Hello boys and girls, it’s that time of year again. I can’t promise there will be football, but what I can promise is another great year of baseball whether you’re ready or not. I’ll be discussing basic draft strategy which can mostly be applied to all scoring formats. Now before I go into that, I want to stress there is no one right or wrong way to draft. It’s all player value perspective. If you want to reach to grab someone a little early knowing he won’t be there when you pick again that’s fine. Also, I want to get into some other variables that happen when drafting. Some owners are much more willing to take risks than others, such as taking the new hot shot rookie and catch lightning in a bottle a la Jason Heyward, but rookies being impact players are rare, and not the norm, so be careful when taking young players. Some like to go hitting heavy and some like to go pitching heavy. Whatever way you do draft, just make sure you study the scoring system, because that makes a difference in how to value players.
One of my favorite ways to draft is to break every position down into tiers, including starters and relief pitchers. And by tiers I mean players in tier 1 are comparable to one another, players in tier 2 are comparable to one another and so forth. I usually tier my players into 4 groups. Tier 1 would be elite, tier 2 near elite, tier 3 next best thing, and tier 4 as average players, aging players and players with a lack of major league experience.
As an example of how I tier players, I will tier up 1B.
Tier 1: King Albert. Only one man, though players are starting to get close, which bring me to
Tier1B: I Miggy Cabrera, Joey Votto. I hate doing 1B, but they are a smidge better than the Tier 2 guys, but not quite on King Albert’s level.
Tier 2: Adrian Gonzalez, Mark Teixeira, Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, Kevin Youkilis.
Tier 3: Justin Morneau(injury concerns drop him to the top of tier 3), Adam Dunn, Victor Martinez(also C), Buster Posey(also C), Paul Konerko, Billy Butler, Aubrey Huff, Kendry Morales, Carlos Lee, Derek Lee
Tier 4: Carlos Pena, Adam Laroche, Gaby Sanchez, James Loney, Mike Napoli, Freddie Freeman, Lance Berkman , Mitch Moreland, Ike Davis, Garret Jones.
First base is pretty deep as usual, but it does drop off quickly. Second base is a little deeper this year than years past with Weeks, Prado and Kelly Johnson coming into the picture. Third base seems to be fairly thin after the first 10, so try and grab one of them before it gets shady. Shortstop is the thinnest position out there, after Hanley and Tulo; everyone has big question marks and scares the hell out of me. Outfield always looks deep, until you realize you have to start 3 or more of them, so you must keep that in mind. And this year seems to be a very deep year for starting pitching. I tend to wait on starters and load up on batters, but that doesn’t mean if you see an ace you pass up on him.
Pitching is important, but is sometimes unreliable. They get hurt frequently, and new pitchers are always on the rise. And if I do find a late round ace, then I can brag about it. (Like I did when I drafted Mat Latos last year) Relief pitching is a nightmare, unless your name is Brian Wilson, Mariano and Heath Bell. Even former elite guys like Broxton, Paplebon and Nathan are worrisome. Many closers lose their jobs every year and saves are on the waiver wire if you just keep up with current events, so I advise not to pay too much for closers.
Keep an eye out for each position so you are able to draft someone in the highest tier possible. Breaking players into tiers helps when you are on the clock. Tier up the players you want in your way. These are just my ranking, and they may be different from what yours might be. It’s all about draft prep. Be prepared. Read Read Read!!! Read everyone and everything possible. Knowledge is power in fantasy baseball. And try and have printouts of depth charts for batters, starters and relief pitchers, so you don’t have to fumble around on your small phone to see who the 5th starter on the Twins is. And don’t be afraid to do a mock draft or 2, it helps to get a gauge on where some players are going and in what rounds you may have to take your sleeper.
Good luck and have fun.