Such a busy time. Drafts all over the place, in fact last week I had a couple, this week I spent working the NFBC Double Play and a classic draft Saturday morning. In a couple of days it is off the The Big Apple for Tout, and then my chance at the NFBC Classic event.
I am guessing most of you are in the same boat, and, well, it has kind of been a Hotpage tradition to remind everyone, including me, some of the things to help make drafting successful. So, let's have at it.
- Exploit scarcity. This is always a good path irrespective of format, although clearly in a 12-team mixed draft league the scarcity will be scarcer than in the same format with 15 teams. But, I have done a lot of mocks this winter and I have watched even more, and the teams I see that had the best balance in that straight classic NFBC format were teams that addressed the middle infield, and third base first, then worried about the outfield and the corners, with some pitching sprinkled here and there. In other words, even if you don't have pick #1, if you have a chance at Troy Tulowitzki or Chase Utley, I would be inclined to take Tulowitzki. Why? Because coming back there will still be one of a handful of very good second sackers, even if Ian Kinsler is gone. But, the real impact shortstops--and Jose Reyes is iffy, and Jimmy Rollins lacks the pop of Tulo, and well, Hanley Ramirez will be picked before any of them--get thin really fast. Adam Laroche or even Kendry Morales will be there a few rounds later, so let someone else take Ryan Howard and focus on production where it gets thin. And, as long as we are on the subject, catching similarly gets weak really fast.
- There is a lot of pop out there in the outfield. This is a sort of a corollary to the first point. There are a lot of Josh Willingham/Jack Cust-types out there, so you should indeed be able to fill your outfield with pretty good established players and still focus initially on the leaner spots noted above. An outfield of Cody Ross, Juan Rivera, Nick Swisher, Cust and Willingham might not seem too sexy, but couple them with LaRoche, Tulo, and Brandon Phillips and suddenly you have a good everyday core that will drive in and score runs. Grab Rajai Davis and your speed is covered to boot, and all you need to worry about is pitching.
- Speaking of pitching. In one mock I did I pretty much followed the above strategy for five rounds, and then grabbed five pitchers in a row--four starters and a closer--and those names were Matt Garza, James Shields, Mark Buehrle, and Brett Anderson, and snatched up Jonathan Sanchez later. OK, not dominant, but, not bad, and a nice and steady little history of injury risk. And, I pretty much got the flychasers noted above, save I managed to get Jason Kubel instead of Cust.
- Use the wheel spots to your advantage. If you draft near the front or back of a snake draft, double up picks and try to invoke some second guessing into the minds of your opponents. Clearly if a great player comes up at the right time, snatch em up. But, if you can cause grief and fill your closer spots by taking two good stoppers, don't hesitate.
- Use patience. Baseball is a game of patience, and so is fantasy baseball. Don't panic if players you target get selected before you project. Just always have contingencies, because there are a lot of players, and a lot more will be coming up this year. Not that you can bank on winning via the free agent pool, but set yourself up to control as much as you can of the end game. And, use the clock, if there is one, to your advantage.
- Go your own way. If you have a sense or notion of what will win, follow it, and don't worry about it failing. Even in our misses there are seeds of success. Remember, Copernicus was nearly burned at the stake for suggesting the earth rotated around the sun and well, last time I checked, he was right.
- Have fun. The single most important thing. It is hard to be successful if you are not having fun, and well, even if you do succeed, if it is not fun, what is the point? It is a game we play because we love baseball and we love games. That goes a long way with me.