How one fantasy baseball analyst prepares to win in his leagues

·Yahoo Fantasy Contributor
·5-min read

While I typically write articles giving micro-level advice on which players to add via trade or free agency, I have lately been dabbling in process-related pieces. This is another in that series, which includes recent pieces on how I evaluate hitters and pitchers.

For this article, I’m going to cover a typical 24 hour-span and how I manage my teams.

Most of my teams are in leagues with weekly roster transactions. The exception is the Yahoo Friends & Family league, which has constant waivers (70 transactions for the season) and daily lineup changes. It’s also important to know that I live in the Eastern time zone. I’ve always believed that living on the West Coast is best for fantasy prowess, and my wife dreams of living in California. Maybe someday!

A day in the life of a fantasy baseball analyst

EARLY MORNING: The first thing I do in the morning (after I walk my dog) is to check every box score from the previous day. First, I look through each box score for fun. After all, fun is the main reason I play fantasy sports. I like to see how the players on my teams performed yesterday, within the context of the box score. For example, going 2-for-4 with one RBI feels like an accomplishment in a 6-1 loss but a letdown in a 12-10 victory. I want to know where my players hit in the lineup and if any of them left their games early. For my starting pitchers, I determine when and how they allowed their runs. Did they have one bad inning, or were they consistently knocked around?

At this point in the day, I’m focused on the players who are rostered on my teams. Having a thorough knowledge of their daily successes and failures is essential to making future roster decisions.

LATE MORNING: After leaving the box scores alone for a while, I will come back to them later in the morning or around lunchtime. This is my time to assess players who are not on my teams. First, I’m looking for those who stood out yesterday. And when I find those players, I typically search for more information. Looking at their past game log (which is easy to do on their Yahoo player page) is a good starting point. I may also look at their advanced stats via Fangraphs or Baseball Savant. Beyond looking at successful performances, I also look at player usage. I want to know which players are occupying premium lineup spots. I look at reliever usage, both in terms of volume and when they enter the game. And I want to know about all the injuries that occurred yesterday. Finally, I’m looking for trends of poor performances that could lead to future changes in playing time or roles.

AFTERNOON: At some point, I need to get other things done, and this is typically the time to make that happen. But throughout the afternoon, I periodically check Twitter for the latest information. I’m looking for news on injuries, both new ailments, and players who are on the comeback trail. And I’m checking lineups as they come out. Also, I look for good content from around the fantasy industry. Reading articles and listening to podcasts are both part of my daily routine. Finally, I’ll watch video of yesterday’s action when it’s appropriate. I don’t need to see every homer or steal, but I’ll check out videos of some surprising pitching performances or blown saves.

EVENING: This is my time to enjoy sports! Although this may surprise some readers, I’m not obsessed with watching baseball. I watch my beloved Blue Jays most days. When Toronto isn’t playing, I’ll find another game. But more than a baseball fan, I’m a sports fan. I was as much hockey as baseball. And I rarely miss a Sunday, Monday, or Thursday of NFL action in the fall. The TV remote batteries are among the most important items in the Zinkie house. That being said, I’m also married to someone who I truly cherish and my two kids mean the world to me. So, I make time to regularly watch TV shows with my wife, who is interested but not obsessed with watching sports. And I’ll power down my TV or laptop at any moment if my kids want or need me to do something with them.

Toronto Blue Jays' Cavan Biggio (8) celebrates with Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Fred Zinkie watches his Blue Jays as much as he can. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

On the fantasy side, some nights I’m actively watching each box score unfold, and other nights my phone is far away from me. While I enjoy engaging in several games at the same time, the other three people in my house need my attention more than the Boston Red Sox do.

NIGHT: I’m not a night owl. Never have been. I try to check the box scores from the East Coast games right away, in an effort to find the newest closers or injury replacements in the Yahoo Friends & Family league. That being said, I’m not always the quickest one to the waiver wire. And anything notable that happens in a West Coast game will have to wait until morning.

I hope you can find some actionable takeaways from this article. First, please remember that you can play fantasy baseball at a high level without sacrificing other aspects of your life, such as your exercise, sleep, family, children, and friends. Also, you can play fantasy baseball well without watching six hours of MLB games each night or spending your entire day pouring over spreadsheets.

And lastly, this game is supposed to be fun. Figuring out the next big trade or waiver-wire gem is awesome, but it’s also great to just enjoy a box score that shows your shortstop hitting two home runs or your closer striking out the side.