Avoid Alcohol at the draft and other
distractions (Final-4 etc)
auction or draft seems to have at least one guy that shows up with a 12-pack of Bud Lite. Hopefully, you are not this guy. The casinos in Las Vegas give out free booze for a
real good reason; it impairs the judgment of those that consume it. I would advise the
host of any draft to provide it as well. Theres
nothing like waking up the morning after the draft and finding a $30 Al Martin on your
roster (to say nothing of the numerous young ladies who have woken up as Mrs. Al Martin!).
impairs ones state of mind. That can be
scientifically proven. The less clearly you
are capable of thinking, the less likely you are to walk away from a draft or auction a
winner. The underlying theme to this advice
is value; if you are impaired or distracted at your draft, you likely will not be
positioned to take advantage of situations where this value may present
great ploy for the host of the draft is to put something REALLY interesting on TV. My annual draft takes place during Sweet 16
weekend. Theres nothing like trying to
follow your bracket and find a good 5th outfielder at the same time. Take it upon yourself to distract your
competition. Do whatever it takes; hold the
draft during a major sporting event or if your group would not be offended, show the
Playboy channel or some copies of Baywatch for the afternoon. Nothing is quiet as distracting as Pamela
Anderson, with or without Tommy Lee.
the draft is meant to be fun. But its a
whole lot more fun in October cashing a check than it is writing one. Buy that 12 of Bud Lite in October, not in March
or April. Use distractions to your advantage, focus on your task at hand (the draft) and
do your best to distract others. This is a
time-proven method that will certainly give you at least a little extra edge on the
The Closer Turnover Rule
When I first posted this piece a year ago
I included the following opening:
How many of you out there paid $35 or more
last season for BILLY WAGNER or UGUETH URBINA?
#s for the year: 2W 6SV 6.18 ERA
were not much better: 0W 8SV
Who out there paid more then $1 for
OCTAVIO DOTEL 16 Svs, or LA TROY HAWKINS 14 Svs?
I venture to say that a majority of the
owners of Hawkins and Dotel tended to cash a check at the end of the season and the owners
of Urbina and Wagner were writing one.
The same can apply this year to the likes
of Todd Jones (from 42 Svs in 2000 to 13 in 2001), or Jeff Zimmerman (from 4
Svs in 2000 to 28 in 2001.)
1997 Mark Leiter 0
1998 Mark Leiter 23 Svs
1989 Mark Davis 44
1990 Mark Davis 6 Svs
It happens every season, and not just to
one or two players or teams. The
closer turnover ratio in Major League Baseball is astounding. No job is more volatile, and there is NEVER such a
thing as a GUARANTEE.
In fact some people use a strategy of
punting saves, especially in an auction style league.
Just ask our resident expert and two-time champion of the expert league LABR
Michael Brown. He has left each of his LABR
auctions without a closer; he chose instead to spend his money on offense. The net result: back-to-back championships of the
most prestigious fantasy baseball league on the planet and a strong finish last season.
am not fully advocating punting Svs. And
in many leagues, closers are actually undervalued. What
I am advocating is not betting the ranch on winning saves by spending heavily on closer
LOCKS. If history has taught us anything it
has clearly taught us that there is no such thing as a closer LOCK.
The 35 Dollar Rule
There is a nearly unbreakable rule that
many successful fantasy teams play by: in a 12 or 13-team AL or NL league, NEVER pay more
than $35 for a single player. Some people
argue that there may be a Pedro exception to this rule.
However, we should take a look at the rationale behind it before we consider
The rule is based on statistics, but it is
easy to find a parallel to the real world. Assume
for a minute that you have $4.00 in your pocket and you are off to Burger King for lunch. Lets also assume that you are like me and
anything short of a large Coke simply will not satisfy your thirst. Furthermore, lets also assume that you are
hooked on those nasty fries they serve. And lets assume at this particular BK there
are no value meals. So for your $4.00 you
could buy a regular Whopper, your large Coke that is a must, and a large fry. But if you decide that you are willing to pay more
and you buy a Double Whopper, you will only have enough money left for a small fry and a
12 ounce Coke, that may consist of ice only after a sip or two. Obviously your choice to pay more for one item
than you can afford has had a major impact on the other items you can afford.
