Some have called Thursday the most teasing of days.
Not so much because the weekend beckons, but because the weekly start-sit columns are just around the corner. Or that's how I've always understood it, anyway.
I write one such column -- the one for hitters, specifically -- where I recommend a start and a sit at each position. But I've always felt conflicted about it. The great contradiction is that nobody should have to decide who to start and who to sit at each position every week. If you do, you're doing it wrong.
That's Fantasy Football stuff. When you have three running backs, but only two with favorable matchups, you sit the other one and feel good about it. Easy peasy. When you having nothing to show for a wide receiver after three weeks, you have a pretty strong indication you whiffed on that pick. Time to cut your losses and move on.
Fantasy Baseball is different. The sport is different. The season is different. The former is so fickle and the latter so long that attempting to predict what will happen from one day to the next, or even one week to the next, is a mostly fruitless exercise.
Players run hot and cold independently of what happens around them. Matchups may contribute to it, but not nearly as much as mechanical subtleties, mental faculties or plain, dumb luck. Andrew McCutchen couldn't buy a hit in his first 10 games, most of them against the lowly Cubs. In his last seven against the Brewers and Reds, he has four home runs. In football, you could credit the game plan. In baseball, it's just one of those things.
A key to success, then, is to trust in the inevitability of numbers. For what baseball lacks in the day-to-day or the week-to-week, it more than makes up for in the year-to-year. When you draft a player, you basically know what you're getting. Maybe not some of the middle- and late-rounders who are still developing into the players they'll eventually be, but the foundation of your team, the players you drafted expecting to start every week, generally speaking, they do what they do. You just have to wait for it sometimes.
Granted, that's not always the case, as last year's Starlin Castro owners know all too well, but the time to wonder if you have a problem isn't now, April 24 -- the same date when Mike Trout had a .271 batting average and Max Scherzer a 4.12 ERA last year.
I'm not saying the start-sit columns serve no purpose. They're great for those occasions when you're forced to go low-end at a position for one reason or another. But if they cause you to stray from your mainstays, they've done a disservice.
Hopefully, the "too obvious" section I include at each position makes that clear.