Five tips to help finish your Fantasy Baseball season with a title

Chicago White Sox starter Carlos Rodon could help fantasy owners make up ground in strikeouts down the stretch. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty

With the Fantasy Baseball season winding down, here are five things to keep in mind to help maximize your chances to push toward a title. We also covered traps to avoid down the stretch.

1. Playing time is paramount. Search for it in the Yahoo player search fields by not looking at full-season stats but focusing instead on 14-day totals. Then do the same for the players who are near the top of that search for 30 days to see if there is a more bettable sample (focus on Ks and WHIP for pitchers). If you need homers, the guy with the most homers in the period is not the best choice if he has 60% of the at-bats of some hitter with more average power. Good things are more likely to happen now with volume.

2. Higher variance categories like ERA especially and even WHIP are less important because the sample is so much smaller. So if you need strikeouts, you have to chase them and hope for positive variance in the short-season in the pitching averages. For example, get Carlos Rodon, who is piling up Ks. Forget his ERA. Same thing for needing homers seemingly at the expense of batting average. Just get the power since any .240 hitter can hit .280 for six weeks and vice versa for the .280 hitters. A low-average hitter like this to get now for power is Eugenio Suarez, who is playing every day. You’re not playing Suarez for 600 plate appearances so you thus have no real idea what he will hit going forward.

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3. Be alert for prospect promotions by following the news closely, especially on Twitter. Use the MILB website to get a handle on a prospect’s ability to help you in categories. And remember that his prospect pedigree (for example his Baseball America or Baseball Prospectus ranking) is of lesser concern than his projected playing time. So the 80th-ranked guy playing every day is better than the top 10 guy on a good team who is basically getting there to mostly watch and just get his feet wet. Young hitters are also far more desirable than young pitchers, who probably are near innings limits and thus will be used sparingly.

4. Remember the entire quality of the league goes steadily downhill from August 31st until the end of the season with call-ups and teams playing out the stretch. That means that healthy veterans and especially the veteran pitchers can be expected to perform better — they’re facing lower quality opponents on average. This is why you save innings in formats that are capped for the final month. The weaker-hitting teams are probably the losing teams and they’re going to be playing worse players and thus will hit even more weakly.

5. Be aggressive in trading if your league allows moves through August. If your trading partner nets 10 and you net 2, it’s a good trade. That two points may be the difference between winning and losing. And remember you can trade to cost your primary competition points, too.