The On Deck Circle

Baseball History, Commentary and Analysis

Fantasy Baseball: Ten Tips for an Enjoyable Season

During the month of February, I will alternate my normal fare with posts about fantasy baseball.  I’ve been participating in various fantasy baseball leagues since 1993, so I decided to share some of my experience (I hesitate to call it “wisdom”) with those of you who play as well.

Here are ten tips to help you enjoy your fantasy baseball season, regardless of whether this is your first time, or if you are an aging veteran like me.

Fantasy Baseball

Image by StuffEyeSee via Flickr

1.  Know your league’s scoring system inside out. If you are in a points-based league, make sure you know how many points a blown-save is worth.  Is a strikeout by a hitter a negative half a point, a full point, or does it not count against a hitter?  Information like that will make a difference when trying to decide when, or if, to draft a player like Drew Stubbs (205 strikeouts in 2011.)

2.  Stay away from personal prejudices.  If you are a Red Sox fan and you hate the Yankees, you have to remember that as an owner of a fantasy team, your job is to try to win your league, not simply stock up on all of your favorite Red Sox players.  If you begin by excluding one or more franchises that could supply top-tier talent to your team, you are simply reducing the chances of enjoying a championship season.

3.  Never be vindictive towards another owner. There are practical, as well as ethical reasons for not doing so.  Fantasy Baseball can be highly competitive, and everyone wants to win, but if you take this hobby too seriously and lash-out at another owner, or attempt to collude against someone who irritates you, look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself why your life is so small that this should be so important to you.

Also, from a practical standpoint, that owner that you have decided is your enemy might just have the one player on his team that you would like to trade for to help put your team “over the top”.  Good luck doing that if you’ve been acting like a jerk.

4.  Don’t overrate your own players. This is a common mistake in fantasy baseball, especially with less experienced owners.  Most people involved in fantasy baseball have a pretty good working knowledge of the relative value of every player on someone else roster.  If you start with the premise that all of your players are future Hall of Famers, you’ll never be able to engage in any potentially helpful trades, and you’ll just sound like an ass.

5.  Don’t propose insulting trade offers. An extremely common, and annoying, strategy is to offer anywhere from two to five of your own average players for another team’s superstar.  Considering that there is usually enough talent available on the waiver wire, why should someone take on your mediocre players?

Moreover, with limited roster space, the person you are making the offer to would have to drop one or two players just to consummate the deal, and those players might be better than or equal to the players you are offering.

6.  Don’t ignore trade offers. Even if someone does offer you a stupid, ridiculous trade, just politely respond with a “No thanks for now,” response.  No use offending anyone that could potentially help you down the road.

7.  Don’t whine or complain about bad luck. No one wants to hear about it.  Conversely, don’t denigrate another fantasy owner’s success by writing it off as nothing more than good luck.  Success, as someone once said, is the residue of preparation.  Every team experiences injuries.  A successful fantasy team adapts to changing conditions throughout the season.  If you think you are done actually managing your roster on draft day, you’ve got another thing coming.

8.  Try to stay engaged in an ongoing dialogue regarding your league, and baseball in general, throughout the season.  In almost every league I’ve ever been in, we end up with “hidden” owners we know exist only because they submit weekly line-ups, but they are virtually absent as actual humans participating in a hobby that’s meant to be interactive.  That’s like joining a book-group and just sitting there reading, never engaging in a conversation about the book you’re reading with anyone else.

9.  Don’t let fantasy baseball take over your life. If you find yourself still awake in front of your computer at 2:15 a.m. trying to locate the box-score of some west coast game, turn off the damned computer and go to bed.  You’ll feel better in the morning, and you can always turn on Sports Center when you wake up.

10.  Don’t forget that you love real baseball first, fantasy baseball second.  Therefore, when you are watching a fantastic pitcher’s duel featuring two young aces, and the only player you have in that game on your fantasy roster just went 0-5 with four strikeouts, you didn’t just watch a crummy, disappointing game.  You may have “missed” (even though you just sat through it) one of the best games of the season.

In a follow-up post, I will write more specifically about strategies and tactics that have met with success in fantasy baseball throughout the years.

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2 thoughts on “Fantasy Baseball: Ten Tips for an Enjoyable Season

  1. Nice article, Bill. I’ve been in a fantasy baseball league (Head 2 Head) since 1994 and it keeps me on top of what’s happening in baseball all season. I’ve also invited 4 or 5 good friends to compete and the head to head match-ups are always fun. Rich

    • Thanks, Rich. Nice to hear from you. I didn’t realized you’ve been playing fantasy baseball for that long. It’s always more fun when you know the people you are competing against.
      Take care, Bill

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