Speedy’s a veteran freelance sportswriter and one of the most devoted and successful fantasy players I’ve ever competed against. He’s always at the top of the fantasy baseball and football leagues I’ve run, and has a real knack for picking up guys at the right time in fantasy baseball. So, it should be no surprise his first guest post here at Chinstrap Ninajs is about the fast approaching 2009 fantasy baseball season. Enjoy– EP.
I love Fantasy Baseball. Baseball has been my love since I was a little kid. From the first time, my Dad brought home Zander Hollander’s Baseball Handbook, I was hooked. I played Dice Baseball as a kid at my cousin’s and some version of fantasy baseball in high school with the previous year’s stats. I lost that interest in the game in 1994 when the strike erased the playoffs and the World Series. Getting involved in fantasy baseball five years ago has rekindled my childhood interest, though.
I’ve discovered to be successful at Fantasy Baseball you have to have a long attention span. The biggest difference between the fantasy games of baseball and football is the amount of team that is taken up by both. The length of baseball’s season forces a successful owner to be just as on top of things in August as he was in April. To win, you must be the guy in your league that knows J.J. Putz got hurt the night before so Brendan Morrow is a sweet pick up. I believe this is where I can help. Unfortunately for me (fortunately for you), I don’t have much of a life outside of sports between working at the Daily Item and working over nights, when the only thing interesting on is Sportscenter and other such shows on ESPN. Just remember the advice that I give in this column is to be taken with a grain of salt. These are just one dude’s opinions, but John and Eric will tell you I’ve been pretty successful. The reader also has to take a look at his own team and where his strengths and weakness lie.
I like to do certain things to prepare for a draft and draft a certain way. I’m a big believer in not taking any pitcher in the first round, but making sure that I get a hitter that is going to help me in several categories. Hanley Ramirez, David Wright and Jose Reyes are three of the top guys in the category. That’s not to say guys like Albert Pujols and Ryan Howard aren’t valuable, but the three previous players should be the top three picks in any fantasy draft. Balance is key in assembling a fantasy baseball team.
I also don’t like to overdraft pitching in fantasy baseball. There are certainly pitchers that are worth taking in the second or third rounds, but pitching can be so nebulous from year-to-year except at the very upper echelon, it can be almost worthless to waste an early draft choice on one of the best pitchers last year not named Santana, Webb or Peavy. Cliff Lee is going to be overvalued in most leagues based on last year’s stats. I believe he’s going to be valuable this season, but not at the point where he’ll be drafted in most leagues. You’d be better off taking another hitter and doing your homework to find this season’s Cliff Lee.
Another thing I don’t like to draft early is relief pitching. I almost treat it like drafting place kickers in football. Francisco Rodriguez’s season not-withstanding last year, there will be many guys in the late rounds of the draft that will provide saves. In the late rounds last season, you could have had Joakim Soria (42 saves), Brian Wilson (41 saves) and George Sherrill (31 saves) and dominated your league in saves. Saves are a very overrated category in actual baseball being more a function of opportunity than a function of skill. Guys can get four saves in a week and then not have another one for two weeks. Even closers on the bad teams have a decent shot at between 30 and 40 saves. There are a few downfalls to this strategy that will be discussed later.
I’m going to wrap this up for right now because I can be one wordy guy and we could be here for another hour discussing this stuff.
My plan for this is to be fairly regular if there is interest. I like to keep track of young players and waiver players that can be picked up to help teams. You can send me questions at speedysdaman2003 (at) yahoo (dot) com.