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Do Your Research A. Know the relevant player pool cold. You can do this, but it's not optimal for a few reasons: In a timed draft, you won't be able to do the research quickly enough, and you'll end up making panic picks.
In an untimed draft, you'll annoy the hell out of everyone waiting for you to pick; Cheat sheets are usually based on projected stats, and those stats are usually simple expected returns the 50th percentile season in a player's range and don't separately take into account volatility.
As you go deeper in your drafts, you'll want to target volatile players with high ceilings and low floors. Without knowing the back end of the player pool, you'll wind up drafting low upside players whose rankings are based simply on playing time or modest track records.
In other words, you'll be drafting useless players, while the knowledgeable owners are mining late-round sleepers; Even the players you think you know are not exactly as you imagine them.
Did you know, for example, Miguel Cabrera, who has battled injuries the last two years and missed 43 games in , batted. Or that Matt Carpenter's homer power breakout was accompanied by 44 doubles? Looking more closely even at the players with whom we're familiar can yield important insights and counter unfounded assumptions we might have about them; and You won't learn from your mistakes if you were simply going off someone else's list.
If you make your own rankings for your own reasons, you can look back and evaluate where you were right, where you were wrong and why. Through this process, you'll have a chance to get better, something on which you'll miss out if you don't learn the player pool for yourself.
It's not enough simply to know each player's skill set in a vacuum - you need to know where he fits in around the diamond, the players with whom he's competing for playing time, who in the organization might be blocking his opportunity for full-time at-bats and what his role is in the lineup.
Moreover, it's far easier to remember who has what role when you organize players by position on each team. For that reason I build my cheat sheet each season in a spreadsheet by painstakingly clicking on every player linked to the depth charts team by team. In shallower mixed leagues, you don't have to go through every middle reliever and all of the prospects, but in deep AL or NL ones, it's worth clicking on every single player to read the latest news, outlook and stat profile for him on his player page.
You can use the advanced stats — including BABIP, strand-rate and fastball velocity — to help separate skill from luck in a player's stat profile. You can go deeper than that by looking at batted-ball data on Fangraphs. Know Your League Parameters A. Categories — Most leagues are 5 x 5, which means five hitting and five pitching categories.
The standard hitting ones are batting average, home runs, runs batted in, runs and stolen bases. Some leagues add categories like on-base percentage and slugging for hitters, walks and losses for pitchers, making them 7 x 7. This affects player value, as it creates new areas for players to contribute or detract from your team.
Make sure you're valuing your players according to their contributions in the specific categories used by your league. A simple example is a 5 x 5 league that scraps batting average for on-base percentage, a growing trend as owners want to approximate real-life baseball value more closely.
In such a league, players who hit for a decent average but don't walk a lot like Adam Jones are worth quite a bit less, while players like Carlos Santana who hit for a low average but walk frequently are more valuable. Starting Rosters — Leagues vary greatly in terms of what positions you're required to start.
One of the biggest variables is between Yahoo! In a team mixed, one-catcher league, the last starting catcher is likely going to be someone who hits odd home runs in it was Wellington Castillo or hits for a decent average, so the difference between him and the top catchers won't be that great.
But in a league that requires two starting catchers, the replacement value backstop is going to be the No. Other roster requirements range from the number of outfielders, to the number of utility all-purpose slots to the designated number of starting and relief pitchers.
Each of these permutations has particular and often significant ramifications for player value, and you'd be wise to plug your specific parameters into our draft software that will help you sort it out. Position eligibility — To the extent the configuration of your league's starting rosters matters, then of course, it's important to know which players qualify for what positions.
A common set-up is 20 games played the previous year or 10 played in the current one. For example, in that type of league Daniel Murphy , who played 17 games at first base, 69 at second and 42 at third in , would be eligible at 2B and 3B but not 1B in However, some leagues are more liberal and allow players to qualify if they played five, three or even one game at a given position.
Because Murphy is slightly more valuable as a 2B-3B-1B than simply a 2B-3B, it's important to know what your eligibility settings are in order to value him accurately. Players with multiple eligibility have added value, of course, because they offer roster flexibility.
If you own Chris Davis , for example, who qualifies at both 1B and OF, he allows you to back up both OF and 1B slots with only one player either an outfielder or a first baseman, depending on where you slot him.
That might allow you to carry an extra starting pitcher on your bench, or an extra middle reliever who has a chance to win a closer job. Bench — The size of the bench has important implications for player value and draft strategy. For example, if you're allowed only a couple reserve slots, and no DL, i.
You will have injuries to players who are too good to drop, and you will want to bench pitchers against elite offenses, so you simply cannot have a player out for half a season clogging one of your two or three available bench spots.
But if you're allowed 10 reserves, or if injured players can be stashed on your DL without affecting your active roster, then Cobb should be on your radar in the later rounds because you'll have plenty of room to maneuver with your other slots and the possibility of a big pitching boost in the season's second half.
Depth of Player Pool — If you're in a team mixed league, you don't have to worry much about prospects like Yoan Moncada who could get an in-season call-up at some point. In a team AL-only league, you'll need to know Moncada's chances for playing time, who stands in his way and what he'd likely deliver should he get the call.
Player-pool depth is determined by four factors: The universe of eligible players, e. If there are 12 teams in your league, and each team starts 14 offensive players, then you know offensive players will be starting.
If you also have five bench spots, you figured another 42 or so offensive players will be drafted, bringing the total to , not including pitching.
So you'll need to have a cheat sheet that's at least that deep. In an AL-only universe, that's pretty much every active player including a few prospects.
League depth determines replacement value, i. That replacement value player serves as the baseline to which all other players compared and valued more on this in our subsequent piece on player valuation.
Replacement value at each position helps you identify how steep the drop off is if you pass on one player in favor of another. For example, in a team mixed league that starts nine pitchers of any kind, I know that the th-ranked pitcher including relievers will be the last one used in a starting lineup.
If we posit that roughly 30 relievers will be used, that means if I pass up drafting Sonny Gray in Round 7 and instead take Brian Dozier , I know I can get the 78th ranked starting pitcher as a worst-case scenario with my last pick in leagues where starters are drafted separately from reserves.
By knowing the depth of the player pool at each position, I know not only the value of the players I'm contemplating drafting, but also the opportunity cost of the ones I let pass. Trades — Whether your league allows trades and whether your league-mates are apt to trade for anything resembling fair value will determine the importance of drafting balance across your league's categories.
If trading is liberal, you can largely opt for value, even if that means nabbing four top closers at a bargain. If trading is not allowed, you'll have to shore up categorical weaknesses at the expense of marketable surplus.
As such, you'll need to have some idea of how many home runs, RBI, saves, steals, etc.
For example, if home runs is typically good enough for an "9" out of "12" in that category, then when you get to projected homers in the 14th round with five hitters left to draft , you should probably switch gears and target another category in Round But leagues with daily moves change the equation as they typically come with pitching innings limits, and therefore high-strikeout pitchers gain value and even good low-strikeout pitchers are largely undraftable in shallower leagues.
Advanced Considerations Historical data for your league — It's worth having at least a general idea of what it takes to win each category, e. It'll help you get a sense of what combinations of players it will take to contend.