Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Fantasy Baseball Tips and Tricks

This Saturday is my fantasy draft.  I have been doing the same league since 2006 and I thought I would give some pointers from my experience.   My league is a very deep league and is a long process. We have 18 participants drafting 25 players each.  It uses the traditional stats in scoring for pitching(Wins, ERA, Ks, WHIP and Saves) and hitting(AVG, HR, RBI, SBs and Runs scored).  We use the full major league rosters, is a nonkeeper league and use a serpentine draft.  We also start the eight position players, a DH and eight pitchers on a weekly basis.  This gives you some background on my league and I will use this basis for my pointers.  Of course, all leagues are different and you can use the following tips as needed for yours.

For the first couple rounds, you will draft players that you will build your rosters around. So, I try to draft guys who are close to a sure thing for performance as possible.  I stay away from guys who are coming off serious injuries, going to new teams that may add some questions from his previous seasons.  I also prefer to draft hitters here also as one never knows when a pitcher will get hurt.  Pitchers are more prone to injuries than batters and of course there are a few exceptions to this rule like a Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver or Clayton Kershaw.
The subsequent rounds are the ones that will make or break you.  Once again, I like players who have a proven track record and usually stay healthy.  Get guys who have solid stats among all the categories.  These guys may not be a "sexy" pick but will give the best overall chance to do well for your team.  If you are looking for some home runs or stolen bases, don't draft a guy who will give only that specific stat, he will likely hurt you more in the other categories.  If possible stay clear of players who have been linked to PEDs. You will never know when a suspension is coming.
As for pitchers, I usually like going for pitchers who has high strikeout potential over wins.  These guys have a higher ceiling for you. They can give you better numbers throughout the categories and are less reliant on teammates for defense in getting out of jams or hitters scoring enough runs for them.  Also, don't draft closers too high. Yes, there are a few that are solid each year, but there are many more with question marks. You can draft a guy late who can give you 20-30 saves.
When you are doing your draft, you will have to pay attention to any trends.  If there is a run of closers, shortstops or any other position, you may want to take notice and draft a player a little sooner than you wanted.  You don't want be left shorthanded in a position and left scrambling for rest of the year for a capable player.  Also, in the same thought, do your homework ahead of time. There is always one position in the majors that is thin for production, get someone while there before you left with less of an ideal option.
A few other tips include:
1) Don't draft too many players from the same team as you are putting all your eggs in one basket. If something happens, it could cause ripple effect for your squad.
2) Don't rely on rookies or "sleepers" for production.  One or two could help your team if you draft correctly, but there is a higher rate of failure.
3) Don't draft more than one guy who is coming off an injury or will miss a portion of season. One never knows how he will recover and produce when he returns.  Draft him for depth. You will need somebody when he isn't in the lineup, so go ahead a draft a healthy everyday player anyways. This is true for even for the superstars like a Ryan Howard or Justin Morneau.
4) Pay attention to the team, park or division around him.  These factors could help or hurt your stats.
5) I like to use my DH spot for an everyday player. If you use a Major League DH like a David Ortiz or a Jim Thome in his prime, you are limiting yourself with options during the season.  For example if one of your outfielders get hurt, you can plug your DH there and use any other player on your roster for your DH.
6) In the middle to late rounds, don't be afraid to draft a guy who is "best available" over a position you need.  He could become a vital member to your team and the same guys who you are looking at position wise, could still be there in the next round.

For the late rounds you are drafting for depth.  I like to get one guy who is a bit of an utility player. I can plug in different positions when injuries hit as they usually do. Also, if you draft a solid everyday batting order, you don't need a lot of position players on the bench. I like to have more pitchers here because of higher injury risk. Learn some of the set up guys in the bullpen also, some of these guys will have save opportunities for teams who have a question mark for the closing spot.

One last tip for you, for etiquette, have 2-3 guys in mind when your pick is approaching in case the one you wanted is taken just before. That way, everyone else is not waiting for you as you scrambling for someone else.  These are few things that I have learned over the years and keep in mind when drafting my team. Of course, like I said earlier, many leagues are different and some of these pointers are of no use to you.  Good luck in your league and have fun!

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Fleeting Fraternity: The Great Broadcasters

With Joe Garagiola announcing this week that he is retiring from the broadcasting booth, it got me thinking that the legendary baseball announcers are becoming more extinct.  So, I am going to talk about some of my personal favorite broadcasters of the past and present.
1953 Bowman

Here is some background on Garagiola first.  Joe Garagiola was a backup catcher from 1946-51 playing for several teams including the St Louis Cardinals and New York Giants.  He started his broadcasting career with St. Louis Cardinals in 1955, but he is most famous for his time on NBC television.  Garagiola spent almost 30 years with NBC teaming with the likes of Tony Kubek, Curt Gowdy and Vin Scully on the "Game of the Week".  He was most recently doing games for the Arizona Diamondbacks prior to his retirement.

And here some announcers that I personally enjoyed listening to and have respected in the game:

-Mel Allen was the New York Yankees play by play announcer from 1939-64, which was the height of  the Yankees dominance.  This allowed Allen to work just about every World Series during his tenure and he also did many All Star games too. His signature catch phrase was "How About That?!".   A new generation of fans were introduced to Allen when he become the host of This Week In Baseball from 1977 until his death in 1996. 

-Jack Buck was the longtime announcer for the St. Louis Cardinals and later nationally for CBS.  Buck was not known for any signature style or gimmick, he just did games in a professional manner that made him very well respected in sports.  He is most famous for the three walk off home run calls, with each done in an unique manner.  Ozzie Smith's 1985 NLCS homer: "Smith corks one into right, down the line! It may go!! . . . Go crazy, folks! Go crazy! It's a home run, and the Cardinals have won the game, by the score of 3 to 2, on a home run by the Wizard! Go crazy!".  Kirk Gibson's 1988 World Series homer: "I Don't believe what I just saw" and Kirby Puckett's in Game 6 of 1991 World Series: "We will see you tomorrow".
2004 Topps Fan Favorites
-Ernie Harwell was most famous for being the Detroit Tigers announcer from 1960-1991, 1993-2002.  He was known for his casual, conversationalist approach to broadcasting.  He did everything in a humble way, never thought of himself bigger than the game and just wanted the listeners feel that the game was called for them on a personal level.  A little known fact about Harwell is that he did the television call for Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard Around the World" in 1951 as it was his turn.  Russ Hodges of course, did the radio call: "Giants win the pennant. Giants win the pennant".

-Vin Scully has been the announcer for the Dodgers since 1950.  His 63 years with one team is an all time record for an announcer for one franchise in any sport.  He got his start with the Dodgers working with Red Barber while they were still in Brooklyn.  His eloquent style of describing games has made him one of the most respected announcers of all time.

These are just my favorite announcers, but they are many other quality broadcasters, past and present such as Harry Caray, Jack Brickhouse, Harry Kalas and Bob Uecker.  If you have a broadcaster who has become a local icon for your team, professional or collegiate, you should not take them for granted.  These announcers have seen many games and have a wealth of knowledge. If you would like learn more about your team's history and it's players, stop and listen to them.  You can learn a lot and these men and women will not be around forever.