Fantasy Baseball: So Many Players, So Little Time

Max ColtenCorrespondent IFebruary 19, 2009

One of the first things I like to do when Fantasy Baseball opens on Yahoo is to set up 2-4 teams for a live draft, and use my own auto draft and watch what everyone else is doing.


Crazy, right?


To most, probably, but this is all about planning ahead for the teams that count. I will by no means claim to be a drafting wizard or know how to make the best fantasy teams, but by studying how people like to draft.


So, what to do; take pitchers, big bats, speedsters, regulars, so many choices.


My personal philosophy has always been to work on my pitching staff and one big bat in the first few rounds, and then go for my sleeper picks. One of my drafts went my direction.


His first three picks were Roy Halladay, Johan Santana, and C.C. Sabathia. While I think that taking Roy Halladay with the number 3 pick is a little extreme even for me, to get Johan and C.C. with the next two certainly isn’t so bad.


Now your probably thinking he has zero offense, right? Actually, while he did not get what we usually consider a big bat, he did draft Aramis Ramirez, Brian McCann, and Chipper Jones with his next three picks, not bad for the scoring of a normal Yahoo Fantasy League.


He also picked up a few other players that can yield high rewards in Robinson Cano, Raul Ibanez, Andre Ethier, and Billy Butler, while also finishing his pitching staff with Zack Greinke, Brian Fuentes, Johnny Cueto, and Oliver Perez (with the 238th pick might I add).


In another league, a manager went completely pitching first, and did not end up with that great an offense, although it may not be too bad.


This manager drafted Tim Lincecum, Cole Hamels, Brandon Webb, Dan Haren, John Lackey, and Joakim Soria and Trevor Hoffman for the bullpen. That’s a lot of wins right there.


Now as I said, his offense is not filled with any big name guys, mostly young guys who may be able to give him some wins. Joey Votto, Chris Young, Alex Gordon, Adam Jones, Howie Kendrick, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Jeff Francoeur were all drafted.


Not absolutely horrible as all of them have had about a year of MLB experience to work off of, and with that pitching staff, he can trade one starter for that big name bat. 


So, I’ve shown you what you can get when you go for pitching first, now how about offense.


What if I told you that you could draft Albert Pujols, Alfonso Soriano, and Manny Ramirez, not to mention Chipper Jones, J.J. Hardy, and Alexi Rios, and still possibly draft Roy Oswalt and Edinson Volquez.


Now, while the manager I’m talking about chose Franciso Liriano over Oswalt (for a reason I can’t think of) he still did draft all the afore mentioned players as well as a few possible high yield players in Justin Verlander, Brian Fuentes, Johnny Cueto, and Max Scherzer.


Not too shabby if I may say so.


This next team doesn’t have that 40 homerun guy but still has a nice array of offense. How about Jose Reyes, Evan Longoria, Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday, Geovany Soto, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Pena with the number 127th pick.


Not bad, and this team has some pretty good pitching with Mariano Rivera, Roy Oswalt, Javier Vazquez, Erik Bedard (not too big a risk in the thirteenth round), Ted Lilly, and with the 247thpick, Fausto Carmona (not a risk at all with your last one).


So what if speed is your game? Not to worry, there are ways to get a lot of speed with good pitching.


How about 126 stolen bases between three players? Not bad considering that none of them was his first pick (Ryan Braun was with the 10thoverall pick). Jimmy Rollins, Ichiro Suzuki, and Shane Victorino are the three speedsters, all of whom give you high averages (don’t worry Victorino had a down year last season), and Rollins of course gives you a fair amount of dingers to go along with Braun.


So I promised pitching with this correct? Well here you go, Dan Haren, Joakim Soria, Jon Lester, Ryan Dempster, and Brett Myers. Not the best staff, but certainly one that can compete.


If you liked this team, then how about switching Victorino for Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury, and still keeping Ichiro and Rollins? That is definitely a quick team that combined with Miguel Cabrera, Ryan Doumit, Adrian Beltre, and Pat Burrell can supply a strong offense.


Now this team does lack a little on the pitching front relying on the health of A.J. Burnett, Justin Verlander, and Francisco Rodriguez (not that he is a health risk, but he certainly did pitch a lot last season).


