Having completely trained yourself for your fantasy baseball draft, via the 7 tips I provided yesterday, your draft should be infinitely easier and more productive. But there’s still more to talk about.
There will be moments when you’ll have to decide to take player A or B, a pitcher or a hitter, a catcher or a reliever and your rankings just aren’t going to give you a clue who to pick. Let’s discuss some guidelines that will make that process as Ninja as possible.
1. Stock up on five-tool talents
Your first several picks should be power-speed guys who help you in almost every category. And I don’t care if that means you take three outfielders before filling the rest of your roster out. These are the players that are difference-makers in any fantasy format. Spend late picks on players who have the potential to become five-toolers.
2. Follow your cheatsheet
You spent quite a bit of time on the sheet, right? Why not use it that way? Now, obviously a time will come when you should break the rules, say when you’re down to your last two picks and you need a catcher and a relief pitcher to fill your starting roster.
3. Wait on pitching
This is very difficult for me, because I hate having to play pitchers I don’t like. It’s a thing. But in 2009 there are pitchers upon pitchers available in the middle of the draft, and excellent hitters are not so abundant. Wait until the middle rounds –say 10, 11, 12 — then start taking pitchers. You won’t regret it. If you really need to take a stud pitcher, make it one from the top tier, then wait a little longer to get the rest of your staff filled out. Remember this point, too: Batters play every day and pitchers typically throw once every five days. You need to win every day, not every five. Consider pitchers a necessary evil.
4. Wait longer for relief
Like starters, the 25-save guys last forever. You won’t get a K-Rod, or a Joakim Soria, but the guys you do get will fulfill the requirements at a ridiculous discount.
5. Don’t pick a catcher until you can’t stand not having one… then wait a little longer
Seriously, there’s no need to take a catcher early. Brian McCann and Russell Martin are going to go too early. Joe Mauer might be the most overrated hitter in baseball. Will Geovany Soto grind to a sophomore slump? Meanwhile the end of deep drafts will leave you with guys like Jeff Clement, Chris Snyder, Kelly Shoppach and Ramon Hernandez. Check their projections. Not bad for the end of the draft.
6. When in doubt take hitters from the AL, pitchers from the NL
AL batters have the advantage of a designated hitter in their lineup, and typically more runs are scored in the AL. Less runs are scored in the NL, pitchers have to throw against the opposing pitcher and typically NL teams play closer games. It seems simple, and it is, but it’s something that not everyone keeps in mind.
7. Know what teams are going to score runs, what pitchers are set to break out
This goes back to your research. Did you notice how many Indians hitters you have high in your ranks? How about Dodgers and Rangers. More offense in general will affect RBI and run numbers for everyone in the high-powered lineup. Draft accordingly. Also, what pitcher’s surprised you with their stats from last year, or their impressive performance so far in the spring?
8. Waste a pick or two on a touted prospect, but not four or five picks
Yes, it is awesome to pick that guy who breaks out, but those guys are pretty rare. For every Evan Longoria, there’s an Alex Gordon. For every Tim Lincecum there’s a Johnny Cueto. But there are always some rookies to target.
9. Pick guys you want on your team
If there’s a player you want on your roster that’ll be a round or round-and-a-half reach, why not make the pick. The last thing you want is to pick a player you hate, or have a bad feeling about, because he’s at the top of some list. If he has an off year you’ll hate yourself more than you hate that guy. Just think how happy you’ll be when the player you can root for, and have a hunch will go big, goes off for a career year. Too many times I’ve skipped a player, thinking “this guy’s higher, I’ll wait until the next round” only to have my sleeper stolen with the next pick. Don’t set yourself up for second-guessing.
10. Fill at least 75 percent of your bench with pitchers
It doesn’t matter if your picking relievers who could win a closing spot, or starters with bustout upside, pick pitchers over hitters. When you scour your waiver wire, you’re not going to find many Kevin Sloweys or Jair Jurrjenses, but you will find a buttload of the kinds of hitters you’ll have on your bench, I promise. You’ll probably find it easier to cut an underproducing pitcher when that first big waiver opportunity arises.
What do you think? Do you already follow any of these rules? Which rules do you always break? What rules should we add? Let us know in the comments.