2011 Fantasy Baseball: 5 Ideas to Help You Win in the Final Week

Jay PercellContributor IISeptember 22, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: David Ortiz #34 of the Boston Red Sox grounds into a fielders choice during the top of the sixth inning against the New York Yankees on September 25, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)
Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images

With the MLB regular season quickly winding down, there are scarce days remaining to propel your fantasy baseball team to your league’s championship.  But before the fat lady sings, here are five last-second ideas to help you walk off with the trophy:

 1.    Ditch the pitch-and-ditch

I know that the “pitch-and-ditch” strategy is almost second nature to fantasy baseball, but as a baseball neo-purist, I’m fundamentally opposed to this play.  I know I won’t reach everyone with this advice, and hopefully your league (like ours) has taken measures to prevent or alleviate this type of cherry-picking.  Either way, you’re much better off going with your own bona fide starters and riding the horses that have put you in position to win, rather than picking up some second-hand rag-arm off the waiver wire and crossing your fingers—especially if you’re up against the innings limit.  Stick with your strengths.  Go with your gut.  And dance with the one who brung ya!

 2.    Keep a sharp eye on September call-ups

That being said, there may be players hanging around the waiver wire who can make a difference this final week.  Call-ups with almost a month logged in the Big Leagues may be feeling the swing of things, and could be looking to show off their tools with limited games left to play.  Keep an eye on those teams already out of contention, as their youngsters are looking to make an impression for next season.

 3.    Don’t throw your starters against the Yankees

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Be smart about who you start and when.  I know that Tampa Bay and Boston really need wins, but the Yankees have feasted on AL East pitching all year, and they probably aren’t about to stop now.  Which is better: giving up 7 innings of likely mediocre pitching (and possibly risking getting shelled), or saving those 7 innings to divvy up between your relievers with just under 7 days to go?  Those innings would be better pitched elsewhere, so be wary about running your starters out there against certain teams.

Don't let this happen to you!
Don't let this happen to you!

 4.    Be extra vigilant about matchups

Right in that same vein, now is the time to pour over the matchup data.  Hopefully, you’ve been doing this all season anyway, but these next six days are the time to get serious about it.  Righty/lefty matchups, home/away, and day/night splits all come into play here.  Check out the season statistics and only rely on blanket projections when all else fails.  Make sure that your batting lineup is stocked with enough bats from both sides of the plate so your team can realize this advantage.

 5.    Go for broke

Air it out.  Leave nothing on the table.  There is no tomorrow.  As much as you merely set your lineup and let your players play, make sure you’ve done your due diligence.  Scour your league’s stat categories and make note of those where you’re deficient—but particularly those in which you can make the most drastic gains and potentially leapfrog several other teams.  Maybe it’s 2Bs, SBs or RBIs.  Whatever the case, look for the categories that give you the best chance for maximum improvement, and make sure to ride the players who can help you bolster those areas.

With that said, leave everything on the field.  You can’t save it for next season.  After all, you didn’t come all this way just to lose.

Best of luck to everybody out there as we come down the final stretch!