Winning the fantasy baseball free agents battle could win you the war

Winning fantasy baseball is about fielding the most formidable team to take into battle. That’s why the Chinstrap Ninjas concentrate so much energy on preparing you for the draft.

We try to give you as many angles as is superninjaly possible so we can all make educated guesses at every position. But it’s almost May and some of our sleepers are still sleeping, some of our studs are slipping and Evan Longoria is still on the disabled list (he’s due back the end of this week).

Trades are a thing that can help your fantasy team, but this isn’t football. One running back or quarterback is not going to redefine your season. Yes, a pitcher or two or a couple bats will help, but monitoring your roster and adding free agents at the right time is just as if not more important.

Here are some things I consider key to this discussion:

  1. A team that has been cold-cocked with injuries is not going to get fair value for the players it trades.
  2. Most trades involve two or three players, five at most. Fantasy baseball rosters can range from large to morbidly obese compared to fantasy football rosters. Those two or three changes will help, but if the rest of the league is rolling your face in the slop on the dungeon floor, three new players will only get you up on your hands and knees. Like Martin Brody says, “You’re going to need a bigger boat.”
  3. Between rookie callups (Buster Posey last year), unexpected heroes (Jose Bautista, again, last year) and late-career breakouts (Placido Polanco this year) there are always game-changers on waivers. Anyone who added Mike Leake early in 2010 picked up (shoplifting puns!) an ace. Leake never played an ounce of minor league ball.

You could, if you so desired, resupply your entire team off waivers, streaming a roster full of streaking players. I wouldn’t recommend that for any sane person, but the players are out there.

There are a few key tenets that you should follow when perusing the waiver wire. I’ll expand on many of these in later posts because they have multiple moving parts, but these are some rules I follow and they’ll help you win at fantasy baseball:

Always remember baseball is a sprint not a marathon…

There are always exceptions, like slumps that last all season, but for the most part a 25-homer hitter is going to hit between 20 and 30 homers when the curtain falls come October. That’s why Unnamed Player No. 1 always seems to go off as soon as you drop him.

… But don’t be afraid to make a move

Not every rookie outfielder is going to be called up by May 1. Not every end-of-the-draft 200-strikeout hurler is going to reach his potential Jonathan Sanchez-style. If your team needs help, don’t hold onto a draft day could-be while others are rockin’ faces now.

Take upside over grizzle…

EXIT TIME MACHINE: It’s April 2010. Free agents Carlos Gonzalez and Scott Rolen are hitting .430 in the last week with three homers. You need a UTIL. Who are you picking up?

… But don’t ignore the grizzled

Every year players believed dead and buried will find the fountain of youth and give us flashes, if not a full season, of awesome. Think Paul Konerko in 2010.

Rookies: Tearing it up in the minors>slumping in the pros

One’s getting called up, the other is probably a Golden Sombrero from AAA. Simple enough. Obviously this is one of those rules that dynasty- and keeper-leaguers should tweak accordingly.

Avoid platooners

Some players on hot streaks don’t go against righties/lefties. Some fantasy owners have the time/patience to swap their players based on individual matchups. I need players I can set and forget for a day or 10. I’m guessing most of you probably do too. Check the split stats before you add hot hitters or setup relievers.

Streaming starters

It’s not cheating if you’re not breaking the rules. Some people loathe the streaming starting pitcher method. Having played mostly in head-to-head leagues, I’m a big fan even though I don’t employ it very often. Depending on the format, adding and dropping borderline starting pitchers when they have good matchups can flat out win categories for you. Those loathers mentioned above only loathe because they just got beat by Anibal Sanchez and Chris Capuano, and didn’t think of doing it first.

Saves, saves saves

There are always cheap saves on waivers, or players in line for cheap saves on waivers.

There are tons more “rules” that I’m missing — when in doubt add the player with multi-position eligibility, add an injury replacement who is stepping into a good lineup situation, etc. When you are scouring waivers, what steps do you take? What kinds of players do you add?







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