Baseball Strategy - Accumulating Pitcher Trades

Salary Cap Sports baseball strategy is different from other sports in that you are given three hitter trades and three pitcher trades per week. Due to the separation of trades for each player type you have the option of managing hitters and pitchers in different ways.

Strategy for pitcher trades

One common strategy is to fill your pitching roster in the preseason with the players that can be held for the long term. This saves your pitcher trades to be used in a rotating fashion on high performance starting pitchers at the end of the year. Pitchers that can be held for the longer-term are consistent closers or well-proven, veteran starting pitchers. By using this approach it is possible to have 25-30 pitcher trades banked by the all-star game.

The benefits of saving your pitcher trades until the end of the year are:

  • Your franchise value should be much higher than it was at the beginning of the year, giving you the ability to buy even better quality starters.
  • Great starting pitchers typically get into a groove at some point during the later part of the season and you’ll get a more predictable performance.
  • Later in the season, especially in September, a lot of teams fall out of contention and start playing minor league players.  It can become easier to know which lineups are easier matchups for your starting pitchers.

Strategy for hitter trades

If you plan to follow the 'Accumulate Pitcher Trades' strategy then your goal with your hitter trades is to increase your franchise value. If you spend the entire first half of the baseball season increasing your franchise value with hitter trades, then in the second half of the year you should be able to upgrade your pitchers to well-known starting pitchers. After you have accumulated a good amount of pitcher trades you can start to rotate through starting pitchers who have good matchups and have been pitching well lately.

In regards to hitter trades, you have many different options. The barbell approach would have you selecting 2-3 high-priced hitters, who will give consistent production, and surrounding those “good” players with lower priced players who can easily be traded out for hot, cheaper players. Jumping from one hot, low-priced hitter to another will increase your roster value, but will also burn through trades. The best players to buy, whether it be a hitter or a pitcher, are not the ones who suddenly have one or two good games but rather, have an obvious reason for continuing this solid production. For example, there may be a player who is good, but stuck on the bench behind a great player. Then the great player gets injured, and you realize that the bench player is now going to play for several weeks. This is a good place to jump in and make a trade for the new player. The newly starting player’s price is not just going to go up for two days and then crash, it's going to go up consistently over a long period of time. Making trades in this fashion will save you from burning through all your trades.

Perhaps choosing hitters to own over a two to three week period based on schedule might be another way to manage your trades. If a hitter is playing the team with the worst pitching staff in baseball for 7 games in the next two weeks then it might be a good time to jump on them. Or maybe in baseball it’s more important to choose hot hitters, no matter who their opponent is. You’ll have to decide.

Pro tip

If you're going to attempt this strategy, it’s also important to lay out a plan that has you rotating through pitchers every day. It’s not an efficient use of pitcher trades if you are jumping from one pitcher who started on Monday to another starting pitcher starting on Thursday. As an illustration, let’s say you already own Gerrit Cole and he pitches on Monday and Saturday of this week. If you don’t use a single trade then you get two pitcher starts. If you decide you are going to rotate through pitchers this week then you could let Cole pitch on Monday, jump to another pitcher on Wednesday, another on Friday and then back to Cole. If you do this you’ll end up getting four pitcher starts for the week but it will cost you three trades. Since you could have gotten two pitcher starts for no trades, using the three trades only really got you two extra starts, or .66 additional starts per trade. Alternatively, if you jumped from Cole on Monday to different pitchers each subsequent day of the week then you would end up with six pitcher starts for five trades. This really means that you have added four new starts for five trades, or .8 additional starts per trade. Does the .14 matter?  Well, if the best pitchers can average 175 points per game, and you have 25 trades saved, you would get an extra 630 points in this example, simply by maximizing the number of starts you get per trade.  .14 x 175 x 25 = 630.