Each fantasy baseball season has its own unique spin to it. Subtle differences that change how the season plays out and what adjustments you need to make as a player to win this year. And that is the ultimate goal. To win this year. If you want to win a fantasy league, you have to take risks, make smart decisions, and sometimes painful decisions. If you’re a fan of the Yankees, and refuse to draft Gonzalez, Pedroia, Ellsbury, or any other Red Sox because they play for Boston, then you aren’t serious about winning. If you’re in a keeper league and choose to keep Mike Trout instead of Lance Berkman because 3 years from now Trout might be great, you aren’t doing it correctly. Berkman is great now. Play to win right now and take players even if you don’t like them.
Whenever I write about fantasy baseball, it will be in reference to a 10 team Rotisserie 5×5 auction league with 25 man rosters (C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, MI, CI, 5 OF, Util, 9 P, 3 BN). This is how fantasy baseball started (Except it started as 4×4, had 2 catchers, and a few other minor differences) and is the best way to play. If you play in a league with a snake draft, try an auction. It adds skill and is very addictive. It is a very fun way to play the game. If you play in a league that only starts 9 hitters or 3 OFs, expand your rosters. Fantasy gets more fun when you have to make tough decisions. The ability to correctly make tough decisions is what separates good fantasy players from champions. AL or NL only leagues are very fun because you have to go deep and make tough decisions. 2 catcher leagues are what I prefer because you need to go a little deeper. Use FAAB instead of waivers. Most players now prefer to play snake drafts, head to head, and waivers because they started in football and it’s what they’re used to. Try new things you will like it.
Early Observations for 2012
Position Changes to key players – Miguel Cabrera switching from 1st to 3rd and Hanley Ramirez from SS to 3rd. Both Cabrera and Ramirez were 1st round picks every year in recent memory and both have to move positions this year to fit in new additions to their teams (Cabrera to 3rd because DET signed Prince Fielder, and Ramirez to 3rd because MIA signed Jose Reyes). This means each will gain 3B to their eligibility about 2 weeks (10 games) into the season. This makes Cabrera the no question #1 pick for me this year. Being able to get .315-100-33-100 guaranteed from a 1B/3B eligible player is #1 material. Ramirez will be more interesting. He had his worst year last season after being a top 3 pick in almost every draft last season. He battled injuries and bat speed slowed. He is upset about changing positions on the diamond and has a history of being a bit of a headcase. Best case scenario he is SS/3B eligible and puts up his usual .300-95-25-90-35 and challenges for Fantasy MVP again. Worst case is he gets mad, injured again, but ruins more teams like he did last year. Ramirez comes with risk.
Catcher is again deep and waiting is the way to go – I say this every year and it is no different in 2012. Napoli is great, Santana is a monster, McCann is so consistent, and Wieters is finally reaching potential. But guys like Yadier Molina and Wilson Ramos are good players and going at the tail end of the top 10. Would you rather spend $20 on a top catcher who goes .280-18-70 (McCann) or $4 on a lower catcher going .290-10-55 (Y. Molina). Wait on a catcher.
1st is not as deep as it usually is – If you’re in a NL only league you already know this (Votto and then…Morse?) First base drops off a little bit after the top 6. Outside the top 6 you have Hosmer, Berkman, and Konerko among others who are very nice, but this position is a little more thin.
Outfield is thin – You have to start five of these guys and I’m sure about half of your teams will also start a OF player at Util. If you wait on your outfielders, you will see how thin it gets.
3rd base is deep – Bautista, Longoria, Beltre, Wright, Zimmerman, Sandoval, Lawrie, Ramirez, ARod, Youkilis. Do I need to keep going? You can wait here.
Curious case of Jesus Montero – To gain catcher eligibility, he needs to start 10 games behind the plate this season. If he does he is instantly a top 5 fantasy catcher. If he doesn’t and is only Util eligible, he is far less attractive. One strategy is to draft Montero and a $1 catcher and then insert Montero once game #10 hits. You can do this but I don’t think he gets to 10 games, or at least not in the near future.
Old and ugly > Young and sexy – Young and sexy (Strasburg, M. Moore, Lawrie) always draw the “Nice pick” line at your draft. Taking Beltran or A-Rod will not get that remark. Old guys with some flaws go for a few dollars less than they should, and young stars with little experience go for more than they should. Would you rather have A-Rod who has produced excellent numbers for 15 years, or Brett Lawrie who has 150 career at bats? Give me the guy that has done it.