Some Fantasy Tips

This year I’m in two fantasy leagues, one is set to draft tonight and the other is coming up this weekend.  I’ll share a few things that have worked over the years, and hope nobody from my leagues reads this until after draft day.
1.  Get a catcher who doesn’t catch.
Its hard to find a good hitting catcher, and what makes things even worse is that most catchers play only 5 times or less, making it hard to pile up Runs and RBI. The viability of this strategy really depends on what eligibility rules your league allows.  In one league you are eligible for a position if youhad played 5 games the previous season, or one game this season.  People in my league have often waited until Phil Nevin made an emergency appearance behind the plate.  Last year Chone Figgins was supposed to be the emergency catcher if anything happened to the first 2.  That would have been a nice bonus getting so many steals from my backstop, but he was never needed back there.   In 2005 I was able to pick up Chris Shelton, and when he took over 1B midway through the year, he gave me great catcher production.  The best part was he was playing 1st base and could stay in the lineup every day.  Last year Josh Willingham was my target, and he put up a great year, but my brother had the same idea and beat me to him.  For 2007, Mike Piazza looks like a good choice, though you won’t surprise anyone by bidding on him.  Willingham only caught 2 games last year, so he’s not eligible, but perhaps he or Craig Wilson could get in a game sometime this year?  If Willingham catches a game 3 weeks into the year, you’ll wish you had him in the OF to start the season.
2. Keep regression to the mean in mind for pickups as well.
Every year, some owner in your league is going to panic and release a good player going through a slump.  Be there with a waiver claim.  Pizza Cutter did a good job regression to the mean in his last post, but its important enough to mention it again.  There will be players who get off to great starts despite a history of poor hitting.  Avoid them.  When will these players “regress”?  The correct answer is you should expect them to play at their true talent level, which likely isn’t any different after a hot April than it was on draft day.  My smartass answer is that that player will regress as soon as you put in the waiver claim and activate him on your team.  In other words, Neifi Perez will not play for my fantasy team, even if he hits 20 homeruns in his first 20 at bats.  In the 1 in a trillion chance that actually happens, expect Neifi to finish the year with 22 homers.
3. Matchups are important 
Is your hitter scheduled for a road trip to Colorado?  You know what to do, thats easy.  I’ve found you can leverage your pitching matchups more than your hitters though.  If you have a decent number of reserve spots, try and get 3-4 more starters than you need.  If you have Johan Santana, obviously he plays every week, but for marginal pitchers look at matchups as much as the pitcher’s actual ability.  Is Jeremy Bonderman a better pitcher than David Bush?  Yes he is, but if Bonderman is facing the Red Sox and Bush taking on the Pirates, put David in.
4.  Try a gimmick if you’re desperate.
Lets say you are in a keeper 5×5 league, you have no good starting pitchers, and it seems almost all of the projected top 10 starters are already on somebody’s team.  Maybe you can try an all-reliever team.  You don’t need Mariano Rivera or BJ Ryan, just wait around and get the cheaper closers, the Bob Wickmans and Todd Joneses.  If everyone else is trying for wins and saves, they’ll go with 5 or 6 starters out of 9 pitchers.  It doesn’t matter if they get the best closers, you’ll do fine in saves.  Some of your marginal closers are bound to lose their jobs, but thats OK, you have room on your roster for their backups too!  Round out your staff with Scot Shields and Cla Meredith.  They won’t get many saves but will keep your ERA and Ratio low.  Because relievers generally have better rate stats than starters,  Your ERA and Ratio should stay low while your opponents take their lumps with their back of the rotation starters.  With this strategy (best used in an auction league) you should be able to take first place or near it in Saves, ERA, and Ratio while finishing last in wins and strikeouts.  In addition, you can do this while spending almost nothing on your pitching, giving you a big leg up in getting the best hitters.  This strategy may not be allowed in some leagues depending on what custom rules you set (such as a minimum number of innings or starts needed).  It is most effective if you are the only one in your league trying it.
Good luck to all in Fantasy Baseball! (except those of you who play me).

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2 Responses to Some Fantasy Tips

  1. Pizza Cutter says:

    Dan Orkent once tried a similar ploy in the original Roto league: the all pitching team. At the time, he drafted Tony Gwynn, an all-star list of pitchers, and the rest were position players who didn’t play. That way, he cleaned up in pitching and Gwynn’s “team” batting average.

  2. John Beamer says:

    Sean — good to see you blogging here. Good luck. I look forward to reading more stuff from you …

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