Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Can you hear that? That, my friends, is the sound of baseball. The first pitch has officially been thrown, and the first home runs have been struck. Although none of this happened where any American fan can view it and I can't even see it on tv because DirectTv's satellite is down, the A's and BoSox game is going strong with the game tied at 4 and going into the 10th inning. What a great way to start the season. Just wish I could see it...

Now that drafts are over and spring break is done, I should have more time to write. Not sure if I can continue day to day as I am looking for another job, but I should be able to post at least once a week. More on this later. Now, let's just enjoy the start of another season.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Some basic information you need for drafting

In preparation for my own drafts this week, I put together a data base of all pertinent information for all of the leagues I have played in. By calculating the tabulated scores attained for the main categories in every league I played in, I was able to tabulate the amount needed to win each if the main categories for pitching and hitting. See below:























Since I tabulated this information from nearly 20 leagues worth of data from the past 5 years, it stands as a pretty representative group for a standard 5x5 roto league with default settings in Yahoo!. Just to make sense of these numbers, it is essentially safe to assume that in order to win the runs category you would need to have projected numbers near 850 for your combined players; and so on down the list.

These are important numbers to have when trying to organize your team during the draft. If you select players which let you meet these numbers, you should do well to win your league.

Sorry for the break

For those reading my posts, I apologize for the recent break. I am drafting every day this week, which is taking up much of my free time. In preparation for my drafts, I have developed several pieces of information which others may want to know and will try transmit it in the next few days.

Good luck on your drafts!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Having a draft plan

For my last discussion of drafting in Fantasy Baseball, I want to impress upon you the need to have a plan when you go into a draft. While you certainly need to have a solid idea about players and a strategy for the draft, all of your preparation will be entirely wasted if you do not go into the draft with a plan of action. With that in mind, I want to walk through a plan of action for a basic draft strategy in the standard default Yahoo Rotisserie league setup: 5x5 with C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 3 OF, Util for position players, and 2 SP, 2 RP, and 3 P for pitchers.
  • The Early Rounds (1-5): At the end of the first five rounds you should have 2 power hitters (potential for 40 HRs), 1 five category guy, 1 SPs, and 1 good SB player with decent stats in at least one or two other categories. Due to our understanding of scarcity theory, we know that it will be best to grab the power hitters and five cat guy first, then look for an good SB guy and an SP. Now when I say you should grab a good SB guy with decent stats in other categories, I am talking about players such as Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, Carl Crawford, and Ichiro Suzuki. They always have lot’s of SB's, runs, and a good average, while putting up average stats when it comes to HR's and RBI's.
  • The Early Middle Rounds (6-10): Once you have a solid base, you should target 2 more SPs, 1-2 saves guys, and make sure you have at least 1 other player with good SBs on your roster. Otherwise, continue to focus on power potential and guys who contribute in as many categories as possible.Typically in a draft, no more than 6-8 SP's will be off the board by Round 6, so there is still plenty of Pitching value available. At the same time, if you already drafted someone with top SB numbers in the early rounds (such as a Reyes or Crawford), you don't have to worry about picking up SBs in these early middle rounds, and can concentrate on finding more power.
  • The Late Middle Rounds (11-16): Fill your all position needs. You want to make sure you have 2 RP's starting the season as closers. Although 2 closers usually will not be enough for the saves category, you can pick up help either in the late rounds by speculating on a player who is in a fight to be a closer, or by picking up someone after the season begins.
  • The Late Rounds (17-21): Time to focus on sleeper prospects and pick up some additional SP's for depth. You should also consider grabbing any RP's who are either fighting to be a closer or has the potential to be a closer, But keep in mind there are always good SP's available in late rounds.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Drafting for Scarcity

Having a successful draft in Fantasy Baseball has a lot in common with understanding our current spate of high gas prices: it's all about scarcity. The more scarce a certain type of player is, the more valuable he comes and the quicker he will be drafted.

