In my favorite scene from the movie “City Slickers,” Curly, the hard-core cowboy, and Mitch, the greenhorn city slicker (played respectively by actors Jack Palance and Billy Crystal), are riding on a trail and discussing love, life and other existential issues. At on point Curly turns to Mitch and says, “Do you know what the secret of life is?” Mitch replies, “No, what?” Curly holds up his index finger and says, “One thing.” “That’s great,” Mitch says. “But what’s the one thing?” Curly responds, “That’s what you gotta figure out.”
I love Billy Crystal movies, and I recommend this philosophical cowboy comedy. But how does this relate to fantasy baseball? I thought of the scene with Curly and Mitch and how it applies to playing this game. The secret of winning your fantasy baseball league is one thing. Or, maybe two, of three, or five. What those things are is up to you to figure out. With that said, I will share one thing with you that I have found works. I call this strategy, “Buy low, sell high and hope for the best.” In this case, I’m talking about trades.
Novice fantasy players overreact to early-season developments. This is why I found Kyle Tucker on the waiver wire in my Yahoo League last week and claimed him with a $6 FAAB bid. Tucker was hitting below the Mendoza Line at that point. But since May 9th, he’s gone 9 for 17 (.529), with eight runs scored, three home runs and seven RBI. Tucker was one of many players off to a slow start in the early weeks of the 2021 season. But there was a reason why he was being drafted in the third or fourth round in most fantasy leagues.
The moral of this story is to not give up on a player too soon. This is where the “buy low” comes into the equation. One of my strategies in playing fantasy baseball is to attempt to buy low on good players off to a slow start. Before I go any further, let me add that this strategy (like any strategy) is not foolproof. I have just recently retired after more than 30 years as a financial advisor. I’ve applied the “buy low, sell high” strategy in buying and selling stocks for years. Unfortunately, sometimes you buy low and your stock goes lower.
This is true in buying low on a baseball player. A few years ago, Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop was dropped early by a manager in my league. Schoop was coming off a great season, having clubbed 35 home runs, with 105 RBI. He also hit .293. He had been a fourth-round draft pick, and I picked him up. I hung on (and hung on) to him through most of that year. He finished the season with 22 home runs, 61 RBI and a batting average of .233. Schoop has never been ranked higher than a top 200 player since then.
This year, I’m buying low and selling high on a lot of players. Let me cite some of the trades I have made in the last few weeks. I have listed the player I am receiving in the trade first. Eugenio Suarez for Sandy Alcantara (April 12), Marcell Ozuna for Cedric Mullins and Tyler Naquin (April 13), Charlie Morton for Aaron Civale (April 21), Lance Lynn for Josh Hader and Wander Franco (April 27), Kyle Hendricks for Tommy Edman (April 29), Blake Snell for Trevor Rogers (May 13) and Jose Ramirez for Matt Chapman and Ryan Pressly (May 13).
There was one trade where I violated my own rule and am living to regret it. On April 30th, I traded Zach Plesac for Max Muncy. Plesac was coming off a stretch of three games where he had allowed 15 earned runs in 13.1 innings. His velocity was down, and opposing hitters were hitting the ball hard. I didn’t like what I was seeing from Plesac, and I panicked. Since that time, Plesac has allowed 2 earned runs in 21 innings. If you take away his two bad starts against the White Sox, he’s allowed only seven runs in six starts.
Will all of the buy low, sell high trades pan out? No way. At this point, the Morton-Civale trades doesn’t look very good. I have concerns about the Snell-Rogers trade. I also have concerns about the Alcantara-Suarez trade and the Hendricks-Edman trade. Heck, I could lay awake at night worrying about all of them, but I’m not going to. I believe I will win more of these buy low, sell high deals than I lose. I’m counting on that. You must understand that fantasy baseball is a game of inches. There are 162 games to be played.
We’re about 22.8 percent of the way through the season, and there’s a lot of baseball to be played. I am currently first in my Yahoo public league, and second and third in my two ESPN leagues. Each league is 12-team Roto. My focus is on improving with each team in each league each day. There are some things that I control and some things that I don’t control. The rash of injuries, the slow starts by players, the flight of the new baseball are things I don’t control. The players I trade for, add and drop and under my control.