We get asked a lot to evaluate potential fantasy baseball trades. Should I trade Andrew McCutchen for Matt Kemp? Is Cliff Lee and Craig Kimbrel for David Price and Mike Trout a good deal? Who wins this trade? Carlos Santana or Eric Hosmer? We love that you ask and we’re glad to advise as best we can. The comments, Twitter, or Ask Nash are excellent places for that sort of thing.
But what if you shouldn’t be making a trade at all? There are times you should hold steady because the fantasy baseball team you’ve assembled is just the fantasy baseball team you need to win.
Nearing the midpoint of the season, if you are lower than 3rd place and more than 15 points out of 1st in a roto style fantasy baseball league, then you need to make a trade, or at the very least work the waiver wire well. Maybe not anything drastic, but you need to do something to put yourself in position to win.
But if you are near the top of the league there is probably very good reason for you NOT to make a trade, because you are already in a great position to win. Here’s how you can perform simple tests to determine if you need to hold steady with your fantasy baseball team or if you might need to shake things up:
Test 1: Check against your baseline stats. I trust that before the season began you did your homework predraft and you calculated some baseline numbers to shoot for (If not, here’s how).
Most fantasy baseball league hosting sites provide some sort of feature that allow you to look at your fantasy baseball team’s statistics month by month. This is invaluable! Never mind that there are a few days on either end, let’s call the baseball season 6 months long. At the end of April, check your monthly totals and multiply by 6 (remember, 6 months). If you multiply April’s totals by 6 you get a rough estimate of what your totals could look like at the end of the season.
If you check your monthly totals at the end of June, then double them because you’re just about at the halfway point of the season. Once you project your team’s totals out for the full season, then you must compare them to the baseline stats you were shooting for at the draft.
To keep things simple, let’s say your preseason baseline goal for Home Runs – the number you feel you need to win the category – is 100. Let’s say it’s the end of April so you check your pace. Your team has 20 home runs so far. Multiply that by 6 and you get 120, more than enough to meet your goal so sit pretty.
I’ll include a graphic of my chicken scratch below and I’ll let you critique the pace of one of my team’s during the 2009 season (the bottom line of numbers is the pace after the month of May):
Test 2: Compare the leagues’ pace against your baselines. Sometimes several owners in your fantasy baseball league get in a horse race when it comes to particular stats (more on that here). I’ve, for example, seen it happen several times that 4-5 owners will be so competitive in an individual roto category that they’ll make all their moves to accumulate counting stats in that category, even at the expense of other categories.
When that happens your baseline goal for that category will be too low, obviously. Whether you’re on pace to make it or not won’t matter, because there will be several teams blow right past whatever goal seemed reasonable before the draft. It’s at this point you need to decide if you’re going to join them in competing for that category, or just let them have it and compete elsewhere. Maybe this is an area where you shouldn’t trade, but instead just let them go. Again, I go into greater detail on this process here.
Test 3: Do a quick scan of individual categories. OK, so you’ve tested your pace and you should meet your redraft baseline goals, you’ve tested the league’s pace and decided if you’re going to make a change to compete in categories where the competition is greater than you anticipated, and now you must do a quick scan of each individual fantasy baseball roto category. Here’s a step-by-step.
Study the pace of each individual category. If the league is off pace in a particular category it could create an opportunity for you to put attention there and run away with it.
Test 4: Consider letting your team ride. If you are sitting near the top of the leader board and you’ve done the tests above to find that your team is on a good pace, then don’t feel any pressure to make a move. It’s a myth that a team at the top needs to do something to “cement” their position. The truth is, it seems like you drafted a good team and they are preforming to your expectations.
Let them ride, only keeping tabs on injuries or something unexpected that could change the league’s pace (Like a team at the bottom dumps all their stars to a competitor for cheap. Dirty, but it happens).
Otherwise, don’t trade.