And Now for Something Completely Different…
I apologize to those who were waiting with bated breath for the deep SS prospects that you were anticipating this week. Have no fear, I will hook you up with some nice SS stashes for your farm system in the near future. Today, I want to write about the most important foundation to a great dynasty baseball team…your pitching staff. In most dynasty formats, as in MLB, you must develop the ideal pitching staff to win a championship AND build a dynasty.
In redraft or shallow keeper leagues, the formula for success is fairly universal in standard settings…work trades to stack your lineup, have one or two ace-type starters that will get you 20 points a game, and acquire multiple closers. You stream starters a few times a week as your settings allow for some cheap points and you find yourself in contention for a championship nearly every season and pray to the baseball “gods” to avoid catastrophic injuries to your stars. In most dynasty formats, this formula just won’t work. Most leagues have 20+ teams and/or deep rosters. Waiver wire is usually barren and streaming (thankfully) is not a viable option. Strategy has to be deliberate AND diligently followed. The way you build your staff will be critical to your success. Pitchers seemingly go down every week for season-ending Tommy John surgery. Closers lose their jobs, win them back, then lose them again, often within a month. In deep leagues, this is can be very difficult to overcome if you don’t have a plan. The down side to dynasty leagues is that it can take longer to turn teams around. This can be very discouraging UNLESS you have the three “P’s” — Patience, Pluck and a Plan.
PLAN – This may seem like common sense, but in reality, many fantasy owners don’t have a plan other than…”I hope I win every trade and my players don’t suck.” Well, deep keeper and dynasty leagues require a little more of a plan or you will never build a dynasty. My purpose of this segment is not to give you a plan, rather to make sure you spend some time creating a legitimate plan. It is CRITICAL that you read and understand the settings and scoring of your league. Most dynasty leagues will have a charter, constitution or rulebook that spells out all the unique rules, beyond the scoring setup. STUDY THIS!!! You must understand this in order to be able to formulate a plan that will work for your league. Your plan will likely be different if a league has salary and/or contracts rather than strict limit on keepers. You plan will be different based on league pitching restrictions such as innings min/max or “games started” min/max. Your plan will be different if the scoring is set up for pitchers to rack up points or merely limit the damage (like what they are asked to do in real life.) The point is “know the freaking rules” or you will struggle to keep up with those guys who live and breathe dynasty baseball. I recommend writing down bullet points regarding rules/settings in your own words. This will help you process the highlights and formulate a plan that makes sense. Be specific! Be intentional! Be realistic!
PLUCK – Many of you may see this word in a fantasy baseball piece and must be thinking, “WTF?” Webster’s secondary definition =pluck (noun): a quality that makes you continue trying to do or achieve something that is difficult : courage and determination.
This is precisely what you need to successfully build a dynasty pitching staff. You need determination and backbone. Don’t be afraid to make a risky trade. Don’t be afraid to overpay for a guy if you did your research. Don’t let some hot-shot owner “bully” you down from what you perceive the value of your assets are in comparison to what they are offering. I could go on about trade tactics, but that is another piece. Point is you will have to be bold to make this work. Don’t be afraid to trade a big name pitcher for multiple young pieces. Sure you might get a bust, but you might get one or more studs that can lead you to “not one, not two, not three, not” … well, you get the point. Sometimes a quantity of trades CAN overcome a terrible trade. Key is…Have a plan AND have the stones to follow through on it and make the tough decisions.
PATIENCE – This might seem obvious, but it is extremely important. Being patient does NOT mean trading your prospects for Aaron Harang because he is having a great April. Veteran pitchers will likely end up pitching to the back of their baseball cards. Your plan will likely take more than just months, but years to pay off. However, if it’s a good plan, and you have the backbone to make the moves necessary to implement it…you can build a dynasty that is a perennial contender. For example, I have a replacement owner in my Real Deal Dynasty Baseball League that took over a team with fringe talent. A move here and there could have put him into potential playoff contention. He realized that this is nowhere near a championship level team so let’s do this right. He traded away many valuable veteran assets to raised eyebrows around the league. The league setup has your 25 man roster plus 15 minor league slots that make up the 40 Man reserves. Owners can taxi guys back and forth at will as long as they have minor league options left in real life. In addition, each team has a farm system with unlimited slots that are protected each off-season as long as the prospects have no MLB experience. This owner has stocked his farm system with over 30 players in one season and nearly half are Top 100 prospects. He will suck this year and probably next year. He will likely be decent the following year. However, if he stays the course and doesn’t panic, he has the foundation of a dynasty run. This long, drawn out example (and shameless plug) does have a point. In dynasty leagues, your plan is often going to be long-term. You have to be committed to it or you will be wasting your time. I have heard owners say that they don’t want to use long-term plans in cash leagues. My response to that is…your donations the first few years are not in vain. You are paying for the entertainment and enjoyment of the dynasty building experience. In a few years, you will reap the rewards and likely make your investment back and more.Bryan Luhrs Real Deal Dynasty Sports Leagues, Creator & Commissioner MajorLeagueFantasySports.com, Fantasy Baseball Writer www.realdealdynasty.com @realdealdynasty