Fantasy Baseball Round Table: How important are April standings?

by Todd Zola, on May 7, 2014 @ 11:44:20 PDT


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Our colleague Ron Shandler has done some research demonstrating that your odds of finishing in the money in traditional leagues are eighty percent if you end April in a money spot. Another way of looking at it is only one of five teams presently out of the money will work their way into a money spot by yearís end.

First off -- what's your first thought/gut reaction to that?

Second -- the results are the results. What should a fantasy owner do to be in that 20-percent if they struggled in April?

Tim Heaney

OF Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh Pirates
Polanco owners eye late surge

Ron is well-versed in this sort of thing, so I believe it. I think a lot of this stems from the general fantasy baseball player's stubbornness in that their own players give them their best chance to win. Plus, we always tell our readers to be patient and wait to establish a player's market value before making any moves. Perhaps we're lulling them into a false sense of comfort. 

The players they have may in fact rebound, but will they do so to the extreme that said team would need to overcome such odds? As the season wears on and you find your chances dwindling, a trailing owner may have to take more chances in terms of acquiring as much extreme positive regression as possible, even by getting rid of their peaking or plateaued players. They can decide to punt a category if you're realizing you're not going to make a dent and alter your strategy in another column. You can buy ultra-low on struggling players who are performing well below their pace. Try to plan ahead for as many two-start pitchers as possible if you need to catch up in quantity stats. See if you can, in daily-lineup leagues, fill in more at-bats for Monday and Thursday games. Take advantage of any rule loopholes that can allow you to chip away at those standings.

How much you can climb back is based on your own projected stats for the remainder of the season (at least in general, if not specific numbers) and your categorical maneuverability.

Brian Walton

1) I also trust the research. While I find it interesting, I would not alter my behavior as a result. I donít know that I agree with Tim, though. He seems to imply that the best answer is action. Especially this early in the season, trades are often difficult to execute.

2) I do agree with his list of potential actions. There is no magic. One must do the basic things to compete aggressively, whether in fifth or tenth place, in my opinion. Some leagues implement penalties for low finishes as a stick to try to keep owners fully engaged until the end of the season. I wish that wasnít ever necessary, but that hope is unrealistic.

Perry Van Hook

"Odds" meaning that in the majority of leagues he looked at these teams in the money finished in the money - that has nothing to do with individual situations. Furthermore I am guessing he was talking about non-trading, non-keeper leagues because that is not the case in two long-standing AL and NL keeper leagues that I have 25+ years of experience in.

To buck the odds, first they need a realistic assessment of their categorical positions and likelihood of changing those. Are they losing ground as April ends and May starts? Or have they been gaining even if very slightly. This is really difficult because you could give me your league particulars but I would know nothing of the history and tendencies of the players in YOUR league.

Ryan Carey has a few things to say....

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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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