Spring training is in full swing and that means the 2007 fantasy baseball season is finally upon us. This is perhaps the most exciting time of the year for many as hope still springs eternal. This is the time to declare your keepers, extend contracts, make pre-season trades, and most importantly plan for the draft which could make or break the next 7 months of your life. Perhaps it sounds a little neurotic to judge the direction ofthe direction of your life by the decisions you make in the silly endeavor of fantasy baseball but the summer, baseball, and life in general is just much more enjoyable when you fantasy teams are doing well- just ask the GNUru’s fiancée! So do yourself (and your significant other) a favor and do your homework this spring so you can just sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor over the next 7 months.
Disclaimer: Fantasy baseball success may not be an accurate reflection of summer enjoyment. Keep in mind the GNUru is a Cubs fan, prone to seasonal June depression. Individual results may vary depending upon which baseball team you root for.
While the GNUru hesitates to outline a generic draft strategy to ensure success this upcoming season, there is only ONE simple thing you need to do to make the most of your draft. So before you set your sights on drafting your infield the first 5 rounds, followed by 2 starting pitchers, and waiting until round 12 for your closer, read the GNUru’s golden rule of the fantasy baseball draft.
GNUru Golden Rule: Read, read, and read some more
The most important thing any fantasy baseball owner can do is read. Read every fantasy baseball cheat sheet, positional rankings, sleeper and bust picks, mock drafts, and advice column you can find. In addition, visit as many fantasy baseball forums and message boards you can (Since you’re reading this, your already way ahead of the game). What’s important here is not nailing down who is going to have a better year Rocco Baldelli or Tori Hunter. The goal of all this research is to determine when Rocco Baldelli and Hunter are going to be drafted. Knowing this will put the power in your hands. Remember, preparing for a fantasy baseball draft is more of an exercise in psychology than in pure number crunching. Why draft someone like Baldelli in the 8th round when you know Hunter (who is probably more likely to stay healthy and put up better numbers) can be had in the 12th round?
It is human nature to want to discover, invent, and create. You want to be the owner who heard of them first, is the expert talent evaluator, etc. Sometimes this desire is to a fault. The GNUru calls this the Sexy Pick Syndrome (SPS).” Every year the draft is full of players who are this year’s crop of “sexy picks.” Some pan out, others are busts but the vast majority of the “sexy picks” are simply mild disappointments. Last years classic example is Mark Teixeira. Although Teixeira had nice year, he had failed to live up to the expectations put upon him as a “sexy” top 5 pick last year. In most leagues Travis Hafner could have been had much later in the draft and put up even better numbers.
Another advantage to reading and doing your research learning how other owners in your league operate. To succeed in any competitive environment, you must “know thy enemy”. That is, get to know what your opponents are thinking and how they think. With a solid grasp of this, you can begin to categorize every owner in every league you compete in.
The easiest way to illustrate this is by using the typical public Yahoo or CBS Sportsline league. These “Fantasy Baseball” for dummies leagues plop all the fantasy information anyone can handle right in front of their noses. How many times have you noticed an owner in your league claiming a player off waivers within minutes of a CBS fantasy expert started touting the player? By knowing which owners will parrot off the backs of these articles and which owners are likely digging deeper will give you a serious advantage.
Lastly, by gathering as much knowledge you can leading up to the draft you will be more prepared to handle the pressure when things don’t go exactly as planned come draft day. Knowledge is the key to be able to adjust your strategy on the fly when your fall back option at SS gets drafted way earlier than you expected. So the GNUru’s take home message… read as much as your can, and save the planning for your draft day meals and beverages.