The long wait is over, and the Major League baseball season is finally underway. Because it’s a short season, you are going to have to move quickly with your roster adjustments if you want to finish on top in your league. Normally, you can be patient with a player off to a slow start, but that’s simply not the case in 2020. There’s no All-Star break and no second half of the season to redeem yourself.
The first step is to do an assessment on your draft. No baseball team roster is perfect, and no fantasy team roster is perfect. It’s likely that the team you drafted is strong in some areas and weak in others. You need to address the weaknesses as soon as possible. Then, by tweaking your team with trades or waiver wire pickups, you can shore up some of the weak areas and right the ship early on.
But how do you assess your team objectively and identify deficiencies? For the purpose of this column, I am going to discuss this from a rotisserie league perspective. If you’re playing in a H2H points league, it’s simple. You attempt to draft the players who will score the most points at each position. It doesn’t matter if a guy hits 40 home runs, or steals 40 bases. You just need enough points to win.
In Rotisserie leagues, it’s not so simple. If you draft from a cheat sheet listing the highest-ranked players, you might find out later that your team is stacked with stolen bases, but lacking in power. More likely, you might find you’re loaded with home run hitters, but your team is projected to hit .240 because you have the likes of Khris Davis, Joey Gallo, Miguel Sano and Matt Chapman rostered
In Roto leagues, you can’t be successful just drafting the highest-ranked players (as if you could actually do that). The shape of the production matters, too. You’re competing across 10 separate categories, so you need to know what you’re aiming for in each category in order to know whether you can keep pace. No owner can be first in all 10 categories, but you’d better be near the top in most.
For instance, if your team is in the top three in all 10 categories, you can feel confident of winning the league. However, if you’re at the bottom in more than one, or two categories, you’re in trouble. Again, you’re going to have to make the adjustments quickly in a 60-game season. To do this, you need to have targets in each category. I establish my targets based on results from the previous year.
I found a chart at CBS Sports showing the results from several 12-team leagues for the 2019 season, with the average results for each spot in the rankings for every category. Leagues vary, but this was useful information I used this to establish targets for each team I drafted before the COVID-19 shutdown. I adjusted the numbers, multiplying them by 37%, to reflect the shortened 60-game season.
What I did in February was looked at 2020 projections for each player on my roster and plugged my projections into the 10 categories. For 10-team leagues, you need to adjust the numbers slightly. Based on that information, I found out that one of my teams had so much power that I could trade Pete Alonso for Josh Hader and still finish at the top, or near the top, in home runs, runs and RBI.
I decided to do the same thing for a team I drafted last Saturday. Of course, I have to adjust the assumptions to account for the short season. This is easy enough. I will simply multiply the projected numbers by 37% for each counting stat (HR, runs, RBI, SB, wins, saves, strikeouts). After making my calculations, I determined that my biggest weakness was batting average.
A low batting average is an ongoing problem for me on most of my teams. My solution was to offer another owner a trade. I offered him Pete Alonso and Nick Solak for Anthony Rizzo and Mike Moustakas. Rizzo has never hit more than 32 home runs, but he has a career .273 batting average and drove in more than 100 runs the four of the past five years. The other owner accepted my trade offer.
There is certainly risk in this trade, as there is in any trade. Rizzo’s ailing back and been a problem for a few years, and he’s already missed time since summer training started. But Rizzo has been better than most in playing through his pain. He hasn’t played less than 140 games since 2012. And I’m banking on my assumption that his batting average will be at least 20 points higher than Alonso’s.
On the other hand, shipping Alonso off costs me in the power department. Alonso is projected to hit 16 home runs in this short season, while Rizzo is expected to hit eight. However, Moustakas, who is eligible at two positions is projected to hit 12. Power has been restored. Frankly, Moustakas sweetened the deal enough to make the offer work for me, mitigating some of the risk of Rizzo’s injury.
Another reason why I was excited to get Moustakas was that Anthony Rendon is listed as day-to-day on the Los Angeles Angels injury report and is likely to miss a few games. I can plug Moustakas in at third base. My point here is that things will change quickly in this crazy, short season. You must move just as quickly making adjustments on your team if you expect to win your league title.
At the risk of sounding repetitious, you simply have to check the waiver wire every day. “There’s gold in them thar hills”, was a famous quote from a character in Mark Twain’s 1892 novel The American Claimant. Perhaps, Twain was in one of the early fantasy baseball leagues. There’s gold in them thar waiver wires, and you need to be prospecting for it, just like the old prospectors did.
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