When you are stuck in the fantasy baseball mud.

Muddy Ball

I thought I’d write a post to stoke the flames of the internal competition between the writers of this site (read the comments here and here for the bitter feud). A cage match would make for more entertainment, and we could always turn the drama into a reality TV program, but we’ll have to settle for a war of words and ideas. For now.

The competition I speak about is for dominance in the three fantasy baseball leagues in which the three of us writers play in together. As I type this I’m sitting higher in the standings and Dixon and Nash are looking to play spoiler. I’m giving it the old “Scoreboard Check”, while they are giving the “It’s not over ’til it’s over” routine.

But before I give some advice on how to make a run in fantasy baseball I want to talk about West Virginia mud.

Being from West Virginia I’ve been “muddin'” a few times. All you need are some country roads and a pickup truck. Of course, getting stuck in the mud can be part of the fun. But I think the image of getting stuck in the mud can be helpful to fantasy baseball players who are trying to climb out of the cellar and into first place.

When you’re stuck in the mud the first instinct is to hit the gas. Of course, more often than not the wheels just spin and spin while flinging mud everywhere. The second inclination to to “rock it.” You’re gun it forward, then gun it in reverse, then gun it forward again, with the hopes that you can finally get free as you rock it backwards and forwards.

Regardless, there is a lot of motion. Wheels are spinning, mud is flying everywhere, and the truck is lunging backwards and forwards. But the truck isn’t really moving. All that motion, only to still be stuck where you started.

There is a lot of motion, but no movement. And those are two different things.

Particularly in the first three months of the fantasy baseball season you’ll see a team climb 5 points in the roto standings. Then they will drop 8 points. Two teams will flip flop. One team will jump from 11th to 8th, back to 10, then up to 5th. There is a lot of motion and it looks like every position is up in the air!

But this doesn’t mean there is any movement. What you really want is to move up the standings permanently, not just bounce around in the standings and spin your wheels.

Here are some DO’s and DON’Ts to help you climb out of the mud:

DO make targeted moves. Go category by category and determine the places where you can make the most gains. I wrote a step-by-step on this process here. Give it a read. I think it’s helpful and we’re available for advice and help. Just let us know in the comments.

DO NOT make a flurry of moves to see what sticks. A tendency when you find yourself lower in the standings is to blow up your team and make a rash of moves in the hope that you’ll stumble on the team that will catapult you forward in every category. This is the equivelant of spinning your wheels. You’ll just dig yourself deeper in the mud. Make purposeful and deliberate moves.

DO let your moves take hold.  If you’ve made the hard decision on which categories you stand the most to gain (again, read this for a step-by-step) then you need to be patient and let those moves take hold. I know it’s counterintuitive to be patient when you are behind, but if you traded for Billy Butler to help raise your AVG, then you need to understand that your team’s AVG isn’t going to rise by 15 points in one week.

DO NOT make a bunch of moves to just stream guys in and out. This is the equivalent of rocking your truck back and forth in the mud. You are creating a lot of motion on your team, but you aren’t going to move up the standings. See above. Make deliberate moves and give them a chance to make a difference on your team.

DO know when to throw in the towel. I know this is controversial because we like to think that there we always have a shot but sometimes you need to be able to know when your team just isn’t going to get it done. In real baseball a good GM knows when to be a “seller” and rebuild for the next year. I wrote more about how you can tell when it’s time to punt here.

DO NOT put next year’s team in jeopardy. This advice is for keeper leagues only, but don’t focus on a losing cause when you can put attention toward next year’s team. This can be a lot of fun. Package guys to owners who are in the hunt to get a solid keeper. Pick up a young prospect to see what he might do for you next year. Just don’t waste an opportunity to make next year’s team a winner. Make moves now that look toward the future.

DO make changes to improve your team. I’ll share the link one more time that will give you a step-by-step idea on how you can go category by category to determine where you can make gains. Do look for ways to improve your team and…

DO NOT mistake daily swings as progress. Again, early in the fantasy baseball season you’ll have large daily swings in roto scoring. Teams will commonly gain 5 points, only to lose 6 the next day. Teams will flip flop or perhaps leapfrog three teams in the standings…for about a week. Don’t mistake all this motion for movement. Remember, roto scoring plays on cumulative stats and averages for the long seasons. Daily swings will distract you from the reality that you need to check month by month (or even week by week) to see if you are on pace to reach your goals or if you need to adjust your goals. Most fantasy baseball leagues offer some sort of “pace” function. Use it. (And here’s a link on the importance of setting a goal in each category.)

There you have it. Some DOs and DON’Ts to help you climb in the standings when your team is stuck down in a muddy rut. There is absolutely time to rise in the standings!

Tags: BIlly Butler Standings Strategy

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