Tips for turning around a flatlining fantasy baseball team

Few two-letter combos can be as devastating as the dreaded “DL” in fantasy baseball.

Anyone who has played the sport knows that dreams of championship sugarplums can quickly dissolve into nightmares of basement-dwelling dust bunnies thanks to a few badly times injuries.

In one high-stakes 16-team roto leagues, my team is redder than Santa’s suit on Christmas Eve. Grady Sizemore, Scott Sizemore, Asdrubal Cabrera, Nate McLouth, Maicer Izturis, Jeremy Hermida, Brandon Webb, among others have given my squad more DLs than HRs or RBIs it seems.

Too bad DL isn’t a roto category.

A slumping player has more trade value than one on the DL … especially one on an extended DL stint such as Asdrubal Cabrera. It doesn’t help that teams such as this one are mired in last place with less and less hope for contending as the season wears on.

Many people abandon such teams, especially as the dog days of summer turn into the dog days of fantasy baseball … where people start shifting focus to fantasy football and grow tired of the 162-game marathon MLB offers.

But ditching a team goes against the very fiber of everything ninja … that no matter how long the odds, it is unacceptable to give up.

So what to do?

Time to clean house. Time to shake things up, even if it seems unorthodox. It is time for some crafty trade offers and some work via the waiver wire. The following are some steps towards trying to revitalize a team that has seemingly flatlined.

1. Identify players with the best trade value. This means it is time to consider dealing a Prince Fielder or other early-round fantasy stud. Look closely at which players on your team are playing well. Those that are playing over their heads at the moment (likely not many if you are struggling to stay out of the cellar) are prime candidates for dealing.

2. Look to improve at multiple lesser positions. Trading Fielder straight up for another 1b isn’t going to help you a ton. Dealing Fielder (who has been showing signs of life lately) and some lesser players at other positions in an attempt to improve yourself a little at several other positions can see quicker results.

For example, let’s say you have Fielder. First course of action is to figure out which teams in your league have a glaring need at 1b, but decent players at other positions that would give your team an overall boost. Check out buy-low posts here at chinstrapninjas.com and ep’s information-packed update posts for potential targets.

3. Scour your waiver wire. Don’t just look at players in terms of their overall 2010 stats, but also filter them based on their stats the past month and past week. This will give you a better idea of which players are streaking in the correct direction. Also look at currently DL-bound players who are close to returning. Pitchers such as Edison Volquez and young players with solid potential who just earned a call to the bigs (see Madison Bumgarner among others) are guys worth a long look, especially if you have plenty of fat to trim from your roster. Even if this young upstart player doesn’t figure to be a long-term option for you, he may become a solid piece of trade bait.

4. Float trade offers. Many teams in your league may assume that once you hit the standings basement, that you’ll lose all interest in your team and may neglect to consider you a trade partner. E-mail your league letting them know you are still in the ring and will be considering any and all reasonable offers as you attempt to rebound.

5. Let your mouse do the walking. No sense in re-iventing the wheel. Need some solid buy-low options? Need a few under-the-radar suggestions to help resuscitate your team? Plenty of fantasy websites offer regularly updated threads on this stuff. Chinstrapninjas strive to provide regular updates. Ep’s posts on player news are priceless and we throw out buy-low, sell-high pieces as often as possible. Want news on a specific player? Rotoworld.com can be helpful. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for individual help. We’d love the opportunity to look over your squad and make suggestions. Drop us a line through the comments below.

What are your suggestions for turning around a flatlining fantasy baseball team? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

9 Responses to “Tips for turning around a flatlining fantasy baseball team”


  1. Allen

    C-McCann,1st-Howard,2nd-McGehee,3rd-M. Young,SS-Zobrist,LF-Boesch, CF-Hunter, RF-Rios with Rolen and B.Butler on the bench.
    P-Hanson, P.Hughes, J.Garcia, G. Floyd, Billingsley, De La Rosa, Volquez, J.Hammel, J.Niemann, Soriano, and Wagner.
    Clayton Richard is on the wire, but should I drop someone to add him. Several of these picks are purely based on The Ninja advice. I’ve been leading since week one but over the last few weeks I haven’t been able to get anything going and my 7 game lead has shrunk. Thanks in advance for any additional advice.

