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Fantasy Baseball Round Table: September strategies

By Todd Zola, MastersBall.com

One of the perks of being a card-carrying so-called expert is representing our respective sites in industry showcase leagues such as the League of Alternative Baseball Reality (LABR) and Tout Wars. Today we'll ask the Knights how they approach the last month of the season.

Other than the obvious -- trying to do as well as possible and hopefully win -- what sort of things are you trying to accomplish and how are you going about doing it?

Perry Van Hook - Mixed Tout Wars Draft and AL LABR

Los Angeles Dodgers OF Yasiel Puig
Don't slack off, even if you're out of it

I think we have an obligation - at least in the more serious industry leagues which I define as Tout Wars and LABR (although there may be others that should be in that tier) - to compete as well as we can for the ENTIRE season. We have all seen in many different types of leagues, players whose attention wanders especially if they are not in first place or close. People who stop trying to get as many points as possible for their teams do a disservice to the league and the other competitors if they are randomly dropping points.

There is a slight difference in that while both are redraft leagues (which makes late season trading even more problematic but that is another subject). At least Tout Wars has penalties for finishing under certain point totals so if that competitor is even invited back, they will be docked FAAB dollars next year for poor performance this year.

Todd Zola - NL Tout Wars and Mixed LABR

I think it's safe to say we all agree with Perry and we owe it to our followers and fellow combatants to compete until the season is complete.

Nicholas Minnix - Mixed Tout Wars Auction and AL LABR

Sabotage! Cheat!

Honestly, anything. Just try something new. You're paying attention, so no one can have a beef with how you experiment. The experience is for you, first and foremost.

From what others (like Brian) have written and my somewhat woeful experiences this year, power and offense in general are in short supply. If you're out of the running, perhaps it's because your bats aren't the problem. Even if you're just middling in hitting categories, if you can gain a lot of ground in pitching ones, why not take advantage of someone who should have to overpay with pitching at this point? Or, probably more the point, just see how much you could improve your staff by putting some batters on the block. (If you can still trade, of course.)

That's a little unorthodox, but the point is, if you're already losing, what do you have to lose? There aren't too many ways to experiment. Adjust your FAAB spending habits just to become more comfortable with, say, throwing money around, taking risks. Or, be more conservative; see how many players who turn out to be useful you can get for $0 or $1. If you don't ordinarily try to cycle through two-turn pitchers, get some practice, evaluate matchups. Or, if you do that a lot, how about giving that a rest?

Maybe there's nothing wrong with your process and it was just a bad year. It never hurts to refine your process. Nothing else comes to mind of things to try. Just try to manipulate categories, and see how easy or difficult it might be. This could give you ideas about how to build your teams next year.

Brian Walton - NL Tout Wars

Houston Astros OF George Springer
Watch for Springer, other fresh faces

Speculating on September call-ups who may contribute is one activity that could pay dividends. Another action that may seem obvious is swapping out injured players on a daily basis in leagues that allow such moves (such as Tout Wars), rather than wait until the end of the week to make a change.

TZ: Perry alluded to it - what about the Tout Wars rule that ties your finish to your FAAB the following season? How important is it that you begin the season with the full $100? Do you manage any differently to get/stay above the threshold? Is this a good rule for the league?

Personally, I like it because by managing to attain the threshold, you are not indirectly doing anything to influence league dynamics. As an example, some leagues reward the top finishers in each category. I understand the motivation, but have witnessed a couple of instances where an owner otherwise out of the running for a top finish does something unconventional just to win a category. The example that sticks out most to me was someone trading away all their power hitters for steals just so they could get a small handful of jelly beans. The trades had a major impact on the top of the standings. I have no issue with moves that are designed to help maximize a team's total points but in this case, the team lost more points in HR and RBI than they gained in SB - to me that was an issue.

The Tout Wars rule still encompasses fighting for points so there is no conflict. You can argue that if you are just above the threshold, you may play it safe with the objective of not losing any points to fall below but this is also a viable strategy of the first place team so again I have no problem with it.

BW: It is a good carrot/stick, in my opinion. I certainly want to win next year and starting off with less money is not a help. Having said that, I don't think I manage any differently because of it.

Lawr Michaels - AL Tout Wars and NL LABR

I am with Nick.

I do try to do the best I can, and make sure I have a full roster. But, I look upon this time to try whatever I can think of to generate points within the rules.

Not that it works most of the time, but winning is hard.

Rob Leibowitz - AL Tout Wars

My Tout year has not gone that well, but that's a topic for another story! Again, the under-60-points rule in AL Tout is quite the stick to maintain the FAAB budget and I like to finish as high as I can from a simple pride perspective. I am actively trying to engineer a few trades using my team's strengths to ensure I finish above the 60-point mark and have enough FAAB to target some September call-ups to see how high I can ultimately finish.

NM: I think this kind of testimony is evidence that it's a productive rule. I don't think it's particularly harsh, either, given that $0 bids are allowed.

Lord Zola's Wrap-up

Here are the public links to the Tout Wars and LABR leagues. You may even find your one of your favorite so-called experts still in contention.


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