Trade Deadline- Fantasy Baseball Style

Photo Credit: Ross D. Franklin | AP Photo

By: Andy Zsiga @zsiga_andy

The trade deadline is upon us, the fantasy trade deadline that is. It depends on your league rules on how relevant fantasy trades are to you, and while I know some of you are already wrapping up trades, I know a good amount of people have until August 11 to adjust their teams for a run. What are some good strategies for trading as you approach these trying times? Here are a few reminders for you as you look at your team for the rest of the year. 

First, remember patience and timing is incredibly important when you play fantasy sports.

Patience is especially needed when evaluating pitchers. Pitchers’ stats variate frequently, and it is very helpful to look at advanced statistics to be able to predict if the pitcher will continue to pitch at the same level. When looking at advanced statistics for pitchers, compare the player’s ERA to their FIP to see if they are under or over performing compared to their FIP. Another stat to check out their strikeout-to-walk ratio. As an acquiring team, you might be more willing to take a player with a high ERA if his FIP is lower, and you would prefer a starter with at least 3 strikeouts to every walk.

When looking at players, don’t forget to factor in position and injury risk into your assessment. Remember, an outfielder who is primarily a DH is probably going to be a DH in a few years, how does that affect your league’s set up? Also, a good player who is injury prone could change and not be injury prone anymore, but if they are playing well and have no injuries this year, maybe now is the time to trade them.

Conversely, many players are not going to value a guy who has had an injury this year as high as maybe they should. Take A.J. Pollock, he was rocking it out before he was injured, so when some people evaluate his year, they evaluate him based on his counting stats for the year rather than his current value. You may value him high, or you may see value in trading him for what you can get; my personal opinion is to hold onto a guy like him unless you can get very good value.

Second, make sure you have an overall idea of what your team is and where it is going.

The look of your team depends very much on what type of  league you are in; is it a one and done league, a keeper league, or a full on dynasty league? Where are you strong, and where are you weak? Do you have plenty of keepers for next year, or do you need to restock? How has your team performed thus far this year, and can it still make the playoffs? As you ponder these questions, develop an idea of what you want your trades to look like, but be flexible enough to make moves that might help you in a way you were not thinking.

I do find that sometimes I get stuck on a certain strategy and forget to make sure that the players I am receiving fit the basic profile I want for my team. The idea is to know where your team is and adjust accordingly. For instance, if your team is in a keeper league and you have had a bad season, it makes no sense to trade a possible keeper for two guys that are on the fringes, but it may make sense to sell a keeper and a fringe guy to improve the value of the keeper you get.

Thirdly, put all biases aside.

Player A did well last year and is slumping this year, so I will take a chance on him, is not a viable strategy. Back that thought process by looking at the peripheral numbers take into account WAR and BABIP for hitters, and FIP and strikeout ratios for pitchers. Look at value boards, check this year’s draft positions, and avoiding falling for your personal biases.

If your favorite team is the San Francisco Giants, their nothing wrong with trading for Madison Bumgarner, but take into account if he fits the mold of your team or not, and look carefully at the price. Know that you are likely to hose yourself when you look at players based on how familiar you are with them; just because you are familiar with a player does not mean you have correctly evaluated him for fantasy purposes, and likewise, when you are not very familiar with a player, you may not have a correct evaluation of a player.

Finally, know how the other managers in your league operate.

I have been in some leagues where you should get a gold star if you make a trade that season, while I have been in others where a trade happens multiple times a week.

Know your league! Be wary of the guy who offers you his players he should cut for your best players consistently; there may be a steal in there at some point, but more likely than not you will regret the trade you make with him. Know who you can reason with, and who is a waste of time to reason with, while remembering this can change throughout time. I have seen some people willing to adjust for trades at one point in the year, but unwilling to compromise at other points.

Also, realize the value you put on certain positions or players are different from owner to owner, so make sure you know who values prospects, pitchers, power, etc. Remember all teams value their team the most, so try not to offer completely biased trades in your favor; it is usually a complete waste of time. Be willing to look for a win-win compromise; it really is sad when you see guys trying to make other teams worse by trading with them, rather than just trying to make their own team better.

Final Thoughts

If you want to win, you need to be willing to risk, but try to make sure you minimize your risks by paying attention to your team and realizing who you are working with. These are just a few of the many strategies you can apply to your fantasy baseball team. Remember your team is your team, and you can fashion it to look like whatever you want it to look like, but also remember, that your biases as a fan could cause you to make less than exceptional decisions at times. Best of luck to you, and have fun finishing the season!

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