What should fantasy baseball “be about?” part 1

Before I get down to business, I just want to let you guys know that this week’s podcast over at baseballhq radio features an interview with me about the quants versus geniuses debate springing from the Cardrunners discussion a few weeks ago. Most of the topics covered are also done so in my column, but if you’re a fan of stammering, “ums,” “likes,” and “you knows,” don’t miss it!

Over the last few weeks I’ve read a lot of commentary that makes claims, either explicitly or implicitly, about what fantasy baseball is or isn’t, or what it should or should not “be about.” Should it be about properly evaluating and projecting this year’s talent? Should it be about sensing the writing on the wall and dumping wisely in order to build for the future? Should it be value savvy evaluation to the exclusion of hustle and incessant tinkering? Everybody seems to have ideas about what fantasy baseball’s existential identity should be and I’d like to take the time to offer my thoughts on some of these questions.

Many of these more philosophical quarrels are known to escalate from seemingly benign, almost administrative league set-up issues. Of course, one of the drums I often beat is that league set-up questions are never really benign; they are the tactics by which an owner consciously or accidentally expresses what the league will and won’t value and encourage.

Here’s an example of an innocent enough question; should you limit roster moves? (This issue is clearly most germane in daily transaction leagues without free-agent bidding. In weekly transaction leagues, the limit is already set by the format and in FAAB leagues; this is also a non-issue because your free-agent budget determines how many moves you can make.)

Ostensibly, this question is asking whether to limit streaming, or preclude serial streaming as an executable strategy. Objections to chronic streaming and incessant roster tweaking come from two different perspectives, the practical and the philosophical. Let me touch first briefly on the practical beef.

Some claim that streaming is almost tantamount to a loophole and gives the owner utilizing this strategy an advantage. I happen to disagree and let me briefly articulate my rationale for this opinion.

First, let me state that a well-constructed league should generally try to establish a balance of counting and rate stats on the pitching side, saves aside. So, in your conventional 5×5 league you have two stats that are conducive to streaming (wins and strikeouts) and two that should not be (ERA and WHIP). It is my belief that the risks of serial streaming are inherent in the strategy, you risk one set of categories for the other. A statement I find myself making often in response to those who complain about the overactive owner is, “Those players are unowned for a reason.”

Beyond the risk of ballooning rate stats, the hidden cost of streaming is the opportunity cost of dropping otherwise roster-worthy players to create the dynamic of musical chairs on your last two or three roster spots. Streamers often begin on their road by dropping either a high potential player who isn’t working out or a veteran with a good track record off to a slow start. Of course, the flip side to this argument is that those who are most active on the wire are also most likely to pick up some of the gems that emerge every year.

I’ll refrain from getting into a very long discussion about the strategic merits of streaming, as most of you likely know the pros and cons. Very quickly, I will say that streaming works best if you are the only one doing it, when it is done in a H2H leagues, and when the league is shallow enough that there are legitimately attractive options on the wire. But none of these things make it anything resembling a loophole. Personally, I consider streaming a tactic and not a strategy. I’m not against using it either in principle or practice, but feel it is most productive when used either opportunistically or to mitigate a bad week.

If we can agree that the risks of streaming are inherent in its execution, that leaves only those who dissent on philosophical grounds. Some claim that aggressive streaming, travel-day bat pickups, etc. undermine the skill and player evaluation of the game by privileging hustle or access to one’s computer. I think this argument is patently absurd, to be honest.

This argument begs the question of what fantasy baseball is supposed to be, what it is supposed to value, and what qualities it should privilege among owners. Well, the simplest way of answering this question in the most agreeable manner is that it should mimic the experience of assembling and running a baseball team and privilege the skills needed to do so, or valued by the business of running an actual baseball team itself.

