Tout Table: Advice for the Stretch Run

We have just under one fourth of the season left. Here are the responses to this week’s question:

What general pearls of wisdom do you have to offer as we head down the stretch?

Lenny Melnick (LennyMelnickFantasySports, @LennyMelnick): Continue to examine BoxScores Daily, In order to keep up with MLB, as Football emerges

Scott Engel (Rotoballer, @scotteTheKing): Do not hesitate to ride hot streaks off the waiver wire and stream fringe types who are performing well, then do away with them. Streaming at some of your weaker lineup spots can pay off, especially in daily lineup formats.

Jim Bowden (Fantasy Alarm, @JimBowdenGM): Keep grinding…don’t let up,,,,,watch closely for trends…starting pitchers innings are piling up innings some are going to start to decline fast..fresher arms will start to trend upwards….

Ryan Hallam (Fighting Chance Fantasy, @FightingChance): Don’t give up now! So many people start focusing on Fantasy Football at this time that you have less competition on the waiver wire. Play hot streaks because there isn’t much time left and be sure to focus on the categories where you are lacking. Chase those roto points or do whatever to win those head to head matchups!

Brad Johnson (Patreon/BaseballATeam, @BaseballATeam): In most leagues, half of managers basically throw in the towel at this stage of the season since they know they can’t place. Figure out what points you can steal from bottom-half teams and keep plugging away.

Nick Pollack (Pitcher List, @PitcherList): Make sure to stay on top of trends. We see players constantly have their best month of the season in September (1/6 chance!), which means you can get a huge step up on many in your league who have already moved on. Pitchers take new approaches, batters go on hot streaks, forget your May/June assessments of players for the year – things can change quickly.

Patrick Davitt (BaseballHQ, @patrickdavitt): If your league rules allow MiLB pickups beofore promotion, keep a close eye on the minors to see if you might get a potential impact player a week efroe teh callup for $2 instead of a week after for $100.

Larry Schechter (Winning Fantasy Baseball, @LarrySchechter): Someone on twitter recently posted how an injury to one of their key players ruined their weekend. Remember this is a game…it’s fantasy baseball…it’s not real life.

Fred Zinkie (Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, @FredZinkieMLB): Look for players who are receiving larger roles on the weakest teams. Everyone notices the new Yankees and Dodgers. The new Pirates and Rangers are easier to add and sometimes just as productive.

Phil Hertz (BaseballHQ, @prhz50): If you’re out of the running in a keeper/dynasty league with reserve/minors roster spots, take a look at the updated prospect lists that have come out in the past couple of weeks and grab a couple of prospects for the future. if nothing else, they may have trade value for teams that sold their future to contend this year.

Andrea LaMont (LennyMelnickFantasySports, @RotoLady): Don’t give up right now because many will lose interest and focus on Football. This is the best time to gain in the standings. Figure out where you can gain the most points and focus on those categories.

Chris Liss (Rotowire, @Chris_Liss): Make moves, set lineups, pay attention down the stretch. Showing up for the entire six months is a major edge.

Charlie Wiegert (CDM Sports, @GFFantasySports): As Yogi said, “it ain’t over til it’s over”. Keep playing, maximize at bats and two start pitchers. Look for guys getting opportunities to play, and bench your guys not playing.

Scott Swanay (FantasyBaseballSherpa, @fantasy_sherpa): Many fantasy team owners will do a category analysis this time of year, figuring out how many points they can gain or lose for each category, and in total. I find it helpful to do this exercise twice: once using “likely” point gains/losses, then again using “possible” gains/losses. That gives me a better idea of which categories to prioritize for the stretch run. It’s also useful when doing this exercise to note whether it’s likely/possible that you’ll pass or be passed by people who you’re chasing in the standings (or being chased by). Finally, when deciding which categories to chase/punt, keep in mind the correlation between categories. If you’re locked into a point total in Saves, it may be tempting to de-emphasize Saves in order to chase Wins or Ks, but you’ll want to consider the likely impact on your finish in the ratio categories if you were to do that.

Tristan H. Cockcroft (ESPN, @SultanofStat): Let go off your attachments to slumping or (especially) injured players, if your gut is telling you they won’t contribute anything meaningful the rest of the way. Remember, the deeper we get into the season, the less the sting if that player miraculously turns it around on a competitor’s roster. You need to be prepared to move on from bad stats and for every day that passes, name brands and superstar reputations have less relevance.

Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): I am always looking for changes in playing time on teams who are out of the hunt. If your guy is getting less and a FA is getting more, don’t sit on your hands.

Shelly Verougstraete (Dynasty Guru, @ShellyV_643): Just keep swimming! Many managers start focusing on fantasy football and could miss players on the waiver wire that are on a hot streak. Swoop in and get those precious stats that will help you move up in the standings.

Jock Thompson (Baseball HQ, @JOCKatHQ): What Nick and Shelley have said. Ride the hot hands, know what pitchers are going up against weak offenses, and what hitters are going up against weak pitching staffs.

