The Fantasy 411 is a Major League Baseball radio and television broadcast on MLB.com. The hosts are primarily Mike Siano, Cory Schwartz, Casey Stern, fantasy sports guru Broadway CJ Reo and Zach Simon, with occasional contributions from Vinny Micucci, Brandon Costa, Will Carroll and Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus. Jeffrey Ma of Protrade joins the show every Thursday at 12:40 p.m. The show airs Monday through Friday, from 2 to 3 p.m. ET, during the MLB season. The show's main focus is fantasy baseball. Schwartz and Siano answer fans' questions through calls, e-mails or instant messages. In the offseason the Fantasy 411 airs once a week until the end of February, after which it airs twice a week. The show can be downloaded as a podcast through MLB.com or iTunes. The archives of the show are available through MLB.com.
Mike Siano and Cory Schwartz are New Yorkers who both vehemently support the Yankees. One caller dubbed the Fantasy 411 as "infotainment" because the show combines much good fantasy baseball information while entertaining with pop culture references.
Cory "Stats" Schwartz
Tendencies and ideas
Schwartz is the host that is more inclined toward statistical analysis and sabermetrics, especially since he has been a member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), hence his nickname: Cory "Stats" Schwartz. Schwartz tends to favor hitters who have good plate discipline, and proven track record (or performance record, as his father would say). When evaluating pitchers, Schwartz is a self-proclaimed "slave to the strikeout." Schwartz is also responsible for providing insight on the minor leagues and upcoming prospects. In May 2006, Schwartz questioned the Pitch and Ditch strategy and became depressed and annoyed after poor performances from Ian Snell and Juan Cruz but has since retracted his doubts. Schwartz also likes to taunt Siano during the show whenever Siano misses a show due to apparent injury or illness. Schwartz, and Micucci when he hosts, do not hesitate to "throw Siano under the bus", and to question his wisdom teeth surgery and innumerable other injuries.
Schwartz's signature phrase—which he actually adopted from Siano—is "DTM", which is an acronym for "dead to me". Schwartz uses the phrase during the Pitch and Ditch segment of the show for pitchers who have drawn his ire due to poor performance while on his fantasy team and much improved performance after Schwartz cuts them, such as Ted Lilly, Jeff Suppan, Jeff Weaver, Ian Snell, Esteban Loaiza, and of finding surprise breakthrough performers such as Cliff Lee and Chris Capuano in 2005 and Érik Bédard and Josh Johnson in 2006. Pitch and Ditch can be considered a risky strategy because it increases the likelihood of having a very poor performance, which can severely hurt a fantasy team.
Recently, the existence of a "Pitch or Ditch" curse has been suggested, citing that players whose names were included in the introduction montage to the segment often went on to get injured or perform poorly. The show's segment spawned a website dedicated to pitch or ditch in called pitchorditch.com.
List of 12
The "List of 12" is a list of pitchers that Schwartz nominates for breakout seasons before each season using a secret calculated formula. The theory of the List of 12 is that once talented but inconsistent pitchers reach a certain level of experience, usually around 500 innings pitched, they tend to improve significantly. Every preseason, Schwartz nominates his "List of 12 Special" for the season, and his 100% choices have been successful (Ben Sheets in 2004, John Lackey in 2005, Brandon Webb and Jeremy Bonderman in 2006 and Érik Bédard and Dan Haren in 2007).
He's the man
Don't chase wins
A strategy related to Pitch and Ditch. Statistical analysis shows that the number of wins, a fundamental statistic in fantasy baseball, that a pitcher earns is not consistent from year to year. Win accumulation is dependent on offensive run support, and is not a good reflection of pitching acumen. Thus, Siano and Schwartz tell the listeners to focus on improving other pitching statistics, such as saves, strikeouts, ERA, and WHIP and that accumulating wins requires patience. While they don't chase wins, they don't fear them either.
Buy low, sell high
A strategy for trading where the optimal scenario is to trade away players who are outperforming their projected performance or are getting lucky and to acquire players who are under-performing and can be reasonably expected to perform better. An essential part of the strategy is to make sure to acquire a player who is more skilled than the one being traded away. Buying low and selling high is not useful if the players are of equal value or the one being acquired is less skillful.
Player leash theorem
This rule of thumb was established by Schwartz regarding how long one should wait for a player having a disappointing fantasy season to produce. The formula is:
- 26 − (the round number in which the player was selected) = number of weeks after which a player can be released or benched due to poor performance.
Thus, if a player does not meet expectations after being drafted in the 7th round of a fantasy draft, he can be cut or benched after the 19th week of the season (26−7).
Max Out The Innings Limit
Most fantasy baseball leagues have innings pitched limits for pitchers. Schwartz often stresses that fantasy players need to use all of their innings to maximize the potential of their pitchers. The strategy is more complex than that however. Schwartz always mentions that it doesn't matter when one reaches his innings limit, as long as they get the best out of those innings. Using all of one's innings early can be beneficial because it allows a fantasy player to fill his or her team with position players in order to upgrade their offense after releasing all of their pitchers.
This strategy is only useful in rotisserie leagues and towards the latter part of the season. The theory is that a team can move up the standings by hurting other teams that are slightly higher in the standings. Placing is a strategy that calls for a fantasy team that wants to leap over another team or separate themselves from another team in the standings, they should help other teams in certain categories in order to hurt the team that they are chasing. For example, if Team A is only a few points behind Team B in the overall standings, and Team C (or any other team other that B) only trails Team B slightly in saves (or any other category), then Team A should trade a closer to Team C as long as Team A wouldn't lose any points. The goal is for Team C to overtake Team B in saves, narrowing the lead over Team A and giving Team A a better chance to win.
