Let’s admit it. We were all baseball fans before we played fantasy and would be even had our variation of the game never been invented. Deep-seated fandom is something that remains with us year after year and decade after decade, while by definition, re-draft fantasy rosters are transitory.
We all live in a city or area around which there is a home team. Through our daily newspaper, conversations at work and at the dinner table, we know more about the local nine than any other club. It is only natural.
Using that knowledge when drafting and trading is a fair (versus unfair) advantage – one we should deploy whenever possible.
Chances are your league-mates already know which team you follow most closely. But if your past actions have led them to believe you will show favoritism toward that club’s players in the context of your fantasy play, it is time to shake yourself up.
If you are in it to win, your goal should be to secure the very best group of players, regardless of uniform. If you are a Red Sox fan, that could mean rostering Yankees, for example. I know some who just can’t bring themselves to even consider such a thing, but in bowing to such prejudices, they are only hurting themselves.
In an auction draft, whenever I bring up players from the team I follow most closely, the St. Louis Cardinals, I look around the table as some number of my competitors react. They actually think I am always after these players. Often, I am just burning money. Unless you are at a crucial stage of the draft, let others throw out the players you want.
Then again, being predictable is not good, either. Among Touts, I have a reputation as a spread the risk style of drafter. Yet very early in the 2011 NL Tout draft, I selected Albert Pujols at $42. Not only was he from “my team,” he tied (with Hanley Ramirez) for the most expensive player taken all day.
This is a more typical scenario for me. A couple of years ago, I drafted a young pitcher, Jaime Garcia, from my favored team. After trying for weeks to move pitching for hitting in a league in which that is often very difficult, Garcia turned out to be a difference-maker in a championship season.
My prospective trade partner and I were about to call off negotiations, when out of the blue, he threw out Garcia as a deal-sweetener. He may have assumed I wasn’t going to trade a Cardinal. If so, he was wrong. I didn’t wait 30 seconds before accepting his offer just as presented and went on to win the league.
If some of your league-mates are biased and want players on their favorite team, keep that knowledge in mind, not just on draft day and at trade time. During FAAB bidding, be prepared to bid an extra couple of dollars if you anticipate coming up against a team-favored bidder on an emerging player.
This home-team advantage isn’t always. Sometimes, I actually find this familiarity to be a detriment.
Just as I know the players’ strengths, I know their weaknesses, their vulnerabilities and I find that I can over-emphasize the warts now and then. Other times, I find myself taking a local player a year ahead of his breakout, only to see another owner reap the benefit in a redraft league the next season.
All things considered, you should not hesitate to grab home-team players – when it makes sense. You should also be just as willing to deal with the less-pleasant side of trading them (or releasing them if they stumble) just as with any other player.
I know. It is easier to say than do, but your results will be better and it won’t make you any less of a fan. Honest!
Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 14-year history. Though he is the only one to remember or care, he also finished second in each of the two subsequent seasons. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com and in-season at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.