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January 2, 2012

Resident Fantasy Genius

New Year's Resolutions

by Derek Carty

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Happy New Year, everyone! This past year has a great one for Baseball Prospectus, and I couldn’t be more thankful to have joined the team and for the warm reception all of you have given me in my first year heading up BP’s fantasy department. I’m excited for the year to come, and I thank you all for reading and for your feedback. I try to make myself as available as possible, so if you haven’t yet reached out to me, don’t ever hesitate to do so if you have any questions or need advice. Between the comments section, e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, and our in-house live chats, there’s always a way to get in touch with me. Heck, some of you have my IM names.

Given that people tend to make New Year’s resolutions around this of year, I thought it would be a good idea to make some fantasy-specific ones for the coming year. If you have some of your own, feel free to let us know in the comments!

I resolve to not place too much emphasis on in-season stats
It happens every year that a player gets off to a hot or cold start, and everyone freaks out and assumes it will continue through the rest of the season. We need to chill out and realize that if a player has a track record of success but is off to a poor start, a bounceback is more likely than continued failure. I’m not just talking about guys who are receiving bad BABIP luck, either. Even if something more controllable—like a pitcher’s strikeout rate—plummets, we still shouldn’t ignore all the good they’ve done in previous years. Sure, if we have non-statistical evidence that indicates a player’s recent run might be legitimate, that needs to be taken into consideration, but otherwise, we need to be patient. Look at Dan Uggla, Javier Vazquez, and Edwin Encarnacion last year. They were dropped in many leagues—crap, Vazquez was dropped in the incredibly deep, 13-team, NL-only LABR league—but all bounced back for a strong second half.

I resolve to be aggressive on the waiver wire in April
In mixed leagues with several bench spots, it’s important to be very fluid in filling out the bottom of your roster through April. If a player is off to a hot start—I don’t care that the sample size is ridiculously small—it’s usually a good idea to grab him. Yes, some (or most) will wind up being more Sam Fuld than Asdrubal Cabrera, but it’s the guy who is lucky enough to grab Droobs that will be reaping huge value for the rest of the season. Yes, it’s kind of a crapshoot, but you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage if you’re not involved in the crapshoot with your leaguemates. If you don’t get involved, you’re conceding defeat right off the bat and guaranteeing that someone else winds up with the year’s unpredictable breakout players.

I resolve to temper expectations of 2011 breakouts
It’s easy to see a guy like Jacoby Ellsbury come out of nowhere to slug 30 home runs in addition to his usual 40-plus steals, get excited, and slot him into your first round. The thing is, though, one of the most fundamental statistical principles in fantasy baseball, regression to the mean, suggests this is a bad idea. Absent other information, a player who is above average one season should be expected to perform worse the following year. That’s not a guarantee that Ellsbury himself will falter in 2012 (I happen to think he will; I’m not buying the power), but the majority of the guys who had breakout 2011 seasons will fall back a bit in 2012.

I resolve to ignore whatever taboo is still attached to streaming pitchers
I know a lot of fantasy players hate owners who stream players (especially pitchers) in-season, but as long as your league allows it, there’s no reason not to. The difference between facing one of the league’s worst offenses and one of the league’s best is a roughly 30 percent improvement in ERA. That’s huge. For the game’s elite it won’t matter—they’re so good that they’re worth playing no matter what batters they’re up against—but don’t be afraid to bench a mediocre starter with a poor matchup or to pick up a lesser starter for a single favorable start. You’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t.

I resolve to win
Well, duh. This is the goal of every fantasy owner (save maybe those rebuilding in a keeper league), but I find it helpful to spell it out. My goal is to win. It’s not to try to be clever. It’s not to draw attention to myself by taking the year’s most-hyped rookie. It’s not to overpay for a player who I think is going to have a breakout year so I can brag about it later. It’s to win, taking whatever path I feel is best to reach that end goal is.

 What are your New Year’s fantasy resolutions?  

11 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

bpars3

I am in a shallow league & decided to go last season w/o making a trade, relying on my drafting skills and i ended up in 2nd. This was due to the previous year when I made a few bad trades that knocked me out of the money. This year I vow to get back into trading, but hope to be dealing from strength & not from necessity.

