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.
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By Tom Trudeau
fantasy experts and one over-confident Bloomberg Sports analyst met in Phoenix
Saturday for the 18th draft of the League of Alternative Baseball
Reality (LABR). The AL-only, 12-team league uses standard 5×5 scoring, with
$260 to spend on 14 offensive positions and nine pitcher slots.
My own confidence stemmed two
distinct advantages. First, I was using Bloomberg Sports’ Front Office tool to
get custom rankings based on the league settings. Second, at just 24 years old,
I can spend more time thinking about fantasy baseball. Sure, these guys work at
Rotowire and ESPN, but they have families and real world obligations.
Meanwhile, I live with my parents and it’s considered a rough day if I have to
walk the dog or unload the dishwasher, which leaves plenty of time for
course sometimes there can be too much information out there, causing you to
second-guess yourself after every bad two-inning spring outing or report of a
stiff neck. That’s why it’s so valuable to have a projection tool such as Front
Office to remove all of the noise and ill-advised impulses that occur this time
of year. Sure, it’s nice to have read that Koji Uehara had a cortisone
injection in his elbow, but without the emotionless suggestions that Front
Office provides, it can be hard to remain disciplined and bid with confidence
in the heat of a draft.
Having participated in hundreds of
fantasy drafts, I fully expected the biggest difference between LABR and any
other would be the skill level. Instead, it was the presence of Sirius XM’s
Fantasy Sports Radio. Located feet from the draft table, the Sirius guys broke
down each pick with colorful commentary (“Chris Liss getting involved with Josh
Hamilton,”) and sometimes clouds of doubt (“Lawr Michaels picking up proposed Oakland closer, Andrew Bailey”).
As for the draft itself, I was
tempted to go all-in for two Front Office darlings: Adrian Gonzalez ($35) and Dan
Haren ($23), but I opted for a more conservative approach early on. The result
was a flurry of pick-ups in the middle of the draft (“Trudeau strikes again!”),
allowing me to pick up several B-level players at good value such as J.P.
Arencibia ($10), Alcides Escobar ($13) and Ryan Raburn ($16). I was the only
team without a $20-plus player, but I will get meaningful production from
almost all of my starting offensive spots. I had a league-high eighteen players
won for double-digit dollars (Jason Gray was second with fifteen).
The headline of my draft may have been my dynasty of closers.
It was not my intention to finish with five guys who could get saves (Matt Thornton,
Joe Nathan, Chris Perez, Brandon League and Fernando Rodney), but I kept getting them for less than I felt
they were worth. The fantasy adage “don’t pay for saves” really means, “don’t
overpay” for saves. With the exception of Rodney ($7), I drafted guys that will
help me in rate stats, in addition to the saves category, all for reasonable
prices. I’ll have to be active in trades, but the strategy paid off right away
as the inevitable search for saves resulted in significant dollars spent on
Scott Downs ($6), Rafael Soriano ($8), Jake McGee ($12), Uehara ($6), Chris
Sale ($7), and Kevin Gregg ($10) among others.
By the end of the draft I had wasted
about $5 (I spent my last $6 on Corey Patterson, who I could have had for a
buck). It was slightly less efficient than I would liked to have been, but it
still looked to be a below average figure in terms of waste. Other owners were
throwing their remaining dollars at whoever was left, such as J.J. Hardy ($18).
To see Bloomberg’s Front Office tool
in action, go to www.bloombergsports.com. Check out the complete results of the AL LABR
draft at: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/fantasywindup/post/2011/02/labr-fantasy-draft-al/1
Follow Tom Trudeau on twitter @Tom_Trudeau and Bloomberg Sports @BloombergSports