2019 Performance Review: The Not-Losses

Let’s continue right along with my personal performance review. Today we’ll look at my rosters which fell short of winning the champions jock strap (get it? it’s a cup!) without qualifying as entirely negative. If you missed it, I reviewed my two lonely victories yesterday. I also checked in on my successful DFS season earlier in October.

This year, three of my teams fit the “not-loss” criteria. The formats and circumstances were very different so let’s just dig right in…

Old School Head-to-Head

This is a 12-team H2H Yahoo league with my old college teammates. It’s 6×6 scoring using OPS and K/BB as the added categories. I typically spend most of my budget – upwards of 80 percent – on pitchers since it’s easy to dominate the pitching categories every week while scraping together a few points on offense. The K/BB category in particular rewards ace-heavy clubs. This year, I was not available for the draft. My surrogate mostly executed my plan and even nabbed a not-yet-trendy Matt Boyd for me which I later traded for Jose Altuve and Freddie Freeman (it’s a keeper format, Boyd was $7-to-keep, the others were expensive).

Ultimately, my pitching didn’t live up to my usual standards. Luis Severino never showed up while Justin Verlander, Stephen Strasburg, Carlos Carrasco, and Boyd simply weren’t enough ace-power to pull off my vision. The roster finished a comfortable third place during the regular season (money back). Unfortunately, losing Adalberto Mondesi and Byron Buxton ruined my path to easy stolen base dominance when the games mattered most. The offense turned out to be the strength of this club although they didn’t show up to a first-week playoff loss.

Fantasy baseball is nine-tenths effort. While that’s a completely fabricated hyperbole, I’m sure we all agree about the importance of trying. While I consistently set my daily lineups with active players, I made almost no attempt to improve my team via waivers or trade. My 33 moves and two trades represent career lows in this long-running league. Since I finished only four points behind second place, I have to imagine a more active approach would have rewarded me with a better result. Or maybe I would have made dumb cuts. I’m not immune to mistakes. In any case, the broad strokes were fine, but the devil is in the details. And I ignored them.

Lack of effort/attention is a running theme throughout my failures this year. It stems from simply managing too many leagues. In addition to the 10 teams which were solely mine, I was an active adviser for another 10+ rosters. That’s in addition to DFS. I’ll need to trim back on both numbers next year.

Staff League Déjà Vu

FanGraphs Staff is a Head-to-Head FGpts ottoneu league (not to be confused with FanGraphs Staff Two, a standard FGpts league which I won). For a second straight season, I waltzed to the best regular season record. In my opinion, winning the regular season is the same as winning the league. The playoffs are just there to give the losers a reason to stick around.

In 2018, Nick Pollack narrowly edged past me in the final. This time, I flamed out in the semi-finals versus a club co-managed by, uh, “The Embassy” and David Gagnon. Can’t say I’ve met either of them.

In any case, I strongly recommend that you don’t lose Mike Trout (and Fernando Tatis) when it matters most. Especially if your backup outfielders are David Fletcher and Josh VanMeter. That’s not the only reason I lost my playoff matchup – my pitching matchups simply weren’t staggered in an optimal way. Still, I only fell short of a second finals trip by 25 points. And at the rate Trout was launching dingers, I’m pretty comfortable saying he would have made things a LOT closer.

Admittedly, I squeezed my roster for every spare point. Effort was not the issue here. I simply failed to overcome a small taste of adversity.

Dynastic Mediocrity

When Chad Young asked me to join him in The Devil’s Rejects, a 20-team, weekly, 5×5-OBP industry dynasty league, I walked in on a half-finished roster. Basically, it was Charlie Blackmon, J.D. Martinez, a very young Nomar Mazara, and scraps. Since then, we’ve finished sixth, fifth, third, third, and fourth. The top five spots pay. Chad’s since walked away. Walter McMichael is currently serving in an advisory role.

This team deserves an article of it’s own of the merits of retooling over rebuilding. For the second time in three seasons, I opted to re-tool at the trade deadline after falling out of the race for a paid spot. And for the second time, my new acquisitions helped pave the way to a small payday. Part of my decision to sell my bulk of older stars like Jose Altuve, Blackmon, Anthony Rizzo, Martinez, Pat Corbin, James Paxton, Sean Doolittle, DJ LeMahieu, and Yuli Gurriel was driven by circumstance. There were five teams in an obvious position to push for first place. All but one had lovely long term building block talents. Meanwhile, precisely zero teams were selling the kind of talent I had available.

In this particular dynasty league, players like Gurriel and LeMahieu are generally disdained as low-value assets (never mind their excellent performance). Owners prefer the next big thing like future first round pick Robert Hassell. Pitchers can also see their asset value spontaneously implode without warning. Thus, this represented an obvious opportunity to escape aging talent while extracting the most possible. The alternative option was to ride them all into the ground. In retrospect, I probably would have finished third if I had done so.

In the end, I traded one spot back in the standings and a bunch of truly excellent players for Bryce Harper, Joey Gallo, Cavan Biggio, Giancarlo Stanton, Trey Mancini, VanMeter, Josh Rojas, Christin Stewart, Nick Solak, and Jonathan Ornelas. It’s a top heavy group and a stark bet on a return to a saner sort of baseball. The pitching side of the roster is, admittedly, a disaster.

I’ve been beating this drum for a long time. So long as you’re not overly concerned about outright winning your deep dynasty league, you can make a lot of money by just fielding a full roster every week.

We hoped you liked reading 2019 Performance Review: The Not-Losses by Brad Johnson!

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