Strategy, process, and decision-making help for your deadline dealing.
The real baseball trade deadline approaches. The trade deadline in many fantasy baseball leagues also approaches. It is a wonderful time of the year. To celebrate, we will take a look at some of the strategic and behavioral decision-making factors that we should be considering this time of year. Some of these factors will be old friends, while others will be new acquaintances. We will be going more for breadth than depth here.
League Norms and the Default Effect
We are looking at the intersection of two behaviors here, so buckle up. A norm in many a league is for teams to wait to trade until the trade deadline. A less extreme norm is for teams in the middle of the pack to wait until the traded deadline to decide whether to be buyers or sellers. This is often a powerful norm because it provides owners with (i) an easy route for risk aversion and (ii) a nice default option. These decisions are hard, and the default effect tells us that when we are faced with complex or weighty decisions, we rely more on defaults. In this case, many teams will avoid making moves until the trade deadline.
What to do when there aren't any obvious (or not-so-obvious) trades to make as the deadline approaches.
The trade deadline is fast approaching in many a fantasy baseball league. Multiple articles about trade markets, trade talk, and negotiation have been written by yours truly. Other articles about the topics have been written by others.
However, no matter how many articles we write or read, sometimes there are not any good, obvious trades out there. Sometimes, there are not any good, not-obvious trades out there. In this situation, what should we do? Try to figure out an even more creative solution or hold tight? Maybe we should go back and re-check because we might have missed something?
There's nothing wrong with being in first place—as long as you transcend the biases that accompany topping the standings.
Some of us are leading in our leagues and some of us are not. The chances of this being false are incredibly low. While leading is certainly preferred to being in any other position, it does come with its own set of decision-making and strategy obstacles. We will discuss those obstacles and what we can do to overcome them.
Are we just chasing our own tails until we inevitably die?
Two and a half years of “The Quinton” later and it is starting to get a bit redundant is it not? What at one point seemed like (hopefully) interesting new ways to look at the strategy of the games we play has seemingly become a weekly chastisement, a forced (and humiliating) introspection of our own, most basic shortcomings, a punishment only earned for (i) being a person and (ii) having the flaws that come with that. Sure we trudge on, but moving the needle forward now seems to take three times the effort as before.
It is not quite as bleak as I describe above and it is never is (as decision making-deity Danny Kahneman has told us so through our old friend the focusing effect). The fact of the matter, though, is that it seems that we have come to the journey’s end. We set off on this journey of improving process and all that comes with it (decision making, strategy, information procurement, etc.), knowing that this is where the largest gains were ripe for the picking. Whereas the low hanging fruit had already been picked in analysis and information asymmetry (thanks smart people and internet (which I guess is to say, “Thanks smart people and the smart people that gave us the internet”)), the fruits of applying human behavior and strategy to fantasy baseball, once hanging low all around us, now seemed to be picked as bare as international slot bonuses of a past era. Just as analytics was something in all front offices several years ago, searching for competitive advantages on the process side is no longer cutting edge or known to be used by a few clubs (or fantasy baseball participants). Whereas Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow was being passed around the Astros front office in the 2014 (!) offseason, prospect theory, anchoring, framing, and loss aversion are now, just four years later, a part of all of our dialogue when analyzing not only decisions teams and we make, but also when analyzing the analysis.
Why getting to know how your leaguemates' operate is critical come trade season.
Following last week’s in-season trade primer “Trade Season: What Matters,” commenter DanDaMan asked:
“the problem I always have is other owners who either don't respond at all to requests or flat out reject a trade without any comment. [It is tough] to get any dialogue going in either case. How do you counteract that?”
A rundown of the ingredients needed to make the most of your fantasy wheeling and dealing this summer.
In most fantasy baseball leagues, it is officially trade season. Early-season fluctuations have showed themselves as such, injuries and call-ups have re-arranged the talent pool, and most leagues’ competitive landscapes have come into focus. As we have discussed many a time, making a trade is far from making an offer to a leaguemate that makes sense for their team. Furthermore, making a trade is not even making an offer to a leaguemate that makes the most sense for their team. Hence, a reasonable question to ask at this point is, “well, then what matters to be successful in making productive trades?”
The answer is that a lot of things matter. We have looked at trades from all different angles, from markets to effort to league norms to negotiation styles. We have looked at trades at the broad, strategic level and we have looked at the granular, actionable level. All that said, and given the time of the year, I thought it would be helpful to put all of these important principles in one place. While I will not touch on any subject in depth, I will link to articles where you can find a more in-depth look at the particular subject.
How to maintain a sound process when making choices during the fantasy season.
Not sure if you all have noticed yet, but I am pretty fascinated, maybe even obsessed, with how we choose to make the decisions we make. Writing about fantasy baseball works great for me because participants are forced to make numerous “meaningful” decisions about an uncertain future. The interesting part about this point of the season is that while the decisions being made are certainly less impactful than those made in the offseason (when selecting the players for our teams), there are fewer relevant tools owners can use to aid their decision making right now. Whereas projection systems, rankings lists, chatrooms, and software tools can be used and adapted for offseason drafts, auctions, keeper decisions, and trades, the in-season projections and ranking are often less easily adapted to the decisions we face at this point of the season. They are less easily adapted or all-in-all unhelpful because (i) we are weighing far more variables (promotion dates, injury return dates, category rankings, playoff considerations, etc.) when making these decisions and (ii) league structure and dynamics are so varied at this point of the year that the availability (be it through trade or free agency) and market cost of a particular player will range greatly across leagues. Consequently, we are often left to our own accord to make these roster decisions. Put differently, in season—more than any other time of the year—is a time when we must make decisions using our own forecasts.
This is the fun part, but it is also the terrifying part. This is also the part that makes us most likely to cast sound process and analysis aside, thus allowing intuition (and thus biases) to creep into our decision-making. Luckily, some smart people have written about ways we can improve our decision making when facing an uncertain future. An excellent article titled “Outsmart Your Own Biases” in the May 2015 edition of the Harvard Business Review, takes a look at many things regarding our biases, but the part we will take a look at in this article is how we choose to employ our intuition (as opposed to a more structured process) and ways we can help correct such sub-optimal decision making. The first two paragraphs from the article are below and they explain why leaning on our intuition too often is not just a mistake, but a mistake in logic: