Tout Table: Reactions to the 2024 baseball

This week’s query:

How, if at all, has the current dead ball landscape affected your in-season management?

Scott Chu (Pitcher List, @ifthechufits): From what I’ve seen so far, the primary issue is with flyballs, which have a SLG that is over 100 points worse than it was in 2021 and over 80 points worse than what we saw in 2023. HR/FB% is also down quite a bit. I’ve done two things so far – I am more skeptical of players who showed a spiked HR/FB% in 2023 and also am moving projections down on players who hit an abundance of flyballs as they are less valuable in 2024 than 2023. While some flyball hitters can work through this, some of the most profoundly impacted players happen to be the ones who hit a ton of fly balls – Spencer Torkelson, Jorge Soler, Adolis Garcia, and Jake Burger all are good examples of players with very high flyball rate who are struggling with lower HR/FB rates. Austin Riley also is facing this issue, though he is not as extreme of a flyball hitter. Not all high flyball rates are bad, but the very high flyball rate guys who broke out last year seem to be having trouble repeating, and I’ll be more skeptical of them until/unless we see flyballs doing more damage league wide.

Anthony Aniano (Rotoballer, @AAnianoFantasy): Finding competent pitching, ERA around 4.00, has been easier to locate of the waiver wire and with the rash of pitching injuries this season that has been a huge bonus. Free agents, and late round picks like Seth Lugo, Luis Gil and others have benefited from the dead ball and have become reliable top-tier starting pitchers.

Chris Blessing (BaseballHQ, @C_Blessing): It has changed my in-season management dramatically. In daily transaction formats, I’ve lived off the waiver wire for pitching, trading some of my best performing pitchers for hitters who are still lifting the ball in the air. In AL Touts, I can’t seem to make headway with pitching stats and my idea of punting saves has backfired significantly since those points and the lower WHIP would allow me to gain grown. Most leagues I am apart of, the standings are littered with hitting prowess and the leagues are wide-open because pitching, top to bottom, has a lot of parity between the teams. Our pitching staffs all have these restrictor plates that doesn’t allow for great advantages. Teams who manage the pit stops throughout the season will end up coming up on top. I don’t even like Nascar and I’m dropping Nascar metaphors.

Scott White (CBS Fantasy Sports, @CBSScottWhite): Mainly, I’ve been laser focused on using pitcher excess to acquire high-end hitters in all of my trade discussions, particularly in shallower leagues where I can backfill my pitching staff off the waiver wire rather easily. And when I say, “high-end hitters,” I don’t necessarily mean ones who are currently producing and will obviously demand a premium. Anyone with a rock-solid track record is liable to pick things up as the weather warms up, as happened for many of these same players in 2022. As for what I’m giving up in such deals — i.e., a pitcher — I’m not going to be especially choosy about it (if the other party demands someone else, fine) unless it’s a dyed-in-the-wool ace.

Michael A. Stein (Fantasy Judgment, @FantasyJudgment): Power has become scarce and finding it on the waiver wire is next to impossible. It has helped augment the pool of available pitchers which is necessary to offset all of the injuries around the league.

Howard Bender (Fantasy Alarm, @RotoBuzzGuy): In-season strategies really haven’t changed that much in roto leagues. It’s still about boosting yourself in the categories that you are lacking in and have the greatest chance for movement. For H2H or points leagues, however, I do find myself focusing much more on improving my rotation so I can steal points and categories that way. It’s like a retro-run to the mid-to-late 90s when it was all about saves and steals. Let’s pour one out for good old-fashioned Earl Weaver baseball when life was all about the 3-run HR.

Jeff Zimmerman (Fangraphs, @jeffwzimmerman): Nothing points to the ball being different as the cause of the power outage. Of the balls hit between 105 mph and 110 mph and 20 deg and 25 deg LA, the average distance (June only) over the past four seasons is 392 ft (2021), 392 ft (2022), 395 ft (2023), and 393 ft (2024). When the ball was “juiced” the distances were in the 400’s. The most likely cause of the power drought, IMO, is the heavy transition from fastballs to secondaries. Hitters, especially rookies, are struggling with non-fastballs. Finally, defensive talent is up with the league’s .287 BABIP being the lowest since 1992. Now with the lower run environment, there is nothing anyone can do. Since the season is about half over, you’re stuck with your team and the only hope is try to roster any power sources that emerge before your league mates.

Patrick Davitt (BaseballHQ, @patrickdavitt): Quite a bit more interested in high-K, high-FB pitchers than in past years, a bit less interested in FB hitters than in past years.

Eric Samulski (Rotoballer, @SamskiNYC): I think the only way we can adjust mid-season is in trade discussions or with waiver wire starting pitchers. I’m more likely to stream a high-strikeout pitcher with potential HR issues in a matchup where I think those HR issues may not be exacerbated. I think it has also made it harder to find power on the wire and makes me less likely to take a chance on a power-only hitter unless he has a long track record of success in various run environments. I do think, to a certain extent, this is also less about the ball and more about there being so many good pitchers in the league and fastballs being used less often, so hitters aren’t able to use that velocity to supply their own power.

Jeff Erickson (Rotowire, @Jeff_Erickson): It’s already difficult to trade pitching for hitting, and I think that the current landscape has made it even more difficult. Those that have had any sort of hitting surplus are holding tight, and perhaps looking to build a buffer before trying to cash in and address their starting pitching needs.

Shelly Verougstraete (Fantasy Feud Podcast, @ShellyV_643): As with most things, it depends on your league size and type. With 15-teamers, there isn’t much you can do. You might have been lucky to grab a hot hitter like Heliot Ramos instead of Luis Matos a few weeks ago. In the shallow leagues, there are more consistent players on the wire but it will still be a dog fight to pick up the hot flavor of the week. Don’t give up thought! There is still plenty of time to find the right match for your team.

Mike Gianella (Baseball Prospectus, @): It mostly hasn’t. I have a lot of Anthony Santander and Nolan Gorman on my teams.

Ray Flowers (Fantasy Guru, @TheRayFlowers): With injuries occurring on an hourly basis, we’ve had to expand the player pool into unknown waters causing the need to take “more chances” than we used to. Never have guys like Gio Urshela and Luis Garcia been so attractive, which is kinda sad if we are being honest.

Mike Podhorzer (Fangraphs, @MikePodhorzer): It hasn’t. Everything is always relative, so if offense is down, every fantasy team is going to be impacted. The positive is my offense has performed better in the standings than expected, given how injury-ravaged they have been! So even if I feel like my offense stinks, it might be less stinky than other teams.

Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis): For the most part, it has not made my in-season management much different. If anything, when I evaluate trades or roster moves, I give devalue hitters with a higher FB %.

Erik Halterman (Rotowire, @erik_halterman): The main thing for me is making sure I’m not lazily trusting my initial instincts about how well a player has been playing after glancing at his stat line. For example, league-average ERA this year is 4.00, down from 4.33 last year. If you see a guy with an ERA in the 3.80s and think, “that’s about half a run better than league average, so he must be pretty good,” take a second to re-calibrate. It’s actually only 0.1-0.2 runs better than average, the equivalent of an ERA around 4.20 last year. Likewise, a pitcher with an ERA around 4.20 this year might initially pop as above-average when you’re scanning the waiver wire, but it’s a below-average mark this season.

Vlad Sedler (FTN Fantasy, @rotogut): Hasn’t changed much for me since I don’t play in trade leagues. I’m more aggressive with hitters who stand out in FAAB, but viable ones are far and few between.

Carlos Marcano (Triple Play Fantasy, @camarcano): Big time, for me. I’ve had to spend more on hitting as it has turned to be the premium part of the game. It has been less complicated to get solid pitchers on the waiver wire than hitters, big time.

John Laghezza (The Athletic, @JohnLaghezza): In any league I’m short on power because of the moosh ball, it’s become a leap-before-I-look situation. I’ve used combinations of elevated pulled BBEs and 90th percentile EV to try and be first on power breakouts. It did not work on Ryan Noda or Tyler Nevin but the Helio Ramos experiment has been fun so far — plus I’m expecting the warm weather to spice things up a little.

Brian Entrekin (Fantasy Pros, BaseballHQ, @bdentrek): I would like to say it hasn’t affected me much at all, but that may be a lie. I’ve noticed in recent weeks I’ve been more focused on adding power on the wire compared to usual due to the lack of power some teams are producing.

Andy Behrens (Yahoo Fantasy Sports, @andybehrens): I would say it has mostly led to me cursing Jake Burger with surprising regularity.

Corbin Young (Baseball HQ, Rotowire, @corbin_young21): Since I’m trailing in pitching categories, I’m being aggressive with streaming pitchers since they can make a positive impact on the standings and weekly categories. Not taking it into account too much but may give a slight edge to fly ball pitchers with strikeout skills.

Grey Albright (RazzBall, @razzball): Since I drafted perfectly in all leagues, I’ve been fine.

Scott Swanay (FantasyBaseballSherpa, @fantasy_sherpa): It’s probably led me to take a few more chances streaming pitchers than I might have otherwise.

Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): I have not adjusted anything as a result, but I am very short of offense on a few teams so being late to the party in FAAB on some offensive players has hurt.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): Fly ball distance is increasing, so the window to act may be closing – or opening. It’s closing to take advantage of low-walk, high fly ball pitchers, but opening to avoid them.