As the baseball season approaches, so does the MLB Fantasy season! Chances are, if you’re reading amateur baseball blogs you already know how to draft your own fantasy team–but on the off chance that you don’t know much about fantasy baseball, perhaps I could be of some use for you.
It’s important to remember that there are many variants of fantasy scoring and playing. For example, ESPN fantasy baseball has you draft an entire pitching staff of individual players whereas MLB.com uses just a group pitching staff (i.e. The Yankees pitching staff). Since this blog is associated with MLB.com, I will talk about their style of fantasy baseball.
The first thing to note when picking players is that defense has no bearing on the game. You don’t get points for your catcher throwing out a runner or for your CF making a diving play. All points are based on offense (except pitching).
The second thing you want to keep in mind is that there are certain positions that are stocked with talent. For example, 1st base and your OF are full of talented players. Whereas SS and 2B and Catchers are hard to come by. Therefore, I put a weighted premium on their talents when deciding my draft order.
When Approaching my draft there will be a few difficult decisions to make. In the MLB.com league there are generally 12 players drafting at once that the computer will put into random drafting order. It will then draft back and forth like a snake: 1-12 then 12-1 etc etc. So let us presume that you are fortunate to have the first pick (OMG!). It would be mighty tempting (and easy) to draft Trout first. He was one of the best players in baseball last year and his fantasy stats are off the charts. But…. Wiser heads will prevail. Trouts 30 HR’s and 49 SB’s are not that far above the next ranked Outfielder Ryan Braun (41 HR, 30 SB) while the drop from Cano’s 33HR’s to Pedroia’s 15 is HUGE. And it keeps on going, folks. (EDIT: technically, Braun scored more points last year, but he played about 40 more games)
This is why I will use my first pick to fill my hole at 2B with Cano or at SS with Tulo. If both of these players are taken by the time it my turn to draft I will then spend my first pick on the best player available. Getting a good pick in the middle infield is nice, but if the top tier is gone, don’t waste a first round pick on a medium range player.
My second pick I would go straight to Buster Posey. If he’s unavailable I would then look for the best SS still available.
Third round I would be looking at getting a top flight outfielder (there should be plenty left)
Fourth round I would try to sneak in early and get a great pitching staff. Most players will wait until much later to draft a pitching staff–but they can make or break your fantasy team every single day. It’s important to remember that your staff gains points from winning (so the team they play for matters) and they lose points for allowing hits (so if the staff is good but their defense sucks, beware). You also get A LOT of points if you can get a shutout or a no hitter. For this reason, I would pay special attention to teams like the Tigers who have Verlander or the Phillies with their trio of aces.
After the fourth round it’s really a crapshoot. Make sure you get a SS, C, and 2B somewhere in the first 5 rounds. Otherwise, you’re just picking up whatever pieces you can. I would recommend researching some up-and-coming prospects or sleepers that you can save until the end of the draft. Maybe players on your favorite team that no one else knows about yet. For example, I knew that Allen Craig was going to be a legit hitter before most of baseball knew his name. That said, don’t load up with just players from your favorite team. You will lose. Unless you’re drafting the 1927 Yankees lineup.
Happy drafting everyone! Let me know how your team looks when you finish! (I’ll post mine as well)