FanPost

Looking Back At The Fantasy Baseball Season And My Draft Strategy

What up all? I used to come on here more frequently, but lost track of things. Anyhow, another great season of fantasy baseball concluded for me! I played in two roto auction leagues, and I finished 1st in one of them, and third in another one of them! I've won at least one league every year, and it is rare for me to finish outside the first half. And yes, these are 12 team leagues, none of that weak 8 team junk!

If you've read anything I've posted here in the past, I am big on not paying much for pitchers. It's the strategy I go with, and this year (like most years) it worked out excellently. It's always very debated, but to me, pitchers typically are priced in a way that is backward-looking, and in fantasy sports, many of the traditional pitching stats are team dependent (wins, saves, ERA). What that means is 3 of the 5 statistics typically used can be very volatile. It's very difficult for a pitcher to put up consistent numbers in these categories. That's why typically the guys that do, are the guys to go to the hall of fame.

Raise your hand if you dropped $30+ for Greinke. I was on here trying to warn people it was going to be a waste, and it was. I had a guy in my league that paid $50 for Tim Lincecum. Crazy. How many on here had Jered Weaver as the 6th best starting pitcher in fantasy going into this year? He went for $7 in one of my leagues. What about Mat Latos? He went undrafted in my league, and ended up being a Top 20 fantasy pitcher this year. I paid $2 for Roy Oswalt, and he ended up being a Top 5 pitcher this year.

I didn't know he'd be as good as he was, but if he stunk it up like Greinke did, it'd be easy for me to let him go, rather than say "I spent $30 on him, he's gotta turn it around".. Greinke was owned in 90% of Yahoo leagues at the end of the year. No reason why the 70th-80th best pitcher should have that high of an ownership rate. But because people spent a high draft pick, or a high dollar amount on him, they needed to stick around with him.

In fantasy baseball, pitchers are like the stock market. You gotta diversify that portfolio to minimize the downside. If you want to get a solid guy for $15-$20 that's fine. But back that up with guys on the come-up for single digits. That way if one busts, you don't have all of your eggs in one basket. Greinke and Lincecum will down tick, Latos and Oswalt will jet up. They're the hot stocks now, and they will be priced at what they did last year, instead of what they realistically may do the following year. I'll probably end up staying away from them if they go for highly inflated prices.

But like the stock market, there are different types of investors. Most guys I play against are the high risk, high reward types, and they're either going to dominate the league, or get last.

I minimize my downside. I spend my money on hitting, which is less volatile to forecast. Roy Halladay is eventually going to get old and be done, but I bet the year he does that, he still goes for $40-$50. I'm just going to stay away, even if I miss out on a couple more Cy Young years, because I don't want to spend 20% of my payroll on one guy, when I have 24 roster spots to fill.

In the league I won, I spent $29 on all of my pitchers, and I had the second best pitching in the league. I was able to spend $231 on hitting, and if you're spending that much on hitting you better damn well have the best hitting in the league (which I did). If the $29 I spent on pitching backfired, I get 4th-6th in the league. If I perform middle of the road in pitching, I probably get 2nd in the league. But every year, I just want to contend, and this is the way it works for me. Also, the $231 I spent on hitting, allowed for me to make fantastic trades.

For example, my $231 team had Buster Posey, Prince Fielder, Dan Uggla, Brandon Phillips, Adrian Gonzalez, Ryan Braun, Dustin Pedroia, Nelson Cruz, Shin-Soo Choo, and others. Well, if you look at the list, I don't need 3 great 2B. So I took the hottest name, Dustin Pedroia (this is before he got injured and after he went on that tear to start April), and essentially got him for Ricky Romero, and Ryan Howard.

In fantasy sports, I'm all about getting the best value, which to me means minimizing my downside. Hey, I've had bad luck too. I spent good dollars on Ellsbury in the league I got 3rd in, and that didn't work out for me at all.  I'm not saying, "ha ha, I knew Roy Oswalt was going to tear it up", because I didn't. I just knew his track record, and knew that if he did horribly, I could let him go.

Is it possible to win a fantasy league being #1 in all pitching categories, and middle of the road in hitting? Sure. But I have yet to come across a guy who can win consistently year in, and year out with that, mostly because pitching tends to be more overpriced than hitting.

For me, my strategy worked out great, and I got lucky with some individual players. But with my strategy, I was put in a position where I couldn't do worse than middle-half (which is what I always strive for). I play to win, but in my now 14 years of playing fantasy baseball in multiple leagues, I can count on one hand the number of times I finished at the bottom on one hand, and most of those times where in those first few years where I was 12, 13, 14, and learning how it all worked, and developed my approach. 

How did your season go? How did your strategy work this year, and do you think you'll make any tweaks for next year? Sometimes you don't do well, not because of the strategy, but bad luck. Curious to hear about how all of you did.

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