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Spring Is In The Air (part 2)

March 1, 2010


This day in age there is no excuses for not being prepared for your draft and season.  Managing a championship fantasy season isn’t an easy task, but with the information available to owners you can put yourself in a better position to do so.  Studying splits, numbers and averages other owners won’t or don’t know about can give you a huge leg up in predicting players ups and downs from season to season or month to month.  Knowing what players historically have been good first half players or slow starters and furious finishers can help you make that mid-season pick up or trade to put your team over the top.  Also, look at numbers behind the numbers.  Everyone can look at a player betting average and tell you whether the player hit well last year or not, but a players BA doesn’t always tell the whole story.  Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) measures the “luck” factor players encountered during the season by computing a  players batting average when he puts the ball in the field of play.  Knowing this number can be important in determining whether a player had an unlucky year and if its reasonable to expect a rebound or if the player had and extremely high BABIP and we can expect the players numbers to drop slightly.  The average number for hitters is right around the .290 mark, looking for players way above that (Joey Votto .372, David Wright .394 and Chris Couglan .365) or way below that mark (Jermaine Dye .269, Carlos Quentin .223 and Geovany Soto .251) could be the key to finding the next break out performance.


While the draft is a very important part of the fantasy season, it doesn’t spell the end of your team if you had a poor draft, and conversely, it does not mean you will walk to a title with a strong draft.  The Major League season is every part of 6 months long and during the course of those months, so much can happen to players and teams that forces the fantasy player to be on his toes almost daily.  Watching the free agent lists is the first and most important tool a good fantasy owner must utilize.  Keeping up with players off to hot starts or players taking over for injured regulars, to players finally getting to play full-time, a savvy fantasy player can make several moves during the season to improve his team.  Marking players of special interest before the season and watching their playing time and statistics can pay off huge in the long run.  Watching hyped prospect Tommy Hanson was  a good idea last year as he tore up AAA ball fantasy owners waiting and watching for the Braves to finally call up their stud in waiting were rewarded nicely last year.  Likewise owners who waited for the early season struggles of Ricky Nolasco, Troy Tulowitzki and Lance Berkman were rewarded with discounted prices.  Just as important as waiting and catching the next hot streak or stud rookie can be an owners ability to give up on a lost season from a high draft pick or auction priced player.  Jumping off the bandwagon early of players like Alfonso Soriano, Corey Hart, Jose Reyes, Garrett Atkins and many others probably saved a good deal of owners fantasy seasons.  While its hard to determine which of these players will bounce back and which of them will continue to struggle all season can be difficult, some of the risks can be cut down by using some common sense rationale.  Players at fantasy shallow positions like catcher and shortstop are difficult to give up on early in the season because there simply isn’t many options behind the top of the lists to help put up better numbers at that position.  Starting pitching is always at a premium and while there are always lots of replacement options who can ride weeks to months long hot streaks not watching for struggling players to return or turn it around can cost you big time at the end of the season.  Players who remembered Chris Carpenter had a non throwing arm injury, or watching Nolasco return from the minor leagues were rewarded with very strong second halves.  Players injuring vital body parts to their fantasy strengths should be easier to drop than a player just in a cold spell.  Take Reyes for example.  Speed is the name of his game and with him severely injuring his hamstring (an already dangerous and unpredictable recovery injury) it did not speak well for his return for the 2009 season.  Same goes with pitchers with injures to their pitching arms.  It may be listed as shoulder soreness or elbow weakness, but these are not good signs for pitchers labeled to only be missing a few weeks or months.  Only studs like the Halladays’, Sabathias’ and the Harens’ are worth the wait on mysterious injuries that could linger on.  Also, players who play in deep fantasy positions like outfield and first and third base can be more easily dropped and picked up from the free agent lists.  Your more likely to be able to replace a slumping players stats in the outfield than you are at shortstop or second base.  You are also more likely to retain that player if he hits the waiver wire and can become lost in the sea of players performing at his level or even slightly above.


While all these tips can be helpful and even lead you to a fantasy championship, it takes time and experience to know when to make the moves and who to move them for.  If your new to the fantasy world my advice would be get into lots of different free leagues with lots of different formats and study what your strengths are and what you may need to improve.  Also, make note of what worked for the teams that won your league. Many sites also offer free mock drafts to help players get a feel for when players are being drafted.  Participating in several of these will give owners a feel of when they need to make a move for the pitching they desire or which sleepers will still be available in round 12.  Knowing these trends will  payoff big time during the draft and may save you from drafting a player too soon or missing out on your chance to get the player you really covet.  Using all the tools at your disposal will give you a competitive advantage over most of the other owners in your league and in turn will provide you with a better overall fantasy experience.

Take these tips with you into the next season and come back in the next days and weeks to look at more in-depth and ranking specific advice for the upcoming season from Fantasy Sports Donkey!

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