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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It’s been a week of surprises in Major League Baseball.
Jason Motte takes over the closer’s role from Fernando Salas despite the fact that Salas was doing perfectly fine and also happens to be younger.
Madison Bumgarner looks as good as his two colleagues Tim Lincecum and Matt Caine and finally, Doug Fister looks like an absolute steal by the Tigers.
Jason Motte, RP, Cardinals
There has been talk about Jason Motte becoming the Cardinals closer for a few years now and in his last chance to grab the job, he struggled two years ago and again earlier in the season before Fernando Salas took over. Salas has been solid with 23 saves and a 2.47 ERA. The problem here is that Motte has been even better and is a harder thrower that better exemplifies the role of a closer. Motte has not surrendered a run since the All-Star break, in fact the last run he allowed was back in June. Though he is older than Salas, with a 1.57 ERA and 0.91 WHIP, Motte earned the opportunity to impress Tony LaRussa in the ninth inning.
Madison Bumgarner, SP, Giants
We knew Madison Bumgarner was a solid pitcher. He proved this last season when as a rookie he played a large role in the Giants winning the World Series. We just did not know until recently that he could be as dominant as his teammates Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum. Over his last three starts Bumgarner has allowed just three runs to score over 22 and 2/3 innings. He is averaging just under a strikeout per inning and the ERA is down to 2.69 since the All-Star break. Poor run support explains the 12 losses on the season, but at just 22-years old this southpaw is clearly an ace in the making.
Doug Fister, SP, Tigers
Coming into the weekend Doug Fister already had the lowest ERA of any pitcher with 12 or more losses. Then he went out and threw the game of his life, offering eight stellar frames while fanning 13 and walking one. The 6’8 hurler was a great acquisition by the Tigers and clearly will have some fantasy value throughout the remainder of the season with a 3.17 ERA. Fister has now allowed just three runs to score over the last four starts, three of which have been wins. He is 4-1 with the Tigers with a 2.64 ERA through seven starts. The Mariners by the way have been happy with Casper Wells while Charlie Furbush has been inconsistent.