Fantasy Baseball Secret Unveiled: Don't Draft Closers

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Fantasy Baseball Secret Unveiled: Don't Draft Closers

As a fantasy baseball manager since 2003, I have experienced moderate success.

With the 15 teams I have managed, I have won the championship twice, while finishing in the top—three five other times. Both championship victories I have both came last season, because it was then I realized what the secret was.

It’s nothing groundbreaking, nothing that would make you go, “Oh, why didn’t I think of that!”, but it’s there and it’s right in front of your face. Some managers even do it by accident and I guarantee they have experienced some form of success.

The secret is this: forget about closers. Wait a minute…what? You mean to tell me that you don’t draft Francisco Cordero in the fifth round when there are so many superstars available? That’s right, my fellow fantasy managers, I just ditch the closers.

Think about it. Every year we waste an early round pick for a player who is going to get our team one stat—the save. When he gets one, terrific, we increase one stat column. But blow a save and your ERA for the week can get messed up so much that you end up losing that category.

The closer is a position that was made up in baseball and now the fan following of them has led to an almost cult stature.

“Only a certain pitcher can be a closer!”

“It takes a certain mindset to close out a game!”

Those are the things I hear when I discuss the importance of closers to the game. Now we even have to play certain music when they come out and oh, almost forgot, they have to grow some kind of intimidating facial hair style.

There is only one closer in baseball—Mariano Rivera and I’m not a Yankee fan.

They may very well be important, but they are blown out of proportion. Let’s face it, anyone can be a closer.

How many times a season do we see a “star” get injured and some journeyman schmuck comes in and saves 30 games? Oh and it just so happens they’re a free agent that off—season and they end up getting a huge contract with a new team. David Aardma saved 38 games last year…enough said.

Sorry for that, the rant is now over. Back to fantasy baseball stats and how to win your league.

If you wanted to be totally bad—ass, like yours truly, then create a league and do not instill a closer/relief position. Or, if you want to really piss people off and prove a point, keep relief pitchers available and get rid of the save stat. How many closers will we see picked up then? Probably close to none.

This would all be just babble if I didn’t win the championship in two out of the three leagues I have played in since dropping the closers off my team. I must also add that both of these victories came in league where closers were an available position and saves were a stat.

The glory of the Yahoo fantasy setup are those starting pitchers that count as relievers as well. So, that’s exactly what I did. I Found two starters who count as both an “SP” and “RP” and plugged them in the relief position.

Obviously, I lost the saves category every week, but when most teams were rolling two and three closers at once, I was winning the innings pitched, strikeouts and wins categories pretty severely. Most often ERA too, because one bad performance wouldn’t necessarily end my week.

This season I have three suggestions for that fantastic SP/RP versatility: J.A Happ on the Phillies, Joba Chamberlain on the Yankees, and Todd Wellemeyer on the Giants.

Happ pitched extremely well last season and is a lock for a spot in the rotation. Why Yahoo even has him listed as an RP is beyond me, but take advantage of their mistake, because once a player is listed in a certain position they can not be removed, only new positions can be added to them.

Chamberlain is tricky because of the weird pitch and innings count he will be on, but with the Yankee’s offense, I would be willing to take the chance.

Todd Wellemeyer looks like he will win the Giants fifth spot in the rotation due to his superb spring. Should he continue this, figure him for 8-10 wins on the season.

This idea may seem a bit wacky and I understand not all leagues have the same setup. I think the majority of fans use Yahoo, meaning this is the correct configuration.

I highly recommend you try it. You’ll obviously lose the saves category every week, but you will never lose innings pitched and strikeouts.

If you don’t trust me, try an experiment on just one of your teams. Even if you have already drafted, now is the time to offer in a trade on your superstar closer and have a chance to get a decent starting pitcher or hitter back.

It may seem crazy, but I guarantee that once you go this way, you’ll never go back.

 

Please visit my blog, "From New York to San Francisco" .

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