Fantasy Baseball 2012: Evaluating Your Team and Determining Your Path to Victory

John Miller@SportsSomethingCorrespondent IIIJune 11, 2012

Is Albert Pujols worth more to your fantasy team on your roster or in a trade?
Is Albert Pujols worth more to your fantasy team on your roster or in a trade?Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

You are what you are at this point. Fantasy baseball is severely lacking when it comes to instant gratification.

Sure, the occasional move pays immediate dividends. But for the most part, fantasy baseball is about the accumulation of statistics over a six-month period.

So you need to have a fairly large sample size before you can make any judgements on your team or your individual players. But we're two months into the season now. That is enough time to get at least a decent handle on what your team is.

In head-to-head points formats, you want to look at your individual players. Compare what they've done so far to what your preseason expectations were.

For players that are performing close to your expectations, just keep doing what you're doing. For players who are either notable under- or over-performing based on expectations, you need to do a little more work. Look at these fast/slow-starting players and try to determine if this level of play will continue or if they will come around to your original expectations.

If you expect a player who started the year poorly to continue to play poorly, then cut the cord. If you think that player will "bounce-back," then you should hold onto that player or try to acquire him.

If you think that a player who started the year out great will maintain his excellence, then hold onto him. If you think that his performance will drop off, then try to trade him away while his value is at its highest.

Roto (rotisserie) leagues are a different, because you are only concerned with individual categories. But again, you are what you are at this point. If your team is weak in SB (stolen bases) or HR (home runs) now, that weakness will probably continue throughout the season.

If you wait too long to address a weakness, it will be almost impossible to gain significant ground in that category. Roto leagues are all about accumulating as many opportunities (at-bats, innings pitched) as possible. The longer you wait, the less opportunity you have to accumulate the needed statistics.

Now that you have some idea of how your team is balanced, you can try to make moves to address your shortcomings. In an ideal world, you would have some excess talent that you could trade away to shore up any weaknesses. But that's a luxury most of us won't have.

What will be key is figuring what your strengths are so you can find the right players to target. You're not going to stumble upon four- or five-category players at this point in the season. But you can find players who can contribute in two or three categories. Most of the time, these players have significant weaknesses of their own.

But at this point you should know what categories you are strong in. These strengths can be used to mask the shortcomings other players. For instance, if you have a very high team batting average, you can absorb players who have a lousy batting average but contribute in other categories. If you have a low team ERA and/or WHIP, you can chase strikeouts, wins and saves with more volatile pitchers.

Pay attention to your league standings within the individual categories. You will see different levels or tiers establish themselves with those categories. You will have to judge these tiers when you're trying to figure out how to gain the most possible points.

The bigger the gap you are chasing, the less worth your time it probably is. Trying to, say, close a 26-steal gap between fifth and fourth place in the category isn't worth it. Especially if that gap is much smaller in other categories.

Don't try to win every category. It's almost impossible, and it will actually hurt you. Try to win half of the categories and be at least average in the other half. You don't have to have the greatest team in the history of the world, just a team good enough to win your league.

And unless you're in a keeper league or you have deep benches, don't hold on too tightly to injured players. Injured players will ultimately play less, which means they will have fewer opportunities to accumulate statistics for you.

If you play in a head-to-head category-based league, you need to do all of the above. Managing your individual players is important, but you also need to make sure that your team has balance. You need to try to win as many categories you can on a weekly basis. That might mean that you try to go with the "hot hand" more than you might in a traditional roto league.

You are what you are, but it's not too late to change. The length and grind of the fantasy baseball season can wear owners out. There is a lot to pay attention to if you want, and it can be overwhelming at times. If your team started out the year lousy, it's easy to pack it in, enjoy the summer and wait for fantasy football.

The key to changing your fortunes is to honestly evaluate your team. Don't hang on tightly to players just because you drafted them early or they've helped you in the past. Start a player when he is useful. When he stops being useful, throw him away.

You'd be amazed at how many quality options there are on the waiver wire in most leagues. And even slow-starting, big-name players still have trade value. There's moves to be made and players to be had. You are what you are now. Hopefully when we hit August, you're something even better.

Thanks for reading, and please use the comments feature if you have anything to add to the discussion.


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