Within an unusual and thought-provoking trend, there is an extremely unusual and extremely thought-provoking subtrend.
We, as an internet, have thoroughly discussed the player opt-out, but oversaturation and (a lack of) timeliness have never stopped us before here at Tools of Ignorance and they will not stop us now. In December, at the beginning of the height of player opt-out-mania, I wrote about why this contract structure might have increased in popularity. I hypothesized, among other things, that players might be valuing the opt-out and flexibility it brings more than teams valued it, or that players were just flat out overvaluing the opt-out, or both. It felt right; it felt like it made sense.
Then word came out that David Price did not want a player option, but rather that Dave Dombrowski insisted on including one. The future, it turns out, can be a real know-it-all.
Considering the sequence of a fantasy trade, from research to completion, can help us to avoid missing out on the best deals.
Trades are coming. We have discussed different types of trades, the importance of trades, and a lot of other things to do with trades. We have taken a look at the actual mechanics of trades here and there (we have discussed trading with different negotiation types, how we can use choice architecture when crafting trades, and so on), but we often overlook the supply chain of a trade. If, as the internet states, supply chain is “the sequence of processes involved in the production and distribution of a commodity,” then the supply chain of a fantasy baseball trade is the sequence of processes involved from the time a trade is conceptualized to the time it is agreed upon or disbanded.
The important (for this conversation) thing about supply chain, whether that of a fantasy baseball trade or that of a new-product launch, is that it is easy to overlook. It is easy to assume everything will just work out so long as we have the right idea and the right plan. This assumption, though, causes product launches to be delayed or less profitable, and it causes us to miss out on beneficial trades. Because we want to make as many beneficial trades as possible, we do not want to make this assumption—we do not want to overlook the supply chain of our trades. Maybe you do not overlook the supply chain of your trades. If so, well done. If not, or if you want to take read about the concept, then please find the below discussion around a critical concept of supply chain: lead time.
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Identifying the two costs associated with each fantasy trade, and the best ways to ensure you make the optimal move.
The real baseball teams have been playing for over a month and, consequently, so too have our fantasy baseball teams. As always happens, our perfectly planned team has proven itself to be imperfect. Maybe our hitters are underperforming, maybe are starting pitchers have fallen victim to injury, maybe our closers are no longer closers. It happens. The lucky (and/or skilled) among us have been able to address these weaknesses via the waiver wire or early season trade, but most of are or will be in the position of looking to the trade market for an upgrade.
Groundbreaking stuff, I know. But a big thing we see in a lot of trades or trade discussions is improper framing of the decision being made. The most pervasive error in this regard is to simply look at what our team is missing and then trade from a strength or redundancy to improve that weakness. This is not inherently a mistake and this process might lead to optimal decision-making and strategy, but there are other factors we need to consider to improve our odds at getting to optimal that optimal choice.
Is the #process going to suffer the same fate as every other broadly embraced tactic?
The all-out, sell-it-if-it-ain’t-nailed-down, multi-year rebuild is totally in vogue. It seems to be working too. The Royals—whose rebuild appeared to have flopped by 2013—are coming off a World Series Championship and consecutive World Series appearances. The team the Royals defeated in last year’s World Series was none other than the fresh-out-of-a-rebuild (or at least just-not-spending-money) Mets. The Cubs, who lost to the Mets in the 2015 NLCS and who entered the 2016 season with the highest odds (per the odds makers) to win the World Series, appear to be perennial contenders after completely overhauling their roster upon the arrival of team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer in 2011. The Astros' drastic rebuild was well documented during their playoff run last year, as is that of the Braves. The Phillies’ rebuild even appears to be going better than planned.
You all, of course, already knew all this, but the point, as maybe unnecessary as it is, is made. It seems that all teams have to do is be diligent about providing a terrible major-league product for several years in order to enjoy success for many years thereafter. For those who have been paying attention, and especially for those who have frustratingly watched their teams stagnate in mediocrity (or worse) for years, the full-rebuild (as we will refer to it here) can appear to not only be a savior, but also optimal strategy.
