This Sunday is the BJH Fantasy Baseball Draft. And much like Paul Rudd, I’ll be waiting in anticipation of assembling a worthy team while also watching the season finale of The Walking Dead (multitasking!). This year I vowed to stop screwing around and finally put together a fantasy team worthy of victory.
For whatever reason, I feign interest in fantasy hockey and yet excel at it. In the two hockey leagues I was a part of this season, I finished the regular season first and third respectively … so perhaps the key to winning fantasy baseball is to check all your emotions at the door and just draft.
Since the BJH is littered with Blue Jays fanatics, it can often be difficult to try to snag a Blue Jay on the cheap. In fact, most of the time that actually drives up the price of players from the hometown team.
Case in point: in last year’s draft, Travis Snider was bought up for $38 dollars. Just a mere $7 dollars less than Jose Bautista. So much for the hometown discount.
Here’s a list of Yahoo’s rankings of every single Blue Jays player, along with their projected auction value and the average cost.
Bank on Bautista
If there’s one player I would break the bank on, it’s Jose Bautista. His eligibility at third base and the outfield makes him an especially valuable commodity to your fantasy roster.
Since there is a glut of stud outfielders, I’d be more inclined to stash Jose as my starting third baseman and leave the outfield positions wide open. The sheer number of great outfielders to great third baseman makes the decision a simple one.
Not to mention that when it comes to home runs, Jose Bautista is your safest bet. Taking the Major League leader in home runs the past two seasons is a great contingent plan to win your HR category.
And now that Jose Bautista has rounded out his game with a great on base and average, he’ll be even more highly coveted going into this year’s draft.
Be Leery About Lawrie
Nearly every Blue Jays fantasy primer I’ve read (particularly this one from Yahoo) urges managers not to reach for Brett Lawrie and instead go for proven commodities at the hot corner.
Most pundits have Lawrie pegged as a 20/20 candidate for 2012, and even one publication I read actually penciled in Lawire as a 30/30 possibility. Brett Lawrie may be a very tempting pick, but I think the fact he was able to put up 2.7 WAR in such as short span actually works against him in fantasy baseball this year.
Yahoo has Brett Lawrie ranked as the seventh best third baseman, just slightly ahead of Alex Rodriguez, and several picks ahead of Kevin Youkilis, Michael Young, and Aramis Ramirez. For a player who only has 43 games under his belt, that’s kind of crazy.
As a Blue Jays fan, I hope Brett Lawrie has a banner season. But purely thinking from an objective standpoint, I don’t think he has enough experience to warrant being picked ahead of Alex Rodriguez.
And I think that’s part of the key to a fantasy baseball draft; disconnect from your fandom and think purely from a strategic standpoint.
That being said, it’s easy to say now that I won’t make a play for Brett Lawrie during the draft, but it’s another when the clock is ticking, I’m under the gun, and Lawrie is in the cue.
Pitching on the Cheap
Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow appear to be good value picks at 109 and 141, and both are valued at under $10 dollars a piece. Romero or Morrow can help fill out your rotation without breaking the bank.
I’d be more than happy with either of these guys on my roster, but I wouldn’t depend on either of them to anchor your fantasy team’s pitching staff.
There are a couple of other Blue Jays you can afford to take a flier on, and those would be the potential 3-5 starters in the Blue Jays rotation. Brett Cecil, Henderson Alvarez and Dustin McGowan don’t even have an average value, so they can probably be bought on the cheap.
They might be a little more sought after in AL only leagues and very deep leagues, but outside of Romero and Morrow, I would probably just steer clear of the Blue Jays starting pitchers because you can more than likely pick them up on the waiver wire afterwards anyway.
Scoop Sergio Santos
There is no position in baseball more volatile than a team’s closer. And that’s even more apparent in the fantasy baseball world. One day you could have three closers, the next you could have none.
While nobody is ever truly assured their closer’s role, I think you can safely say that Sergio Santos will hold down the fort as the Blue Jays closer in 2012.
So while other managers are reaching for closers in the seventh or eigth rounds by picking Mariano Rivera and Jonathan Papelbon, you can sit back and wait until many rounds later and scoop up Santos.
Instead, use those picks on an ever-valuable position player like Brian McCann or Rickie Weeks, or a starting pitcher like Madison Bumgarner or James Shields.
Sergio Santos is the 18th ranked closer by Yahoo and sits at pick 162 on average and is going for about $5-6 dollars in auction drafts.
Not only will Sergio Santos get you saves, but he’ll also rack up lots of strikeouts as well. Santos ranked 2nd in the American League in K/9 for relievers at 13.07, just slightly behind David Robertson at 13.50 K/9.
In Conclusion ...
Please take this advice with a grain of salt, as I’m not exactly the consummate expert on Fantasy Baseball. I’ve placed 12th and 14th respectively these past two years in the BJH Fantasy Baseball League.
This time around though, I’ll try to follow my own advice and at least aim to make it into the postseason. Much like the Blue Jays themselves, 2012 looks to be an uphill battle.
However, if all the chips fall into place, then there’s at least a chance for a postseason berth. Happy drafting, everyone!