Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy Part 1: Setting Goals


Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Well, it’s that time of year once again. Fantasy Baseball Draft time. Although I am a firm believer that drafts aren’t nearly as important in fantasy baseball as they are in fantasy football or fantasy basketball, they are certainly a large portion of your success.

I only say this to give hope to those that don’t have as much success in the draft as you would have hoped. The season is not lost be any means, that is the beauty of the very long baseball season in which we have to work with.

So, what’s a good fantasy baseball draft strategy? How can we dominate our drafts and not have to fight that uphill battle? Here are the questions to ask.

  • How many points are you looking for in each category?
  • What numbers do you use when projecting totals?
  • How many players do you “scout” at each position knowing that other owners are certainly targeting similar guys.
  • Is it different setting goals in an auction draft than a snake draft?

That kind of stuff, as well as anything else that you go through. In Part 1, we’ll look at the points and how to set the goals to get them.

Each year I set goals based on what won the previous year. Often I am playing in leagues that are not the standard scoring and set up so the majority of articles about point expectations aren’t applicable to my needs. However if you are in a standard type league Clave did a great article about winning through mediocrity, or just ending up in third place (8 points in a standard league) in each category in a roto style league.

That same principal will apply to any roto league no matter which categories you play and even if you have extra categories. Sometimes if your league used additional points categories it might create more of a variance to how many points you might need to win, but you can figure it out fairly easily. If you simply shoot for 8 points in every category you should get close enough to be dangerous in the end. Often I go through and look at the stats the person who got 8 points got the previous season and make that my goal.

For instance, in home runs, if the team who got 8 points had 199 homers, then I’ll aim for 205 — you might as well give yourself a little wiggle room. Now say the guy who got 8 was substantial amount ahead of  the guy who got 7th, like 199 to 171. In that case, I might settle for 7 there and try to make it up by going for 9 in a category that is a little tighter. Generally returning owners will build their teams similarly each year.

Once I have my goals per category then I go about hitting and pitching a little different. In hitting, I simply divide by active roster spots as I like to save much of my bench for pitching — I’ll expound on pitching in a moment. For now, we’ll stick to hitting. [table id=465 /]

Now I just simplified everything above for the sake of round numbers, I have a team that has 10 active hitter spots and set fairly accurate goals in each category. I then set up a spread sheet to track the progress of my potential team. It is not likely I find 10 players that give me exactly 80-20-75-15 in counting stats, and so if I land a guy in round one that is a 100-30-105-10 player, then my other spots do not have to produce as much in the first three categories and will need to pick up the slack in steals.

In pitching I use the entire group in more of the aggregate because you can implement MRI, and stream to make up a lot of ground without landing 1 elite arm. The same cannot be said for hitting.

Also with only 3 counting stats and 2 average stats, as well as one counting state nearly impossible to gain by starters—saves—it makes for a trickier situation in build a whole group if you end up missing on the runs of starters and closers as they come about.

My spreadsheet for pitchers focuses on the bottom line as I call it, because the bottom row of cells are the sums of each category and are what I judge my whole pitching unit as.

[table id=466 /]

None of these guys may have been on your radar for last year, or this year for that matter, but if you use pitchers in tandem you can really put together a solid rotation on a tight budget.

This is a look at the very simple form of my pitching spreadsheet, I really don’t fuss with ERA too much as it usually evens out if you draft good control guys and with quality pitchers, wins and saves should take care of themselves.

Part 2, targeting players