List management is a crucial tool in fantasy baseball. One of my weaknesses is not beating my list. Every year it seems like I have a couple of young players who could make a difference later in the year. The longer I keep them and get no production from that roster spot, the more opportunities I lose when there are valuable players on the resignation wire.
Some of the best fantasy game owners in gaming today are excellent list shakers. They are not emotionally tied up with any player on their bench. They understand a player’s skill set and know the replacement value on the exemption cable. I’m sure there are times when they knock out a player who then becomes the one who makes the difference. Sometimes they re-acquire these players because they are so in tune with the group of players.
Baseball season is a marathon, but it’s essential to maximize your chances starting in the first week. You’d be surprised how many teams take zeroes from their pitchers during the first week of the season. They didn’t think long enough about the future and didn’t take the time to look at potential starting pitcher rotations before selecting their team. Many times these leagues are so close that an extra win or a handful of strikeouts can mean the difference between winning and losing.
In 12-team leagues, it’s almost like the free agent pool is an extended bench if you have the right roster structure. You can find many useful corner gardeners and infielders. The backend launch inventory is deep, but it is not without risk. The goal is to maximize at-bats while continually looking for potential pitching improvements, be it a starter or a new closer. It is extremely difficult to carry injured mediocre players.
Once the season starts, I need to check the bench players to see if I have any problems. My first goal is to look at the bottom of each week’s stats and see where I stand in at-bats and my pitching goals. The first week of the year is difficult to measure, but I need to know if I have enough depth in my headline rotation. It’s too late to save some of the teams if I made mistakes during the draft. I need to live with my draft day decisions and I hope my opinions are correct. There’s nothing worse than eliminating the best available free agent for next week’s waiver period, so it’s vital to take a deep breath when deciding to release certain players.
Each week, a player will get hurt or miss playing time, opening up more at-bats or innings for other players likely to be on the waiver wire. There are many occasions during the year when players play well for short periods, while some even become substantial contributors to their fantasy team.
In 2019, Danny Santana (.283 with 81 runs, 28 home runs, 81 RBIs and 21 steals) turned into fantasy gold through the free-agent pool, which came after four empty seasons. Dominic Smith entered the category last year.
In the past, I was a fantasy snob when looking for a player to improve my team. Beggars can’t be picky during the heat of a baseball season’s battle. I remember not picking up Ryan Howard in 2005 because I thought his batting average was at risk because of his high strikeout rate. He ended up hitting .288 with 22 home runs in 312 at-bats. Howard was a difference maker that I overlooked due to a possible weakness in one category. You can never discount talent, and you take every batting upgrade you can find. In a short period of time, any player can hit a higher average than expected, and sometimes those players get stuck all year long.
A fantasy owner needs to evaluate each player and each situation. These decisions are much easier when your team is playing well. When you are behind, the owner of a fantasy tends to make mistakes in trying to make things happen. Either they bench a star player who leaves after a slow start to the year, or they cut a player because he is playing poorly.
When you’re beating your list, you’re looking for edge players who are buy and hold candidates. There are other times when you need to get a zero to protect a position on the list. A fantasy owner hates to fall further behind, but there is no guarantee that the player he chooses will have a good week. Sometimes you have to weather the storm. A fantasy owner will never know when a player starts to turn the corner or if some players will get hot on their team. You must keep your head down and grind continuously throughout the season.
This season I’d like to keep a spot on the bench to rotate into potential double starters and another spot on my bench for “hot hitter of the week.”
Everyone plays in different formats with different league sizes. A decision can work well for one league and it can be a bad decision for another. Usually the group of players will answer your questions. There is a fine line between patience and agitation. Every owner needs to find a balance between the two in their quest to win a league championship.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.