Fantasy baseball is a great way to take events that happen on the diamond and repurpose them into a fun game in which we can all participate on a daily basis. But while the emphasis of the analysis you typically read about here on ESPN.com focuses on the baseball part of the equation -- who's actually playing well and who's actually playing poorly -- we rarely touch upon the "fantasy" aspect of the game.
I'm not talking about the fictional "rosters" that fantasy managers create on draft day and manipulate throughout the season. Rather, I'm talking about the completely imaginary statistics that potentially could decide your league's championship, yet do not represent what actually exist in the real world. Allow me to explain ...
On May 22, Jose Martinez stole home for the Cardinals in a game against the Kansas City Royals. Anybody who had Martinez in their fantasy lineups that day got some surprise points from the first baseman as a result. Less than a week later, on May 28, pitcher Brent Suter of the Brewers slapped a bases-loaded double (coincidentally, just past the glove of Martinez) that plated two runs off Luke Weaver. If you had started Weaver in a points league, you were tagged with a minus-5 after that hit, which plated the third and fourth earned runs he would allow that game. He was the last batter Weaver would face on the day.
Here's where the "fantasy" comes into play. Take a look at the 2018 stats for Martinez. I'll wait. See that goose egg in the stolen base column? It's not a typo. Martinez has not stolen any bases this season.
So, what's going on? Well, for some reason, it took the powers that be in MLB until June 7 to change their minds about the scoring on the two plays I mentioned above. Long after fantasy leagues had moved on and locked weekly outcomes for any games played in May, fantasy no longer mirrored reality.
Martinez's steal was changed to an error on third baseman Mike Moustakas and a caught stealing. (Marcell Ozuna, who also got credit for a stolen base when he advanced to second on the play, was also stripped of his steal, meaning he has three SBs in fantasy but only two SBs in reality.) Martinez was also retroactively charged with an error on that "no longer a double" by Suter. As a result, the pair of runs that crossed the plate on that play suddenly became unearned. Weaver, although he is charged with four earned runs in your league, "in reality" only gave up two.
In other words, if you drafted Weaver, put him in your lineup at the start of the season and left him there, his ERA for your fantasy team is 4.76 -- even though his 2018 ERA currently sits at 4.52. And, brace yourselves, it doesn't end there.
Later today, the Yankees and Nationals will complete a game that was suspended due to rain with the score tied 3-3 in the middle of the sixth inning. At the time the inclement weather intervened, Bryce Harper was due up for Washington, and he'll be the first to bat when the game picks up where it left off. Yet, baseball rules dictate that any stats from this game will be credited to the original start date of May 15, and not June 18.
Which means that, if Harper homers in this at-bat, if you have him in your fantasy lineup today, it does not count. If you had him in your lineup back on May 15, it also does not count, because that week's results are locked. In other words, whatever any of the players in these three-plus innings of baseball do, it will be exactly the same as if they never played at all -- regardless of what the final-season stats tell you.
Of course, my ultimate "fantasy" that can only come about from suspended games has no chance of coming true today. Someday, I'd love to see a major league pitcher strike himself out. It could actually happen. It's nigh on impossible, but it's true.
Say Kenley Jansen is at the plate for the Dodgers in the ninth inning of a tie game against the Cubs. He swings and misses twice to run the count to 0-2. Then, out of nowhere the skies open up and the game gets suspended for a month. In the interim, Jansen gets traded to the Cubs, so when the game resumes, he is unable to hit and a pinch-hitter takes over the at-bat. At the same time, Joe Maddon decides to turn to Jansen to pick up the suspended game. One pitch and one strike later, new pitcher Jansen gets credited with the K on the mound and at the plate, the whiff gets charged to the original hitter, Jansen.
Is it any crazier than Gleyber Torres potentially hitting a home run at 5:30 p.m. on June 18 to tie the all-time record (10) for home runs in May by an AL rookie.? And that could indeed happen. That's the fantasy of reality.