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Archive for the tag “Fantasy Baseball”

Ten Tips for Enjoying Fantasy Baseball

Here are ten tips to help you enjoy your fantasy baseball season, regardless of whether this is your first time, or if you’ve been doing this for a while:

 1.  Know your league’s scoring system inside out. If you are in a points-based league, make sure you know how many points a blown-save is worth.  Is a strikeout by a hitter a negative half a point, a full point, or does it not count against a hitter?  Information like that will make a difference when trying to decide when, or if, to draft a player like Nationals’ infielder Danny Espinosa (a league-leading 189 strikeouts in 2012. )

2.  Stay away from personal prejudices.  If you are a Red Sox fan and you hate the Yankees, you have to remember that as an owner of a fantasy team, your job is to try to win your league, not simply stock up on all of your favorite Red Sox players.  If you begin by excluding one or more franchises that could supply top-tier talent to your team, you are simply reducing the chances of enjoying a championship season.

3.  Never be vindictive towards another owner. There are practical, as well as ethical reasons for not doing so.  Fantasy Baseball can be highly competitive, and everyone wants to win, but if you take this hobby too seriously and lash-out at another owner, or attempt collusion against someone who irritates you, look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself why your life is so small that this should be so important to you.

Also, from a practical standpoint, that owner that you have decided is your enemy might just have the one player on his team that you would like to trade for to help put your team “over the top”.  Good luck doing that if you’ve been acting like a jerk.

4.  Don’t overrate your own players. This is a common mistake in fantasy baseball, especially with less experienced owners.  Most people involved in fantasy baseball have a pretty good working knowledge of the relative value of every player on someone else roster.  If you start with the premise that all of your players are future Hall of Famers, you’ll never be able to engage in any potentially helpful trades, and you’ll just sound like an ass.

5.  Don’t propose insulting trade offers. An extremely common, and annoying, strategy is to offer anywhere from two to five of your own average players for another team’s superstar.  Considering that there is usually enough talent available on the waiver wire, why should someone take on your mediocre players?

Moreover, with limited roster space, the person you are making the offer to would have to drop one or two players just to consummate the deal, and those players might be better than or equal to the players you are offering.

6.  Don’t ignore trade offers. Even if someone does offer you a stupid, ridiculous trade, just politely respond with a “No thanks for now,” response.  No use offending anyone that could potentially help you down the road.

7.  Don’t whine or complain about bad luck. No one wants to hear about it.  Conversely, don’t denigrate another fantasy owner’s success by writing it off as nothing more than good luck.  Success, as someone once said, is the residue of preparation.  Every team experiences injuries.  A successful fantasy team adapts to changing conditions throughout the season.  If you think you are done actually managing your roster on draft day, you’ve got another thing coming.

8.  Try to stay engaged in an ongoing dialogue regarding your league, and baseball in general, throughout the season.  In almost every league I’ve ever been in, we end up with “hidden” owners we know exist only because they submit weekly line-ups, but they are virtually absent as actual humans participating in a hobby that’s meant to be interactive.  That’s like joining a book-group and just sitting there reading, never engaging in a conversation about the book you’re reading with anyone else.

9.  Don’t let fantasy baseball take over your life. If you find yourself still awake in front of your computer at 2:15 a.m. trying to locate the box-score of some west coast game, turn off the damned computer and go to bed.  You’ll feel better in the morning, and you can always turn on Sports Center when you wake up.

10.  Don’t forget that you love real baseball first, fantasy baseball second.  Therefore, when you are watching a fantastic pitcher’s duel featuring two young aces, and the only player you have in that game on your fantasy roster just went 0-5 with four strikeouts, you didn’t just watch a crummy, disappointing game.  You may have “missed” (even though you just sat through it) one of the best games of the season.

Eight Break-Out Players to Watch in 2013

If you play fantasy baseball, or even if you just like to read about which ball-players are likely to come through big in the upcoming baseball season, this is the time of year when most baseball fans begin to research the players and teams that interest them.

My goal, then, for this post is to alert you to eight players who aren’t necessarily household names, but who I believe will enjoy significantly productive seasons.  There are, of course, many other players that I could have chosen to write about, but these are the ones who’ve caught my attention thus far.

