Fowl Ball: Ryan Fowler Fantasy Baseball Blog for July 7th, 2011 From WhatIfSports.com image

Fowl Ball: Fantasy Roster Audit

A blend of pop culture, humor and fantasy baseball

By Ryan Fowler - WhatIfSports.com
July 7, 2011

One of the professional wrestlers we all loved to hate in the early 1990s was Irwin R. Schyster or I.R.S.

The greasy grappler with the suspenders and briefcase would harass spectators and opponents, berating them to pay their taxes. Okay, the gimmick was a little cheesy, but any guy who could compete with Bret "The Hit Man" Hart for the intercontinental championship belt meant business (no pun).

His finishing move was called the "write-off," but also coined a technique called "the audit" while in the squared circle.

During the upcoming MLB All-Star break I suggest fantasy owners perform an audit of their baseball roster.

I think I pulled a muscle stretching to connect wrestling and fantasy baseball. But anytime you can drop old school wrestlers into the conversation, ring the bell three times because you just won.

What's a Fantasy Audit?

Like any business, your fantasy team requires the occasional evaluation. A fantasy baseball audit provides owners an in-depth, unbiased glance into their teams' recent production. I try to audit my team each week, but normally dig in every other Sunday.

The roster audit can be broken down into three steps. First, log into your FOXSports.com fantasy baseball league and click on the "My Team" tab.

Step 1 - Trends

The "My Team"tab defaults to display cumulative 2011 stats as of the previous day's games. The strategy of the most active owners is to catch lightning in a bottle. Thus, these stats are pretty to look at if you are in first place, but taunt the peasant in 10th.

I take advantage of the "View" dropdown menu above the roster. This allows owners to inspect their players' stats under a magnified scope. You can search their output over the last seven, 14, 21 and 28 days. This simple task can save you the headache of making a decision between Jay Bruce and his 1-22 slump at the dish and your bench player, Eric Thames, who has hit .360 with three homers over the last seven days.

By pouring over these week-by-week trends, you can also pinpoint the dead weight. If Player X has hit .200 over the last seven, .212 over the last 14 and .225 over the last 21 days with little contribution in the HR, RBI, R and SB departments, chances are Player X's replacement is on your bench or waiver wire.

Before we get to the free agent shmorgishborg (note: Microsoft Word does not recognize that word, shame), I offer players possible pardons.

Step 2 - Splits

Livan Hernandez and Matt Joyce are just two examples of why analyzing split stats during your All-Star audit is a wise investment of time.

Matt Joyce

Joyce's numbers versus righties:

  • .315 BA (67-213)
  • 37 R
  • 34 RBI
  • 8 HR

Joyce's numbers versus lefties:

  • .196 (9-46 aka doesn't start)
  • 7 R
  • 6 RBI
  • 3 HR

Livan Hernandez at home:

Livan Hernandez

  • 4-2
  • 2.49 ERA
  • 39 K
  • .251 OBA

Livan Hernandez on road:

  • 1-6
  • 5.13
  • 35 K
  • .310 OBA

Depending on your fantasy baseball philosophy (and league scoring), both players DO possess value. As of June 7, Joyce was owned in 68 percent of leagues, while 34 percent of owners snatched up Hernandez.

But when it comes time to make an executive decision, you have to ask "is it worth jamming up a roster spot on a player that..."

a) can't help me on a regular basis (Joyce)

b) every fifth day (if Hernandez starts outside the greater D.C. area).

Side effects of overanalyzing split stats are: restlessness, night sweats, blood shot eyes, heart palpitations, relationship issues, carpal tunnel, and overactive waiver wire. Please seek medical assistance if any of these issues linger.

Step 3 - Waiver Wire

The waiver wire is where fantasy owners pray the grass stains are greener on the other side. If a WWA (Waiver Wire Anonymous) existed, I would be a charter member. The reason for my free-agent addiction is two-fold:

1) my fantasy baseball drafts have historically been below par

2) I enjoy mixing up the team and moving up the standings with a blend of new and original talent (wire-to-wire fantasy runs don't teach you anything - at least that's what my therapist claims)

Following the completion of Steps 1 and 2 of your roster audit, it's time to ship the dead weight out and add some new blood to your roster. Once you begin to scan the waiver wire/player pool, be sure to utilize the same research techniques by analyzing trends and splits of available players to maximize your add/drop success rate.

For example, just by viewing the last 14 days in my FOXSports.com player pool, I know Daniel Murphy is available and has hit .392 with 13 RBI and eight runs in the two-week span. He's owned in a meager 34 percent of all leagues and is eligible to play 1B, 2B and 3B, which only adds to his value.

Audit Completion

For many the mere suggestion of a fantasy baseball audit may seem elementary in principle and a shot at an owner's intelligence. My counterargument is each owner's awareness and level of engagement varies:

  • Hard core (morning, noon and night)
  • Casual (morning distraction)
  • Lazy (what team?)

Thus, the suggestion of a roster audit is a subtle nudge to those who are tired of being the punch line, the goat and black sheep of their fantasy league. The analysis is not guaranteed to improve your position in the standings, but you'll be in a better place than the guy who traded Hanley Ramirez for Ryan Ludwick straight up.

I think it's time to write him off.

Ryan Fowler is the Fantasy Baseball Editor for FOXSports.com. He can be reached at rfowler@whatifsports.com.

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