The last email I got late last night was my invitation back to the Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball League I joined last year. I’ve been waiting for this moment for some time (well, the draft, actually – not getting the email) because this year, I have a drafting strategy.
That’s right, a drafting strategy. In 2010, my first fantasy baseball season, I had no drafting stategy, and this year, I’ve replaced it with a drafting strategy. That’s a pretty sweet upgrade, right? So, a full fantasy baseball season wiser than I was last year, here are my ideas on drafting for 2011.
The first thing you have to consider is how your league does scoring. For my league, the day to day starters are more important than the pitching staff (sure, the pitchers get you points, too, but I felt they were mostly just gravy – CC Sabathia would bring the points, but he’s a great pitchers on a great team, it’d be insane if he didn’t), and so after a year of trying (and kinda failing) of ringing some offense out of two key positions, I’m going to give them my first two picks this year: short stop and catcher.
Who’d I have at short stop last year? I can’t remember. The point is, if he’s available (and he should be because I should have a high pick after getting my ass handed to me for the entire second half), I’m drafting Troy Tulowitzki. I know he got hurt last year and played in less than 130 games – I don’t care. Tulowitzki is the man; he may not be the second coming of A-Rod, but he’s still pretty awesome. Now maybe it goes without saying that you should make one of the best young players in the game your first pick, but I just want to impress how difficult it is to get production out of a short stop – it’s really hard. Sure, you could pick Derek Jeter – he’s got something to prove next season, that’s for sure, but there’s no guarantee a guy his age doesn’t break – the same could be said for Jose Reyes. Bottom line: get yourself a good offensive shortstop.
Who’d I have at catcher last year? Jorge Posada, who was always hurt last year. The guy just didn’t make any plate appearances. He might be a good choice to carry this year because he’ll qualify as a catcher but probably won’t actually catch, but odds are, he isn’t going to DH every single game because he physically can’t and because other guys need time at DH. For me, I would go get Victor Martinez – the guy can flat out hit. Of course, you can’t necessarily go wrong with Joe Mauer,, who is obviously an amazing hitter and probably one of the better hitters in the game extent. But this is fantasy baseball; you’re not starting an actual team that has to play real games, so either guy will do.
If I was starting an actual team, it’s be all about the starting pitching, and depending on your league, starting pitching might be important for you, too. If getting the win earns a lot of points, you have to put CC Sabathia right at the top of your draft list, because you know he’s going to win a lot of games; between the Yankees offense and his own skills, you know he’s a good bet. Besides, he’s always healthy and even when he’s not, he still pitches, and on his bad days, he’s never really that bad. Who knows, maybe the weight loss will open a whole new door for him (which is hard to believe because he’s already so great), but you have to believe Sabathia will win 18 games next year. That’s a ton of points!
Saves are also worth a ton of points in my league, so drafting closers is the only way to go when it comes to picking relief pitchers – everybody else is just a waste of a roster spot. Even if they aren’t a top closer in the league, just grab ‘em.
Pick your outfielders last, and remember, their defense probably doesn’t matter, unless your league grades errors harshly. If offense is king your league, grab anybody with a bat. Don’t waste an early pick on an outfielder. Grab a high producer at second base – of course, Robbie Cano is a great pick, but you figure he will go early in the draft. You can always grab that D-bag that Boston runs out there…
While I don’t pretend to be a fantasy baseball expert, I would say that the brief strategies I’ve outlined above are better than no strategy at all. Ultimately, I still expect to get my butt kicked this season, but hopefully, I’m come out the other side wiser.