Reality Check: Being proactive about Profar
Some owners may think that Jurickson Profar is up for two weeks, bypassing the chance to add the top prospect to their rosters. As Scott White writes, even if that's the case, he's worth the gamble.
It's the epitome of a no-brainer move. When the consensus No. 1 overall prospect entering the season is awarded a starting job in the majors, you add him in Fantasy.
And yet owners in 25 percent of leagues have said, "Why bother?"
Why bother when the player he's replacing has as much job security as any second baseman in the game?
Why bother when that player is expected to spend only a couple weeks on the DL with an intercostal strain?
Why bother if Jurickson Profar is sure to return to the minors before he even has a chance to get comfortable?
Why? Because you just never know.
You may think you know. You may even pretend to know, like we "experts" are required to do. He's good. He's bad. I like him. I don't like him. In the black-and-white world of Fantasy prognostication, there is no room for "I don't know."
But you know what? I don't know. And frankly, neither do you.
For all you know, one of Ian Kinsler 's injury-prone teammates -- be it Lance Berkman , Nelson Cruz or Adrian Beltre -- will go down in the meantime, granting Profar an extended stay in the majors.
For all you know, Profar will put up Jean Segura numbers right away, forcing the Rangers to find creative ways to keep him around, such as moving Mitch Moreland back to the outfield.
For all you know, Kinsler's intercostal strain -- an injury without a definite timetable -- will continue to nag the veteran second baseman beyond the initial two weeks, allowing even more time for one of those first two scenarios to come true.
For all you know, Profar will perform like a top-five second baseman the rest of the way.
To some people, prognostication is the appeal of Fantasy Baseball. They use it as a vehicle to show what they know, proving to friends and acquaintances that they should be in a front office somewhere instead of unfairly confined to something as bourgeois as accounting or pizza delivery.
At its core, though, Fantasy Baseball is a game of managing variables -- some more predictable than others. The most successful participants separate what they know from what they don't and work within the constructs of each.
So then, you can only benefit from acknowledging your limitations, from recognizing that you can't predict the future and admitting that your guesses, well-reasoned as they may be, are often wrong.
If you came across a variable you didn't know in any other game, would you just guess and hope for the best?
Of course not. You'd cover your dang butt.
In Monopoly, if rolling a three would land you on Boardwalk with three houses, putting you at risk of bankruptcy, would you choose then to build houses on your own properties? Three is an unlikely roll, statistically speaking, but because it's within the realm of possibility, you probably wouldn't.
Never made it that far in Monopoly? Thought those little green houses were only meant to deter you from walking around the house barefoot a full two weeks after playing?
Maybe poker is more your speed, then. Ever bet before the river in Texas hold 'em? Most of the time, you have to. You don't know what that last card will be, but weighing the probability of what it could be vs. the risk of what you could lose vs. the reward of what you could gain, you act.
The same is true in Fantasy Baseball. Your baseball knowledge may give you some insight into what the ultimate outcome will be, but in the end, it's still a roll of the dice.
Profar is just the latest and most promising in a class of speculative pickups. The ultimate acknowledgement of "you just never know," a speculative pickup often proves to be a waste of a roster spot, but in those rare cases it isn't, the payoff more than makes up for the cost.
Now that he's back in the minors, Tony Cingrani belongs to that class. He doesn't have a clear path to the majors, but either a Mike Leake implosion or an injury to another member of the Reds starting rotation is plausible enough to make him worth rostering in most leagues, especially since we already know he's capable of succeeding at the major-league level.
Of course, not every speculative pickup is worth it to everyone. To me, Wil Myers , who's clearly next in line for a team that can already fit him into the lineup, is much more deserving of a roster spot than Yasiel Puig , whose arrival hinges on both an injury to Matt Kemp , Carl Crawford or Andre Ethier and the Dodgers' willingness to promote him directly from Double-A. Still, both stashes have some merit.
And really, every stash deserves that level of scrutiny. While a bench serves many purposes in Fantasy, such as providing you with a reserve pool for playing matchups or safeguarding against injuries, its primary function is to help you protect the players you don't want anyone else to have.
Typically, the players most worth protecting are the ones who could make the biggest impact for your Fantasy team. Sometimes they already have regular jobs in the majors, but sometimes they don't. If you're rostering Zack Cozart when the highly comparable Stephen Drew is available on waivers, what exactly are you protecting?
Matt Adams . Drew Smyly . Christian Yelich . Kenley Jansen . Yasmani Grandal . Zack Wheeler . You can justify rostering any of them if the next best use of that roster spot is a replacement-level player.
But right now, Profar is the priority. He's already here, and he clearly has the talent to succeed. Though hardly a finished product at age 20, he has all the tools of a Fantasy standout, right down to the exceptional plate discipline.
And right now, people like me are writing hundreds upon hundreds of words about him all over the Internet, so if you don't act, one of your competitors will. And if the unlikely comes to pass and Profar sticks around long enough to revolutionize the second base position in Fantasy, you'll wonder why you thought Dan Haren , Dan Straily , Dan Uggla or Danny Espinosa was so worth protecting.
With each speculative pickup, you have to weigh the cost, and maybe on the trade market, an established contributor like Matt Carpenter or Josh Rutledge would cause me to back off Profar.
But as a waiver claim, it's no contest. The cost of the worst player on my roster is well within my budget.
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