The regular NFL season is over so that means the fantasy football season is over and the fantasy baseball season has begun. Sure, some of you might play fantasy basketball and some of you even play fantasy hockey (at least our Canadian readers), but for most of us, the end of fantasy football season means the beginning of fantasy baseball season.
During the winter, its time to start doing your general research to prepare for your fantasy baseball draft. Just like a baseball player who sticks to his off-season workouts, the work you do now will pay off when your fantasy baseball draft begins.
Here, from Fantasy Baseball Dugout, are the best resources for your off-season fantasy baseball research.
Magazines — In the Winter, the first baseball and fantasy baseball magazines hit your favorite newsstands. They are fun to read if you are a baseball fanatic, but they are of limited use by the time that your fantasy baseball league begins. The player rankings are a good guideline if you play in a small and casual league. The problem, however, is that most are printed before all of the free agent signings have taken place and before spring training. If you had to pick only one, however, I’d recommend Fantasy Baseball Guide by Rotowire. It gives the normal rankings by position for the casual fantasy baseball player, but also gives great insight into the Top 100 Prospects. I like the way it gives the position rankings for the two most common fantasy baseball leagues — the traditional 4 x 4 and the newer 5 x 5 leagues.
Ron Shandler’s Baseball Forecaster — The Baseball Forecaster gives the most in-depth projections for Major League Baseball players. It is not a great tool for the casual fantasy baseball player, as there are some studies that an MIT grad would struggle understanding. Nevertheless, there are great tools for fantasy baseball leagues and tremendous fantasy baseball strategy tips.
Baseball America Prospect Handbook – Baseball America is probably best known as the premiere source for coverage of college baseball and amateur baseball, but its Prospect Handbook is something you will refer to all year long as you seek out those fantasy baseball rookie prospects to give you added punch during the regular fantasy baseball season.
MLB Network — If you love baseball, you have to love the MLB Network. Great baseball all year round. Watch Hot Stove to keep up on the off-season free agents, trades, and baseball news. And, year round, watch Fantasy 411 with panelists that will guide you through the best moves for your fantasy baseball team. You can watch the Fantasy 411 videos on the MLB.com site here.
MLB At Bat – Apps are taking over the world and when it comes to sports apps, there’s nothing better than MLB At Bat. Major League Baseball really did it right with MLB At Bat. You can take advantage of all of your free time with informative articles from MLB At Bat. And, MLB At Bat makes it so easy. Just turn it on and scroll through the many stories that are available; there’s at least two dozen new stories available every day. You can get a free version of MLB At Bat now that its the off-season, but when the regular season starts it’s probably going to set you back at least $14.99 (that’s what the 2010 version cost). But, it’s loaded with features. Track every game on your cell phone as its happening. And, if you have a subscription to MLB.tv, you can watch every MLB game on your smartphone.
Twitter — If you want the latest breaking news, Twitter is the place to get it. Sure, the tweets are limited to 140 characters, but these are often updated by beat writers and bloggers who cover the teams every day. It’s hard to keep track of all of them so join a fantasy baseball group and just follow those that are members of the group. You can also let the professionals like RotoWorld (noted below) do the heavy lifting and do the following and then just make the reports back to you. You can follow BallparkBob on Twitter @Ballparkbob.
Premiere Web Sites — There are a host of web sites available to give you information about fantasy baseball. None of these should be a surprise to you, but here are some of the best for general fantasy baseball information.
* CBSSports.com — You know CBS Sports believes in fantasy baseball. It’s the first thing listed on the heading of the site. Solid rankings, 4 regular columnists, and fantasy baseball projections. It also has the best tool for sortable stats.
* ESPN.com — ESPN.com has a neat tool called its Player Rater which gives each player a fantasy baseball value. Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies was the most valuable fantasy baseball player in 2010 followed by Carl Crawford and Luis Pujols. Since closers are so important in fantasy baseball, ESPN offers its Closer Chart which tracks not only the current closers, but the next in-line, and long shots.
* MLB.com — MLB.com is the easiest place to turn to when you want to find out information. Because it is sponsored by the league, however, you won’t get rumors or the quickest information available to trump your opponents. That being said, its unique statistical section allows for you to track niche match-up stats like batter vs. pitcher plus hitters and pitchers in specific ballparks. It has a unique section that allows you to track statistics in off-season leagues. For $3.99 per month, you can subscribe to its text message player alerts which can track your complete fantasy baseball team.
Niche Websites — These web sites may be lesser known, but are equally valuable as the big boys listed above.
* Baseball-Reference.com — Baseball Reference has a great format for viewing player stats and its one of the few that includes a player’s MLB stats along with its minor league stats on the same site. So, if you want to track stats of minor leaguers like Pete Hissey of the Red Sox and Tim Morris of the Mariners, you can do so here. Another great feature is that it lists BB/9 and K/9 and visible WHIP stats to easily track pitcher performance.
* RotoWire.com — We mentioned above that we liked RotoWire’s preseason magazine. Great cheat sheets and convenient links to all local newspapers for coverage of teams. This site does it all, but for a price. You can get a full season subscription for $39.99, but the best value is probably the Draft Kit for $14.99.
* RotoJunkie.com — If you can’t get enough of fantasy baseball chat, then this is the site for you. It is the largest forum in the fantasy baseball business with some categories having in excess of 50,000 posts.
* RotoWorld.com — Great news blurbs and solid information about injuries and transactions. The best thing is that RotoWorld follows so many baseball writers on Twitter and then repeats the tweets in one convenient place.
* MLBDepthCharts.com – This site is independent, but has 7 beat writers, 6 blogs, and follows all of the MLB sites. I especially like its Position Battle Tracker that gives you vital information on who might earn starting positions coming out of Spring Training.
* Yardbarker.com — Yardbarker accumulates information from a variety of sites that report on sports in general and puts it all in one handy site so you don’t have to scour through hundreds of blogs and sites. Fantasy Baseball Dugout is a member of the YardBarker network.
Spadora on Sports — If you are lucky, you live in a region like Boston (1510 The Zone) that airs the Spadora on Sports radio show. Every weekend, you’ll hear BallparkBob and BatBoy BeeZee on the Spadora on Sports radio broadcast giving you inside tips to help you win your fantasy baseball league this year.