Saturday, January 27, 2007

6x6 League with Holds and OPS - A question from the "ole Mailbag!

Here's another email from the 'Ole Mailbag that I thought was useful. I will begin to post more useful email responses to make this blog a bit more interactive. The question was......

My question is regarding 6x6 keeper leagues with OPS and Holds being the other 2 categories. I am having problems figuring out my draft order. Even in the first round, after Pujols I am not sure how to rank the rest. With OPS on board I am a little afraid to draft guys like Reyes, Crawford. Where would you put them?

In the first 2 or 3 rounds, I truly do not believe that Holds and OPS really matter as much because you can always make middle or late round picks to help yourself in these categories. The other 5x5 cats are still much more important in the first 1-5 rounds I believe. But basically, look at guys like Crawford and Reyes and Howard and all of the first rounders. Look at the players you like or would take, and certainly feel free to take the player with the higher potential OPS. I just did an expert draft where I took Reyes 4th. Not an OPS league, but whatever. I have seen Santana go 1st, 2nd,...Soriano first...etc. OPS and Holds are categories that are won later in the draft....I confidently and firmly believe that. Take the best players available early or stick to whatever strategy you are using, then as the draft moves forward, see where your weaknesses are and work on them throughout the draft!


Edwin Encarnacion, CIN, 3B - Projection

I received this question from an emailer, but thought my answer was helpful enough that I would share with everyone.....

Edwin Encarnacion...hmmmm, well, he's only 24 and Rich Aurillia is gone so he should play everyday with no problem. He only had 406 ab's last season so if I am assuming he's had 500+ this year, with his age and upside potential, I am projecting about
.280/85runs/20hr/90rbi/5-10sb's. One thing he has going for him is that he makes good contact. He only K'd 78 times in 406 ab's which is pretty decent.

The great thing about EE is that you can wait towards the end of the draft to snag him or pay probably close to $5 or less in a normal $260 12 team auction league draft. So in early rounds, grab top talent elsewhere and wait to grab EE later on. He'll play everyday and has the upside to be a nice value pick. And just so you know, I feel I was being conservative with that projection. He certainly can out perform that if he hits in a decent spot in the batting order most likely 4th or 5th which could mean 100+ RBI & 100 runs.....mmmmm gravy!


Friday, January 26, 2007

FBE & The Fantasy Man Team Up with Eric from

Q & A session with Eric from . What I like about Eric's website is he updates his site often and has some extremely intelligent analysis of different issues regarding Fantasy Baseball for 2007. I participated with Fake Teams in Mock Draft Central's 2nd 2007 Experts draft. After the draft, I caught up with Eric and we asked each other these questions......

FM: What is your favorite strategy for any league this season:
Eric of Fake Teams: I typically select a couple of big HR hitters with my first couple picks. With these two anchoring my hitting categories, I shift towards drafting players who combine speed and power and will remain with those types of hitters. For pitchers, I generally focus on starters who can be reasonably be expected to srikeout 170+. By getting outs via missed bats, I can rest easily knowing long streaks of hits and walks allowed will be dampened by strikeouts.

FM: Who are your favorite Sleepers?
Eric of Fake Teams: Matt Cain - He is not a total surprise, but I believe he will bring 4th/5th
round value for a 9th or 10th round selection. 3.50 ERA and sub-1.30 WHIP and 200
Ks is the target production I expect.
OF Corey Hart - He is finally getting the chance for full-time ABs in Milwaukee.
At 6'6, his minor league speed is hard to believe, but he has consistently stolen
20+ bases. A 20/20 season would not surprise me for a player who is likely to be
taken very, very late in the draft or not at all. Dare I say Alex Rios value?
2B Ian Kinsler - He had a surprising number of SB in his rookie year (11) for a
manager, Buck Showalter, who has nothing but antipathy for the stat (43 Sbs as a
team). He also hit 14 HRs. At a weak fantasy position, I expect to see
improvement in both categories. A 20/20 season is not out of the question. Just
like Corey Hart, he will be a very late pick and provide mid-round value.
OF Chris Young - He's a poor man's Mike Cameron. Just like Hart and Kinsler, he
offers 20/20 potential at late round prices.
OF Chris Duffy - Lost in Duffy's very public mental issues at the beginning of last
season is the fact he returned in August to steal 23 bags in 24 chances and hit .283 with a .356 OBP. There are no Pirates options that compare.

