Monday, March 16, 2015

Fantasy Baseball Strategy Top 10 Players

By Jason Fletcher

I am a huge fantasy sports fan for anyone that doesn't know. Fantasy football is my 1st love, but fantasy baseball is a close 2nd. A lot of people don't like fantasy baseball because it is pretty time consuming having to check your lineup everyday to see who's pitching, if there are any injuries, and if anybody is off that day. Personally, I like that aspect of the game. It lets you be both the general manager and manager of your team on an everyday basis. You get the general manager part by being able to draft your team at the beginning of the season and make free agent pickups and trades throughout the year. The managerial part is being able to set your lineup every day and bench guys who are struggling and start guys who are hot. The key to the whole game, in my opinion, is to draft a solid nucleus that you can rely on for the core of your production, then surround them with a couple waiver wire pickups who come out of nowhere sometime throughout the year. It's a little more in depth than fantasy football where there may be 1 or 2 real solid guys on the waiver wire every week who happen to get an expanded opportunity that could really help your team. In baseball, guys go through hot and cold streaks constantly throughout and the year and the key is to play them when they are hot and sit them when they get cold. It's a whole lot easier said than done you have to keep up on each player's stats daily until you see a pattern one way or the other.

When drafting, a lot of guys like to fill each individual position first then start drafting depth. I like to draft studs and find a position for them later. If you draft 3 outfielders in the 1st 3 rounds because that's who you have ranked as your top available players when your turn to draft comes around then that's what you should do. Best Player Available (BPA) is the best way to draft I've found throughout my 13 years of playing fantasy baseball. You also want to try to keep balance between pitchers and positions players. I would say draft an ace in one of the top 3 rounds then try to pull the trigger on a pitcher once in every 2 to 3 picks. In order to win your league, you can't afford to have any categories where your team is really bad. So try to find a balance between power and average on offense, then draft a couple guys late that are strictly for stolen bases. On the pitching side, get 3-4 solid starting pitchers, 3-4 average closers, and then take a chance on a couple sleepers or young guys getting their chance this year. If you follow these tips, there is no reason you can't have a successful fantasy baseball season.

My Top 10 Players for the 2015 Fantasy Baseball Season

1.OF Mike Trout Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim-If you have the 1st overall pick, there is no way you can pass on Trout. He is the most well-rounded player in all of baseball and gives you a little bit of everything. He gives you power, stolen bases, and he hits for average. There is no player like him so if you pass you will be shooting yourself in the foot before the season even starts.

2.OF Andrew McCutchen Pittsburgh Pirates-McCutchen is Trout-lite. He has all the same tools that Trout has, but he does not quite get the RBI chances that Trout gets because of the DH being in the American League. He also doesn't quite have as power as Trout. Yet again though, he can do anything on a baseball field just not to the level of Trout. His ability to steal bases gives him the slight edge over #4 on this list.

3.SP Clayton Kershaw Los Angeles Dodgers-He is the best pitcher in baseball by a mile. If you'd rather go pitching first, there could be an argument made for drafting him over McCutchen. There's no weakness in his game. He checks every box. He gets wins and strikeouts with miniscule ERA and WHIP. Short of an injury, you can bank on him being a top 3 SP at season's end.

4.OF Giancarlo Stanton Miami Marlins-There is a little more upside to drafting Stanton this year than in years past. He is surrounded by a better lineup and he has Dee Gordon hitting lead-off which should give him many more opportunities for RBI's. He is going to hit 40-50 bombs and bat around .290-.300. The only thing that he doesn't do is steal bases.

5.1B Paul Goldschmidt Arizona Diamondbacks-Goldschmidt got derailed by injury last year, but he still showed the same ability to rake as in years past. Like Stanton, he hits for pop and for average. He also plays in a very hitter-friendly ballpark in Chase Field. He should hit 30-35 homers with over 100 RBI's and an above .300 batting average. He doesn't steal very many bases and 1st base is such a deep position for power numbers some may not want to draft him this high. I say that's a mistake.

6.1B Miguel Cabrera Detroit Tigers-He is coming off of off-season foot surgery which will hopefully clear up all the injury problems he had last season. There were games where he could barely run and yet he never lost that sweet swing of his. If there were no injury concerns, he would be higher on this list, but he is getting older and you don't know if last year was a fluke or a sign of his body breaking down. I probably wouldn't draft him here, but you can't ignore his numbers and talent.

7.OF Carlos Gomez Milwaukee Brewers-Gomez has been kind of a late bloomer, but boy has he finally put it all together. He is lightning fast and also has pop with the ability to hit .300. You just can't ignore guys that cover all your bases. That's what makes him a 1st round pick. Hopefully, Brewers Manager Ron Roenicke bats Gomez in the 3 spot every single day, that will help his RBI chances.

8.1B Jose Dariel Abreu Chicago White Sox-Wow, what a rookie year Abreu had for the White Sox. He blasted 36 homers, had 107 RBI's, and hit .317 on the year. He is a polished hitter and he should only get better with a whole Major League Baseball season behind him. Last year, he was a late round flier and this year he should be a 1st rounder. Again, the only negative for him is how deep 1st base is. You can get better value later, but he certainly has more upside than most of those guys.

9.OF Adam Jones Baltimore Orioles-The face of the franchise has a little more responsibility on his shoulders this season with the loss of Nick Markakis, but there are still plenty of talented hitters around him. The Orioles still have Manny Machado, J.J. Hardy, Chris Davis is coming back from suspension, and Matt Wieters is coming back from surgery. That should be more than enough pieces to force pitchers to pitch to Jones. He has turned himself into one of the best hitters in baseball and he too can hit for power and average. The Orioles score a lot of runs so it would be nice to grab the best hitter on a great offense.

10.OF Jose Bautista Toronto Blue Jays-Here is another late bloomer who just seemed to figure it all out when he got traded from the Pirates to the Blue Jays. All of a sudden, he discovered his power stroke and still has the ability to hit .280-.290 every year. Toronto also should have a much improved lineup with possibly the best 3,4,5 combination in baseball with Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and newly acquired Josh Donaldson. They also have one of the best lead-off hitters in the league in Jose Reyes. This offense should score lots of runs and Bautista will be a main cog in that lineup.

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