Looking back at the 2021 Fantasy Baseball Season there were many ups, some downs, plenty of in-betweens, and a lot of room to grow. I wanted to share some of the thoughts that I had when doing different post-mortems and look-backs on various teams I had, as it could be useful to some. Documenting these thoughts will hopefully help them stick better!
Invest more at C position
This is an obvious point to some but based on how 2021 shook out with many MLB teams using more framing-oriented backstops who aren’t known for their hitting. In other words: Austin Hedges, Martin Maldonado, Tucker Barnhart types were more common, and the bottom of the catching pool further became an absolute cesspool. Only 7 backstops cranked 20 or more home runs in 2021, a mark that isn’t exactly a high-bar in this era. Prioritizing one of the top-end catchers is an absolute must for me moving forward, especially players who could even DH on their days off.
Be in a position to capitalize on pitching values in-season
This might be a counter-intuitive one to some, but I might have overinvested in my pitching staff at the cost of mid-round picks that could have been offensive players hitting in the heart of the lineup. It feels nice to fill in your pitching staff with great names in your draft, but drafting even more hitting depth and starting off the year with more RP types in the mold of Chad Green, or the Colin McHugh’s of the world is a strategy I will use, those electric RP’s can be deployed with confidence, while you sift over the waiver wire in search of the next Logan Webb or Adam Wainwright types. We saw how successful some of the best players were in using the middle RP’s, and they cost very little capital on the wire, while you can search for upside SP’s on the FAAB market.
Avoid currently injured pitchers at all cost
This is certainly applicable to hurlers returning from Tommy John Surgery, as each of Noah Syndergaard, Luis Severino, and Chris Sale failed to really produce those high-end results, with each player earning negative auction dollars per Rotowire’s Earned Auction Values tool. On top of that, we saw setbacks hit numerous already-hurt pitchers, such as Stephen Strasburg, Mike Soroka, James Paxton, Dinelson Lamet, and a host of others. There are plenty of pitchers to buy at the draft table, and anyone who already carries a red suitcase is likely to be a cross-off for me.
Figure out when to bench your set-n-forget players
The best players in the world are using Razzball weekly projections to help set their lineup. Often times looking for 4-game half-week hitters to slot in for Monday-Thursday on NFBC, but on top of those types of edges, monitoring player performance for all hitters/pitchers on one’s roster is absolutely paramount. The term set-n-forget is a comforting one, meaning that the player can be used for all 26 weeks in the MLB regular season, and he should produce something along the lines of the back of his baseball card numbers, but this is not always the case. Far from it in fact. Strong NFBC player Scott Jenstad even pointed out he didn’t realize how bad Carlos Santana was, he was just eating the horrific BA, limited power, and light counting stats because Santana usually produces and he was expected to do the same. I had the same realization around the same time this summer with Santana, and it was a good lesson learned to monitor player performance even closer than ever moving forward, as I could have picked up a replacement 1B sooner to supplant Santana in my lineup. The set-n-forget player feels like a comforting heuristic, but I won’t fall into that trap again.
Don’t be afraid to make cuts sooner
Some of the best players know exactly when it’s time to let go of a big-name if there is a better replacement, and in fact, upgrading to the best possible lineup in a given week could be worth more than a player’s end of the season earned auction dollars, since those players may turn it around after returning from the IL, but they are guaranteed to be a ZERO until they do so. Cutting players is even more important in a 12 team format, a format that I have struggled with and am looking to improve in.
Always be looking for edges in every roster spot – never be complacent
There were times in 2021 that I had plenty of closers and didn’t want to sift through the wasteland of RP’s that were available in 15-team FAAB, and just honestly felt a little complacent with ‘my guys’. Low and behold, those ‘guys’ at times lost their jobs, due to trade (Craig Kimbrel) or performance. If I had grinded a little harder and found a cheap 1$ closer by being ahead of the FAAB market, I could have deployed 4 closers and had more paths to winning come August/September, with the choice of either going starter heavy or standing pat with my usual 6 SP/3 RP lineup.
Outsource some work to the best industry sources
Simply put fantasy baseball is a game that is covered better than ever before, and that should be to one’s benefit, as your opponents are utilizing a myriad of resources as well. Listening to many successful players this year, the Razzball Weekly Player Projections will be a must for me in my lineup setting process. I have been a subscriber to Vlad Sedler’s FAAB article for years now, and he really makes my (and all his subscribers) life easier! There are many resources to use, so I will be talking to some of the best players and seeing what works for them and using it as well, potentially.
Monitor standings like a hawk
One of the benefits of fantasy baseball is each day is rewarded, unlike fantasy football where a dominant week is meaningless the next week when a new H2H matchup takes place with a fresh slate. The marathon of fantasy baseball had me feeling like I can check into the standings mid-summer after things have ‘normalized’ – a way for me to compartmentalize things and take a break from deep-diving my teams constantly. Moving forward, I want to really monitor my weekly results, my team’s ups and downs to know exactly what I will need moving forward in FAAB or how I should set my lineup.