  2. CJones

    I’m in an 11-man league and have been hovering around 6th-8th the entire season – mainly due to injuries, but some underperformance as well. I’m doing ok in pitching, but I’m last in HR, RBI and OPS. Here’s my team:

    11 Team Rotisserie
    Max Games Played: 162
    Max Innings Pitched: 1500

    29 Players + 2 DL Players/Team

    R, HR, RBI, SB, AVG, OPS, W, SV, K, HLD, ERA, WHIP

    C – Carlos Santana
    IF – Billy Butler, Chone Figgins, Scott Rolen, Lance Berkman, Erick Aybar, Alexei Ramirez, Justin Smoak
    OF – Ryan Braun, David DeJesus, Jayson Werth, Carl Crawford, Bobby Abreu
    Util – Matt LaPorta, Geovany Soto
    SP – CC Sabathia, Ubaldo Jimenez, James Shields, John Danks, Kevin Slowey, Trevor Cahill
    RP – Jonathan Papelbon, Brad Lidge, Aaron Heilman
    MRP (Holds) – Mike Adams, Hong-Chi Kuo
    BN – Yunel Escobar, Austin Kearns
    DL – Brian Roberts, Brett Anderson, Edinson Volquez

    I’ve been looking to trade Slowey for either an infielder or a closer. I also would like to pick up Richard, but I’m already loaded on pitchers. Other notables on the wire: Barmes, Branyan, Burrell, Crisp, Patterson, Posey, Kouzmanoff, Chris Johnson, Bernadina.

    As far as hitters go, I’m looking for pure power with a decent average. I’m way ahead in steals, so speed does me no good. I’ve been trying to trade speed for power, but no one is biting yet.

  3. jzak

    @Allen: Not a bad team. To really get a good gauge of your situation, I’d need to know how many teams your league is, if it is H2H or roto, what stat categories are scored, etc.

    Up front, your squad doesn’t look too shabby at all. Not one in which I’d get too panicky about. Which categories are you struggling in the most lately? Remember that you have DeLaRosa and Volquez riding in as your calvary sometime soon off the DL. They’ll help solidify your pitching.

    If your team was mired at the bottom of your standings, I’d take a long thought of taking offers for Ryan Howard with the hopes that Billy Butler finds his second-half groove soon … moving Howard would allow you to improve other positions if need be.

    However, from what you are saying, your team isn’t on the outside looking in … but hitting a slump of some sorts. Like real-life players, all fantasy baseball teams have hot spells and slumps during the course of the season. It is very, very hard to be dominant all 162 games. However, it is smart to notice a potential trend and fix it before it causes too much agony later.

  4. jzak

    @CJones: Not a bad team at all. Your pitching has been solid from what you’re saying, and you’ll be getting even more of a shot in the arm with Brett Anderson and Edison Volquez when they come off the DL. Depending on how dominant you are in each pitching category, keep an eye on other teams’ pitching needs, because you’re on the verge of excess, which helps your trading leverage.

    Same for steals. You’ve got plenty of speed already, with Brian Roberts possibly adding some extra speed whenever he returns from the DL.

    So, the goal here is to look at your stat categories (not sure if this league is through Yahoo or ESPN or another site, but most of the major providers make it easy to sort stats). Look hard at the teams who are leading your league in homers and RBI, and then focus especially on those squads who are struggling in starting pitcher numbers and/or steals. Ideal situation would be a team that is hurting in both, allowing you to offer a speed guy and a decent pitcher for some power numbers.

    I would also look closely at Chone Figgins on your roster. I like him overall and he’s finally starting to pay dividends on the basepaths. However, he also plays at positions where there are some decent power players. If you thing your batting average can take a hit, I’d consider looking for the guys in the league who own power bats in the infield such as Mark Reynolds or Adam Dunn.

    Your waiver wire guys are interesting. Personally, I like Buster Posey the best. Anyone in your league a fan of Carlos Santana? Posey wouldn’t be much of a downgrade, espcially since Bengie Molina is officially out of San Francisco. Short of a statistical meltdown, Posey is in the bigs to stay.

  5. Allen

    Sorry for the lack of detail. 10 teams scoring R,RBI,HR,AVG,SB, with ERA,Saves,W,SO,WHIP. It’s H2H and as I mentioned my tail spin started a few weeks ago with HR,avg, and SB being my weaker categories. I’ve got a league mate that has a man-crush on Howard and has been chasing him all season. He’s got Reyes, Morneau, Kinsler, and Kemp but only seems interested in a 1-to-1 trade and I don’t feel that any of these offered carry that much weight when compaired to Howard. I think second base is an area that could be improved, or SS and move Zobrist to 2nd. Thanks for the insight. You guys have been a great asset for me.

  6. jzak

    @Allen: Hey Allen. Thank you for getting involved in the site. We really enjoy the back-and-forth discussions.

    I think you have the right idea in at least considering dealing Howard. Remember, though, that you are in a different situation than many who are reading the information shared above. You are still in first, and while your team may be backsliding, it isn’t in need of a major makeover.

