Why is My Fantasy Baseball Team in a Slump?

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Answered by: Wayne, An Expert in the Fantasy Baseball Category
If you're anything like me, you have an unhealthy obsession with your fantasy baseball team. Furthermore, you are probably wondering why your team is getting taken to the woodshed every week and catching a relentless beating.

There may be a number of reasons as to why you can't buy a win this year: Perhaps drafting one-category-wonder Giancarlo Stanton in the first round was an unwise decision; your team is in the midst of a pathetic stretch as result of your star players not living up to their potential; or it could simply be an early season swoon predicated entirely on your players experiencing a measure of bad luck. Despite your team's abject failure in the early part of the season, you may want to think about the following statistics before you sell low on your under-performing superstars.

Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP)

I know that a lot of BJ Upton owners are fuming over his statistical output at this point in the season; he is well-south of the Mendoza-line and on pace for 200-plus strikeouts. However, he has had a bit of bad luck in terms of his batting average on balls in play (BABIP). BABIP determines how many of a players batted balls go for hits. Generally, most players will produce a BABIP of around .300. BJ Upton is sitting at .197 in this young year which is significantly below his career BABIP of .319. Upton's uncharacteristically poor BABIP suggests that he has been facing some superb defense while also experiencing some misfortune; it also suggests that he may be due for some serious production in the coming weeks.

Also, BABIP can generally determine if a hot-hitting player is due for some serious regression. For example, Torii Hunter is currently BABIPing at an astounding .420 clip. By all means, ride out his hot-streak; but you may want to prepare for his inevitable descent back to Earth as it may come hard and fast as these things often do. You can also use BABIP to evaluate pitchers. However, the opposite logic applies: High BABIP= bad luck/ bad defense; Low BABIP= Good luck/ good defense and portends serious regression to the mean.

Strikeouts-to-Walks (K/BB)

Matt Cain has had a particularly awful start to the season posting 5.57 ERA and a 1-2 record. Cain has also been giving up home runs at an astounding rate: 1.93 HRs per 9 innings, well above his career average of 0.79. However, Cain has posted 36 strikeouts to just 13 walks suggesting that the issue is not necessarily control as it may simply be a slow start to the season.

Generally, a good K/BB ratio is conducive to success in the major leagues. Given Cain's track record and the fact that his current K/BB is in line with his career average, I would expect him to rebound in a major way very soon. K/BB can also indicate a hitters approach to an at-bat. For example, a hitter with 20 Ks and 5 BBs is quite impatient and generally a hacker who may experience some major highs and lows throughout the season. Whereas a more disciplined hitter with 15 Ks and 10 BBs may produce more consistent numbers throughout the year.

Remember, there are a number of variables that may be having an adverse effect on your teams performance. Before you blow up your fantasy baseball team, consider the previously mentioned statistics to look a bit deeper in determining what is ailing your team. It is a long season and you certainly do not want to be kicking yourself when your currently-slumping studs eventually produce the numbers of which they are capable. Look a bit deeper before you sell low on your superstar players!

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