Roto Strategy: Stats, not Players, Win Fantasy Baseball

Davis is tied for the AL lead in stolen bases- but what are they worth to your fantasy team?

It’s time for a little more Fantasy Baseball Strategy. Last week, I mentioned looking at splits for your hitter: Often the differences in ballpark are brought to our attention, but it’s largely ignored how well a certain hitter fares against right vs. left-handed pitching (The skill level of the pitcher should be taken into account as well).

Another way to add value to your Fantasy team is by specifically addressing existing statistical needs, as opposed to amassing statistics as a whole. This can be used to make a trade not only win-win, but win-big win, where you are the big winner, not Mikey (anyone catch the ‘Swingers’ reference? No? You mean you didn’t watch it eight times a week in college like me?).

Trades generally go this way: A player is exchanged for another team’s player, or player(s) of roughly equivalent value. But Fantasy Baseball is not about who has the best collection of players. It’s about who has the best collection of statistics, at least in roto leagues.  A more advanced way to think about trading is to look at statistics, not just what you have as opposed to what you need, but in terms of what will bring the biggest gain. Saves and steals are often coveted in Fantasy baseball (and thus overvalued) because they are less commonly accrued by major leaguers. But saves have close to zero value for someone leading the category by 50 with two months remaining in the season.  Likewise, runs may be less valuable than saves in general, but when the race for most runs in a league becomes tight midway through the season, and you can gain three or four points in the standings with a good day, adding a player that will give you a boost in this category becomes paramount.

The value attributed to statistics – and thus players- is constantly in flux depending on the league standings, and considering these when making trades and waiver pickups can give you a tremendous edge.  As anyone who has proposed a trade should know, it is not easy to massage a bitter rival into exchanging players.

Generally, you have to make the scale tip greatly in your opponents favor, the result of which seems disastrous. However, there is a way to avoid this. Become familiar with the standings in your league – in addition to your own, the positions of leaders, and that of your trade partner. Look for a way to make a trade that will seem like a great deal to your associate, and will be, but will also help them best your competition in a way that will not threaten your own position in the standings. If your trade partner can pass a third party in say, steals, without threatening your rank in that category, and the third party is currently leading you in the standings, then by all means, trade away steals.

Of course you want return value, but you only need enough of a certain category to gain points in the standings; after this point, additional statistics are meaningless. Giving away the steals will actually benefit you more than holding on to them in this case. Do not trade statistics to a competitor in that category; this is another reason to pay attention to the distribution of statistics in your league.

If you can win each category, or heck, finish second or third in each category, by one point/run/strikeout etc., you will have maximized your value, and proven you can manage fantasy teams with the best of them. Is there really a greater honor?

Fantazzle Fantasy Baseball

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