1)  Jordan Zimmerman:  Nationals – The forgotten man in a rotation that includes, Strasburg, Gonzalez and Haren, Zimmerman produced the fifth best ERA+ (134) in 195 innings last season.  He averaged over 3 1/2 K’s per walk, and is entering his age 27 season.  Likely to receive plenty of run support, while probably reaching the 200 inning pitched level for the first time in his career, Zimmerman could be primed for a very impressive season.  He won 12 games last year, but could win half a dozen more this time around.

English: Ike Davis

English: Ike Davis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2)  Ike Davis:  Mets – Among all first basemen, Davis is one of the likeliest to be overlooked going into the 2013 season.  His low .227 batting average and equally poor .308 on-base percentage tarnish his otherwise impressive power numbers (32 homers and 90 RBI.)  But given his track record, Davis is likely to increase his batting average by around 25 points, and has stated that his goal is to draw a hundred walks.

Even if he draws around 80 walks, coupled with a .260 batting average, his natural power should allow him to at least match, and perhaps exceed, last season’s power numbers.  In an era where 35 homers once again represents a significant total, Davis, now just entering his age-26 season, will be a player that should not be ignored.

3)  Michael Morse:  Mariners –  After a big 2011 season, Morse played just 102 games last year for the Nationals, swatting 18 homers with 62 RBI.  He has since moved on to the Mariners, where under normal conditions, it is often wise to allow someone in his situation to fall completely off your radar screen.  But Morse, still in his power-prime years (he turns 31 later this month), slugged 31 homers, drove in 95 runs, and batted .303 just a couple of years ago.

Also, the Mariners have brought in the outfield fences this year, especially in the power-alley in left-center field (favorable to right-handed batters sluggers like Morse.)  Hitting in the middle of what could turn out to be the most productive Mariners’ offense in several years, Morse should provide a nice boost to any fantasy squad this season, even if he doesn’t quite reach a .300 batting average again.

4)  Brett Anderson:  A’s – Just a couple of years ago, Brett Anderson was considered the future of the A’s rotation.  Then he blew his arm out.  But the big 6’4″, 235 pound lefty out of Midland, TX looked good upon his late-season return to the A’s rotation last year.  In six starts, covering 35 innings, he struck out 25 batters while walking just seven, good for a 1.029 WHIP.  His ERA+ was a very impressive 156.

Then, in his one post-season start, he shutout the Tigers through six innings, fanning six, while surrendering just two hits and no walks for his first post-season win.  Anderson, still just 25-years old, is not only capable, but likely to recover the form that made him a huge prospect a few years ago.  Pitching for an A’s team that won their division last year, Anderson is likely to conclude the year as one of the top young starting pitchers in the A.L.

Peter Bourjos

Peter Bourjos (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

5)  Peter Bourjos:  Angels – A couple of years ago, the speedy Bourjos, in his first full season as an Angels’ outfielder, led the A.L. in triples, displayed reasonable power (12 homers) and posted an OPS+ of 116 while playing excellent defense.  Last year, the Angels played the remains of Bobby Abreu, along with Torii Hunter and eventually Mike Trout leaving Bourjos as the odd-man out.  As a result, Bourjos ended up scuffling through 192 uninspiring plate appearances.

He appears to have a starting gig again this season, and on a super-loaded Angel’s offense, he should be expected to score lots of runs, steal bases, and hit the occasional homer, regardless of where he hits in the lineup.  His glove alone should keep him in the field.  Entering his age-26 season, there is a lot of potential here now that his opportunity to play seems to be secure.

6)  Eric Hosmer:  Royals – There’s just no other way to say it, but first baseman Eric Hosmer sucked last season.  Suffering through a terrible sophomore slump, Hosmer batted just .232, 61 points lower than in his rookie season.  His power numbers suffered as well; he hit five fewer homers (14 total) in 12 more at bats.  But Hosmer, now just 23-years old, batted over .400 in his final one-hundred Triple-A at bats, and, though it’s a small sample size, he’s looked great this spring with eight hits — four for extra bases — and seven RBI in his first 20 at bats.  Hosmer should be one of the young Royals hitters that will impress people this season.  Also useful on the basepaths, Hosmer swiped 16 bags in 17 attempts last year.

Jay Bruce before his MLB Debut in May of 2008

Jay Bruce before his MLB Debut in May of 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

7)  Jay Bruce:  Reds – After five seasons in the Majors, outfielder Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds seems to have settled in as a 30 homer, 90 RBI guy who will hit around .260 with 150 strikeouts.  A good player, but not a great one.

