MLB Fantasy Draft 2011: 10 Championship Tips From a Specialist

Lake CruiseAnalyst IMarch 30, 2011

MLB Fantasy Draft 2011: 10 Championship Tips From a Specialist

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    CLEARWATER, FL - MARCH 06:  Shortstop Jimmy Rollins #11 of the Philadelphia Phillies fouls off a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at Bright House Field on March 6, 2011 in Sarasota, Florida.  (Photo by J. Me
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    Winning fantasy baseball championships is what I do virtually every year. 

    Always finishing in the money—with a trophy—the resume speaks for itself.  I'm here to give you my advice and will continue to do so throughout the season.

    I'll be playing in fantasy baseball leagues again this year, so stay tuned.

    Like we always do about this time, here we go with what you tuned in for...

10. Choose Players from Teams with Winning Records Only If You Can

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    TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Infielder Robinson Cano #24 of the New York Yankees fouls off a pitch against the Philadelphia Phillies during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at George M. Steinbrenner Field on February 26, 2011 in Tampa, Florida.  (Pho
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    By selecting players from winning teams, fantasy baseball managers can ensure themselves league wins.  Players from losing teams are capable of producing solid fantasy numbers, but too many other factors come into play.

    Players on teams with losing records are notoriously associated with fantasy production slumps.  See Matt Kemp, Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence. 

    When MLB teams are winning, players on those teams are probably producing whopping fantasy numbers and you—as a manager who selects these players—will be winning too.

9. Take Rangers, Reds, Yankees and Red Sox to Ensure Offensive Punch

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    FORT MYERS, FL - MARCH 14:  Outfielder Carl Crawford #13 of the Boston Red Sox fouls off a pitch against the New York Yankees during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at City of Palms Park on March 14, 2011 in Fort Myers, Florida.  (Photo by J. Mer
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    Texas had an explosive offense last season and it will continue this one.  Even with the loss of “Vlad the Impaler,” the Rangers still have Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz and crew.

    The Reds were on fire last season and there is no reason it won’t continue.  Under Dusty Baker, they should again lead the NL in several offensive categories, steal a lot of bases and win a lot of games.

8. Don’t Sleep on Guerrero, Ramirez or Ortiz

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    JUPITER, FL - MARCH 24: David Ortiz #34 of the Boston Red Sox warms up prior to the game against the Florida Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium on March 24, 2011 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
    Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

    While long in the tooth, I believe “The Impaler” Guerrero will still be able to decapitate baseballs with Baltimore in 2011. 

    He batted over .300 for most of the season in 2010.  He swooned, but he still produced strong fantasy value for a championship team of mine.

    For my money, Manny Ramirez in Tampa and David “Big Papi” Ortiz in Boston will also produce strong fantasy value this year. 

7. Draft Double Digit Winning Pitchers

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    SCOTTSDALE, AZ - MARCH 01:  Starting pitcher Tim Lincecum #55 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the spring training game at Scottsdale Stadium on March 1, 2011 in Scottsdale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty I
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    By this, I mean pick pitchers who are capable of producing 10 or more wins in the MLB season.  Bargains are plentiful.  In a 10 team league, Tim Hudson can be picked in Round 15 of 23.  Yankee hurler Kevin Millwood went at No. 19 in one of my mocks.

    With New York’s potent offense, he could be just as effective as A.J. Burnett, who went undrafted in one of my leagues.

6. Select at Least 3 Power Hitters

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    GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 11:  Adam Dunn #32 of the Chicago White Sox during the spring training baseball game against Chicago Cubs at Camelback Ranch on March 11, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    If you didn’t know, high home run totals usually lead to high RBI and runs scored totals in fantasy baseball. 

    So sluggers are at a premium—preferably power-hitting teammates such as Robinson Cano and Mark Texiera or Nick Swisher and Alex Rodriguez.  You get the idea.

    Aubrey Huff and Buster Posey with the Giants were a strong combination late in the fantasy season last year.  I managed to overcome them and their manager, though, and win another title.

5. Take Pitchers with High Strikeout Totals

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    PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 20:  (EDITORS NOTE : THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN DIGITALLY DESATURATED.) Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners poses for a portrait at the Peoria Sports Complex on February 20, 2011 in Peoria, Arizona.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    I’ve found a correlation between the number of strikeouts and the amount of wins and low earned run average.  While nonscientific in nature right now, I’ve related high strikeouts with low fantasy team ERA.

    Max Scherzer and Edwin Jackson went undrafted in two of my mocks.  Both are capable of striking out over 200 batters in one season and not many pitchers are.

    Beware of high ERA totals with these two, though.  If the staff’s other pitchers are on point, managers may be able to stomach these two hurlers giving up runs.

4. Pick Teammates Who Compliment One Another Both on and off the Field

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    SCOTTSDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 23:  Brian Wilson #38 of the San Francisco Giants poses for a portrait during media photo day at Scottsdale Stadium on February 23, 2011 in Scottsdale, Arizona.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Drafting teammates is a way managers can boost fantasy points on offense and pitching.  Matching great closers with great starters, for instance, doubles the scoring—a win and a save—versus only a win or only a save.

    On offense, pairing a good leadoff hitter with a great RBI man has the same effect.

3. Draft Players Who Can Steal Bases

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    PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 17: Juan Pierre #1 of the Chicago White Sox looks to bunt the ball against the Milwaukee Brewers during the first inning of the spring training game at Maryvale Baseball Park on March 17, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Kevork Dja
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Jacoby Ellsbury, Michael Bourn, Coco Crisp, Scott Podsednick and Juan Pierre were available very, very late in all of my mock drafts so far.  All are capable of boosting your fantasy squad’s base burglary totals.

    Alex Rios with the White Sox is under appreciated in many fantasy leagues.  He hits for solid averages, home runs and fills out a stat sheet nicely. 

2. Select Catchers Only in the Last Round (s)

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    JUPITER, FL - MARCH 01:  Catcher Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals prepares for the Florida Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium on March 1, 2011 in Jupiter, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    Only three catchers batted over .300 last season.  After them, it’s a wash. 

    Chew on this example.  Yadier Molina batted .260 and led all catchers with eight stolen bases last season, and he went undrafted in most of my mocks.

    John Buck also went undrafted and he smashed 18 home runs last season with Toronto.  Experienced managers realize his coming over to the NL could make a difference.  In fantasy baseball, granting a pick too much time for adjustments to another league’s pitching could prove costly.

    Note: Do not draft more than one catcher.

1. Participate in a Mock Draft

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    PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 17:  Pitcher Shaun Marcum #18 of the Milwaukee Brewers throws a pitch against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning of the spring training game at Maryvale Baseball Park on March 17, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Kevork
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Experienced players know the value of mock drafts.  A mock draft’s value comes from gaining practice for the real draft. 

    After going through mock drafts, the techniques and navigating the site becomes second-hand.

    Fantasy managers can re-learn the successful draft strategies from past seasons—hopefully championship winning seasons.

    That'll do it for this version of seasoned fantasy advice.  See you next time.