Managing a Team When You Can’t Manage a Team

I spent the last nine days in a baseball-less haze, wandering the fjords of Norway and promising my wife (as those of us with significant others have to do from time to time) that fantasy baseball would not interrupt our vacation the way it does many (okay, okay…all) of our other nights. Sadly, the commissioners of my leagues did not agree to my recommended “everyone takes a hiatus and stats don’t count this week because Chad is out of the country” rule.

Baseball is Summer and Summer is a heavy time for vacationing, which means that most owners will, at some point, have to go a few days without maniacally checking their rosters on a daily basis. How do you go about doing this without suffering a free fall in the standings?

Clearly part of this depends on your format, and I took different approaches in my weekly and roto/points leagues. Here is a quick look at how I handled my rosters in each format.

Roto/Points Leagues
Prior to leaving the country, I went through and set my lineups for each day. For the first couple days, when I knew who was scheduled to be on the mound, I set my rotation as normal. After that, I ignored matchups and benched most of my pitchers, leaving in only those guys who I would start against anyone at any time (the Clayton Kershaws and Justin Verlanders of the world).

Typically I would play matchups with less sure-thing pitchers, but in this case, I just passed. Rotations get moved around too often, people miss expected starts, get pushed back a day, have rain outs, etc. and without the ability to adjust on the fly, I felt I was better off missing a start I would have liked than getting one I would have skipped. If you are used to managing your rotation daily, trying to do it a week out is probably not a good idea.

For hitters, I used a similar approach. Especially in ottoneu, I love players like Allen Craig – big bats that you can get cheap because they don’t play every day. The problem is you have to manage them closely and check their lineups daily. When I can’t do that, I bench them. I might miss some good games, but I wouldn’t get stuck using one of my 162 games at 1B on an 0-1 pinch hit appearance from Brandon Belt.

This meant not fielding a full lineup most of the week, but I am okay with that. I will make up those games over the course of the year.

Matchup League
In a weekly matchup league (at least in the ones I have played in) there are not annual innings or games played limits, meaning that a guy coming in and playing one inning as a defensive replacement doesn’t hurt you in the long run. Similarly, you have to be more aggressive with your pitchers because losing a win or a few strike outs can be the difference between winning or losing the week. Over a season, these things wash out…not over a week.

So for these leagues, I started a full-lineup of my best players every day, favoring those most likely to play, but willing to take four days of a stud part-timer over seven days of a mediocre starter. I also ran out a full rotation all week, and this time I DID play matchups with my starters, trying my best to keep guys in the day before, the day of and the day after any start I expected them to get.

Any Format
Before you go, scour the waiver wires and make sure you aren’t missing anyone you might want or need. Over the next week, there will assuredly be injuries, promotions, demotions, etc. and you’ll be behind on taking advantage. Make sure you have a leg up the few days before you fall behind.

After you get back, review each team and league – see who on your team was hurt or came back, who on other teams got cut, etc. and, again, scour the waiver wire. Make sure you are aware what went on while you were gone.

Finally, while you are gone (and when you get back) don’t stress about the results. In the big picture, it is just one week and that won’t sink your team in any format.

We hoped you liked reading Managing a Team When You Can’t Manage a Team by Chad Young!

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Chad Young is a product manager at Amazon by day and a baseball writer (RotoGraphs, Let's Go Tribe), sports fan and digital enthusiast at all times. Follow him on Twitter @chadyoung.

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Go through and set your lineups sure, but get someone outside of the league you trust and let them co manage while you’re gone. In competitive leagues, your entire league can be ruined with a bad week of managing.