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Friday, March 07, 2008

Best Spot to Draft in Fantasy Baseball?

What is the best spot to draft in your Fantasy Baseball league? Common sense argues that it is always best to have the first pick in any kind of Fantasy draft. This is truly the only way you can get a shot a prime top-3 draft pick like Alex Rodriguez, Hanley Ramirez, or David Wright. It would make logical sense that this is the best place to start your assualt on your Fantasy Baseball league competitors.

Hold on. Wait a second. By taking a quick look at some of the data from Fantasy Baseball, you may reach some different conclusions. Could it possibly be better to pick later in the first round, rather than at the beginning? I will tell you my thoughts.

First though, a little bit of background. Our Fantasy Baseball league is hosted over at CBS Sportsline where it has been since 2001. There has been a core group of gentlemen (about 7 of us) that have participated throughout the years while a few others have come and gone. We have had 3 winners of titles in the 7 years, one gentleman 3 times, another twice, and myself once -- in 2006.

In all, the league has been a keeper league, however in the recent few years -- your keepers have to be from a draft round later than round 5 or from the waiver wire. Keepers can only be kept for one year. In our drafts, we do reverse order every other round so, the person that gets the 10th pick, also gets the 11th pick, etc.

Then the email came out Thursday announcing the random draft order for our league. I was a little annoyed because it was going to be the second year in a row and 3 out of the last 5 years that the "randomly weighted" draft put me at the bottom. At the same time, another owner who has consistently been in the bottom of the league complained about not having a top three pick.

I thought that comment was a little ludicrous in the fact that why should I fail to have the opportunity to draft Alex Rodriguez (he tends to be the first pick each year) for instance just because that owner fails to manage their team year-after-year. I threatened to have my roster illegal all year just so I could have the first pick next year.

The good news is that the email with the draft order was sent out in error and they were not the correct picks. The draft order will be updated in the next few days. However, I digress.

In our league, the last few years there has been a inverse relationship between the initial order in the draft and the outcome for the league. Here are the examples:

In 2003, the winner picked 10th in the draft.
In 2004, the winner picked 8th, 2nd place (me) picked 10th in the draft.
In 2005, the winner picked 9th in the draft.
In 2006, I won after I picked 6th in the draft.
In 2007, the winner picked 5th in the draft.

Amazingly, nobody with a top-4 pick won the draft -- what is that saying? It would seem there may be a few arguements that could be made.

1. The truly elite and CONSISTENT talent in Major League Baseball really falls off after the middle of the second round.
2. In fantasy baseball, it is more about having a "decent" draft day, and moving quickly on the waiver wire after the start of the season. Many players are not consistent from year to year so you need to find who is going to be hot -- and undrafted as early as possible.
3. There is a ton of luck involved with baseball, more than any other sport.

I tend to agree with points #1 and #2 in my experience from Fantasy Baseball. What is your experience? After thinking about this in detail here, I now have to think about what place I want to fall in the draft. In my opinion, 5th-7th in the draft would seem to be optimum. You still get that elite talent in the beginning of the draft and you are well positioned to adjust each round as you are in the middle of order -- no more than 10 picks from you next pick.

What do you think?


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