The game of baseball is constantly changing and now, more than ever, we have easy access to fantastic stats, video and analysis. However, there is no better learning tool than looking back on past mistakes. Here are the top five lessons I learned in 2010.
5. Don’t rely to heavily on players returning from injury.
Alex Rodriguez, Jose Reyes and Lance Berkman were all on my FB365 League team. All disappointed big-time. I thought that Reyes in the third round and Berkman in the tenth round were opportunities to get round value. Sometimes players do bounce back, but in rounds one and three (A-Rod and Reyes) there were plenty of more reliable players still available. In 2011, I’ll be using all my early picks on players with as little risk as possible.
4. Don’t draft pitchers who will miss the first few months.
Eric Bedard has amazing stuff. He also has an amazing tendency to not take the mound more than a few times each season. There is really no sense in drafting a pitcher that will spend a significant amount of time on the DL to start the season. Every year, fantasy GM’s think that they can simply use a DL spot and stash these guys until they come back. Then, when the need for that DL or roster spot arises, they are forced to drop a player that would actually help in the here and now. Even when these injured pitchers do come off the DL, there is no guarantee that they will perform to previous standards. Johan Santana will be one of those players in 2011. You can have him.
3. Don’t overpay early in auction drafts.
I saw this happen in just about every auction draft I did last year. Early on, fantasy GM’s dish out huge amounts of their budget on first round type players. Joe Mauer going for $50, Hanley Ramirez going for $45. While the thought of being able to out-bid everyone for your favorite player is tantalizing, it is also unwise. I’ll try and snag a couple big names in the $30-$35 range, then let all the other teams chip away at their budgets. In one league I was able to get both Mariano Rivera and Heath Bell for around $15 each. Why? Because a bunch of the other teams had to carefully budget their remaining dollars for several more rounds, having overspent early on. Don’t spend to much on pitching and don’t come out of the gates on a spending spree.
2. Don’t give up on your sleepers too soon
There is a reason fantasy experts spend countless hours trying to identify sleepers and busts. So why did I give up on some of my sleepers so early? In a 14 team keeper league, I added Jose Bautista (whom I thought at the time could hit 25-plus home runs). He was hot for about a week in early April, but then fell into a big-time slump. I dropped him and wasn’t quick enough to add him again once he caught fire for a second time. Bautista went on to have a monster season and his home runs would have helped my team in a big way.
1. Always go for the glory
The dilemma of whether to go for it or play for next year is an annual mind game played by keeper league GM’s. There are instances where your team clearly has no shot at winning, however, if there is a chance that a couple moves could bump your team up the standings, you have to go for it. When Troy Tulowitzki broke his wrist in July of last season, I faced a major decision. I ended up trading away one of the most valuable keeper pieces in fantasy baseball to address several team needs. In the end, I finished four points short of a championship. No first place and no more Tulow. While it seems like a net loss, I’ll never look back with regret. I went for it all and will do the same 100 times over. Flags fly forever, don’t be shy about going for it all in 2011.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!