Collette Calls: Patience is Not Always a Virtue

Collette Calls: Patience is Not Always a Virtue

This article is part of our Collette Calls series.

Working with technology keeps the lights on in my house, so I go digital when purchasing books. I have the Kindle app on my iPad and get my books that way or I go to the library and check books out. There are very few books that I will obtain in print, but one of those books is the Baseball Forecaster from BaseballHQ. I first purchased it in 2003 and have every year since then and plan on getting every year it is produced. I've even provided content for it a few times, and it is a constant travel companion with me while I fly the friendly skies in the winter months for my job. If you know me and my job, you know that is a lot of flying.

I was in Boston this week for work, and while flying back on Thursday night to beat Winter Storm Jonas to Charlotte, I started reading the front matter of the book. I tend to jump straight into the player profiles each year, and that was the case this year as I've had the book for nearly a month now. I started reading Ron Shandler's "Segue" article and I got to a point in the article where I felt he was talking directly at me.

"The biggest change over the past 30+ years is that the 23 players we draft each March now have a far lesser impact on the final standings than they did in 1984 ... in-season management now plays a larger role and fantasy leaguers more adept at that task tend to do better."

Yep, that's me. Last season, the talk was not if the Nationals could win 95 games as much as if they would win 100 or more and if their entire rotation would be 15-game winners. On paper, the Nationals looked very strong but in reality, they were a large disappointment. That sounds like my last couple of AL Tout Wars teams. We use OnRoto as our stat service for ToutWars and one of the tools in their toolbox allows owners to play the "What If?" game and shows you what the final standings would have looked like if every team had to lock their roster on draft day for the year. Yours truly was that locked-roster champion each of the last two seasons yet I didn't finish in the top three either time. The draft day software always likes my roster, but I don't like how the final standings have looked since the time I finished second place some years ago.

I have admitted to my in-season roster management shortcomings numerous times on the RotoWire Fantasy Today radio spots as well as The Sleeper and The Bust podcast with Paul Sporer over at Fangraphs. I am too conservative with early season FAAB bids, and I have also had too many leagues on my plate in years past, which has not allowed me to give any one league the proper attention when it comes to paying attention to two-start weeks or pitching matchups, nagging injuries, etc. Last season, I pared my leagues down to just a small handful and thought I had a better command on what was happening for my rosters, but that did not completely solve my conservative bidding or waiting too long to address a particular category via trade. Picking up Ben Revere via FAAB at the trade deadline barely made a dent in my stolen base deficit and it did not help that Revere decided to stop running once he left Philadelphia. Conversely, I was too aggressive in changing up my roster as I had quick triggers and cut the likes of Chris Young after a 3-for-50 slump and cut Francisco Lindor two weeks before he was called up by Cleveland. Did I mention both players were cut in order for me to keep Jesus Montero on my reserve list?

This is not to minimize the importance of draft day as it remains rather important to your overall success, but draft day is now more of an ingredient to the concrete that makes the foundation of the house rather than the entire slab unless you play in a NFBC league. The effort we put into preparing for our drafts should equal the effort we put into tweaking our rosters each week. We wouldn't go into a draft haphazardly prepared, but some (raising hand) half-ass it in the early months of the season while the roster looks good and then end up playing catch-up when it's mostly too late to do so.

I have a reason for doing that, and it's the real baseball person in me. I often reference the stabilization points for offensive and pitching statistics in my articles because I also write about the Rays for the ESPN SweetSpot Blog Network and have to apply those principles into the content I develop there as we inform readers about the upside and risk of players the Rays are using, acquiring or releasing. Later in the aforementioned Segue article, Ron is again speaking directly to me:

In the end, the adept fantasy tacticians win by making successful decisions using smaller and smaller sample sizes ... in the early part of the season, a handful of at-bats or innings are all we get to take a chance on a player who could have five months of impact ... later in the season, we might have more data but we're making decisions that will affect only a handful of at-bat or innings down the stretch.

If we look back to April, names like Stephen Vogt and D.J. LeMahieu started off hot against historically poor track records while Marco Estrada and Ubaldo Jimenez did the same on the pitching side of the ledger. A view through a larger sample-size lens told owners to stay away because those players were historically poor performers, but each ended up being more valuable at season's end than players with more recognizable name value.

Let's look at how many weeks into a fantasy season it would take for the stabilization points to occur for offensive and pitching statistics:

Strikeout Rate60 Plate Appearances2
Walk Rate120 Plate Appearances4
XBH Rate1,610 Plate Appearances78
HR Rate170 Plate Appearances7
Batting Avg910 At Bats45
OBP460 Plate Appearances20
SLG320 At Bats26
ISO160 At Bats13
Flyball Rate80 Balls in Play6
Line Drive Rate600 Balls in Play48
BABIP820 Balls in Play60

Strikeout Rate70 Batters Faced4
Walk Rate170 Batters Faced10
HR Rate1,320 Batters Faced76
Average630 Batters Faced38
BABIP2,000 Balls in Play150
HR/FB400 Flyballs40

On the offensive side of the ledger, there are very few statistics we can allow to mature to the point of stabilization before pulling the trigger on a player and for pitching, it's even worse. It sounds simple, especially when this fun of ours is predicated with the word "fantasy," but we really need to suspend reality to become better fantasy baseball players. We simply don't have the time to remove emotion from the equation over the course of a fantasy season. Sure, we can look at the larger body of work for the player over the last 500 to 1,000 plate appearances, but we also have to factor in physical conditions and the like to come to a better point of evaluation. Even then, the best prognostication is going to be wrong 25-30 percent of the time.

I don't know about you, but I'm very much looking forward to another season of internal struggle, strife, stress, over-reaction and competition with friends and colleagues!

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Jason Collette
Jason has been helping fantasy owners since 1999 at RotoJunkie, Fanball, Baseball Prospectus and now here at RotoWire. You can hear Jason weekly on many of the Sirius/XM Fantasy channel offerings throughout the season as well as on the Sleeper and the Bust podcast every Sunday. A ten-time FSWA finalist, Jason won the FSWA's Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year award in 2013 and the Baseball Series of the Year award in 2018 for Collette Calls. Jason manages his social media presence at
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