Tips to Turn Your Fantasy Baseball Season Around

May 1, 2009

The first month of the fantasy baseball season is behind us.  By now you have a good idea of what your team is, and equally as important, what your team is not.  If you find yourself at the bottom of the standings, the thought of clawing your way to the top may not be very realistic.  That doesn’t mean you have to waive the white flag.  There is plenty of baseball left to be played, plenty of time for your team to turn things around, and plenty of ways you can accomplish that goal.

A good start would be to assess your team.  What categories are you strong in?  Which ones are you week in?  Typical fantasy baseball leagues are 5×5 leagues, meaning there are hitter categories for Average, Runs, Home Runs, Runs Batted In, and Stolen Bases; and pitcher categories for Wins, Earned Run Average, Walks + Hits per Innings Pitched (WHIP), Strikeouts, and Saves.  You are awarded points based on your rankings in those categories.  If there are 12 people in your league the team that leads the category will get twelve points, and the team in last will get one point.  If you are dominating a category, perhaps you can make a trade to improve an underperforming category.  For example, if you are the league leader is Saves you get the same amount of points if you are ahead by one Save as you get for being ahead by 20 Saves.  Now say you’re middle-of-the-pack in the SB category.  If you can trade away one of your Closer for a speedster you can still win your Saves category, maybe by 10 Saves instead, and you can improve your ranking in the SB category.  You would still get your 12 points from the Saves category, but perhaps you would gain a couple points in the SB category.  If you can do a couple strategic trades you could make your way up the standings in no time.

Trading away your players isn’t the only way to improve your team.  Work the free agent pool.  If you are excelling in Average, perhaps you can afford to take on a speedster that is struggling at the plate for a week or two.  Sure, your average will dip a bit, but it’s a lot easier to raiser your team average than it is to rack up SBs.  Besides, if you’re only doing it in short spurts, you’re only talking about a small percentage of your overall At Bats.  If your average dips to a point you’re not comfortable with, stop using the speedster for a while.  You don’t necessarily have to drop the guys when you are done with them.  You can just stash them on your bench until you’re ready to use them again. 

Take some risks.  If you’re in last place don’t be afraid to shake some things up.  I don’t recommend trading away your key players because they have started the season slow, but perhaps you can find an owner who will.  You buy a solid player low, and reap the rewards when he turns it around.  If he doesn’t turn it around, the risk is minimal because you were struggling to begin with.

Finally, pay attention.  If a player gets hurt, you can stumble into a goldmine by simply picking up the replacement.  This is especially true for injured Closers.  The replacement is not typically owned, and can be a short-term boost to your Saves category.  Pay attention to match-ups as well.  If a guy struggles against a particular Pitcher, or even vs. righties or lefties, you may want to bench him against those match-ups.  One of the most satisfying things is to bench someone that goes 0 for 4.  Occasionally you’ll guess wrong, but if you do your research you’ll probably be ahead of the curve.

Follow these tips and you could find yourself looking down at the pack instead of up at it.

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