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RotoAuthority League Update: Analysis of a Blockbuster

The RotoAuthority League is a highly competitive 12-team fantasy baseball league run by Tim Dierkes. The settings consist of standard 5 X 5 Rotisserie scoring and 23-man lineups along with 3 bench spots. In an effort to keep owners interested as well as to infuse new blood into the league, the teams that finish below 8th place are kicked out of the league each year. The author of this column just hopes he’s not one of them.

We're now at the halfway mark. At this point it no longer matters which owner receives more value in a trade. The most important factor to consider now is how the deal influences the standings. With this in mind, let's take a look at a blockbuster from last weekend and break down how the deal might affect the standings going forward.

06/22 - Reedy trades Jean Segura to Gramma Nutt Crushers for Giancarlo Stanton

I've written previously on Segura, but needless to say he's been one of the top fantasy breakout performers this season. Only a trio of first-rounders (Miggy, Trout, and CarGo) and Crush Davis have been more valuable thus far. While Davis was a mid-round selection, Segura was just an endgame pick in March. Some fantasy analysts consider the Fantasy MVP to be simply the most productive player overall. For me, however, it's all about value. Sure, Miggy may be the best right-handed hitter of my lifetime, but there's a reason no player is found more frequently than Segura on the top 500 teams in public Yahoo! leagues. Simply put, if you drafted this talented Brewers shortstop, you're probably doing well in your league. 

Stanton is my fantasy Man Crush, as I own him in both my main auction keeper league and a dynasty league. In other words, it's tough for me to be objective here, but I'll do my best. Giancarlo didn't come cheap this preseason, typically not lasting beyond the middle of the second round. Some fantasy pundits were bearish on him due to the awful Marlins lineup, and that proved to be the case early on as Stanton got off to a terrible start. Just when it looked like he may be turning his season around, he suffered a hamstring injury that sidelined him for six weeks. Since he's returned, however, he's performed as fantasy owners had in mind with a triple-slash line of .313 / .361 / .612.

So how did this one-for-one blockbuster influence the standings? Let's first look at things from the perspective of Reedy. For the past couple months, this squad has hovered between 65 and 80 points, residing near the middle of the pack. Reedy doesn't look to be in danger of finishing in the bottom four but may struggle to cash among the top three. The weakness of this roster has been the pitching staff. Given that this deal involves strictly offensive players, let's focus on the hitting points. In addition to the recently dealt Segura, this squad has benefited from the breakout campaigns of Paul Goldschmidt and Manny Machado. Accordingly, offense hasn't been the problem. The one weakness on offense, though, has been the HR category. Meanwhile, this squad has had a surplus of stolen bases for most of the season. In fact, even a week after this trade, Reedy still leads the category by about 20. Overall then, trading speed for power certainly made sense.

Now's let analyze things from the viewpoint of the Gramma Nutt Crushers. This squad has also avoided many peaks and valleys in the standings, generally settling around 75 to 80 points. Like Reedy, it would take a disastrous second half for this team to finish in the bottom four. On the other hand, the Crushers have a very good chance to take home some prize money. This roster has had a relatively strong pitching staff to go along with an above-average offense. Specifically, the Gramma Nutt Crushers are near the top in HR and RBI, in the middle in R and AVG, and toward the bottom in SB. It's not surprising then that this squad had a natural trading partner in Reedy. 

In retrospect, this trade looks practically inevitable. Of course, there are always alternative players that could have been substituted in for the ones who were ultimately dealt. Could either owner have done better here? Well, the other speedster on Reedy's roster is Jacoby Ellsbury, who quietly has been a top-10 player to date due to the scarcity of the stolen base this season. Likewise, the Gramma Nutt Crushers have another power option in Mr. Davis. I'm assuming the Gramma Nutt Crushers would just have readily traded Stanton for Ellsbury. Along those same lines, I'd think that Reedy would also have dealt Segura for Davis. Should Reedy have demanded Davis for Segura? Well, not really. We're down to three months of play remaining. Stanton could just as easily outperform Davis going forward.

Once again, the important thing here is the impact on the standings. Any projection system will give significant edges to Stanton in HR and RBI and then to Segura in SB and AVG. So how will the standings be influenced? An often overlooked element is how closely stratified each category is from top to bottom. On the offensive side in the RotoAuthority League, HR and SB are the most tightly compacted categories at the moment. Accordingly, Reedy will benefit significantly in the HR category just as the Crushers should move up markedly in the SB category.

I use a common projection system that adds rest-of-season projections to current league standings. The input of this trade caused the Crushers to gain five points in SB while losing one in RBI for a net gain of four. Meanwhile, this trade would project Reedy to gain four points in HR and three in RBI without losing a point in SB for a net gain of seven.

The irony here is that the projection used in this calculation for Segura in and of itself is significantly more valuable than that for Stanton. Even so, it was actually Reedy who stands to gain more points in the standings as a result of this trade. The lesson here is simple: stop worrying about whether you're getting the better end of a trade at this point, and focus on how the standings will be affected.

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