Ahh, the All-Star break, four days without box scores. I need the break. It has been very busy since the time of my first draft. I would not like it any other way, but I am also looking forward to the much-needed time off.
I manage six teams. That’s not the problem. The underlying cause for needing some calm and relaxation is my approach to player selection this year. It added unnecessary work; lots of work, I must add. I will explain.
There are two ways to go about drafting when dealing with multiple teams. One way is to try to get the same players for each team. Of course, it is impossible to end up with identical teams because every draft is different, but the teams could end up somewhat similar. That is, with this method we would have a limited number of players to manage. That’s a positive, but there is a big negative. An injury to one player could affect more than one and maybe all of the teams. Think A.J. Pollock this year.
During the football season last year, a single injury caused widespread damage to my teams. Therefore, this year I opted to be prudent and get different players for each of my six baseball teams. Let’s minimize the risk of injuries, I said. Prudence is a virtue. During the six drafts, when my turn came, if the best player available on the table was already on one of my existing teams, I would pick the next best. I must add that this alternate player was not necessarily a weaker performer. He had to belong to the same tier. Mastersball Platinum subscribers are familiar with colored tiers that place multiple players with a similar projected value in a single group or tier. Thinking about it, that’s the correct way to draft: identify a tier rather than specific “must have” names.
As the season unfolded, I realized though that I had too many quick decisions to make for each underperforming player: should I keep him in the active lineup, bench him or perhaps drop him from my team? Did the underperformer deserve my patience? Patience is an essential fantasy baseball virtue, but it must be qualified. Let’s examine a few players to further explore this point.
Russell Martin: Martin had a horrendous April. Would it have made sense to bench him in May? Absolutely not. First, there were no signs of any injuries. By translating his projected numbers over a full season, benching him during the early slump meant missing the correction and his better days. Sure enough, Martin’s potential is showing again. In the month of June, his batting average was a tad below .300. He had a five-RBI day recently. It was obvious that there was nothing wrong with him health wise. His new bat has certainly helped. Martin is a good example of the reward of well justified patience. The same observation can be made about David Price, whose last performance before the All-Star break was stellar. Patience is the result of rational analysis of a player’s potential, devoid of our personal preferences. But, yeah, it is also lots of work.
Matt Shoemaker: Patience must be qualified. Shoemaker’s past performance, combined with a very poor April, justified dropping or benching him when he was demoted four weeks into the season. Shoemaker showed potential last year, but that rarely translated into success until now. Those who dropped him were fully justified to do so.
Randal Grichuk: Unlike Martin, Grichuk should have been benched long before he was demoted to Triple-A. But, unlike Shoemaker, Grichuk’s potential is real. He should have been benched but not dropped.
Sonny Gray: Two months ago, I wrote that Gray appeared injured, contrary to the news coming out of the Oakland front office. Subsequently, I benched Gray. His next outing was horrendous and a few days later, he was placed on the DL with a strained right trapezius, an injury that I was afraid would keep him out for a long time. He is back, but it would pay to keep an eye on Gray over the next few weeks.
These four names are examples of a decision making process that each player demands. Moreover, having six teams with mostly different players is utterly unsatisfactory. On any given day, there are too many players going against each other. If one team does well, another one would be barely adequate and a third one would do poorly.
I know what I will do next year, prudence or no prudence. In the meantime, let’s enjoy the game today.