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Fantasy Baseball: Winning on Draft Day


Arizona Diamondbacks' Chris Young, right, is greeted by third base coach Glenn Sherlock, left, after hitting a two run homer off Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Carlos Fisher during the sixth inning of their spring training baseball game at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick near Scottsdale, Ariz., Saturday, March 19, 2011. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

The first step of winning your fantasy baseball league begins on draft day. Luckily, you don’t have to be Charlie Sheen to find one of the many ways to win on draft day.

Your success or failures on draft day have long last effects as you lay the foundation for your team in 2011.
Draft day, with respect to Opening Day, is one of the most exciting days for fantasy baseball enthusiasts. You’re given a clean slate glossed over with hopes and dreams of success for both the team you root for and the players on your fantasy baseball team.


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One of the best ways to strengthen your chances of success on draft day is to maximize value out of the picks you’re afforded throughout your draft. Typically, it’s not your first round selection that wins your fantasy league. Ask the owner who took a late round flyer on Jose Bautista how well they did last season. Finding that player exceeds projections and expectations in drafts will give you the most value for your pick and those are the selections that win leagues.

In the interest of winning, here are a few players that can lead you to victory on draft day.

Average Draft Positions (ADP) taken from Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball Leagues:

Chris Young (ARI-OF): 91.5 ADP
Player A: .336 AVG, 34 HR, 117 RBI, 111 Runs, 26 SB
Player B: .257 AVG, 27 HR, 91 RBI, 94 Runs, 28 SB

Only two players in the league last season had more than 25 homers, 25 stolen bases, 90 RBI and 90 runs. The first was considered the number one player in fantasy baseball according to Yahoo!, Rockies outfielder, Carlos Gonzalez.

The second, Chris ‘Forever’ Young was ranked as the 40th best fantasy option last season as his batting average held him back from being as elite as CarGo. While both players exceeded their expectations for the 2010 season, only one of these players comes with the steep discount: Carlos Gonzalez is currently being drafted ninth overall while Young is going 82 spots later at 91st overall. With lineup protection in the form of Justin Upton, a modest 20-20 campaign could be reasonable projections for the D-Backs outfielder.

Colby Rasmus (STL-OF): 105.3 ADP
Hype can often drive up the price of players and after a few rounds of ‘name that player’, you’ll feel foolish for paying the price.
Player A: .276 AVG (464 at-bats), 23 HR, 66 RBIs, 85 runs, 12 SB

Player B: .277 AVG (520 at-bats), 18 HR, 72 RBIs, 83 runs, 11 SB

Player A is going in the 10th to 11th round as the 105th overall selection in drafts thus far. That’s 24-year-old outfielder Colby Rasmus who will being doing most of his work in a lineup powered by some guy named Pujols.

Player B is going in the fourth round as 46th overall pick in Yahoo! drafts. While loaded with tremendous upside and loads of talent, 21-year-old prodigy Jason Heyward is going six rounds earlier than Rasmus. Although I do love Heyward, I’d rather get similar production at the same position six rounds later. Beware of the hype.

Roy Oswalt (PHI-SP): 86.1 ADP

Quick, name the pitcher that ranked higher than Ubaldo Jimenez, David Price, Josh Johnson, Cliff Lee, Mat Latos, CC Sabathia, Jon Lester and Clayton Kershaw?

After losing his first start to the Nationals after being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies, Oswalt rattled off 11 starts while allowing four or more runs only once in those starts. The Wizard of Oz went 7-0 in August and September with 68 strikeouts in 75 2/3 innings for the NL East Champion Phillies. During that time, Oswalt allowed just 44 hits and 11 runs.

He’s currently being drafted closer to the ninth round and should provide solid returns nestled safely in one of the greatest pitching staffs ever assembled.

NEVER PAY FOR SAVES

While I can provide you with valuable players that are outperforming players of similar caliber from last season, there’s one thing I always tell fantasy baseball enthusiasts: Never, ever, pay for saves in your draft. Saves is the category that has the most waiver-wire depth and at the end of the day, it’s only one category. Closers are such a volatile bunch with so much uncertainty and instability that drafting an “elite” closer should be the furthest thing from your mind. Ask a Jonathan Broxton owner how they felt after shelling out a high draft pick on him last season.

Take a look at closers that were mostly undrafted or drafted late on draft day last season:

Matt Capps: (42)
Kevin Gregg: (37)
Leo Nunez: (30)
Jon Axford: (24)

How many of you out there drafted Axford expecting him to assume the closer role with the All-Time Saves leader in Trevor Hoffman lurking in the bullpen? Right. 24 saves that were plucked off the wire instead of placing that high draft pick on an “elite” closer. Avoiding committing the cardinal sin of fantasy baseball can go a long way for your team in 2011. After all, it is all about winning.

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