Beyond our fantasy baseball content, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Baseball Tools as you navigate your season. From our Trade Analyzer – which allows you to instantly find out if a trade offer benefits you or your opponent – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team, and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy baseball season.
The adrenaline rush, the panic, the excitement! As you know, I’m not talking about baseball’s 2020 season, since baseball is apparently “unprofitable” and owners can’t swallow one year of losses for long-term financial gain. Instead, we’re talking about your fantasy league’s baseball deadline. Making big trades at the deadline can be exhilarating, but it can also lead to long-term regret, especially in dynasty and keeper leagues. Trading a player who is having a rough first-half could be shortsighted, and accumulating additional draft picks for next year’s draft may not be as great of a strategy as you think. To remove bias from your own players, below are a few tips to consider as you look to improve your roster and ramp up for the playoffs.
Eye of the Beholder
The value of your assets will significantly change if you are the buyer or the seller. If you are out of the playoff race and selling, then you are likely shopping aging veterans that probably won’t be on your next playoff team. Thus, those assets will be valued much higher by a team in good position to win a championship. If you are the team looking to buy, then you are willing to trade away some low-level, high-upside prospects. It’s not worth your time to try and trade these prospects to a team also in the playoff race, unless they make you an offer that you can’t refuse.
Don’t be concerned with “losing” a trade now for long-term gains, especially if you think your window of contention is in two or three years. Just like in real-life baseball, trade winners and losers take years to determine. For example, trading your Carlos Santana for Nick Madrigal at the deadline in 2019 was obviously a trade you would have “lost” in the 2019 season, but could realistically be a trade that you win over the next few years. Let’s look at the ZiPS 2020-2022 three-year projection system to illustrate, adjusted for playing time.
While Santana wins three of the categories, Madrigal is significantly better in the scarcest categories – average and steals. Madrigal’s steals look light, given that he stole 35 bases across three minor league levels alone in 2019. I also expect the runs category to be closer, given that Madrigal is likely to bat near the top of the order as he ages, whereas Santana may drop in the order as he gets older. Regardless, if you made this trade on deadline day in 2019, you probably could have gotten Madrigal and a draft pick for Santana. If your next projected playoff team was light on average and steals, properly evaluating your assets would have netted you a likely “win-later” result.
Injuries present a different wrinkle in dynasty and keeper formats. Khris Davis is the perfect example. Take a look at his average season from 2016-2018, compared to his 2019.
We know that Davis was hampered by a May hip injury, likely causing this substantial decrease in production. Davis is 32 years old, so we likely can’t expect peak Khrush Davis again, but averaging 35 homers over the next three years is possible. If you had Davis on your roster, you were likely beyond frustrated with him and looking to trade him on 2019 deadline day. But, if you were patient and took a look at his three-year projections, you would have likely reconsidered.
Despite Davis being projected for 170 less plate appearances, he is projected to easily win two of the five categories, with Santana only having a clear advantage in batting average. In this case, not making the trade has great potential to pay off, especially if your contention window opens up in 2020.
When in Doubt, Aggregate Rankings
Properly evaluating your roster can take time, and many fantasy players are not afforded that luxury. The good news is that there are tons of analysts out there with dynasty and keeper rankings. In fact, FantasyPros aggregates dynasty and keeper rankings, consisting of excellent analysts like our very own Bobby Sylvester. You can download these rankings into a CSV file and play with them as you like. CBS Sports’ Scott White and FanTrax’s Eric Cross also post dynasty rankings. Scrape the data from those websites, put them in your favorite spreadsheet, and aggregate the rankings to your liking. Finally, downloading the ZiPS data from FanGraphs will help put stats to those rankings.
Replacing bias with data results in making the most of the action, or inaction, that you pursue on deadline day. Making a great trade backed by research is one of the many joys in fantasy baseball. Hopefully one day soon, we’ll be able to experience that joy.