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March 14, 2005 12:00 am

LABR of Love


Jonah Keri

Jonah Keri recounts how BP's Player Forecast Manager matched up against 12 wily rivals at the recent NL LABR experts fantasy baseball draft.

Hosted by Sports Weekly's John Hunt, the League of Alternative Baseball Reality brings together some of the brightest and nicest guys in the fantasy baseball biz. It also includes several "regular guys," as LABR calls them--home league heroes invited to join the table, all smart as a whip, many of whom could recite more words from the latest edition of BP than I can. Baseball Prospectus has been a more recent invitee to the dance; it took six months of counseling before we could accept the concept of wins and RBI not being abominations on the world of baseball statistics. Since then, it's been a fun annual experience.

This would be my second LABR experience. Heading into last year's draft, I planned to follow much the same strategy I did in the 2003 Tout Wars National League draft: use the PECOTA Player Forecast Manager as a guide, and look for value picks where bidding stopped several dollars short of the PFM's predicted dollar value. The strategy worked better in 2003--when Nate Silver, Will Carroll and I teamed to finish second--than it did in '04--when I finished a decent but uninspiring fifth out of 13 teams. The difference lay mostly in execution: while the plan was the same both years, the in-draft dynamics fell in such a way that 2003 offered more bargains and fewer misses than my 2004 LABR team. (I also did a better job of landing quality free agents off the wire in '03, bolstering the roster throughout the year).

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