Perhaps the most important single piece of advice one can give is to know thy league. Each league is unique with respect to rules, dynamics, owner personality, etc. It really does not matter where you go to seek fantasy baseball advice. You need to take that knowledge and apply it within the context of your particular league. Since this is the time of year many of us are perusing our rosters in keeper leagues, I thought I would kick off this series with what I find to be a common error made by those thinking about keeper lists.
Before you make your freeze list decisions, it is best to really think about the dynamics of your league. Most leagues where retention of players is allowed are generically termed keeper leagues. But the fact is, there are different formats of keeper leagues and each requires a thought process customized to your league.
At one extreme are true keeper leagues and at the other, dynasty leagues. There is not really a textbook definition for each, so I will discuss what I consider to be the differences.
In what I call a keeper league, the dynamics are such that if you decide to rebuild, it should only take you one year before you are ready to compete. In dynasty leagues, the rebuilding process may take multiple years, but the objective is to build a squad that can compete for several successive seasons.
This delineation is slightly different than what I have suggested in the past. Previously, I liked to say that in keeper leagues, the optimal plan was to compete one season then rebuild the next – lather, rinse, repeat. But I have recently altered that thinking to trying to developing a scheme to compete this season, regardless of the quality of my keeper list, but have an eject button available in case things are not going as planned.
In future columns, specific freeze list strategies will be discussed. But for the rest of today, the focus will be on the telltale factor that defines the keeper versus dynamic factor, and that is the rate of turnover in the player pool from year to year.
There are a few different avenues to replenish the available player pool. In leagues that use contracts, the player’s time can expire with no extension available. In auction leagues, the price to keep the player may be prohibitive. In draft leagues, the round lost due to keeping the player may be higher than he is worth. Or there may be a limit to the number of keepers and the player does not make the cut.
In keeper leagues, there is an influx of top talent year after year. In dynasty leagues, the only available players are usually older players on the decline, minor leaguers not yet drafted or part timers. In keeper leagues, you can supplement your keepers with plenty of capable producers. In dynasty leagues, you are drafting filler, fliers or prospects.
Keeping in mind these are the two extremes and it is likely your league is a combination of both, what you need to do is gauge the available player and decide if you can supplement your keepers with the necessary talent to win. If you can, your format is more keeper than dynasty and you adjust your draft plans accordingly. If not, your league is more dynasty than keeper, entailing a different draft plan.
As suggested at the beginning, in keeper leagues, my preference is to devise a strategy to take a shot at winning every year. In future weeks, we will discuss some of these strategies. Conversely, in dynasty leagues, I am willing to wallow in mediocrity for a couple of seasons, assuming I am concurrently putting together a foundation of talent I expect to anchor a championship squad that competes for several seasons. Means of doing this will also be discussed in upcoming columns.