Practically every major trade in baseball fits into the same mold. Why isn't there more variety?
By all accounts we just wrapped up a thrilling trade deadline. The volume, the drama, the last minute-ness, the quality of players—both major and minor leaguers—was more than those looking to be entertained could have hoped for. Those (if such a population exists) looking for variety in trades, though, were likely disappointed. Sure, we got a good, redundant major leaguer for another, somewhat redundant, major leaguer trade in the Matt (Duffy and Moore) swap, and a salary dump (Liriano to the Blue Jays), but every other trade was minor leaguers for major leaguers (usually on contracts expiring at this or next season’s end). There are tons of variations within this type of trade, but it is all the same kind of trade. This type of trade, of course, makes sense—teams that have a chance to win this year value certain players more than teams that do not have such a chance; and when two teams value a player a differently, there is always an opportunity for a trade.
But, why then, do certain players that should be valued differently (such as Jeremy Hellickson) not get traded? Also, how is it possible that over the past 10 years, no two teams have said, “I like your third baseman more than my third baseman and you like my third baseman more than your third baseman” and just swapped them? Or how has this not happened for any other position? We see this once in a while with sixth starters and inconsequential relievers, but we never see this with any primetime players. Why don’t we see this? I believe there are several contributing factors that I will discuss below. I also believe there are several (or more) contributing factors I have not thought of and, thus, will not discuss below.
The Cubs are a well-run organization who, relative to other buyers this summer, seemed to overpay for Aroldis Chapman. Do we need to reframe their choice?
Esteemed colleague and possessor of a terrific first name, Jeff Long, recently wrote about why teams in contention might pay a lot for relievers, even though, as Long writes, “It’s a formula that the sabermetric community sometimes finds difficult to rationalize. Relievers pitch so few innings and are so volatile that their value is almost certainly lower than that of the prospects dealt for them.” As to why teams in contention do this anyway, Long concludes that when the playoffs come teams cannot simply accumulate WARP; they need to actually win individual games, and really good relievers help teams do so. That makes sense to me. It makes sense to me why teams add relievers to improve their chances of winning right now even if they are going to end up accumulating less WARP from a given trade. But what does still does not quite make sense to me is why Aroldis Chapman was so expensive compared to other relievers or other players traded at the deadline.
How expensive was it? Please find an email from me to Chris Crawford, and Crawford’s responding email below:
How to identify the players you should seek in your upcoming fantasy barters.
Earlier this week our wonderful fantasy staff put together their Second-Half Buys. I, absent such fullness of wonder, did not participate, and for that, I apologize. To make up for this, my plan is to help us try to develop some tools for finding our own second-half buys, our own trade targets.
This skill, finding trade targets, is incredibly important, obviously, but it is likely even more important in today’s (fantasy baseball) game. Why is it more important today than it was ten years ago? Because, as we have said many times, the internet has made it difficult to differentiate via information asymmetry. Put differently, as soon as we posted our staff’s “second-half buys,” those players likely became more difficult to acquire—either their acquisition price in trade or FAAB went up or someone looked to scoop them from the free agent pool. This does not hold true for every player or recommendation (some fantasy baseball participants do not read fantasy analysis and some only read some sites), but it holds true for more players than you, or at least I, originally thought. Why? Because these recommendations are not random strokes of genius. We, as a fantasy baseball analysis community, largely follow the same twitter accounts, read the same articles, and are thus likely to write-up and analyze the same player because those players are most likely to be top of mind. This is not a criticism, it is just how our brains work, and I point it out in order to highlight the increased importance of finding trade targets outside of and in addition to recommendations from fantasy baseball experts. Moreover, the more players we can target, the more we can shop around for the best price. Lastly, not everyone wants to put in the effort, so those willing to do so can often get better than expected deals.
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Why most barters occur on the day weekly transactions are processed, and how to take advantage of such trends.
Fantasy baseball trades, as we have discussed previously, tend to happen at certain times. They happen after the last of the big free agents sign in the offseason, right before the keeper deadline, and right before the league’s trading deadline. More than anything though, at least in the leagues in which I participate, trades happen on the day of weekly transaction. For many leagues, this day is Sunday. These days, especially at this time of the year in leagues with active trade markets, are fun days. If we’re lucky, the messages, emails, and texts are flying as we see what is out there and try to improve our team.