That could change this season.  Bruce, who will turn 26-years old in April, has increased his homer production for five straight seasons: 21, 22, 25, 32, 34.  Similarly, his doubles have also generally increased as well: 17, 15, 23, 27, 35.  Though his OPS+ held steady at 118 for the second consecutive year, he did set career highs in runs scored (89), RBI (99) and slugging percentage (.514.)

Now just fully entering his power prime, and with no significant injury history to speak of, the addition of high on-base player Shin-Soo Choo at the top of the Reds lineup will provide Bruce with the opportunity to become one of the top run-producers in the Majors this year.  A 40 homer, 120 RBI season with a hundred runs scored is not out of the question.

8)  Paul Goldschmidt:  Diamondbacks – The 25-year old Goldshmidt started slowly last season, but hit 18 homers over the last four months of the season, including five homers in a seven-game span.  The right-handed batting first-baseman actually led the Majors in line-drive rate last year.  If just a few of his 43 doubles turn into home runs this year, Goldschmidt could be on his way to 30+ homers, along with about a .280 batting average.

A fly-ball hitter (Goldschmidt led the league in Sac. Flies last year) who plays his home games in one of the best hitter’s parks in the league, is off to a fine start in spring training posting a .429 average to date.  Also, he’s not merely a slugger, but an athlete who stole 18 bases in 21 attempts last year.  Goldschmidt is one of this generation’s most promising young baseball talents.  He could become a right-handed swinging Jim Thome.

Others to follow closely:  Jason Kipnis of the Indians; Matt Harvey of the Mets, Adam Eaton of the Diamondbacks, Brandon Morrow of Toronto (yes, him again), Matt Adams of the Cardinals, Salvador Perez of the Royals (there will be many All-Star Game appearances in his future), and Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs.

Six months from now, I hope you are celebrating a championship season, and that at least one of the players on this list was a key contributor to your team’s success.

Fantasy Baseball: Ten Tips for an Enjoyable Season

During the month of February, I will alternate my normal fare with posts about fantasy baseball.  I’ve been participating in various fantasy baseball leagues since 1993, so I decided to share some of my experience (I hesitate to call it “wisdom”) with those of you who play as well.

Here are ten tips to help you enjoy your fantasy baseball season, regardless of whether this is your first time, or if you are an aging veteran like me.

Fantasy Baseball

Image by StuffEyeSee via Flickr

1.  Know your league’s scoring system inside out. If you are in a points-based league, make sure you know how many points a blown-save is worth.  Is a strikeout by a hitter a negative half a point, a full point, or does it not count against a hitter?  Information like that will make a difference when trying to decide when, or if, to draft a player like Drew Stubbs (205 strikeouts in 2011.)

2.  Stay away from personal prejudices.  If you are a Red Sox fan and you hate the Yankees, you have to remember that as an owner of a fantasy team, your job is to try to win your league, not simply stock up on all of your favorite Red Sox players.  If you begin by excluding one or more franchises that could supply top-tier talent to your team, you are simply reducing the chances of enjoying a championship season.

3.  Never be vindictive towards another owner. There are practical, as well as ethical reasons for not doing so.  Fantasy Baseball can be highly competitive, and everyone wants to win, but if you take this hobby too seriously and lash-out at another owner, or attempt to collude against someone who irritates you, look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself why your life is so small that this should be so important to you.

Also, from a practical standpoint, that owner that you have decided is your enemy might just have the one player on his team that you would like to trade for to help put your team “over the top”.  Good luck doing that if you’ve been acting like a jerk.

4.  Don’t overrate your own players. This is a common mistake in fantasy baseball, especially with less experienced owners.  Most people involved in fantasy baseball have a pretty good working knowledge of the relative value of every player on someone else roster.  If you start with the premise that all of your players are future Hall of Famers, you’ll never be able to engage in any potentially helpful trades, and you’ll just sound like an ass.

5.  Don’t propose insulting trade offers. An extremely common, and annoying, strategy is to offer anywhere from two to five of your own average players for another team’s superstar.  Considering that there is usually enough talent available on the waiver wire, why should someone take on your mediocre players?

Moreover, with limited roster space, the person you are making the offer to would have to drop one or two players just to consummate the deal, and those players might be better than or equal to the players you are offering.

