As the season’s second half is about to officially kick off with the upcoming All-Star Game, now is a good time to take a look at what type of movement you can make in the fantasy categories with a couple of key moves. Which categories should you target to make a move – should you try to add homers or attack your team batting average as an example? In the story that follows I’ll give you some advice as to which of the 10 traditional fantasy categories that you might be able to make the biggest moves in during the second half, as well as shining some light on a couple of categories where it’s going to be darn difficult to do much of anything the rest of the way.
OUR HYPOTHETICAL LEAGUE
Let’s assume for the sake of our discussion that we’re playing in a 5×5, 12 team, mixed league that uses 14 hitters (C,C,1B,2B,3B,SS,MI,CI, 5 OFs, UT) and nine pitchers (any combination of starters and relievers). Let’s further assume that our hypothetical team has 4,200 at-bats and let’s further posit that our team has thrown 800 innings. Given those parameters, let’s take a look at how adding players, off waivers or through trades, can impact a club.
NOTE: The deeper your league is the more that changes can make a substantial difference. Therefore, if you’re in a 15 team mixed league, or even more to the point an NL or AL only league, then there can be drastic movement made, even in the ratio categories, with one or two big moves.
Let’s say you remove your .225 hitting Rickie Weeks and add the .321 hitting Dustin Pedroia to your club. Obviously this would be a fantastic decision. However, would adding a player who is nearly batting .100 points higher, make much of a difference for your team batting average? Follow me here.
Currently our team has 4,200 at-bats and 1,100 hits leading to a .262 team mark. Assuming that pace of at-bats, 4,200 in about 88 games played this season, that’s a pace of 47.8 at-bats a day for your club. Eighty games from 162 leaves us with 74 remaining contests. Multiply 74 times 47.8 at-bats and that gets us a remaining total of 3,537 at bats. Let’s use that as our baseline.
Let’s say that 3,537 at-bats includes Rickie Weeks hitting .225 in 250 at-bats. Given that his mark right now, let’s assume that our team hits .262 the rest of the way (including the effort of Weeks). What if we remove Weeks from that mix and add in Dustin Pedroia hitting .320 over 300 at-bats. How much will the addition of .096 batting average points in the second half help us provided the two guys maintain their current levels of production?
Team Weeks: .262 average (935 hits in 3,567 at-bats)
Team Pedroia: .270 average (976 hits in 3,617 at-bats)
Remember too, that we’re just dealing with the moving forward portion of the season. Can’t forget that we already have 4,200 at-bats. So combining our already played 4,200 at-bats and our hypothetical 2nd half, here is the end result:
Team Weeks would hit .262.
Team Pedroia would hit .266.
That’s right. Adding a player at second base the rest of the way who bats .096 points higher is only going to boost your team average by four points. Bottom line is that in order to make a significant move in batting average you are going to have to add more than one piece, and even then you’re not likely to make a huge move in this category.
These categories are much easier to judge than average, and you can make a significant move here as adding a Rajai Davis or Jose Altuve can vault you up the standings. As an example, in the KBAD league with the fellas over at KFFL.com my team is in 9th in steals with 75. Four more steals would move me up two spots, and if I could add nine steals I’d move from 9th in steals to 6th. Nine measly steals would get me three standings points.
In that same league my team has 150 homers, good for third place. I’m 14 homers from moving into first, that’s a pretty decent sized gap to be sure, but there are three other teams that are 14 or homers closer to catching me. Obviously adding a guy who could 15 homers the rest of the way, say Dan Uggla over Altuve, could make a big difference.
Just like the homers and steals, you can make a difference in these counting categories.
I’m 14 runs from first place, and there are three teams within 34 runs of catching me. That’s a gap that could be made up, in either direction, the rest of the way. Three extra runs scored per 14 batting positions is 42 runs as an example.
As for RBIs — there’s a gap of 33 RBIs from 5th place and second in KBAD. Adding a power bat or two could make the difference up (remember, if you are dealing with someone who you are trying to catch… you not only add the player to help your club but you take them away from the club that currently owns him. That’s a double benefit that could also close the gap much quicker).
Have you ever seen the show Freaks and Geeks? It only ran for 18 episodes before NBC foolishly canceled it before it went on to win acclaim and multiple awards. Great show if you can catch it on TV or DVD. Also, the star of the show, Linda Cardellini, was born about eight miles to the south of me two years later than I came onto this planet. She grew up in the Bay Area, and even was in the same high school district as I was. How is it that I didn’t run into her at a dance all those years ago? Oddly, my last girlfriend looked like her sister. Strange how things work out sometimes.
You can easily move up in this category. You can stream two-start pitchers each week and easily give yourself a better shot at wins. Of course, there is no way to predict who will get a “W” so it’s always a tough game to play this category. Still, in the aforementioned league, there are seven teams that have 48 to 54 wins. Seven. You can make up a lot of ground here if things break right for you.
Much like batting average above, the ratio categories for pitchers are very difficult to make a substantial move in at this point. Let’s review our pitching baselines.
That leaves us with 311 earned runs and 960 base runners. Through 88 games we’re averaging 9.1 innings a game day. With 74 game days remaining, at 9.1 innings a day, we’d be looking at adding another 673 innings to the mix bringing our total to 1,473 innings pitched for the club. Let’s say we remove Ryan Dempster (4.04 ERA and 1.38 WHIP) from our rotation an add Mike Leake (2.73 ERA, 1.13 WHIP). How much of a difference will that make (the pitchers have thrown 107 inning for Dempster and 108.2 for Leake, so for the sake of this comparison let’s just call it a wash). Assuming each man duplicates his performance to take over the second half of the season, and that the rest of our teams stays the same, here’s where we could end up when all is said and done.
If each pitcher throws 90 innings the rest of the way…
Team Leake: 3.45 ERA, 1.20 WHIP
Team Dempster: 3.54 ERA, 1.21 WHIP
See what I’m saying? Not likely to move much here unless you totally change your strategy up or if you make a ton of moves.
Another tightly grouped category. In KBAD the top-3 teams are separated by two strikeouts. Two. Teams #6-9 are separated by a total of 26 strikeouts. Streaming pitchers will certainly help close a gap of 25 or less strikeouts.
Just like wins, saves is another category you can make up ground quickly in. Since there are only 30 closers in baseball, adding one to your team not only allows you to subtract one of those arms from a competitor, it also helps you to close the gap on those above you in the standings because of the finite supply of closers (the team above you will have to go out and make a trade, or get luck on the waiver-wire, in order to bolster their saves total). There are six teams from 40 to 47 saves in KBAD. Just think how much space one of those teams could put between themselves and the others if they added an arm that could bring them 15 saves the rest of the season.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Friday at 5 PM EDT. For more of Ray’s analysis you can check out BaseballGuys.com or the BaseballGuys’ Twitter account where he tirelessly answer everyone’s questions.