Fantasy Baseball Early Season Tips

by Todd Zola, MastersBall.com on April 20, 2011 @ 21:30:50 PDT

 


While it is true that patience is the proper approach early in the season, there is a difference between being patient and being complacent. There is still some early season roster management that you can do to help improve your chance of success. Today, we will discuss a few of them.

COMB THE FREE AGENTS EACH WEEK FOR UPGRADES

This is especially true in mixed leagues where the available player pool is rather plush. Even if you do not have an opening in your active roster, if you see an upgrade to your reserves, make the move as eventually, you will need everyone on your roster. Pay special attention to the previous week's drops as often, your fellow competitors get a bit antsy and release valuable players off to a slow start.

DO NOT WORRY ABOUT CATEGORIES

Atlanta Braves SP Brandon Beachy
Experiment with P's, like Beachy

Even if you sense you are strong in one area and weak in another, unless you are floored by a trade offer and feel you are receiving more value in return, early on pound up your counting stats and worry about managing categories later. What you perceive to be strength now can quickly turn into weakness with an injury or two. There will be plenty of time to wheel and deal later once the categories have really fleshed out and you know where you stand.

BE COURTEOUS

Even if you are not inclined to make a deal early in the season, be courteous and consider all offers. You never know when you will be approached with the proverbial godfather offer. The comfort level and trust you establish now can do wonders later when you are in fact looking to swing a deal. If possible, engage in casual discussion about your league or baseball in general. You often can glean some tidbits that may help you down the road.

BE CAUTIOUSLY AGGRESSIVE WITH YOUR PITCHING

I know, cautiously aggressive is an oxymoron like a little bit pregnant or semi-kosher. On one hand, early on, the conditions usually favor pitchers as the weather is cold and off days prevent hitters from getting into a groove. On the other hand, I personally feel more comfortable starting a pitcher with a few outings under his belt so I can look at the peripherals and decide if the hurler is throwing well. Similarly, one can argue that if you happen to get burned by a bad start or two, you have the whole season to get your ratios back in line while someone else can argue it is best to build up an innings buffer using high strikeout relievers early, allowing you to absorb some rough outings down the line. The bottom line is there is no right way to deal with early season pitching. My suggestion is if you have a knack for finding quality pitching as the season progresses, be aggressive early. Sometimes it is a numbers game; the more pitchers you audition, the better the chance of hitting on one. If you feel as though you are always behind the eight-ball with respect to your ERA and WHIP, do not take chances early and deploy solid middle relievers to build a foundation of strong ERA and WHIP.

PAY EXTRA ATTENTION TO YOUR HITTING

Early in the season, before injuries really set in, is the best time to maximize at bats, especially in daily transaction leagues. But even in weekly leagues, look at the matchups, the possible righty-lefty implications, the respective venues and do your best to have your best possible lineup active. Trust me, as the season wears on, you will be starting your healthiest players, not your best players. This is the time to jack up your counting stats with extra at bats.

CUT YOUR FAVORITE FANTASY PUNDIT SOME SLACK

You are no doubt aware that early in the season, some pitchers go through a dead arm period. Well, on the off chance your favorite fantasy analyst is going through a dead brain period after working on content since November 1 and perhaps writes a shorter column than normal, in less depth than usual, give him a week to recharge his battery and I can pretty much promise things will be back to normal soon enough. You know, hypothetically, of course.

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About Todd Zola, MastersBall.com

Focusing primarily on the science of player valuation and game theory starting in 1997, Todd Zola and Mastersball carved out an important niche in the fantasy industry. In 2006, Todd became the Research Director for fantasybaseball.com, and in 2009, he relaunched Mastersball and is now a managing partner.

Todd competes in Tout Wars and the XFL, and has been a multiple-time league champion in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has been a contributor to the fantasy content at MLB.com and SI.com, is a frequent guest on Sirius/XM and Blog Talk Radio and is an annual speaker at the spring and fall First Pitch Forum symposiums.

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