If you’re in a fantasy baseball league, chances are you’ll be drafting this weekend. If you’re like most fantasy baseball managers, you’re just now getting your information together for the draft.
Here’s some of BallparkBob‘s favorite fantasy baseball draft strategy tips for draft day. Remember, the draft is 60% of the season so be prepared.
1. If you’re not going to put a lot of effort into analyzing stats and doing mock drafts, and you want to keep it simple, concentrate on homeruns and stolen bases. Why? Homeruns equal RBI’s too. And, stolen bases are one of the easiest categories to win because one player can be so dominant in this category. The fact is: the importance of the stolen base is greatly exaggerrated in fantasy baseball when compared to real baseball.
2. Want another category that’s exaggerrated in fantasy baseball? Saves. Most smaller leagues will have teams picking two closers per team. One up them and pick three for your team.
3. When should you pick saves? With closers, the top closer doesn’t get that many more saves than the bottom closer so it’s crazy to waste a top pick on a closer. Wait until there’s a run on closers and then jump in.
4. Are all the closers taken? Then, take a set up guy with a late round pick. Guys like Kevin Gregg of the Marlins started the season as set up guys, then went on to earn 32 saves. There’s a few guys who might be late round bargains for the same reason this season. Some guys to consider this year to be surprise closers are Flash Gordon (Phillies), Rafael Betancourt (Indians), Carlos Marmol (Cubs), and Jon Rauch (Nationals).
5. Spend more time researching the middle round players. Everybody in your league will know the top players. It’s the middle round players who will win it for you.
6. In an auction league, nominate players from your home town early. Many managers will over-bid for a hometown hero. Stay on the sidelines when a hometown players is up for bid.
7. Nominate players early with positions where you have a stud player already.
8. In summary, nominate players you don’t want and let the others fight it out early when they all have good bankrolls.
9. A multiple position player taken in an early round or early in the auction gives you considerably more flexibility when entering the late rounds or late auction picks.
10. Don’t ever throw away an entire category. You cannot win your league unless you score at least in the middle range in every category.
11. Make sure you come to the draft with an up to date team roster including injuries, late trades, cuts, and starting positions.
12. Magazines are a good place to get started to get you psyched about the upcoming fantasy baseball season, but they are not a final product to take to the draft. Simply too much happens between January, when most of the magazines are printed, until draft day.
13. Do not fall in love with a player on your favorite team. (See Tip # 6)
14. Figure out the WHIP category. It’s one of the most consistent categories for pitchers from year-to-year and is possibly the best single category for judging the success of your staff.
15. Except in really deep leagues, avoid long relievers. They really can’t help you in any category unless they are Jon Rauch of the Nationals who freakishly won 8 games last year.
16. Do not drink on draft day, but buy your opponents lots of their favorite beverages. You’ll get your investment back on prize money day.
17. If you have a hot girlfriend, bring her to draft day with a low cut top on. Your friends will be so envious, not only of her hotness, but because she even support your nerdy pastimes like fantasy baseball. Do anything to throw your opponents off. (See # 16)
18. If you have a jersey of a superstar that you have no intention of picking, wear his shirt to draft day and bid early on him and with excitement. Your opponents will figure you’ll buy him at any price and may try to bait you into him at an unrealistic price.
19. Keep track of who had the runner-up bid on players you won. They may want them more than you and might be good trade prospects.
20. Rookies are often over-hyped. Don’t overbid or take them too high.
21. When drafting catchers, look for Victor Martinez and Russell Martin. Joe Mauer is probably a good pick too coming off of an injury prone season. If you can’t get these guys, there’s a dramatic dropoff after them so save your catchers for the end of the draft. Some people recommending waiting on the catcher position; I prefer to take them early to get the position advantage.
22. Same with second base. Chase Utley is in a class by himself and is a first rounder. After Utley, BJ Upton is a good choice as is Brandon Phillips, Robinson Cano, and Ian Kinsler. Utley is your man and you should take him as a late first rounder given the position scarcity.
23. Look for outfielders that can help you in all categories. Sure, Juan Pierre can rack up steals, but nothing else. Stick with the 20-20 guys in the outfield; there’s plenty of them to go around.
24. Take durable starting pitchers that have proven to chew up a lot of innings without injury. Johan Santana and Jake Peavy are at the top of everybody’s list, but there’s lot of other great ones like Josh Beckett, CC Sabathia, Brandon Webb, Cole Hamels, Justin Verlander, Dan Haren, and Erik Bedard.
25. The value of a closer is more in who he plays for than how effective he is. Joe Borowski of the Indians and Todd Jones of the Tigers aren’t overpowering, but they play for teams who will put them in position to earn a lot of saves.
26. Use projections on guys who were injured last year. Their value will be underestimated by other managers. Francisco Liriano (Twins) put up great numbers in 2006 (12 wins, 2.16, 1.00 WHIP), but didn’t play at all last year.
27. Take the best player available in the first five rounds. The only exception is if you have a shot at Utley or Victory Martinez where position scarcity changes the equation.
28. Know the league rules. They are not going to be the same as the last league you played in.
29. Be sure to know the injury status of all players.
30. Check out the depth charts on MLB.com.
31. Stamina is critical on draft day. Bring caffeine with you. Many owners will wear down during a long auction. Get in a good workout at home prior to the draft.