This week’s question drew a lot of great suggestions:
Memorial Day Weekend is considered by many to be the first checkpoint of the season. What do you do to take stock of your team(s) now that we’re about two months into the season?
Ian Kahn (The Athletic, @IanKahn4): In a redraft league, I am starting my check in a bit earlier. What trades can I find that will help my squad round out completely. It’s also a time to spend some of those Fab dollars. It’s not too late to make your move. In Keeper/Dynasty, I am definitely looking to be on the early side to buy from teams that are starting to look towards the following season. It’s a ripe time to make moves to make your teams better.
Matt Williams (NBC Sports Edge, @MattWi77iams): Now is the time to take a serious look at categories in roto formats in order to make adjustments. If you are falling too far behind in a certain area I would consider making roster moves (maybe a trade) in order to sure up a weakness by dealing a strength. It’s important to maintain a well-rounded team, but injuries, bad luck, and the performances of other teams in your league could alter your strategy to win at this point.
Brad Johnson (Patreon/BaseballATeam, @BaseballATeam): I continuously look at the standings to assess my categorical strengths and weakness then compare to the talent of my players. If I have Tommy Pham – who I know many of us expect to be fine – and I’m running a little behind in AVG, then I’m not too worried. If I’ve leaned on Nick Castellanos and Marcus Semien to build a lead, then I might be more proactive about preparing for regression. I don’t really approach this as a “checkpoint” activity – we need to be doing it constantly to maximize our success.
Ron Shandler (RonShandler.com, @RonShandler): There are several things I do now… 1. I review my roster to see the ratio of overperformers to underperformers. This includes digging in on the metrics to validate current performances and reviewing all my IL players. This tells me whether I have upward or downward mobility. 2. I do the same exercise for the top few teams in the league (assuming I’m not one of them). 3. I review all the categories to see where I can make up ground and where I have strength to deal. 4. Finally, I remind myself that the best laid plans will be derailed by one pulled hamstring. I check the potential fallout from that injury, player-by-player, which usually ends up with several nights of alcohol abuse and uncontrolled weeping.
Mike Podhorzer (Fangraphs, @MikePodhorzer): Count the number of players occupying my IL slots, cry, wipe my tears, and then cross my fingers those many injured players will return soon and provide the production I initially expected. That combined with a reversion toward pre-season projection levels from underperformers, and the hope is no action is actually needed and my team(s) will rebound and improve on their own.
Michael A. Stein (Fantasy Judgment, @FantasyJudgment): By this point in the season, injuries and lack of performance have undoubtedly affected me in some capacity. I am exploring trade opportunities, but I can’t count on making a deal. So I am focusing on accumulating depth at as many positions as possible. I am also thinking about the next crop of minor leagues that are likely going to get called up either due to injuries or MLB teams wanting to get them some experience. For redraft leagues, I am evaluating whether I have a realistic chance of making a playoff run so I am considering putting a star player on the market to try and capitalize on his value and maybe improve my roster in a couple positions. It isn’t early in the season anymore, so the time is now to make a move if possible,
Charlie Wiegert (CDM Sports, @GFFantasySports): Good time to take an “honest” look at your team(s). We’re a little past the 1/4 point in the season. I addressed a trade I made in my advice from The Godfather column on RT sports this week. I was getting 3 out of 12 points in K’s and saves, and found an owner needed offense. I was able to trade Trevor Story for Aaron Nola and Anthony Reyes, so hopefully I can improve on my 4th place in the standings. Not a move I really wanted to do, but sometimes you have to be aggressive to get better!
Chris Liss (Rotowire, @Chris_Liss): Not much. Making moves all year whether in late May or early August.
