Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lessons from the 2nd Annual BJH Fantasy Baseball League


By
First off, I'd like to thank all the participants in this year's BJH Fantasy Baseball League. This year there was an unprecedented 20 teams, and it definitely made for very interesting season. Also, congratulations to the Top 8 teams who made it through to the playoffs.

Unfortunately, yours truly didn't make it through to the post-season, just narrowly missing a playoff spot by five games. There were many lessons learned throughout the season, and here are a few tidbits of advice I'd like to share for the future.

In a tied match, the tiebreaker is winning percentage

Honestly, I never expected there to be a tied match in the first round of the playoffs, but it turns out we had two. After checking the rules, the tiebreaker in a tied match in the playoffs goes to the team with the better winning percentage during the regular season. Who knew?

The more the merrier, but the more the tougher to get into the playoffs

As I mentioned earlier, I missed the postseason by a mere five games, but incredibly there were three teams ahead of me with better records who also narrowly missed out on going through to the next round.

With 20 teams involved, the margin of error is very slim and that final few weeks of play can prove detrimental to your play down the stretch. Take it from a guy who went 2-10 in his final week.

Don't grab your catcher with your 4th last pick

As much as I preach not to do it, I always leave one starting position until the very end. This year it just so happened to be the catching position, and I reluctantly picked up Kelly Shoppach with my fourth last draft choice.

Needless to say, my catching position was a revolving door for the remainder of the season. After Kelly Shoppach it was Ivan Rodriguez for a few months, followed by Ronny Paulino (who was suspended 50 games for PED use) and I finally settled in A.J. Pierzynski.

Don't undervalue starting pitching

Out of all of my opening day starting pitchers, only two of them survived the purge: Cole Hamels and Johan Santana. Even with those two solid starters, I still struggled the remainder of the season to gain some semblance of a decent pitching staff.

Especially in a league with 10 or more teams, no position is more recycled than starting pitchers. Watch the waiver wire like a hawk and don't be afraid to give up on struggling starters if they fail to produce within the first two months of the season.

Age after beauty

I'm not saying that younger players are necessarily better, but they have a tendency to bounce back from injuries and also kick themselves out of slumps quicker than your grizzled veterans.

Take a look at the age of some of my starters: A.J. Pierzynski (33), David Ortiz (34), Vladimir Guerrero (35), Derrek Lee (35), Raul Ibanez (38). While I didn't realize it on draft day, my roster was the fantasy baseball team equivalent of Wild Hogs.

Buy low, sell high

Again, this is another instance where I didn't follow my own advice, but it's something that probably could have improved my fantasy team vastly throughout the season. If you have a player on your roster that's playing over their head, sell high.

What goes up, must come down. In the case of Ubaldo Jimenez, he was 13-4 with a 1.15 ERA after the first three months of the season and it was arguably his high water mark. Since then, Jimenez has been 5-5 with a 4.45 ERA.

As an owner, it's difficult to judge where exactly that high water mark might be for your players, but don't be afraid to listen to offers.

On that same token, buying low is another great strategy ... especially on the waiver wire. It's a low risk/high reward game plan that could pay dividends in the future. And if it doesn't, just cut the player loose and find another one.

Once again, thanks to all this year's participants in the 2nd Annual BJH Fantasy Baseball League, and I look forward to doing it next year as well and watching my team tank down the stretch.

19 comments:

  1. Unforseen here:

    It was a blast. the last few weeks can be rough. I was 2nd out of 20 for most of the season only to be caught the last week and to re seeded in the playoffs.

    My lesson learned. Don't trade the day of the trade deadline. Start making deals long before and they'll be better thought out.

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  2. Nic, thanks for playing! I definitely also learned my lesson as well - with 20 teams, there is very little room for error when it comes to making the playoffs, let alone going through to the next round. I tip my cap to you for coming 3rd in the regular season, because that's one hell of an accomplishment in itself.

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  3. I'm not sure I agree with your catcher assessment, taking a catcher early is usually a wasted pick, I too got stuck with AJ Pierzynski in the Tao Roto League, however in spite of him I'm first in R, HR, RBI and SLG, and second in OBP. Having a bad catcher isn't the worst thing in the world, because even the best ones aren't that great, and the mid-tier ones often end up on waivers anyway.

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  4. The Flock of Noidsworths learned a valuable lesson from this season:

    Make it to the goddamn draft on time.

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  5. Peter D, the only instance I can recall from recent memory where I used early picks for catchers was another 8 team league where I picked up both Joe Mauer and Victor Martinez. I never actually intended on keeping both, I just wanted to keep one and trade the other. V-Mart's injury sidelined that strategy though. I just hate that in the BJH League, I couldn't find a steady catcher all season.

    Roll, if you drafted Joe Nathan and Dirk Hayhurst and managed to make it into the playoffs, that would've been one hell of a story.

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  6. Joe Nathans arm makes me sad.

    I picked Dirk to keep him away from the Surrey Garfooses, who were planning to take him right after me. I thought he might come back for an August push, but understood that it was slim pickings.