FM: Who are your deepest Sleepers?
Eric of Fake Teams: Jonny Gomes - He qualifies at DH/UT and will be overlooked by everyone as a
result. His shoulder seems fine right now and the DRays are committed to getting
him full-time ABs. Recall was crushing the ball before the shoulder injury. A
30HR/90 RBI season is reasonable and that from an undrafted player.
Adam Lind - The Blue Jays decided to take the sure-thing for $20MM in Frank Thomas
rather than turn the DH-role over the Adam Lind. Once the Blue Jays realize the
mistake of blocking Lind's ABs i.e. a Reed Johnson trade, he will rocket upwards
in value.

FM: First Pick, First Round.....Pujols or Soriano?
Eric of Fake Teams: Pujols. I love HR/SB players, but Pujols HR/RBI and AVG are too good a combination to bypass. With King Alberts' high AVG anchoring the category, I can pay a little more attention to HR/RBI/SB and less towards AVG. Soriano's AVG would actually force attention towards drafting a high AVG player to off-set Soriano's high-AB/mediocre AVG. I'd rather overdraft OF Mike Cameron than Freddie Sanchez.

Thank you Eric for you that analysis. Look for Eric's website in FBE's Writer's section at the top of the main page, but if your lazy, simply click this link for
Fake Teams.

Fantasy Baseball Express

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Drafting for Categories - A Great Way to Balance Your Team

2007 will be donned "The Year of the Strategy" by Fantasy Baseball Express. The players being drafted and the way in which the top fantasy stars are realistically chosen, leaves the door wide open for strategy. The perennial questions always remain - Do I draft power first? When do I grab a stolen base guy? When do I start drafting pitchers? Do I wait on pitching because we assume its deep? Do I dump a category like saves or stolen bases? Do I simply take the best player available? Do I draft my favorite player on my favorite team or over-pay just to make sure he is mine?

This season, many fantasy owners will make lethal mistakes on draft day without ever knowing it. However, one strategy that I personally believe in for 2007 and beyond is "Drafting for Categories" in most 5x5 or 6x6 leagues. The best part is, most of us already do it without ever realizing it.

Think about this, if you draft Albert Pujols at number one, you have average and power locked up(and by power I mean HR & RBI) early which allows you to take more high-risk high-reward players later in the draft. It could allow a manager to take a Torii Hunter in the 9th or 10th round of a 12 team snake draft who is in a contract year and is close to a sure shot at 20/20 but with a .270 something average. The presence of Pujols more than offsets Hunters average while adding a 20/20 player. Obviously, you will have to balance your team. Now I am not saying that if you draft Pujols, you have to take a low average 20/20 guy, but I am saying that by taking Pujols, you will have the luxury of this option without hurting your overall team average potential.

