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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Staff picks for players you might want to acquire in your fantasy deadline deals.
The members of fantasy team here at Baseball Prospectus have each selected one player they have their eye on targeting for the second half in trades. Some are more expensive to acquire than others, but they are on this list because their current market value is lower than their expected value the remainder of the way. Here are those players, in alphabetical order:
Javier Baez, INF, Chicago Cubs
The return of Dexter Fowler has seemingly relegated Baez to a more traditional bench role. Baez started in only three of six contests over the past week, including just one of three since Fowler’s reinstatement. I can’t tell you when and where the at-bats are going to come from; with a full-time outfielder back in the fold, there will likely be fewer appearances on the grass for Bryant and Zobrist, and therefore less opportunity on the dirt for Baez. It’s that uncertainty that makes him a target, though, as it should drive his price down. When he’s gotten the chance, Baez has shown the kind of multi-dimensional skillset that will make him an early-round selection in the coming years. He’s on the verge of double digits in both home runs and swipes in 250 plate appearances. Most importantly, his average sits at an unexpectedly excellent .285, with PECOTA projecting a tolerable .244 the rest of the way. Improvement in his contact rate even as he’s gotten more aggressive have upgraded his outlook from the batting average sink I once thought he’d be. I find it hard to believe the Cubs will stagnate the 23-year-old’s development by making him a twice-a-week player going forward, especially as they sit on a comfortable lead in the Central. Invest if Baez’s current owner doesn’t have the patience to wait for the path to become clear. – Greg Wellemeyer
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.
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 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,
Helping you get the most out of your swaps this summer.
Flags Fly Forever. Hey, that’s the name of the podcast I co-host weekly with Bret Sayre and producer George Bissell. So I know a thing or two about going for it at all costs, decimating my team’s future in pursuit of a title, and sacrificing the potential plum of back-to-back championships in favor of a “certain” win this year. As a rule of thumb, this is sage advice. If you are on the fence about a trade in a keeper or dynasty league because you are worried you are giving up too much value, odds are good that you should make the trade immediately and worry about 2017 and beyond later.
Yet there are cases where you can go too far and sacrifice too much future in exchange for the present. This seems to fly in the face of the advice that every fantasy expert has ever dispensed. But there are cases where it can happen.
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.
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.