Time to say goodbye to some worthy playersby Eriq Gardner
August 25, 2009
The season is about to head into the final month. Anybody competing in a league that allows daily transactions should take a hard look at their roster for potential cuts.
In the final month, justifying a player's roster slot becomes more difficult. Even players who you may expect to perform better than what’s available on the waiver wire should be subject to close scrutiny. Is your team better off cutting a player for the opportunity to use that player’s roster spot for a stream of alternative available players with good daily matchups?
You might see Milton Bradley, for example, as offering better potential than anybody available on your waiver wire. But how much better will Bradley be than the pool of players who are not rostered in your league? If the answer is “just a little,” he probably deserves to be cut.
Over the course of a season, under a large sample size of games, you can feel confident that a player projected above the masses will indeed perform up to those expectations. (It won’t always happen, but it will more times than not.) But with fewer games to play, the rule of small sample sizes dictates that practically anything can happen, and player performance will not always match skill level. Accordingly, one should be less confident that a projection will bear out.
That’s the first reason.
Of course, a smaller degree of confidence doesn’t mean no confidence. If you see Player X as being better than Waiver Wire Players A, B, and C, there remains a reasonable probability that Player X will outperform many of those available players. But you still may wish to cut him.
In many leagues, teams find themselves below the maximum games allowed per position or find they have a number of innings to yet pitch. A team holding a player who barely outperforms the waiver wire pool may wish to analyze whether it would get more production from players who contribute every day. After all, major league baseball clubs have off days and on those days, unless your league allows for a very deep bench of reserves, you’re probably sacrificing an opportunity to have a player with a good matchup in your active lineup to hold onto a player who isn’t playing.
This becomes especially true for pitchers as they only play once or twice per week. It sometimes helps to work backward.
For example, last week, the San Diego Padres announced they would be shutting down young phenom Mat Latos after just two more starts. Both of those starts are away from the pitching haven, Petco Park. Anybody who heard the announcement last Thursday might have asked: Is holding Latos for 10 days and two away starts worth more than opening his roster position for the best 10 spot starts in that intervening time?
A question like this can only be answered by looking at the standings and your league’s positional allowances. A team under their innings pace and with breathing room in ERA and WHIP might wish to take quantity over quality. The same is true on the batting end—a team that feels points stability in batting average might look to amass as many games as possible from batters, and thus, more runs, RBIs, steals and home runs.
This advice only applies to daily transactional roto leagues, of course. And we’re brought back to our argument on the confidence factor. With just a month left of baseball, it’s hard to say that a player with a certain skill set is going to have production that matches those skills. What we can say with more confidence is that more games typically means more production.
For a player only barely better than the rest, you may wish to part ways for the above reasons.
Eriq Gardner is a New York-based writer and founder of Fantasy Ball Junkie, a website for advanced fantasy baseball enthusiasts.
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