is in the playoffs.
Thereís not much left to do at this point but put in 3 more lineups
(if Iím lucky enough to make it to the World Series) and hope for
the best. Iíll fret over my starts each week and do all the homework
needed to maximize my roster each week, but for the most part, my
team is what it is. Itís either good enough to win or it isnít. My
job is basically done. Itís time to see if what I built will fly.
Now is the time I become more of an
observer. I watch the games a bit differently. Once my season is
finally completely over, and during the MLB postseason, again, while
things are fresh, I look back at what I wrote and what other people
wrote about players and I try to tie it altogether. I look back and
see what concepts I can take from this season.
Now Iím a big believer in
verbalization. I take a lot of notes, and send myself a lot of
e-mails with ideas and other tidbits I donít want to forget. And I
believe you can think about something all you want, but when you
verbalize those thoughts or write (type) them,
you bring those thoughts to the next level. You
coalesce them into something less vague and more useful.
Now Iím going to drag you into this
Each year I usually ask you to write
me a note telling me one thing you learned from the year. Itís a
great exercise for me and it helps me form ideas about how I can be
more useful in my writing for Insiderbaseball.com. Iíll do that
again this year, somewhere down the line. But today I want you to
consider the question:
What separates the top fantasy owners?
My league is 16 years old and I would
have qualified for all 16 postseasons if we played them (we didnít
have on the first year and again in the strike of 1994). My league
is mature, experienced, and pretty damn strong at this point, and in
the context of that league, I am a top owner.
If had to cite one thing that
separates me from the other owners in my league, my first answer
would be tenacity. I donít stop. I make claims almost every week. If
I can improve the last player on my roster I will do it. I carefully
chart out and agonize over my starting pitchers and my lineup each
week. Iím talking trade 5 minutes after the draft until the rules
tell me I must stop. I am always working to make my team better. Iím
looking for any and every edge.
Iíve seen too many season turn on one
pitch, one hit, on AB. I understand that while itís 20+ weeks of
hundreds of games and thousands of ABs, everything counts.
And I mean EVERYTHING.
This week, going into the playoffs, I
claimed three players. I claimed Robbie Hammock to replace Greg
Myers. I claimed Danny Graves because I believe heíll close in 2004
and he qualifies as a starter in my league so this week I can just
trot out my best four starters and try and keep my ERA, WHIP, and
Losses down by shortening my rotation to the top 4 guys (and because
Rich Harden has been shaky and Jason Schmidt had starts in Coors and
the BOB). And I claimed Ron Mahay
because he might give me a couple more strikeouts this week than the
guy I had as my 4th reliever.
Earth-shattering moves? No. But I
think they make my team a fraction of a percent better and that
makes them worth while to me. Now I lost last nightís start by Jason
Schmidt as a result of trying so hard, but I can live with that. The
final outcome almost never determines the quality of a decisionÖ
Let me put it in football terms. If
you are 4th and 25 on your own 1 yard line with
1:00 left to go and you are leading by 2 points and you
decide to run a quarterback sneak, is that a quality decision?
What if that sneak
goes 99 yards for a TD? Are you a genius all of a sudden? Does that
decision now become brilliant?
No. You are still a moron.
The outcome didnít change the quality
of the decision.
I lost Schmidtís outing and itís one
Iíd certainly like to have on my pitching line, but Iím still at
peace with my decision not to use him this week because it was the
sound move. When you make a decision you donít have the benefit of
knowing the final outcome of it. You must make your decision based
on the knowledge at hand and thatís how the decision must be judged.
There are certainly other things I do
that help me succeed each year. I bring other things to the table.
But if you had to pin me down to one thing that most separates me
from the other owners in my league, itís that I simply do not stop
trying to be better.
are a top owner, what about you? Or if not,
what about the top owners in your league? What makes then better
than the other owners?
Do they work harder? Do they draft
better? Do they evaluate talent better? Do they manage their assets
(cap money, salaries, draft picks, roster slots) better? Are they
bolder? Do they see things before everyone else? Are they better at
trading? What other things do they do better than most? What
qualities make them ďtop ownersĒ?
The answer obviously is yes to most
of, if not all of, the questions above. But I want to pin you down
to your idea of the one or two most important qualities a top owner
possesses. Please drop me a note and tell me, in your mind, what
separates the top owners in fantasy baseball from the rest.
Tell me what you believe are the one
or two most important keys to their success.
And I want to know if that answer is
different from the perspective of the top owners, so please tell me
if you consider yourself a top owner. If you finish in the top two
or three places most years or even top 4 in larger leagues and have
won multiple titles, then you are top owner. Donít be shy and donít
think about it too much. Itís just a little experiment to see if the
top players, and the rest, see the same qualities as being vital in
Now Iím doing this because I can get 2
or 3 pretty easy First Pitches out of your replies, I think thatís
obvious (g). But I also think that although you may have pondered
this question in some vague way in the past, getting you to think
about the answer is such a way that you can express it in an e-mail
is going to sharpen your focus on the answer. Its going to bring
your thought processes to a much more tangible and useable level.
And sampling other peoples answers will be a huge benefit to
everyone I think.
So drop me a note Ö.
Are you a top owner?
What separates the top fantasy owners?