It is no small commitment to actively peruse the waiver wires daily, to process information nightly, pay attention to schedules and attractive daily match-ups. Sure, sometimes daily transaction leagues devolve into a race to the add button, but what is wrong with that? Doesn’t business itself value agility, attention to detail, dedication and sacrifice? How many culture-changing inventions were really just a race to the patent office all the same? Isn’t he who claims that the daily transaction devalues his skills really just saying that he’s not dedicated enough to exercise them on a daily basis?

In the age of increasing information and technological symmetry, hustle is now more important then ever in terms of differentiating between winners and losers. Information is ubiquitous and inescapable; the question is who can process and earn a profit from it most quickly and efficiently. And, most fundamentally, don’t actual general managers and franchise owners face these same problems daily?

To be fair, I understand that some people just have a circumstantial advantage in relation to these dynamics. Do you work at an office with access to a computer or not? Do you work at an office, but are blocked from visiting sports sites by the IT Gestapo and Orwellian corporate policy? Do you have a family? Do you work a 60-hour week (not including your Wednesday Hardball Times column)? I get all that, I really do.

However, if you think any of those issues are that important to your ability to compete in a daily transaction league, then I have a very practical rebuttal for your philosophical gripe – join a weekly transaction league! Or… account for that on draft day, as I always preach. Pay a little extra for saves, consolidate your roster in favor of core strength as opposed to depth, etc. Either extricate yourself from the problem or proactively address it. What I do not consider a legitimate response is self-righteously whining about it, while advancing the delusion that dedication and hustle are foreign to the recipe for success, generally speaking, and that the owner with the itchy add/drop finger is engaging in something that is antithetical to the fundamental principles of fantasy baseball.

There are many ways to play fantasy baseball, and as the game continues to expand even more variations will arise. The issue is not to argue self-righteously about which is the most pure (though I’d be a hypocrite if I claimed I was never guilty of being self-righteous), but of finding a format that reflects your preferences and values.

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Comments

  1. The A Team said...

    I agree on both points. I’m commishing a 12 team mixed, standard deep rosters roto league. There are no limits to player transactions explicitly because “those players are unowned for a reason”. Still, as the only effective churn and burn manager in the league, I’ve extracted quite a bit of value out of the tactic. I found Chris Snyder just in time for my 2nd catcher slot (which was manned by Jeff Clement), I grabbed Andruw Jones for 6 days over which he bopped 4 bombs, Brennan Boesch spent 3 days on my roster and added a HR and 3 RBI, and over the last week I added LeBlanc, Cecil, and Kennedy prior to strong starts.

    Which is to say, anyone else could have picked up a Brennan Boesch for 3 days. Why should I be penalized for having the foresight to squeeze some value out of a temporary call up? That’s my philosophical position. Using the waiver wire is one of the primary skills of fantasy management. If you’re philosophy is “the best manager should win” then restricting transactions beyond a simple waiver period is wrong.

    On a different note, if you’re in a shallow H2H league and you’re worried about opposing managers streaming pitchers, set the waiver period to 5 or 6 days rather than limiting transactions. Owners can still churn and burn, but they’ll be encouraged to keep SP’s who have consecutive favorable matchups, which reduces their effective size of roster. Alternately, set a taut innings maximum.

  2. this guy said...

    This is a good article, but it’s a shame that it is necessary. The fact that this article is required reflects poorly on our society. Our schools suck.

  3. Chris J said...

    “It is no small commitment to actively peruse the waiver wires daily, to process information nightly, pay attention to schedules and attractive daily match-ups. Sure, sometimes daily transaction leagues devolve into a race to the add button, but what is wrong with that?”

    Theoretically this might seem “survival of the fittest” style fun, but the reality was less than thrilling when I was in a league where this happened several years ago.

    People were staying up til the 3 AM Eastern “next day transaction” switchover on Yahoo (thankfully everyone was in the same time zone for the sake of fairness) to stream pitching. Sure, I was out on summer vacation from college so it wasn’t a big change for me, but looking back on it it seems insane. I never want to be racing people at odd hours of the night for players again.

