On Doing Nothing

The first week of the season is always a fun time of the year. The limited amount of data in the books makes it difficult to provide any sort of valuable analysis and any advice is going to essentially be given based on the tiniest of sample sizes. So what’s a fantasy player to do? Nothing. That’s right, the best moves you can make now are no moves.

Naturally, I’m not being totally serious. If you were unlucky enough to draft Kyle Schwarber (like me), you will likely have to make a move. If you drafted Shin-Soo Choo, you will likely have to make a move. And if you speculated on a replacement level player and someone more intriguing at the moment comes along (like, say, Mallex Smith), then sure, make the move. But that’s it. That’s all you should be doing.

Like clockwork, poor performances over the first week of the season spread panic throughout the fantasy community like wildfire. It’s all we have to look at, so it gets magnified. Every year we go through the same song and dance. Someone asks about slow starting mid-rounder Player X, we advise to exercise patience, and that’s that. When are people going to learn not to evaluate performance or make snap decisions based on one week’s worth of games?

Yesterday, I received my first of these themed tweets, which read as follows:

Hazelbaker or Aledmys Diaz worth a pickup over Ozuna?

I responded with…

Unless you’re referring to Pablo Ozuna, then absolutely not

Which prompted his reply…

Haha you still haven’t given up on Marcel? Interesting

So this fantasy owner is wondering whether he should pick up Jeremy Hazelbaker or Aledmys Diaz for Marcell Ozuna.

Hazelbaker has enjoyed an excellent 18 plate appearances in his first taste of Major League action…as a 28 year old. He has received a bunch of starts in center and left field and given his combination of power and speed, would be intriguing if he had a starting job. But a starting job, he does not have. He has also remained in the minors for far too long and is now with his third organization since 2013. There’s probably a good reason he never made it to the Majors before this.

Diaz is another Cardinal, who will pick up some starts at shortstop for as long as Jhonny Peralta is on the disabled list. He brings a bit of power and a touch of speed. But he also won’t be an every day starter and has hit eighth when he has earned the start.

Ozuna was a popular sleeper pick in the presason, and deservedly so. He has excellent power, which could very well be boosted playing in a home park featuring shorter fences now. But, oh the horror! Ozuna is wOBA’ing just .129 through his first 19 plate appearances of the season. Nineteen plate appearances! Could you imagine if you evaluated players and then made transactions based solely on four-game samples?!

This may be obvious for most, but there are clearly many still out there who are either new to the hobby or have a jittery trigger finger. After one week, heck, after two, three, and maybe even four weeks, you must do your best to fight the temptation to outright drop your slow starters.

If you do at least want to dive deep into your struggling players’ metrics, rather than blindly practice excruciating patience like I typically do, then looking at surface results like a triple slash line is silly. We want to know if there has been a degradation of underlying skills. Those skills will help us determine if there is any cause for concern. A poor triple slash alone tells us nothing other than what we already know — that Player X has posted poor results. After we have two to three weeks in the books, feel free to start analyzing a hitter’s strikeout rate. It’s the only metric that stabilizes in fewer than 100 plate appearances. You will have to wait a whole lot longer for any of the other metrics to convey some meaning.

So unless you read about some hitting mechanics change that might provide an explanation for a hitter’s troubles or surprising surge, just ignore it, and…do nothing.

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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What if you’re in a 14-man league with 43 man rosters (5 DL spots and an 8-man minor league roster) and you kept Schwarber & Pollock and you just lost Choo for 4-6 weeks? I was thinking about maybe throwing some lighter fluid on the rest of my roster and tossing a match on it.