Monthly Archives: March 2014

There’s No Secrets in Fantasy Baseball

Harry_Caray_1988Assume most members in your auction league are as adept or better than you at drafting.

And since there is an obscene amount of fantasy baseball news and analysis out there online, in print, on radio, and on TV, how in the Harry Caray do you draft a championship-caliber team on Draft Day with a measly 260 bucks?

Also assume your opponents have access to the same info as you do. Worse yet, the enemies may devote more time preparing for the draft.

Plus it’s a safe bet that a chunk of the time you plan for draft prep will not always come to fruition, thanks to life. It always seems to get in the way. Inevitably, the wife/girlfriend/parent/sibling/boss make unexpected demands on some of that precious time you had set aside. Before leaving the nine-to-five grind behind, I would either call in sick or spend a vacation day on the day before our draft. Most of the time, the buffer day helped my Draft Day performance. At least it felt that way, and it certainly made my stress level a lot more manageable.

Nothing worse than showing up on Draft Day without feeling battle ready.

Back to the $260 question:  How do you draft a serious contender?

Carlos_Santana_ 2010Best answer: be disciplined, do your homework, and know your opponents strengths and weaknesses.  Simple advice, right? Tough to follow? You bet. Especially in auction leagues.

Take the case of Moe, a guy you have competed against for over a decade and have hoisted a few with many times. But just when you have Moe’s draft bidding tendencies figured out, he zigs instead of zags.

And then there’s Larry, the homey. He openly roots for his hometown Cleveland Indians. So you keep bidding up Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana, Trevor Bauer, Justin Masterson, etc., figuring good old Larry will pay way over value.

Not necessarily. Larry knows that you know he’s a diehard Tribe fan, so he bids you up, and then throws you a Clayton Kershaw-type curve, leaving a gaping dent in your Draft Day payroll.

Feel like quite the stooge?  But at least you landed Kipnis and Santana. So what if they cost you $40 apiece.

Every February, I vow this year’s draft will play out differently, yet most years, my behavior is similar.  Rarely to my liking. Bad habits die hard. So does that nauseating post-draft feeling. That’s when I come away exhausted and second-guessing myself.  But then again, we are own worst critics.

Thus far, there’s been one draft prep change for me this season.  I started my research on February 28, a month later than usual. If it helps, I’m a freakin’ genius. If not, I’ll probably go back to hitting the fantasy books much sooner, likely resulting in over thinking my research.

When I begin studying players as early as late January, I end up targeting guys included in my earliest wish lists. Then the mind games ensue.

Let me clarify. My mental health is just fine, but my ego-driven opinions of baseball players are hard to shake. In other words, this year I need to be more objective. Trust your instincts, except for the impulsive ones.

An extremely important part of fantasy is facing reality. Just because you covet a player’s performance at the plate or on the mound, make sure he helps improve scoring category balance for your team and comes at either fair market value or lower.  Easier said than done.

At the same time, of course, the harshest reality is in your face for the entire draft. We’re talking salary cap. As in most auction leagues, our Blue Moon Mesa has  the $260 cap to fill a 23-player roster.

In my opinion, the cap limits your purchasing power to a pair of elite players and perhaps two near-elite guys. Which is why we all spend an inordinate amount of time (relative term) mining for breakouts, bounce-backers, and sleepers (BB&Sers)

Another harsh reality: The tsunami of fantasy expertise available makes it extremely difficult to discover a BB&Ser that hasn’t been reported by the experts. Same holds true for top prospects. But then you know all this, as long as you are paying attention.Clayton_Kershaw

Expert Rankings/Commentary/Strategy.  Leading up to the draft, I check out three websites on a regular basis, but subscribe to only two. Sites I visit the most include CBS Sports (manages our league), ESPN, BaseballHQ, and RotoWorld. On occasion, I scan MLB.com and Yahoo! and assorted fantasy blogs. Baseball Prospectus doesn’t get much of my attention. I find the annually published BP epic overwhelming, particularly since it’s primarily designed to assist people in the real business of baseball.

Unfortunately, the websites and publications all “sound alike,” despite the great pains taken to sound unique. But if you keep a multiple of services within your sphere of influence, one or two will likely resonate. Maybe it’s the visual presentation or the content. For me, it’s a combination of the two, with content reigning supreme.

If I can navigate a website or publication with relative ease, and a majority of the site’s content is helpful, then I tend to rely on those sites more and more. I don’t care for sites that assault the senses.

PODCASTS:  I find the banter by the so-called experts tedious, especially when they trying to Yuk it up like ESPN and MLB Network commentators.

Don’t really watch the PODs, but I do listen. Typically run them while taking care of mundane tasks, like fixing a meal, driving, or contemplating my navel.

Last bit of advice: Keep draft prep and Draft Day in perspective. For an insightful read on this subject, check out Steve Gardner’s piece in the March USA Today Fantasy Baseball Special Edition. Of course, what Gardner has to share is no secret.

Neither is this:  The experts admit their player projections are wrong 60 – 70 percent of the time. What’s your batting average?