The Padres outfielder has seen his once-electric tools diminish, but is he still a significant fantasy asset?
Matt Kemp, out of Midwest City High School, was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the sixth round of the 2003 MLB draft. Upon debuting in 2006 (his age-22 season), Kemp hit the ground running as an impact fantasy baseball player. He proved to be a speed and power threat from the start, hitting seven home runs and stealing six bases in 166 plate appearances in 2006. An early season shoulder injury and a subsequent 39 game stint in Triple-A limited Kemp to 98 games played in 2007, but his potential as an impact five-category player was on full display as he roto-slashed .342/10/47/42/10 (AVG/HR/R/RBI/SB).
Examining the tacticts behind consummating a swap if you're in first place or dealing with the first-place team.
First, to clarify, by leader, we mean an entity that all others are trailing in a competition, not an entity that others follow in action.
Right now, and always, we are either leading, tied for the lead, or not leading; that’s fantasy baseball for ya. Here at The Quinton, we tend to have our discussions more in terms of teams that are focused on the short term (buyers) and teams that are focused on the long term (sellers) as opposed to teams currently in first and teams not currently in first. The reason for this is that, in theory, which team is in first place should not matter; each team should be focused making decisions that will most increase their odds of winning. As we have so often said, though, “in reality, this reality ain’t theory.” In this case, it does matter which team has the lead. It also matters whether the league is in a redraft or dynasty/keeper league. We will discuss each of those scenarios below, what behaviors those situations tend to cause, and what we can do take advantage or best deal with those behaviors. (Lastly, the scenario we are going to be discussing is when a team has clear lead.)
Why do teams almost always wait until late July to make significant trades?
Evan Drellich’s article in Boston Herald this past Sunday quoted Red Sox general manager Dave Dombrowski as saying about potential trades:
“It’s still early. I can tell you I’ve done a great deal of work, there’s five clubs that are willing to talk about it. They’re the same five clubs that have been at it all year, so it’s still a little early for that type of situation. We’ll just see what happens. I think the thing you got to remember is, it takes two clubs to make a deal. And most clubs, as I’ve said all along—and it hasn’t changed whatsoever really—are not prepared to move towards 2017 and be in a position of where they’re willing to move.”
Why the moves you decide to make in-season can be a function of how you frame your team's problem.
It’s midseason and we all have some work to do to get our fantasy baseball teams to where they need to be if we are going to maximize our chances of winning. Luckily, we all know what to do: find our weaknesses and the areas where we can improve the most, figure out what we can afford to give up to improve, and then make it happen. We have spent a lot of time discussing why we so often cannot act optimally, why we cannot execute against our strategies or our goals, and how we can take advantage of the instances when our leaguemates fall victims to these obstacles. These discussions always come with some big assumptions: (i) that we are able to find the proper strategy and (ii) that the proper strategy at the point of the discussion will remain the proper strategy. Today we will take a look at these assumptions.
Before we get into process, strategy, and decision making, we should revisit an oft-told fable from my time growing up in this country. Luckily, it is short. It goes something like this,
Examining why we might've whiffed on the O's slugger's breakout, and how to best avoid similar misses going forward.
Mark Trumbo has been very good at baseball this season and, because fielding and base-running are not a part of fantasy baseball, he has been even better as a fantasy baseball player. Per the first edition of Mike Gianella’s in-season fantasy rankings, Trumbo was the 19th-most-valuable hitter in the American League as of June 1st. Since then, he has roto-slashed .425/3/9/9/0 (AVG/HR/R/RBI/SB). It is thus safe to say that his 2016 production to date is safely within the top 15 among AL hitters and that he is likely flirting with top-ten AL hitter value. Not too shabby for a player with an NFBC ADP of 164.52.
The reasons as to why Trumbo has been good are no mystery—he has been healthy, he is taking a lot of at-bats in Camden Yards, he is hitting in the Baltimore Orioles’ lineup, and, as pointed out by Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs yesterday, Trumbo is doing his usual crushing of baseballs, while hitting more flyballs and fewer groundballs. Will he stay healthy? Probably; putting aside 2014, he has played a minimum of 142 each season. Will he continue to hit more flyballs? Maybe. I’d imagine the league will make some adjustment, but I’d also imagine that some of these gains are here to stay as he showed improvements toward the end of last season.