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Spring Is In The Air

February 24, 2010

As we near the end of February fantasy sports fans everywhere start to feel the itch that comes with the slightly warmer temperatures.  That’s because no matter what that silly groundhog saw earlier on in  month, pitchers and catchers have already reported to camps and spring baseball will soon be played.  An exciting time for any baseball fan no doubt but to the serious fantasy player now is the time to gear up the off-season research and start watching for signs of the next budding star, or evidence of the next falling one.  Below is a list of things to watch for over the next month before you enter your baseball draft that will help put you ahead of the game.

CHECK INJURY STATUS

Every year there is a list of former fantasy studs or sleepers that is coming back from injury or had some sort of “minor” surgery to clean knees, elbows, or shoulders out with the assumption that they will be back and healthy.  These things don’t always work out the way they are supposed to and keeping up with lists of players that are having set backs is vital to making the right choices draft day.  Most of your huge stars (A-Rods, Manny’s and Mauers) will be covered on any of the major sports news websites or TV stations with regularity and accuracy.  Finding out about the players who fly under the radar (the players that really win championships) takes a little more work.  From my experience the best way to truly read up on some important players with nagging injuries is that player’s home cities news paper.  With the internet streaming pretty much every major cities news covered online for free it would be foolish not to read weekly or even daily updates about Ben Sheets in Oakland or Rickie Weeks in Milwaukee.

COMPILE YOUR OWN RANKINGS AND LISTS

There are several quality publications out there committed to helping you draft your next championship team, but relying on one or two and using them as your only guide is a mistake.  It can take some players a couple of years to get used to the scoring, draft style, roster sizes, positions, and other subtle differences your league has from the traditional style fantasy baseball.  It would be foolish to think one chart or rankings list will be universal to helping you make a quality baseball roster.  Making your own rankings sheets and lists will help you get a feel for what you look for in a fantasy player.  It also will reveal certain trends or flaws some players have that will help you accurately predict parts of seasons.  Also, reviewing all the stats and numbers for the majority of players will create your own little library of baseball knowledge and statistics, by the time the regular season is set to begin  you will be surprised by how much you have learned.

KNOW YOUR LEAGUES SCORING AND SETUP INSIDE AND OUT

This could be the most underrated aspect of off-season preparations a fantasy player will go through before the draft day.  Knowing the rules and scoring and being able to take advantage of those things can make the difference between a playoff fantasy team and an also-ran.  Look for ways you can exploit your league scoring.  This mostly applies to league with non-traditional scoring systems that often times includes stat categories added on top of the usual 5×5 scoring systems.  Look for things that are rewarded twice such as Walks and OPS if they are included.  Or downgrade categories or players that don’t factor in as much.  Stolen base specialists become less important in a league that adds hitting categories because the players that lead this category tend to be more one-dimensional, conversely players that rank well in lots of non traditional categories become more valuable or in some cases a better Free Agent pickup.  Also make note of your leagues minimum games eligibility.  Often times players must have played at least 10-15 games at a position to be qualified to play there, If that number is low, say one or five, some players would have added value at weaker positions (ex. Pablo Sandoval played 3 games a catcher last year, his value is much higher as a catcher than it is as a 3rd baseman).  Read through the leagues entire settings and rules before you even make you lists and rankings noting important places where you think you can gain an advantage.

Part One of Two

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