Mar 3, 2009

Fantasy Baseball: A Draft Thought Exercise: Part I

There are a few things to consider when preparing for the drafting experience.

1. Have your personal rankings ready. Most draft services have automated rankings. More detail on how to make the rankings will come in later posts.

2. Form a plan for the first two rounds based on your draft position. This is an underrated and, I believe, not oft-talked about strategy. You should have three players targeted for each of your first two picks (and even three). These picks are the least susceptible to runs and also can really dictate what direction you take the draft in the subsequent 6-7 rounds.

Let's break this down; if you draw,

picks 1-5 first round: 1st pick: rated as 4-5 category stud, 2nd/3rd pick: best 5 category player available, high average, high power outfielder, or top 5 pitcher

picks 6-12 first round: 1st pick: best 5 category player available, high average/high power guy, or Johan Santana, 2nd/3rd pick: should not choose a 2nd pitcher

In these picks, you want cornerstone players; players to build (based on their stats) your team around.

3. Do not overvalue starting pitching. Pitching is important; after all, it is half the stats you have to keep track of. Drafting too many pitchers early really does put you at a disadvantage for filling in the rest of the positions. Depending on the draft itself, I usually end up with 2-3 starting pitchers in the first 8 rounds. You woud be surprised who drops to the 8th round in a given draft. (examples include Mark Prior: 2003, Jason Schmidt: 2004, Josh Beckett: 2007)

4. Don't jump on the closer train first. All that matters with closers is saves and job security (including injury possibility). Draft accordingly. I typically draft one closer in the first 10 rounds. (Mariano Rivera in round 9 last year). Then, I target 2-3 more during the draft. If that doesn't work, target a high innings/high strikeout middle reliever approximately round 16-19.

5. Know your sleepers. What is a sleeper? A sleeper is someone who is drafted lower than their perceived value. Target the rounds in which you want your sleepers. You may have to overreach by 1-3 rounds because other people may target the same ones. For example, I wanted Josh Hamilton in the 15th round (worked in one draft, he was drafted in the 11th round in the other).

6. Catchers....meh. I'm not a big catcher fan. Only Mauer, McCann, and Martin are top guys, but their perceived value is too high (4th round) for what they ultimately give you. Take the hit at the position and draft someone who won't hurt your batting average or better yet, is eligible to play at another position.

Next time, is some more of my thoughts on drafting.....

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