Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
I'm going to begin this column by screaming at you.
Actually, on second thought, I should probably rest my vocal chords so that I can yell at the TV later when Joel Hanrahan blows his second save in a row (Pace yourself, Red Sox fans. It's a looooong season.)
So instead, I'll borrow Herm Edwards from ESPN. Cue the clip (I'll let my imaginary intern do the honors):
"YOU PLAY ... TO WIN ... THE GAME!"
Definitely one of my all-time favorite coach freakout clips (as 800,000 YouTube viewers would agree). But the man also has a point.
Unless you want to win the Sacko Bowl (which might as well be called the Ruxin Bowl at this point), nobody's goal is to lose their fantasy league.
So here's another question for you, sport. How exactly do you win games in the sport of baseball?
If you don't know the answer to that, maybe fantasy ham sandwich-eating or fantasy microwaving is more your speed.
Even my cousin's three-year-old could tell you that the object of baseball is to score more runs than the opposing team.
Seems simple enough, right?
Then why are fantasy owners constantly making it more difficult for themselves?
Year after year, free-swinging, scoring-challenged fantasy villains who couldn't get on base if their lives depended on it are selected on draft day.
Exhibit A: Alfonso Soriano. What makes Soriano so frustrating is that he actually used to be pretty good at scoring runs. Over a five-year period from 2002 to 2006, Soriano scored 100 runs or more on four occasions.
Then Soriano sold his soul to the devil in the form of a multi-year contract with the Cubs and he hasn't stopped terrorizing fantasy owners since. From 2008 to 2012, Soriano averaged just 65 runs per season.
Where's the clip of Darth Vader howling "Noooooo!" when you need it? My intern must be on lunch break. Or he doesn't exist. Either one.
On draft day, we always seem to hone in on power hitters, 100 mph strikeout pitchers and stolen base specialists. Yet, more often than not, it's the humble 100-run scorer who will end up leading us to the title.
The run category is easily the most overlooked stat in all of fantasy.
Thankfully, you guys are getting smarter. Boneheads like Soriano and Pedro Alvarez (30 HR and just 64 runs last season. Cover your eyes!) used to be taken in the early rounds of most fantasy drafts. This year in my league, Alvarez was selected 154th overall with Soriano coming off the board at No. 183.
Finally fantasy owners are starting to realize that the myth about power hitters scoring the most runs is exactly that: a myth.
Well, at least a half-myth. If you roll the clock back to 2012, you'll notice that 10 of the top 20 run scorers in the major leagues failed to reach the 30 home run plateau. Among them are Austin Jackson (16 HR a year ago), Alex Gordon (14 long balls in 2012), Shin-Soo Choo (16 base-clearers) and Michael Bourn with a whopping nine round-trippers for Atlanta.
Here's where those four went in my fantasy draft:
Not to toot my own horn, but two of those players (Bourn and Gordon) are on my team. Guess that's why they pay me the big bucks (How's that for a humblebrag?).
Anyway, here's where Ike Davis, Mark Trumbo and Jason Kubel went in that same draft (I'll explain the significance of these three in a moment):
Now what do these three knuckleheads have in common? All three went deep 30 times last season without scoring 80 runs (Trumbo and Davis didn't even make it to 70).
It's clear that we're still overvaluing these guys (Ike Davis, a lifetime .249 hitter, at 94? Come on!), but I see progress. And that's all you can hope for as a fantasy baseball columnist.
I dug into the archives of my old fantasy league and uncovered a few nuggets you might be interested in. Since 2009, the league champion has never finished worse than fourth (ten-team league) in runs scored. Meanwhile, the team with the most runs hasn't finished lower than third since 2010.
The current leader in my roto league (until I take over first later tonight), is second in runs scored. Two of his players, Matt Carpenter and Austin Jackson, are tied for second in the major leagues in this statistic.
And he could be even better.
For some reason, Jed Lowrie (tied for sixth in MLB with ten runs this season) and Jon Jay (tenth with nine) are still on the waiver wire waiting to be picked up. I should press send on this article and go grab them right now.
My advice to fantasy owners is this: ditch the homers and look for a guy who gets on base, hits near the top of the order and has a few power bats hitting behind him. You'll score runs and more importantly, you'll win games.