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.

No comments: