In my first installment, you were prepped for what to avoid when drafting a Major League Baseball fantasy team. This installment is going to take a 180-degree turn and give you a look at the other side: what to do to position yourself to be the one hoisting the league trophy proudly above your head come September.
If you want to start your draft off on the right foot, I highly recommend taking the “Anti Double-Dip Approach” with your first two draft picks. This is when general managers avoid picking either two position players or two pitchers with their first two picks in the draft, and opt instead to select one franchise hitter and one ace of a pitching staff. The key upside to this technique is not necessarily the ability to succeed in the early going, but rather, the ability to have trade bait to fill in necessary gaps later in the season. If your lineup has been more than carrying their weight, but you need to add another strong arm to the pitching staff, you have an elite batter, whom you can ideally trade for two or even three above average pitchers. Likewise, if you’re already the proud owner of a strong pitching staff, that ace you used a high pick on can be used to trade for some added power to boost a weak lineup.
More so than in any other sport, in large part because of the length of the season, the waiver wire must become your indispensable best friend for six months. In truly competitive leagues, it can easily be argued that leagues are won and lost over the free agent market. Generally, a league is established with a free agency priority ranking system, where once owners pick up a free agent, they are then given the lowest priority ranking on the next free agent acquisition. Therefore, when you use the waiver wire, be sure you’re getting someone who can immediately improve your team.
In basketball fantasy drafts, a player’s value actually goes down if they are on a team with a good number of other talented players. If a guy is surrounded by all-stars, he’s going to get less shots, and he’s not going to have as many chances to pull down a rebound when the ball is going through the net every time. Well, in baseball, it’s the exact opposite: A player’s value essentially goes up if they are part of a deep team with many threats in the lineup. Most obviously, if a pitcher is on a dominant team, it’s more likely that he’s going to be getting more run support behind him. With that support, comes more wins, and more wins makes you one happy fantasy owner. A position player on a powerful team has a greater likelihood of more RBI’s than someone from a weak team, since the guys around him are more likely to get on base. Also, if a guy has been placed in the lineup directly in front of one of the top power hitters in all of baseball, you can always count on him having a career year. For a prime example of this, look no further than Jeff Kent’s Most Valuable Player season in 2000, batting ahead of baseball goliath Barry Bonds.
The “Dave Winfield Rule” settles the debate about what to do when faced with the choice between two possible players that look almost identical on paper. Winfield, now a member of the MLB Hall of Fame, was the only player to be drafted by a MLB team, an NBA franchise and an NFL organization, and was as intimidating and impressive of an athlete as you are going to find. Therefore, the “Winfield Rule” states that when faced with a tough decision between two players, always take the one who is more athletic and well-rounded. Therefore, a speedster who always turns his doubles into triples is more valuable than an out-of-shape behemoth who hits into two double plays for every one upper-deck moon shot he blasts.
In closing, keep your confidence up and never doubt that your team will be the one to prevail at the end of the year. If you ever do find yourself second-guessing your chances of winning, just remember the wise words of J.P. from “Angels in the Outfield”: “It can happen.”