As we get closer to our league trade deadlines, I wanted to follow up with more thoughts on trading after my piece a couple of weeks ago. Then, I talked about throwing player values out the window and trading for needs based on your position in the various statistical categories. Don’t worry about overpaying if you still expect the trade to net you positive points. That concept still applies, probably even more so now, but I also wanted to share some other random thoughts and go more in-depth on that idea.
In the last article, I talked about determining exactly how many points you can gain and lose in every category. I actually perform this exercise and create a little table in Excel that looks like this:
Column B represents the points I could reasonably gain in each category without any trades or free agent pick-ups. Column C represents how many points my team could lose in those categories, again assuming I don’t trade anyone away and my team remains the same. Column D is the sum of the absolute values of the gain and loss columns. I want to know which categories have the potential for the most total movement; those are the ones I need to focus on.
The ratio categories are a bit difficult to assess as I’m not exactly sure how high or low they may actually end up. So I’m being conservative here by maybe thinking I could gain or lose an extra point than I might actually be able to, and I recommend you do the same. I’m in a weird spot, as I’m leading this league league in both home runs and runs scored, not a pair you usually see. How does one acquire RBI and steals without valuing batting average, runs scored or home runs?! Anyhow, the table quickly allows me to identify what types of hitters could help me most and that players like Chris Johnson and Marco Scutaro are absolutely worthless to my team.
Next, you could set up another spreadsheet detailing all of your players’ projected RoS contributions. It might look something like this:
You would project whether each player on your roster will contribute positive (+), neutral (blank) or negative (-) value in each category over the rest of the season as compared to replacement level at his position. This enables you to quickly visualize who is contributing in which categories and how that relates to your teams’ strengths and weaknesses. Cross-reference this table with the one above and instantly learn who you should be looking to trade away.
Trading From Depth
In my various fantasy leagues, I consistently see pretty good players sitting on the bench who in my opinion have positive value and should be starting for a team. Whether the reason this player is sitting on the bench is because he is amid a cold streak and was reserved “until he heats up” (a mistake by the way) or the fantasy owner is starting a better player at the position said reserve player qualifies for, this fantasy owner is giving up potential points.
On the surface, holding onto these players seems like a good idea. They provide a nice safety net in case of injury and peace of mind has emotional value. But you only accrue stats from your active players and guys sitting on your bench are worthless. Why go all season with a $5-$10 player just to have around in the event of an injury? What if that injury never occurs (something you obviously are hoping for!)? You have just wasted an opportunity to parlay your depth into more production from your active roster.
So what’s the solution? A 2-for-1 trade. These are my favorite, though sometimes opposing owners dislike receiving them as they consider it a quantity for quality trade. But this type could still benefit the team receiving the two lesser quality players. By executing this type of trade, you use your depth to improve your active lineup, the group that actually affects your stats. You don’t necessarily have to trade your bench player either; instead, you could opt to trade the better player you currently have active at that position, along with another hitter you decide to upgrade. Move your currently benched player into the slot of the player you traded away and no longer do you have a positively valued player wasting away doing you no good.
Anatomy of a Trade
Now let’s put all these ideas together. In the Tout Wars mixed draft league (I’m in first!), there have only been five trades made all season. Of those five, I was involved in four of them. That’s not normal, as I’m usually not a big trader. But my trades this year in this league all relied on trading from positional or categorical depth. I kept picking up players who turned out to be starter worthy and made a trade that took advantage of this to upgrade somewhere. It’s true that in deeper leagues, it makes a little more sense to keep some depth around given the slim pickings in the free agent pool. But I hate seeing my bench players perform well and provide value that I’m not benefiting from. Rather than bore you with the details of all of my trades, I want to just share how my latest deal went down.
I performed the analysis I described above (though those tables are actually for my home league, not Tout) and concluded that I can spare OBP (the leagues uses on base percentage instead of batting average) and runs scored, and could use some help in home runs and RBI. That made Shin-Soo Choo expendable, with the goal of acquiring a slugging outfielder hitting in the middle of a batting order. I projected Giancarlo Stanton to lead baseball in home runs before the season and he sits tied for first in the Steamer RoS projections in the category. So, he was target #1. As discussed earlier, I no longer care so much about overpaying. I know I need Stanton and I will do what I need to in order to get him, as long as I expect it to result in a net points gain.
Luckily enough, his owner posted a message nearly a month ago that Stanton was available. But…it was for an ace starter. Normally I jump on pitching for hitter deals. The problem was that as much as Stanton fit on my team, I had no obvious hitter to bench. If I had made an ace for Stanton deal, I would then put myself into the exact depth situation described above, where I would feel that I would need to make another trade! So after trying to figure out how to make an ace starter for Stanton work and even bringing another team into the negotiation, things didn’t work out. But I didn’t stop there on my quest. I first attempted to simply swap Choo for Stanton, a trade I genuinely believed to be fair. Unfortunately, that was declined.
Then on Sunday night’s FAAB run, I won the newest Mariners closer, Lord Danny Farquhar (he will now be known as Lord Farquhar due to the similarity between his last name and Lord Farquaad from Shrek). I didn’t need a closer because I already have three of them and rank second in the saves category. But, I knew adding another one would give me additional depth and allow me to make a trade to add more value to my team. One of the bidders for Farquhar was indeed the Stanton owner. Bingo! I came back to him suggesting a Choo and either Farquhar or Cishek for Stanton deal. I knew that based on pure fantasy value in this league, I was probably overpaying a bit. But based on my position in the various categories, this is exactly what I needed to do. He accepted last night shortly before the weekly lineup deadline and I was delighted.
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