A New Found Respect

I have been playing fantasy baseball for 19 years now.  For research I started out buying fantasy magazines, usually USA Today or some other random publication.  I’d scour endlessly over the page reading the articles, studying the depth charts of each team, reviewing the rookies that could potentially come up, and staring for hours at the lists of rankings. Oh those wonderful lists, how we adore thee.  Do you want to know who the top rated first basemen are, turn to page 12.  Need to know how the third baseman you desire stacks up against the rest of the league, turn to page 31.  Maybe you’re looking for useful pitchers that might be available late in the draft, well that’s on page 84.

I think the rankings were my favorite part of the publication, and they still are today.  Unfortunately somewhere along the way, I stopped being fan of these lists and started becoming a critic.  In the past I would have never questioned why a player was ranked where he was.  Why should I; this guy is an expert, right?  But now here I was, looking at the first base rankings thinking what a moron this guy was for placing my guy so low.  How dare his opinion differ from mine!  I’ve been playing this game for over 10 years now, and these rankings are wrong.  I don’t remember exactly when all this started; all I know is there came a point where I started looking at these lists of rankings in a new light.

Now, as the internet has evolved, so has the availability of information.  What once started out as a few fantasy sites has grown into a conglomerate of data and statistics.  There are a plethora of sites to assimilate fantasy information from, but there is one thing that has not changed despite all these new sources.  Every single one of these sites has a list.  This was great I thought.  No longer am I subject to accepting the opinion of just one or two fantasy sources, I now have dozens upon dozens to choose from.  That excitement I initially felt when I viewed my first fantasy magazine had returned.  Regrettably that thrill was short-lived and was soon replaced by contempt.   Each year I would visit these sites to view their rankings and every year I would come away more disheartened.  Now don’t get me wrong – they weren’t all bad, but on a whole I was dissatisfied and was found wanting.

Well that all changed this year when I was entrusted the task of assembling my own list for the Fantasy Assembly.  This is no problem I thought to myself.  I’ve been playing this game for 19 years and I know just as much as the experts do.  I’ve viewed hundreds of lists over the years; I know all the players and I put together lists of guys I want each year.  This should be a piece of cake.  Just like that, my joy for lists had been rejuvenated yet again.  Now I could have just made a simple list, but that wouldn’t do.  I decided to do mine old school, making them a throwback to the early days of the fantasy magazines.  I’d give a small write-up with each player explaining their value and what to expect from them.  It was all planned out in my mind; now all I had to do was put it all together.

I started compiling my rankings back in September, writing down all the players’ names for each position.  Once that was complete I put my personal feelings aside and attempted to rank them in an order that I believed would be most beneficial to the fantasy community.   From that point on it was all downhill.  Where does Albert Pujols rank? Can Josh Donaldson repeat his 2013 season? Is Jean Segura the guy we saw in the first half or the second half? Will Yasiel Puig do it again or pull a Cespedes? Is Jose Fernandez really this good? 

Every position I went through the questions piled up.  Ranking 24 shortstops in order isn’t easy, but narrowing a list of players down to 24 wasn’t too difficult.  Outfield and starting pitchers were a nightmare as I had to widdle my list down to 74 before I could even begin to rank them.  And you would think that once you got your 74 players and you’ve ranked them that the hard part would be over.  Not quite, because as I wrote up each player I started second guessing where I had placed them.   This started out as a fun project, but slowly turned into a veritable quandary I began to loathe.

In the past I never gave any thought to how much time went into compiling these rankings.  I never considered the effort it took to write about each player.  I never fathomed the amount of work that went into the entire process as a whole.  I thought this would be easy, but you know what….. I thought wrong!  As I compiled my rankings and scribed the short bio’s for each player, I started to think about all the rankings I viewed in the past and my negativity towards them.  For years now I discarded these lists without a second thought, and then it hit me: “Would people react the same way towards me?”  Would all the work that I put forth be accepted or be discounted with a flurry of *expletive deleted* comments?  While I can’t do anything about what other people think of my work, I can do something about what I think of others.

So today I give a big salute to Eric Mack, Tristan Cockcroft, Scott Pianowski, Chris Liss, Brad Evans, Jeff Erickson, Ray FlowersScott White, Zach Sanders,Ray GuilfoyleSteve Gardner, Matthew Pouliot and all the other fantasy experts, and thank them for all their hard work and dedication that many people take for granted.  I also want to thank Fantasy Rundown for taking the time to post these rankings and for shining a light on some great work that might otherwise be overlooked.  I still may not agree with all the lists of rankings each of these individuals put out, but I now appreciate the effort it took in doing so.  I still buy my annual copy of Lindy’s fantasy baseball, but this year I will be looking at it in a whole new light.

Jim Finch

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The self proclaimed Grand High Exhausted Mystic Ruler of Fantasy Baseball. While I am not related to Jennie or Sidd Finch, I will attempt to uphold the integrity of the Finch family name as it relates to baseball.