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Fantasy Baseball's Tumbling Dice: Keeping your head in the game

By Lawr Michaels, MastersBall.com
Edited by Tim Heaney

The baseball season is such a grind.

The ups and downs can be difficult to sustain, which in reality is one of the main challenges fantasy owners face. For even in a league with weekly transactions, staying on top of all the moves and making the right ones at the right time is a challenge.

OF Mark Trumbo, Arizona Diamondbacks
Such optimism fell flat

If I think back to the back 15 long weeks ago -- or maybe it was just yesterday -- my League of Alternative Baseball Reality (LABR) NL-only team was duking it out for first place with RotoWire's Derek VanRiper.

The squad was smoking on the power of Mark Trumbo, the speed and average of Emilio Bonifacio, and the starting arm of Aaron Harang.

Needless to say, you can guess where my team is now, struggling near the bottom of the league, as I look at each category and try to figure anywhere I can pick up points and a little respectability in the standings.

The problem is I really have nothing worth trading that would help. Even my second reliever, former Giants No. 1 stopper Sergio Romo, would not entice much of a deal.

And I get this is the way the game goes: Sometimes you just have a bad year.

Still, as the season wanes, and as football starts to peek at us with a whole new sense of fantasy optimism, it is hard to not get distracted, let alone just hang it up in your less than successful baseball leagues.

However, if you are serious about playing the game and about not just learning but improving year-to-year, keeping on top of your team during this seemingly down time can be more than rewarding.

Some of the things I try to stay on are:

  • Scour the box scores of the bad teams: Actually just looking at the boxes when your team sucks is some tough stuff, but the non-contending are willing to try things. That does mean prospects might get a call-up, but it also could mean a guy like Jose Bautista comes into his own. As in what JoeyBats did in September of 2009, hitting .257-10-21, pointing to the breakout 2010 he produced.
  • Trade: If you are out of it in a keeper setup, there is no better time than now to trade off this year's value for next year's promise, especially if it helps your draft position or auction budget for the coming year. But while the season is still chugging on, you have the advantage of trading into the needs of the contending teams, while during the off-season the urgency of a pennant race is lost. You lose the advantage.
  • Play the waiver wire: If you are out of it, be aggressive with free agents, swapping out players, playing hunches, and trying out things. This is the best time of the season to actually check some stats on how different your pitching numbers can be if you simply stick nine starters -- getting the best you can at the time -- in your rotation over a month's play. Yeah, no saves, but you were out of it anyway so what difference does it make? And who knows what you might discover?
  • Don't half-step: Whatever you do, play out the season as if you were in contention. Aside from the fact that you can spot things -- both player- and strategy-wise -- that could help your future play, play like you mean it. And more important, play like you would expect others to were they to be out of it.

If you can lose your off-year blues within the throes of what I suggest, it can not only make the end of this year more interesting and fun, it can help fill you with optimism for next year way ahead of the curve.

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