Rudy Gamble (Razzball, @RudyGamble): While I use every weekly FAAB to find opportunities to improve/repair my team on the margins, Memorial Day is about the first time I start taking my category standings performance seriously (except for SB and SV since this could particularly drive pickups). On teams that are struggling on Wins/Ks, I may be more aggressive in getting extra SPs in FAAB to allow for more 7-8 SP weeks (or more 2 start weeks among the 6 SP). There is unfortunately no quick fix for teams struggling in ERA/WHIP except a trade. For offense, if there is an imbalance (e.g., RBIs > R standing points), I may tweak my FAAB bids to value leadoff and high OBP guys a bit more.
Patrick Davitt (BaseballHQ, @patrickdavitt): I do some projecting to see if/where I have category opportunities to gain or risks of losses. I also look ahead to see where profitable trades might be possible down the road. I want to check my roster for obvious over- and under-performers, using skills-metrics analysis like Ron said.
Ryan Bloomfield (BaseballHQ, @RyanBHQ): To Ron’s point, take a step back and look at YTD underperformers. It’s easy to draft somebody in the 10th round, auto-start them all year, and not even realize how poorly they’re doing (I fell into this trap with Avisaíl García last year). Also don’t just look at standings, but take stock of how BUNCHED the categories are directly above and below you. There’s a big difference between being 10th in your league in SB when 9th place has 15 more than you vs. having 5th-9th place all bunched up with just 4-5 more SB than you. If the latter, target bags to maximize points; if the former, maybe consider punting.
Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis): Memorial Day is a time to look at your team so see where you can realistically make some moves or trades to help with deficiencies, while not hurting your team in other statistical categories. I’m an active league manager, especially in my leagues to where I can conduct drop/adds on a daily basis. For my other leagues that are weekly drop/adds, it’s time to see where I have the potential to move up significantly in the league standings. Is that struggling starting pitcher going to continue to struggle the rest of the season, or will they get their act together going forward? This is the question that I am asking about everyone on my team.
Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): Nothing magical about Memorial Day, except maybe other team owners may be more willing to make a deal than before. I look at other teams’ underperformers to see if I can find a deal that works and maybe consolidate some gains from my overachievers. I look at categories to see where the most volatility exists and see if I can approach that. In NFBC, I am just trying to incrementally improve each week w/FAAB. I have had one redraft team this year disastrously lose virtually all of its starting pitching and so started early finding a new strategy and trades that fit the strategy to grab some incremental points (I hope). In my one dynasty team, I am far more patient and really just look for ways to grab whatever improvement I can find, depending on what other teams think/want. I am always looking at the ILs and trying to decide who I might be able to trade now to get value down the road. Most of this work goes without clear decisions–but the first part of improving a team situation is knowing what you need and where you can afford to give something up in categories.
Howard Bender (Fantasy Alarm, @RotobuzzGuy): Usually around Memorial Day, I’m deciding which sell-high candidates can go and what holes caused by cold starts genuinely need to be filled through deals. This year, all I’m doing is charting what days all my IL players are expected back and if I can legitimately hang on until then without really blowing up my team.
Jason Collette (Rotowire, @jasoncollette): Whether I have a realistic path to the money. If not, what can I do to achieve something such as the 60 pt threshold in Tout or securing the best draft/reserve pick possible in a home league and live to fight another day.
Lenny Melnick (LennyMelnickFantasySports, @LennyMelnick): Why wait till Memorial Day Ive made a trade DURING the draft!!!
Ariel Cohen (CBS Sports, @ATCNY): My checkpoint dates are May 5 for individual categories, and June 5 for overall standings. By now you should have taken a deep look at the individual categories. Not only if you are deficient in a category – but more importantly, where you are clustered (the spots where there are the most points to gain OR lose). Seek out some trades or FAAB targets to assist with those targeted categories after May 5. As for the overall success of my team (standings), I don’t worry until the start of June. But after this weekend, I evaluate whether I need to increase or decrease team risk – either via trade, FAAB, or even who I play from the bench. By team risk – I’ll give an example. Take Luis Castillo. If in first place, I may try to trade for 60 cents on the dollar just to get some less variable expected production. If in 10th place, I may look to trade for him – buy at that discount, and hope he turns his season around. I won’t finish “in the money” unless I can buy low and hope it hits … so I’ll look for these opportunities. Its about overall risk for me after Memorial Day. It isn’t just about the “who to buy low on” – its about ‘whether’ you need to.
