Fantasy Baseball Winning Formula Part One

Doug MarionContributor IMay 9, 2009

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JULY 6:  Pitcher Zack Greinke #23 of the Kansas City Royals checks the bullpen against the Tampa Bay Rays July 6, 2008 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Rays defeated the Royals 9-2.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Playing fantasy baseball is a disease, a sickness one might say. For the die-hard player, fantasy baseball consumes your life. I have been involved for 21 years, and just plain love it. Buying the magazines, reading the blogs and stories, listening to Peter Gammons like he is E.F Hutton, etc...Been there, done that.

So this year I decided to go ballz out and have some fun. I love to draft, and it is the best part of fantasy baseball. Putting your team together, laughing at the other owners. You know what I mean.

So I decided to draft as many teams as I could, chart the draft picks, draft values, and see what I came up with. Just to recast, I am a sicko. I drafted 337 ESPN teams, all auction draft. When it came to an end, and ESPN stopped the draft rooms, I became sick, confused, delirious, and lost. I have since recouped.

Watching A-Rod go for an average of $43 early on, then drop to an average of $19.6 was funny. Watching people spend upwards of $60 for Albert Pujols was amazing, but let Nelson Cruz go for $1 was great, too.

The thing is I have always been light years ahead of most of my competitors. I still have old friends who are in other leagues calling me about players, or even at live drafts for help.

So enough about me, let's get to the basics.

What I have found is a dedicated fantasy owner needs to make himself/herself aware of what is going on around them. Make mental notes, read anything that pertains to helping your team win, and follow that path.

For instance, with many free drafts, you are going to see some of the same owners in your draft. To be honest, you can learn a lot from these types, as they are probably as sick as you.

See who they are bidding on, and watch. Take notes. And do some extra research. Example: This one guy kept throwing Wandy Rodriguez out and getting him for $1. That enthralled me, so I did some research on him.

My conclusion is that he looked pretty good, statistically. It is very easy to miss guys, as there are gizzilions on players to choose from.

The best feeling for me is getting a guy who you deem a sleeper, who actually performs and adds value to your team, freeing up extra needed salary cap to complete your team.  Wandy Rodriguez has been lights out so far this year.

Anyone with a brain knew Zack Greinke was geared up for a big year, yet many of us, including myself couldn't fork over the $17 average he went for for a guy who "might" have a good year.

No one could have said he would have the numbers he has currently. But if you forked it over you are reaping the benefits. My calculations put him at a $32-$41 value, a huge bargain, and a four-category stud.

Game plan: What is my game plan? Many of us have won leagues before, whether it was a six-team league or a 16-team league, there are strategies to follow to be successful. I hate to give mine up, but here it is:

I always dump my money on Offense, always. Here is the reason: Once the draft is over, what is the one thing, historically, that is available on the free agent wire in abundance? Well, it is pitching, and there will always be a few guys who become closers that went undrafted who would be a free pickup, and get you the needed saves to be successful.

I don't mean just ignore closers during your draft, but there always are guys who will get saves and if you are paying attention, you can scoop them up for nothing.

An example: Here are a list of guys so far 30 games into the 2009 season who are currently closers for one reason or another that probably didn't get drafted: Scott Downs, Ryan Franklin, Kip Wells.

There are a few others who will become closers here in the near future. Pay attention to what it going on. Do you think George Sherrell is going to be the guy at the end of the year? Who is the next guy? We all know Colorado is going to trade Huston Street sometime this year, who is the guy to fill that void?

Offense is so hard to acquire once the draft is over, it makes sense to load up on it during the draft. Depending on how many owners are in your league, and I am talking 12-16 teams, your draft strategy might differ from this. If we are talking 10 teams or less, then this the route I take.

Same goes for starting pitching. I like to get one of the big five, and fill in the blanks with my guys. If you can get value, and this is the big word, then maybe go for a few. Value is the biggest play in drafting. Lets say Roy Halladay is going for $26-$31 in other drafts, and he is sitting there at $22 grab him.

Take that other $4-$9 and use it for something else. Hope this makes sense. Here are a list of guys who probably went undrafted, and might still be available on your FA wire that are solid Starting Pitchers: Randy Wolf, Scott Richmond, Paul Maholm, Zach Duke, Johnny Cueto.  I am sure there are others, but you get the picture.

Something to think about; part two will be out soon!