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Fantasy Baseball: 5 Keys to Winning Your League

Patrick HansenCorrespondent IMarch 31, 2011

Fantasy Baseball: 5 Keys to Winning Your League

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    Albert Pujols #1 Fantasy ProspectMarc Serota/Getty Images

    A new year of fantasy baseball rolls around. Will your strategy from last year work as well this year? No, probably not, because the field of players changes so dramatically each year; you want to develop a new approach that fits this years' players. Here are five things that you should remember when drafting, and even after your draft, when you're proposing trades and adding free agents:

1. Wait on Starting Pitchers

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    Max ScherzerJim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Normally, you want to grab your two aces in the first four rounds so you can be sure that you’ll at least be competitive in K’s and W’s, but this year, you will find those two aces in the 8th and 9th rounds. Halladay, King Felix, and Lincecum are going as the top three around the board this year, as predicted. They’ll go to those three guys in your league that draft their nine pitchers before acquiring a single batter (but who then take CarGo in the 10th round and end up winning the league, a common occurrence in 2010), as predicted. But fear not. You will steal Max Scherzer and Clay Bucholz in the 7th and 8th rounds and then Jeremy Hellickson and Gio Gonzalez several rounds later. This year's pitching offers lots of depth; many of the three and four guys in the rotation will have strong years, look especially at the Athletics and Rays. The Athletics feature a young rotation with lots of promise. They have Dallas Braden fourth in the rotation.  Remember, this is the guy who threw a no-hitter last year, and more importantly screamed at A-Roid for crossing the mound. It's always nice to have a little personality on your team.

2. Wait on Speed

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    My personal favorite: Ichiro SuzukiOtto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    In the past, I’ve taken three speedsters with my first three picks because it’s always fun to get 20 SBs a week, but that is no way to win a championship.  Remind yourself of people like Rajai Davis and Brett Gardner; they will get as many SBs as Carl Crawford and Jose Reyes, and with decent averages, and you can find them in the 8th round. Also, there will be two or three new guys this year who swipe 40 bags because their team can’t generate runs any other way (Bourn Ultimatum?).

    But, it's important not to forget about steals all together, since it is usually 1/5 of your batting score each week. Additionally, guys who steal 20 or 30 bases a year obviously have some speed and are probably decent at the plate, usually in the leadoff or two spot. What that means is an average above .275 and lots and lots of runs. They can be a valuable part of your well-balanced breakfa--- I mean team...

3. Get Power Early

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    Joey VottoJoe Robbins/Getty Images

    There are only five to ten guys each year that will hit 30+ homers while scoring 100+ runs and keeping a .300+ average.  Last year, Pujols, Carlos Gonzalez, Miguel Cabrera, Josh Hamilton, Joey Votto, and Robinson Cano were the guys in this category, and with the exception of Gonzalez, they all went early. As I've mentioned earlier, you can wait on pitching until later rounds, so use your first few picks and build up a solid core. Hitters for average and runs are easy to come by later.

    Another important aspect to consider when choosing your Big Three is position. 1B is linked in everyone's mind to power. Why? Because lots of the big hitters (in the National League especially) aren't as quick in the field, so they sit on first base and (usually) catch what comes to them. There are always lots of OF with power so they aren't as valuable as say, Robinson Cano, who fills your 2B spot very nicely.  Also, look for SS and C who will get you some RBI and HR.

4. Invest in Some Middle Relievers

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    Daniel BardOtto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    You can fill the SP and RP spots on your roster, but leave the P spots for some middle relief. Daniel Bard is the best example of the middle relief guy who gets you K’s while keeping your ERA down. Look for these guys in 2010 stats, as they remain fairly constant. Also look for starters converted to bullpen-dwellers, they can do well in this role.

5. Start Trends

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    You do not want this guy on your fantasy teamKevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    C and RP are the two trendiest positions. Instead of waiting for someone else to start the bidding, snag the best of these and watch as your leaguemates fight each other for Geovany Soto. This will give you more flexibility later and much amusement.

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