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Posted at 01:15 PM ET, 05/23/2011

Jose Bautista, through rose-colored glasses

Those of you who enhance your baseball-watching by managing a rotisserie team know it makes for a unique kind of fandom. Your emotions rise and fall with individual players instead of teams. Most of us have favorite real-life teams as well, and occasionally the two intersect. The wise fantasy owner knows not to confuse business and pleasure (or rather, love of fantasy profile with love of real-life player), but occasionally we can go overboard trying to suppress our inner fan.

I am personally reminded of this every time I see Jose Bautista’s stat lines, especially the ones like his three-homer binge against the Twins last Sunday or his two-homer game against the Astros on Saturday.

Bautista, you might have noticed, is putting up numbers reminiscent of a steroid-era slugger. His tear since he joined the Toronto Blue Jays for the start of the 2010 season, includes 72 home runs (18 so far this season), a slugging percentage near .660 and a round-tripper every 9.8 at-bats, all major-league bests.

Because I’m a Blue Jays fan (how that happened is another blog post for another day), I‘m well aware of how awesome Bautista was last season (54 homers, 124 RBI in 569 at-bats). But I came into this year’s fantasy drafts thinking he was a fluke (he never hit more than 16 HRs in five seasons of 336 to 532 at-bats) and that someone would take him way too early. Even though there are more teams in most roto leagues than there are solid options at third base, silly ol’ me skipped right over Bautista (and a post-contract-year Adrian Beltre, despite a move to Texas) and opted for Casey McGehee at third. The move was panned by my fellow owners in The Matrix, the league I’ve played in for 10 years. I felt fine with a safe option who I could expect decent HR, RBI and batting average numbers from in the Milwaukee Brewers lineup, but in hindsight, it was a classic way-too-early pick.

With hot starts from Matt Kemp, Brandon Phillips and David Price among others, plus some subpar Albert Pujols, my team is in second place — a rarity, since I’ve never finished in the top three. But I can’t help but wonder how much better the team would look with Bautista’s .364 average and 31 RBI (through Sunday) instead of McGehee’s .260 and 21. The guy in first, of course, drafted Bautista.

Because I am a Jays fan, I overcorrected on draft day. In trying to combat my natural tendencies, I avoided a player who I would now probably have to trade Pujols to obtain. That being the case, I’ll probably never own him. I blew my chance.

You don’t care, of course, but perhaps you can relate. When drafting, do you try to stay away from players you love or hate? Or do you try to stay neutral, letting the flow of the draft dictate? Isn’t it tough not to lean toward players who have been solid for you in the past?

For those of you who don’t play, how does a player wearing your favorite team’s jersey affect how you perceive his chance to succeed? Don’t we all color our expectations with the crayon labeled ‘what I hope happens?’ Don’t we feel silly when it doesn’t?

If you ever find yourself in a fantasy baseball draft staring obvious in the eye, don’t overthink it. Sometimes, letting your inner fan take over isn’t a bad idea.

By  |  01:15 PM ET, 05/23/2011

 
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