Another example would be to take Ryan Howard with your first pick and then you can feel free to take an average/runs/stolen base guy like Jeter or Sizemore whose power numbers are simply extra gravy. In this example, you have your 5 or 6 categories covered (as if OBP was the 6th) by two players, you can feel at ease about taking a stud pitcher in round 3 like Roy Halladay, Chris Carpenter, or Roy Oswalt this season to cover Wins, K's, ERA, & WHIP. This will allow you to spend picks 4, 5 & 6 complimenting your your offense and possibly a top flight closer like K-Rod, Mariano Rivera, Joe Nathan, or Huston Street. Keeping in mind its important when drafting hitters early to shoot for .300+ average type players like Robinson Cano, Joe Mauer or Garrat Atkins in the 4th round. By doing that, you will have a great season average and cover weak positions like catcher, second base or third base. You can then steal a Scott Kazmir, Chris Young, Dontrelle Willis, or a Diasuke Matsuzaka in round 5 and one of those top closers I mentioned earlier in the 6th round. Use the 7th and 8th on grabbing the best available hitters and by the end of the 8th round, you will have every category covered by fantasy superstars. To go back a second, you can grab an Ichiro or a Bobby Abreu in the 3rd, Mauer, Cano, or Atkins in the 4th, and then a top flight pitcher in the 5th most likely Peavy, Zambrano or Webb. Regardless, there are hundreds of different paths you can take to get this result, but after reviewing and participating in recent mock drafts, the above scenarios are "realistic" paths for your fantasy draft to take.

In essence, by the end of round 8 in a normal 12 team roto league, you could potentially have drafted one of fantasy's top power hitters, a top average/runs/speed producer, one of the 6 top flight pitchers (Halladay, Carpenter, Oswalt, Peavy, Zambrano, Webb), a potential league batting champion or another 5 tool fantasy player, a top flight closer, another top pitcher and have every category covered by a stud fantasy player. You may then spend the rest of your draft building a strong offense and pitching staff by alternating picks with the best available player approach.

Why does this strategy work? First, you are not leaving a category at the draft, meaning that you are not dumping stolen bases, saves, wins, etc. A league is won by accumulating the most points by the end of the season. That is what a fantasy season is all about when you break it down to its simplest form. We need points to win. Second, your making sure each category is covered early with a surefire stud fantasy player leaving you with 15+ rounds to complete your work of art, your winning fantasy team. That is 15+ rounds of picking the best player available and stocking up stats, categories, young players with upside, solid veteran full-time players, high risk-high reward players, and a minor leaguer or two with star studded potential as late round fliers to stash on your bench. Just remember to make sure you have room for these players and get all your positions covered. Also, as I mentioned before, alternating hitting and pitching might be the best way to go for these remaining rounds. Do not wait late for pitching, or you'll be stuck with a staff full of Doug Davis', the Jeff Suppan's, the Tomo Ohka's, or the Horacio Ramirez's and no real surefire "stat getter".

To give you a better idea, below are the cumulative category numbers in two leagues, one of 12 teams and one of 14 teams, I participated in last season. Use these final statistics as a guide when projecting your teams potential stats but keep in mind that these total also account for trades and waiver wire pick ups but drafting a potential amount of stats in each category will give you the best result when using this strategy. Let's look at the numbers.....

I played in two leagues last season, a 12 team and a 14 team, 8 keepers, mixed league, 23 man active roster with 14 bench players and all the normal rules. After going through the rigors of a full season, the cumulative standings looked like this....

League 1
BA- .293 W- 114
HR - 326 K- 1334
R - 1242 ERA- 3.79
RBI- 1188 WHIP - 1.249
Sb- 221 SV - 94

League 2
BA- .290 W- 109
HR - 371 K- 1343
R - 1238 ERA- 3.79
RBI- 1278 WHIP - 1.251
Sb- 187 SV - 127

See the similarities between leagues? See the differences? These are two totally different leagues, same set up, but different people. These were also live auction drafts, an auction salary cap, 8 keepers, and having some players no longer eligible to be kept. Here is an explanation for some differences.
- In league 2, the saves leader drafted 4 closers including Rivera, Cordero, Hoffman and got lucky with Papelbon....and started them all.
- In league 2, the Homerun leader had Howard, Cabrera, Hafner, Hall and picked up Uggla early and capitalized on at least 20 of his homeruns.
- League 2 has been in existence for 3 years, league 1 has been in existence 6+ years.
- The stolen base leader in league 2 had Crawford, Hanley, & Ichiro. This was the same guy who had the top power I mentioned above. As you can probably imagine, he won the league.