Eric Cross (Fantrax, @EricCross04): This is the time of year that I take a long, hard look at those “Band-Aid players” as I call them. Meaning, those players that you drafted fairly high that are vastly underperforming (Think Eugenio Suarez & Lourdes Gurriel). Is it time to rip the Band-Aid off with these guys? This is also the time to make a big push in categories you’re falling behind in. Wait any longer and you’ll have a difficult time making up ground.
Eric Karabell (ESPN, @karabelleric): I admit I looked at the standings earlier this season, perhaps because I wanted to see just how far behind I was in ERA and WHIP thanks to rostering Luis Castillo, Kyle Hendricks and Pat Corbin in SO many leagues. Thanks, fellas! Seriously it’s a good time, as others noted, to decide which categories you can make up ground in, realistically, and figure out how to fix. With struggling but proven hurlers the answer might be to wait for them to turn it around. Or build up other categories instead!
Ray Flowers (Fantasy Guru, @BaseballGuys): I don’t view the date as anything special. I think it’s a good time to start looking at at the standings to see where you set – should you make a move here or there – but I think it’s more about doing that each week moving forward versus using the holiday as a jumping off point to really get serious about making significant changes.
Michael Beller (The Athletic, @MBeller): A few others have said this, and I will add to the chorus. At this point of the season, you probably aren’t catching up in categories where you’re significantly behind. The best thing you can do right now is determine the places where you can climb up a few spots in the categorical standings, and where you can afford to lose a contributor without losing meaningful ground in others. It really is about playing the category game now that we’re a little less than one-third of the way through the season.
CJ Kaltenbach (Fantasy Guru, @TheSeigeDFS): There is still 70% of the season left. Some players got off to bad starts and some got off to great starts but for me it’s about being honest. Where can I make up ground? What is lost cause? If something is a lost cause can I get away with ignoring it and trying to win all the other categories? I’m not panicking about a team until mid to late June, it’s a long year and you can find difference makers until then that can change the tide of your season.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (ESPN, @SultanofStat): I don’t think Memorial Day is a one-size-fits-all day to do this; in a points league it’s a lot more critical to do the check-in sooner (and more frequently), lest you dig an inescapable hole. In a Roto league, I’m mostly looking for categorical excess or shortcoming, especially extreme. There’s a guy in one of my leagues with an 11-save lead on the pack, and that’s more than 35% of his total Roto score, and the deeper we go in the year, the tougher it’s going to get for him to find a market for his saves excess (the league also typically devalues saves). In a points league, I’m getting a read for whether my team has over or underperformed and why, and whether what I’ve got is likely to maintain or provide the necessary rebound for where I’m at in the standings.
Fred Zinkie (Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, @FredZinkieMLB): This is the time of the year that I start to shift my thinking from pure value to specific categories. I’d love to stay value focused until August, but at that point I’m sometimes too far back in some categories to make up ground. Hopefully I’m not desperate in any category, but that’s rarely the case.
Phil Hertz (BaseballHQ, @prhz50): In a redraft league in a normal year, I start looking at categories where I can make gains and looking at other teams to find mutually beneficial trades. This year, however, my teams have been decimated by injuries, so I’m deferring the process a couple of weeks. Then i hope to have more information regarding who’s going to be available on my existing roster.
Vlad Sedler (Fantasy Guru, @rotogut): Memorial Day weekend is actually a good time to do a deeper dive on the teams that could be contenders. Particularly for someone like myself who loves Draft SZN and has more teams than a person needs. I’ll take progress notes so that I can take a look at the end of the month – each and every month until the end of the season – to see if there are major shifts in categorical deficiencies. The revolving door of the IL these first couple of months makes it more difficult, which means we need to be more diligent than ever when assessing FAAB replacements.