6.  Don’t ignore trade offers. Even if someone does offer you a stupid, ridiculous trade, just politely respond with a “No thanks for now,” response.  No use offending anyone that could potentially help you down the road.

7.  Don’t whine or complain about bad luck. No one wants to hear about it.  Conversely, don’t denigrate another fantasy owner’s success by writing it off as nothing more than good luck.  Success, as someone once said, is the residue of preparation.  Every team experiences injuries.  A successful fantasy team adapts to changing conditions throughout the season.  If you think you are done actually managing your roster on draft day, you’ve got another thing coming.

8.  Try to stay engaged in an ongoing dialogue regarding your league, and baseball in general, throughout the season.  In almost every league I’ve ever been in, we end up with “hidden” owners we know exist only because they submit weekly line-ups, but they are virtually absent as actual humans participating in a hobby that’s meant to be interactive.  That’s like joining a book-group and just sitting there reading, never engaging in a conversation about the book you’re reading with anyone else.

9.  Don’t let fantasy baseball take over your life. If you find yourself still awake in front of your computer at 2:15 a.m. trying to locate the box-score of some west coast game, turn off the damned computer and go to bed.  You’ll feel better in the morning, and you can always turn on Sports Center when you wake up.

10.  Don’t forget that you love real baseball first, fantasy baseball second.  Therefore, when you are watching a fantastic pitcher’s duel featuring two young aces, and the only player you have in that game on your fantasy roster just went 0-5 with four strikeouts, you didn’t just watch a crummy, disappointing game.  You may have “missed” (even though you just sat through it) one of the best games of the season.

In a follow-up post, I will write more specifically about strategies and tactics that have met with success in fantasy baseball throughout the years.

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Fantasy Baseball Part II: Strategies and Tips

So let’s get right to the point.  There are a number of ways to win a fantasy baseball championship. But there are infinitely more ways to lose.  In fantasy baseball, as in war, the side that makes the fewest mistakes usually wins.

Thus, putting together a successful fantasy baseball season is less about who makes the most creative, clever decisions.  It is primarily about minimizing risks, and seizing obvious opportunities when they present themselves.

As I stated in my last post, I’ve been involved in a fantasy baseball league since the early ’90’s.  No, this doesn’t make me an expert, and I certainly don’t pretend to have a monopoly on fantasy baseball wisdom.  I can only share my own experiences that have allowed me to enjoy my fair share of success, but also, an impressive record of futility.

The strategies and tactics I’m going to share with you occur to me from time-to-time, but I don’t follow each and every one of them religiously.  There have been, however,  some self-imposed rules that I once considered inviolable that I have since discarded.

For example, for many years, Rule #1 was Never Draft Rockies Pitchers.  The thin mountain air of Coors Field meant high ERA’s and generally low strikeout totals for pitchers unlucky enough to call Coors home.

This season, for the first time, there are at least two or three pitchers on the Rockies that I would be happy to own.  Perhaps at the end of this season, if none of those pitchers live up to expectations, I’ll reinstate my old rule number #1.

So here, without further preamble, are some of my guidelines for the 2010 fantasy baseball season:

1)  Never draft a pitcher in the first round. This doesn’t mean that I don’t think any starting pitchers are worth drafting with your #1 pick.  In fact, if I have the 9th overall pick in our ten team league, and Tim Lincecum is still on the board, he would be very difficult to pass up.  But the reality is, pitchers are seldom as reliable and predictable as hitters, and you cannot afford to make a mistake with your first choice.

2)  Beware of career years outside the norm. Do you really believe Marco Scutaro will score 100 runs again?  Do you really believe Raul Ibanez will set yet another career high in slugging percentage at age 37?  How much are you willing to bet that Mike Cuddyer will match the 32 homers and 94 RBI’s he tallied last year?  All of these players are past 30 years old.  Buyer, beware.

3)  Ignore win totals. There is no strategy that will get you into more trouble than looking at a pitcher’s win total from one season and using this total to project the following season’s numbers.  For example, in 1976, Jerry Koosman finished the season with a record of 21-10, and he was runner-up to Randy Jones for the N.L. Cy Young award.

Now, if anyone other than Bill James had been playing fantasy baseball in the Spring of ’77, they would have drafted Koosman, largely based on his win-loss record, in perhaps the second round.  So what happened in 1977?  Did Koosman pitch poorly and finish with a losing record?

