Since Pujols seems to be the big prize in American League drafts it seems apropos to offer a quick guide on how to draft him. The strategies that follow are made within the Baseball Manager game, affectionately known as BBM. These strategies are not the only way to get him but they work. I drafted him this year in one of my keeper leagues and am in position to get him in a non-keeper league.
The first step is to set the SP and OF caps to the bare minimum (3,500 at SP and 3,000 for the outfield.) This assures you of not spending more than that. However that is not enough. You have to actually spend less than that in order to position yourself first for the 1st base draft. How can that be done? Read on.
If the league is a Keeper league you want to keep 5 cheap SP and 5 cheap OF. By cheap I mean the 100-200 type players. These don’t necessarily have to be dogs. You won’t have much of a team if you have no pitching and a worthless outfield to go along with Pujols. The good news is that in a keeper league there are usually several players worth keeping who don’t cost much. Look at this list of names – Viciedo, De Aza, Boujos, Reimold, Crisp, Gardner, Dirks, Cain, Boesch and Austin Jackson. These are some of the outfielders in my keeper leagues with salaries of 100-200k. A manager can put together a pretty promising outfield with that kind of talent. Keep 5 of those and you’ll get a 100k player with your 6th pick. Do this for both the starting pitching draft and the outfield draft and you’ll have the #1 selection for 1st base (assuming that no one else is using the same strategy).
A note: You may be able to reduce that keeper number to 4 players at those two positions and thereby keep two other promising cheap players on your roster, but the risk is that you might draft someone with a higher salary with the 5th pick. The safer play is to keep 5 at each position.
For non-keeper leagues, the strategy is more difficult and less “guaranteed”. Once again, set the salary caps to the minimum. The challenge now is to draft cheap quality. Duh. Everybody wants that. The trick is to figure out how to do it. The Verlanders and Weavers will cost more than 3,500 so players of those type of players are out of the question. You can, however, draft some quality players by zeroing in on the 3rd tier players. These are guys who will cost around 400-800. Guys such as Floyd, Peavy, Mendoza of KC, and even Freddy Garcia will likely have salaries under 800. And there are plenty more. Drafting 3 or 4 of those types coupled with the 100k players at #5 and #6 and you come in under the salary cap AND you have a squad you can work with.
Once you determine a dozen or so players to target, do you rank them at the top of your draft list? No. A player you rank #1 will add 500 to his salary. Even if everyone else had him ranked 20th he would still cost 1,400. The strategy is to rank this group just below the high-priced players. An even better strategy is to rank one or two just below the top group of players, then rank the others just below a second tier of quality players. Yeah right…grin…therein lies the rub. How do you know where that magic cutoff position is located? The answer is you don’t.
This is why non-keeper leagues are more difficult to maneuver into that numero uno position. But cheer up…you can still make some reasonably good guesses about who is going to cost the most. Put the Verlanders and Weavers at the top. Just below them add the next most obvious group of stars. Then, somewhere around number 10-15 you put in a couple of your targeted 3rd tier players. Move down the list a little and add the rest of the target group. The better you are at this the better your chances of getting the prize. And if you aren’t number one after the SP draft you still have the OF draft to squeeze past that team ahead of you.
It’s fun to go after Pujols. The downside, however, is bypassing all the talent to get the cheaper players. That really shows up in the keeper leagues. It’s tough not to keep the stars but they usually cost the most. There’s no way you’re going to be able to keep those high priced players and still get Pujols.
With all the leagues in Baseball Manager there must be some other strategies that work. Let’s face it, someone in every league will get the 1st pick and not all leagues are going to have managers who think like me. It would be very interesting to hear how your league worked or how you nabbed the big guy. Leave a comment. Let’s see how you did it.