Earlier in the week, my mate Lord Zola concocted a piece, How Important are April Standings?, at our KFFL sister site.
The premise, per Ron Shandler and his fanalytics, is that if you are not among the top five in your league standings at the end of April, you have a 20% chance of finishing among the league elite.
Todd asked us-who would be the knights of the fantasy round table--among other things, what we should do if we find ourselves scrambling in that lower 80% at this juncture.
First, I have no reason to doubt Ron's stat, but my gut reaction is a Hans Soloesque "never tell me the odds."
But, my NL LABR team, which a couple of weeks ago was among the top three, has had a two-week run that dropped the squad to a low of 11th place a couple of days ago (we have rebounded to tenth over the past few days).
What makes the drop tough is my pitching had been strong, with a max of 52 points two cycles ago when I swapped Jordan Zimmermann for Aaron Hill. Since I needed at-bats, and had Cole Hamels coming off the DL, it seemed a logical move to grab those plate appearances and trust that Hamels could fill the slot vacated by the steady Washington pitcher.
And, though my at-bats have picked up relative to the league, in the process I lost my power source of Mark Trumbo for up to a couple of months.
But, we hit a collective .187-5-15 and lodged a 3.45 ERA with a couple of wins during Fantasy Week 4. A week later, we raised the hitting to a more respectable .265-6-25, but the pitching went way south with zero wins, a 6.864 ERA and a 1.657 WHIP. This week, the bats are back to a more anemic .242-2-17, and on the pitching side still no wins (means none over the past 11 days), a 4.80 ERA and a 1.433 WHIP.
So, at this point of the season what can I do, and what can I expect?
Since I cannot really afford to trade anything at this point--and, to a degree, because most of my team is slumping--making a trade is not really in the cards. Although a post-All Star possibility would be to swap one of my closers--Sergio Romo or Jonathan Papelbon-- for some more at-bats.
I am hoping the second step--if trading for Hill was the first--will be this week, when I can move Emilio Bonifacio to the hot corner after he played his sixth game there, meaning I can move Hill from Utility to second, and slot Scott Van Slyke in the Utility spot.
But, aside from that, I simply need to be patient and trust that my pitchers will indeed pick it back up, and that Will Venable, Ryan Doumit, Jordy Mercer and Matt Kemp can prove to be better than their numbers over the first six weeks reflects.
Since all but Mercer have indeed proved to be just that previously over their careers, I have to trust that they will indeed get into form.
So, we mostly have to mark time, wait for the inevitable streaks, enjoying the good, and hoping there are only a couple of more flat spots, and ideally sync that with the return of a Trumbo, who was as hot as his first week.
If you should find yourself in such a position as that LABR team, and you are feeling frustrated and desperate, try to resist the desire to dump or rebuild your team on the fly.
For that is not only diffficult to do, but remember that should Kemp raise his season average to .280 (from his present .240) and hit 25 homers (he has four now), should you trade him, you are swapping the plus .300 average and 21 homers we are projecting to someone else.
As I have noted many times, a fantasy team can endure several mistakes over the course of the season, and having weeks where your team hits .187, or posts a 6.84 ERA certainly qualify as mistakes, natural or mental.
So, what will tell me if my team can indeed make it back to the top is simply if they level back out to quiet consistency as the warm weather arrives.
Because there are some advantages coming, and patience is the only way to take advantage of those potential breaks.
One is indeed the return to a full complement, and that means Trumbo, and maybe even Marco Scutaro.
Second, I have amongst the most FAAB with $107, so I need to wait until an inter-league trade might afford a migration to the Senior Circuit.
Third, even though I have fallen to the bottom rung of the standings, there are 35 fairly tight points that separate the top from the bottom. For example, ten homers separate last place and third place, while 13 swipes stand between 11th place and first in that category.
On the pitching side, two teams have more than 20 wins while the rest have between 11 and 18, so the points are indeed there.
And, let's face it, statistics or not, winning is largely a by-product of being hot at the right time, and through the course of the season, everyone has a hot spell.
Once again, to Ron's 80% rule, I do know the leagues where my teams have generally done the best were when they started slow, and picked it up as May warmed into June and the summer months, while my teams that start out hot always seem to be the ones victimized by that ambitious 20% team out of the top five when May comes.
But, the bottom line is at this point, I am wedded to a plan and a course. I have to stay it to see if that plan will work.
For now, anyway.