A look at the obstacles to fantasy blockbusters and how we might overcome them.
Onward—always onward—the calendar tacitly mandates. Auctions and drafts are now the past. Closing in on us is the in-season trade market.
Most of the leagues in which I participate do not see heavy trade activity at this point of the season. The adjective “heavy” in this instance (when affected by the preceding “not”) describes both the volume of trades (minimal) and the magnitude of trades (minor). But, once every so often, maybe once a season, maybe even less frequently, a big trade gets made. If we expand our requirements to include the entire season, not just the beginnings of the trade season, then we will still usually only find a few big trades.
As the fantasy staff prepares its bold predictions for the 2016 season, Jeff examines the biases that can underlie them.
The Baseball Prospectus Fantasy team, me included, will be rolling out (bold) predictions this week (and maybe next week). The esteemed and excellently named Wilson Karaman already released his bold predictions here. You love bold predictions, I love bold predictions, we all love bold predictions. There are a lot of reasons we like bold predictions. Per my best estimates, the main reasons we like bold predictions are as follows: (i) they are easy to digest (instead of the slog that is an article on, say, confirmation bias), (ii) they offer analysis and insight that is often a break from the consensus, and (iii) they can confirm our past decisions or current beliefs and if they do not, then they can easily be ignored.
Over here at The Quinton, we cannot let stand people finding happiness in things. It just wouldn’t be right. That said, while the first two reasons for liking bold predictions are, on their own, harmless, the last reason can be problematic in regards to our future decision making. We might not want to admit it, but the way we read bold predictions articles is to quickly scan through for anything that makes us feel good, for anything that confirms what we believe or want to believe. The person writing the article thinks the player I reached for is going to be awesome? Awesome, now I do not feel as bad about the decision I made. The person writing the article thinks the player I passed on even though it was a great price is going to be bad? Awesome, now I feel better about the decision I made.
Jeff shares a couple of lessons learned over the weekend in his -only league auctions.
On Saturday, I participated in my NL-only keeper-league auction. On Sunday, I participated in my AL-only keeper-league auction. Below are some takeaways from these auctions.
Spending with the Market
One way discounts come to be in an auction is when the market overvalues a particular player or type of player (for example, pitching), which then leaves owners without enough money to pay market price for players elsewhere (for example, hitting). It can be tempting to “spend with the market,” especially when we are being shut out of a position (for example, closers) or when we are weak in a particular area. My advice, especially in a keeper league, would be to pass on overpriced players, take the values elsewhere, and then trade those values (likely keepers) for whatever was going at a premium in the auction. Depending on your league’s trade activity (or lack of activity), this may or may not be possible, but I am still inclined to pass on certain areas and potentially dominate other areas rather than overspend. For one, this allows us to hold advantages elsewhere, but this also helps us on the waiver wire. Owners who overpay for certain players are likely to hold on to them too long and are also more likely to throw back usable players to fill in the gaps created by overspending.
You have to start somewhere and I started with the goal of getting good players. Really, this is exercise is the person assembling the roster (me) versus Mike Gianella (versus other contestants versus Gianella); this is unfortunate for me because I use Mike’s valuations as a starting point for my offseason process.
Identifying and understanding the flaws in the wisdom of the crowd can be hugely beneficial in fantasy leagues.
“Take the player with the most value.” “Take the value that the market or our leaguemates are offering us.” “Strategic agility allows us to capture the most value.” “X point in the draft (or auction) is where the best values are to be had.” And so on.
We talk a lot about value, but lots of times it’s a placeholder for telling people to make good decisions. Yes, we should always be trying to make good decisions. However, telling someone to make a good decision is not helpful advice. My brother used to have a basketball coach that would yell, “grab it,” in an attempt to help his players get rebounds. The players knew the goal was to try to get the rebound, just as readers of fantasy sports articles know that the goal is to make good decisions and to get the best values on draft day. “Take the best value” and “make a good decision” are pieces of advice no more useful in fantasy sports than “grab it” is in basketball.