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Fantasy Baseball: Keeper League Strategy

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Non-keeper, or one year, fantasy baseball leagues have become the dominant fantasy/roto leagues across the internet, but I play in two NL-only auction keeper leagues. One, I just learned today, I am going into my 14th season in the league. I've won the league three of the last four years with different strategies.

The other is the UBA League. Several, maybe all, of the members of the league read Fake Teams on a regular basis. I am not sure if anyone from either of my other leagues know I write for Fake Teams, but I will probably let them know at this year's drafts.

I joined the UBA league after inquiring with the former manager of Fake Teams, Eric Hinz, over at his old blog called Fantasy Alpha four years ago. I was looking for another league to join, and I wanted to join a league where owners drafted minor leaguers. He invited me to join the UBA league, where I took over an existing team, and proceeded to trade all of my keepers to rebuild the team. I have since placed third in each my three years in the UBA league, but last year was the killer for me. I dealt a $5 S2 Andrew McCutchen, a $5 S2 Jason Heyward and a $20 L1 Matt Kemp-my three best keepers-in a play to win the league and I didn't. Frustrated with the 3rd place finish, I have just completed my offseason firesale of all of my keepers.

The keepers that I traded are: $23 S1 Andre Ethier, $15 L1 Clayton Kershaw, $22 S1 Huston Street, $10 S0 Ricky Nolasco, $1 S1 Wandy Rodriguez, and $10 S1 Casey McGehee. In return I have stockpiled minor league draft picks, along with a $5 Kyle Blanks, a $10 S1 Mat Latos, $5 S2 Michael Stanton, $5 S2 Jose Tabata, $5 S2 Andrew Lambo, $5 S2 Domonic Brown, $5 S2 Yonder Alonso, and a $10 S1 Brandon Allen. The minor league draft picks received in these deals are: #2, #3, #7, #13, #15 and #19.

In this rebuilding effort, I have left myself with $242 on the table on draft day, with 5 keepers totalling $18 in salary. As you can see, I have completely destroyed my roster to play for 2011, Granted, if I draft well enough, I could land in the money this year, but I am not counting on it. Come draft day, I will focus on players I can deal when it comes time to bail. The guys I will target will be obvious on draft day, as there are only so many quality studs available in this keeper league.

A keeper league owner's strategy should be to end the season in the money every year, but sometimes you need to step back and decide the best plan is to rebuild. Should my plan work, I should be back in the money in 2011, and hopefully for a few years after that. The plan is to win the league within the next 2-3 years. I will need a few of the guys I traded for, and a few of the draft picks to blossom early for the strategy to come to fruition, and I can't make many mistakes with my minor league draft picks. That makes my 2010 draft so important. I need to draft players other teams will want by the trade deadline, and hopefully be lucky enough to draft some guys I will decide to keep.

This strategy isn't for everyone, but I like to give new strategies the old college try. Its what makes roto/fantasy leagues so interesting. I like to zig when others zag.