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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Fantasy baseball tips

Published: March 4, 2011
Section: Sports, Top Stories

The sun is out (no it’s not). The weather is crisp (hardly). The grass is green (what grass?). You know what that means? It’s time for baseball! But for those of us that lack the God-given ability to hit a 100 mile-per-hour fastball 450 feet, we can always pretend- and that’s why we play fantasy baseball!

Yes, it’s that time of year! Time to gather up all your friends for the fantasy baseball draft. Time for lots of laughs, lots of competition and lots of bickering. Fantasy baseball really brings out the best of us. Are you ready for the season? Here are some tips to put your fantasy baseball team ahead of the pack!

1. Diversify your team. Try to refrain from picking all power guys or all speed guys. Mix your picks up a bit—select several RBI guys, a few solid contact hitters, some stolen-base threats and one or two sluggers. If you’re in a rotisserie league (where the scoring is based on categories of offensive and pitching stat lines), all of these stats will likely be factored into deciding who wins!

2. Go for hitting early and pitching late. Ordinarily, starters should not go until the fourth or fifth round. But this year, pitching is particularly deep in both leagues, so you can grab some legit top-of-the-rotation guys in the later rounds and select All-Star hitters early on.

3. Follow baseball headlines before the season begins. It would be wise to go into the season with an idea of who is starting on a team and who is healthy. You would look pretty silly selecting a guy who hasn’t pitched in four years.

4. Pick weaker positions early on. This year, third base is especially light, so go for an Evan Longoria or David Wright in the early round. If you choose not to go for the weaker positions first, you’ll end up with Andy LaRoche as your starting third basemen and nobody wants that.

5. Don’t pick your favorite players just because you like them. Try to take the human factor of the equation. Sure, it’s nice to say that you have your favorite player on your team, but at the end of the day, fantasy baseball is about winning. And unless your favorite player is a first round pick, you can’t let anything get in the way of that.

6. Choose young players. There are a lot of aging veterans in the league who put up good numbers year in and year out, but it would be wise to pick a young guy who could have a break-out season instead. And unlike the vets, young players won’t have to leave every game with tendinitis.

7. Factor in players’ contract statuses. Guys who are in their contract years (this year’s Albert Pujols, Jose Reyes and Prince Fielder) usually have monster years, and guys who just got long-term contracts (this year’s Adrian Beltre and Jayson Werth) historically do not have very good years, so be wary of selecting them.

8. Take a gamble on high-risk, high-reward players. A lot of guys have high upsides, but come with warning labels. Mark Reynolds is a solid third or fourth round pick, but strikes out a ton. Among pitchers, Jeff Francis and Chris Young are high-risk picks, since their health is in question, but they have a lot of potential.

9. Consider players’ teams. Any player on the Yankees or Phillies has a leg up on other players because of the team they play on. Batters have more protection in those lineups, and so those players are bound to have good seasons. On the other hand, Shin-Soo Choo virtually has no protection on the Indians, so he would not be a great early pick.

10. Consider players’ divisions. In terms of divisions, you have to realize that players in less competitive divisions will usually have more success than players in competitive divisions who face tough pitchers on a nightly basis. For this reason, I would recommend selecting Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers instead of Kevin Youkilis of the Red Sox, since the AL East has much tougher pitching than the AL West.

11. Take players’ ballparks into account. Adrian Gonzalez hit 31 home runs at spacious Petco Park last year­—he’s gearing up for a monster year at Fenway with the Green Monster this season. Regarding pitchers, Cliff Lee is returning to the bandbox in Philadelphia, which drafters should most definitely consider before selecting him.

12. Go for sleeper picks. Do research to see which rookie players are bound for success this season, or what current players are getting ready for a break-out year. Current players that are projected to have tremendous seasons are Mike Stanton of the Marlins, Dexter Fowler of the Rockies, Neil Walker of the Pirates and Drew Stubbs of the Reds. Rookie sleepers include Desmond Jennings of the Rays, Freddie Freeman of the Braves, Dominic Brown of the Phillies and Ivan Nova of the Yankees.

13. Look at the experts’ rankings. It can’t hurt to see what the experts at ESPN or Yahoo have to say. But don’t base all your picks off that.

14. Nothing is final. Even after the draft is finished, you can still make trades or pick guys up off waivers. So don’t be discouraged if your round doesn’t go as well as you’d like!