Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
With little fanfare, journeyman pitcher Kevin Millwood announced his retirement from baseball on Saturday.
You probably missed it with all the Super Bowl hype going on. Most younger fantasy owners likely asked, "Who?" And even many veteran fantasy participants may have said, "Who cares?"
I do, and you should, too.
While Millwood wasn't a superstar, he did have a number of years during his 16- year career when he was a useful fantasy starter. After all, unless you are in a tiny six-team league, having a team full of superstars is an impossibility.
Your option, therefore, is to find young unknown talent or recognize when a run-of-the-mill veteran, like Millwood, is having a "career year."
While Millwood's career numbers scream mediocre (169-152, 4.11 ERA, 1.328 WHIP, 6.9 Ks/9 IP), check out the seasons listed below and tell me he couldn't have been useful to fantasy owners. Even in his losing 2005 campaign Millwood could have helped almost any roster's team ERA and WHIP.
1998 - 17-8, 4.08 ERA, 1.325 WHIP, 163 Ks
1999 - 18-7, 2.68 ERA, 0.996 WHIP, 205 Ks
2002 - 18-8, 3.24 ERA, 1.157 WHIP, 178 Ks
2005 - 9-11, 2.86 ERA, 1.215 WHIP, 146 Ks
He was an All-Star in 1999. Pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies in April 2003, Millwood threw a stunning 10-strikeout no-hitter. He also went 4-16 with a 5.10 ERA and 1.510 WHIP for Baltimore in 2010.
The fantasy lesson to be learned from Millwood's career is that even among his mostly mediocre seasons, you can find a "diamond" once in awhile.
Very few players are always great like Albert Pujols or Justin Verlander, and even average or below-average major leaguers can put together a decent run for a month or two or even a full season.
You may not select them on Draft Day, but the ability to unearth these guys from the vast wasteland of undistinguished options during the season will not only help your fantasy roster survive short-term injuries and slumps, but thrive.