This team also was able to pick up Justin Duchscherer, Adam LaRoche, and Edgar Renteria with its last three picks so there is definitely possibilities there. I also have to point out that this team took Burnett instead of Jon Lester or Dice-K, which is a very questionable pick at best.


Nevertheless, this team has a good outlook for this fantasy season.


Let’s look at one more team for speed, my team. Again, this was on auto draft don’t yell at me for some of the selections.


With the number two pick, I selected Hanley Ramirez, and combined with B.J. Upton, and Curtis Granderson, that is a nice bit of speed. This team also has Lance Berkman, David Ortiz, Victor Martinez, and Ryan Zimmerman.


Overall pretty good; by the way, the computer selected Miguel Tejada at number 194 (which is good if he isn’t in prison by the start of the season), Jim Thome at 215, and Paul Konerko at pick 239.


Pitching wise my team is pretty average with John Lackey, Adam Wainwright, Zack Greinke, and Josh Johnson as starters, and Carlos Marmol and Heath Bell for relief. Not great but I could probably work out a deal for an Edinson Volquez type player.


So hopefully I still have your attention and you aren’t completely bored. As I said earlier, I don’t want to force-feed you what I think you should all do, I simply want to show what you can get even when you focus on specific statistics.


I want to take some time now and give you a few players who are likely to be overlooked who can be great assets to your team.


First, Chien-Ming Wan, SP, New York Yankees: In Yahoo fantasy drafts, Wang has been taken on average in the fifteenth round with an average pick of 178.5.


Do people just not realize that this guy won 19 games in 2006 and 2007 and won 8 games last season in only 15 starts? Not to mention that his WHIP was no higher than 1.32 in those three seasons and keeping a relatively low ERA at 3.63 and 3.70. What concerns many is his lack of strikeouts but from 06-07, Wang increased them by 28 and was on pace to increase them again in 08 if not for his injury. My advice: if you see him hanging around in he 12th or 13th round, take him.


Next, Dan Uggla, 2B, Florida Marlins: While Uggla is not unknown; he certainly is not seeing the love with an average pick of 70.5 in the sixth round. In his last three seasons, Uggla has hit 90 homeruns, driven in 270 runs, as well as 112 doubles and a respectable .262 average. My advice: if you can get this guy with the seventieth pick, don’t waste your time with Kinsler or Utley, take Uggla in the fifth round and draft a pitcher higher.


Raul Ibanez, OF, Philadelphia Phillies: Again, not an unknown player; but none the less, a decent player who can fall pretty low. While Ibanez’s homerun totals have fallen the last two years, to draft him as your third outfielder in the eleventh round is not too shabby.


My advice: I’ve seen him fall to as low as the thirteenth round, if you see him in the eleventh or twelfth round, take a guy going to play in Citizen’s Bank Park.


J.J. Putz, RP, New York Mets: Yes I’m a Mets fan, I have to throw one in. Everyone is afraid because he is not the closer for the Mets and thus will not have the saves numbers you want. People, he is still going to set up almost every save that K-Rod gets and will probably get some save opportunities when K-Rod has the night off.


So a guy who has almost always kept a sub 1.00 WHIP and averages about 12-15 more strikeouts than innings pitched, why not. By the way, he is typically drafted in the seventeenth round. My advice: TAKE HIM!!!!!


Finally, Ty Wigginton, 3B/OF, Baltimore Orioles: Another former Met that I personally enjoyed watching. Look, this guy his pretty much a guarantee to amass 115 hits, 25-30 doubles, 22-28 homeruns, and drive in around 65 runs. What is wrong with taking the infielder/outfielder in the eighteenth round?


I see absolutely no reason why someone would pass up taking him as a backup who plays a position in 3B of which, if you lose your starter, good luck getting a good replacement. My advice: take him with one of your last two picks.


Hopefully you have found this article interesting and somewhat helpful. I’ve said this a few times but I’ll say it again anyway, please don’t attack me for things that you don’t agree with. I’m offering different combinations of players that can get you as good a fantasy as possible. I am not a fantasy guru and I won’t try to be, I’m just a baseball fan.