Well, no, and yes.  He actually pitched quite well, leading the league with 7.6 K’s per nine innings.  But the Mets as a team were terrible in ’77, offering Koosman no support at all, and he finished with a remarkably terrible record of 8-20.

That’s right, he lost 20 games the year after he won 20 games while pitching only slightly less effectively himself.  Pitchers are simply never a sure thing (see Rule #1.)

So how does one go about choosing pitchers to draft?  It’s not that hard, actually, and I have found year after year that I can begin the season with a mediocre looking staff only to have other owners in my league jealously eye-balling my rotation by the All-Star break. This brings us to item #4.

4)  Draft pitchers with high strike-out rates and low WHIPs. Dominance in the form of high K rates eventually reveals itself on the ball-field in the form of wins.  This does not contradict what I stated about how win totals aren’t important.  But if you start with wins as your base-line to project success, as opposed to high K rates and low WHIPs, you are far more likely to end up disappointed with the end results.

Let me illustrate this strategy using two examples of starting pitchers who will be drafted this spring:  Matt Garza and Scott Feldman.  Feldman, a 27 year old pitcher for the Rangers, finished last season with a promising record of 17-8 with a reasonably good WHIP of 1.28.

Garza, on the other hand, a 26 year old hurler with the Twins, finished the season with an 8-12 record despite an even slightly better WHIP of 1.26.  Who would you rather have, the 17 game winner, or the 8 game winner?

If you chose Feldman, the bigger winner, good luck to you.

Here’s why.  Feldman managed to strike out only 113 batters in just under 190 innings last season.  Garza K’d 189 in 203 innings.  That’s 76 more K’s for Garza in only about 13 more innings.  Fewer K’s mean more balls in play.  More balls in play lead eventually to many more hits, opportunities for errors by the defense, and bigger innings by the opposing offense.

Strikeout pitchers with reasonably low walk totals get themselves out of many more jams, with less damage done, than contact pitchers.  There are just far more opportunities for dominance by a strikeout pitcher than for a contact pitcher, and far more opportunities to fail for a contact pitcher, who, in Feldman’s case, also happens to pitch in one of the best hitter’s parks in baseball.  Which leads me directly to item #5

5)  Draft the Ball-Park: Look, obviously, when you are talking about great players such as Albert Pujols or a pitcher like Roy Halladay, ball-park factors are largely incidental.  Put them on any of the planets in our Solar System, and they’ll find ways to succeed.  But for many of the mere mortals out there, the ballpark they call home for 81 games during the season can make a big difference in the level of success they achieve.

In general, I like to find talented young hitters who have shown ability but still haven’t had the right opportunity, put them in a hitter’s park like Philadelphia or Texas, and you have a recipe for success.  Two players who, going into last season, fit that description exactly were Nelson Cruz of Texas and the Phillies Jayson Werth.

Neither player had previously enjoyed a full-time job with their clubs, but both men had shown solid slugging abilities in part-time or platoon stints.  Each of them blossomed into extremely valuable commodities last season as they took advantage of playing regularly in hitter-friendly parks to amass impressive numbers.  (You can look up their numbers on your own; no need to reprint them here.)

For pitchers, this strategy works just as well, but in reverse, of course.  Find young arms that have shown some talent, check to see if they pitch in pitcher-friendly ball-parks, and you will probably find a diamond in the rough (the still very young Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers comes to mind.)

TIP Alert! About a half dozen of the best pitcher’s parks in the country are in both league’s Western Divisions.

6)  Beware of catchers: Look, there’s a reason why Bill James in his book, “The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract” ranks Darrell Porter as the 18th best catcher of all time.  There just haven’t been all that many great catchers, folks.  Currently, Mike Napoli (yes, Mike Napoli) of the Angels is a top five A.L. catcher.  And Chris Iannetta of Colorado, along with his .228 batting average (in Colorado, or God’s sake?) is top ten in the N.L.

This past season, one participant in our league decided to try to corner the market on catchers, thus garnering for himself a clear competitive edge at one position.  He drafted Jorge Posada, Russell Martin, and Geovani Soto.  Soto had been named N.L. Rookie of the Year the season before with the Cubs, and Martin (Dodgers), seemed to be among the leaders of a class of solid young N.L. catchers

For those of you who followed baseball at all last season, you know Soto was a disaster, and Martin appears to be following along the career track of Jason Kendall, and empty singles hitter with a little speed.

