The key to winning a season long ten team standard scoring fantasy baseball league is as follows. Stack your team with the best closers, make sure to have solid middle infielders, and don’t get too taken in with stolen bases.
First the relievers. If you have three or more of the top relievers it will guarantee that you have an advantage in four of the five categories. These categories are saves, ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts. Most of the good closers have a ratio of innings to strikeouts well above the critical one to one threshold. They also have great control, which combined with the overpowering stuff, makes for a low WHIP numbers. ERA in turn takes care of itself with these facts. You can even make the case that great closers may put you over the top on wins as well. Because all good closers get a few vulture wins each year. Each year in the league I play in the guys who are good at this know these facts to be true. So, the run on closers starts pretty early. I may even try to disrupt the whole draft by starting with closers on pick three this year. Which in turn will make everyone else panic, which in turn might lead to some steals in terms of position players. The hope is that this strategy will throw everyone else’s draft strategy out the window. Ace closers also are hard to come up with during the season. The draft is the one shot at closers for the most part.
Middle infielders are also a big part of season long success that must be addressed early in the draft. But I will say this year looks to be filled with a much better selection, and depth, of middle infielders. The reason MI is so important is because if you don’t have them selected in the draft, most likely you will spend the whole season reaching. Looking for someone to pick up but all that will be available are a wide selection of interchangeable stiffs. Therefore, I like to make sure that I get at least one of the stud middle infielders early in the draft. This year I have a couple guys that will for sure be my first pick if they are around.
Oh how I loathe the stolen bases stat. Mainly because if you make a play to be a top point getter in that stat you likely have paid too high of a cost in other stat categories. Most stolen base leaders don’t hit for power or drive in runs. You can count on one hand the players that collect stolen bases and won’t hurt you in the other categories. In the past I have disregarded this stat and have not regretted it. I also have examples of drafts where I tried to make a play for stolen bases and it ruined the season. It is a tricky one this stolen bases for sure. My advice is to pick a couple of guys so you don’t end up with a one in this category. Anything else is a big risk.
I have always been able to find hitting during the season. There is enough churn due to injuries, prospects coming up, and players having comeback years making it possible to find hitting. Less true for pitching. Streaming pitchers is doable but most of the time the guys are available because they have a sizeable hole in one of the stats. They play for a good team and win but are not overpowering hurting the strikeout stat and WHIP. Or they are just serviceable with an ERA close to 4.00. While I don’t like to pick pitchers early I recognize that the best pitchers make a huge difference. There are only a few of them and Kershaw and Scherzer lead the pack. The pitch so many innings and have so may strikeouts that just having one of those cats on your team give you a huge advantage.
Another strategy I love is the eighth inning relievers. They have great strikeout to inning ratios, and they pick up a bunch of vulture wins for you during the season. If you don’t like to use early round pitchers on aces and miss out, this will help you. You can also benefit when they are shifted to closer due to injury.
Be careful with catchers. It has certainly been the case for me in several seasons that I never even threaten the max games played for catchers. Because they are just few and far between. One year I picked Buster Posey early thinking it was going to be an advantage to get the guy at that position. Thought it would be a huge advantage. He had a so-so season and that backfired big time.
Fantasy baseball for me is a great fun and keeps me aware of and engaged in baseball. Watching baseball on TV is like waiting to die and that is a shame. Two years ago, I watch half an inning of a Red Sox game in April and swore I would never do it again. Made me feel silly to watch nothing happen for 20 minutes and there was still only 1 out. The amount of time it takes to complete a major-league baseball game is embarrassing and it is hurting the sport. But I love keeping up on the stats and watching the trends. The grind of fantasy baseball is the enjoyment for me. Regularly I am pushing or exceeding 100 transactions. Not just because I am bored but I truly believe that is what it takes to win a league. Just sticking with your draft guys won’t do it. Baseball is too fluid and streaky and you must react to stay competitive. Good luck to everyone in your leagues and remember that fantasy baseball separates the men from the boys. Anybody can do a once a week fantasy football lineup. But it takes commitment and research to win a fantasy baseball league.