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Fantasy Baseball: The Strained Oblique Strategy

Players will get injured, and there is nothing you can do about that. However, planning ahead may help reduce the damage from those events.

Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Let’s see; there’s the Stars and Scrubs Plan, the Mayberry Plan, and the LIMA Plan. Why shouldn’t I make a plan? What the hey? If you can name a plan after a bean, surely I can have a plan. How about The Strained Oblique Strategy? (Notice that my plan is better than the others because The begins with a capital letter.)

Did you notice anything about the waiver wire this year? I mean, other than the fact that most of the guys on it, of any consequence, were on your team. Did you grab Troy Tulowitzki in the first round because he was far and away the best player, at a scarce position? I did. You and I got less than a third of the season out of our beloved Tulo. How about Jose Bautista? His owners got about half a season from Mr. Bautista. Did you wait on steals until the late rounds and then draft multi-position sleeper, Emilio Bonifacio right out from under my nose? Yep. That was you. You got about 40% of a season from Emilio. Pitchers? How about Brandon Beachy, Cory Luebke, and Daniel Hudson? And if the saves situation wasn’t bad enough, Mariano Rivera went down early. I could go on, but I think I will be OK with minimum-word-count.

What does an owner do about this? I bought a crystal ball along with my fantasy baseball magazines. ($19.99 with three proofs of purchase) Solar powered. Take it from me, though; don’t waste your money. You cannot predict who will go down to injury, or when they will do so, but you can plan for it. Hence, The Strained Oblique Strategy. Three steps. Here goes.

The first step is to draft as many multi-category players as possible. The obvious five-category players are guys like Ryan Braun and Carlos Gonzalez, but there are only so many of these to go around. However, even in a deep league, throughout the draft, and later on the waiver wire, there will be players who can help in three or more categories. Erick Aybar was a mid-rounder who, as of the end of September, is batting .290, and has helped his owners by scoring 66 runs and stealing 20 bases. Teammate Howard Kendrick was probably taken a little later, and gave his owners 55 runs, 61 RBI, 14 bags, with a .279 average. One more? How about Omar Infante batting .277, smacking 12 home runs, driving in 53, scoring 68, and swiping 15 bases. Nothing fancy from any of them. But, if you simply tried to draft players who would help in as many categories, as possible, and just left them in your lineup all season, at the end of the year, you were rewarded. When a fantasy star goes down, regardless of where they contributed, having a stock of multi-category, mid-round draft picks, will help reduce the damage.

Second, over-draft certain stats. In a standard 5X5 roto league I believe those stats are homeruns and strikeouts. Home runs are tough. Like the five-category players, there are only so many Prince Fielders and Josh Hamiltons to go around. However, if you make this category the tie-breaker, when deciding between two players (make sure they’re batters) during your draft, you may be just a little better off at season’s end. Strikeouts are just as tough as home runs. Not many Verlanders and Kershaws out there. And if you wait too long on pitching, you may find yourself in a pickle. (Get it? Pickle?) However, selecting starters with a K/9 over 7.00 and a K/BB over 3.00, will help you throughout the year.

Finally, use the waiver wire to your advantage. Do you only look at the waiver wire when one of your players is injured or in an extended slump? It is time to expand your horizons. You should continuously monitor the waiver wire for players who may get the opportunity to play more than originally expected, or, with skills that appear to exceed those of the guy in front of them on the depth chart. Rookie of the year candidate, Todd Frazier, just needed some playing time, and Ruben Tejada batted leadoff for the Mets long enough to score over 40 runs while batting close to .300, helping this deep-league-Tulowitzki-owner to keep his head above water at SS. Simply drafting skills or opportunity, and then holding on, may help you get a player before he gets on the radar of others. Can’t find a place for them in your lineup? Maybe they will allow you to trade from a stronger position than you might have, otherwise, for a player you need.

That’s it. That is The Strained Oblique Strategy. But, we need to make this official. I hereby dub thee, henceforth and other stuff, on this, whatever day it is in September or October, 2012, The Strained Oblique Strategy. Cue the brass band, nice pens and government officials. Pictures. Smiles. That should do it. Talk soon.