So, needless to say, that strategy backfired.  And why shouldn’t it?  Again,  there have been fewer than fifteen great catchers in the entire history of major league baseball.

Therefore, if you don’t end up with a once-in-a-lifetime talent like Joe Mauer (a sure first-rounder) don’t panic.  There are worse fates in fantasy baseball than to end up with Yadier Molina as your starting catcher.

7)  Avoid aging players in their decline: This is especially true at deep positions like first base.  Someone will certainly draft either Lance Berkman, age 34, or Derrek Lee, age 35, over Joey Votto, age 26 due to reputation and resume.  But neither of the two veterans offer anything like the potential upside offered by Votto.

At best, Berkman and Lee will accomplish something close to what they usually offer in their average seasons.  Votto hasn’t had anything like his best season yet.

It is not a foolish gamble to bet on a player like Votto whose OPS is already extremely impressive, who plays in a good hitters park and who can only get better.

TIP AlertAvoid with extreme prejudice!

Other players / positions who fit the aging, yet still productive bill are:  Miguel Tejada at shortstop, Chipper Jones and Michael Young at third base, Benjie Molina (catcher), Raul Ibanez, Carlos Lee, Vernon Wells and Vlad Guerrerro (OF) and the following pitchers:  Carlos Zambrano, Roy Oswalt, Joe Blanton, Andy Pettitte, Mark Buehrle and closers, Francisco Cordero, Bobby Jenks, and Fernando Rodney.

8)  Beware of Over-Hyped Rookies: (Especially Pitchers) Anyone out there remember all the hype surrounding young PHEENOM David Price last season?  The next Dwight Gooden, and all that?  To be fair, most people probably drafted Price rather conservatively last season, but even those people were almost certainly extremely disappointed with his final season totals:  10-7, 4.42 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, only 128 innings pitched.

Generally speaking, it takes most young talents a couple of years or so before they really begin demonstrating their can’t-miss talent on a regular basis.  King Felix Hernandez had been hyped to the extreme for about three years before it all came together for him last season.

Sure, there are some rookies who jump right into the Big Leagues hitting line drives all over the place (Ryan Braun), or fanning ten batters in a game (Tim Lincecum)  and never look back.  But they are few and far between, and if you build a fantasy strategy based in part on acquiring as much rookie talent as you can, you are taking an unnecessary gamble.

TIP Alert! Neither Stephen Strasburg nor Madison Bumgarner will win the Cy Young Award this season.

And finally,

Strategy #9) Draft Power at the corners: Whenever I’ve had a successful fantasy baseball season, it’s often been in part because I’ve had legitimate sluggers at first and third base.  It’s not difficult at all to draft power at first base, and if you don’t, you’re sunk.  Third base can be a little more tricky sometimes because this position isn’t always as deep as it appears to be this season.

There are lots of good hitters at third base, but not necessarily a lot of big sluggers at this position.  One player I know everyone will be watching closely is the Mets star David Wright.  Last season he hit an unbelievably low ten home runs.  That’s Mark Teahen terrritory, folks.

Everyone expects Wright to rebound in 2010, perhaps doubling his homer total to twenty, or even twenty-five.  And, if he does hit 20-25 homers, lots of people will think they’ve landed a bargain if they draft Wright in the fourth or fifth round.

But think of it this way.  Evan Longoria, A-Rod, and Mark Reynolds are almost certain to hit about twice as many homers as Wright, even if Wright doubles last season’s total.  Are you willing to concede that much run production at such an important offensive position if you don’t have to?

Moreover, several other third basemen will hit about the same amount of homers as Wright, but will be drafted much lower.  Sure, Wright also brings stolen bases to the table, but I’ve never found in my league that stolen bases win championships.  Power does.  A three-run homer trumps a double-steal any day.

Now What?

Once Draft Day finally arrives, I’m quite sure that I will do what everyone else does, adjust to the circumstances of the draft.  And every draft is different.  Like a general on a battlefield, once the shooting starts, you might as well roll the battle-plans around a half dozen cigars and drop them on the battlefield, for all the good they’ll do you.

Still, a general without a plan is more likely to freeze up in a key moment, a potentially decisive situation, precisely because he wasn’t as prepared as he should have been beforehand.  I hope the tips and strategies I’ve shared with you will offer you some tactical advantage over your adversaries in your 2010 fantasy baseball season.