While I have already talked about position scarcity, which will be especially important this year, there is another important type of scarcity which Fantasy managers need to consider: Category scarcity. In order to understand category scarcity it is important to group players based on the following categories which are the mainstay of the fantasy game: 1) Power (HR), 2) Speed (SB), 3) Starting pitchers (W, K, ERA<>

The best way to look at scarcity in categories is to see how easy it is to pick up a premium player of that type during the season:

  • Saves are the easiest category to pick up after draft day. As the season progresses, many teams will change closers either due to injuries or ineffectiveness. This means there are ample opportunities for a perceptive manager to pick up saves.
  • Speed is the next easiest category to find post-draft. As the season gets going, it's not hard to find someone who will steal 20-25 bases—heck if you really pay attention it's even possible to pick up a premium base stealer after the draft (just ask those who picked Hanley Ramirez last year).
  • Starting pitchers are the third category group, and here things become a lot less certain once the draft is over. Truly dominant pitchers (ones who get Wins, Ks, and with a low ERA and WHIP) never come available during the season. But a good manager can pick up a 12-13 win pitcher with decent K's and reasonable ERA/WHIP once the season has started. Sometimes an ace is called up from the minors and sticks, other times a ace will emerge as the season progresses. At the very least, the categories present by a good SP can be had even as single contributions from just a solid Middle Reliever.
  • With the exception of Ryan Braun last year, true power hitters (those who will hit 40 HRs) are damned near impossible to pick up from the waiver wire. But there are always several 25-30 HR guys available.

Of course there are several categories that I am not mentioning. Keep in mind that I am trying to demonstrate how easy it is to find quality players after the draft. By looking at scarcity in terms of categories, it becomes apparent that it isn’t impossible to make up for losses due to an injury, a freak accident, a bad year, or even a bad draft. While the line between different categories, especially between power hitters and speed players, is not absolute, it is always possible to find players to fill in where you are deficient. A good place to start is to consider players who pick up stats in several categories, since those players become increasing valuable with every stat they contribute in. But new guys like this emerge every season.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Luck & the Draft

I believe that luck makes up 20% of everyone’s draft strategy. As with all games, Fantasy Baseball players must factor in random events and chance occurrences in their quest to win a Fantasy Baseball League. While some players carry the injury mark with them everywhere they go, you normally won’t be able to accurately pick whether a player will get hurt during the season. Therefore, you have to take chances during the 6 month long season to win. You will need to decide between two Free Agents to replace injured or under-achieving players, or you will need to decide which of your stud players you will deal in order to boost a stat for the stretch run.

No one knows what is going to happen during the season, but there are a few things you can do during your draft to reduce the impact of luck on your season. Every player you draft is a risk, but the key to winning is minimizing your risk while maximizing your value. For instance, a lot of people drafted SP Chris Carpenter in the Top 5 rounds of their drafts last year, and when healthy, he is worthy of such a high selection, but he got injured after just 6 innings and didn’t play again last year. Clearly, that should carry over into 2008, and yet some people actually included him in the top 100. I happened to be one of those skeptics, and wouldn’t touch him with a ten foot pole.

By always thinking about a worst-case scenario when compiling my draft order, I try to remove every risk possible from my draft. Simply reducing the number of "one-year wonders" and “injury-prone” players on your teams from 5 to 2 can make a big impact on the success of your draft. That being said, if by some chance one of my favorite “high risk” guys is still around in the late rounds of the draft, I will take a chance on him, because I will have reduced my risk and increased his potential value to my team. Of course, I am still not touching Chris Carpenter this year.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Position Specific Draft Tips

When it comes to the draft, there are certain things you need to consider when selecting players for each position. While it is always important to go for the best players available regardless of position at the beginning of the draft, as the draft goes along, you will probably find that your best bet is to concentrate on a couple of categories or to ignore a couple of categories altogether. It is essential to remain flexible and be willing to improvise as the draft plays out. With that in mind, here are some position specific tips:

Pitchers: I do not recommend picking a pitcher in the first 2 rounds. If you feel you have to break this rule, then make sure the pitcher you draft is a hardy and reliable player. I grabbed Chris Carpenter early last year, only to have him play 6 innings for the whole year! Never forget that pitchers are incredibly fragile players. If a right fielder gets a sore arm, the manager will move him to left. If a pitcher gets a sore arm, he may be gone for the entire year. With that in mind, avoid the urge to take a pitcher early, even if it is a reliever. It is inevitable that a couple of good closers will lose their job to a youngster that went undrafted at the season’s beginning. While you want solid pitchers, you shouldn’t grab them too early.

What to look for when drafting a Starting Pitcher: Look at walks allowed per nine innings (WHIP); look for strikeout pitchers because they fail less often than a finesse pitchers; look for pitchers from winning teams because run support is a major factor in wins; try to anchor your staff with a tier one pitcher who will get you 200 plus innings with a good ERA.; and finally, beware of prospects because it usually takes several years for a pitcher to establish himself in the majors.

