MASTER NOTES: Chasing 60

My awful season in Tout-AL has reached a new low: I have fallen under 40 points and into last place. Just for comparison’s sake, the leader has just crested 100 points.

The reasons for this putrid performance are many, but come down mostly to a catastrophic draft, in which I sat by waiting for “inevitable bargains” who never came, while almost every hitter worth anything was swept onto other rosters.

It would be very easy to sink into despondency, or perhaps to simply start ignoring this team and focusing attention instead of my other teams. But I don’t have any other teams. As regular listeners to the Baseball HQ Radio podcast know, I stopped operating multiple teams a few years ago, when an MLB front-office guy told a crowd at First Pitch Arizona (to which we've just opened up registrations) that operating a bunch of teams is emphatically not re-creating the major-league front-office experience, because real GMs don’t have several teams to choose from.

So I’m stuck with a bad team having a bad year.

That said, I’m determined to keep trying. In particular, I’m going to try to figure a way back to 60 points. In the Tout leagues, every point under 60 costs an owner $10 of FAAB for next year’s league. So if I don’t improve, I will start the year with about 800 bidding units to everyone else’s 1,000—a really significant handicap. And the last thing I need is another handicap to go along with my general incompetence.

The first thing I did was look at where I might gain ground. I’m at the bottom of all the hitting cats, but I have some opportunities in SBs and OBP on the hitting side, and ERA, WHIP, wins and saves on the pitching side.

Stolen Bases: Adding 20 SBs over my current projection would mean seven points. If I can get 35 extra SB, I can pick up nine points. I will get some help at the end of this month, with the return of Jorge Polanco, who stole 13 last season in 488 AB, so he could provide eight or so in the 300-ish AB he could get. I’ve also made a deal to pick up Dee Gordon, as I’ll explain later. His 25 pSB are obviously huge for me.

OBP: In my attempts to deal, I’ll be looking for OBP help, and I can hope to do some “addition by subtraction” by dealing away low-OBP guys, even if I don’t get any super-high OBP guys back. I have an OK shot at two OBP points, with an outside chance at three.

ERA/WHIP: I’ve always believed that any fantasy owner can make big gains in the decimals, again as much by subtracting bad as by adding good (though both, ideally). A 0.20 improvement in ERA would bump me three points and seems doable. WHIP is a little tougher, needing a gain of .020 to gain one point and .040 to gain two. Of course, an added advantage is that the teams I’m chasing can move backwards in the categories as well.

Wins: I don’t think I need to be super active here. I’m projected to 4.5 points in the category, but three more wins would bump that to eight points, and 10 wins would hoist me all the way to 11 points. I’m not a believer in chasing wins, but I will if I can, but I can see a few points here just by being lucky.

Saves: Pretty simple: Adding six saves would mean a point. Adding 14 saves would mean three points. The trouble is nobody is going to be dealing saves, and the chances of snagging a new closer in FAAB seem somewhat remote. I’ll be asking, though.

I have already made one deal, sending Justin Smoak, Marwin Gonzalez and Jake Odorizzi to Doug Dennis, and receiving Dee Gordon, Joe Mauer, and Mychal Givens.

This was a win-win deal. The big gain for me is obviously Gordon’s 25 pSB, but I expect a useful OBP boost with Mauer out-OBPing Smoak by 25-30 points, although in fewer PA, and Gordon out-OBPing Marwin by 20 points or so in more PA. Doug gets Smoak’s HRs (and, to a lesser extent, Marwin’s), which should shoot him from six points to 12 in the HR race, while the slight decline in OBP doesn’t figure to hurt him in that race, where he’s on something of an island.

Trading Odorizzi might cost me wins, but Givens could get me a win or three in his setup role. I will lose 45 or so strikeouts, which won’t cost me points as currently projected. I also figure to get a pERA improvement from around 4.00 to 3.95, within striking distance of two points, and a pWHIP improvement from 1.26 to 1.23, a point gain and with room for more. Givens also has an outside shot at some saves, if BAL trades away their current experienced saves guys, as rumor has it they might.

As you might see, I have a perverse advantage in being as dead as disco in the power categories. I can trade my remaining HR and RBI to get help elsewhere because there’s nothing more to lose. And in that, I am doubly fortunate because the HR category is tight, with a lot of title contenders in position to make big jumps with some added swat.

I’ve already traded one power guy in Smoak, and I have Adam Jones and the returning Avisail Garcia ready to go into my sale bin. I already made an offer to deal Jones, and I was a little surprised the other guy didn’t jump at the opportunity. It could still happen. It’s a win-win. I might even deal Yoan Moncada and his balanced projection (p11 HR, p11 SB) if I could get back another SB stud with a pOBP north of Moncada’s .325.

I understand that I am in bad shape here, and more than a little desperate. But I still feel like I owe it to myself and my leaguemates to keep trying. Wish me luck. And if you’re reading this, you’re in my league, and you’re looking for HRs, get in touch.

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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.