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Andy Behrens on Fantasy Trading: OK, but…

June 14, 2014

Andy Behrens is a Yahoo employee who has to crank out a certain amount of content a week. I’ve had similar jobs, and I can sympathize. So here’s a hasty piece from him on midseason trading:–fantasy.html

which this former university prof would give a C-minus in a sophomore class.

Behrens’ point is valid: there is little value to be had in trading like-for-like when compared to trading from strength and from depth to address weakness. But that’s only slightly better than pointing out that water is wet. What Behrens doesn’t even try to discuss are the difficulties most fantasy players face when they’re trying to do one of his pitcher-for-shortstop type deals.

There are two big ones:

1) Most people don’t feel comfortable comparing, say, Chris Sale to Jose Reyes. They’re both elite, they’re both outperforming where they were drafted, they’re both injury-ish, their MLB track records are long enough that you know what you’ve got. Easy, right? Well, for most people, no. Most people want some idea of how much they’re losing and how much they’re getting. Chris Sale won’t get your HR or SB, and Jose Reyes won’t get you W or help your ERA. “Just trust me” doesn’t get this deal done. Most people want to be able to do at least a little bit of analysis to make sure they weren’t taking wholly the worst of it. With zero comparable stats, it’s hard.

As a case in point, look how long it took Dutch Boy and Nookie to trade bats for arms. I’m sure they’re glad they did it, but it took a lot of careful thinking with a spot in the Coach Bracket likely at stake.

2) Even if I can get my head around the idea that I should trade Reyes for Sale, not only do I need to find Sale’s owner needing to trade for a shortstop, I also need him to come to the same rough valuation that Reyes = Sale. I think most people in this league, and most people in most leagues, suffer from overvaluing their own players and undervaluing the competition. (Not me, because I have studs like Carlos Quentin and Alejandro de Aza on my team.*)


So Behrens’ Nike philosophy about trading apples for oranges, “Just Do It!”, only makes sense in leagues that are managed by robots or leagues where I’m running five or six of the teams and can trade with myself.** While Behrens’ article may satisfy editors at the spam farm, he does not address the inherent difficulties in actually doing such deals.



*Sarcasm Alert for Dutch Boy.

**Slightly more sophisticated Irony Alert for Dutch Boy. Requires connecting comment to paranoid accusation that I’m running multiple teams in this league.


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