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June 19, 2014

Fantasy Freestyle

Trade Paralysis

by Jeff Quinton


This article starts with a feeling. That feeling being the one you get when you contemplate a particular type of trade offer—a fair trade offer. You know the feeling I am talking about, I know you do. The exhilaration and excitement come first, but these feelings are quickly washed over by another, stronger feeling—fear. At this point, you are beyond the constructive weighing of pros and cons; your mind is simply racing with every conceivable negative outcome. Maybe your fears are like mine, and maybe they sometimes go something like this:

“This guy throws sliders 30 percent of the time and his mechanics aren’t great. Is he due for a DL stint?” “I know 32 is not that old, but he did play in 15 less games in 2013 than he did in 2012.” “Is his strikeout rate trending the wrong way?” “This guy’s true talent is better, but he has the same amount of homers that my guy has right now. Is it really an upgrade?” “I’m trading away current production for potential future production that might never be realized. This might end up looking really bad for me.” “Am I giving up too much with no guarantee that this will significantly improve my team?”

Sometimes we are able to figuratively douse ourselves with cold water, get back to the information that really matters, and make a good decision. Other times we do not and, consequently, trades that should be made are not made. I have both passed on offers I should have accepted and made trade offers that I am glad the recipient did not accept. Passing on a beneficial trade is an incredibly impactful mistake that happens more frequently than it should. In an attempt to reduce the frequency with which we make this mistake, let us take a look at how we get into this mess and then take a look at how we can try to avoid it. In order to do so, we are going to take a look at the work of Gerd Gigerenzer, a psychologist and author of Risk Savvy: How to Make Good Decisions.

To give some background, Gerd Gigerenzer is not a made up German character from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. Gigerenzer’s work is on bounded rationality and heuristics as they relate to decisions. While his findings are often pitted against those of my main-person, Daniel Kahneman, I am not here to discuss the disagreements. Rather, Gigerenzer has keen insights on risk and uncertainty, which are very important for our trade paralysis discussion. To the causes we go.

Causes:

Traceability
We (humans) are able to perceive how others perceive us. We are also able to perceive how others will probably perceive our future actions. Jean-Jacques Rousseau pretty much said that this changed everything. It is certainly a major factor in fantasy baseball. While passing on a trade can be just as devastating as making a bad trade, the former happens far more often than the latter. Why? Because the former is private and the latter is public. This is essentially the “no one ever got fired for buying IBM” logic. The crazy part about this as it relates to fantasy baseball is that no owner needs to worry about being fired (unless you were actually hired to be the general manager of a fantasy baseball team, in which case, that is awesome). The realest part though is that this is not crazy; rather, this is human. Humans understand (at least subconsciously) the evolutionary benefits of not appearing like a loser and the benefits of not risking appearing like a loser. Gigerenzer calls this defensive decision making, which he explains better than I can:

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Related Content:  Trades,  Fantasy

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<< Previous Article
Fantasy Article TTO Scoresheet Podcast... (06/19)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Che... (06/18)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Kee... (06/19)
Next Article >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Kee... (06/19)

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