My point with the cumulative league stats is to show you an average 12team or 14 team - 23 man roster type league and emphasize the average amounts of stats per category you could expect to need to win a particular category regardless of team amount.

Now, I know what your thinking, and yes, its unlikely you will win every category in both pitching and hitting, but its not impossible. There is a chance it could happen but the probability is extremely low as you will always lack in something. However, finishing the season in first or second in every category will almost assure you a ranking at the top of the standings.

Overall, drafting to category can be a smart and effective way to building a winning fantasy team. Of course, it all depends on picking "the right" players and hoping your team comes together. Also, remember that a nice amount of those cumulative stats come from waiver wire moves, trades, injury pick-ups, and maximizing your lineup potential. Leaving an open slot for one week or playing a cold player too long and not staying active can have negative overall effects on your overall team success.

Questions? Comments? Email me at

Also, check out more draft strategies at
Fantasy Baseball Express

Mike Kuchera
Fantasy Baseball Express
Home of The Fantasy Man Show Baseball Advice Podcast
Member of the Fantasy Baseball Writers Association

Friday, January 12, 2007 Expert Draft

The Fantasy Man is on the loose again!! Mock Draft Central has invited me to participate with the best of the best in an expert draft on Wednesday, January 17th at 8:00pm EST. I snagged the 4th pick in this 10 Team League. I am wondering who will fall to me! I'm hoping someone picks Santana which could leave me Soriano, Arod, or Howard. Hmmmm, this could get interesting! So check it out, view the draft live and also post in their forum.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Ultimate Versatility 2007

Do you get that feeling of joy when you win money from a scratch off, see your name in the newspaper, or pull a sweet rookie card? What about when your 9th round pick Second Baseman plays a game at Shortstop and becomes eligible at multiple positions? There is nothing better than owning an everyday player with position versatility. Just ask the owners of Miguel Cabrera last year who used him at 3B & OF or Lance Berkman who was used at 1B & OF. How about Ty Wiggington who was eligible at 1B, 2B, 3B, & the OF by mid season? Helpful? I believe so. Season saver? Quite possibly. A versatile player can sometimes make or break a fantasy season. At the very least, they can quickly fill a hole after an injury, trade or a demotion. Versatile players are like active owners, every fantasy team needs one!

Below, you will find a list of The Fantasy Man's versatile players ranked in order of preference. Remember, most leagues set standards for position eligibility. Some leagues allow one game at a position before making a player eligible, some need 5 games, some 10, some 20. It depends on your league, so make sure you check your league rules before you use this tool. Remember, its just a guide to help you on draft day. Go to the Draft Tools page, click on the link that says "Ultimate Versatility", and print out this list for your draft.

**Troy Glaus - Eligible at 3B & SS. Now you can get yourself about 40 homers/100 RBI from a middle infield position!

1. Lance Berkman - 1B/OF eligible. Best available player with versatility.

2. Chone Figgins - 34 games at 3B, 118 in OF, 9 at 2B, 2 at SS - eligible in some leagues. Nice stolen base potential but his average is a concern.

3. Gary Sheffield - Played 9 games at 1B for the Yankees. 1B/OF eligibility is nice with his power, but will his age catch up to him? Shoud mostly DH in Detroit.

4. Mike Cuddyer - Played 6 games at 1B last season. Only eligible at 1B & OF in some leagues. Break out season last year. Let's hope he can get his average up.

5. Julio Lugo - 2B, 3B, SS and OF in some leagues. Nice speed/versatile guy hopefully hitting in front of Manny and Papi.