What to look for when drafting a Closer: Look for players with high strike numbers, a low WHIP and ERA, and the most saves. Relief pitching is the most difficult to predict. It has a direct impact on saves as well as innings pitched, wins, walks/hits per inning and ERA, so make sure you take two quality relievers if you want to win or be competitive in most leagues. Don't be afraid to pay full value for a quality reliever. It is imperative to pay close attention to setup pitchers (as they may be the closer at the end of the season if a closer is hurt or ineffective; and they also will pick up a few saves during the course of the season) and teams that use "closing by committee" because they have multiple players getting saves in any given week

Infielders: Each infield spot requires a different strategy, but at the most basic level it is important to consider multi-positional players when possible. When in doubt, take the guy who can play 2 or more positions. Lineup flexibility can help you through little injuries and scheduling oddities. Multi-positional players are not highly sought after on draft day, but their flexibility allows them to have more value to your team than one would give you if they only played at one spot.

Catchers: This year catchers are a scarce position, because the difference between the top 5 and those below them is huge. Only 11 catchers had 450 at bats last year and only 6 drove in at least 80 runs. This means you need to sntch up one of these top catchers will they are available, so be sure to snag one of them. American league catchers are preferable because they often play at DH (Piazza) and a few guys are listed as catchers but may play more often at first (Saltimaccia).

First Base: Regardless of the team, first basemen in major league baseball today must be good hitters, so yours should be one as well. Look for a full time player and consider drafting another first baseman to fill your corner infielder and/or DH slot.

Second Base: There are many all star second basemen, but top tier players always go at a premium so draft carefully and don’t get attached to one player. You will also want to grab a second baseman to fill your middle infielder slot. Look for sound everyday players who have solid batting averages and get at least 10-20 SBs.

Shortstops: Traditionally, shortstops and catchers are two of the weakest hitting positions on the team. But there are currently a large number of solid SS available, so much so that you won’t have to pay top dollar for a top tier player. As with 2B, avoid drafting a SS with a bad batting average.

Third Base: Like SS, there are a lot of good 3Bs who hit big numbers. Look for sound everyday player. While A-Rod will cost you a fortune (for good reason after last year), there are enough strong 3Bs that you don’t have to spend everything at this position.

Outfielders: In the past, there were always a lot of good outfielders who could address a teams offensive/hitting needs, but this year (2008) it seems like there are only 2o top guys and rest are just spot fillers. With that in mind, you want to leave the draft with 2 good everyday players from the top 20. Your third man can be multi-positional players, although you may want to corner 3 top players this year since you want to have a balanced team rather than run away with one category. With that in mind you should look at players who have speed, power and a high batting average. Remember there are only a limited amount of 5 category players.

Prospects & Sleepers: Once you filled out your roster, you want to look toward drafting a couple of bargain players near the end of the draft to fill any empty slots or to find that break out player the. Players drafted early tend to be over priced and there tends to be a lot of depth in the outfield. If you don’t have the time to track down your own prospects, then consult one of the lists provided by the sole called experts on nearly any of the big websites. By looking at a few of their projections, it isn’t hard to come up with a consensus opinion on the best prospects and sleepers for the upcoming season.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Basic Tips to Consider Before Your Draft

Before going into a draft, it is essential that you prepare well in advance. Here are a few basic Pre-Draft tips:

Research, research, and then, do some more research. Nothing is more important than solid research. Find sites and sources with player news. Read columns. Evaluate draft guides. Check out as much information as you can in order to determine which draft guides can help you the most. Just when you think you are finished, do some more. Trust me, every time you look at the information again you’ll learn something you didn’t know.

Don’t put too much into spring training. Every year, players post monster numbers in spring training or completely fall apart. Sadly, such play is rarely a projection for the regular season. In 2003, Mike Sweeney belted seven homers in spring training, but that was almost half of the 16 he ended up hitting for the entire season. Byun-Hyung Kim had the lowest springtime ERA of anyone that pitched 27 innings in 2004, only to post a 6.24 for the season. What more needs to be said? I’m not saying you ignore spring stats altogether, as they are useful in determining potential sleepers or understanding how a player might fit into the lineup. But the season is 162 games long, and there is no telling what might come of it.

Pay careful attention to your league’s settings. You must know what categories count in your league’s scoring system or how many pitchers you are allowed to start or whether your league includes a DH, etc. This are vital information you must know before determining your draft strategy. For instance, if you only start two pitchers, but half of the categories are pitching-related, a good hurler suddenly becomes far more valuable than a homerun hitter.

