It’s almost here. The Draft. This is what we’ve been waiting for and the fun is about to start. To help us avoid the post-draft blues, here’s a last minute checklist. This is a reminder for me as much as you.
- Injured players. Guys who are not going to play until mid-season or later should not be drafted. Exceptions are keeper leagues or games that have a designated roster space for players on the DL. There’s nothing worse than wasting a draft pick on a player you have to immediately release because he’s taking up a roster spot for nothing. The difficulty is knowing who is injured and who isn’t. It takes some work on your part to check pretty much every player’s status. Fortunately, in some of the games (like Baseball Manager) most of the injured players were kept off the draft lists.
- Position changes. Many fantasy games have eligibility requirements for a fielding position and some don’t. In those that do, you need to know those rules. Baseball Manager is very strict on its requirements – you can only play a guy at a position the same number of times he plays there in real life. So, if you draft someone at 2nd base and he ends up playing shortstop you’re in trouble. So check it out. Just because someone is located on the 2nd base draft list doesn’t necessarily mean he will play there.
- Starter or reserve. Another common mistake is drafting someone who ends up playing once a week…and you expected him to be in your starting lineup every day. Ouch. It happens. This is especially true if you look at spring training data. You’ll see a player having a good spring and he’s getting a start every day and think he must be the man. You draft him only to discover that he’s a bench player or been sent to the minors. Beware. Check some of the numerous depth charts so conveniently listed online for us. A new one I discovered this January is http://www.mlbdepthcharts.com/. Maybe it has been there for years but it was new to me. And it is updated constantly.
- Pitching role. Similar to the previous point, it is important to know which role the pitchers will play? Every year there seems to be a handful of relief pitchers making the transition to starter and this year is no exception. Determining which relievers are going to start this year isn’t always easy…especially in late March. There are still question marks for several American League players (Ogando, Ross, Crow, Bard). Chris Sale of Chicago seems a lock as a starter but those others are all still iffy. They may eventually be a starter but you need to know if it’s going to happen this season. My fantasy game needs at least five starting pitchers who get one or two starts a week so I sure don’t want to draft a reliever or two with my six picks.
- Relief role. This concern is valuable in Baseball Manager (BBM) fantasy game…not so much in any other games I know. In BBM the relief duties are split between long relief and short relief. It’s useful to have some of both. Good long relievers are the more difficult to find since the better pitchers are usually starters or closers. The thing is that if you can snare a couple of the good long relievers it will be beneficial to you in BBM. So, you may not want to purposely rank all the top closers at the top of your list. Move a few of those long guys up there and you’ll be glad you did.
- DH. Now only an American League concern but from what I read it will someday be everyone’s concern. It looks like the commissioner is determined to get the DH in the National League within a few years. Anyway, the concern is what to do about drafting players who only DH. David Ortiz and Travis Hafner are excellent hitters but should you draft them you may find yourself short on a regular 1st baseman. The same is true of the DH guys in the outfield. I remember one year drafting three of them with my six picks. Ouch. I had to scramble around trying to trade two and that is not easy. No team in BBM wants two DH’s so if you draft more than one you may end up releasing him with no return. In other words, drafting him was a complete waste and you lost out on someone else. Word to the wise is make sure that if you draft Montero of Seattle you have a backup plan in case he spends most of his time sitting on the bench instead of crouching behind the plate.
Good luck in your draft. May you get who you want and not regret who you get.