Its the same way in a deep fantasy
league draft. There are a finite number of
players that can actually benefit your team, and as you are likely aware, some players
actually can hurt your team. If you overpay
for one player at some point you must sacrifice total quality. Nothing will sink a team faster in a deep league
than having $10 left to acquire your last 10 players.
Your team will be filled with guys that hit .240 and pitchers with
ERAs over 5.00.
The statistics behind this mess are based
on standard deviation theories. That is
why some experts may advocate paying more than $35 for a player like Pedro. Most of us dont have time to do in-depth
statistical analysis and come up with our own values based on standard deviations. Actually, most projections and quality $
projections like the ones on drafthelp.com utilize these techniques in their calculations. My advice is not to break the rule. Even if Pedro
has a real value of $45, I would drop from the bidding at $35. It is likely that hell end up going for more
than $45 anyway, and you can rest assured that the team with Pedro will have more than his
far share of scrubs on his squad.
projections and conserving your budget are two ways to assure you field a competitive
squad. Paying the proper amount for a player
is the key to building a team with value. By
following the $35 rule, you can help assure you will have the money you need to buy those
players that you feel are under or accurately priced.
Adjustment of Bid Based on the Number of
Teams and Positions
Most projected dollar values are based on
the assumption that your league uses a standard 12-team AL or 13-team NL format. However, this is often not the case. There are a number of 12 team leagues that use
both the AL and NL and often an AL or NL only league may not have 12 or 13 teams. Most draft lists are based on the same assumption.
The number of teams in your league should
have a significant impact on your strategy. Especially
when it comes to 1Bs, OFs and closers. In a
12-team AL-only league, there are 14 closers for 12 teams, but in a 12-team mixed league
there are 30 closers available. The same goes
for quality Ofs; the number of quality OFs goes from about 25 to 60, and 1Bs from around
10 to 22.
The impact on the other positions is far
less severe. At SS, you go from 4-5 to maybe
9-10. And at catcher you go from 2-3 to 5-6. The same holds for 2Bs, 3Bs and SPs. So what does this observation tell you: in a league that has less than the standard number
of teams, focus on the positions that have very little depth.
In a draft league, this means drafting
Jeter before Bonds, because when it gets to the 20th round you can still grab
an Adam Dunn at OF (well, at least you could last year!), while the guy that blew his
first pick on Bonds will be stuck with the likes of Ozzie Guillen at SS. By adding the combined stats of the two players
you can obviously see that you are better off. The
same holds true for closers. Let someone else
draft Trevor Hoffman in the second round, youll still be able to grab LaTroy Hawkins
or Mike Anderson somewhere around Round 16, and youll still be competitive in saves.
As far as auctions go, heres where
you can almost throw the $35 rule out the window. Spend
and spend big for the positions with little depth. If
you can lock up Piazza, Pedro, A-rod, and Robbie Alomar, you will still be able to fill
your roster with starting OFs for $1. If
there are 12 teams in your league and every team gets 5 OFs and there are 60 guys worth
getting, then you are almost guaranteed being able to grab a guy with value at the end of
the draft for $1. But think for a second what
the 23rd and 24th best catchers in baseball can do for your fantasy
team. Besides hitting .240 and costing you 6
places in batting average, very little else.
Playing in a league of standard size is great, but some of us decide not to for a
number of various reasons. For those of us
that appreciate standard we see anything less as being a combination of
All-Star teams. So if you plan to
play in this All-Star style league, be sure to adjust your strategy, and make
it a priority to fill your roster with the superstar players that come from positions that
have little depth.
up the guy you dont really want,
keep quiet about those you REALLY do
This one has been working for me for
years. Say you REALLY think that Jeter is
ready for that 40-40-.350 season and you simply MUST have him. What do you do when hes on the board?
My advice: as Elmer Fudd would say
be quiet, be berry berry quiet. Just
sit back calmly, let the bidding rapidly escalate to the mid-20s and jump in when there is
a moment of silence. DO NOT, and I repeat, DO
NOT throw him out there yourself. Anytime you
have a player on your list that you REALLY must have, let someone else toss him. The only exception to this is near the end
of the draft; if you have budgeted wisely, then you can toss a player that only you can
Also dont be the guy that says $30
when the bidding is still at $10. Let
someone else drive up the price. You need to
sit quietly until the time is right for your bid.
