Befriend The Bottom Dweller In Fantasy Baseball
In fantasy baseball keeper leagues, the best teams make the toughest cuts while cellar dwellers have trouble finding enough players to keep. The purpose of this is to narrow the talent gap amongst teams. Does it work? Yes, the worst teams in a league often pick first and select the best of what’s available. However, the worst team will select first, and then 24th in a 12-team snake draft. By the final pick of the second round, the best players are gone already. In the end, a last place team with 10 keepers in a 15 keeper league now has 11. Big whoop. At that rate, it will take an owner five seasons to raise his/her talent level enough to dream of competing.
This is frustrating for an owner — especially a new one inheriting a lesser team. The excitement of rebuilding quickly gives way to disappointment in fantasy baseball leagues. Within a year or two, a solid owner who inherits a last place team has managed it into ninth and concludes the time investment just isn’t worth it when their buddy is starting up a new league in the spring. Does this sound familiar?
Back in 2011, I took over a deep dynasty fantasy baseball team in a league featuring AL/NL only teams. Points from both leagues were combined to determine the champion. The team I took over was in desperate need of a rebuild. Within a month, Bryce Harper, Jose Reyes and others were dealt to secure a number of young players just to fill empty starting positions. In drafts, we aggressively pursued trades and selected Xander Bogaerts, Kevin Gausman, Jonathan Schoop, Carlos Martinez and Kris Bryant among others. Martinez was dealt for Jurickson Profar and the franchise was well on its way.
The following spring, Yoenis Cespedes and Yu Darvish were the two hottest international names available. With a free agent and prospect draft, the commissioner decided to split the pair after we had secured the second overall pick in the free agent draft for Mike Carp and Scott Sizemore. Citing the “fact” Cespedes would begin the season in Double-A, Darvish became the best free agent available while the same-aged Cespedes ended up in the prospect pool. We missed out on both players and it torpedoed all of the hard work and time spent rebuilding both fantasy baseball teams. In an instant, the league I loved was reduced to arbitrary rules and feeling slighted. I quickly checked out and moved into the Ottoneu Experts league.
And while the situation I experienced wasn’t the same as the opening of this piece, the frustration of being a weak team in a league and perceiving it to have little-to-no upward mobility is. New and lesser owners won’t be as attached to a league as top owners will be. Winning changes that mindset and it becomes difficult to let a great team go. Be cognizant to that fact and consider stepping in to save the day.
Be A Fantasy Baseball White Knight
Yesterday, I held a 1-on-1 strategy session with a reader to discuss his dynasty keeper league team. With 17 keepers, players on the bubble included Kevin Gausman, Jason Castro, Nick Franklin and more. Three trades were on the table and the reader was desperate to add steals. In one of the trade offers, Everth Cabrera was the big get.
Towards the end of the conversation, I asked about the lesser teams in his fantasy baseball league. Did they have anything worth going after? Considering this owner was going to have to cut a quality talent, why not deal the excess first? In this instance, the owner had Matt Kemp in centerfield (injured) and Jurickson Profar as an option at second base or shortstop.
With a utility spot open and need at 2B/SS, the owner looked to see if any bottom dwellers had pieces to fit his needs. Sure enough, the last place team had Ian Desmond and Leonys Martin. Stolen bases? Check! Shortstop? Check! UT/CF to replace a gimpy Matt Kemp? Check! The pair fit his roster like a hand in glove.
When I mentioned starting with a package of Kevin Gausman, Nick Franklin, Jason Castro and Jarrod Parker for the pair, the owner paused. Through the Google Hangout screen, I could see the owner mentally questioning my sanity. At face value, this was WAY too much to trade for Desmond and Martin.
Before he had a chance to say no, I mentioned the fact the reader:
1. Had to trade two keepers to add two keepers
2. Was going to drop Castro and Franklin anyway
In the end, if Desmond and Martin are more valuable to the owner’s fantasy baseball team than Gausman and Parker, then the additional pieces didn’t matter. Suddenly, the light went on and it made perfect sense. It doesn’t matter what an owner has, only what can be kept. When having to cut down to keeper limits, it’s move it or lose it. It’s the only time of year where it’s appropriate to purposefully take a net loss in trade to secure the best keepers.
26 Feb 2014 / Mike Newman / 2
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