2018 MLB Draft Guide: Patience is Your Best Friend
Your fantasy baseball draft creates both excitement and momentum heading into the regular season, but Dom Murtha urges you to remain patient with players so you don't give away a premium MLB asset simply off to a slow start.
According to traditional Catholic teachings, dating all the way back to the fifth century, “patience” is one of the seven virtues of humanity that directly opposes the more famous “Seven Deadly Sins.” In modern American society, we collectively have adopted the phrase “patience is a virtue” in our everyday vernacular, using it when preaching the importance of keeping your cool in unnerving or high-stress situations. While that phrase may be true and the Catholics may have been en pointe for teaching it, enforcing the word “patience” synonymously with “virtue” can prove problematic for those concerned with fantasy baseball.
The word virtue is defined literally as “behavior showing high moral standards” – implying that in virtue you are sacrificing something in the name of morality. For all that fantasy baseball brings out of people, morality is not one of them. For anyone experienced in the world of fantasy sports, it is no secret that cutthroat behavior is applied by all owners involved in each league. Because of this, for us at Fantasy Alarm we tend to consider patience in a fantasy sense far less virtuous and more as a companion towards fantasy baseball success. By that we mean that patience is not merely something exercised only by the virtuous fantasy baseball owner, but rather it goes hand in hand with any fantasy baseball owner experiencing success year in and year out.
Because of this, you will not see this article titled “Patience Is A Virtue” – just as exists in every other site’s draft guide – but rather we title it “Patience Is Your Best Friend.” because as you will see below, it is one of the most important allies you can wield throughout the lengthy and treacherous campaign that encompasses a fantasy baseball season.
Okay, enough of the preamble; you are probably looking for some examples of what I’m talking about, now aren’t you?
Let’s travel all the way back to last season, 2017…
The Case For Kluber
Entering the year, Corey Kluber was coming off of a 2016 in which he posted an 18-9 record, a 3.14 ERA, and over 225 strikeouts. Considering this, he properly earned an ADP (average draft position) of 2.11, or in other words, a late second round grade in mostfantasy drafts. To say that this was a lofty selection and investment for prospective fantasy owners is a true understatement. As often can occur though, with lofty expectations comesearly season struggles, and Corey Kluber was no different. By the first week in May, the sky appeared to be falling.
Kluber got off to a horrendous start, especially when considering his high draft position, as he pitched to a bloated 5.06 ERA in 37 1/3 innings. Worst of all though, after his first start in May where he lasted just three innings and was knocked around to the tune of five earned runs on seven hits, Kluber was placed on the DL due to lower back tightness.
Understandably, Kluber owners were frantic. As the month of May wore on, many of them were unloading him from their rosters via trade, while owners who played in no-DL leagues felt their hand forced to just outright cut the former Cy Young Award winner. As you will see is thematic in this article… Those who showed patience however, were the ones who won their leagues.
After a few weeks off, Kluber came back in June, looking like a new man. Over his next 23 regular season starts, Kluber would go on to pitch to an incredible 1.62 ERA, while leading the league in wins, WAR, WHIP, K/BB, complete games, and shutouts. He won the American League Cy Young Award and finished as the number one overall fantasy player according to ESPN’s “Player Rater.” Through early season struggles and a lengthy injury, it was very easy for many owners to give up on Kluber, but with patience and faith in his talent, smart fantasy owners got themselves the number one overall fantasy player when the year was said and done.
Rise And Fall (And Rise Again) Of “All Rise”
Patience isn’t something that is just tested early on in the season, however. Another prime example from last year was rookie phenom Aaron Judge, who tore through the first half of the season in historic fashion. Despite the ridiculous full season pace he set in the first half of 2017 (.329 average, 60 home runs, 132 RBI, 122 walks, 12 steals, and 150 runs), his second half of the year began at a contrarily sputtering pace. In 179 combined at bats in the months of July and August, Judge posted a paltry .206 batting average, while he hit just 10 home runs and drove in an even more disappointing 20 RBI. Just as he set the fantasy sports world ablaze early on with talks of the next Babe Ruth having arrived, Judge’s second half performance seemed one that had people selling his stock quicker than Enron in 2001. Once again though, for those who exercised patience, they were rewarded…
In September – the final month of the fantasy baseball regular season and playoffs – Judge delivered his best numbers when fantasy owners needed them most. In all, Judge racked up a whopping 15 homers, 28 walks, 32 RBI, seven doubles, and 29 runs scored. He accomplished all of this to the tune of a .311 average and a .463 OBP. The patient owners who stuck it out through the dog days with their guy were likely gifted a fantasy baseball title when all was said and done. His September numbers were incomparable to any other big leaguer when the games mattered the most. Patience wins again!
In the fantasy sports world, exhibiting patience is rarely necessary when concerning the term “consistency,” however in this scenario we are discussing Robinson Cano and how he is consistently a slower starter and a stronger finisher.
As you can see with Cano, while his early season stats (April, May, June) over his career are respectable, they aren’t up to the standards of fantasy owners who spend an early round pick on him each season. He’s a career hitter of well over .300 with plus power and run production, but much of that doesn’t appear until the second half (July, August, September) of his seasons. In fact he’s had several April’s and May’s in which he has batted under .200, testing the patience of fantasy owners. But anyone who knows Cano, understands that he will heat up in the second half like a microwave. A good tip with Cano is to keep tabs on him and the owner who drafted him, instead of drafting him yourself. Once he inevitably struggles early on, see if you can snag him at pennies on the dollar. Your patience with him will undoubtedly pay off, while the other owner’s lack there of will come back to bite them when the games start to matter the most.
This approach works for anyone with a proven track record of being a better second half performer than they are early on. Fantasy owners quickly become impatient, so use it to your advantage in the trade market.
In the cutthroat world of fantasy sports there are no allies… you will find no friends in other owners throughout your league. Simply put, expectations of morality and virtue can be thrown out the window when concerning fantasy baseball. In such a sport where only one can win and everyone is out for themselves, desperation, anxiety, and rash decision-making becomes the standard set of emotions and thought. The best fantasy owners quickly find that the only friend they actually have out there is patience. When properly employed, patience can prevent you from making a reactionary ill-advised trade, from giving up too quickly on a highly drafted player, and from selling the farm in order to obtain an unproven and inexplicably red-hot player. Essentially, in a lot of respects, patience can be the main difference in you winning or disappointing in your fantasy leagues each season.