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Why It Pays to be the First Player to Pull the Plug On Your Season (Fantasy Baseball)

by Michael Waterloo | @MichaelWaterloo | Featured Writer
May 26, 2020

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If you’re in a redraft league, you have one goal:

Win.

That’s it. You want to do whatever it takes (ethically and morally) to win the league because when the season is over, it’s over. 

But for a dynasty and keeper league, you always have to keep the present and future in mind with your team, and that’s why you always have to decide what you’re playing for.

You either need to be playing for the top three or bottom three. You don’t want to be stuck in the middle of your league, because you’ll be there forever. It’s important to know this when you’re doing your startup draft, and really throughout the life of the league.

But what happens when you think you’re one of the top teams in the league, but, for whatever reason, things don’t fall your way? 

Well, it’s up to you to know when to pull the plug and decide that it’s just not your year for whatever reason. You’re willing to accept that, at best, you may sneak into the playoffs, but you won’t compete for the title. 

As hard as it is to make the decision, the sooner you can make it, the better.

Here are a few reasons why it pays to be the first one in your league to pull the plug on your season.

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Higher Return in Trades

You’ll hear a lot of managers say that they are going to hold their trade assets until the trade deadline so that they can get maximum returns on their players, in hopes of a bidding war. If you’ve paid attention to Major League Baseball at all over the past half-decade, you’ll realize that this thought process is dated. That applies to fantasy baseball, too.

Think about it for one second. If your trade deadline is July 31 to coincide with the real-life deadline, and then the season is over toward the end of August, you’re essentially hoping for a bidding war for a player who can be used for four weeks in the regular season and, if it’s a pitcher, potentially six starts or so.

Any contending team should look to buy earlier in the season so that they can get a greater return on their investment buy having the player for at least a half of the season. If there’s a player you’re targeting, you have a better chance of landing them if you don’t wait until the deadline. 

More Buyers

Stubborn. If there is one word that describes fantasy managers, it’s stubborn. They don’t want to admit that they are out of it, and they feel their team has just been unlucky. Sure, it’s true, at times, but has every team been unlucky, or are they just a bad manager?

If you decide to sell early, you’re going to have more teams who are in the running or, at least, are contenders in their own mind. That gives you more potential suitors for your trade assets, where you are able to field more offers than if you wait for a couple of months. At the deadline, you’re kind of stuck with the five or six teams that are left, and you have to accept the best deal on the table. If you sell early, there may be eight or nine teams looking to buy, where you have the leverage. 

Target Under-the-Radar Players

Imagine if you decided to sell in early 2019 in a dynasty league. You know you’re not going to compete, so you decide to trade off some of your assets. With one of your trades, you decide to make an offer for Jose Ramirez, as he was one of the worst players in baseball in the first half of the season. Well, we all saw what he did in the second half of the year, as he returned to form as one of the elite players in the game.

If you waited, there was no chance of getting him. But if you acted, you could have gotten him for a player who is probably worse than Ramirez overall.

The same goes for prospects. If you follow the minors closely, you can try to find the next breakout players like Chris Paddack or Yordan Alvarez, who put up video-game type numbers in the minors. 

You could trade for players like Julio Rodriguez or Noelvi Marte before the fantasy community – and, more specifically, your league – catches up to them. 

Is it a roll of the dice? Yeah, definitely. Players like Ramirez may not return to their previous form, and young guys like Rodriguez and Marte may not have the impact that Alvarez and Paddack have, but chances are you didn’t give up your best assets to land them.

Acquire Elite Prospects

Listen, if you want the best of the best prospects, you’re going to have to pay up a lot. You won’t be able to get them from teams who are rebuilding, but if one of the top three teams in the league are looking to make an all-in push to win the current season, you can acquire their top prospects more easily. But, if you wait, they may not want to give up that capital for just a few weeks of production.

But the earlier in the season, the easier it is for them to give up that elite asset, even if it’s the wrong move (9/10, it is the wrong move).

The trade may look bad on paper, where you’re giving up maybe your two or three most valuable assets in veterans who can help the team win this year, but if that’s the cost for a Juan Soto, Ronald Acuna, Wander Franco, or Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., you do it every day of the week.

Avoid Injuries

Pitchers are always just one pitch away from being out for the year and, potentially, for their career. Hitters are susceptible to injuries, too, but the injuries they suffer typically don’t have the long-term ramifications that pitcher injuries have. In either case, though, with each game, inning, or pitch that happens, you inherit a risk that the trade assets on your team will get hurt. If you know from the beginning of the season that you aren’t looking to compete, you should look to move your best starting pitchers before the first pitch of the season takes place. You’ll never get more value on them, and you eliminate all chances of injury. 

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Michael Waterloo is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Michael, check out his archive and follow him @MichaelWaterloo.

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