Opening Day (In America) is just around the corner for Major League Baseball, and that means that fantasy baseball is well underway. Many "leaguer's" are already comprising Mock Draft's and some have already drafted teams, although there have been significant season ending injuries and transactions in the last few days. Fantasy sports have taken a life of its own, and now is part in parcel with their respective pro sports.
Fantasy sports are for both lifers and casual enthusiast; many take great pride in various strategies to assemble a championship team. A defined love and passion for sports creates a sense of competitive foretaste, waiting for a fantasy draft can be equated to the adult version of anticipating a birthday or Christmas morning. Baseball season is here, so let's take a look at how you can start earning bragging rights in your fantasy baseball league.
These tips apply for all formats and types of leagues.
~Win Your Fantasy Baseball League~
Here are my keys to winning your Fantasy Baseball League:
Don't take risks in the draft
Many like to go for the "sleeper" picks in early rounds - you know, the picks when someone takes Manny Ramirez 2nd overall and end up giving you Jose Bautista. These picks are notoriously detrimental to a good start in your league, and can have you on the bottom scratching your way up to playoff contention for the entire season - while you rotate that crucial early pick around on the waiver wire. Your fantasy draft should almost mirror a typical draft board - with a few tweaks, according to your league settings.
Be cliché in your 1st round pick draft strategy
The top rated players in fantasy baseball are projected that way for a reason, they have produced. A typical draft strategy will look similar to this,
1. Ryan Braun, Mil, OF*
2. Matt Kemp, LAD, OF
3. Jose Bautista, Tor, 3B, OF
4. Miguel Cabrera, Det, 1B
5. Albert Pujols, LAA, 1B
*Braun tested positive for performance enhancing drugs, so we will wait to see how he produces this season.
There will be no possible way for you to obtain all those players in that sequence as many other teams will look to take them in the first round. However, the key is to set your expectations that if one of your top 5 players is available during your pick, you take them - no matter what.
*Also, even though it seems like a cool thing to do, taking Justin Verlander with the 1st overall pick is not a good move.*
Prepare for the worst
By this mean I mean make sure you back up your positions, and not just go through the draft and season picking who you think are the best players. The last thing you want to do is have one of your 1st basemen go down and you have no suitable back-up - only to find out that you have 3 good shortstops and 2 barely start.
Now you have been compromised into making a trade that more than likely won't yield the caliber of player you traded away. A backup for a starter, rounds 1-4 should all be different positions and rounds 7-10 should be backups for those first 4 picks (outfield counts as one position). The middle rounds can be reserved for picking a top rated starting pitcher or trust-worthy reliever.
Balance is pivotal to success, not every player plays every day, your best player(s) each need a backup capable of long term replacement, or close to long term.
*Injuries are going to happen to players on your roster, so you must make sure your roster is built to take those blows and still win match-ups. Depth wins championships, injuries lose championships - get the point.*
Find time to win
Fantasy Baseball - unlike any other sport - requires the most maintenance on its roster. From last minute scratches to game-time switches, the most diligent team owner is the most successful, one of the major causes of playoff loss is failure to secure the roster for the day - and as a result players are left on the bench that have games that day. Setting your roster for future dates is one way to combat that issue, however those game-time scratches and last minute switches and injury bugs cannot be foreshadowed.
*Setting up fantasy email alerts or SMS messages helps so you don't have to be confined to your computer in order to make necessary roster moves or last minute changes to your roster.*
Stick to the strength of your roster
How many times have you watched teams who drafted a certain way try to change the strategy of the strength of their team? If your team is catered to hitting and has sub par pitching, do not trade away or get rid of your advantage to try to and balance the team and vice versa. I call this the "teeter-totter"-strategy, where you just simply shift the balance of advantage on your team instead of evening the balance out.
If your team is winning all of the batting categories and losing all the pitching categories, chances are you will win half of your match-ups. However, if you can win most of your batting categories and win one or two pitching categories, that puts you into the winning column more often than not.
For example, let’s say there are 10 categories,
Home Runs - Runs - RBI's - Hits - Stolen Bases
Strikeouts - Wins - Saves - Walks - ERA
If your team is a heavy loaded offensive team and wins 4 of the 5 hitting categories - you only have to win 2 of the 5 pitching categories in order to win. Or if you 3 of the 5 batting categories, you can tie in a 4th - and win just 1 category in the pitching match-up. So it will always be better to play to your strengths than to try and make a move to shift the balance of your team.*
Draft Approach:This is how each round should be approached according to strategy
1st Rd. - Batting (On base hitter, power)
2nd Rd. - Batting (On base, stolen base)
3rd Rd. - Batting (Power)
4th Rd. - Batting (Best available)
5th Rd. - Pitching (Best available)
6th Rd. - Batting (Best available)
7th Rd. - Batting (Backup, best available)
8th Rd. - Batting (Backup rounds 1-3 position)
9th Rd. - Batting (Backup rounds 1-3 position)
10th Rd. - Batting (Backup rounds 1-3 position)
11th Rd. Pitching (Relief)
12th Rd. Pitching (Starter)
13th Rd. - Pitching (Relief)
*Rounds 14+ can be used to shore up any leftover needs or best available players, with pitching as priority.*