As we continue to get you ready for your upcoming fantasy baseball drafts and the season itself, I wanted to take a look at a couple more draft strategies after revealing two in part one of our draft guide. Laying out different draft strategies helps determine the players you will specifically be targeting and allows you to easily adjust throughout a draft.
DRAFTING MULTIPLE-POSITION PLAYERS:
Flexibility is crucial in fantasy baseball and having multiple players that you can move around to different positions will set you up for success. This is especially important for those who are in leagues that make daily moves.
In the first part of the draft guide we discussed positional tiers and realizing which positions are deeper than others. I discussed shortstop and third base being filled with players we want to target on our rosters. Not only are these two positions filled with talented players, but they are filled with players who are eligible at shortstop and third base. Cubs infielder Javier Baez will be a coveted player this season because he is eligible at shortstop, third base and second base. Even though there’s a chance he won’t duplicate his 2018 season, the ability to play three positions increases his value.
Another important aspect to know is finding out how your league determines when a player is eligible at a certain position. Some leagues a player has to play five games, others it is longer than that. This will help planning ahead.
Also, some leagues have players eligible at different positions than others. For example, Whit Merrifield of the Royals has second base, outfield and first base eligibility in Yahoo! Sports leagues, but only has second base and outfield eligibility in ESPN. Merrifield is already a valuable fantasy player, but he gains more on Yahoo! due to his ability to play multiple positions.
Recognizing these things will go a long way in constructing a strong roster that is capable of competing all season long.
STOLEN BASE STRATEGY:
This is what I wrote in the 2017 draft guide: stolen bases continue to decrease in baseball, and fantasy owners need to adjust. In 2013, 40 players stole 20 or more bases. In 2014 that number dropped to 39 and in 2015, just 30 players stole 20 or more bases.
What happened in 2016? The number dropped again with only 28 players in all of baseball stealing 20 or more bases.
However, there was an uptick in 2017. The players who finished with 20 or more stolen bases increased by one! That’s right, 29 players hit the magic number.
Our opinion of last year does not change, though. This is especially the case if we look at 30 or more stolen bases. There were 14 players who accomplished this in 2016, but the number dropped to six in 2017.
Looking back at 2018, we have stayed consistent in terms of the amount of players stealing 20 or more bases, as 28 accomplished this. The biggest difference in 2018 was the uptick of players stealing 30 or more bases, as 11 hit the total instead of six in 2017.
Our strategy should still remain the same as it has in recent seasons as we make this category a priority. Out of the 11 that finished with at least 30 stolen bases in 2018, only Billy Hamilton and Dee Gordon finished with fewer than 10 home runs, and Hamilton is the only one that had a batting average under .260. This is great news since we discussed targeting players who will help in multiple categories in the Draft Guide Part I.
Every season is different, but outside of the studs like Mookie Betts of the Red Sox, Trea Turner of the Nationals and Jose Ramirez of the Indians, I’m confident that players in the next couple of tiers like Merrifield, Starling Marte of the Pirates and even Jonathan Villar of the Orioles will continue to perform strongly in the stolen base category while also contributing everywhere else.
This again goes into preparing for your drafts before it happens. We recognize stolen bases are a premium, so let’s prioritize this category and find the players early in our drafts that will help across the board so we can take risks later.
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