Dynasty baseball is a 12-month sport. Dynasty managers follow a different calendar as the days get shorter. Redrafters can go into hibernation, tune in for a few free-agent signings, and take their time working up to March drafts. Dynasty managers have a full roster today and problems to solve. If you’re on Fantrax, you can renew your dynasty team the day after the prior season ends. So if you are a manager in a running league, how should you start your offseason? What’s the first step in your dynasty baseball prep?
5 Steps to the Dynasty Baseball Offseason
To succeed in 2024 and beyond, you had better start with what you are bringing back from 2023. It has probably been a month or more since you have really thought about your dynasty team. In a true dynasty, that whole roster is coming back in March. The overwhelming majority of dynasty managers ended the season short of a championship. What is going to move you from where you ended up to where you want to go (or go again if you won)? The first step is to figure out what happened to your 2023 team. Let’s walk through this exercise together so we can all get to where we want to go.
Assess the Results
You have to look back to look forward. For starters, in a league with categories, look at where you finished in each. This is easy to get in Fantrax from last season’s Standings -> Season Stats, even in a head-to-head league. I can show you one of mine. These were the 2023 final regular season stat standings from a 16-team, head-to-head, 6×6 league.
My team (Severe) was balanced and strong overall, but weak in saves and shaky in all four ratio stats (AVG, OBP, ERA, WHIP).
Looking at the hitters, you can spot the problems in AVG and OBP: Matt Chapman, Max Muncy, Willy Adames, and Brice Turang were ratio drags all year. (Not pictured: Joey Wiemer) Eight of the core hitters are over 30 years old. A couple of these hitters were late-season streamers who will likely go in favor of IL returnees. This hitting needs to win now. If you are curious, the prospect system has Jackson Chourio close to providing support, but no others likely to make an impact soon. As Joey Meneses will no longer qualify at 1B next year, there is only one player to plug in at that position for daily lineup switches.
Things are dicier on the mound. Zach Wheeler, Chris Bassitt, and Yusei Kikuchi were the 2023 core. Eduardo Rodriguez and Michael King look to contribute in 2024. Carlos Rodon, Shane Bieber, Sawyer Gipson-Long, Graham Ashcraft, and Zack Littell are question marks. Shane McClanahan, Brandon Woodruff, and Liam Hendricks are heartbreaks. And nary a 2024 closer is to be seen. The pitching staff is…mature.
Were the injuries bad luck?
One of the trickiest pieces to evaluate on a dynasty baseball team is injury. A natural inclination would be to expect players like Mike Trout, Riley Greene, Jose Altuve, Bryce Harper, Shane Bieber, and Carlos Rodon to play more next year and bounce back from injuries. The truth is a win-now team is likely more susceptible to injuries because the players are older. Even as some of those players return, others can easily fill the red slots in your lineup.
If you do not believe me, and you have extra time on your hands, compare dollar projections with end-of-season earnings for your team, then see how much you ‘lost’ to injury compared to industry expectations. Do the same exercise for a couple of other teams in your league. In the IL-ridden baseball of 2023, the team above (and your own team) might not be as much an outlier as you think. The Associated Press reported 848 players landed on the IL in the 2023 season, for a total of 44,461 player-days lost (up 6.1% from 2022). Production loss to injury is coming more than ever, especially for an older team.
This team should be able to contend again next year. That sets a direction for the future Unless there is an obvious AVG/OBP upgrade the hitters are probably alright. Quality pitchers would be the most useful additions. With a seven-player bench in a daily, head-to-head format it may or may not be worthwhile to add closers. If the team cannot acquire 2-3 closers, saves is a category likely better punted. But punting saves and chancing four ratio categories is not a great way to come into a season.
Next time out we’ll look at preparing for the offseason draft.
Jesse is the host of the podcast Dynasty Sports Life, covering Dynasty Baseball, Football, Basketball, and multi-sport leagues. He also co-hosts the podcast Fantasy Hockey Life, focusing on dynasty hockey.