Fantasy Baseball Project Draft Preparation

As our draft date approaches, we need to do some preparation. Because things are highly automated in today's world, you can sometimes get away with not preparing as much as you did in the past. Nevertheless, we want to have a pretty good idea of what we're looking to do as we enter the draft on March 8.

So what we do is take a look at all the positions to get an idea of some possible candidates. Now obviously, some of this work will go down the drain once these players get selected. Yet, when our time comes and we are on the clock, we don't want to hesitate.

You want to obviously understand the scoring rules of your league, so you know what specific player attributes you need. However, in most cases you will want to have a balanced team. During the heat of the draft this approach can sometimes get away from you. Your goal must be to try and stay focused and stay true to your strategy.

For example, your league scoring may consist of the following for offensive statistics: total batting average combined, home runs, runs batted in and stolen bases. Therefore, you want to make sure you have some combination of players that can provide those statistics on a regular basis. So you want to look at some of the power positions for your home runs and runs batted in. In many cases, that would be your corner positions, meaning first base and third base. In addition, you can include some outfielders as well. Yet, when you shift to stolen bases, depending on the individual, you can get speed at any position really, other than catcher and normally first base and designated hitter.

Balance is the key

Balance is the key and it's also the most difficult strategy to achieve. On paper, or on your computer screen, before the draft, you can select whether you want to create that balance. Once the draft begins, many of your great ideas and plans will fall flat.

As a result, one way to prepare for this uncomfortable eventuality is to have two or three options at each position and in each category. So for example, offensively I like to link three categories together, power, speed and batting average. So that way you not just looking for positional players, you're also looking for players that fit into one of those three categories. And those three categories are what create your offensive output.

Let me give you a quick example of what I'm talking about. Let's say you're in the middle of the draft and you selected three players that would fit into your power category. However, you batting average category looks a little bleak and your stolen base category also looks weak. At this point you want to focus on getting a speedy player that can hit for average, if possible.

This is not always going to be possible. The reason is because if the next available player on your list is also another power category player, you don't want to deviate too much from that list. If you do drop too far down on the best available player list, just to get speed, but sacrifice elsewhere, you may be hurting your team in a different way. Within reason, you don't want to stray too far from the next-ranked player on your list.

After the Draft-how to adjust

The worst-case scenario is that you become top heavy in one area and light in another. This draft result is very common and there are ways to overcome it. So, for example, if you have an abundance of power hitters, but again are light in batting average and stolen bases, you will need to adjust post-draft. There are several ways you can do this. The most obvious would be to make a trade. You would look at the other teams in your league that might have an abundance of speed and batting average and try to make a deal.

You can also monitor the free-agent pool players and the waiver wire to see if any players have been recently released. If you talking about an American League league only, like my league, this can be very difficult because there are not a lot of available players left. That being said, you can always pick up players during the season. Depending on your league rules, you may be able to get somebody who gets traded from the National League to the American League. In addition, sometimes promising minor-league players will get called up to the big leagues during the season and you may be able to acquire them as well. Generally speaking, this is in order of which teams can pick up players from the free-agent pool and it can vary based on your team record and prior pickups. Just make sure you check your league rules on selecting players from the free-agent pool.

Another key strategy during the draft is to keep your utility position open as long as possible. In the American League, there are some players who only qualify as a designated hitter and you would need to put them in the utility position on your roster. However, flexibility is a big deal and you have to be very careful before you fill your utility position.

The beauty of the utility position is that you can put any positional player there and shuffle it around during the season. But if you have a player that only qualifies as a designated hitter, meaning he hasn't played enough games at a position to qualify for that position, then you are stuck with that player in the utility position. Now if you can get a quality designated hitter in the late rounds of the draft and that ends up filling your utility position then fine, it may be worth it. But if you pick that player too early in the draft, it locks up your utility position and you cannot select another player for that position. So remember that flexibility during the draft something you should try to maintain and not box yourself into a corner.

So as you enter the draft, a good rule of thumb is to have a list of ranked players overall. You have one list by position and one list of the best offense of players regardless of position. You do the same thing with the pitchers as well. You also want to have a list of the three categories that we mentioned and have the players listed there as well. Be aware of each player’s position eligibility as you will need to fill specific positions during the draft. Finally your main focus should be to have fun and do not get attached to any one player, as that can mess up your strategy. Don't worry about getting players on your favorite team or getting your favorite players. Your focus is to come away with the best balanced team possible.

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