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Critical Mass

Today’s guest blogger is Philadelphia attorney Jim Greenfield–a regular reader of Fantasy Baseball Dugout, softball outfielder for the Bulldogs, and a veteran fantasy baseball player. 

Greenfield began his fantasy baseball (then known more commonly as Rotisserie Baseball) career in 1985 in the Philadelphia Lawyers Baseball League (I’ll bet trades took forever to negotiate in that league.).  In 1993, his article “Dump the Anti-Dumping Rule!” was published in the Rotisserie League Baseball annual by the founding fathers of fantasy baseball.  The controversial article ultimately led to the revocation of the rule.  Now, that’s the kind of attorney you want; one who can change the rules.  (More on Anti-Dumping strategies

Moose Drool fantasy baseball teamIn his 25 years of successful fantasy baseball play, Greenfield’s Moose Drool team has won numerous fantasy baseball championships.  He swears that Moose Drool is actually a local beer from Montana (it is, we looked it up).

Each year, the Moose Drool manager gathers with his fellow fantasy baseball league managers at the swanky Radnor Hotel in suburban Philadelphia for Rotisserie League opening day.  Some even call their wives to tell them where they are.

Ah, spring has arrived in the sodden northeast-rhododendrons bloom, dogs snuggle up to us with invisible poison ivy oiles in their fur, and the fantasy baseball world reaches Critical Mass.  It’s time to make a meaningful, sober (OK, maybe I’m giving you too much credit) evaluation of your team’s strengths and weaknesses, and plot strategy for the long slog that hopefully will carry you to glory.As you emerge, squinty-eyed, into natural light from the dank cave, basement or brothel in which your league has held its auction or draft, regardless of how much of a savant you’ve decided you are, you’re likely to experience some level of bewilderment.  What do I really have here?  Your question won’t be answered during the season’s first couple of fortnights, as player performances pleasnatly exceed or miserably lag expectations and your position in the standings gyrates from day to day.  At what point do my stats start to mean something? 

Fantasy Baseball Reaches the Quarter Pole

Brandon Moss, PiratesAfter 25 years of this terminal fantasy affliction, I think I’ve found the answer: six weeks.  At that point the season is nearly one-quarter complete.  Pretenders like Emilio Bonifacio have been exposed (no, he won’t swipe 70, especially if he can’t hit his weight).  Hibernating talents have risen from their dens (Brandon Moss – 1 RBI in his first 59 AB?).  More to the point, because of the cumulation of AB and IP, a dominating or disastrous day will no longer result int eh gain or loss of several standings points in the “average” categories — BA, ERA and WHIP.  You have reached Critical Mass.

Today, May 18, the season completes its sixth week.  Welcome to Critical Mass.

As you look for ways to reconfigure your team through trades, remember that although love is rapture, it has no place in our game.  Players are commodities and you are operating in a marketplace.  Follow the First Law of Roto Gravity: Deal a player whose bust-out performance can’t reasonably be expected to continue; acquire one who almost has to get better.

Trade Ibanez, Acquire Atkins

Garrett Atkins looking goodMaybe you’re a Phillies fan and, like the rest of the city, you’ve dropped to your knees in reverance for the remarkable hitting talent of Raul Ibanez.  Though it may break your bleeding liberal heart to do it, trade him now.    Seriously, the guy will be 37 in a couple of weeks and he’s on pace for an impossible .368, 58, 157.  His value will never be higher.  An how about he Rockie enigma, Garrett Atkins?  He’s at .193, 3, 14, and never in a full season has he hit less than .286 or driven in fewer than 89 runs.  He’ll snap out of it soon or the dismal Rockies will deal him as part of a housecleaning and he’ll explode in another venue.  Either way, the guy can flat-out hit, so unless you read that he’s developed hemorrhoids the girth of cantaloupes, get him now.

One category you may already have evaluated is Saves, the lone exception to the concept of Critical Mass.  It doesn’t take six weeks to know if you’ll be competitive here.  If you now have only one healthy closer and haven’t been able to acquire a second, you won’t catch up because this category becomes non-competitive faster than any other.  Deal your lonesome bullpen stalwart to a team with a chance to gain ground in Saves and accept your one point.  It won’t kill you in a 4X4 league, and it’s hardly even a flesh wound in 5X5 competition.

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