This article will be focused on deeper leagues – at least 12 managers – with roughly the following positions: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, CI, MI, OF, OF, OF, OF, UT and several pitching slots.
In the first round, ‘best available player’ rules in every draft. Ditto for the second and third rounds. Get the best available players to form the cornerstone of your team. Does ‘best available’ include starting pitchers? Yes. Remember the days when starters seemed to get injured more than position players? Well, it’s probably still true but I sure have lost a lot of time to hamstring, calf, shoulder, back, knee, flu-like symptons, food poisoning, ankle, achilles heel, hip flexor, elbow, neck and concussion injuries from the position players.
In deeper leagues with CI and MI, the infield positions become critically important as the draft moves on. You don’t need to draft a #100 player in the 4th round but keep position scarcity in mind. As the draft proceeds, the tie-breaker always goes to the infielder. Finding a solid 4th outfielder or 5th starter is much easier down the road than finding a solid infielder. It can be done but avoid this headache if possible.
What about a catcher? I’ve won leagues with a strong catcher and I’ve won them without one. That said, it’s easier with a strong catcher. Victor Martinez has won many a league for me. If a strong catcher is available when your pick comes up, take him. But don’t reach. OK, I may reach for Buster Posey. Brian McCann has disappointed me two too many times to draft, much less reach.
What about closers? This depends on the league. If you’re in a public league draft, forget the closers until toward the end. You can pick up 2 or 3 guys late and then grab new closers as they emerge during the season. If you’re in a private league and have a feel for the other managers, your knowledge of their tendencies will dictate your strategy. One league I’m in drafts closers way too early – despite being a deep league (14 teams) using MI, CI, and a 4th OF. Once the closers start going off the board there, you better move fast. In that league a reach of 5 rounds too early for a closer is common. Some managers stay with drafting the stronger players during the closer run. In this league, I like to take a top notch closer a little early, focus on position players and starting pitchers, and then come back to closers a few rounds later.
As with all drafts though, do not let position scarcity dissuade you from taking home run hitters early. The HR stat is the single most important statistic in fantasy baseball – roto or match-up. Get your bombers first. Then, and only then, consider a player’s position.