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Thinking about the draft

Philosophizing about fantasy baseball follows.

Preparing for a fantasy draft should be an act of cold rationality and heartless analysis. One's feelings for the players represented by the statistics should matter not one bit when you make out your position charts that determine which players you're going to draft when. That's the ideal, of course, but if you're going to slip on your Vulcan meta-mask and behave like an AI rorbo-picking its way through the thirty MLB rosters to find the best combination of players, why are you playing fantasy baseball at all?

No, emotion has its place at the draft. Ceteris paribus, I prefer Red Sox and Phillies to Royals and Reds; Yankees and Dodgers, on the other hand, are right out, as are the Cardinals. Yankees I dislike for a number of reasons, mainly rooted in my Washingtonian origins, while the Dodgers have always struck me as the Dallas Cowboys of the National League: overrated (especially when Tommy Lasorda was their manager), overhyped, and like the Yankees, benefiting far too much from the pastel memories of sportswriters stuck in the so-called "Golden Age" of the 1940s and 50s, which wasn't so golden if you lived somewhere besides New York and St. Louis. The Cardinals I avoid for the same reason I used to avoid the Oakland A's: Tony LaRussa, the Tommy Lasorda of my generation. It's an old truism that a manager is only as good as his players allow him to be, and having observed my share of A's games after the Bash Brothers left town, I'm pretty convinced that despite his law degree, LaRussa is no frickin' genius.

So three teams' players are off limits to me, which helps narrow down the number of players I have to sort through. I try to avoid "specialty" players, guys who do one thing well (hit homers, steal bases, hit for average) but don't do anything else; I'd rather get a player who hits some home runs and has a little bit of speed. Say, an outfielder who can steal ~20 bases and hit 20-30 homers. Those are a lot easier to find than sluggers who bash 40 or more homers; those guys usually go pretty early, and it's a rare owner who'll get more than one of those, unless it's at the cost of getting an ace pitcher.

Pitchers are always problematic. I'll bid farewell to El Duro since he's followed the almighty dollar to Noo Jork and donned the hated pinstripes, and I probably won't be able to keep Johan Santana in the draft either. What I usually do is look for pitchers who rack up a fair number of innings while keeping the runners off base. This usually also turns up pitchers with decent ERA, if the defense in back of them is competent. Finding a couple of good closers is a necessity, since traditional Rotisserie scoring places such an emphasis on saves and only a handful of relievers get them.

So, once Anime Detour is over, I'll be poring over the three-year average stats, making my lists, and checking them several times between now and draft day. I did pretty well last year and intend to finish "in the money" again this year.

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