Now if you MUST have Jeter that likely
means you think A-rod will pull a Griffey and hit about .250 this year. Heres what I suggest you do. THROW HIM EARLY.
Also when you toss him out there say: .318 52-135-18, and that
was a BAD year for him. Quote the
stats; talk him up big time. Say, This
is by far the top player in the game! Also,
start the bidding at $25 or so. You KNOW you
wont get stuck with him that cheaply, and if you do, then thats one great
deal. I would also suggest sticking around
in the bidding to his fair market price. Be
the guy that drives him right to the fringe, and if you end up with him at least you will
have him for less than hes worth.
of the other owners in your league may eventually figure out your ploys. If this happens, then mix it up little. Keep them guessing.
The key, of course, is to get the guys you want as inexpensively as
possible, and make the other teams pay as much as possible for the guys youre really
not interested in.
Last seasons total HR and SB totals
were as follows:
AL HRs: 2506
NL HRs: 2952
MLB HRs: 5458
AL SBs: 1647
NL SBs: 1456
MLB SBs: 3103
This means that in the AL there was a SB
for every 1.52 HRs and in the NL this ratio was one SB for every 2.03 HRs. The total for MLB was a 1.76:1 ration.
The above was not a single-season
phenomenon. In fact, a review of historical
statistics would result in very similar data over the last 15 years. One obvious
conclusion can be drawn from the above: a SB is more rare than a HR in todays game.
As any rotisserie league participant
knows, in most leagues HRs and SBs are categories of equal weight, i.e., in a 12-team
league the leader in SBs gets the same 12 points for leading the category as the leader in
Since we can prove that a SB is a less
common occurrence than a HR, we can also infer that a SB is more valuable. For example last season Alfonso Soriano had 43
steals this represented 43/1647 or 2.61% of all the steals in the AL. Jim Thome hit 49
jacks, 49/2506 or 1.96% of the total homeruns that were hit in the AL. Thome had more HRs
than Soriano had SBs, however, Soriano had a higher percentage of the leagues total
Im not advocating that you should automatically take Soriano over Thome in your
league this season. What I do state is that
players that hit 15-20 home runs are a dime a dozen and cannot really help your team. However, players that can grab a handful of steals
can move your team up a number of spots in the standings.
just read the above piece you may be thinking to yourself
I can spend $30 each on Ichiro and Soriano this year and easily win my
league. Or if your league uses a draft
format, I can use my first two picks on these guys and win.
There is a
reason that players like Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, A-rod, Carlos Delgado and Juan Gonzalez
go for big money in every auction or are the top picks in every draft league each season. There is a premium on superstar power hitters in
Not only do
they help out in the power stats (HRs and RBIs), in 5-category leagues they generally
produce a high number of Rs, and most of the leagues top power hitters
consistently approach at least a .300 average.
The reason you
cannot simply focus on the pitching categories and SBs in a fantasy league and win is
two-fold. (1) There is a very short list of
guaranteed pitchers. Even Pedro has an
extended stay on the DL each season, and owners of Roger Clemens can tell you all about
his 4.60 ERA in 1999. Plus, weve already discussed the volatility of closers. (2) If
you dont have any superstar power hitters on your roster, you will finish dead last
in HRs and close to the bottom in RBIs. You cannot put together a group of players that
hit 20-25 HRs and plan to compete in the power stats. Let me explain why:
that aside from the weakest middle infielders and defensive catchers, virtually every
player in baseball is good for 10-15 HRs over the course of a season. Assume that in a league Team A grabs Arod,
Delgado, Juan Gonzalez, and Jason Giambi. Team A also gets 10 other players that hit only
10 HRs each. Lets say that the
group of 4 averages 45 HRs each, so Team A would end up with (45*4) + (10*10) or 290 total
HRs. Team B tries to obtain a balanced team
and gets 8 players that hit 20-25 HRs and 6 that hit 10.
