Wednesday, March 3, 2010

2010 H2H Fantasy Baseball Strategy: C.R.A.S.S (CL, R, AVG, SB, SP)

"Certain speedsters are not getting proper respect this year. Borbon, Pierre, Rajai Davis, Everth Cabrera, and Elvis Andrus are all projected to swipe 40+ bags and score 80+ runs, but they're going in the 13th round or later."

- RotoAuthority

Given the multitude of Stolen Base / Runs hitters that are available after round 13 or so, one (head-to-head) strategy is to draft as many high-quality pitchers as possible in the early rounds before scooping up the hitters like the ones mentioned above in the later rounds.

Now, before you thank me for being a genius, please let me tell you why this plan is foolhardy:
  • If you punt saves, you can also "unpunt" them through smart/fast waiver wire pickups. If you punt HR/RBI, you will never be able to unpunt them. In other words, there is no hedging your bets with this strategy. Either you are in, or, as Heidi would say, you are out.
  • During that moment when a player on your team hits a HR, your team instantly is rewarded in four categories: R, RBI, HR, and AVG. Why would you draft a bunch of guys who can't hit HRs?
  • Pitchers are, supposedly, "riskier" because they get injured more frequently
  • Andrus might hit 8th; Borbon can't hit lefties and might lose his lead-off spot to Kinsler; RDavis could lose at bats and/or see his AVG dip; ECabrera might not lead off; etc., etc., etc. In sum, picking hitters late means you are more likely to have to deal with loss of playing time, demotion to lower in the lineup, demotion to minors, and regression of skills.
Here is why I'm going to use this strategy anyway:
  • I did the boring old "best player available" last year and got my clock cleaned. My team was terrible. So I decided I'd rather do something oddball and fun than predictable and unfun.
  • People love power. So if you want it, you'll need to pay for it. On the other hand, powerless players can come at a huge discount. Most people view the Juan Pierre's of the world as one-trick ponies. I'd argue that with 600+ lead-off at bats, they can become three-trick ponies (R/AVG/SB).
  • With all the decent SB options available late, this is the perfect year to give it a try.
  • The league I'm in has daily lineup changes, three SP slots, four P slots, four OF, and five bench slots. Winning teams in this league usually have one or even zero bench hitters; almost every inch of bench space is used to rotate in pitchers. This C.R.A.S.S strategy won't work for all league settings.
A few reminders:
  • Focus less on the stolen bases and focus more on the Runs and the Batting Average; a team of speed guys will certainly lock that category down, but if you can't win Runs and AVG most weeks, your team won't be successful. To this end, you probably want to lock down a dependable Dustin Pedroia Run/Avg guy early in the draft.
  • Try to get five closers so that you can guarantee winning that category each week.
  • Did I mention that you should shoot for a team filled with leadoff-type hitters? You want your team to make up for its inability to hit a home run by getting more at bats.
  • You can't afford to draft a single player who is AVG challenged.
Here is what an example team might look like (plus ESPN Projections):
  • OF: Ichiro 29sb. 91r, .307 (#1 hitter)
  • OF RDavis 37sb, 62r, .279 (#1 hitter)
  • OF Borbon 38sb, 80r, .281 (#1 hitter)
  • OF Morgan 40sb, 78r, .276 (#1 hitter)
  • 1B Helton 0sb, 75r, .309 (#3 hitter)
  • 2B Dustin 17sb, 110, .305 (#2 hitter)
  • 3B Prado 2sb, 62, .300 (#2 hitter)
  • SS Aybar 25sb, 72r, .303 (#1 hitter)
  • C Yadier 12sb, 42r, .301 (#6 hitter)
  • UTL Pierre 40sb, 62r, .287 (#1 hitter)
  • SP Lincecum
  • SP Halladay
  • SP Lester
  • RP JonP (39sv, 1.17whip)
  • RP THoff (32sv, 1.13whip)
  • P FrankFrank (31sv, 1.20whip)
  • P Wandy
  • BN Hamels
  • BN Nolasco
  • BN Josh Johnson
  • BN Lyon (24sv, 1.28whip)
  • BN Downs (9sv, 1.30whip)
Other Options:
  • Alt: Wieters 0sb, 78r, .303 (#5 hitter)
  • Alt: Polanco 5sb, 91r, .306 (#2 hitter)
  • Alt: Frasor (17sv, 1.26whip)
  • Alt: Wood (29sv, 1.28whip)
  • Alt: Capps (24sv, 1.33whip)
  • Alt: MGozo (29sv, 1.35whip)
  • Alt: Dotel (22sv, 1.36whip)
  • Alt: Nunez (23sv, 1.34whip)
  • Alt: Jenks (31sv, 1.27whip)
  • Alt: MMontero (0sb, 66r, .286)
  • Alt: Howie 10sb, 73r, .313 (#2/7 hitter)
  • Alt: Kemp 30sb, 96r, .307 (#2 hitter)
  • Alt: Loney 5sb, 69r, .302)
Example Draft (12-team mixed league):
  1. Lincecum
  2. Dustin
  3. Roy Halladay
  4. Ichiro
  5. Lester
  6. Josh Johnson
  7. Jon Pbon
  8. Hamels
  9. Nolasco
  10. Borbon
  11. Wandy
  12. Morgon
  13. RDavis
  14. Hoffman
  15. FrankFrank
  16. Prado
  17. Yadier
  18. Pierre
  19. Aybar
  20. Helton
  21. Lyon / Dotel
  22. TOR CL (Downs or Frasor or Other)
Don't like this team? Pick and choose your own team:
  • 1.Pick #2 Lincecum, HamRam, Albert
  • 2.Pick #23 Pedroia, Halladay, Ellsbury
  • 3.Pick #26 Pedroia, Halladay, Ellsbury, Zack G.
  • 4.Pick #47 Votto, Sandoval, Cliff Lee
  • 5.Pick #50 Ichiro, Wainwright, Lester, Vazquez
  • 6.Pick #71 Papelbon, JJohnson, Carpenter
  • 7.Pick #74 Chone, Bourn, Choo
  • 8.Pick #95 Hamels, McCutchen, THanson
  • 9.Pick #98 Gallardo, Nolasco, Ubaldo, MYoung, Wieters, Bartlett
  • 10.Pick #119 Span, Wandy, Borbon
  • 11.Pick #122 Garza, Shields
  • 12.Pick #143 RMartin, NMorgan, RDavis
  • 13.Pick #146 SBaker, RSoriano, Asdrubal, GSoto
  • 14.Pick #167 EAndrus, Neftali, DPrice
  • 15.Pick #170 FFrancisco, BAnderson
  • 16.Pick #191 Capps, EAybar, Loney
  • 17.Pick #194 Wood
  • 18.Pick #215 Helton, RHarden, Pierre
  • 19.Pick #218 Yadier, Kuroda
  • 20.Pick #239 Everth Cabrera, A. Escobar
  • 21.Pick #242 Liriano, DFowler
(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 2010 season.)