A superstar can’t carry a fantasy baseball team to victory. Max Scherzer and Paul Goldschmidt are the most recent examples.
Scherzer is the top-rated player in our league while Goldschmidt is second. Scherzer anchors the rotation for the defending league champion Marin Menhunes, who sit 15th in the league standings with a 47-70-3 record. Goldschmidt powers the offense for Land Shark, a team that is 14th overall with a 49-68-3 record.
Both Scherzer and Goldschmidt are having sensational years, but on a 26-man roster, every player needs to deliver if you are going to field a competitive team. You need some grinders.
The table below shows each team as they are currently ranked in the standings and how many players they have ranked in the Top 200. It’s broken down to show you how many players each team has ranked in the Top 50, Top 51-100 and so on. There is a narrative here.
It’s not surprising that the top two teams in the league have the most players ranked in the Top 200. It’s also not surprising that the team at the bottom of the standings has the second fewest and is the only team without a player ranked in the Top 50.
The Menehunes have six players ranked in the Top 50, including the league’s top-rated player, yet are second to last in the standings. Now, we begin to understand the importance of a few grinders.
A quick look at the Menehunes’ roster shows us that starting pitchers Jordan Zimmermann, Josh Tomlin, and Rick Porcello are hurting the team. All three are ranked outside the league’s Top 700 players.
Any player ranked outside of the top 416 is essentially a replacement player and the Menehunes have 11 such players with nine in the team’s starting lineup this week.
The Marsupials have 12 players ranked in the Top 200 on their roster but also have 10 players that fall below replacement level with eight in the starting lineup.
The league’s best team, the Jetsetters, have seven replacement-level players on their roster with five in the starting lineup. Of course, when you lead the league with 17 players ranked in the Top 200, their production can offset five replacement-level players.
Good fantasy baseball roster management is a combination of starting good players, reducing the liability of replacement-level players, and making sure that your lineup is healthy.
There are currently 20 Top 200 players available in our league as free agents. They are all relief pitchers but they can instantly make your team more competitive, especially if they are also eligible as starting pitchers.
There are 114 free agents that are better than replacement-level including a number of utility infielders, outfielders, and even a few starting pitchers. They aren’t stars. They are grinders, players that can knock in five or six runs a week and limit their strikeouts.
As we prepare for the second half of the season, look at your roster, make sure you are starting healthy players and scan the waiver wire for players ranked in the Top 400 to replace the dead wood that is currently dragging your team down. Add a few grinders to your starting lineup and your team will instantly become more competitive.