By Jason Fukao
This article marks the beginning of a line of pieces previewing the upcoming fantasy baseball season. From team by team previews to player predictions, we will give you everything you need for your upcoming draft. So continue to check back to the SportsCouch if you want to be crowned champion of your fantasy baseball league.
Most of us will be participating in our fantasy baseball drafts sometime this month, so here are a few things to keep in mind while you prepare for fantasy baseball dominance:
1. Research, Research, Research!
One can never be overly prepared for a baseball draft, and there is nothing worse than not knowing who the closer is for the Milwaukee Brewers when all the big names roll off the board. I suggest preparing yourself with cheat sheets. Make excel sheets listing overall player rankings, and then do the same for each position. If you really want to be a winner go ahead and rank players based on their production in each category. Bottom line, you want to know everything about each player before draft day.
2. Game Plan
Go into the draft with a strategy. For example, many of the successful managers I know like to flag certain rounds for when they will start to even consider drafting for certain positions. This could mean that they will predetermine that they will not draft a closer until after the 5th round or that catchers will not come onto the radar until after the 10th round. This will prevent you from getting trapped in what we in the fantasy world like to call “draft runs,” where a slew of players from a certain position will get taken within a round or two, resulting in managers panicking and drafting players earlier than expected.
3. Loyalty Is a Bitch
Managers tend to overvalue players from their favorite team or guys who did very well for them last year. No matter how much you love your Angels or your Justin Morneau from last year, do not draft them with a high pick without thinking clearly and objectively. Albeit, it is always fun to have guys on your real-life team as well as your fantasy team that you can root for. And it could make fantasy baseball more exciting but unless you don’t mind being the laughing stock of your league, you should reconsider overvaluing.
4. Wait On Pitching
The depth at the starting pitcher position has not been this deep in years. Granted, there are not many superstar pitchers that warrant a pick in the first couple of rounds, but there is a superfluous supply of arms that if drafted properly could form a formidable staff. Johan Santana is in a league of his own, and the next tier of pitchers is far behind. Guys like Jake Peavy, Chris Carpenter, and Roy Oswalt should not be taken anywhere earlier than the 3rd round. The next tier, with guys like Scott Kazmir, Cole Hamels, and Chris Young are being drafted anywhere from the 5th to 9th rounds, per Yahoo! leagues. My point is that the talent pool for pitching is very deep this year so you can afford to get the offense early and still have strong talent left to fill your pitching slots.
5. Don’t Try To Win Steals and Saves
If you miss out on a major bagger like Jose Reyes, Carl Crawford or Chone Figgins, aim for the guys that will give you a good number of steals and will help you in the other categories. Don’t settle for the uni-task monsters like Dave Roberts, but rather shoot for the guys who get maybe 10-20 steals while producing other numbers. Some examples are Carlos Lee (19 steals last year) or Ryan Zimmerman (11). In the case of saves, do not try to win the category with a bunch of front-line closers. Closers are very unpredictable and instead of banking on a Francisco Rodriguez or Billy Wagner to carry you, wait for the mid-tier guys. The success of closers is largely contingent on their team, so eye guys who may not have the name recognition but should get plenty of opportunities like Takashi Saito. The basic idea is to stay competitive in steals and saves without giving up too much in other categories.