Fantasy Baseball: Preparing For Draft Day
Well over two months until baseball season gets underway and already the wallspace above my desk is littered with sticky notes containing hundreds, if not thousands, of baseball stats and notes.
This is an annual tradition, and has been for about five years now. For me, as soon as the World Series ends, the fun begins all over again.
There was a time when I may have not been so eager to disclose this obsession. At first it seemed a little too much, a bad habit, reminiscent of a scene from A Beautiful Mind. Truth is, this task of mine was deemed a necessity. Why, you might ask? It’s pretty simple, really…
I didn’t win my Fantasy Baseball League.
Sixteen at the time and in love with baseball and the Atlanta Braves, I often found myself talking into a black hole around my peers. My high school sweetheart never really got into the sabermetric revolution, and most of my close friends didn’t want to hear about Adam Dunn’s OPS, John Garland’s WHIP, or Jarrod Saltamacchia’s seemingly limitless potential.
I sought refuge in the world of fantasy baseball. Full of hubris, I signed up for the most challenging league I could find. It was a 16-team, deep roster, 8X8 league that used some advanced statistics completely unbeknownst to me at the time.
I finished near the bottom of the standings.
Hank, a retired auto mechanic from Tulsa, won the league running away. Naturally, I began an email correspondence with him to see if he’d be willing to impart some of his wisdom to a naive youngster willing to learn.
In all, I carry three main points away from what he so gracefully shared:
1. Keep Track of Everything
2. Draft High Risk – High Reward Players
3. When All Else Fails, Trust Your Gut
There is a board above my desk. It has players ranked for each position with noteworthy information attached to each.
For example, a quick look at the aforementioned Jon Garland tells me his contract status (players in contract years are usually known to produce above their averages), critical injury information, stat line for last season as well as the average of the past five years, and a note.
Garland’s reads: Lock for 200 innings, 115 K’s. Low Walk Rate. Career Best was as a Dodger in 09. Is 4-1, 2.53 ERA, 1.25 WHIP in 5 starts @Chavez Ravine. Offsets move from Petco. Sleeper. So on and so forth for hundreds of players. Exhausting the information ensures that you are prepared on draft day.
A Second point worth sharing is the philosophy of drafting high risk – high reward players. A look at the player rankings tells us that there are few sure things at the top of the board.
Why is this the case in fantasy baseball and not so much the other fantasy sports? Injuries. For years, many players covered this up with the use of steroids which accelerated recovery times. In the post-steroid era, this is no longer the case. Most players, even as early as the second round, come with inherent risk and obvious deficiencies. So draft for talent and upside, forget about speed, and always remember that first base is exceptionally deep.
Thirdly, When all else fails, trust your gut. Make sure you exhaust all methods first, but this is supposed to be fun, right?
I leave you with one of my favourite Simpsons moments of all-time. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Check back soon for my first fantasy baseball instalment of 2011, and make sure to check out Rivalspot.com to play online sports video game tournaments for the PS3 and Xbox 360.