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Preparing For Your Fantasy Baseball Draft: Part VIII

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Published February 23, 2012
Randy Johnson

This is the final installment of our eight part series on draft preparation. If you'd like to view one of the earlier parts of the series, please click on the links below.

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

Rankings

All of your materials should now be prepared. You should be ready to begin the ranking process. Based on what we've covered already, a simple process of elimination can safely exclude a large number of potential players that you would normally consider draftable. Whether it's due to injury concern, positional eligibility, or estimated draft location, you can narrow down some of the top tier players in your rankings as well.

So it’s time to develop your rankings for draft day. I can give you a few more pointers that will help you shorten the process considerably.

Don't Just Develop One List Of Rankings

I develop quite a few lists to make things easier on draft day. My first list is what I stick with through the first five to ten rounds. This list will have well over 100 players on it and will focus more on overall rankings. Why? Early in the draft, I am trying to fill the best player available - regardless of what position he plays.

Subsequent lists cover each position on the field and the ranking breakdown of said position. If it's getting late in the draft and you realize that you don't have a second baseman, these lists will come in handy. They will quickly tell you the best player left on the board, their relative value, and some sense of whether or not you should take them in the upcoming round.

Using Tiers To Break Down Your List

As with all good ranking lists, the tiered approach is generally the best way to differentiate when you would like to take a player within a certain subset of draft positions. There are always going to be positions in your draft where you wait to fill the position, commonly referred to as the punted positions. As you undoubtedly figured out in Part VI of this series, Catcher is a great example of a position that I punt.

I know that I am not going to reach on a top level catcher so I spend no time at all ranking the catchers in the top two tiers of my ranking list. There are simply too many other players that I like at other positions to burn a high pick on one of those guys. This may also apply to a few other positions. You will figure out your own tendencies, so apply this rule as it pertains to your preferences. If you know that you traditionally wait on a position, you will better suit yourself by sorting through the third or fourth tier.

Practice Makes Perfect

As you are looking through as many mock drafts as your brain can stand, you will also get a sense of where a player is going. This can also help you determine your rankings. If you are struggling between ranking Pablo Sandoval or Brett Lawrie tenth on your 3B list, just look at some mocks to see where they are generally being drafted. You may see that Lawrie is going a little early this year, so you can simply file his ADP away and decide just how badly you want him on your team. If you want to reach for him, you will know where you have to do it. If you don’t, simply put a small line through him on your rankings and move on. As you sort through all the positions, you will quickly see that the mock drafts can easily determine your decisions in the earlier part of the draft.

In looking through the mock drafts, you can also save yourself some time in considering what tiers to put players in. Using the example above, you may rank Lawrie in your third tier of third basemen for the season. Based on his ADP so far this season, he would fall closer to the top tier of 3B. If that still holds true until your draft time, make sure you either mark him red on your tier list or throw him in the top tier so you can cross him off quickly. If you decide he is Ryan Braun incarnate - in other words, you want to draft him that high anyway - be prepared to take him pretty high and look to see where he falls in relation to your pick.

Is There Ever A Good Time To Grab A Player Coming Off Of An Injury?

In opposition to what you should consider with pitchers, batters who are coming off of injury and playing a non-demanding position should be highly considered for your later round picks. This is simple math, as those players will get drafted later while having the ability to produce what a top level pick should produce. Lance Berkman was a great example last year after struggling mightily in 2010 with the Astros and the Yankees. Take a look at some of the players who were ranked highly in 2010 but didn't live up to expectations. This will help you to come up with a quick list of value added vets who can still mash with the stick.

Rankings Pitchers

I break pitchers down into two categories to start - Starters and everyone else. In the many types of leagues that I have played in, there are always three categories that trump almost anything else you can project: Strikeouts, ERA, and WHIP. I don’t like to bother with Wins, Losses, Saves, or Holds as they are generally arbitrary stats. They come into play and are certainly valuable because they are categories, but use those solely to determine tie breakers.

  • If you cannot decide if Felix Henandez or Dan Haren is better, take the wins with the better ball club to break the tie.
  • Apply the same logic with closers.  If two guys are close on your list based on Strikeouts, ERA, and WHIP, but one of them figures to see more save opportunities, grab the saves.
  • If you are down in your RP ranking list, in some cases it may be better to take the closer on the bad team because he has significantly less competition for his job.

The point of ranking the players is to logically think about how to break a tie. You don't want to stand in the woods, eat a few berries and take the occasional dump only to walk out in the middle of the road to stand there paralyzed by oncoming car lights. When you are drafting, being able to break those ties in your head is a way to stay calm and composed. It also helps that you are not panicking when determining what you need to do for your next pick so you can break those ties before your countdown seems to be moving twice as fast as it should. If you get in the process of being able to logically rank the players before the draft, it becomes repetition during the actual draft.

Good Luck

Without putting my personal rankings on the page (I know Jim works hard putting together the FIC Rankings, which are a terrific tool to help you prepare for your draft as well), I think that we've covered just about everything I can help you with in terms of how to prepare for your draft. Everyone at FIC is always willing to help you out if you have questions, so feel free to leave a question in the comment box or post your question(s) in the forum. Most importantly, whether you're in a money league or a league where everyone's just playing for bragging rights, remember this one simple rule:

Have Fun!

Thomas Hess

About , West Coast Correspondent

Seattle, WA

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