    My Rzepcyznski pick with the last round was the real heart breaker, though.

    You're tearing me apart, Marc!

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  7. Roll, had R-Zep not broken his finger in Spring Training, I think he could've had one hell of a season.

    I feel your pain, my 16th pick (Freebird himself) is playing in Japan. And this bird you cannot chaaaaange!

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  8. Bob File Has a Posse here.

    I hate to give away one of my secrets to success, but I found a couple years ago not to go for SP early on. Starting Pitching is incredibly easy to pick up later. I usually grab one ace early, and then fill out the rest with the undervalued and rookies. Closers are a lot harder to come by. I had to put a waiver claim on Chris Perez when Hoffman got knocked out.

    If you look at my draft results, I took Haren in the 3rd round, Andrew Bailey 5th, Ben Sheets 8th (panic move...regret it...but I believed), then started grabbing pitching the 10th round on. I picked Scherzer 12th (a round before I took Price, wtf?).

    I actually took Dustin Ackley (15th) before I took Andy Pettitte (16th) and Jon Garland (17th).

    Jumping on SP early will get you every time. I agree with going young though. Also, go with your gut if you've got a good one :).

    Definitely saved by the tiebreaker though haha. Hope to be back next year :)

    @FunkasterC

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  9. I was We Like Roy in the league.

    I didn't get to make the draft, so the first thing I did was trade Adam Jones for Dan Uggla before the season, which turned out to be a great move.

    My team was actually in first place (in the division) for a while but I eventually began to slip. In fact, I slipped right out of a playoffs spot. I traded Snider/Arenciba for Zito/Garcia, and traded Kuroda for Cuddyer. Both were fine moves but it didn't help. I got back to the final playoff spot but lost 9-2 in the last week and lost my spot. If the score was 7-3 or something I would've made it.

    It was fun anyway.

    @SHK66

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  10. Chris, that's actually a pretty good strategy. It seems like starting pitchers are always a dime a dozen and you can always grab them off the waiver wire. But like you said, it doesn't hurt to grab a stud or two just in case.

    SHK66, wow - those are a great set of trades. Just goes to show you (like I said in the post) that things are so close. I also kissed my playoff chances goodbye in the final week, but sometimes that's the way the cookie crumbles. I tip my cap to you for a hard fought season!

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  11. My fantasy baseball lesson for the year: Don't join too many, or you're bound to end up being lame in at least one of them. Sorry dudes. I was a lame in this one.

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  12. Actually Chris, that's a good piece of advice. You never want to spread yourself thin across multiple leagues.

    I learned my lesson last year after participating in 4 different leagues by trimming it down to 3. Even still, there were days where it felt like it was too much, so maybe next season I cut back to 2.

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  13. Fun league outside of that horrible Arencibia deal.

    I liked the depth of the league, it made the waiver wire more of a challenge.

    My team blew up towards the end of the season. Jose Reyes played so infrequently that I had to cut him, replacing him with Cliff Pennington. My undoing? Josh Hamilton's injury. I ended up losing 9-3 in the 1st round of the playoffs.

    Only two of my SP lasted as well. James Shields (huge bust) and Clayton Richard. The rest of my staff came from the waiver wire, although it rounded out nicely towards the end (Brett Cecil, Padilla, R.A. Dickey, Travis Wood, Garland).

    Re your last comment, I cut myself down to 2 leagues this year. It can be too much to handle juggling 4+ teams year to year.

    Thanks for the invite to the league. Reserve my spot for next year :)

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  14. @matthias
    Thanks for Reyes. I'm experiencing the same frustration with Teixeria right now...Andrus was killing me like Smalls.

    @FunkmasterC

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  15. :D My team was able to trade Ubaldo (and Ike Davis) at his peak for Pujols!

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  16. Very nice move and very nice trade! Way to capitalize and sell high on Ubaldo at this peak value.

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  17. Team Balco here,

    I was able to sneak into the final playoff spot and actually didn't even know it till the games started on Monday. There was like 5 teams ahead of me in the standings and I had pretty much written off the year in the final week of regular season play.

    This was my first attempt at a head to head league and it sure is different than a 5 x 5. You really have to pay attention to injuries and streaks, especially in the pitching department.

    Considering I drafted last, in a 20 team league, and my first two picks were oft injured Kinsler and Ellsbury. I think I did alright.

    It was a lot of fun playing with you guys and thanks to Ian for organizing. I do have to say the tie breaker rule is total bullshit but only because I lost due to it in the first round of the playoffs. I feel I deserved a better fate after hanging with the number 1 seed but hey, what are you gonna do.

    Look forward to next year.

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  18. Golden Arm, just goes to show you that teams are not made or broken on draft day. You can easily change the fate of your team with some great trades and waiver wire pickups. I remember that vividly - I think I was second last to draft, and I refused to pick up Ellsbury because I just couldn't use my first pick on a Masshole.

    That sucks about the tiebreaker, maybe there will be some way next year to change what the tiebreaker category is.

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