  4. Chris said...

    Wow, I can’t believe a fantasy blogger actually supports streaming.

    Really, in a public league I expect it, but when you’re in a 20 team keeper league it’s not only irritating, but it’s counter productive. With keepers it IS all about player evaluation, not ‘who can click add first!’.

    And your counter argument of: “well, the simplest way of answering this question in the most agreeable manner is that it should mimic the experience of assembling and running a baseball team and privilege the skills needed to do so” is exactly right. But picking up and dropping players left and right not only ISN’T viable for an MLB team, but it’s counter productive. Just imagine if teams started cutting talent loose every time it looked like it couldn’t get any worse so that they could bring up a minor leaguer. Imagine how many teams would lose out when that player performs again. They don’t do this because it’s not competitive or sound!

    Now imagine a player in fantasy doing it for a guy that’s not even called up yet, or he only picks up guys that have had recently good games and drop them as soon as they have a bad one. It’s ridiculous.

    If the point is to simulate the most realistic MLB type experience then streaming is the exact opposite of that. In baseball there is extensive scouting done on players before they get signed, most streamers don’t do any scouting, they watch yahoo videos and read ‘Duk’s stories on yahoo and make decisions based off of those instead of checking out the minor league lines, looking at strike out rates, taking in all available data and actually working with it to find the most viable of players.

    Streaming is the exact opposite of what baseball is all about and shouldn’t be allowed in any format except for the yahoo public ‘bush’ leagues.

  5. The A Team said...

    Chris, if other owners are making rash decisions based on spotty Yahoo analysis, then you should be able to game them rather effectively.

  6. Max said...

    The belief that streaming pitchers is an acceptable, “fun” practice in a daily league is awful.  It makes me want head lice just to get my mind off of the thought that people will read this and think “yah, whats so bad about streaming?” or “Im having so much fun at Buffalo Wild Wings, that I would like to see my team blow a lead to send it into overtime.” (Youve seen those adds)

    This is correct: “it is most productive when used either opportunistically or to mitigate a bad week.”  A move limit should not be in place to restrict any functional roster changes.  In an H2H, it can be a good move to have your last roster spot be semi fluid and pick up a 2-start pitcher for the week, or add a guy on Sunday to try to get a leg up on K’s and/or W’s (if the league is standard 5×5).  Moderation of roster moves is ok – restriction is not.

    The probelem in streaming is 2-fold: It can ruin a league from the start because everyone just drafts hitters while starting pitching becomes the dried out leftover turkey after Thanksgiving.  Sure, you can make a sandwhich out of a Halladay for work the next day, but how good is it going to be with all things considered?  Now you dont just have 1 fluid roster spot, you have anywhere from 2-5. 

    It isnt that the player who complains about streaming isnt dedicated himself.  It is because the tools for seeing the pitching probables are two clicks away, and a that a monkey can be trained to pick up 3 starters for the next day.  For every good Brian Bannister or Bronson Arroyo start the monkey picks, you will find a couple of Greg Smith starts rolled in there, too.  You stupid monkey!  But, The same would be done by the streamer.

    What fun is it when every starter is rostered during the week in mad dashes to the top of Counting Pitching Stats Mounain?  The result of streaming is that the “fun” aspect of weighing the rammifications of each roster move like we think real GMs do (and that, my friends, is why we play) is gone.  Would a real GM just have his two best starters on a rotaion and continue to call up marginal pitchers to pitch to big league hitters?  Why would we want a fantasy league where everyone does the same?

    Streaming isnt in any league I play, so go ahead and do it if it means you are playing the game and having fun.  Im eating a steak sandwhich at work today.

