Preparing For Your Fantasy Baseball Draft: Part III
Over the course of the next week, we’ll be running a series to help you prepare for your upcoming fantasy baseball draft. This particular series will be more focused on the methods behind your draft preparation than specific players, but we’ll use a few examples as well.
Part I: Overview
Part II: Knowing Your Enemies
Part III: Draft Prep - Part I
Part IV: Draft Prep - Part II
Part V: Keepers, Trades, and Prospects
Part VI: Positional Nuances - Hitting
Part VII: Positonal Nuances - Pitching
So you have followed the course work and you are ready to prepare for your draft. You have all of your categories, you know your league, and you are talking trash with other managers. In other words, you are ready. Around the second week of January you will start to see many magazine publications that get their magazines to the newsstands around the nation. This is a personal must for me and feeds my OCD for the next month or so. It’s a good measuring stick for “flavors of the year” and generally sets the trends in terms of the players who will jump up the draft ladder. You will also see many sites that start to roll out projections or rankings in which players finished cumulatively the previous season.
Bear in mind that the magazines are limited in that the offseason is generally not over by the time these are published. Some publish later than others, but almost none of them will have Prince Fielder on the Tigers by the time they go to print. As a result, they are absolutely horrible if you're using them as your sole source to prepare. Trades, rookies, and injuries really affect the way their mock would look had they done it in early March vs. early December.
By the middle of February, almost all of the projection based systems are available for public consumption. Some are free. Some are not. Most are good sources to use, including the ones you don't necessarily agree with. Why? Someone in your league probably does agree with them, which gives you some insight into your competitors' minds.
Some of these projections include, but are not limited to: ZIPS, PECOTA, MARCEL, Bill James, CHONE, and THE FANS. As stated in my introduction to this series of informational pieces, I will not argue the virtues of said software or in how the numbers are derived. I was not a math major, so any argument with me on the virtues of one vs. the other will be a quick one. I will agree with you long enough for you to shut up. However, I do use one of these systems and I will continue to do so until I feel it’s steered me in the wrong direction.
Be careful with projection systems. They need to establish a baseline in order to project what players will produce. As a result you are going to see a ton of stats that appear to be flat. Their numbers will not necessarily look like the numbers we'll be seeing at the end of the season. Also, algorithms that are used to project the stats that tailor to your league need a second look. Make sure you pay close attention to the weight certain categories hold because if a number is off in their calculations, you will pay for it in your draft. A good example is if you are using a category that cannot be measured solely based on the ability of a player. For pitchers, if you are dealing with more than 4-5 categories, Win and Losses would be best kept out of your calculations for your league.
If projection systems interest you and you have yet to use them, simply perform a quick web search. That will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about how they were created and where to find them. Some are free and others are only available via a paid subscription.
Reducing The Player Pool
By this time you should have more than enough sources to check out. There are all kinds of sites that rank players and project them, so now it is time to start thinning the herd. If you determined your categories based on my previous recommendation, you can already eliminate certain positions. If your league doesn't use holds, very few middle relievers are going to be useful assets. Maybe you do not have a ton of roster space and know you won't need to carry a lot of Staring Pitchers. After you determine your target areas, the best thing to do is start marking off players who you want no part of. You can eliminate a player for any variety of reasons. He could be a guy who has burnt you in the past. He could be someone who has moved to a lineup without protection. He could be.... Well... Let's just devote a whole section to this next group.
Injuries are by far the biggest team killers that exist. There are simply so many players that are available on draft day that risk aversion is usually the best course of action. Here are a few examples of guys you should avoid:
- If there is a player who has continually been dinged up during the season throughout his career, look out for him. Chipper Jones and J.D. Drew clued me in on that little tidbit. If that trend seems to be repeating during Spring Training I would advise that you just save yourself the Tums and put him on your Do Not Draft list.
- If a pitcher has discomfort in his elbow or shoulder, don't draft him. That’s like having a data entry job with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
- If a hitter has wrist issues or they are coming back from wrist issues, don't draft him. That is like being a jackhammer operator with a chronic migraine issue.
- When looking for Stolen Bases, if a player has Quadriceps, Hamstring, Calf, Knee, Ankle, or anything else attached to the leg that is hurt, don't draft him. That is like trying to fly a plane without a wing.
Please bear in mind that I am not a doctor or physical trainer and that teams often lie, exaggerate, or distort the truth. As with the disclaimer in my introduction to this series, not everything I say should be taken as gospel. There are always exceptions to the rules. While this section is short in length, it’s huge in stature. Aligning your rankings with injury information can be time consuming but if you do it on a consistent basis, you will be fine. It can also be nice if you are trying to determine a tie when deciding on a player to draft.
Take Advantage of the Many Resources Available
When it is all said and done, there is no simple answer as to which resources you should use. Read everything you possibly can. Knowledge is power. Find players you like that fit with your strategy and league settings. From there, staying current with injury news is probably the next best thing to stay on top of. Generally in reading about the injuries you will find out who would replace the player that is injured, which can be really helpful in figuring out which players may see a boost to their value.
We'll stop here for today, but we'll be back tomorrow with some other tools that can help get you ready to dominate your Fantasy Baseball draft.