If you have questions or comments about the strategies and tips I’ve shared, or would like to share some of your own, by all means, please let me know.

Next blog post:  A.L. / N.L. Fantasy Baseball Player Rating Guide


Fantasy Baseball: Ten Rules for a Successful Season

If you’ve read past the title of this blog post, chances are you are either a Fantasy Baseball veteran, or, at the very least, you have a morbid curiosity about the kinds of people who waste so much time on this stuff.  Either way, I hope you find this post useful.

Here is some straight-forward advice, wisdom accumulated by someone (yours truly) who has been a member of the same fantasy baseball league since 1993.  That’s a lot of wasted man-hours.  It’s also usually the most fun I have all year that costs next to nothing.

Here are ten basic ground-rules for a successful fantasy baseball season.

1.  Know your leagues’ scoring system inside out. If you are in a points-based league, make sure you know how many points a blown-save is worth.  Is a strikeout by a hitter a negative half a point, a full point, or does it not count against a hitter?  Information like that will make a difference when trying to decide when, or if, to draft players like Mark Reynolds or Adam Dunn.  When you read a box-score, you should be able to roughly add up the totals of your players’ points in your head.

2.  Stay away from personal prejudices.  If you are a Red Sox fan and you hate the Yankees, you have to remember that as an owner of a fantasy team, your job is to put together the most formidable franchise in the history of your league.  If you begin by excluding one or more franchises that could supply top-tier talent to your team, you are simply reducing the chances of enjoying a championship season.

3.  Never be vindictive towards another owner. There are practical, as well as ethical reasons for not doing so.  Fantasy Baseball can be highly competitive, and everyone wants to win, but if you take this hobby too seriously and lash-out at another owner, or attempt to collude against someone who irritates you, look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself why your life is so small that this should be so important to you.

And, from a practical standpoint, that owner that you have decided is your enemy might just have the one player on his team that you would like to trade for to help put your team “over the top”.  Good luck doing that if you’ve been acting like a jerk.

4.  Don’t overrate your own players. This is a common mistake in fantasy baseball, especially with less experienced owners.  Most people involved in fantasy baseball have a pretty good working knowledge of the relative value of every player on someone else roster.  If you start with the premise that all of your players are future Hall of Famers, you’ll never be able to engage in any potentially helpful trades, and you’ll just sound like an ass.

5.  Don’t propose insulting trade offers. An extremely common, and annoying, strategy is to offer anywhere from two to five of your own average players for another team’s superstar.  Considering that there is usually enough talent available on the waiver wire, why should someone take on your mediocre players?

Moreover, with limited roster space, the person you are making the offer to would have to drop one or two players just to consummate the deal, and those players might be better than or equal to the players you are offering.

6.  Don’t ignore trade offers. Even if someone does offer you a stupid, ridiculous trade, just politely respond with a “No thanks for now,” response.  No use offending anyone that could potentially help you down the road.

7.  Don’t whine or complain about bad luck. No one wants to hear about it.  Conversely, don’t denigrate another fantasy owner’s success by writing it off as nothing more than good luck.  Success, as someone once said, is the residue of preparation.  Every team experiences injuries.  A successful fantasy team adapts to changing conditions throughout the season.  If you think you are done actually managing your roster on draft day, you’ve got another thing coming.

8.  Try to stay engaged in an on-going dialogue regarding your league, and baseball in general, throughout the season.  Every season in our league, we end up with “hidden” owners who we know exist because they submit weekly line-ups, but they are virtually absent as actual humans participating in a six-month long marathon hobby with several other humans.  That’s like joining a book-group and just sitting there reading, never engaging in a conversation about the book itself.

9.  Don’t let fantasy baseball take over your life. If you find yourself still awake in front of your computer at 2:15 a.m. trying to locate the box-score of some west coast game, turn off the damn computer and go to bed.  You’ll feel better in the morning, and you can always turn on SportsCenter when you wake up.

10.  Don’t forget that you love real baseball first, fantasy baseball second.  Therefore, when you are watching a fantastic pitcher’s duel featuring two young aces, and the only player you have in that game on your fantasy roster just went 0-5 with four strikeouts, you didn’t just watch a crummy, disappointing game.  You may have “missed” (even though you just sat through it) one of the best games of the season.

In my next blog post, I will write more specifically about strategies and tactics that have met with success in fantasy baseball throughout the years.

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