Fantasy Baseball 2010: Draft Strategies
We have reached that time of year again. What time of year you ask? Well, the best time of the year. With the NCAA tournament coming up and the MLB opening day right around the corner, I’m really not sure what more I can ask for. In addition to all this real life sports goodness, it has become time to fill out your brackets and draft your fantasy baseball team. Most competitive fantasy leagues will wait until the last minute before they draft, so they can have the most up to date information about players before the season starts. Lots of players who already drafted got screwed with the news about Joe Nathan. That’s just an example of why, if possible, your league should wait before drafting. So with most drafts coming up near the end of March, I’ll share some knowledge that I have picked up during the mock snake drafts that I’ve done. In other words, here is how I plan to go about drafting my teams this year.
1.) Take the best hitter available in the early rounds.
A little bit of a standard piece of advice here, but I still see lots of guys drafting more then one pitcher in the first couple for rounds for some reason. The logic behind my idea is simple: Hitters are more predictable and consistent while pitchers tend to be more injury prone and inconsistent. There is plenty of solid pitching the middle rounds this year, and that is the right time to build your staff. A good team is built around a solid offence, not a fantastic pitching staff.
2.) Get your 1B and 3B slots filled up in the first few rounds.
There has been much talk about how deep 1B is this year. Most advice I see says to wait on your 1B. I like to think of it another way. How would you feel if you didn’t have one of the top tier 1B and everyone else did? Personally I wouldn’t be too happy with someone like Carlos Pena as my starting first baseman. On the other hand, the top tier talent at 3B is scarce. If you have to reach a little bit for one of them, do it. I would have say the best drafting spot this year in a snake draft is near the turn. I have found myself able to take a Fielder and Wright pairing or a Cabrera and Longoria pairing from that spot. Now that’s how I like to start out a draft.
3.) Wait before grabbing your closers.
Another one you’ve probably heard before. Saves are the same no matter where you get them, and drafting a Matt Capps type in one of the last rounds isn’t much different then drafting a Papelbon in the early rounds. Sure, the elite closer will most likely have a better WHIP and ERA, but they don’t throw enough innings to make a significant difference in your ratios. Unless you’re in a very deep league, wait on closers.
4.) Speed is plentiful later on.
Ok not really a strategy, more of a statement. But it is a statement you can use to help yourself during your draft. If you want me to put in other words, it would go something like “Don’t pick Jacoby Ellsbury or Carl Crawford in the early rounds.” There’s no need. If you really want a big time SB guy, (and honestly you don’t need one but whatever) go ahead and draft Juan Pierre or Rajai Davis or one of those guys later on.
5.) Keep your bench full of starters, not hitters.
There’s no use to having a bunch of hitters on your bench. If you have a surplus of pitchers, you can play the matchups and bench guys who are playing the better teams. Don’t like James Shields and his matchup at NYY? That’s fine. Bench him and use one of your other guys with a more favorable matchup.
6.) Don’t “punt” any categories.
I’ve seen people try this in both head to head and roto leagues. These are the people who like to brag about how smart they are for punting saves, steals, or homers and focusing on the other categories. They are also the ones who inevitably end up in the bottom third of the league.
These are just some things to keep in mind. You also need to remember that each draft is unique and you have to go with the flow in each one. Don’t be afraid to make a bold move and go against the norm. But most of all, be prepared and confident and you’ll most likely end up with a solid team. And even when you do draft that good team, there is no guarantee you will end up the winner. A fantasy baseball season can be lost during a draft, but it can’t be won. Hey, that’s what makes it so fun.