Roster management is a crucial tool in fantasy baseball. Unfortunately, one of my weaknesses is not churning my roster. Every year I’m holding a couple of young players that could make a difference later in the year. The longer I keep them and get no production from that roster slot, the more opportunities I miss when valuable players are on the waiver wire. My 2023 Fantasy Baseball Roster Management tips will keep your roster churning and burning.
Before we look at 2023 Fantasy Baseball Roster Management tips, please familiarize yourself with my 2023 fade list. Also, my 2023 bounce-back players , deep sleepers, breakout hitter of the year, and extensive preview of all 30 squads are invaluable resources. Finally, our 2023 MLB breakout pitchers list digs deep to give you an edge on draft day. And, of course, read who I picked to be the American League Rookie of the Year.
Churn, Baby Churn
Some of the best fantasy managers in today’s games are excellent churners of their rosters. They don’t get emotionally tied to any player on their bench. They understand a player’s skill set and know the replacement value on the waiver wire. I’m sure there are times when they drop a player that later becomes a difference-maker. Sometimes they reacquire these players because they are so in tune with the player pool.
The baseball season is a marathon. But maximizing your opportunities starting in week one is essential. I’m surprised how many teams take zeros from their pitchers over the first week of the season. This is because they didn’t think far enough ahead. Also, they didn’t take the time to look at the possible starting pitcher rotations before they draft their team. These leagues are often so close that an extra win or a handful of strikeouts can be the difference between winning and losing.
In 12-team leagues, the free-agent pool is an extension of my bench if I have the proper roster structure. I can find many helpful outfielders and corner infielders. The backend pitching inventory is deep, but it comes with risk. The goal is to maximize at-bats while continually looking for possible pitching improvements. It is incredibly challenging to carry mediocre injured players.
After the season starts, I must review my bench players to see if I need any help. My first goal is to look at the end of each week’s stats and see where I stand as far as at-bats and my pitching goals. Week 1 of the year is challenging to gauge, but I need to know if I have enough depth in my starting rotation. It’s too late to save some of the teams if I made mistakes during the draft. I must live with my draft-day decisions and hope my opinions are correct. There’s nothing worse than dropping the best available free agent for next week’s waiver period, so it is vital to take a deep breath when deciding to release certain players.
A player will get hurt or lose playing time each week, opening up more at-bats or innings for other players most likely found on the waiver wire. There are many times during the year when players play well for short periods, while some even develop into substantial contributors to your fantasy team.
In 2019, Danny Santana (.283 with 81 runs, 28 home runs, 81 RBIs, and 21 steals) turned into fantasy gold via the free agent pool, which came after four empty seasons. Dominic Smith fell into the category in the short Covid-19 year. In 2021, Adolis Garcia kicked the free agent door in early April to deliver impactful stats (.243 with 77 runs, 31 home runs, 90 RBIs, and 16 stolen bases). Last season, Brandon Drury filled an infield void on fantasy teams (.263/87/28/87/2 over 518 at-bats) from the waiver pool.
I’ve been a fantasy snob when looking for a player to upgrade my team in the past. Beggars can’t be choosy during the heat of the season-long battle in baseball. I remember not picking up Ryan Howard in 2005 because I thought his batting average had risk due to his high strikeout rate. He ended up hitting .288 with 22 home runs over 312 at-bats. I overlooked Howard as a difference-maker because of a possible weakness in one category. I can never dismiss talent, and I need to take every at-bat upgrade I can find. Over a short period, any player can hit for a higher average than expected, and sometimes those players stay locked in all year.
A fantasy manager needs to evaluate every player and every situation. These decisions are so much easier when my team is playing well. When behind in the league standings, a fantasy manager can make mistakes trying to make things happen. Either they bench a star player that goes off after a slow start to the year, or they cut a player because he’s failed to perform up to expectations.
When churning my roster, I’m looking for players with upside who are buy-and-hold candidates. Other times, I need to take a zero to protect a roster spot. I hate to fall further behind, but the player I pick up is not guaranteed to have a good week. Sometimes I have to weather the storm. I never know when a player starts to turn the corner or if a few players will get hot on my team. So I must keep my head down and continuously grind throughout the season.
This season I’d like to keep one bench spot to rotate in possible double starting pitcher and another slot on my bench for the “hot hitter of the week.”
Everyone plays in different formats with varying league sizes. One decision may work well for one league, and it may be a poor decision for another. Usually, the player pool will answer your questions. However, there is a fine line between patience and churning. Each fantasy manager must find a balance between the two in their quest to win a league championship.
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