April 20, 2017
Reconsidering Your Targets
April is a rough time for baseball analysts, fantasy or otherwise. We’re so excited to finally write about real baseball games that many of us inevitably jump the gun and start trying to parse through miniscule amounts of data. My best advice during the first 2-3 weeks of the season is to watch as much baseball as you can while looking at as little data as possible. Yes, this includes looking at how your teams are doing in their fantasy leagues. This is particularly true if your team is off to a poor start. Spend enough time looking at poor results for a two-week period and you might find yourself believing that your team really is this bad.
However, while performances seldom impact a fantasy team’s overall fortunes, events frequently do. Injuries are the most dramatic performance-altering event, but lineup changes or mid-season minor-league promotions can have an impact as well, particularly in deeper leagues. But the in-season change I want to talk about today involves closers.
Fantasy managers are completely aware that nearly half of the closers in the player pool are going to lose their jobs, either for part of the season or for the duration. Yet we also know that trying to win a standard 5x5 league while casting aside one category is an uphill battle. However, it is possible. Today, I will walk through my thought process when a closer change impacts one of my teams.
Scenario 1: "Aw crap, I lost a closer"
We like to think it’s something that only happens to “someone else," but losing a closer due to ineffectiveness happens to the best of us. Ask fantasy managers who had Trevor Rosenthal and Ken Giles shares in 2016 how confident they were in their reliever’s success right after their drafts. It is a volatile role—and inevitable—that if you draft or purchase closers, you will experience the heartache of job loss.
In nearly every league type, my inclination is to grit my teeth and stand pat. In 12-team mixed leagues. I have always had a fair amount of luck speculating on relievers and finding at least one who eventually becomes the stopper. It is tougher in 15-team mixed, but even in this format it is likely that a few relievers who will get saves are free agents. Mono formats are where I am most likely to ditch the category if I lose a closer.