Considering this is my first post for sbnation.com, I wanted to focus on a topic such as mid-season fantasy baseball strategies. A topic which I have covered before and received some great feedback on. I hope this can help guide some of you to the promised land, help solidify some of your reservations on a trade, or roster move. That is the point, no one is perfect, and no one can foresee the future, but being ready for the unexpected is critical to success.
This weekend is the start of a much needed MLB All-Star break. Players who are injured get time to recover or rest, and it of course gives us writers some time to catch up and refocus. The game happens to be in my home state Minnesota in 2014 which is exciting. I would have been insane not to partake in the festivities this year. I will be going to watch my favorite part of baseball on Sunday in seeing the MLB Futures game. I love prospects and this will be a way to see most of them on the field at the same time, plus it is at Target Field so it is a close game.
Enjoy the strategies, and feel free to comment, criticize, or compliment. Thanks!
Middle Of The Pack
If you are in the middle of the pack, but achieving consistent results (Similar point totals each week, winning or losing by only a few categories, or wins/losses strictly come with two start pitchers):
There is something to be done here. Perhaps a big trade would push your performance up. Another arm may give you a stronger weekly rotation, no matter how many starts you get from them. Perhaps, landing a guy who is consistent, and may not have roller coaster ride weeks such as Jay Bruce, Pedro Alvarez, and Jason Kipnis, but a player like Hunter Pence, Buster Posey, David Wright, and Ian Kinsler could help provide in offensive categories EVERY week.
If it is particular categories you need, find your strengths! If you don't know how to do this ask someone, right away! If you are dominating the power categories over the rest of your league, but consistently lose saves or stolen bases.....well I think you know what I am going to say. Right??? Sell some power for speed, or whatever category you are struggling in.
If it's a points league you should still be able to see what areas your team is struggling in. This a great scenario to buy LOW. Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, Ian Desmond, Justin Upton, Cole Hamels, and Jeff Samardzija (May be difficult now he's in Oakland) are some of the players I am targeting.
The Cellar Dweller
If you are in the bottom of the standings, but within reach of the last seed for playoffs: You may need to make some drastic moves. That is if you aren’t struggling solely because of injuries, or late call-ups.
Well this is the hardest place to be in, and I’ve been in it from time to time. It may seem hopeless to catch up, and in reality, it just might be (Especially in Rotisserie leagues), but giving up is not an option! Make a trade, do some roster moves, change your strategy, and as painful as it may be, it may need to be more than one. If you have an owner who is offering a couple or three players, who could help you add depth for your first or second round stud…You may need to do it. Don’t take absurd offers, or get desperate, but at some point you’ll need to make a dramatic splash.
Some of my teams this season are near this position thanks to the abundance of injuries. Tommy John surgeries needed every other week, positional players out for eight to ten weeks you name it, it has happened. You are likely not alone, but if you have more than three players on your DL at the moment, you are without a doubt feeling the pain.
If you drafted a bunch of power hitters and took pitchers late, you may need to trade some bats for arms. Or you may need to drop a few under-performing players for some prospects, or up and comers. Take risks and have fun, but don't quit or spoil the league with lopsided trades or insane adds or drops. Bottom Line…DO SOMETHING!
Another aspect to consider is if you are in a keeper league, or a dynasty league. If this is the case you may want to consider moving older, but upper tier players for cheaper and younger future stars.
The Throne Is Yours!
You are in first place. You have had an easy first half just destroying your opponents. Your pitchers are performing as they should, or over their heads. Your bats are mashing, and hitting for high average.
Sitting pretty right?? Maybe…… but don’t EVER sleep on your opponents. Your team does have a weakness. Every team does. Perhaps you don’t have any depth. Maybe you have had a surprising replacement outfielder all year (Charlie Blackmon, Colin Cowgill, or any Colorado Rockies player) and it hasn’t hurt you yet.
There have been plenty of Young pitchers who have gone down with injury, but you likely have an ace and several surprising(?) 1st half studs Corey Kluber, Sonny Gray, Julio Teheran, Tyson Ross and Dallas Keuchel. What if they get shut down early? Start to fatigue? Do you have enough pitching strength to carry through to the championship? I am NOT saying to trade Chris Sale, necessarily. Just make sure he isn’t your ONLY ace or top 20 option. Try a two for one deal and strengthen your starting lineup.
I am sure you have been sitting tight on adds/drops, rejecting trades, and that’s understandable. Just make sure you keep an eye on the guy in 3rd place, who was in 6th a few weeks ago, and has been streaming pitchers, making trades, and is leading the league in adds drops. They want you! They want your THRONE!! Defend it.
Find a lower placed team, trade one of your unproven early season studs, or a unrealistically hot player for a solid and consistent contributor if need be. Replace that questionable positional player, who hasn’t mattered to your squad yet. Do something. Build depth on your bench. Prepare for the worst.
Then you can remain in power, in first place, and ride into the championship being just that. A champion.
Breathing Down Their Necks
These teams are in playoff contention currently. Not in first or second place, but definitely not struggling either.
This may be the most difficult position to be in. You don’t want to dismantle your team via trade or add drops. You’re still competitive and really aren’t too concerned about falling out of contention.
I’d suggest finding weaknesses, if any. More than likely you are not dominating more than one or two categories, and sitting in the middle, or the top five of other categories.
This is tough, you’re doing good. You can realistically ride it out, or play with fire. I personally like to play with fire. Let’s say you have one closer, due to injury, demotion or or only drafting one. Other teams in your league may likely have two or three, or more closers. So what do you do?
Do you trade a starting player for another closer?
I don’t think so. Closers are always in flux, and why risk trading a player helping your team, for another question mark. You also may not be able to gain ground in rotisserie formats, or compete in head to head/points leagues.
So....you trade your one closer. Perhaps give up the category . Strengthen somewhere else (Power, speed, avg). Package your closer with a top 50-100 pitcher for a top 25 pitcher. Upgrade, but don’t sacrifice too much. Target another middle of the pack squad, or out of contention (currently) team who amy be sniffing another point or two in the saves category.
Like I said, this is risky. I play high risk and it usually pays off, but it’s backfired plenty of times too. Do what feels right, evaluate the other teams and league settings. If it is a points league for example "Holds" may be as valuable of a category as a "save". If this is true then why bother with closers? Target setup men who are dominating right now, get plenty of strikeouts and have low era/whip. Dellin Betances, Pat Neshek, or Jake McGee
Now. Do you trade a bench player for another closer?? Sure that is likely a smart move.