Trading strategy: Partners and standings

When most of us make a trade, we normally look to get maximum value returned to our own teams. This is our first instinct and is certainly a good strategy, especially in the early portions of the season. At this point in the year, however, there might be a superior way to deal.

The strategy

I spoke last time about how it can be a solid move to receive less than 100% value in a trade, as long as it helps your team improve in a certain category. This time, I’ll again say that it is okay to receive less than 100% value on your players but for a different reason. Nearly as important as making trades that add points to your total are trades that will subtract points from your opponent’s total. If you can take a chunk out of your opponent’s points, it will indirectly benefit you (assuming you can do it in the right situations), making a trade for less than 100% value acceptable.

Example scenario

Your team sits in second place overall. You are in a twelve team league and currently have 6 points in saves. No team is within 12 saves of you — in front or behind. The first place team overall is currently first in saves, but is closely being trailed by the team that is sixth overall.

Being the savvy fantasy player that you are, you offer the sixth place team your top closer for a player of slightly less value than you would normally expect. Being a decent player himself, he realizes that he is getting good value and jumps on the deal. Over the next two months, the closer you traded helps him to take first in saves. In the process, your primary opponent loses a point off his total.

Of course, that example only costs your opponent one point, because we are dealing with closers. If you decide to trade a guy who helps in several categories, the results will be different. If you trade Adam Dunn — who helps in HR, RBI, and R — for Juan Pierre — who will provide a better batting average and more steals — (not that I would normally advocate such a trade) you might be able to hurt your opponent more than if you had traded a closer.

The guy who receives Dunn could jump over your first place opponent in HR, RBI, and R, which would then set your opponent back three points. Make a couple trades like this, and you could find yourself sitting in first very shortly. Just make sure that the team you trade with is not a big threat to make a quick climb to the top.

The perfect scenario

Of course, if all the pieces fall into place, you can accomplish everything in one trade. You gain 100% on your trade, you fill a hole or two, improve in a couple of categories, and trade a quality player to a team that will hurt your primary competitor and won’t hurt you. This won’t happen very often, but when it does, you should be very happy.

Even if everything doesn’t fall perfectly into place, there are ways to use this method and still improve your own team. When trading away a player that will hurt your opponent, make sure you target a player that can also improve your own team in the standings. I’m sure you won’t be giving players away, but even if you don’t get 100% value, make sure to a target a player that can help your own team in the standings too.

Who this applies to

This really only applies to those that are towards the top of their league’s standings. If you are in the middle of the pack, it is more important to improve your own team, either via superior value or through acquiring players that will catapult you several points in certain categories. Knocking a few points off of the total of one of the teams at the top really won’t help you much. It will just allow another team at the top to take the lead. If you have a lot of ground to make up, it is much more important to help your own team than it is to hurt another team.

Concluding thoughts

The essential idea behind all of this is that a point lost by your opponent is just as good as one gained by you. Of course, you have many opponents in fantasy baseball, so you need to be careful that the team you help improve doesn’t stand to become your next primary opponent.

Because of this, it is better to gain points yourself than it is for one of your opponents to lose points. There is less risk involved. Always pursue the original strategy first, complementing it with the new strategy where applicable. In situations where you are unable to successfully use the original strategy (lack of available options, stubborn traders, whatever), then it is appropriate to use the new strategy.

Analyze your own situation carefully, explore all available options, and you should be fine.

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