Rank players by tiers. Although ranking players can be a very imprecise process, it is an essential part of draft preparation. Don’t just count on rankings provided by an expert sight. If you skip this step, you really have no idea what kind of talent is out there. But keep in mind, it isn’t enough to rank players an all-inclusive list, you must take the time to rank them by position and divide them into tiers. Then come draft time, the tiers will guide your selections. If all the second-tier shortstops are on the board at the time of your third-round pick, you can afford to hold off on selecting one in order to use your pick to get a top-tier guy at another position and still probably get one of those second-tier shortstops in the next round.

Start developing a draft strategy. To have a successful draft, you have to establish a plan of action before the draft begins. How will you select you pitchers, by wins and strikeouts or ERA and WHIP? Will you ignore steals and concentrate on power, or do you want 5 category guys? Should you wait on pitching? Or, maybe should just go with the best player available and worry about trading for position players later. Whatever you decided, the most important thing is that you have a plan. Otherwise, you’ll be as lost on draft day.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Basic Draft Strategies

Although no one wins a league on draft day, it is possible to lose one. Drafting is one of the most important aspects of fantasy sports, so important that fantasy players spend countless hours preparing for draft day. Since we have covered the basic types of drafts, let’s take a look at a few draft strategies for the typical 5x5 rotisserie baseball league. Here are the most popular draft strategies, in no particular order:

Position Scarcity: Drafting the best players possible in the early rounds in positions with few star quality players. Examples of position scarcity this year include catchers, and out field. Once you fill these positions with few star players, you would then look for the best value picks, while always keeping position scarcity in mind concerning the remaining players available to be drafted. Positions like third base, first base and starting pitchers would be chosen later in the draft because there is a much larger pool of quality players at these positions this year.

The Balanced Team: Drafting a team to be as balanced as it can be in all batting and pitching scoring categories. The idea is not to win any single scoring category, but to place in the top four in all of the scoring categories. Therefore, you draft as many players as possible who score well in four or five of the scoring categories. You also need to blend in pitchers, although your mix should include slightly more batters than pitchers, but not many more. For this strategy to be successful, you must stick to it through the first 10-12 rounds, then it is crucial to fill any holes where you may be weak in a scoring category, although you should shy away from players who only score good in one or two categories.

Best Player Available: Draft the highest ranked players available without concern over position. While you may have the best overall talent after the draft, you may be deficient at a few positions If you have too many players in one position and not another, then you simply trade for what you need. This strategy is one of the simplest in terms of preparation if you just rely on the expert rankings. In my opinion, if you use this system why bother to show up at all, you should just let the computer auto draft for you. The biggest variation on this strategy is to come up with your own rankings, which can make it one of the most time consuming plans out there.

Controlling Offense: Draft only hitting through the first 10 rounds, focusing in the first five rounds on 4 and 5 tool players. For rounds 6 through 10, pick the best batters in a given category, like steals or home runs, where you are the weakest. Once you fill out the offensive positions, you then draft the best available pitchers concentrating on pitchers that have the best combination of ERA, Ks, WHIP and saves. By the 11th round, you probably won’t find many solid starting pitchers, but you should be able to draft enough to show up in the pitching categories.

If pitching is scarce, you could modify this strategy to secure the top starters in a given year. In the book Fantasyland, Sam Walker employed this tactic and called it REMA. The only problem is that pitchers are notoriously fragile players, prone to injuries. If you cannot get enough offense to be in the top 5, one injury could ruin your team.

Punting a Category: With this strategy, you intentionally ignore one of the scoring categories, concentrating instead on the others. For hitters, stolen bases are often punted. Since the guys who usually get the highest number of SBs often do poorly in other categories, having them in your line up limits production in other categories. For pitchers, saves is most often punted. In all honesty, I don’t recommend you start the draft using this strategy, but if you find part way though the draft that you have few producers in one category, you can use it to your advantage by concentrating your remaining picks to strengthen the scoring categories you want to score high in.

Specialist Drafting: The opposite of Punting, here you draft players who are the best producer in a single category in order to dominate a few categories, and then move on to another player who dominates a different category until you have players covering all categories in your league. This is much more common and useful in Head to Head leagues than roto, since you can rarely draft the best single category guys. With just that in mind, for this strategy to be successful, you must limit your domination to 2-3 categories and not worry too much about the others.

Conclusion: There are more strategies which fantasy players employ at their draft than this, and even combination approaches, but they all boiled down these simple approaches. When it comes to fantasy sports (regardless of the type), everyone incorporated their favorite draft strategy into their Drafting plan. Whichever strategy you decide to employ, keep in my no strategy is fool proof. How a draft strategy is implemented, executed and the "expertise" of the other team owners also affect how successful a draft strategy will be. What is most important is that you come into the draft with a plan of execution.