Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Step 4 -- Don't panic...at least until Memorial Day.

As painful as it is to see your team at the bottom of the standings every day after all the hours you spent prepping for the draft, now is not the time to panic.

I can relate, I'm in four leagues and I currently sit in dead last or near dead last in two leagues (but oddly currently sit atop my two other 15 team leagues). Perhaps, it will ultimately end that way as well, but remember, two weeks is a very small sample in baseball and April is notorious for being a wildcard for many players (in any event it makes me feel better to tell myself that). Many pitchers are still looking to harness that control in meaningful game situations while the majority of hitters are still searching to get into a nice rhythm at the plate

Trading surplus, figuring out who is going to have a breakout year or a down year, and determining where your team ranks in your league are not activities I recommend in April. Lots of things happen in April that won't necessarily repeat themselves throughout the year and if you base your roster decisions on one two-week sample you are likely to be swayed by unreliable information. Look, Willie Bloomquist isn't going to be the top fantasy baseball player and Kevin Correia isn't going win the NL Cy Young...just isn't going to happen. So don't treat them like they are in a trade scenario and don't drop Shin Soo Choo to get Bloomquist just b/c Choo hasn't hit a homer yet.

(a brief digression....)My first fantasy baseball season was 1992. As our family and friends auction draft went on I realized I didn't know enough players to fill out my roster. Fortunately (or unfortunately) I did have a copy of a newspaper article with spring stats. I noticed a Pirates pitcher named Randy Timlin had the best spring ERA of any starting pitcher and I grabbed him for $1. As it turns out, Randy Timlin was not a good pitcher, really in any year EXCEPT, ironically, the first half of 1992 when he went 10-1 with a 3 something ERA. As a result my team led our NL only league in wins at the All Star Break. Sadly, Randy Timlin won 3 games the rest of the year.

This digression is one of a million examples one can make that 1/2 of a baseball season, let alone 1 month of a season, is a very small statistical sample. Crazy things can happen and you shouldn't let less than a third of the baseball season dictate major roster moves. If you did, you would be sure to get rid of Tulowitzki (except this year...wow!) and LaRoche every year, only to watch them rake for another team in the second half of the year. Personally, I really don't pay any attention to where I sit in the standings until Memorial day. It takes time to figure out what you have and need. Plus, injuries happen...you might lead the league by 20 SB on the production of one or two guys, but if one gets hurt or stops hitting, you might not be as strong in the category as you thought.

A fundamental mistake of fantasy losers is they panic when they find themselves at the bottom of the standings in week 1, assume their team sucks, and drop players they normally wouldn't drop. Even worse, they make trades based on the results of the first few weeks allowing more savvy owners to take advantage of them. Trust your pre-draft research. There is nothing wrong with dropping marginal players that aren't getting it done, or are playing less than you expected etc...what we are really talking about here is abandoning players with proven track records. Sure, maybe Felix Hernandez is just going to suck this year, but chances are he gets things on track and ends up closer to his career stats.

If you are in last on Memorial Day, you might want to panic a little...

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