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Well, the season is just under one week away which means fantasy baseball season is fast approaching. Drafts have already started and leagues are starting to form. The popularity of fantasy baseball has absolutely exploded over the past couple of years. Everyone seems to be joining in on the fun. I recently saw a news story somewhere about how women were increasingly becoming part of the fantasy sports scene. I absolutely love fantasy baseball. It gives me a chance to prepare for the upcoming season and take a look at what happened last year statistically.
I have to admit that I have done more mock drafts than I can count so far this spring. I love putting together a baseball team and competing with other users on a fantasy baseball website. I primarily use Yahoo! to play fantasy baseball but I have been experimenting with ESPN as well as MLB.com. I find it incredibly entertaining to put together a fantasy team from scratch. So one thing I wanted to talk about was a suggestion on how to draft a team. I am in no way a fantasy baseball expert but I do have my own strategy that has worked for me in the past. First off, I want to start by saying that I believe Jose Reyes is the single most overrated player in fantasy baseball.
Yes he is a 5 category fantasy player but his average, power, and RBI potential are not worth a first round pick in my opinion. I realize that shortstop is a very scarce position but I am not willing to blow a first round pick on a shortstop other than Hanley Ramirez. I would much rather use my first round pick, especially early in the draft, on a power hitter that will hit for a ton of average, home runs, and RBIs. Albert Pujols is the single most consistent hitter in the major leagues and I would much rather take him than most other players. However, my absolute favorite spot in a fantasy draft in a 10 team league is the 6-8 spots and in a 12 team league I like the 8-10 picks. You can still get an incredible player at the top (especially since someone will probably waste a pick on Reyes and I have even seen Chase Utley go in the first round or very early second round) and you then you get an early second round pick right after that.
What I have found myself doing is being able to grab someone like Miguel Cabrera (who might win the AL MVP this year) and then turn around and grab someone like Lance Berkman or Carlos Lee and every once in awhile Mark Teixeira will drop down to the 14th or so pick and I can grab him also. There are plenty of players that can fill in for speed. The most important pick for me in the third round pick this year where I completely and totally zone in on Carlos Beltran. I think that he is underrated and he is ranked around 25th overall in fantasy baseball. The guy is a solid and consistent 5 category player. I sit back and watch people draft pitchers with some first and second round picks.
This is where some conflict comes up when I talk to people during mock drafts. For me, pitchers are so much more volatile than position players. People with the last first round pick and the first second round pick have consistently been picking Johan Santana and Tim Lincecum back to back. Now of course they are going to have the best one two punch of any rotation in the league, but for me health among pitchers is much more of a concern than position players. Plus, a top tier position player is going to play around 160 games when fully healthy and a starting pitcher is only going to make 30-35 starts in a season. I honestly wait until around round six or seven before I start drafting pitchers.
You can put together a very good staff late in drafts if you know what you are doing. I have been getting pitchers like Chad Billingsley, Javier Vazquez (who should be fantastic in the NL), and Yovani Gallardo after the 8th round. That is going to be three ERAs around 3.50, WHIPs around 1.20, wins around 15, and strikeouts around 200. That is a devastating 1-3 on starters. Oh, and I literally laugh hysterically when people blow their fourth or fifth round pick on Papelbon. Why do people slobber all over one category pitchers? Closer is the single most unpredictable and volatile position in fantasy baseball. We saw teams switching closers all the time last year and I was able to not draft a single closer in one of my leagues yet finished 7th out of 12 in saves last year. Granted 7th out of 12 is not that great but considering the number of saves I got off the waiver wire and free agency it just goes to show how quickly and how many closers can lose their jobs.
This year I have been taking Brian Wilson as well as Matt Lindstrom very late. Usually around round 18. My lineup is usually mostly filled out by the time I start drafting pitchers in the 8th or 9th rounds. Like I said before I absolutely love doing fantasy drafts and playing against family and friends or complete strangers. If any of you who read this would be interested in starting a league for fun or just talking about fantasy baseball in general feel free to head on over to the forums page and post your thoughts and/or if you are interested in starting a league and playing against each other and other members of this site. Fantasy baseball is one of those things that I feel like anyone who loves baseball will enjoy. It gives you a chance to analyze statistics of certain players, teams, ballparks, and any number of other factors.
For instance, Matt Holliday was one of the best players in the Major Leagues while he was in Colorado. Now he is in Oakland and it will be interesting to see what will happen to his numbers moving from hitter friendly Coors Field to the pitcher friendly stadium out in Oakland.