  7. drew said...

    here is how i decided to solve the problem of one team streaming pitchers in my league. And let me preface, that I only think streaming pitchers is a problem at its most extreme. The MOST EXTREME example would be when a team assembles a team where every one of the teams starters is a $1 starter. He would then stream every free agent pitcher every night in order to get 1st place in both wins and strikeouts while last place in era and whip. In essence, this team has assembled league average pitching staff with the minimum amount of money. Now, you probably can’t win a league while dumping two categories, but you can certainly do much better than you would have merely by abusing streaming. Now, to my solution. Have a maximum games started per team that only kicks in when a team’s era or whip are so high that it would result in him finishing behind 2nd to last place in those categories in an average year. I just take the average of the 2nd to last place team in those categories each year to determine what those numbers are (which obviously fluctuate year-to-year). Thus, a team that picked a decent enough staff to finish with an era AND whip under those determined numbers can stream all they want, while a team that picked a really poor pitching staff can still stream, but not as much. The games started maximum I came up with was 324 starts for 12 pitching slots. Thus, with an average of 2 closers per team (8 teams in NL only), you can either have 10 starters and not stream or have less starters and stream. However, if you picked a good enough staff, it is all a moot point, because you can stream all you want. Not sure if this all made sense, but I think it’s a good solution.

  8. Chris said...

    A Team:

    Here’s an example for you. One of the teams in my leagues was highly inactive so the commish went out and got another guy from another league that he also runs. Now, this is a last place team, so I expect that he’ll probably be making a lot of moves, but since April 28th, one week ago today he’s made 25 transactions! He added Contreras (in a league that counts holds) on the 28th, dropped him on the 1st, added Wellemeyer on the 1st, dropped him on the 2nd, added Fred Lewis on the 3rd, dropped him on the 4th, Ramon Santiago on the 28th, dropped on the 29th.

    It’s like he’s not paying attention or discounting players too quickly. On my team there’s no one to drop for these guys (let alone be willing to blow a waiver for) but not giving a guy a chance to do anything for your team is equally stupid and clogs up the transaction logs with GIGO moves, which in my mind compromises the integrity of a league. I personally make about one or two moves a week tops (we’ve actually had to put a limit on transactions in the other league that he was in because of him), and only once have I met a league max for weekly transactions when I dumped Lowe for Jepsen,  picked up Esmil Rogers, dropped Hafner for Hundley (I had no starting C at this point) and Greg Smith for David Freese. That to me was a little excessive, but I had had all of the players that I had dropped since the beginning of the season so that I could see that they weren’t doing well or that some one else had been doing much better. It wasn’t a snap decision to dump any players on this list.

  9. Millsy said...

    I’m usually all for putting in rules to limit streaming, but that’s a preference on my part.  I have no problem participating in leagues when I can take advantage of it.  Funny you post this article today, as I recently got this message in my H2H Points league, in which I’ve got a bench full of pitchers and take advantage of Hughes/Lewis/Wilson at the two RP slots (I don’t do a full streaming, maybe 1 pitcher a week):

    “If I had 65 starts a week I’d be sitting pretty too…instead, I play with some integrity for the sport.  Not that fantasy baseball is a sport, so for that I tip my closers hat to you.”

    Ah, to be in first place.  Best part is, my 1st and 2nd Round draft picks (Fielder and V-Mart—early yes, but it had to do with the way the scoring worked) are my lowest point scorers thus far.

  10. Derek Ambrosino said...

    Self-righteousness alert!

    Seriously, Chris, let me address a few things.

    Here’s one thing I intended to mention but edited out of the final column for the sake of (some semblance of) brevity. What I prefer to do when setting the parameters for pitching is set a cap on innings that is fairly high. Basically, an opportunistic streamer has almost no chance of exceeding this limit and most teams won’t even really approach it. It would, however, be a limiting factor for the most extreme streamer. It would at least force that player to think about the choice he is making.

    On my team there’s no one to drop for these guys (let alone be willing to blow a waiver for) but not giving a guy a chance to do anything for your team is equally stupid and clogs up the transaction logs with GIGO moves, which in my mind compromises the integrity of a league.

