Draft Strategies for the 2009 Fantasy Baseball Season
Have a fantasy baseball draft coming up? Spring training is here and that means baseball season is almost here. I have some strategies and tips to drafting your teams. I have guys that I will reach for, guys that I will avoid, and guys that I will steal at the bottom rounds.
I have done quite a few mock drafts already, so I have a sense of who is dropping in drafts and who is going too high. Here are my tips and strategies to drafting your fantasy baseball team.
Wait on pitching
Pitching is deep every year and you can find some underrated pitchers in the later rounds of the draft. My strategy is to pass by a Johan Santana or Tim Lincecum for a consistent or high upside hitter like a Lance Berkman, Ian Kinsler, or even B.J. Upton.
Why take a guy like C.C. Sabathia when you can have somebody like Berkman or Upton? Sabathia worries me, because of his heavy workload last year and because almost all pitchers struggle in their first year in New York. I'd take a safer pick like Berkman or Chase Utley and wait on a guy like Dan Haren in the fourth round or Chad Billingsley in the fifth round.
You can always find pitching gems like Francisco Liriano or Yovani Gallardo in the middle rounds, so I would wait on pitching.
Wait on catchers and closers
Catchers and closers are two of the deepest positions in fantasy and you can pass on taking a Joe Mauer, Russell Martin, or Brian McCann and grab an all-around fantasy threat that can help you in all five categories.
Jonathan Papelbon is a classic example of closers being taken way too early. You can get a five-category player like a Corey Hart or Hunter Pence in that spot and wait on a closer later in the draft.
Catchers you can grab later on include Mike Napoli, Chris Iannetta, and Bengie Molina. Closers you can get in the middle to late rounds include Trevor Hoffman, B.J. Ryan, and Heath Bell.
Value speed more than power
I used to undervalue speed, like most people do today, and I paid for it. Getting speed early can help you get more power hitters later in the draft. The combination of players with power and speed is rare and if you can get them early you can focus on other areas later in the draft.
I tend to always get power and speed or batting average and speed in the early rounds. I would draft Hanley Ramirez No. 1 overall because of his rare combination of average, power, and speed, and I would consider taking Jose Reyes in the Top Three, because he has yet to reach his power potential.
David Wright will give you at least 15 stolen bases and may even get more, so I would value him over an A-Rod, who probably isn't going to be running as much anymore and has all those distractions. You can always get your power later on with an Adam Dunn, Pat Burrell, or Chris Davis.
Players I will reach for in drafts
These are guys I will reach for in drafts so I don't risk losing out on them. These players have so much potential that I will risk taking a safer player to gamble on the player's ceiling.
1. Ian Kinsler—I'd consider taking him in the first round or early second round, because second base is so thin with superstars and he was on his way to an MVP season last year. He can be a 20-20 guy, or even 30-30.
2. Alexei Ramirez—He can play multiple positions and his potential is also very high. He had a great rookie season last year and a sophomore slump is unlikely.
3.Chris Davis—Hitting in the middle or the Rangers lineup is always a recipe for success. Just ask Ian Kinsler, Milton Bradley, and Josh Hamilton last year. Davis showed us what he can do in the bigs last year and will now be getting full-time at bats.
4. Yovani Gallardo—Gallardo has some big shoes to fill after the departures of C.C. Sabathia and Ben Sheets, but he can get it done. His potential is great and I'm willing to spend a seventh-round pick on him.
5. Justin Upton—B.J.'s brother had a great start last year, but tumbled in the second half. His potential is bigger than his brother's and he can explode at any time. Don't regret passing him up, because he can have his breakout even at such a young age.
Players I will avoid
1. Ichiro—In a weak Mariners lineup, he will not be scoring as many runs and has not been stealing as much. All he gives you now is batting average and I am going to avoid taking him in drafts.
2. Daisuke Matsuzaka—His walk rates are alarming and I can see his other stats declining as well.
3. A.J. Burnett—You won't see me taking the risk on this injury-prone starter.
4. Jorge Posada—That ailing shoulder injury might be healing, but he is not getting any younger and there are safer options to take in the late rounds.
5. Chone Figgins—I normally do not like taking one-category players like Figgins, who will only offer you speed at this point.
Sleepers to target
Here are sleepers that I will target in the late rounds:
1.Pablo Sandoval—Not only does he have a cool name, but he has a lot of potential and not many fantasy owners know about him. He is eligible at catcher, first base and third base, so he can be a great asset to your team.
2.Manny Parra—His strikeout potential is very high, even if he walks a lot of guys. If he can cut down on his walks, he can have a breakout year.
3. Ubaldo Jimenez—Jimenez was awesome in the second half last year and helped owners down the stretch in September. He can be very valuable with his strikeout rates.
4. Adam Dunn—People always undervalue him in every draft I have participated in so far. He's one of the most consistent power hitters in the game, and if you take high average players early, his low batting average won't hurt you.
5. Heath Bell—He is taking over for Hoffman and has high strikeout rates. He can easily save 30 games even for the last-place Padres.
Here are players being taken way too high in drafts:
1.Matt Wieters—Sure, he will eventually be an All-Star catcher, but will have his ups and downs this season. I'd rather take a safer pick like Bengie Molina or Chris Iannetta later on.
2. Joba Chamberlain—The Yankees have already announced he won't top 150 innings this year, so his upside is limited. He may also move back to the bullpen if they need him back there.
3. Jonathan Papelbon—I've already said he's going too early and I'd rather wait for a closer later on.
4. Jake Peavy—He is risky this year, because the Padres stink, and was not at his best last year when he pitched. I'd take a Dan Haren or hitter in the fourth or fifth round.
5. Kevin Youkilis—People will overvalue his career season last year and draft him way too early.