OK, so you’re a little late, but you’ve decided to jump on board with this whole ‘fantasy baseball’ thing. Since you’re in a rush to get your league going you don’t have time to dig through the archives and find fantasy baseball preview issues of Sports Illustrated or ESPN: The Magazine, here are three secrets of the fantasy world that will ensure you a top five finish.
1. DO NOT DRAFT SLEEPERS UNTIL THE LAST TWO ROUNDS.
We’ve all fallen victim to this one…you hear all through spring training how a 20-year-old phenom is leading the Cactus League in hitting. You exhaust your top 7 or 8 picks on big-name players, but they’ve started to run out. You start thinking to yourself: “When do I take him? I know Steve knows about this kid too…I better just take him next.” Suddenly you’ve wasted a 9th round pick on somebody who’s going to spend at least half the year in Triple-A. Even though it’s never a good idea to take rookies in the draft, if you must, try to take those who got some significant time after a September call-up last season. Check out John Halpin’s article on rookies to draft, and you’ll see most of them got at least some experience last season.
2. DO NOT DRAFT MORE THAN ONE CLOSER IN THE TOP 10 ROUNDS
Saves are an important statistic in fantasy baseball and can’t be ignored. What also can’t be ignored is the fact that closers get hurt….a lot. There’s no worse feeling than seeing your best closer go down with season-ending arm surgery three months into the season. Or even worse, the “shoulder tightness” that allows him to pitch about once a month. There are many other positions that can be filled with much more reliable players. Don’t forget that even if you miss out on a top closer in the draft, there are always hidden gems that take assume the closer’s role mid-season. ESPN.com’s Eric Karabell’s article not only lists the top closers but gives you two options on who to pick up should your closer have an unexpected appearance on the operating table.
3. DO NOT BE AFRAID OF THE WAIVER WIRE
Fantasy baseball is not a game of pride. I know that when you draft a player you develop a certain bond with him but, just like in real baseball, a general manager cannot afford to be a fan. If one of your players isn’t producing, there’s no shame in taking a look at the free agent list or waiver wire for a quick fix. There’s no reason to give up on your studs because of early season struggles (see: David Ortiz), but if your fourth outfielder isn’t producing, see if you can pick someone up who will. This Bleacher Report by Kevin Kim gives a list of available players as of a couple of weeks ago. As you can see there are some good options.
So there you have it. Keep these three rules in mind when you draft and I guarantee you success. Unless your players stink. Which is not my fault.