7/15/2014 12:00 A.M. ET
Gauging player motivation is beneficial in fantasy
Monthly splits, trade value are other good ways to predict player performance
By Jonathan Bales / Special to MLB.com
In most jobs across the world, people are driven to perform based on certain motivators. For example, money is an obvious motivator that has the power to dramatically alter actions. In Major League Baseball, players and teams are highly motivated by the standings.
As we enter the All-Star break, the gap between the league's best and worst teams will likely widen. That difference can affect player motivation and, as a result, their statistics. And any time baseball stats change, it has an impact in the fantasy baseball world.
Thus, one of the underrated ways to grab an advantage in the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com is to understand which teams and players are motivated to perform to maximum potential. It's not that we can just expect a total decline from underachieving teams -- players still want to play well to enhance their own stats or even just because of pride. However, extra motivation can improve output.
You can often gauge the disposition of an MLB team by the moves it makes at the Trade Deadline. Is it a buyer? Or is it moving quality players for young talent?
Motivation is often difficult to quantify on the individual level, but you can use another midseason factor to your advantage when playing the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com: monthly splits. Monthly splits can sometimes reflect player motivation, but they also give you an idea of a player's ability to work through the grueling 162-game regular-season schedule.
If you look at the D-backs' Aaron Hill's monthly splits, for example, you'll find that he's traditionally improved as the season has progressed. Across the past three campaigns, Hill has hit just .258 with eight home runs in April and May. But in August of those years, Hill has posted a .300 average with 13 home runs. Hill might be the type of player who starts slowly and then gets into a groove by midsummer.
Compare that to the Orioles' Chris Davis. In the past three seasons, Davis has 23 hits in 138 at-bats in June and July -- resulting in a .167 average. Davis has never hit for average, but those numbers are especially low.
We're dealing with different people who have different bodies and potentially different responses to the rigors of baseball, so it's not surprising that we should expect some players to perform better than others as the year progresses.
A final way to benefit from the grind of the MLB season in the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com is to understand how player trades affect value. With the Trade Deadline on the horizon, we could see some big names in new uniforms. Players who switch teams often offer good value because it can become difficult to price them properly.
If you can predict how a change of scenery will impact a player's value, you can score a huge advantage in the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com. Consider factors such as a hitter's new home ballpark or his position in the batting order. Sometimes a player will benefit from switching teams -- such as a hitter who moves from a pitcher-friendly park to a park that's hitter-friendly. But if his Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com salary doesn't reflect the new positive factor, you'll have an opportunity to capitalize on a value add.
Jonathan Bales contributes DraftKings-related content to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.