6. Ryan Freel - 2B, 3B, OF eligible. 500 At bats can brings a potential 40+ stolen bases.

7. Bill Hall - 2B, 3B, SS & OF in some leagues. Most games at 3B & SS. Will be the full time Center Fielder.

8. Josh Willingham - Played 2 games each at C & 1B along with OF. Still has power and upside.

9. Adam Dunn - Played 2 games at 1B and rest in OF so he's versatile in some leagues but his average is atrocious.

10. Nick Swisher - 1B/OF eligible. Lets hope he can get that average up!

11. Freddie Sanchez - 2B, 3B & SS eligible. Lacks power but last years batting title is a nice sign.

12. Kevin Youkilis - 1B, 3B and OF eligible. Will probably hit at bottom of order in Boston if Crisp leads off.

13. Chris Duncan - 1B/OF eligible. Nice power for a young stud with upside.

14. Aubrey Huff - 3B/OF eligible with 3 games at 1B last season. Should be everyday Left Fielder.

15. Wilson Betemit - 2B, 3B & SS eligible. Thought of as a huge sleeper by most.

16. Chris Burke - 2B/OF eligible but has 8 games at SS which make him eligible in some leagues. 20/20 potential with 500 at bats but more like 15/15.

17. Alfredo Amezaga - Eligible at 1B, 2B, 3B, SS & OF in some leagues. Sleeper to steal 20+ bases with 350 at bats. He's not a starter but the stolen bases are attractive.

18. Ty Wiggington - 12 games in the OF gives Wiggy 1B, 2B, 3B & OF eligibility. No real position but can play anywhere is an injury occurs to a starter.

19. Rich Aurilia - 1B, 2B, 3B, SS eligible. Will play everyday in San Fran. Expect at least .285/20+/75. He's a sleeper people will forget about on draft day.

20. Mark DeRosa - 1B, 2B, 3B, SS & OF eligible in some leagues. If he starts, he'll put up some decent numbers. Might be a great late round flier pick.

21. James Loney - Played 2 games in OF and the rest at 1B. Blocked by Garciaparra at 1B, and Pierre, Gonzo, and Ethier in OF....but has potential if he can get a full-time gig.

22. Aaron Hill - Lacks pop and speed but 2B/SS eligible. If your desperate in deep leagues only!

23. Pedro Feliz - 3B, SS & OF in some leagues. Expect the same as usual.

24. Casey Blake - 1B/OF eligible. Could find himself without a position if he does not have a good spring.

25. Scott Spezio - 1B, 2B, 3B, OF eligible. Could be a nice utility player with 400+ at bats.

26. Xavier Nady - 1B/OF eligible. Nice power option if he can stay healthy in Pittsburgh.

27. Mike Piazza - Still catcher eligible despite being a full time DH in 2007.

28. Alex Cintron - 2B, 3B & SS eligible. Some fantasy value if he starts but seems to be blocked.

29. Nick Punto - 2B, 3B & SS eligible. A starting spot of 500 at bats could get you 20+ stolen bases, but doesnt have much power.

30. Jeff Baker - Looks to be an RBI machine for the Rockies. 1B/3B/OF eligibility for this rookie sleeper in some leagues. Should play almost everyday while spelling Hawpe, Holliday, Helton and Atkins.

31. Dallas McPherson - Dont forget about this sleeper. Played 6 games at 1B. 1B/3B in some leagues. Hit 40 Homers only 3 years ago in the minors. Plagued by injuries but should be healthy by Spring Training.

32. Kelly Johnson - Could be a sleeper in Atlanta with eligibility at 2B & OF. With Giles gone, will compete for 2B job.

33. Macier Izturis - 3B & SS eligible and 2B in some leagues. Late round pick if your desperate but he is only a back up.

34. Chris Gomez - 36 this year but quite a utility guy. 1B, 2B eligible with SS & 3B in some leagues. Waiver Wire Material.

35. Freddie Bynum - 2B & OF eligible. Has some speed if he can get 300 abs. Waiver wire material.

36. Geoff Blum - 1B, 2B, 3B, SS eligible in some leagues but not much fantasy value.

37. Pete Orr - 2B/3B eligible but not much fantasy value.

The Fantasy Man
Fantasy Baseball Express
Home of the Fantasy Man Show Baseball Podcast
Member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association