With the exception of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers, the baseball season hasn’t even started yet. So it seems a bit premature at this point to wonder what you’re going to do if the fantasy baseball team that you just drafted turns into a dud.
Still, in every league that plays this silly little game teams are going to fall out of contention and if you’re an owner who is going to play things out regardless (as everyone should be), you should absolutely try to finish in the highest place possible. What general fantasy baseball acquisitions should you look to make if your team is struggling in a few months?
Look to your bench
I’ve never had even a decent explanation as to why teams do this. But in every league, you can take it to the bank that a few teams are going to have a deep offensive bench. Just out of curiosity, what’s the exact purpose of this? It’s one of my annoyances with auto-picking. Standard practice is to fill the pitching spots with only the active players, and use all of the bench spots on hitting. I’ve seen it from more than one provider this year alone. Why?
If Alex Rios is having a rough night and you have Brandon Moss on your bench, can you sub Rios out for Moss in the seventh inning? Nope. Unlike a real baseball team, you can’t sub people mid-game for a match-up. What’s the point of having a lot of hitters on your bench? If you do that, I can pretty well promise that unless the majority of the league follows suit, you’re having a really hard time competing in every counted pitching category, other than maybe saves.
At the beginning of the year, you may want to draft a young guy like an Avisail Garcia or Khris Davis, put him on your bench and see if they really emerge as legit fantasy guys this year, but if you have anything more than about one hitter on your bench for a short period of time, you’re really handcuffing yourself.
Remember, baseball’s an everyday sport and hitters play every day. You’ll never put Mike Trout on your bench. On the other hand, someone like Clayton Kershaw should be on your bench four days out of five because, well, he only plays on that one extra day.
You can carry an extra closer, a few high K-rate, low ERA/WHIP middle-relievers, a few outhouse or castle starters that you’ll use primarily in good match-ups, or any combination of them, and it will make significantly more sense than having a big bench of hitters.
Shop the Stars
When talking about turning a contender into a winner, I made a case that a multitude of good pitchers is better than one star. That logic applies here as well. The difference is that then, I made a case that one star hitter is better than 2-3 good position players. If we’re talking about trying to salvage a bad season with a different season, the opposite is true. In this case, five $1 bills is better than one $5 bill. So, what’s the difference?
You certainly drafted stars and they may even be performing at a high level, you just didn’t put the right guys around them, minimizing the effectiveness of the $5 bill for you.
Maybe the complimentary guys got hurt, maybe you relied on one too many guys looking for one more year that didn’t come through, maybe you just didn’t do a good enough job drafting. Whatever the reason, your complimentary guys aren’t getting the job done.
So, even if it comes at the expense of your stars, you need to get the poor performers off of your roster for 2-3 good to above average guys. If you have someone like Robinson Cano, maybe offer him to a contender in a package deal that would have you getting back guys like Carlos Beltran and Ryan Zimmerman. Obviously coming up with concrete names is a little difficult right now since we don’t know any stats or what the strengths and weaknesses are of you or your contending league mates, but you get the basic idea. Shop your stars to round out your lineup with a little more depth.
The one exception here is if you’re in a keeper league. Don’t trade a star for good parts there, because stars have value beyond just this season.
Other than that, try as hard as you can to round out your team better, because the stars and scrubs method is just not working.
Use your weak stats as an advantage
If you’re a football fan, think of this scenario. You’re on defense and the other team is looking at a first-and-goal from the one-yard-line. If you’re on the defensive front, there’s no reason to not try to anticipate the snap count. Even if you jump offsides, the offense only gets half the distance to the goal, and they don’t get a new set of downs. So go for broke.
Similar logic applies here. You’re already in a situation where you can’t get any worse, so don’t be afraid to take chances. Need a specific example?
The offense you drafted just isn’t working, and you sit in dead last in a roto league in steals and homers. Guess what? You’re not going to get any worse. I’d suggest you focus squarely on power guys to improve your lot there. I guarantee if you’re dead last in homers, you’re not far from there in RBI and probably not far in runs either. So, go ahead and concede last place in steals and go for the power. You don’t have to try to improve yourself in every category, just look at where you can realistically gain points and max out there.
We already went over keeper leagues, and they are something of an exception to this. But unless you’re in something of an All-Star League an active owner should just not finish in last place. By looking at the roster critically and not being stubborn with their team, anyone can turn a lost season around. Just remember that in a few months if your team takes a downhill turn.