Fantasy Baseball: Maximizing Offensive Production

There are many elements of fantasy baseball that simply come down to good old-fashioned luck. Either your hitters will produce, or they won't. While you can't control how a given player on your squad will perform day-in and day-out, there are measures you can take to improve your chances at getting the most offensive production possible.

These methods cater more to the daily, 5x5, head-to-head fantasy leaguer with no limitations on transactions, but can also be modified to apply to other formats as well.

Fill your holes on travel days

There are two days during the week which can cause dread for all owners – Monday and Thursday. These Major League "travel" days, however, can be used to your advantage by simply making sure you have as few vacancies in your lineup as possible. Yes, you run the risk of lowering your batting average, but with more at-bats come more opportunities to bolster the production categories (runs, HR, RBI and steals), which in the end could mean the difference between a winning and losing week.

Chances are you have a few guys on your roster that occupy what I like to call "swing spots." These are the "bubble" players that you could cut, if they're not playing on a given day, for hitters whose teams are playing on the sometimes light-schedule travel days.

Become familiar with Major League teams' lineup tendencies

The catcher position is one where it's a given that the player will be rested at least once a week. If, however, you own Boston's Jason Varitek, you don't have to sacrifice production during your catcher's off-day. Varitek's "natural" day off occurs whenever Tim Wakefield is on the mound for the Sox. The knuckleball specialist throws only to Doug Mirabelli, which gives you the ideal situation of picking up Mirabelli for those days and benching Varitek, in order to keep that spot filled.

The Red Sox also employ a strict right field platoon with Trot Nixon and Jay Payton. When Nixon is in the lineup (against right-handed pitchers), he hits out of the No. 2 hole, which translates into nice numbers near the top of that powerful offense. Although Payton hits down in the order against left-handers, he's still in there and gives Nixon owners a chance at production while Trot is on the bench. Another option would be to pick up an everyday player off another Major League team, who has been hitting of late and/or should benefit from a favorable matchup, to fill Nixon's spot for that day.

Know who your players' backups on the depth chart

Injuries happen all the time and can be a major point of frustration for owners. However, you can soften the blow of an injury to one of your key contributors by knowing who will replace him in the lineup. If the replacement is not a desirable commodity, then dive into your league's free agent pool to make sure that spot is filled, even if your regular player is considered day-to-day. This becomes crucial in the head-to-head format because you don't want to be sacrificing at-bats by having an injured player in your active lineup giving you zero production.

Grab the hot players, part with the cold ones

A large part of fantasy baseball is playing the trends. Don't hang onto a slumping player just because of his "name" or what he's done in the past. Obviously, you're not going to part with a Vladimir Guerrero if he goes into a three- or four-game slide. I'm talking more of the aforementioned bubble guys on your team. If you happened to snag the Brewers' Bill Hall during his recent hot streak, good for you. But it seems like he's come back down to earth over the last few games, throwing up three "o-fers" going into Sunday's play. My basic rule of thumb for borderline players is: three o-fers with minimal production and the "short-termer" goes back into the free agent pool.

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