Tips for newbies

Major League Baseball : News : Mark Newman

MLB.com’s Mark Newman asked me to kick in some tips for new fantasy baseball players. 10 to be exact. I gave him 11 and he appropriated the last one, which is to have fun. Reading them over now I wonder if I missed some.

PLAYER TRACK

PLAYER TRACK

This is a nifty piece of online software that comes with a price attached. You’ll have to decide if the early promise is worth the price, but I have a compulsive desire to make lists, and Playertrack.com certainly feeds that addiction. The site advertised in the Fantasy Baseball Guide this year, and we appreciate advertisers. What I’d like to see is a way to plug other sets of numbers into the mechanism, so you could analyze projections, or 2004 numbers, or three year averages. Even if you don’t want to pay it’s worth checking out for the Top 10 lists that come for free, which hint at what’s possible.

The Best Projections in the Universe

Baseball HQ: HQ Today

I received a copy of John Burnson’s Graphical Pitcher 2006 today from Amazon. No time yet to delve deeply into charts, which present a cognitive problem, at least at first. How to absorb a ton of information until you speak fluently the local dialect? I did read all the text, which is informative and entertaining (as the ultra-bright and engergetic Burnson always, in my experience, is). But the real wow is a study he (they?) published at baseball HQ last year after randomly drafting gazzilions of virtual fantasy teams, calculating virtual standings, and tracking which players appeared more often on winning teams.

This is a brilliant way to solve so many player valuation problems, one that was hinted at when roto stat service pioneer Jerry Heath published which players appeared most often on the last place and first place roto teams in the leagues he served. But taken to this level I believe it qualifies as original rotisserie research, which is a rare thing and about the highest praise I can give.

Which got me to go to baseballhq.com looking for the original article. I didn’t get to WOW before stumbling over this article Ron published in his free weekly newsletter last week. It doesn’t say much more than last year’s “Player Projections are a Crock” article did, but he says it more vehemently. I agree with him, as you know if you’ve been coming here regularly over the past few years, but I think he’s giving short shrift to the key role of the fantasy tout, which is to identify not only which players are going to get worse or better but which are going to get the most better or worse relative to public expectations.

The most important number to know, if you could, would be what price a guy is going to go for in your league.
The second most important is to know how to maximize each player’s contribution by putting together a solid roster. Ron has long focused on this in very constructive ways, but Burnson’s article in The Graphical Pitcher 2006 (and presumably archived somewhere at baseballhq.com) makes you say, “Wow.”

The Short of It

Fantasy: Top 20 Shortstops For 2006 — The Hardball Times

The laudable Hardball Times has a Top 5, and I have a Top 5.

Theirs: Jeter, Young, Reyes, Rollins, Lugo.

Mine: Young, Furcal, Tejada, Jeter, Rollins

Not huge differences, except I have Rollins at $30 and the next guy, Reyes, at $24. I’m sure Lugo doesn’t belong in the Top 5, and while I wouldn’t rule out Reyes doing it again, I wouldn’t pay for it. And I’ve loved Lugo longtime.

What does this mean? Not that much. In any roto auction Tim Dierkes would be more likely to end up with Lugo or Reyes and I’d be more likely to get Tejada or Furcal. And both of us would be scrapping for a number two.

I used to like Lugo in that role. Now, after a few years of getting burned, I’m going for Edgar Renteria, if his price has dropped enough.

Mock Draft Central: Fantasy Baseball Guide Mock Draft

Mock Draft Central: Draft Grid

I often feel like an explorer. For instance, the link above is to the draft grid for the Fantasy Baseball Guide 2006’s mock draft. But maybe you have to be a MockDraftCentral member to access this info.

I’m posting it here to find out. And if you’re reading this and it doesn’t work it’s because I’ve washed up on some shoals and have yet to find my way back. And I’m going to suggest to the sensible Jason Pliml that he make some of this info available for free, so that we all can see how useful his aggregated info is.

In the Guide there are five pages of mock draft player comments and strategy notes, and Matt Berry’s incredibly funny rationale for why he didn’t actually draft his mock team. And why maybe it doesn’t matter.

A surprising resource

Mock Draft Central Fantasy Baseball Mock Drafts

When I first visited Mock Draft Central a couple of years ago it was to do the mock draft for the Fantasy Baseball Guide. Looking over the site, noting that is a pay site, I thought that a site devoted to mock drafts was plain goofy. Not that I said that to Jason Pliml, whose baby this is. To him I said, Thank you for having us.
But then we did our draft, the software was quite helpful, and I began to see the appeal of a drafting site that works. And I continue to meet people for whom practice drafting is one of their most important prep practices going into the fantasy season. And this year the software is even better.
So, consider me converted. If you’re interested in mock drafting and want to learn more about how mockdraftcentral.com can help you improve your fantasy game, check out the sales pitch at the site and sign up for the free trial.