    1) Well, if your team is strong enough that you aren’t tempted to replace anybody on your team with somebody on the wire, why are you complaining? Of course, the counterargument is whether a strong bench bat is worth more than a good middle reliever who can be in your line-up putting up free innings everyday. The advantage of having the strongest roster, objectively speaking, can be mitigated quickly if your opponents are all getting more “reps” than you are.

    2) It’s this “integrity of the league” thing that trips the self-righteousness alarm. Does day trading ruin the integrity of the stock market? (You know assuming the stock market ever was actually a legitimate, healthy, productive institution in the first place…)

    Wow, I can’t believe a fantasy blogger actually supports streaming.

    Subtle, but important difference. I don’t support foreclosing streaming as a tactic through preemptive regulation. League participants should be free to experiment with a variety of strategies. Is limiting streaming any different than attempting to disallow punting? Why must there be only a single way to operate a team?

    Really, in a public league I expect it, but when you’re in a 20 team keeper league it’s not only irritating, but it’s counter productive. With keepers it IS all about player evaluation, not ‘who can click add first!’.

    There’s that self-righteousness again. If it is such a poor strategy, let those who use it fail and laugh your way to the bank. If you are so dead set against it ideologically restrict owners’ “civil liberties.” Why must the question of what fantasy baseball is about devolve into a dichotomy?

    Fantasy baseball is about using a variety of skills. Ultimately, it’s a problem solving exercise, and there are many different approaches to solving problems.

  11. Millsy said...

    Derek,

    I agree generally with the point that it’s a problem solving exercise.  Certainly, I enjoy those as much as anyone.  But I think a lot of people find problem solving with constraints a much more enjoyable endeavor.  Like you said, that’s a preference.  But I know my preference is to try and emulate the real-life decisions of a general manager (it is a fantasy after all).

    But it’s always going to be a game of ingenuity.  I believe streaming is a legitimate strategy.  Period.  It’s taking advantage of an inefficiency.  There is an inefficiency in the market when you only buy up hitters in the first 15 rounds of the draft.  That’s a result of a rules structure. 

    In addition, if we want to get into the game theory of the situation, having more than 1 or 2 streamers in a league will make the strategy no longer beneficial to anyone, and will make those teams building a strong, rounded roster the better players.  The 3rd guy that decides to stream pitchers will pretty much kill the usefulness of it for the other two, as well as him or herself.  So then we get into that old dominant strategy and equilibrium argument we learned in Introductory Economics.  The question is: Why create a situation where you end up in a prisoner’s dilemma?  Where a single person doing the strategy is great for one team.  And then where more than one makes the advantage for both much less than if there were a single team doing it.  Of course, this could be another problem solving exercise, but it’s likely that you’re screwing with how the league functions.  But, of course, the detrimental nature of streaming is also dependent on how the league decides it should function.

    If a league does not want to highlight the skills used for a streaming strategy (which, in my opinion, aren’t skills I enjoy competing with, despite being relatively good at it), then they will impose constraints on the league.  You have to remember that those constraints are not necessarily directly trying to keep you from winning, but ensuring that certain inefficiencies do not arise.  Like you say, they could be changing the categories (i.e. having the same number of counting vs. rate categories for pitchers), putting an innings cap, or any of that.

    But I ask: Why don’t you like to make the game as realistic as possible?  I’m not making a judgement, but am curious.  Wouldn’t it be a greater challenge to do this problem solving with significant constraints?  There are certainly constraints in MLB that GMs work with.  Isn’t that the game we try to emulate with fantasy?

  12. sean said...

    The biggest problem that I’ve seen in my leagues over the past couple of seasons (CBS standard probably the most) is that streaming becomes contagious. These are ten-team leagues where there are more viable SP and PP on waivers. Once streaming is practiced by a few teams at the same time, the risk to their ERA/WHIP becomes seriously diminished. They are no longer resigned to 1-2 points in the ratio categories because they can battle each other in a race to the bottom.

