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Ferris Wheel: Fictional sell highs
Posted by David Ferris at 4/19/2007 8:49:00 AM
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One of the great things - and terrible things - about the Internet is that it gives everyone a voice and a forum. We have more people than ever writing, discussing, blogging, and talking about any subject you can think of - including our passion, fantasy sports.

Often this can be a positive thing, but let's be honest - there's a lot of hack journalism (and blogging) out there, too. I'll help you identify some of it with respect to playing roto.

  • "Buy Albert Pujols Low!"

  • "Sell ___ High!" (where ___ = scrub player)

    Anytime you see someone passing off this sort of analysis, turn the page, or better yet, delete the bookmark. I've played this game for 20 years and trust me, you CAN'T buy an established overlord like Albert Pujols "low" just because said overlord had two bad weeks. Now if Pujols gets hurt, okay, maybe the price comes down. But a small slump doesn't make him discounted, unless you're playing in such an unsophisticated league you don't even need our help to begin with.

    The opposite theory perpetuated in hack journalism is the "sell high on a scrub" theory. Hey, it sounds nice, cashing in big when Ramon Ortiz runs off three wins or Jason Tyner steals a few bases. But again, fantasy owners are more sophisticated than that. It's very doubtful anyone is going to confuse Ramon Ortiz with David Ortiz and cut you a giant check based on two weeks of unexpected results.

    I'm not suggesting that buy-lows and sell-highs don't exist, because they obviously do. But to buy-low on a player, there has to be some doubt there, some uncertainty on the other owner's part. And to sell-high on a player, there has to be at least some public perception that the player in question is finally tapping into an upside or a level he's been close to (or considered capable of) in the past. Buying low and selling high generally comes with risk, because our low guy might not turn it around, and our high guy might actually be this good. It's not as simple as buying Pujols low, and selling Tyner high, and it annoys me that some two-bit hacks want to more or less pass this off as analysis.

    As you were.

  • Comments....

    So...what if whoever does the updates on Carlos Zambrano told me to buy him low (I already own him)? Does that make the rotowire guys hacks, because I am having doubts and uncertainty about maybe I'm the hack?
    Posted by obzen at 4/19/2007 10:00:00 AM
    I made that update, actually. Zambrano's off to a terrible start, and you can buy him at a discount in many leagues, I think. The key to the rec here is that Zambrano's poor results were not due to bad luck, but actual poor performance. So it's not like someone can say - look at his Ks, he's fine - his ERA is bad luck. No, his walks are terrible - he's actually pitched badly. But he's the rare player who's durable and has a track record of being terrible in exactly this way, so I think he's reliable. Maybe everyone else thinks that, too, but I'd be surprised if some of his owners weren't willing to part with him a little more cheaply.
    Posted by cliss at 4/19/2007 10:33:00 AM
    I think most pitchers can be bought low for one simple fact - when they get off to a really poor start (or battle through a tough period), there's a tendency for owners to worry about an injury (reported or not). Also consider that with less marking periods on a starter, there's a tendency to overrate the importance of a single start or small group of turns.

    Santana and a select few others would be the exceptions to the pitcher rule, of course, but I do think it's possible to get Zambrano cheaper today than you could on March 15 in many leagues.
    Posted by spianow at 4/19/2007 11:29:00 AM

    And trust me, Chris Liss is no hack. Read his stuff. Listen to his radio show. Follow his lead. I'm 100 percent serious on this.
    Posted by spianow at 4/19/2007 11:30:00 AM
    I know Liss is no hack, I've been coming to the site since before it became a pay site and I've been a subscriber ever since. I'm also a huge fan of Beat the Book, so Liss really drew me in a long time ago.

    I was a lot more interested in Zambrano's buy low potential. Is it possible that contact talks with the Cubs are affecting his performance? He seems to lack that fire from the past that led him to strike out the side following a couple walks, and to start yelling while pointing to the sky and walking to the dugout.

    Would you trade him for Ted Lilly right now?
    Posted by obzen at 4/19/2007 1:29:00 PM
    I'd rather have Zambrano than Lilly - Lilly's K rate will be good, but watch out for the walks and fly balls - he could have problems when the weather warms and the wind is blowing out at Wrigley. Contract could be an issue, but isn't the perception that players usually have big seasons when they're in a contract year? You never know about stuff like that, but for now, I still think Zambrano's the same guy you drafted.

    And I should hire you two as my publicists.
    Posted by cliss at 4/19/2007 2:54:00 PM
    There are levels of "buy low" too. Someone like Zambrano, or Brett Myers, you should be able to get at a discount right now, but that discount might only be 10% (even 20% if you're lucky or the current owner is really dumb) of their preseason value.

    Someone like John Patterson, on the other hand, could probably be had substantially cheaper given last year's injury trouble and this season's awful start.

    "Discounts", in fantasy terms, are simply a measure of how much risk you're assuming (or are perceived to be assuming). And Patterson carries a lot more risk than Zambrano.
    Posted by ESiegrist at 4/19/2007 3:10:00 PM
    Let's not forget a most important key that everything is relative and nothing is done in a vacuum. I often find fantasy owners asking if A & B are a good trade for C & D. It depends on the overall makeup of both fantasy teams and how the trade impacts positively and negatively on those two teams and others in the league. Sounds simple but it's been a valuable guidepost in my 16 years of play. For example, I put the Yanks' Wang on waivers for nothing last year in August. Why? Because I knew the last place owner would pick him up and his wins would help me against my competition. My staff was in a position where it could lose a $10 Wang and not miss a beat. Sometimes there are times to buy high and sell low. It all depends upon one's relative perspective.
    Posted by jtopper at 4/19/2007 4:33:00 PM

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