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5 Tips For Maximizing ROI Of Your FAAB

Many fantasy baseball leagues implement Free Agent Acquisition Budgets (FAAB) as a way to level the playing field for acquiring players on waivers and the free agent player pool.

ESPN has been offering FAAB as a waiver management option in their free fantasy baseball games since 2010. We’re not sure when Yahoo! and some of the other major game providers began offering it.

But thanks to back to back seasons participating in the BBA Blogzkrieg! as members of the fantasy chapter of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance – we’ve gotten quite familiar with the ins and outs of managing FAAB (even if our roto rankings in the league may indicate otherwise).

AFTER the jump, you will find five tips for getting the greatest return on investment for your FAAB dollars. 

FAAB Tip #1: Pay For Saves

At Fantasy Baseball Dugout, we take a little bit different approach to closers than other sites. We stand by the strategy of cornering the market on closers in your league since they (normally) keep your ERA and WHIP down while contributing saves and K’s. So if you’re in a 10-team league, you better have at least three closers. If you don’t, your chances of competing for saves dramatically drops.

If you are going to use your FAAB budget to pay for saves, be ready to get the checkbook out. It’s not uncommon for fantasy owners to spend as much as 30% of their FAAB budget on a coveted closer – particularly if the closer is an elite pitcher coming off injury or a newly established incumbent on a competitive team. In the 10-team mixed roto league we play in as members of the BBA, Orioles closer Jim Johnson was purchased for $41 – almost 30% of the team’s yearly amount.

FAAB dollars don’t do you any good if they stay in your fantasy baseball bank account. So if you’re going to use the money, you might as well use it on closers.

FAAB Tip #2: Don’t (Over)Pay For Prospects

This strategy for FAAB spending is similar to managing your spending on prospects during an auction league draft. Few prospects ever live up to their hype in fantasy baseball when they first hit the Bigs (Evan Longoria in 2009 and Stephen Strasburg in 2010 count as exceptions to this rule). Because of this, very rarely are prospects worth large FAAB investments.

In most auction-based keeper leagues, the FAAB cost of a rookie often carries over as his keeper price for the following year. So, if you can find a value (say, 2011 Eric Hosmer for $5 or less), that you can use in 2012 – it might be a good buy. Anything more, however, and you’re probably going to be disappointed by what you spend on a prospect. Save your money.

FAAB Tip #3: Monitor Your AL-to-NL Pitcher Trades

In AL and NL-only leagues, this is probably the most popular method for spending FAAB dollars. According to THT Fantasy, the numbers show that when a pitcher gets traded from the AL to the NL, his statistics improve in the following ways:

  • Strikeout rate (K/9) improves by more than .5 points
  • ERA drops by .41 points
  • BABIP drops by .008 points
More strikeouts. Lower ERA. Lower batting average on balls in play. Seems like a no-brainer to store your FAAB dollars for the last couple weeks of July and spend them on pitching in your NL-only league as former AL-only players become eligible.

FAAB Tip #4: Establish A Weekly Budget

Knowing your FAAB cap and setting up a budget for each fantasy week of competition will keep you from spending too much money on streaky players early in the season. If you have $150 (like we do in BBA Blogzkrieg) and 24 weeks to spend it, then you need to be especially stingy with your player bids in April and May. Don’t go all in on a player who might produce diminishing returns during the dog days of summer. Instead, ration out your funds and use FAAB early in the year to plug obvious holes, like adding a closer or picking up a power bat to help you improve in the counting stats.

FAAB Tip #5: Don’t Be Afraid To Bid $0

Finally… just because you have it doesn’t mean you have to use it! FAAB is helpful if you are going to get in a bidding war for a player. However, if you’re the only fantasy owner coming into week 3 who is requesting the services of Ike Davis (like BeeZee in the Blogzkrieg), he can be had for no dough.

If you think there is going to be a bidding war on a player, then you better prepare to throw some money in the fire. However, if you are making a waiver claim on a player you might not need every day, you can improve you team and seriously save your money for when a big name player switches leagues.

Five Other Great Links About Fantasy Baseball FAABs

  1. How do FAABs work? (Yahoo! Help)
  2. Why your league should use FAAB this year (ESPN)
  3. FAAB Strategies (FanGraphs)
  4. How To Approach Fantasy Baseball Waivers With FAAB (KFFL)
  5. A fairer way for fantasy leagues to dole out free agents (USA Today)

Are there any additional tips you have for getting the most out of your FAAB budget? Please share. The best tips left in comments might even get tweeted!

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