Not over yet
Comebacks do happen. The Rockies were six games back in the NL wild-card race Sept. 1 and wound up winning the pennant. The biggest deficits teams that reached the postseason have faced heading into September:
• 1964 Cardinals: Fourth place, 7 1/2 games behind Phillies.
• 1995 Mariners: Second place, 7 1/2 games behind Angels.
• 1938 Cubs: Fourth place, 7 games behind Pirates.
• 1951 Giants: Second place, 7 games behind Dodgers.
• 1930 Cardinals: Fourth place, 6 1/2 games behind Cubs.
• 1978 Yankees: Second place, 6 1/2 games behind Red Sox.
MAGIC NUMBER EDITION
(As of Friday night)
TEAM ... Last week
1. Chicago Cubs ... 1
18 NL Central
2. Tampa Bay Rays ... 2
21 AL East
3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim ... 3
5 AL West
4. Boston Red Sox ... 4
17 AL wildcard
5. Milwaukee Brewers ... 7
18 NL wildcard
6. Chicago White Sox ... 5
21 AL Central
7. Minnesota Twins ... 6
Out of the playoffs right now
8. New York Mets ... 8
20 NL East
9. Philadelphia Phillies ... 8
Out of the playoffs right now
10. Arizona Diamondbacks ... 10
22 NL West
One person who has a unique way of approaching fantasy baseball is former insurance actuary Scott Swanay, who quit that business four years ago to start his own statistical consulting service for fantasy baseball.
"I was an applied math major," says Swanay, a 1987 Harvard graduate, "and it just took 17 years for me to finally figure out what I wanted to apply it to."
After launching fantasybaseballsherpa.com, Swanay began putting his ideas into practice. But it wasn't until two years ago that, as he says, "a light bulb went on." That's when he realized the key to fantasy success lies in the concept of position scarcity.
As for some under-the-radar keeper candidates, Swanay looks for players who are primed to make a significant improvement in their performance levels with an idea toward identifying next season's version of Ryan Ludwick, Carlos Quentin or Cliff Lee players who were drafted for little or nothing, but who blossomed into fantasy superstars. Here are some of Swanay's Sherpa sleepers for 2009:
• AL: Kelly Shoppach, Kurt Suzuki, Jeff Clement, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Dioner Navarro.
• NL: Chris Snyder, Chris Iannetta, Ryan Doumit, Jesus Flores.
• AL: Billy Butler, Bryan LaHair, Chris Davis.
• NL: Joey Votto, James Loney.
Swanay calls the Chicago White Sox's Alexei Ramirez a personal favorite, and his multiposition eligibility makes him doubly attractive for next season.
• AL: Alexei Ramirez, Howie Kendrick ("if he can ever stay healthy").
• NL: Jeff Baker, Rickie Weeks, Emilio Bonifacio.
Fantasy owners might be very happy if these guys end up being starters next year.
• AL: Erick Aybar, Jed Lowrie, Mike Aviles.
• NL: Emmanuel Burriss.
• AL: Brian Buscher.
• NL: Edwin Encarnacion, Andy LaRoche, Kevin Kouzmanoff.
• AL: Adam Jones, Ben Francisco, Nelson Cruz, Adam Lind.
• NL: Lastings Milledge, Elijah Dukes, Jay Bruce, Chase Headley.
• AL: Jered Weaver, Kevin Slowey, Dana Eveland, Matt Garza, John Danks.
• NL: Jair Jurrjens, Jorge Campillo, Mike Pelfrey, Johnny Cueto, Josh Johnson, Anibal Sanchez, Chad Billingsley, Jonathan Sanchez, Jason Bergmann.
• AL: Rafael Perez, Jose Arredondo, Grant Balfour, Frank Francisco.
• NL: Chris Perez, Jon Rauch, Carlos Marmol, Jonathan Broxton.