Saturday, February 25, 2012

The reality of fantasy baseball

If we are reaching the end of February, then it means that fantasy sports geeks around the world are gearing up for the upcoming baseball season. I use the term 'geek' in an endearing way because I am one of them.

For 10 years, I have been quite active in fantasy baseball. For those who love baseball, it is a way to get even closer to the game. Of all the sports, baseball seems to be the most statistically driven, and this is a crucial element when it comes to fantasy sports.

With baseball, there are literally dozens of statistical categories that can be used to set up a competitive fantasy league. Though I have played in some wacky leagues over the years, most of them have revolved around more traditional formats. Fantasy sports and baseball is a perfect match when marrying statistics and competition.

In the next few weeks, I will be taking part in drafts in the leagues in which I will be playing. For those who know little about fantasy baseball, participants draft real baseball players for their teams and earn points based on their performance.

I have been in many drafts over the years, and I see a lot of common mistakes. Defining a mistake can be quite subjective because most people have their own unique strategy when filling out their team. However, there are certain things I will not do.

For example, I will never select a starting pitcher in the first round. For experienced players this seems obvious, but I see this happen once or twice every year. It does not matter how good he is (the Phillies' Roy Halladay, for example), he will only play one or two times each week. A first round pick must be an every day player. No exceptions!

In fact, a person can wait until the fourth or fifth round to begin selecting pitchers. This includes both starters and relievers. Each year, acquiring cheap pitching can be done, and less experienced participants often get nervous about not having a big name hurler. Trust me, good pitching can be gotten late in the draft.

Also, do not fall too much in love with heavily-hyped rookies or sleeper picks that experts love to tout. Too much of that will likely put a person out of championship contention by Memorial Day.

Always look for experienced players with a proven track record. Do not be the one who prides himself on finding diamonds in the rough. A conservative approach is often a winning approach.

Additionally, a person should never allow a personal dislike of a team to cloud judgment when selecting players. I will use myself as an example. I strongly dislike the New York Yankees. I am not sure why, but I always have and probably always will.

However, there can be no disputing that the Yankees are one of the best teams every year. And because of that, they have a lot of the best players. Especially when it comes to hitters, the team has several players that can hit for power and average. Second baseman Robinson Cano is in his prime when it comes to hitting.

So, even though I never want the Yankees to win, I do not think twice about having one of their players on my team.

Conversely, do not fall in love with players on teams that are personal favorites. For example, I am an Atlanta Braves fan, but I usually avoid having players from that team. A person cannot be an objective manager when sentiment gets into the way about a player.

So, have fun everybody. Pick your players and have a great season.

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