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Split Squad: All-Star Week For Dummies

Conan Hines

Conan Hines writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

Justin Green

Justin Green writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

Next week is the All-Star game, and here are some initial thoughts. When was the last time an offensive player made the All-Star team and was only owned in 5% of leagues? CAUTION: Do not run out and pick-up Omar Infante Ė just yet. Nolan Reimold is owned in three times as many leagues and isnít even in the majors. Oh, and if you read the Yahoo! All-Star Week rules, make sure to read it all the way through. Because All-Star game stats DO NOT count! Are you serious? Iím really concerned about the fact that the rules donít speak to the Home-Run Derby. If they do, trade for Big Papi right now! But before you do, why donít you see what other moves you should or should not make for the short week.

Mix It Up for the Mid-Summer Classic (by Justin Green)

The All-Star week is approaching and owners must now consider strategy for the shortest fantasy week of the season. Some owners say sit back and let the gods take over (while they are fed grapes and get fanned by palm leaves), others say make the most of the week and get active on the waiver wire. I am a proponent of leagues skipping the All-Star week (ďASWĒ) entirely, but most leagues do not have that option so I say Ďgo for it!í

The number one reason to go for it during ASW is because it counts just as much as any other week. A win is a win, and an ASW victory will help you climb the standings just as much as any other week. The best way to go for it is to prepare for the week as you would for every other week. A good fantasy owner starts each week analyzing matchups and looking for ways to improve the team. Obviously, a team should not be reinvented every week; but as I start my fantasy week, I look at some of my middle-tier pitchers and see what their matchups are compared to some other middle-tier guys on the waiver wire.

I recommend doing the same thing during ASW. Look at some of your middle-tier pitchers and hitters and see what their matchups look like. Do you have a left-handed hitter, with terrible splits, facing a team with a rotation full of lefties? If so, make a move. I am not saying drop Josh Hamilton because he is facing a lefty-heavy rotation, but look at those guys on your roster who are replaceable, or who youíve been riding during a hot streak, and swap them out for guys facing weak rotations like the Diamondbacks, Orioles, or Pirates. Or, look for guys on waivers who have been on hot streaks themselves and grab them. I know, statisticians say hot streaks are not predictive of future performance, but I surely cashed in on Ty Wigginton in April. He has cooled off to arctic levels since, but in head-to-head, non-keeper leagues, you can ride a hot streak and drop guys when they cool off. The only disclaimer is that three or four days off may be enough to cool a hot streak; but generally, if a guy is seeing the ball well, or throwing it well, it carries over to the weekend after the All-Star game.

Just because ASW is four days long does not mean you should lay back and hope for good luck. Treat ASW like any other week and make the most of it. In fact, with such a short week, the margin for error is smaller than usual and fantasy owners should do as much as possible to get the most out of those few days. As always, keep in mind waiver depth when making moves. You do not want to drop a guy to avoid one bad matchup, or take advantage of one good matchup, if there is not much depth in your leagueís free agent pool. But, if you make the right moves, you may just catch your opponent napping and have a big week that gets your second half off to a fast start.

The Mid-Summer Doldrums (by Conan Hines)

Itís almost the Mid-Summer Classic, which means if youíre in a H2H league, you understand the most random, and possibly drastic, week is coming up. A lot of fantasy owners are going to go out there and try to make adjustments to their roster in order to combat the hair-pulling absurdity that is All-Star Week. I want to caution all of you that this is a foolish personís endeavor. If youíre in an AL- or NL-only league, donít even think about it. I also heavily caution mixed-league owners to not overestimate the randomness next week embodies.

The Thursday after the ďBig ExpoĒ only half the league takes the field. There could be a scenario where your opponent has a bunch of hitters on those teams and you have only a handful. I find most players in H2H tend to fill their bench with pitchers, and therefore have a lack of offensive depth. If youíre trying to add a bat or two for one game, youíre going to have to dump a pitcher, or a reliable bat. Chalk Thursday up to luck and hope you can overcome the disparity in at-bats between you and your opponent. There is little you can do in this situation. Even if you add an offensive player, the chance of that waiver-wire acquisition hitting a home run or stealing a base is much less than that player going 0-4. And that 0-4 will hurt you a lot more in a short week. Unless someone such as Angel Pagan or Gaby Sanchez is available on the wire, Iíd stand pat offensively.

Of course, one would think pitching is a little less speculative. You donít have to worry just about Thursday, but can grab a potential starter anytime during the week. At first, this sounds like a sound strategy. However, I donít know how much youíre going to gain by picking up Jamie Moyer or Justin Masterson to make one start for you. Yes, one may give you a win, and both could give you a few Ks, but neither comes with a guarantee of helping your rate stats. If you have a solid top and middle of your rotation, then thereís no reason to stream this week. In a 5x5, the amount of innings doesnít play into ERA and WHIP. In fact, you want a high concentration of talented starters, not mediocre ones. This way you can remain competitive in rate stats. Also, what kind of saves are you going to pick up off the waiver-wire? And dropping value to get one shot at a win is foolish given the unpredictability of wins. So, picking up someone such as R.A. Dickey has a higher probability of hurting rather than helping you.

This is a strange week, and honestly we all know it should be tacked onto the next week, making it more of a super-week. It is a better indicator of the superior team rather than a three-to-four day crapshoot. Schedules are already lopsided in most leagues and are rarely symmetrical.

What you need to remember is H2H leagues carry an amount of luck. I will admit two years ago I got crushed 9-1 in a H2H matchup that booted me below .500. However, last year I snaked my opponent 8-0-2 and launched into 2nd place. The thing is, the chance of having a 4-6, 5-5, or 6-4 week is still about the same. And the value of keeping the most talented team for the weeks after the All-Star festivities will make up for the couple games you may have dropped due to poor luck. Remember: fantasy baseball isnít a sprint; itís a marathon. Slow and steady wins the race.