Jan 02, 2012 07:30 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Derek Carty
BP staff

Yes, the second your potential trade partner knows that you *have* to make a deal, you're done. They can hold you over a barrel and get whatever they want. You have to make sure they know that you're willing to walk away and actually do so if you can't come to a reasonable agreement.

Jan 02, 2012 20:17 PM
 
Nick J

to beat nick johnson

Jan 02, 2012 10:17 AM
rating: 0
 
fawcettb

I'd be more impressed if you resolved to pay more attention to scoresheet parameters.

Jan 02, 2012 11:25 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Derek Carty
BP staff

Yes, sadly, I've never played Scoresheet, though I hope to start either this year or next. What specifically are you unhappy about?

Jan 02, 2012 20:18 PM
 
bigjonempire

I resolve to be in far fewer leagues. I accept too many invitations. I'm capping at five or six max this season, my AL-Only, NL-Only, 20-team mixed locals leagues, my rotojunkie league, and no more than two others.

Jan 02, 2012 11:49 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Derek Carty
BP staff

I hear you. That was one of mine last year.

Jan 02, 2012 20:19 PM
 
jrmayne

I resolve to crush my enemies like the insects they are. To my leaguemates: Hate you guys. So much.

I resolve to find a way to fit the 15-pound travelling trophy around my neck so I can wear it about town.

I resolve to plug Scoresheet to dumber owners, because the smarter ones are catching up to me.

I resolve to be ready for my fantasy drafts, including football. (I misprioritized work over the draft.)

[Actual conversation about this between boss and I:

JRM: This [month-long work project] has deeply interfered with my fantasy draft. I am not ready at all, and I would like to file a formal complaint.

Boss: It seems that there's a very simple remedy for this problem.

JRM: I do not think I like your proposed remedy.]

I resolve to stop trading prospects for too little.

I resolve not to reveal my secret strategies to the aforementioned insects any more than I already have.

I resolve to be only slightly less of a small-sample-size-sucker.

I resolve to root for Jose Altuve even if he's not on my team.

I resolve to win money playing poker in Vegas before the draft.

--JRM

Jan 02, 2012 13:30 PM
rating: 2
 
BurrRutledge

A conversation summary from a few years ago between me and my boss:

[Miscommunication about deadlines on a project, and we under-deliver to a client]
Boss: Baseball seems to have become a distraction for you.
Burr: I don't believe that baseball had anything to do with what happened.
Boss: When I was just getting started in the professional world, I worked with a guy who did a lot of cocaine. Everybody knew he would take a line on his breaks, and he always delivered brilliant on his work. But when he seriously screwed up a project, everyone around him knew that the coke had become a distraction, even though he swore up and down that it was unrelated.
Burr: I still don't believe that baseball had anything to do with what happened. But if you want me to start doing coke, I'm going to need a raise.

Jan 02, 2012 17:49 PM
rating: 14
 
poolboybob

Doesn't the resolution to not place too much emphasis on in-season stats (hot/cold start) completely conflict with the resolution to be more aggressive on the waiver wire in April? For one thing, you're snapping up players who pretty much exclusively are off to hot starts, but presumably you will be dropping mostly cold-start players to acquire the guys who have started off strong.

Jan 02, 2012 20:08 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Derek Carty
BP staff

I got an e-mail asking this question as well. They can conflict, but they don't necessarily have to.

An established guy like Uggla is not a guy who I'd recommend dropping for a #2-style pickup, but a fringier guy like Edwin Encarnacion would be (in a mixed league). Something to remember with guys like this is, if they don't have the kind of history that an Uggla does, a lot of fantasy owners will ignore them when they're dropped, at least initially, because they're scrambling to get the hot-starters. They can't be bothered with a guy who was only expected to be okay to begin with and is playing even worse than that. Basically, anyone you draft in the last few rounds is fair game to be cut unless you think they're a huge sleeper and would have been willing to draft them much earlier. Big ticket guys need to be kept. Of course, this is just a general rule of thumb and everything should be taken on a case-by-case basis.

A lot of times, it can be a good idea to take high-upside guys with the last few picks, see if they work out, and if they don't come out of the gate hot, drop them for someone who does or for an established, moderate producer, depending on team build and needs.

Jan 02, 2012 20:21 PM
 
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