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.

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