Mike Podhorzer (Fangraphs, @MikePodhorzer): Forget about projected rest of season value. All you care about now is the player’s value to your team. If you’re in first place with a reasonable cushion in HR and RBI, Joey Gallo isn’t earning you much, if any, value at this point. Don’t be afraid to bench, or even drop, him. If the latter is too risky given a competitor adding him, trade him to a bottom tier team for essentially nothing just to ensure you don’t allow a competitor to gain points.

Brent Hershey (Baseball HQ, @BrentHQ): Echoing the great Fred Zinkie above, pay special attention to lineups/rotations of the bottom-dwelling MLB teams. At this point in the MLB season, those teams are in some cases holding open tryouts for 2022, and could have a longer leash with young player especially as they are doing their own evaluations. Look for players getting a chance who ideally also have some sort of previous track record of fantasy value (either in the majors or minors). Catching a 5-week hot streak from someone like, say, DJ Peters or Steven Brault, could provide your fantasy team a cheap bump at just the right time.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): I’m going to be a little contrarian here. Hot streaks aren’t any more predictive the last quarter of the season as they are at any other time. Research has shows hot and cold streaks can start or end at any time. Sure, there have been instances of players overperforming for an extended period of time, some at a new and sustainable skill level. However, big picture, riding streaks is no more effective — or necessary — down the stretch. We only remember the good and not all the times we picked up a perceived hot guy only to roster the downfall. For me, it’s still a matter of matchups and looking at the underlying skills and not hoping to catch lightning in a bottle.

Vlad Sedler (Fantasy Guru, @rotogut): You’ve worked hard since the beginning of the year and this is the most crucial stretch. Don’t slow down now. Don’t let football distract you. Stay diligent and engaged.

Ray Murphy (BaseballHQ, @RayHQ): Don’t underestimate the impact of the limits on September callups this year. Usually playing time really fractures, especially in the 2nd half of September, and it gets really hard to make up ground or flip standings points, especially in counting stats. That may be a little less true this year. Heck, we still have more than half the length of the 2020 season in front of us! Run through the finish line.

Ariel Cohen (CBS Sports, @ATCNY): A few quickies … 1) ERA and WHIP are categories that are easier to make gains in than you think. Remember – when others pitch starters who blow up, their ratios inflate! 2) Look not just at who you are playing for the coming week, also look at what others are doing. This is helpful in determining the number of SPs vs RPs to pitch in the last few weeks. 3) For waiver wire, sort by ABs in the past 14 days. More ABs mean more counting stats … look at who is getting the playing time!

Adam Ronis (Fantasy Alarm, @AdamRonis): There’s a big disparity between the top teams and bad teams, so look to exploit that. Keep putting in work, even for the teams that can’t win. Play until the end.

Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis): Be realistic where you can make up ground while not conceeding points in other categories. Also look to where other league managers can stay active to gain points against your opponents. For those teams that have no realistic chance on winning your league, they have a tendency to place their priorities on fantasy football. It’s everyone’s responsiblity to stay active until the last day of the season, regardless of where they are in the league standings. I not only look at where other teams can cause my opponents to lose ground in points, but also when was the last time that a league manager has logged into the league to review their team. This also can be used on who should be invited to your leagues next season. Each league manager should be playing to the end, regardless of where they are in the league standings. You would do this for them, even if you were towards the bottom of your league standings, and you should expect the same in return if they could assist you by being as active as possible through the end of the season.

Anthony Aniano (Rotoballer, @AAnianoFantasy): By this point in the season loyalty to players you have invested in are unimportant. If you have a chance to win be sure you continue to ride the hot hand no matter how big or small named the player is.

Greg Jewett (Fantasy Alarm, @gjewett9): Echoing sentiments above, do not chase the hot waiver claim of the week. Focus on player(s) who make an impact on the standings for your roster and do not overlook pitching ratios if streaming for wins. Maximize match-ups and some scheduling wrinkles in the offing with teams like Washington facing a weaker schedule so players like Carter Kieboom and Lane Thomas (in deeper leagues) may remain productive in the weeks ahead.

Zach Steinhorn (CreativeSports2, @zachsteinhorn): I’ll second Tristan’s advice to finally let go of struggling players, whether it be via trade for 50 cents on the dollar or by simply releasing them. Even if you had high hopes for these guys when you drafted them five months ago and have thus far patiently waited for positive regression, now is the time to move on. I know it’s upsetting, but it just has to be done.

Alan Harrison (The Fantasy Fix, @TheFantasyFix): Stay active to the end, regardless of your current position in the standings. Your name is attached to all that you do. Even though it’s just a game, have some pride and finish the best you can despite any challenges your team faced this season. Scour the waiver wire players that may have been dropped but are resurfacing or for those getting new opportunities on rebuilding teams. Trade. Have fun. Finish strong.

Jason Collette (Rotowire, @jasoncollette): Do what you can to impact the standings wherever you can, even if you’re out of contention for the title. If you can impact the overall race by adjusting your lineup to focus on a particular area, it makes the league more entertaining. There is nothing more infuriating than watching teams give up and move onto that devil sport foosball when they can still make a difference in the final outcome of the league.

Brian Entrekin (Benched with Bubba, @bdentrek): Keep fighting on. We have a little over a month to go and a lot could happen. Pride is always on the table so moving from 8th to 5th is still great. Finishing in the money is the goal but finishing strong is just as important. Never give up.