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Fantasy University: Tinker Stinker

It’s been less than a week, in what ultimately is a six month marathon fantasy baseball season. Teams have played fewer than 2% of the total number of games they will play this season. Before we continue, do me a favor. Take a deep breath. Hold it in. Keep holding. Keep holding. Now exhale.

I feel like this is a conversation had every single year, but it begs recollection in 2015. These first few weeks of the season, and especially this first week and first few days, the urge to tinker and tweak can be an overwhelming one. To get the jump on the big breakout star of 2015 before all of your leaguemates, so that you can rub it in their faces in September of what a shrewd monitor of Free Agency you are; how your superior wit, knowledge, and understanding of the inner workings of baseball set you apart from them. I get it. I want that too. However, keep in mind that there’s a high likelihood that you’ve drafted your team sometime in the last several weeks. Since then, there’s been a very small handful of games played in all of Major League Baseball. If these same games were played two months from now, you wouldn’t bat an eye. You wouldn’t be re-assessing Dustin Pedroia’s potential Home Run output if he had a random two Home Run performance on Memorial Day weekend. You wouldn’t be asking if you should drop Mat Latos if he got his doors blown off in his ninth start of the year.

I have a general rule (general in that sometimes I violate it if given a reason, i.e. injury, legitimate reason to believe a player will bust for an entire season, when my compulsion gets the best of me), that I don’t make any major Drops until Memorial Day. Guys I took fliers on can come and go, and be replaced with other fliers, hot starts, and breakout candidates, sure; but if I invested a legitimate draft pick or chunk of change at auction on a player, I’m not going to let a slow April, or first two weeks, or first start, dissuade me. Is this always the smartest move? Not necessarily. But, it certainly saves me from dropping guys I later regret, which is about the worst feeling in the world as a fantasy owner (says the guy who dropped both Corey Kluber and Garrett Richards just a season ago, so in reality I’m basically writing this to remind myself of the misery). Even then the aforementioned players aren’t even those I’m really referring to, since they were more sleeper candidates and fliers I was taking, and not players I was necessarily expecting production from, as much as hoping production from (this is what I tell myself so that I can sleep at night, at least).

The general moral of the story is two-fold. The first pillar is, don’t tinker just to tinker. I know it’s fun and exciting, and in the spirit of the entire reason that we probably started playing this game to begin with. I get that. Honestly, I do. But, tinkering for the sake of it, trading for the sake of trading, and having a never ending revolving door on your roster is generally not a recipe for success. And I can’t be certain, but I’m told by others that as good as it may feel to tinker with your roster, ultimately winning feels exponentially better than that; so I take their word for it. The second pillar, is not to overvalue early production. It’s difficult, but understand that we treat a 2-for-25 stretch in April a lot different than we do in July for some reason (some of that reason is that in July, we have other data from this season to go on, whereas in April we don’t, but still), when really, if we are firm believers in our projections and pre-season valuation of players, we should remain firm in our beliefs as the calendar turns from April to May. Will you potentially miss out on a gem from Free Agency? Yes, possibly. But far more likely is that the player you are releasing (unless, as previously mentioned, you are swapping one flier for another) was, is, and will continue to be more valuable than whatever flavor of the month you’re plugging into your lineup until you rinse and repeat this same process next week or the week after.

Resist the urge. It’s difficult. A few series does not a whole season make, though. Jake Lamb notched 7 RBI through the first two games of the season. If you want to take a look at him, and have a player you took late who you think Lamb could potentially be more valuable than going forward, take a shot. But remember, there’s a reason Lamb isn’t on your team already. You didn’t think enough of him to draft him a few weeks ago, or pick him up before two days of play. Just don’t go dropping Mat Latos for him (not just yet, anyway).

Patience, they say, is a virtue. I’ve never fully understood what the hell that means. But if a virtue means a better shot at winning your fantasy league, you best be practicing it. Dismissed.