Even if all 8 of Team Bs marginal players have breakout seasons and hit 25
homeruns each, the best Team B can likely hope for is 260 HRs, which is much less than
The fact that
you can find a guy to give your team 10-15 HRs in the free agent pool or at the end of the
draft means that if you ignore the top hitters, you will NEVER be able to close the gap in
the power categories.
my research, I have found that most league champions have a couple of superstar power
hitters, thus placing them in the middle of the pack in HRs. They also have a number of players that chip in
10-15 SBs (which, as we know, is far more rare than a player that throws in 10-15 HRs.) They more often than not have a few closers are
considered second-tier, and they avoid players that can destroy a category (such as Troy
Glaus and his .250 average, a topic for another day.)
What should be
obvious to you by now is winning a league takes a lot.
Luck always comes into play, but craftiness and the recognition of value go
a long way in generating what others may deem as luck.
The media can
be your greatest ally when it comes to assisting others in overpaying for players at your
auction. Fantasy leagues are won on
statistics, not pure baseball ability. The
likelihood that Jim Edmonds will win another Gold Glove this year and hit over .300 does
not cancel the fact that 30 HRs is likely out of reach.
However, someone in your league will likely overpay for him because the
media loves the guy.
to your benefit and recoginizing that the statistics are what determines the outcome of a
league is what will make you a winner. Find
stories about players you are not interested in just before your draft and hand out copies
to the other teams in your league. E-mail
works great for this as well. Find some tout
that is saying Adam Dunn is a LOCK for 40 HRs since he hit 19 in 66 games last
season and CC your entire league on the e-mail (I like Adam Dunn, but he wont be
hitting 40 jacks this year). At the same
time, hoard the info about YOUR guys. If you
read a late breaking story that Mike Fetters has locked down the Pirates closing job on
the morning of the draft, be sure to find the most recent article about Williams having
the job and share it with the world.
isnt dishonest, its simply utilizing information to your advantage. After all
if the other guys in your league deserve to beat you, they should be employing the same
strategies listed in this article.
How to better balance your Fantasy
League life with you REAL Life
is time of year when most roto-head, roto-geeks, fantasy leaguers, or whatever we may call
ourselves begin to feel the pressure of balancing our passion with our real lives. For some of us, balancing our time may not be an
issue since we may still be single, or still be in school, or have a job where we can surf
the Internet all day. However, a vast
majority of us have numerous commitments outside of our fantasy or rotisserie teams.
I got married and had children I would spend 6-8 hours every day pouring over stats,
watching games and tracking my teams. I know a number of people still do this, and there
is nothing wrong with that. I could name
every 40-man roster off the top of my head and recite statistics for almost every player. However, as time went by and my external
commitments increased, I saw myself having less and less time available for what had
become an obsession for me.
know that there are others like me out there searching for ways to still pay adequate
attention to their team(s) but not lose their job or marriage in the meantime. For those people, I offer the following advice. There are a number of things such as being in
fewer leagues, learning how to drive a car and read the paper at the same time, or
chancing your job by doing research on company time that can add more available time to
you day. However, these solutions may not
have positive outcomes for obvious reasons.
people looking to still manage their team(s) and the rest of their lives efficiently and
effectively I recommend the following two pieces of advice: (1) you should rely more on
comprehensive information from specific sources (like this website) and (2) you should
utilize technology to track your team(s).
are a number of great websites that do your research for you. If you have 200 hours to prepare for your draft
and you have 40 hours a week to dedicate to your team, maybe these sites are not for you. However, for the rest of us sites like
drafthelp.com can be a Godsend. There are
numerous other resources (just check our rated links section) besides ours that provide
very useful information. These sites can tell
you who may be hurt, what player is going to get playing time, and essentially any other
information that may help your team.
your team with technology is also a key way to better manage your time. I track all of my players on an excel spreadsheet. All I have to do is download the statistics from
USAToday each morning and I have all of the information I need. Most leagues have also gone to a web-based system
of management (if yours hasnt, then you should consider it.) The days of buying the morning paper and jotting
down the stats are long gone.
you want to discuss other specific ideas, please e-mail me at email@example.com or submit a question to
our Q&A section. Dont forget to
look for value in your draft this season. But try not to forget that no matter how much we
may all love and live for this game, in the end its still ONLY a fantasy league.