Feb 18, 2009

Fantasy Baseball: Preliminary Draft Thoughts

I haven't yet begun my preparation for my various fantasy baseball leagues, but there are always a few thoughts percolating about how to pursue draft strategems and game plans.

Typically, I play in a standard 5x5 league (The categories are R, HR, RBI, SB, and AVG for hitters and W, K, SV, ERA, and WHIP for pitchers). I tend to split between rotisserie-style and head to head leagues (Rotisserie is when you accumulate statistics for the entire season and then are ranked against the peers in your league in each category. Head-to-head is when you compete each week against one team and accumulate wins based upon how many categories you win).

I typically draft in a typical snake draft, randomly chosen. I have not participated in auctions before. But unlike fantasy football, not having a high 1st round pick won't doom you to a life as an also-ran. Of course, having a high 1st round pick means you don't have to think as much about who to pick. I have done well and done poorly picking from either location. The key is to have an idea about what to do after the first pick and how to adjust to the flow of the draft. Because you will encounter people in your league with distinctly different strategies. Though in the past couple years with the explosion of internet sites, the advice and strategies have normalized and the information has become more easily accessible.

Not that this fact is a bad thing, it just makes having a unique strategy more difficult. For example, in 2001 I drafted Ichiro in the 9th round in half my drafts. Someone like that would not slip through the cracks so easily. I targeted and received Miguel Cabrera in 2004 in the 8th round or I had drafted Grady Sizemore in 2006 in the 5th round. Talent is more easily identified than before and you can know all the up and comers with a click of a mouse. Steady veterans are where you can sometimes get a value relative to the draft position.

Draft strategies have also evolved. For example, in 2002, the consensus first two picks were Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez. Other strategies have not evolved. Slugging first baseman offering little else are overvalued as 1st round picks if you can't guarantee a 50 HR season. Examples that have been drafted in the first round after career years that have not lived up to the hype are Mark Teixeira (2006), Prince Fielder (2008), Ryan Howard (2008), Carlos Delgado (2004), Jeff Bagwell (2002). Drafting is a matter of choice, preference, and educated guesswork.

Next time, some basic strategies I tend to follow. These are not ironclad, I shift with the flow of the draft a lot of the time.

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