Keeper league strategy
In keeper leagues, many fantasy players feel obliged to keep as many players as they're allowed. Many callers ask Schwartz and Siano about what players to include in their keeper lists. When the keeper list that is trying to be filled is very large (more than 10), a fantasy team may not have enough good players worthy of being keepers. In such cases, Schwartz and Siano recommend to not keep less skilled players just for the sake of keeping them and to save the roster spots, because they have value, especially in shallow, mixed leagues.
Alternatively, when a potential keeper list is small (around 5) and a fantasy team has an excess of worthy keepers, Schwartz always reminds the owner to attempt to trade multiple good keepers for a smaller number of excellent keepers.
Schwartz and Siano use many original sayings that they use in the show that are very familiar within the Fantasy 411 community. Most of the sayings are strategy related, some are humorous references.
Siano and Schwartz use the phrase "hitters hit" when referring to the idea that good hitters tend to balance out poor hitting with good hitting and that performance for hitters is much easier to project than pitching performance. This advice is very helpful for impatient fantasy players who are too eager to give up on their struggling offensive stars, despite good track records (or performance history).
Flags Fly Forever
In reference to keeper or dynasty leagues, Siano and Schwartz always recommend to try to win in the present if possible (Win Now). Often listeners are too concerned with the future and with their keeper lists when competing in keeper leagues, but Siano and Schwartz always remind the audience that winning championships is the ultimate goal because "flags fly forever."
Strength Loves Certainty, Weakness Loves Risk
A very simple and self-explanatory strategy. Late in the baseball season, teams that are winning should be more conservative regarding Pitch and Ditch and free agent pickups. Teams that have ground to make up should throw caution to the wind toward the end of the season and take more risks in hopes of moving up the standings. This also applies to late season trades where strong teams should look for consistent performance, while weak teams should try to "catch lightning in a bottle."
Don't Confuse the Outcome with the Decision
Schwartz and Siano often make this remark when listeners complain about poor performance from players on their fantasy teams when their decision making was sound. Schwartz and Siano remind the callers that a lot of luck is involved in fantasy baseball and that sound decision making will produce fruitful results in the long run.
Premium Price for Premium Players
This idea is directed toward fantasy players who only like to make lopsided trades. The idea is self-explanatory in that the one must pay a significant cost, whether with high draft picks or with other good players in trades, to acquire premium players. This is also a crucial guideline when determining keeper lists: focus on talent, not price.
No Battle Plan Survives First Contact With the Enemy
An expression first stated by Prussian Field Marshal Helmuth Graf von Moltke, one of the great military strategists of the late 19th century. When applied to fantasy baseball, this means that an owner should have a careful strategy but must also be able to adapt to a different league environment or unpredictable circumstances such as injuries, trades, etc.
May The Schwartz Be With You
Johnny Archives' greeting to Cory Schwartz when he calls into the Fantasy 411 to ask a question. This is a reference from the movie Spaceballs which used "The Schwartz" as a parody of "The Force" from Star Wars.
The Road to Fifth Place is Littered With Closers of the Future
Siano says that chasing saves "is kinda fun", but Schwartz maintains that having reliable and well-established closers is very important since turnover among closers is so frequent and often unpredictable. Fantasy players often try to "chase saves" with set-up men or young relief prospects, which, as the saying says, leads to mediocrity.
Throw under the bus
A common phrase within the Fantasy 411 community, especially for Schwartz and Siano, adopted from Seth Everett and Darryl Hamilton of the "Stayin' Hot" show on MLB Radio. Throwing someone under the bus is to blame or talk trash about someone even though they may not be responsible for what they are being blamed for (scapegoating) This is usually done while the person taking the blame is not present so that he or she can not defend themselves.
The most prominent spoof in the history of the Fantasy 411 were Chuck Norris Facts during 2006. Listeners often call in or email original Chuck Norris Facts, which Schwartz and Siano strongly encourage. The other spoof on the show is the use of the name "Coco". During the course of the show, Schwartz and Siano like to make references to Coco Crisp and Francisco "Coco" Cordero. Jeffrey Ma from Protrade, who appears as a guest every Friday, is sometimes referred to as Jeffery "Coco" Ma. More recent spoofs include referring to the BlackBerry as the "CrackBerry" because of its addictive nature and jokes regarding the TV shows Entourage and 24, listeners writing fantasy baseball haikus and the movie Superbad during Ma's weekly segment.
In September 2007, Schwartz and Siano announced their intention to pen a book encompassing everything to do with the Fantasy 411. The book is currently in its embryonic stages of idea collecting. No timetable for its release has been announced.
- http://fantasy411.mlblogs.com/mlbcoms_fantasy_411/ The Fantasy 411 Blog
- http://mlb.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/mlb/audio/podcast/index.jsp MLB Radio Podcasts
- http://www.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/scripts/mediaplayer/mp_tpl.jsp?w=2006/open/mlbr06/show_archive/411/041406_fantasy411.wma Infamous feud between Schwartz and Siano between Brian Bannister and Félix Hernández.
- http://www.athomeplate.com/interviewschwartz.shtml A 2005 interview with Schwartz on AtHomePlate.com
- http://www.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/mlb/fantasy/mlb_fantasy_columns.jsp?story=insider0515 Schwartz's 2003 article on plate discipline