The Cardinal Nation blog

Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

A fantasy baseball diversion

Since this blog is about the St. Louis Cardinals and their minor league system, I rarely discuss fantasy baseball here. If there is any good time to take a brief diversion, however, now is it, as everyone is gearing up for the 2011 baseball season in their own way.

I have greatly enjoyed the annual competition fantasy sports offer for a couple of decades now and actually wrote about that even before investing my (almost) full-time focus on the Cardinals.

Over the winter, I worked on several fantasy-related projects that are starting to hit newsstands and today, I will highlight a few.

A publication to which I have contributed for at least a decade, “The Fantasy Baseball Guide 2011”, can be had for $7.99. In addition to having penned player “Picks and Pans” scattered throughout the magazine, I participated in a “Strategies of Champions” interview. ESPN’s Nate Ravitz and I discuss what went into our pair of top two finishes in the National League Tout Wars competition over the last two seasons and what we have taken away from them.

The 2011 FOX Sports Fantasy Guide/Scout Prospect Guide will be out soon. As always, our Cardinals top 20 is featured along with my essay which includes top pitchers and position player prospects to watch this coming season and why. Annual subscribers to The Cardinal Nation that signed up by January 21 will receive a free copy in the mail. Others can purchase it when it hits newsstands.

USA Today has two spring baseball magazines out, one specifically devoted to fantasy. My contribution is actually in their regular baseball mag, called “Baseball 2011”, on sale in stores for $8.99 and available to purchase on-line too. In it, I co-authored a pro-con piece on what to expect from New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter in 2011. I took the con, explaining why I see him in decline.

The USA Today marketing department is a smart group. Depending on the area of the country in which “Baseball 2011” is being sold, they substitute the mug of a local player on the cover. So, the St. Louis version plugs Albert Pujols and an article written by my friend and Mastersball associate Lawr Michaels. (Not sure why I didn’t get that assignment, but Lawr did a great job.)

In the Big Apple, Jeter’s photo appears with the screaming headline, “Legend in the Fall” (see side-by-side photos of the “same” mag). Since I began the Jeter piece with a Dorian Gray reference before heading into an assessment of the November of “Mr. November’s” career, readers will quickly tell which direction I took. As a result, I will probably need to be put in a protection program to be shielded from unhappy Yankees fans. If instead I disappear abruptly like Jimmy Hoffa once did, you will know why.

I continue to pen (can one “pen” via a keyboard?) a weekly fantasy-oriented column each Saturday at Mastersball.com, where I am among a group of long-time friends and industry collaborators. I often focus on topics like league rules which would be dry to non-fantasy players, but now and then, I jump out of the box.

My most recent article was also picked up by our partners at KFFL.com. The site is one of the most comprehensive sources of player news around, making it most useful for any baseball (or football) fan. My new column looks at three National League third basemen, including a bad-ankled one already very familiar to this group.

While I am mentioning Mastersball, I will close with a commercial.

For serious players looking for a fantasy baseball information provider this season, Mastersball continues to offer what I truly believe are the best projections around. I say this because I understand the processes that go into them and participate personally. We explain our methodologies in detail for prospective customers and provide last year’s projections free so people can see ahead of time what they will receive. I use these in all of my league drafts.

Further, this year, we’ve developed our own draft software that integrates our projections into a computer-based tool. You can track rosters, remaining players and projected standings during a draft, whether snake, straight or auction. We’ve been putting this code through the paces all winter and will be releasing it to subscribers tomorrow.

Mastersball isn’t as well-known as many of the bigger sites offering projections but we’re very proud of our results in well-known leagues against many of the industry’s heavyweights. Our online projections are updated bi-weekly and kept current all season long. They aren’t free, but sometimes you get what you pay for.

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