At the end of last season I wrote an article about assessing your team after the season to see where things went wrong in an attempt to help you improve next year. With the exception of the players mentioned, everything I said is still completely relevant so I suggest you give it a read. Even if things went well for you this year, you should still take a look as there might be some tips you never considered before.
This year I would like to discuss a different topic, one that came to me over the final months of doing the waiver wire report and burned deep into my brain over the final weeks. That subject is finishing out the season. I touched on this briefly when I wrote fantasy baseball 101 for all the beginners out there, but obviously some of you veterans need this lesson as well. I’m not talking about your daily routine of going in and setting your lineup (which some of you don’t even bother to do), I’m talking about going that extra mile and putting in the same effort that you would if it were April.
Over the past few years I’ve noticed in a number of my leagues that the bottom teams don’t seem to show as much love to their roster as they did in the beginning. The mentality is, why bother if I’m not going to make the playoffs, right? While they have a point, that is a bad attitude to have and it is disrespectful to the rest of the owners in the league. Now I’m sure you’re thinking “Why should anyone else care, it’s my team?”, and you’re right, some of them don’t. If you are a true competitor though, you do care and it matters plenty.
Do you realize how much easier you are making it for those top teams (Especially in point and rotisserie based leagues)? You are giving these teams free range over the waiver wire, allowing them to use it as an extension of their roster (something I’ve pointed out several times in my waiver wire report). Instead of 10, 12, 14, however many teams you had taking those hot bats, 2-start pitchers or potential new closers, the field is now cut in half. That leaves a lot of talent available for those top teams to choose from. Instead of you rostering these players and possibly taking a point or two away from those teams and forcing them to work for their title, you’re handing them a championship on a silver platter.
Just this month in one of my roto leagues I was able to add and or stream Carlos Carrasco (twice), Mookie Betts, Phil Hughes (three times), Miguel Gonzalez (twice), Kole Calhoun, Anthony Rizzo, Edinson Volquez, Jarred Cozart, Chris Tillman and Howie Kendrick. How many of those pitchers SHOULD be on a roster and NOT be available on waivers? How many of those hitters are good enough that they SHOULD be owned, especially with how they have played lately. I have a sizeable lead in this league, and thanks to those teams from the middle on down who are no longer paying attention on a daily basis (or at all), I have had a firm grasp on first place since July. Would I still have that lead if those teams paid attention? I’d like to think so, but it sure as hell would not be a 22 point lead (that is just unheard of and wrong). While I’ll take the win here, it’s not something I will brag about as I didn’t fully earn it. Last year I won this league with an 11 point lead, and it was basically the same story.
Some of you may see this and think “Why are you complaining, you won your league?”, you should celebrate. You’re right, I did (and will) take the victory, but if you win a one man race, is the prize really worth the effort? This is what you do when you check out early. Every roster move you make, every free agent you pick up affects not only your team, but the league as a whole. If you sit there thinking it doesn’t, you’re dead wrong. Not every league will have players this valuable available, but almost every league has a handful of guys sitting out there that should be on someone’s roster that has some dead weight sitting on the bench. In one of my leagues, a team is sitting with Alfonso Soriano on their bench. I kid you not, Alfonso Soriano is on their bench. This isn’t some ultra deep 20 team league either, it’s a 12 team H2H league. This same team has had Zach Britton on their bench since week 15. They also have Cliff Lee on their disabled list, and this spot could have been put to better use with some of the earlier injures this team had.
This brings me to my next point which is fielding a full team. I can understand not paying as much attention to your roster, but you can at the very least make sure you have a legal roster. How hard is it to check your team each morning (or every Monday morning before rosters lock) and set your lineup. Is there someone on the DL in your active lineup? Put them on the DL and pick up a replacement. Has a guy not played for a few days because of a non DL type injury? Did you even notice or did you just leave him in your lineup thinking, “screw it, he’ll be back in soon”? Guess what, you potentially gave your opponent a win or two or fell even further behind in a few categories. Do that enough and it’s no wonder your team is on the bottom. Setting your lineup is one of the basic fundamentals of the game. If you’re not fielding your best possible players, how do you expect to win?
Nothing drives me crazier than a neglectful owner. You signed up at the beginning of the year and knew right from the start this was a six month marathon. You don’t just quit after 3 or 4 months because things aren’t going your way. How do you expect to get any better if you only pay attention to the teams that are winning? You can’t learn to improve by concentrating on just your winning teams. Did you ever hear the term “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”? That’s your winning team, you had some good fortune there, congratulations. Unfortunately your losing team is broke, but instead of fixing it you walked away leaving it to be condemned like a rat infested building.
Maybe it’s me. Maybe I just thrive on the competition, I’m silly like that. Last year I joined a new 12 team H2H league. I lost (badly). I spent the season in the basement and fought tooth and nail over the final weeks to finish in 10th place. You know what, I had more fun playing in that league than I did in the roto league where I finished staunchly in first place. It was fun because everyone paid attention, right up until the final weeks. There were no bargains or extra closers to be had on waivers, and most (if not all) of the free agent pitching options you could stream were high risk guys. It was competitive, it was hard, and it made every victory that much sweeter.
Nobody likes to lose, but people like a quitter even less. I can respect a team that tries and loses, but I have zero respect (as a fantasy owner) for the guy that doesn’t bother to show up. Your team sucks, so what, suck it up. Make some moves, try to gain a few points in the standings, play the role of the spoiler. If you are up against the first place team, send them a message that the playoffs don’t run through your house. Get those extra games in so you meet your maximum for each position. Try to meet your max number of innings as opposed to coming up 150 to 200 innings short (one team in that roto league is 271 innings short of their max as of today…sad). Most of all, have some respect for the others in your league.
If you win your league and nobody is there to see it, does it matter? Pass this along to those you feel deserve it, you know who they are. I’m done with my rant now, don’t forget to check out my article entitled “Fantasy Baseball is Over: Now What?” (yea, selfish self promotion, but you may learn a thing or two).