Fantasy Baseball Round Table: Trading between contenders and non-contenders

by Todd Zola, on August 1, 2012 @ 16:30:00 PDT


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You should always try to improve your squad, regardless of your outlook. Tout Wars' FAAB carryover penalty - $1 off next year's allotment for every point a team finishes beneath a certain rotisserie points threshold - marks a solid example of motivational tools leagues can install to prevent stagnancy in the lower regions of the standings late in the season. It sucks that sometimes teams need that impetus to carry on as if they'll have eternal hope, but there's tangible motivation for moving up, regardless of the standings of potential trading partners, as well as your own.

In fact, moving into an isolationist bubble can throw off the categorical balance, shutting off potential avenues of, in industry league cases, showing viewers ways that they can mature as a fantasy gamer.

Philip Hertz

Key point from Tim:

"In fact, moving into an isolationist bubble can throw off the categorical balance, shutting off potential avenues of, in industry league cases, showing viewers ways that they can mature as a fantasy gamer."

I've seen the final results in leagues affected as much by this as by a trade with a contender. I can do as much harm by claiming (or not claiming) a free agent as I can by making a trade - so long as the trade is legit.

Ron Shandler, Baseball HQ

Been in this position a lot lately...

Oakland Athletics INF Brandon Hicks
Hicks: tipping the roto scales!

First of all, we've implemented a system in Tout where there is always an incentive to finish as high as you can. Be it a better reserve seed the following March or more FAAB to spend, there is always motivation to scratch and claw for every point.

Still, even without that, I view every season as a learning experience. At draft time, I'm trying out new strategies; during the season, I'm looking for ways to improve. If nothing else, it is always column fodder. If I can manage to move from 12th to 6th during the season, those are still tactics that might be employable the following year when I'm trying to move from 6th to 1st. There is always something to learn.

Doug Anderson, RotoExperts

Definitely. You are still an owner in that league and unless it's a keeper league, your job is to finish as well as you can. I think you have to make sure that the categories you are gaining are of definite help in the standings or you're just trading for trading's sake. You do have to respect the integrity of the league, but most definitely you should always be trying to improve.

Patrick Davitt

Cory wrote: "Simply put, if there's no gain for me in making a deal other than perhaps the pride of moving up 2-3 meaningless points in the standings, I don't want to influence the top of the league by making a deal with one of the front-runners."

As some others have noted, doesn't it also affect the race to not make a mutually advantageous deal with a front-runner?

Brian Walton

Wondering why some seem to assume that every trade with a front-runner will be assured of helping that front-runner. The priorities seem backward. Because of fear over what might happen to others, these owners avoid trying to everything possible to improve their own teams…

What defines a "front-runner" and which teams are OK to trade with? Is it placement in the standings? Points out of first? Someone should write these unwritten rules down so we all know how to behave (or not).

As noted already, owners incur a very specific and real penalty if they don't amass enough points in Tout. That seems most relevant since the initial question is about Tout and LABR.

Lawr Michaels

That is an EXCELLENT point and question Brian...

And, I plead guilty to jumping on this as worst-case scenario (though "worst" is as subjective as anything else)...

Philip Hertz

Indeed, right now in NL Tout, 7.5 points separate first from fifth and 13 points separate first from eighth. If one were to take Lawr's argument to the extreme, there wouldn't be much trading going forward (not that there are oodles of trades in the first place).

Todd Zola

To be fair, if I am in the group Phil describes (heck, I AM in the group Phil describes) I would make any and all deals to improve my stead as none of the teams is out of it. In fact, I am presently in trade talks with teams battling for the top, in the hopes I swing a deal to join them.

However, in Mixed LABR with due respect to the "anything can happen" crowd, there is not enough lightning nor ample bottles to propel my squad anywhere near contention, but I can move up from the lower third into the middle third with some deals if I so desire. I am struggling with this desire since it could come with some collateral damage I am not comfortable with - yet.

Lawr Michaels

Well, I tried to be clear that my mindfulness involved not tipping the scales.

In AL Tout things are similarly very close. I am in seventh right now, but if my guys are all back in the next week or so (McCarthy, Niemann, and Moreland anyway) then the points are still totally there for me to grab and try to overtake the leaders.

There are 20 or so points separating all of us. But, with seven starters, and Holland and CC for example, back at full strength, there are 7-8 strikeout points I can recoup just in that category (I was second in whiffs when my pitchers started breaking).

Anyway, the juggling and shifting of commodities ...

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Something that is conspicuous by its absence is how you, the general public, feels about this issue. I don't mean your personal philosophy; I mean what do you prefer to occur in industry leagues such as Tout Wars and LABR? Playing in a public league, should I have entertained the trade offer that precipitated this soiree? Please send your opinion to and you might be a guest Knight in next week's Fantasy Baseball Round Table.

About Todd Zola,

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, 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 and, 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. Fantasy Baseball

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