The following draft strategy is the one I play in most seasons when trying to win an overall championship. I’ll call it BALC. It focuses on building a balanced team and you don’t want to be beaten at the catcher position. In recent years, I have tried to keep my balance at the end of the third round. The changing flow in the player inventory can be the fourth or fifth round before I sign up my first three hitters, depending on my position in the draft.
Ideally, I like to have strength at least in a middle position in the infield, but each year these options can be limited and a player cannot be forced to follow a plan. Here are the key pieces to start building your team:
Elite bat: I’m looking for a premium bat that comes third or fourth in the batting order. This player needs to offer more power and batting average. Most of the time this player comes from first base or out of the outfield, but a player like Alex Bregman would qualify because it gives him a similar lead at third base while filling in high average and power.
Balance player: The second piece of the puzzle is a solid 20/20 player with a positive batting average. Sometimes this player is your first selected player and can offer more power and speed. Most of these options will come from the gardens, but the owner of a fantasy can gain a superior advantage if this piece of the puzzle comes from a middle position in the frame. Fernando Tatis Jr., Ronald Acuña and Mookie Betts have the firepower to post a 30/30 season. It is very possible that Tatis and Acuña will make an effort towards a 40/40 year.
Edge base thief with some power: This is the most difficult piece of the puzzle to find, and the owner of a fantasy must be careful not to force this skill set. In the past, Carl Crawford and José Reyes were perfect players for this plan. In 2021, Trea Turner is the ideal start for a team for me in Roto 5-by-5 formats. You’re looking for a player who can steal more bases and hit double-digit home runs. The key is to get enough energy with more stolen bases. This player would ideally be an asset in batting average.
My first three hitter goals
The goal is to get as much power and speed with your first three or four hitters. My goal is 75 home runs and 75 steals. By doing this, I prepared myself for more outs at more positions later in the draft. With this style, I need to be flexible and understand the group of players. I can’t force a player just because I’m looking for a specific skill set. If I need to take a different but higher skill at the beginning of the draft, I will have to adjust my plan.
When a fantasy owner sits at the draft table, he must know which rounds to find the best players to fit this plan.
With this strategy, there’s a good chance that a recruiter will sign an elite midfielder, forcing him to a weaker first or third baseman. For the first five rounds, a roster will likely have a 1B, MI, and OF as you build the base of your pitching staff, forcing you to move up the food chain at 3B (or 1B depending on your start).
Get a Catcher Advantage
The position of the receiver is essential to this plan. Since steals are central to this strategy, the power may not be elite after the first three or four batters are selected. So a fancy owner can’t fool receivers unless they see a reliable option or two late. The goal should be to invest in two receivers combining for more than 40 home runs, which tends to be problematic in 2021 due to a weaker receiver pool after the first level of options leaves the board. A cartoonist does not have to win the position of catcher, but cannot afford to get negative statistics from that position. I will look to secure a catcher in the first 10 rounds in the 15-team leagues in most seasons.
Fading of the first one-dimensional base thieves
In this theory, I will avoid a one-dimensional base thief at first. Most of the time, I feel like I can’t get a zero power out of any position. If I see a base plus thief at the right price, I’ll keep an open mind, plus I can’t overlook the changing values of players based on the ups and downs in power from season to season. In a low energy year, there is more room for error when playing an empty energy hitter with higher speed. In 2019, the targets were so high on home runs that improper roster construction could lead to a major home run gap.
Also, keep in mind that a speed-only late player with at-bats every day makes sense as a standby base robber. The key is to play base robber when you’re running. This type of player has value if selected after building the core of his offense and the base of his pitching staff.
It’s easy for a fantasy owner to want to turn down pitchers early in the draft when he feels his team has a weak home run. The fourth offensive player is attractive in the first four rounds, but building a starting pitching base is very important. The inventory of initial frontend launchers has had more of an impact in recent years compared to the era of steroids. In this preliminary plan, a fantasy owner must remember to compete in all 10 categories, which requires a starting base at the beginning of the draft.
The rounds in which a fantasy team owner selects their top starting pitchers will vary depending on the size of the league and the talent of the competition. In local trade leagues, Fantasy owners will select the first arms early, but push back second-tier starters while almost relying on the draft flow from the previous season to make current draft decisions.
In the high-stakes market, pitching has become more critical in team building, especially with many owners looking to build on double ace theory. In essence, the quality of the bats from the fourth to the sixth rounds is very attractive, which makes these exchanges between hitters and pitchers at the beginning of the drafts much easier.
List structure after 10 rounds
In the past, I forced a weaker middle infielder into round 10. In most seasons, I will have these positions filled for the first 10 rounds: C, 1B, 3B, MI, OF, OF, SP, SP, SP and CL.
In my early years in the high-stakes market, I would come out of the first 10 rounds with only two starting pitchers due to the more volatile pool of pitchers. The overall starting pitcher inventory is much more reliable, forcing a fantasy owner to adjust their game plan.
The lack of depth at the front of the closing group makes a case for recruiting two starting pitchers and two closers after 10 rounds. By doing this, a fantasy team owner hopes to avoid wasting spots on the waiting closer list and hopefully save free agent dollars during the long baseball season.
I’ve cheated saves trying to add that extra bat or a reliable third starting pitcher in the past. Searching for saves on the exemption cable can be a tedious battle in the no-deal high-risk market, so I will try to improve my decision-making in this area in the future.
The main objective of this plan is to maintain balance. For this strategy to work best, a fantasy owner must acquire the appropriate pieces at the beginning of a draft. Sometimes a copywriter will need to get creative in his plan when he is not in the right seat at the draft table to start with the desired players.
After the first 10 picks in the draft, a fantasy should have the ability to adjust their plan to the current player flow.
This draft strategy is most successful when the fantasy owner builds a foundation for all 10 categories. The stronger the basic pieces of the puzzle, the higher the level of success.
When I failed with this plan, I waited too long to include the hitting bat in my lineup. I have focused too much on speed in the beginning. It is a fine line to build a balanced team and it is much more difficult than it seems.
SI FANTASY BASEBALL FANTASY
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.