Head to Head League Strategy – Hitting

An earlier article covered what I consider to be the finer points of drafting a team in a head to head scoring league. It focused primarily on pitching and you can review it here. We have pitching down so we can kinda gloss over hitting right? If I was French I would say “au contraire”, but I’m not, so I’ll say “Not so fast”. Hitting is half of the scoring in a head to head league setup. We can’t mail it in there on draft day, but rest assured though, I have something lined up that should keep you competitive from start to finish. As I mentioned in the first article I like to stack offense first, getting two starting pitchers in the first 10 rounds. This assures me of having the best chance of getting the players I want for offense, and sets up the pitching heavy approach I take.

Same rules apply as before. Read, comment, ask questions, share, and criticize. In the end, we’re all here to help each other right? On to the Q&A!

 
Q. What are you looking for in a hitter?

 

A. The batting categories used in H2H scoring are generally AVG, HR, RBI, Runs and Steals. Sometimes a league will get sneaky and toss OPS in there. Personally I like to target guys that will hit homers and steal bases. This is an approach I call the “Two Headed Monster” (I just started calling it that now). The line of thinking being that players who hit homers also contribute RBI’s and runs, and players that steal bases generally score runs. So logically, if we get players who contribute to both HR’s and steals, then we will also get players who contribute runs and RBI’s. Our Two Headed Monster is like a Four Headed Monster now! Four heads are way scarier (thus cooler) than two.

Q. You mentioned OPS there…

A. I did, but that wasn’t a question.

Q. What about leagues that use OPS in scoring? What then?

A. I employ the same strategy. OPS is OBP + SLG. If a player is hitting a HR’s, then he is driving up his SLG and he is getting on base. Win/win right there. If a player can steal bases, they generally are adept at getting on base to utilize their speed. The players we target should be contributors here by default, but if I’m stuck between two guys and it’s my pick, I’ll roll with whoever should have the better OBP.

Q. What order do you generally look to fill positions?

A. Using the strategy I’m describing we have to be aware it’s impossible to get someone who can hit homers and steal bases at every position. Immediately catcher and first base come to mind as tough if not impossible places to achieve this goal. As with a lot of strategies, I would try to get a power-hitting first baseman if I’m lucky to have an early first round pick. If I can’t get someone of the Pujols, Cabrera, Gonzalez ilk, I would switch to get either Pedroia or Kinsler at 2B. On the turn through the 2nd round, I would switch my attention to a Granderson, CarGo or McCutchen, and then pray that I could land David Wright or Brett Lawrie in the 3rd round. If you missed that power hitting 1B in round 1, target someone like (in this instance, “target someone like” actually means “do anything to draft”) Eric Hosmer, who will actually push 15 steals from a position where anyone who steals over 8 bases is considered fast.

Q. Really? Brett Lawrie in the 3rd?

A. Shut up. I value power and speed above all else in this strategy and Lawrie is the only 3B I have found that is projected to go 20/20 from ZiPS, RotoChamp and Bill James. Wright I feel is capable, but I think with Lawrie it’s a lock. No one else will give that kind of across the board production.

Q. You seem to like steals a lot. Where does a player like Michael Bourn fit in?

A. Michael Bourn may be a gifted base stealer, and score runs, but he has no power. I like to refer to this type of player as a one trick pony and in my draft, he isn’t considered. I will skip over him. Same thing with someone like (gasp) Giancarlo Stanton! He’s a great player, and he certainly is a power threat, but he isn’t going to get to the double digit mark in steals. Once again, Stanton is a one trick pony. This line of thinking will raise eyebrows at the draft table, but in the end you are grabbing a reliable (not sexy) starting pitcher, and someone else across the way is trying to decide between Ben Revere and Coco Crisp. I would love an outfield of McCutchen, Shin-Soo Choo, and Drew Stubbs, or Alex Gordon, or BJ Upton, or Chris Young. To me all those guys are more valuable than a Jay Bruce, Cory Hart, Jayson Werth or Jason Heyward.

Q. Do you totally disregard AVG?

A. Granted, my team won’t be leading the league in AVG with Stubbs and Upton or Young in roaming my virtual outfield, but as outlined before I’m shooting to consistently perform well in HR, R, RBI, and Steals. I’ll get a boost in OPS from the type of guys I’m drafting. We aren’t skipping AVG, but we aren’t looking to win it week in and week out anyway. Players are streaky. You will pick up more than a handful of wins in the batting AVG department as the season goes on.

Q. How do you fill out your bench?

A. This was covered in the pitching section, but it’s important so it bears repeating. We do not draft any position players for our bench. If you are picking them all up early, anyone drafted in the first 12 rounds is going to be better than anyone you get in 17 and later. You aren’t going to want to bench Adrian Gonzalez for Gabby Sanchez. You will have at least 1 “stud” pitcher since you drafted two guys in your top 10 picks. After that the rest of your bench is used on pitching. Since you don’t have a ton of elite guys, you have to go the quantity over quality method. Get guys that will not kill you in ERA or WHIP. Stream two start pitchers to maximize your counting stats for the week and load up on relievers to stabilize your ERA and WHIP. Sure, you will have 3 or 4 starters you want to keep all the time, but it isn’t a bad idea to have 2 extra guys you aren’t married to that you can drop without regret to use as your revolving door of two start pitchers.