  13. GWR said...

    Chris,

    You are appearing very bitter.
    To say ‘streaming’ is for Yahooo ‘bush’ leagues seems to be a ridiculous comment.

    If it is bush league then why would you be concerned. It would seem it would make you very happy to have your competitors doing things that are ‘counter-productive’ as you say.

    Essentially I just think you are wrong.

  14. Derek Ambrosino said...

    Sean,

    Good point about the race to the bottom, But, at the same time, the dynamic of a league is fluid. The race to the bottom gives the solid rate stats team more of a margin to indulge as well while limiting the ramifications. Ultimately, if you hold down the rate stats and up your usage (through streaming, trading, drafting more SPs, whatever…) then you should be able to compete in the other categories as well and walk out having among the most pitching points in the league.

    My main point is that if one wants to foreclose the strategy, that’s a totally legitimate (though restrictive and limiting, philosophically speaking) approach. But, if you haven’t “outlawed” it, then don’t complain about those who use it. Let the league decide, democratically how much streaming they want to allow and set-up the league accordingingly.

    Prevention works, folks. True story.

    Millsy,

    Good post. But, I want to raise one point for debate.

    But I ask: Why don’t you like to make the game as realistic as possible?  I’m not making a judgement, but am curious.  Wouldn’t it be a greater challenge to do this problem solving with significant constraints?  There are certainly constraints in MLB that GMs work with.  Isn’t that the game we try to emulate with fantasy?

    You can add as many contraints as you want, some may improve the league experience some may hinder it. There are plenty of “legitimate” forms of the game that use constraints totally foreign to real baseball GMs – AL- or NL-only leagues for example. …What do you mean Ryan Braun isn’t in the universe of players I can attempt to trade for or sign to my team?

    But, most directly, GMs are not expressly limited in the number of transactions they can make. I mean, players have a limited number of “options” in terms of being demoted to the farm. And, the act of player acquisition and release is far more complicated with many additional ramifications in the real sport, so that makes it practically difficult to turn over a roster manically, but there is nothing written into the policies governing team governence that limits the amount of transactions a team can perform in a given amount of time.

    The best argument for limiting moves is really an innings cap (and that’s my preference) as there a de facto innings cap on all real teams staffs’ in the fact that a season has a fixed number of games. (Ignoring the practically irrelevent theoretical truth that any of these games can add innings ad infinitum.)

    While limiting innings and limiting transactions may have a similar effect on roster management and in terms of their implications regarding strategy, one is rooted in a limit inherent to the real game, while the other is, in its essence, an abritrary and novel constrain unique to the fantasy game.

  15. Derek Ambrosino said...

    Posting from the day job and feeling guilty about spending the extra time to proofread for my loss!

  16. Millsy said...

    I think the innings cap is the best way to do things.  I honestly don’t worry much about streaming unless I’m in a H2H points league.  And, to be honest, I agree with your AL/NL Only constraint (which is one reason I don’t play those leauges, but try to find Mixed leagues just with a lot more teams). 

    As you say, the constraints on limiting moves could theoretically constrain you to the type of time/money decisions that GMs face.  While it’s artificial with respect to putting it in the rules, it could help to emulate reality in some ways, despite the arbitrary nature of it.

    Like I said, I’m not against streaming in a league where it would be beneficial to do so.  In fact, I’m doing it in a H2H points league right now to a small extent.  But it’s just my preference to participate in a place where other types of strategies are favored.  But I’m with you on the point that it is, of course, a legitimate strategy where it is allowed by the rules.

  17. Kevin (Mad Max Scherzer) said...

    Bravo Derek!

