Friday, March 6, 2009

H2H Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy: Get Some S.A.C. (SB, AVG, and CL)

H2H leagues, in theory, allow you to try unusual draft strategies. In practice, I find myself reluctant to be too crazy in a money league. My heart says yes, but my head says no. Perhaps both your heart and head like to take risks. If so, you might want to give this strategy a try.

We already went over a pitching heavy strategy that I dubbed PHAC. This time around let's run a stolen base, batting average, and closer strategy up the flagpole and see how it flies. The goal is to win Saves, ERA, WHIP, SB, and AVG each week. To make the strategy more effective, it also helps to target guys who score a lot of runs. But first, a disclaimer.

Disclaimer: Before we delve into this deeper, I need to stress how crazy you'd have to be to try extreme strategies like this at home. You are essentially putting all your eggs in one strategy basket, going for broke, and so if you get a bit unlucky, it is unlikely you will be able to win a majority of the categories on a weekly basis. Even if your strategy works, an unbalanced team can have unlucky weeks and lose 8-2 or 9-1, whereas a more balanced team might suffer the occasional 4-5 and 3-6 loss on unlucky weeks but would rarely suffer a more lopsided loss. To pull this stunt, it also helps if you are in a daily league, as you can better tweak your lineup to protect your ratios (batting average, ERA, and WHIP) throughout the week.

Now. Let's say you have the 8th pick. You're in a regular 5x5, 12-team, H2H roto-style (not points) league, and the pitching slots are SP, SP, RP, RP, P, P, P. The weekly innings minimum is 12. The hitters are using the default Yahoo! settings (no corner or middle infielders).

Your goal is to target speed, but only if that speed is accompanied with a high batting average. You also want to get as many topline closers as possible. And at the end of the draft, you need two solid relievers with SP/RP eligibility (note: click here for notes on every single RP/SP eligible pitcher in Y! for 2009). You will not draft a single SP. The team you assemble should win you five of the ten categories each week, including ERA, which is the tiebreaker category in Y! leagues. In order to hedge your risk a bit more, I'd target high-average steals guys who also score a lot of runs.

Remember, your draft won't always look pretty, but with a little luck, it should get the job done. Your draft might look something like this:

1.Pick #8 Matt Holliday (.321 AVG, 28 SB, 107 R)
2.Pick #17 Dustin Pedroia (.326 AVG, 20 SB, 118 R) 653 at bats!!
3.Pick #32 Jonathan Pabelbon (ADP = 41)
4.Pick #41 Ichiro (.310 AVG, 43 SB, 103 R) 686 at bats!!
5.Pick #56 Jacoby Ellsbury (.280 AVG, 50 SB, 98 R)
6.Pick #65 Bobby Abreu (.296 AVG, 22 SB, 100 R)
7.Pick #80 Joakim Soria (ADP = 90)
8.Pick #89 Derrek Lee (.291, 8 SB, 93 R)
9.Pick #104 Michael Young (.284 AVG, 10 SB, 102 R)
10.Pick #113 Carlos Marmol (ADP = 111)
11.Pick #128 Kerry Wood (ADP = 123)
12.Pick #137 Matt Capps (ADP = 150)
13.Pick #152 Andre Ethier (.305 AVG, 6 SB, 90 R)
14.Pick #161 Chad Qualls (ADP = 175)
15.Pick #176 Conor Jackson (.300 AVG, 10 SB, 87 R)
16.Pick #185 Joey Devine (ADP = 191)
17.Pick #200 Pablo Sandoval (.345 AVG, 0 SB, 24 R)
18.Pick #209 Hong-Chih Kuo (SP/RP eligibility)
19.Pick #224 Delmon Young (.290 AVG, 14 SB, 80 R)
20.Pick #233 Kaz Matsui (.293 AVG, 20 SB, 58 R)
21.Pick #248 Ryan Theriot (.307 AVG, 22 SB. 85 R)
22.Pick #257 Carlos Villanueva (SP/RP eligibility)

(Note: the players in the above team should be understood as placeholders of sorts, merely to give you a better idea of what this draft strategy might look like if it were to be carried out in the present fantasy baseball market. During your draft, you can always target other pitchers or hitters that you feel are more likely to be available in your league or more likely to perform at a high level during the 2009 season.)

Other hitters you might target:

Nick Markakis (.306 AVG, 10 SB, 106 R)
Juan Pierre (.283 AVG, 40 SB, 44 R)
Brian Roberts (.293, 36 SB, 107 R)
Shane Victorino (.293 AVG, 36 SB, 102 R)
Matt Kemp (.290 AVG, 35 SB, 93 R)
Alex Rios (.291 AVG, 32 SB, 91 R)
Johnny Damon (.303 AVG, 29 SB, 95 R)
Randy Winn (.306 AVG, 25 SB, 84 R)
Fred Lewis (.282 AVG, 21 SB, 81 R)
Coco Crisp (.283 AVG, 20 SB, 55 R)
Denard Span (.294 AVG, 18 SB, 70 R)
Mark DeRosa (.285 AVG, 6 SB, 103 R)
Chipper Jones (.364 AVG, 4 SB, 82 R)
Iwamura (.274 AVG, 8 SB, 91 R)
Skip Schumaker (.302, 8 SB, 87 R)
Placido Polanco (.307 AVG, 7 SB, 90 R)
Jose Lopez (.297 AVG, 6 SB, 80 R)
Shin-Soo Choo (.309 AVG, 4 SB, 68 R)
Ryan Ludwick (.299 AVG, 4 SB, 104 R)
Kevin Youkilis (.312 AVG, 3 SB, 91 R)
Joe Mauer (.328 AVG, 1 SB, 98 R)
Milton Bradley (.321 AVG, 5 SB, 78 R)
Mike Aviles (.291 AVG, 8 SB, 68 R)
Kelly Johnson (.287 AVG, 11 SB, 86 R)
David DeJesus (.307 AVG, 11 SB, 70 R)
Howie Kendrick (.306 AVG, 11 SB, 43 R)
Shin-Soo Choo (.309 AVG, 4 SB, 68 R)

This strategy can work even better if you are in a holds league (Kuo and Villanueva will be getting Holds from the SP slot). It works less well when using Quality Starts instead of Wins (if you are using Wins, your relievers might get lucky and take the category a few times). You also keep in mind that targeting high-average players who get a ton of at bats (Ichiro and Pedroia, for example) is a great way to solidify your batting average.

So at the end of this draft you have high-average hitters who score a lot of runs, and most of them can swipe a base. You'd have six closers, and two relief pitchers who also qualify for the SP slot. Your "wall" of relievers should produce a low WHIP and ERA each week. Being in a daily league will allow you to rotate players into your lineup, and so your team should accumulate 30 - 40 innings each week. One drawback of this strategy is that ratios can be a little unpredictable in small sample sizes, so you might get unlucky in any given week. Remember Derek Jeter went 0-32 to start the 2004 season? He ended up hitting .292 that year, but his hitless streak would have really hurt your team for a few weeks.

Anyway. It's a fun strategy, one I've always wanted to use but I've never had the guts to do it. Maybe you do.

  • If it helps, here is the cheatsheet I used in my actual draft.

    Anonymous said...

    Sweet. Maybe I'll try this strategy in one of my Y! public leagues this year. They won't know what hit them.

    DrGravitee said...

    A potentially less risky version of this strategy is to nab Pedroia, Ichiro, and a bunch of other SB/R/AVG hitters, and then to draft pitching as normal (starting pitchers and closers). You'd win 3/5 hitting categories, and would only need to win 2/5 pitching ones in order to win a given H2H matchup.