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We spend a lot of time in fantasy baseball talking about who to draft in the first two or three rounds that we often times don't focus enough on the positional battles that teams are going through during Spring Training. Does the second base decision with the Blue Jays impact a guy like Emilio Bonifacio who has such huge upside given his wheels? What about the Cardinals second and shortstop decisions – do they matter? Of course you are going to care about what the Angels do in the 9th inning, but maybe what the injury ravaged Yankees do in the outfield should also be something you concern yourself with? We'll discuss those battles and more in this piece.
I'm just going to be honest – and those of you that have the pleasure of knowing The Oracle know that he always is honest – this is going to be a somewhat rambling post in some respects. Normally I'm very structured with my approach. I hit on positions or list players alphabetically. None of that is happening today. I'm going to meander, ramble if you will, through a variety of thoughts dealing with fantasy baseball drafting. Yes, I did refer to myself in the third person at the top of this piece. According to the woman I'm dating I'm very arrogant. Is referring to myself in the third person arrogant? I prefer to think of myself as simply an interesting fellow with a healthy does of self confidence. Tit-for-tat I guess. Back to fantasy baseball drafting...
With your draft looming and barely three weeks to go before the season opens, studying up on all of the open position battles is key to your draft prep. Obviously you want the best at every position, but since you know that’s a pipe dream, unless of course you’re in a league of idiots, you have to know where to tighten up your budget. But if you are following the spring action and know who is likely to win a job outright, perhaps you can come in with a late, sneaky pick and still manage a quality pick at a particular position. Here’s a look at some of the bigger position battles we’re seeing this spring. Some should be settled sooner than others while you might see one or two linger into the season. But here’s a look and my take…
In 1983 Rickey Henderson ran his way to 130 steals for the Athletics, a modern day baseball record (Hugh Nicol actually stole 138 bases in 1887 for the Cincinnati Red Stockings). Others of the modern era have hit triple-digits – Lou Brock, Vince Coleman Maury Wills – but those just aren't numbers we see anymore. Nowadays we're lucky to find guys who steal half as many bags. So why is it that you hear so many people in the fantasy game say 'I don't worry about steals early, I can find them late.' Is that an accurate statement? How should you look at steals for the coming season, and which players should you consider targeting?
Sometimes we make too big a deal about Spring Training. Sometimes we don't make enough of a deal about Spring Training. If you're confused don't worry. The Oracle is here to put everything in perspective for you. The Brewers' ace is good to go as he's overcome an injury. The Dodgers and Phillies aces are struggling, but you shouldn't be too concerned. The Padres hope to have a one time elite prospect in their rotation early in the year. A once time power lefty is trying to revive a once thought to be dead career. The Tigers have zero certainty about how they are going to handle the 9th inning. The Yankees have a battle on their hands for the 5th starter role. Who will emerge with the job? Read on to find out.
I’ll admit it. Sometimes my excitement over the fact that spring training has begun and we’re watching games on TV can cloud my judgment. I’m just so happy to have the season back that even a light-hitting shortstop batting .320 over a dozen spring at-bats gets me all charged up and I have fleeting thoughts of drafting him for a late-round buck in my mixed-league auction. But as draft day nears, cooler heads prevail and I stop watching with my heart and start listening to that all-too-sensible voice in my head that keeps telling me that unbridled enthusiasm can destroy a fantasy team in a heartbeat. Though fantasy baseball is technically a game, there’s little fun to be found in it if you draft like an idiot. Objectivity is the key to evaluating spring stats and looking at them any other way is a one-way ticket to last place.
Justin Verlander. Clayton Kershaw. Stephen Strasburg. Craig Kimbrel. These are the elite pitchers heading into the 2013 fantasy baseball season if you listen to the scuttlebutt around the water cooler. We all know that. But are there instances where lesser known names, the A.J. Burnett's of the world, are also worth taking note of on draft day? Remember, while we all need production on the field, if you can consistently find value at any spot, pitching is no different than hitting, you can come out well ahead in the fantasy game. You can let someone take Justin Verlander in the first round and if he returns first round value fantastic. But what if you grab Homer Bailey and Alexei Ogando in the 15th and 16th rounds and they return 8th and 9th round value – which move would be the better fantasy play based on a return on investment perspective? In this article we'll hit on some numbers that just might change your perception about hurlers for the coming campaign.
Bullpen turnover last year was at an all-time high with two of every three teams making changes in the 9th inning. We're not even to March yet of 2013 and there is already movement with a few teams setup at the end of the game. Will the presumptive Athletics closer be healthy enough to take the ball on Opening Day? Just how historically good is the Rockies' closer? Who is going to get the call for the Blue Jays since both of their options are coming back from shoulder surgery? What the heck are the Astros doing with their bullpen? After breaking down those throwers we'll spend a wee bit of time looking into a couple of outfield situations that could have an impact in how you draft players for your fantasy baseball squad in 2013.
One of the things you’ll hear from virtually every fantasy pundit is that a successful draft is based on how much value you get out of each one of your picks. The first few rounds are obviously dedicated to the studs, the players on whom your foundation is built. You’re picking from the best of the best and each selection, unless you make a total bonehead move or the player suffers a debilitating injury, should produce high end value for you.
Adrian Beltre is being taken in the top-25 overall this season in fantasy baseball drafts. To me, that's crazy early. I'll explain why Beltre has more in common with Troy Tulowitzki than you think and why that should cause you some pause. In the outfield Lance Berkman is already dealing with a gimpy wheel while Corey Hart might return from his knee issue much sooner than anyone thought he would. Nolan Reimold is another outfielder looking to return from a significant injury. If he's healthy, he could have a significant role with the Orioles. Finally, Denard Span is going back to his old batting stance in the hope that it will enable him to recapture his previous success. On the hill Clay Buchholz says his hamstring is fine, Ted Lilly's shoulder is coming along and Brandon McCarthy says it's all systems go with his health.