    You’ve highlighted many important facts about streamers instead of villifying them like many other bloggers or fantasy managers do. Streaming is not an art, it is a science; it takes attention to detail, resourcefulness, and high-level processing and decision making skills. Moreso it takes a divergent thinker. A fantasy manager should never be satisfied until they have a winning product to put out on the proverbial field. It is that individual manager’s prerogative to determine how to meet their team’s needs.
    In many leagues where it is difficult to trade with other managers to fill a team need, streaming or the waiver wire is the obvious choice. I’ve personally won all the H2H daily-next day leagues that I have participated in to date because of the knowledge of the players on the FA list that I garnered while researching players to stream during the season. A good streamer is likely the most knowledgeable manager in their league. That said, streaming without limits/weekly transactional caps is like stealing candy from a baby for knowledgeable managers and baseball aficionados like myself and it can be done rampantly in non-keeper leagues with no transaction limits because there are no consequences. In the keeper league I created this year in which I am the commissioner and the other keeper I joined there are weekly transaction limits 6 adds and 5 adds respectively. This helps to level the playing field while also still allowing managers to practice streaming. The keeper aspect adds a “cost” to adding and dropping players without careful consideration.
    Fantasy baseball will never be what we truly want it to be—the equivalent of being the GM or manager of a baseball team so there truly is no “purist position” to take on streaming. However, to decry streaming as a weasel’s way out of difficult managing choices is an outlandish and uninformed argument.

    Streamers Unite!!

  18. Chris said...

    Derek:

    Streaming compromises a league’s integrity as it gives managers a team of 100 players vs the standard 20+ that most leagues give you. GM’s should be allowed to pick up and drop players as they feel fit due to lack of performance and demotions. But what I was trying to illustrate in my example was that no MLB team would recall a guy from AAA for a day, not play him then call up another guy. It essentially turns draft day into a four or five round attempt to get the highest quality players instead of doing analysis and projecting on players.

    There is one player on my team that I am considering cutting that I’ve been debating on for a while and that’s Brandon Wood. But I haven’t because there is still enough room to think that his power could start showing up and he could turn out to be a Carlos Pena (low BA, high HR) at the hot corner. Would it make sense to drop Wood for a Fred Lewis hoping to get a good game out of him? Not at all.

    It’s not a matter of civil liberties being removed from a manager, it’s about fair play. Any GM who is streaming has no qualms over tossing aside good talent to waivers to get a good start. Then, if a five other GM’s want that player as an upgrade (which in the league that I’m discussing hasn’t happened for me yet) they have to go through waivers to get him. Would you blow your waiver priority to get Oliver Perez even if he was an upgrade? No, I don’t think anyone would. But if he was just another FA I’d consider it.

    I could understand this activity if he had guys in hard slumps and no way of knowing if they would continue. I could understand it if they were legit upgrades. I could understand it if he played them for more than three days at a time. Otherwise it’s an irritant as it not only gives him an advantage of being able to play have the free agents in a week, but it also gives my opponents a chance to pick up some one that’s an upgrade that a non-streamer would have kept.

    It changes a whole league’s dynamics. One of the other commenters even said it was contagious. I mean in a public league I’m in some one dropped McCann for Veritek, and then dropped Brian Wilson for Gio Gonzalez (this one is actually some what defensible, but not easily). In public leagues I expect erratic behavior like this. I joined my custom leagues to get away from this kind of behavior where highly talented players are dropped for crap because it was momentarily advantageous. Granted, in the private league moves weren’t so irrationally made, but would you rather have a part time utility guy like Omar Infante for Daric Barton who plays every day in an OPS league when you already have Hanley Ramirez at SS? (yes, I realize that Infante is starting while Escobar is on the 15 day DL). Moves like this doesn’t make sense, doesn’t help the competition in the league and shows little actual knowledge of the players and their overall worth.

  19. Derek Ambrosino said...

    Chris,

    1)You can’t outlaw fellow owners’ stupidity, and no matter what the format, what rules are in place, that stupidity will shine through anyway. All you can do is graduate to more competitive leagues where nobody ever drops Brian McCann outright unless he’s on the 60-day DL. Therefore, any arguments about it being “dumb” are moot off top.

