Hello again my loyal readers. I know there are those of you out there who think I’m an idiot, were glad to see me go and are probably reading this wondering what I could possibly have to write about now that there’s no football on the weekends. The joke is on you, suckers, because it just so happens that I’m also pretty good at fantasy baseball.
[media-credit id=20135 align=”alignleft” width=”237″][/media-credit]With opening day having come and gone already, you should have already had your fantasy draft. I also know that there are some people out there — and most of them are assholes — who think they don’t need my advice, who were not paying attention and forgot to draft before the season started, and are now faced with the indignity of drafting during the season. Instead of mocking those fools, I’ve decided to do my best Mr. T impression and pity them so that they too can have good, if slightly shortened, seasons.
Ideally, you want to get top level talent in both hitting and pitching. However, that is unlikely to happen, which is why I always choose pitching when it comes down to it.
Why, you ask? To put it simply: scarcity. It’s easier to find starting-quality batters later in the draft than it is to find starting-quality pitching because the MLB contains more elite hitters than pitchers. For example, in this year’s draft, I spent my first three picks on pitchers, namely Josh Johnson of the Marlins, Jon Lester of the Red Sox, and Roy Halladay of the Phillies. What separates pitchers like these from others is that they can help your team in every pitching category while simultaneously posing no risk.
The next pitcher I took in the draft was Edinson Volquez of the Reds. While not a bad pitcher — he’s a lock for a significant amount of strikeouts — Volquez poses a threat to my team ERA and WHIP every time he takes the mound because of his notorious lack of control. I didn’t take Volquez late in the draft, either; that pick came just a few rounds after I picked up Johnson.
Pitching talent drops off quickly. Not every MLB team has a legitimate ace on their team, and very few have more than one. That means that if you are playing in a 12-team league like I am, it is possible for all the most reliable pitching to be gone within the first three rounds.
The same cannot be for hitters. For an MLB team to be successful, they have to assemble a hitting lineup devoid of glaring weak spots. Normally everyone has a few holes, but that means that each team is still contributing about six quality hitters to the world of fantasy sports. Because of this, owners can still pick up players like the Cardinals third-baseman David Freese in the 19th round.
While Freese’s name does not carry the value of other players like the Rays’ third baseman Evan Longoria, he can still be counted on to provide a batting average of at least .285, around 20 home runs, and upwards of 80 RBI. Those are starting-quality numbers, and he is only my backup. The first pitcher to be taken in the same round in my draft is nationals starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann, who has been projected to accumulate a grand total of eight wins this season with an ERA close to four. And when I was picking Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland — who is expected to put up numbers similar to Freese’s — to be my backup at that position, another member of my league was picking Erik Bedard of the Mariners, expected to do even worse than Zimmermann, to be one of his starters at the pitching position.
The argument could be made that great hitting would offset mediocre hitting. That could be true. I could find later in the season that I made a terrible mistake. Although I did not pick any batters that could hurt me in a scoring category, I also did not pick any that are projected to put up elite numbers. None of my players are projected to finish with a batting average over .299, and none of them are expected to hit more than 29 home runs. But right now, with the season so young, all I have to work with are projections and predictions.
When my draft was over, ESPN predicted that my team would win my league. I can only attribute this to my strategy in the draft. I stockpiled great pitching early because I knew that I could get the hitting I needed later in the draft. But I also didn’t forget to get useful hitters. It’s all about knowing how to properly assign value, and if something is scarce, like quality pitching, it is more valuable, and you always go after that which is most valuable first.