BY ROB SHAW
Every season a different strategy has to be utilized in fantasy baseball drafts in order to appropriately take into account positional depth and player rankings. In general, a unique strategy can be utilized on a round-by-round basis. Here’s a breakdown of Bloomberg Sports recommended Fantasy Baseball Strategy 2012 Edition:
In the early rounds, the focus is finding the best available player while also taking into account the disparity between the best player and the next best option at each position. For example, there is a plateau in excellence for starting pitchers as Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander, and Clayton Kershaw can all be claimed as the best of the bunch. On the other hand, Troy Tulowitzki stands alone amongst fellow shortstops.
If your fantasy league includes slugging percentage and on base percentage as statistical categories, there is no competition for Jose Bautista in the outfield while there are several stars at first base including Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, and Joey Votto. The best strategy is to pick up the best talent at a position where there is a large enough disparity that when the next player is drafted from that position there is a decisive advantage in your favor.
In the early middle rounds, it’s not a bad idea to scoop up a fine hurler who has the potential to rank amongst the best. Players such as Jered Weaver, CC Sabathia, and Danny Haren as well as Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg make sense in these rounds. These hurlers have the ability to dominate and enjoy a Cy Young caliber season thanks to their enormous upside.
Having two high potential and consistent hurlers is more valuable than having just one dominant ace. Therefore, by drafting where there is greater disparity in the early rounds with a focus on position players, then nabbing a couple of pitchers with sky high potential fantasy managers can enjoy the best of both worlds.
In the later middle rounds you can draft a closer and many of them. Closers are often overrated in fantasy leagues since they only contribute 70 innings, which means saves are all that matters. Second-tier closers still get the job done and players such as Joe Nathan could end up as bargains. In fact, rather than selecting a Jonathan Papelbon in the sixth or seventh round, you can grab a Gio Gonzalez or a Drew Stubbs, someone who will have a much greater impact on your fantasy team.
Then five rounds later go ahead and draft three closers in a row: Sergio Santos, Jason Motte, and Frank Francisco. Plus, usually about 10 closers become available on the waiver wire each season. In fact, all three of the pitchers just mentioned did not start the season as closers for their respective teams last season.
Finally, in the later rounds, it’s not a bad idea to focus on young talents with great potential as well as players with multiple position eligibility. This allows you to pick up some big time prospects while also enjoying depth. Consider top prospects such as Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. There is no telling if the precocious sluggers will develop into stars as soon as this season.
On the other hand, drafting veteran players such as Ryan Raburn and Daniel Murphy is also a key strategy in the later rounds since they cover multiple positions, providing depth to your fantasy teams. This way if a player on your team gets injured, a single bench player can fill multiple holes.
For more fantasy insight turn to BloombergSports.com.
Are They Hall of Famers?
Johnny Damon– Labeled clutch, a winner, and one of the top leadoff hitters of his generation, it is surprising to learn that Johnny Damon has only made two All-Star appearances over his 17-year career. That tells us that Damon was never the dominant left-fielder of his generation, and will likely put an end to his bid for a spot in the Hall of Fame. However, the door is not closed yet.
Damon is just 357 hits shy of 3,000 for his career and he does not appear to be slowing down that much either. Other personal milestones that will shortly be reached are 1600 hits and 400 steals. If Damon can hand around for another three seasons, his longevity as well as his World Series heroics may result in a Hall of Fame plaque.
Todd Helton– A .324 career average screams Hall of Fame worthy. However, for the first time Hall of Fame voters will have to take into account the Coors Field impact. Helton is a .355 career hitter at home compared to just .292 on the road. Also, when it comes to power 209 home runs were swatted at home, compared to 133 on the road.
So Helton is a dominant first baseman when playing at home, but more of a Mark Grace type hitter when on the road. Considering he failed to reach any of the common Hall of Fame milestones such as 3,000 hits or 500 home runs, I do not see Helton as a Hall of Famer.
David Ortiz– As a long-time designated hitter, David Ortiz would need at least 500 home runs in order to gain admission to the Hall of Fame. Considering he is currently 134 home runs shy of that total and has been linked to performance-enhancing drugs, Ortiz will likely have to settle as a Red Sox legend, but not a Hall of Famer.
On the Path:
Roy Halladay– The dominant pitcher of his era, Halladay has won two Cy Young awards and won 20 or more games on three occasions. With 178 wins compared to just 89 losses, Halladay will probably need just another season or two of dominance to win over the Hall of Fame voters.
CC Sabathia– A very durable ace for the Yankees, Sabathia has the best chance of 300 wins with 165 already under his belt. He will need another four or five 15-18 win seasons to guarantee a spot in the Hall of Fame.
Justin Verlander– So far so good for this young hurler. Verlander has been durable and dominant. He has put together a couple of no-hitters, won an AL Rookie of the Year, and made three All-Star teams. The problem with Verlander is that he is so young, so he’ll need to stay healthy and effective for another 6-8 years.
Carl Crawford– A move to Boston should only help his chances. Crawford has a Gold Glove, four All-Star appearances, more than 1500 hits and 400 steals, which is incredible for someone just 29 years old. As long as he stays healthy, Crawford has every chance of making the Hall of Fame as one of the most consistent hitters of his generation.
Jose Reyes– Despite all of the injuries zapping Jose Reyes over the years, the 28-year old shortstop compares well to Carl Crawford. He has made three All-Star games and will have every chance of making many more.
If he can hit around .300 for a good five to six years while hitting at the top of the lineup with 100-plus runs and 40-plus steals, Reyes will boast some very impressive numbers by the time he reaches his mid-30s. It’s a gamble on his durability, but I see Reyes making the Hall of Fame.
Miguel Cabrera– Though he has yet to win an MVP, Miguel Cabrera has been a dominant player through his first eight seasons. He will need at least four or five more in order to be considered for the Hall of Fame, but the good news is that at just 28-years old, Cabrera could end up playing another ten seasons assuming he stays healthy.