    2)Which is it; stupid or wise? On the one hand you say it confers an advantage, on ther other you say it is stupid, implicitly stating it is a disadvantage. If it’s advantageous it’s not dumb, if it’s dumb it’s not advantageous.

    3) Would I drop Brandon Wood? I don’t know the format and depth oof the league so I can’t say for sure, but I do know that “potential” isn’t a category. Your individual situation should determine whether you think he’s worth holding on to – what is more beneficial to you, greater long term potential or maximum short term productivity.

    4) It’s not practically feasible for a MLB team to operate like a manic streamer, but it is not disallowed by the rules of the game, so I think that line of argument is a red herrring too.

    5) To whatever extent the strategy offers a potential advantage for you or disadvantage for others you are free to benefit from it, and it is incumbent upon you as an owner to derive the optimally successful strategy within the parameters that define your league’s rules. It’s pretty much that simple.

    6) Running a fantasy team is kind of like running a real team, but it’s also a lot like managing a portfolio of assets (of a type that can only be owned by one person at a time). The person who wins is the person who makes the most profits of his/her investment over the course of the season. Streaming plays the quantity side the equation while conservative roster management plays the (perceived) quality side. Better investments versus increased chances to make profits.

    7) I understand that it is frustrating when many of the better plays in the FA pool are on waivers versus being free agents. If the league is against limiting transactions or innings, you could suggest they either decrease the waiver period so that other owners don’t have to blow waiver picks to make routine pick-ups. …Or you could increase the length which might make it harder for the streamer himself to operate. Either way, the higher waiver picks are not really that valuable, generally speaking. Really, just make the pick-ups you want to make.

    8) The FA pool is everybody’s reservoir of additional talent, not just the streamer’s. Your choice not to use it has nothing to do with his choice to use it – each owner can use it as much or as little as he chooses/deems advantageous. Again, a non-argument.
    4)

  20. Chris said...

    Well Derek, my complaints focus around a keeper league (I thought I had stated that previously, perhaps not) so waiver priorities actually matter when you get a high profile rookie getting called up that Yahoo hadn’t added prior to draft day.

    Streaming can be both advantageous and disadvantageous. It’s advantageous for the moment. You can easily look at match ups according to Yahoo for all players for better odds of having a favorable game and when you have no qualms over drafting league average everything with the intent of having a fluid team then you’re basically throwing the draft after all the studs are gone.

    It’s disadvantageous for a player (and thus dumb) when they decide that they would rather throw away an every day player who is doing well for a guy who is really a utility type filling in for another guy on the DL. Now, in this scenario a guy scooped up Barton quickly as soon as he came off of waivers (smart move by him) and now he has a stronger lineup than he normally would have.

    And yes, the FA pool is for everyone, but it seems like many people would rather sit through a couple of bad starts on a guy that they know can and will do better. Streaming shifts the whole balance of a league, some times quickly, some times you don’t see it until the end of a season.

    It’s not a viable strategy when you pick up a guy and drop him as soon as he goes 0/3. It’s not viable when you drop a talented young pitcher when he struggles to get out of the 4th one time. And it’s not fair to the other managers when their opponents are picking up legit talent for their league average type guys and it’s not fair that guys with legit talent slumping are left dealing with it when the other guy is tossing it left and right trying to get a couple of extra wins in a week.

    And you’re right, you can’t ban stupidity from a game, but you can set limits to free agent transactions and you can setup “gentleman’s” agreements in the league with punishment for violating it. I also some how doubt that a competitive Yahoo public league is going to be less dumb than a custom league where you had to be invited in, but I still see moves that make me scratch my head in disbelief some times and others that are obviously pitching streaming (against the rules in these leagues) but whenever I mention it I get told that they’re back of the rotation guys that are struggling and he’s trying to get a feel for his team.

    I will bring up the waiver limit idea to my commissioner. It’s not something that I had thought of.

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