Smart Elsewhere #4 – How Late is too Late?

Two weeks ago, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs (follow Dave on Twitter) wrote an article outlining why the Blue Jays were in serious trouble of missing the playoffs.  The issue is not just that they are off to a slow start.  There is room to be off to a slow start early in the season, but by April 29th, they had already fallen significantly behind the Red Sox in the A.L. East.  The slow start coupled with the Red Sox hot start puts them in a group where only 1 of 32 teams facing such a deficit recovered to make the playoffs.

What Does This Have To Do With Fantasy Baseball?

The question is, how late is too late to make a comeback in fantasy baseball?  What statistics are necessary to engineer a climb?  What strategies are necessary the further down the standings my team is as we get deeper and deeper into the season.  Tristan H. Cockroft (follow Tristan on Twitter) attempted to answer these questions from both the hitting and pitching perspectives.

The main point in Cockroft’s articles is that ratio stats like batting average, ERA, and WHIP are much harder to change as the season goes along.  Mathematically speaking, as more of the season passes, more innings and at bats have been accumulated, and it becomes increasingly difficult to budge the ratios.  If you’re at the bottom of the standings in a ratio statistic like batting average, you’re nearing the point of no return.

With this in mind, let’s apply some strategic thinking…

  1. Make it a point to give your league standings a close look once a week.  This means reviewing the standings within each individual rotisserie category.  Develop a rough count of how many points you can realistically move up in the short-term.  Also be mindful of how many points you could fall in the short-term (you might need to defend your position in a category).
  2. Now that you have a grasp on your place in the standings, determine your best course of action.  If you’re trailing in a particular category, begin to target specialists that can help you gain ground.  If you need home runs, look into someone like Mike Morse (his owner might be fed up with his .230 batting average).  If you need stolen bases, look for Juan Pierre or Dee Gordon-types or players that may soon make an impact in that category (Adam Eaton, Eric Young Jr.).
  3. Are you within striking distance of the leaders?  Or is there a cluster of teams you can still easily reach after a good week?  Maybe no moves are necessary at this time.
  4. Are you developing a significant lead in any categories?  Or even if you aren’t “winning” the category, have you developed a sizeable gap between yourself and the team behind you in the category?
  5. Determine if “playing it safe” and making minor adjustments is sufficient to hang around with the other leaders.  Or decide if it’s necessary to start throwing haymakers and taking risks to get back into the race (think huge upside plays that could potentially be acquired at a “discount” like Wil Myers, Josh Hamilton, Hanley Ramirez, Giancarlo Stanton, B.J. Upton, etc.).
  6. In an extreme situation, maybe you consider embracing a poor batting average and aggressively attacking the other categories

As always, keep a level head when making transactions.  Don’t overdo it.  A couple of seemingly minor acquisitions could be enough to gain significant ground in the standings.

Do you have any tricks or rules of thumb you apply when reviewing your rotisserie standings?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Don’t Just Sit There

Go look at your standings today.  Identify a weakness in your team or a category in which you can improve.  Make one smart move to address this concern.

Stay smart.