October 2, 2014
Trades and the Importance of Hustle
There is a moment of dread that almost all fantasy baseball owners have faced, the moment when you are informed that a player you have been intending on targeting gets traded to another team. The metaphorical sibling of this moment is when you are informed that player has been traded and at that moment you realize that you should have been targeting that player, especially given the price tag. The typical response to such a trade usually goes like this (I have removed the profanity and replaced it with the meaning behind the profanity): “That’s really unfair, Team X did not get enough in return.” The best part follows: “I would have given Team X more for that player/those players.” Sometimes, we even get the cherry on top: “Well, we can all pack it in now and hand the trophy to Team Y (the trade partner of Team X).”
Allegedly unbalanced trades usually result in complaints of injustice from team owners who were not involved with the trade and even end up with owners trying to veto trades (my solution: do not play in leagues with vetoes). This is typical human response: Get worked up about unfairness and demand fairness, but do not attempt to fix the root cause, especially when the fixing involves action on our behalf. J.P. Breen (smart dude) sums this phenomenon up nicely in these two tweets:
Humans prefer justice over improvement; we prefer to complain about the actions of others than to find ways to improve ourselves. Instead of working harder at finding trade opportunities or initiating trade talk, we would rather call the trades that others make unfair. If we are complaining about a trade, it almost always means we were outhustled. The assumption here is that we liked the trade for one team, but not the other; therefore, we would have offered as much and maybe even slightly more to be on the preferred side of the trade. Such misses stem from either failing to recognize an opportunity or failing to properly engage in trade talks. Really, we only have ourselves to blame.
But I do not write this to chastise, I write this with the hope that we can improve. What follows are recommendations that will either help us be on the envious side of trades or at the very least, help drive up the price for desired trade targets (by increasing demand).
Effort trumps skill
Analogy: 10 fishing boats with average fisherman will yield more fish than one fishing boat with good fishermen. Sure the one boat will have the best efficiency, but the ten boats will catch the most fish. Luckily we do not have to pay for boat insurance in fantasy baseball; instead, we can focus on getting the most lines in the water and spend our time searching for catchable fish.
Do your homework
I also recommend spending extra time looking at unfamiliar trade partners (owners that you have not traded with much or at all). We are more likely to repeat past actions than undertake new actions; consequently, we are more likely to miss opportunities that are outside of our normal trade network.
Keep options open
Most importantly, get studying and get hustling before your league-mates start plucking the players you want. Oh, and enjoy the playoffs.