Glenn Colton (Fantasy Alarm, @GlennColton1): There are so many things that can be done but at Memorial Day, I try to take a dispassionate look at the over and underperformers on the roster. Is the guy who is so much better than projected someone who we can count on to continue that type of performance? Is someone we believed in during draft season slacking because of injury or bad luck or do we have to make moves to account for that lack of production. This honest look at players should direct the strategy at least in significant part
Mike Gianella (Baseball Prospectus, @MikeGianella): Most of the work I do now is with my keeper/dynasty teams. It’s time to tear off the band aid in the leagues where I’m out of it and start looking at the rebuild if I haven’t done so already. This doesn’t mean I need to rush out and make a trade tomorrow, but I do want to start studying other people’s rosters. In redraft, this is normally a good time for me to reassess teams’ organizational depth, and see if there are prospects who have moved up or down in their rankings from Opening Day, particularly in leagues like Tout where you’re allowed to stash non-MLBers. It’s a little more difficult this year given that I haven’t gotten any in person looks at the minors and they started late, but the cadence of the major league regular season hasn’t changed so this is still the time to do it.
Shelly Verougstraete (Dynasty Guru, @ShellyV_643): I take a much deeper look at the standings and what moves I could make to move up in some of the roto categories. If it is in a trading league, I would see if there is any team that needs something that I have an excess of to see if a trade can be made to help both fantasy managers.
Lou Blasi (Fantistics, @LouBlasi): Tout’s H2H Points league presents some unique challenges here because you can’t easily identify that you are weak in a particular column for example, so I am comparing my roster to the free agent pool and trying to identify the improvements that I can make through claims. I also self-scout to see where my potential surpluses are, and to try and identify my needs, but again in H2H points, that probably comes down to roster spots that I can improve rather than looking for more SBs for example as you can in Roto leagues and leagues based in column scoring. Then I try to see where my surpluses fit a need for a potential trade partner.
Nando Di FIno (The Athletic, @nandodifino): I’m still sticking to my guns at this point. Just last week in an AL-only league, I added six points, thanks to a few players slowly starting to turn things around. I’ll still try and trade for players I like who the rest of the world may not be on yet (Ha-Seong Kim, for instance), but otherwise I’m just trying to set mart lineups, keep the end of my bench in good shape and remember why I drafted these underperformers in the first place.
Jock Thompson (Baseball HQ, @JOCKatHQ): Draft and Hold is tough right now, esp in a season such as this one. I just sit back and grit my teeth at the productive / healthy names that went undrafted by our league in March.
Frank Stampfl (Fantasy Pros, @Roto_Frank): I think Memorial Day is a good time to reflect on your teams. I probably spend way too much time looking back at my team’s draft results but I think it’s helpful to learn from your mistakes. Specifically in category leagues, you have a decent idea of where you stand, what your strengths and weaknesses are. If you’re strong in saves or steals, trade from a strength to boost a weakness. If you play in a H2H points league, it’s more positional scarcity rather than statistical scarcity. If you’re strong in the outfield or starting pitching, maybe shop those positions to help your biggest positional weakness.
Greg Jewett (Fantasy Alarm, @gjewett9): Depending on league setup, it’s time to address clear needs whether it’s speed, saves, ratios, etc. In formats allowing trades, find someone in the standings who possesses what you may need and hope you can offer them something of value in return. It’s also time to figure out if a draft pick’s worth holding onto or finding the pivot, despite the litany of injuries across the sport. If it’s speed, time to get Jon Berti with a clear path to playing time. Saves, start targeting the guy behind the guy or player getting more high leverage chances (Kyle Zimmer, J.P. Feyereisen, Carlos Estévez, etc.). Last, but not least, mine who will be selling at the trade deadline. A Pirates hitter like Bryan Reynolds could receive a major boost in value heading to a team like the Yankees for instance. They will be trading Richard Rodríguez at some point too. Do not migrate to football prep yet, stay the course in our marathon. There’s time to make a move in the last three legs of the season.