    You are totally correct that Ryan Howard should not go one-for-one for any of the guys you mention. One plus is that Kinsler and Kemp are both potential buy-lows, in my opinion, at this point. Both have underperformed this year, and I think both will be decent options down the stretch. I would ask this owner again specifically what he’d want for the pair. Morneau and Reyes would be nice, but are not as solid in terms of value you can get at the moment. See if the guy would consider a deal not involving Howard for the two you mentioned. Get a list of guys he is interested in from your roster not named Howard. You can even ask him up front to rank your players in terms of guys he wouldn’t mind having. This can be a solid first step towards creating a deal he can’t refuse, but one that helps your team for the long haul.

    Let us know how it goes. Any other trade partners in the league? What sort of guys are floating on your waiver wire at the moment?

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  8. Bryan

    I’m in an 13-man league and have been in LAST place all season – mainly due to underperformance. I’m doing ok in pitching (could lower my ERA and WHIP, but I’m last in R, HR, RBI and AVG. Here’s my team:

    13 Team Rotisserie
    Max Games Played: 162
    Max Innings Pitched: 1500

    22 Players + 1 DL Players/Team

    R, HR, RBI, SB, AVG, W, SV, K, ERA, WHIP

    C – Kurt Suzuki
    IF – Mark Teixeira, Dan Uggla, Jorge Cantu, Rafael Furcal, Marco Scutaro
    OF – Matt Holliday, Colby Rasmus, Curtis Granderson,
    Util – Jason Kubel, Gaby Sanchez
    SP – Ubaldo Jiminez, James Shields, CJ Wilson, Bronson Arroyo, RA Dickey, Barry Zito, Hiroki Kuroda, Scott Baker
    RP – Brian Fuentes, Fernando Rodney, Manuel Corpas
    DL – Asdrubal Cabrera

    I’m second place in Wins, and middle in K’s. Everything else I’m literally in last place. I need a miracle. Any suggestions would be so very helpful.

  9. jzak

    @Bryan: Hey Bryan. Thanks for the comments and sorry it took so long for me to get back to you. Won’t happen again. Ninja promise!

    Wow. Your team has been one of misfortune. All your main offensive pieces were major-league slow starters this year, digging you a hole that looks almost insurmountable, I’m sure.

    One problem is that most of your main guys are just now starting to break out of their early-season funks and produce. Teixeira, Holliday, Kubel and even Curtis Granderson are just starting to heat up. Dealing these guys won’t net you a whole lot considering their slow starts, although Teixiera from a name value standpoint may be your best bargaining piece.

    Look to see what value Teixeira has in your league. I would start by e-mailing the league and letting them know you haven’t given up the fight, and are actively looking to make some big trades to attempt to turn things around. Let them know that everyone is on the table and that you will be considering each deal sent your way.

    Also, what sort of players are on your waiver wires? Like I mentioned in my Cliff Lee trade post today, I would look quickly for Chris Davis and roster him if at all possible. Guys like Asdrubal Cabrera you are stuck with until he comes off the DL. He isn’t a guy you can really trade and are better off waiting for him to return and hoping for the best when he does.

    Saves-wise, I think you may be struggling soon since Corpas has given way to Huston Street as the Rockies closer. Fuentes alone, in a 13-team league, won’t keep you afloat in the category. Rodney and Corpas could have value depending on trades, injuries and overall ineffectiveness during the season, but you need some saves now to help boost you in the category. Are there any closers on your waiver wire? Does anyone own Chris Perez? Word from Cleveland is that Kerry Wood will be a high commodity trade piece this summer, which should open the closing gig back up to Perez.

    With Teixeira, you’ll likely need to target a lower-tiered infielder with upside and then add some of your lower-end guys (such as Scutaro, Furcal, Cantu and even Uggla) in an attempt to upgrade where you can. Look for guys who present at the moment as buy-lows. One I am looking at from a really low value standpoint is Aaron Hill. He has the power potential and if he can snap out of his plate discipline funk, could be a cheap add at the moment.

    Crazy at it may sound, Ubaldo Jimenez is another guy I’d consider dealing. Even with a few recent struggles, Ubaldo is getting much fantasy love this season and could net you some valuable pieces. Target pitchers with strikeout potential, such as Jonathan Sanchez, while, again, looking to improve your less fortunate role spots.

    When you are as far behind as you suggest, there is no one cure-all elixir that will patch everything up. It will be a matter of looking at rosters and tweaking here and there over time … knowing that the longer you are mired in the basement, the harder it is to bounce back.

    Let us know how it goes. No matter what, go down swinging.