A Major Error In Evaluating Fantasy Baseball Trades

As my three-year old daughter would say, “Let’s pretend…”.

Let’s pretend you’re a young boy.  Your Dad works at a factory that produces Snickers bars.  Each Friday he brings you a king-sized Snickers bar home from the factory.  Accordingly, you’ve had a lot of Snickers bars in your life.  More than any one in the neighborhood.

Your good friend Timmy lives down the street.  His father also works at a candy bar factory, but he works in the Mounds bar facility.  Each Friday Timmy’s dad brings him home a regular-sized Mounds bar.

Every king-sized Snickers bar you eat is a little less satisfying than the previous one.  Every regular-sized Mounds bar Timmy eats is a little less satisfying than the previous Mounds bar.

You long for a Mounds bar.  Timmy would kill for a Snickers.

Let’s Make A Deal

Even though you have a king-sized Snickers bar, you would gladly trade it for Timmy’s regular-sized Mounds bar.  You’ve had enough Snickers bars.  Enough chewy nougat.  Enough gooey caramel.  Snickers mean little to you at this point.  You want almonds.  You want coconut.  The smaller Mounds bar provides more benefit to you than the larger Snickers bar.

If you really want a Mounds bar, it would be foolish to keep a Snickers bar that has no value to you, despite the Snickers bar being larger in size than the Mounds bar.

That’s The Key

A trade should be evaluated on the benefit it provides to you relative to the cost you must pay.  The smaller Mounds bar provides great benefit to you.  Giving up the larger Snickers bar has little effect on your level of happiness.

The Major Mistake Often Made

But that’s not what we see in fantasy baseball.  The mistake fantasy managers often make is to compare their own cost to the cost of the other owner.  The benefits to their team are ignored.

“Well, I’m not going to give you my king-sized Snickers bar for your regular-sized Mounds bar.”

Or, “I’m not going to trade you my 50th ranked player for your 80th ranked player”.

The ranking of the player should not be the determining factor in your decision.  The decision should hinge upon if the 80th player can help your team more than the 50th player can.

How Could the 80th Ranked Player Help Me More Than the 50th ranked Player?

There are a lot of scenarios where this could occur.  If you have a weak middle infield but a strong outfield, trading an OF ranked #50 for a SS ranked #80 could significantly upgrade your team’s overall level of production.  Or if you are leading the league in home runs but are last in steals, trading a higher ranked power-hitter for a lower ranked stolen base specialist makes great sense.

But Do Your Homework

If we go back to the candy bar example, we’ve reached the conclusion that it makes sense to trade your king-sized Snickers for Timmy’s regular-sized Mounds.  But you also know that Sally’s dad works at the king-sized Mounds factory.  And Johnny’s dad works at the Skittles factory and brings him home a pack every day (instead of just on Fridays).

It makes sense to trade with Timmy.  But you also have a responsibility to make sure Timmy’s offer provides you the highest BENEFITS for the cost of the Snickers bar.  Your best strategic play is to make/solicit offers from a variety of others to maximize the benefit of trading your Snickers bar (don’t ever make a trade by negotiating with just one manager).

The Coin Is Two-Sided

You must also consider the benefit you are providing to the other team in the trade.  A trade can only occur when both parties come to the realization that the benefits of the players received exceed the cost of the players traded away.  If Timmy’s parents are divorced and his step-father that’s trying to buy his affection works with your Dad in the Snickers bar factory, you’re screwed.

Do Us All A Favor

If you find yourself attempting to work out a trade with someone hung up on player rankings or unable pull the trigger because, “He’s giving more in the deal than you are”, tell them the fascinating story of Timmy and his Mounds bar.

Learn something smart every day.



2 Responses

  1. SlepAt2B
    SlepAt2B at |

    Excellent point and is often overlooked. I think everyone is so obsessed with “winning” the trade or not looking bad that they overlook your point.

    By the way, Mounds does not have almonds in it. A Mounds with almonds in it is called an Almond Joy, though we get your point. There’s always one of me in every crowd, right?

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