Seth Trachtman (NBC Sports Edge, @sethroto): The approach is dependent on the league format and scoring. For a rotisserie-scoring league with in-season pickups or trades, it’s a great time to assess where I am in each category and look at possibilities of either improving or disregarding categories (for example wins and strikeouts vs. saves). For a keeper league, it could be time to go for the gold with a trade, or dump and play for next year if I’m out of the running. This is also a great opportunity to trade over-performing players if I feel they can’t keep up their pace over the latter four months.
Scott Swanay (FantasyBaseballSherpa, @fantasy_sherpa): At this point in the season I’m concerned primarily about depth, particularly on the pitching side. It seems to me there’s much more of a drop-off from starting-level players to what’s generally available on the waiver wire on the pitching side than there is on the hitting side. Also, losing 1/9 of your lineup when a pitcher goes down is a bit more challenging to overcome than losing 1/14 of your lineup if a hitter goes down (esp since Pitchers contribute in at most 4 categories, and 2 of those are ratio categories that can easily become dumpster fires). If forced to look to the waiver wire on the hitting side, I have a slight preference for players with multi-position eligibility since they give you more flexibility to deal with the inevitable future injuries. Category-wise, just comparing where I am in the standings to my preseason expectations and scouring other teams’ rosters for potential trade partners to make up for perceived shortfalls.
Zach Steinhorn (CreativeSports2, @zachsteinhorn): After two months, you can start to take the standings seriously and should have a pretty good idea as to your team’s strengths and weaknesses. Now is the time when I closely examine each roto category to determine where I can quickly gain or lose the most points and whether or not I can afford to downgrade in a certain category to address an area of need via trade. My focus when it comes to either the waiver wire or the trade market becomes more category-specific. I’m not a fan of punting categories but if you are considering punting, now is an ideal time to make that decision. Thanks to widening category separation, the longer you wait, the fewer teams will be interested in trading for your one speed source or one reliable closer.
Anthony Aniano (Rotoballer, @AAnianoFantasy): Memorial Day weekend is usually my first deep dive look at the standings in a category by category basis. It’s time to to study where points can be gained and if I’m not careful points can be lost. I also remind myself as I make trades or waiver moves this time of year that these moves should be made to improve categories and not necessarily a position. For example, If i need SBs my mindset should be to acquire a player who can provide SBs, regardless of position.
Derek VanRiper (The Athletic, @DerekVanRiper): In addition to taking a closer look at the standings, this is the time that I begin a more rigorous process of looking at the underlying numbers for more established players that have underperformed to this point. Where has Christian Yelich’s power been? How about Gleyber Torres? Are there any signs in the underlying numbers that they can’t meet their initial projections (pro-rated, of course) over the rest of the season? I find it a little bit easier to separate Fact from Fluke now that we’re one-third of the way through the season.
Clay Link (Rotowire, @claywlink): To be honest, I’m checking my standings across all leagues virtually every night, so this mile marker isn’t one that comes with a great deal of reflection or time spent evaluating. Fantasy baseball consumes a good chunk of my life, so I’m well aware of the strengths and weaknesses of my various teams. I might talk trade here or there, or take a really hard look at any teams doing poorly to see if I should abandon a category, but for the most part this is just an arbitrary endpoint. Overreacting and shuffling your roster too much based on two months is ill advised. I’m basically trying to stay the course at this time while steadily improving my team via the waiver wire.
Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): While I agree with the notion of paying constant attention, there are a couple of reason to spend a little more time putting your team(s) under the microscope at this time of the season. The first is many of your competitors are doing it and you should be prepared to enter trade discussions. The other is math as the standings in roto leagues are now realistic in the top to bottom distributions in the ratio and counting categories historically settle about two months into the season. This makes doing the “category math” more practical (I can lose points here to gain there, etc.).