Mailbag – Tips for Beginners

Hello everyone


Each Wednesday, I’m going to answer a question from the
comments or my email, so if you have a question (about fantasy baseball or
anything else), let it fly in the comment section below.  Here is this week’s question.


Toby–starting at square
1, what information that you learned last year did you find to be most
important or most helpful in attempting to analyze/predict a player’s fantasy
worth? I used to be a baseball fan, then lived under a rock for 10 years, and
am trying to rekindle the interest.


Jonas Foxx


Hey Jonas


Welcome back to civilization!  I haven’t lived in the same home for more
than 18 months since I left for college, must have been nice to have that kind
of stability.  Do you miss your


Glad to see you’ve chosen to get back into baseball.  The players look a little……..different now
than when you went into seclusion don’t be alarmed.  You’ll be surprised at how fast you get back
into it, especially if you were a big baseball fan as a kid.  Something about the game seems to nest itself
in your soul when you are young and never really goes away.  It just lays dormant until activated, and as I
can attest, fantasy baseball is a heckuva catalyst.  And if you think this sounds like what
happened to Reggie Jackson in “The Naked Gun,” you’re not far off.


Before we get to analyzing a fantasy player’s worth, I
recommend you make a determination about your goals in playing fantasy.  Namely, are you playing to win or are you
playing to have fun?  Granted, winning is
fun, but it may come at a price.  In
order to really excel at the game, you have to avoid all emotional attachments
to individual players.  Your feelings
will color your decisions and may prevent you from making a move to optimize
your team.  Any one such move can cost
you a title.


On the other hand, playing the fantasy version causes you to
watch a lot more real baseball and it’s no fun always watching dudes you don’t
like.  So another way to approach the
game is to draft some players from your favorite team and other guys you like
to see play.  You probably won’t win this
way, but you’ll enjoy the season a lot more. 
It should be noted that it is possible to still win doing this, but only
if you draft each player at or near his ADP (average draft position – it explains all the fantasy terminology you’ll need to


Basically, you have to decide if you are going to be
original Robocop or end of the movie “Robocop.” 
Original Robocop had zero emotions, he just scanned a situation and made
the optimal move at all times.  But once
he rediscovered who he was, emotions started to cloud his judgment, causing him
to go a bit haywire, but ultimately allowed him to find satisfaction.  So which Robocop will you be?


Either way, you’ll need to be able to make some decisions
regarding your players’ fantasy values. 
Here are a few hints for beginners below.


  1. For
    pitchers, look at their strikeout per innings pitched (K/9) rates and
    their strikeout to walk ratio. 
    Strikeouts and walks are the only things that are solely in control
    of the pitcher, everything else is affected by external factors like team
    defense, run support, access to save situations, ballpark factors,
    etc.  So if you are just getting
    started and want just a few stats to focus on, I recommend these two.  Each strikeout has a positive effect on
    three categories – ERA, WHIP, and K’s (obviously) and if you can couple
    high strikeout rates with low walks, you should end up with an excellent
    WHIP.  Not surprisingly, these
    pitchers are in high demand, but if you find a guy on the waiver wire who
    has a K/9 of 7.5 or above, he’s probably worth picking up.


  1. One
    other tip for pitchers – don’t chase wins. 
    Wins are by far the most fickle of all common fantasy stats, as run
    support and bullpen support play a huuuuuuuge role and have nothing to do
    with your pitcher.  If you just
    start a guy trying to get a win who doesn’t have quality numbers
    elsewhere, you risk wrecking two categories (ERA and WHIP) to go after one
    category that is largely out of your pitcher’s hands.


  1. For
    hitters, pay more attention to category management than individual players
    numbers.  You want to have a
    balanced team overall, but that can be achieved by having all well-rounded
    players or a group that complements each others strengths and
    weaknesses.  For example, if you
    pick someone like Ryan Howard early (who has a ton of power, but hurts you
    in average and steals), you’ll want to get a guy like Ichiro as well to
    balance out your team.  Category
    management is especially important after the season begins.  You should always be evaluating your
    team’s strengths and weaknesses and make adjustments accordingly.  Speaking of…


4.  Always be looking to improve your team, whether
it be through trades or waiver-wire pickups. 
Once you have a good idea of what kind of team you have, look to make
moves to shore up your weaknesses.  Never
make a deal or a pickup just to say you did it, but remember – the earlier you
act, the longer you enjoy the benefits, so don’t hesitate too long.

  1. little league coach.jpgBack to the first point, make sure you are having fun.  During your first season, this is of paramount importance.  You’ll learn a lot just by playing the game, but if you don’t enjoy yourself, you’ll never put the lessons to use because you’ll probably never play again.  So manage your team in whatever manner brings you the most enjoyment your first year and then make adjustments once/if you become a more hardcore or serious player down the road.  And this isn’t like when your Little League coach told you to “just have fun out there” but was secretly disappointed and ashamed every time you struck out.  I actually mean it.


Thanks again for the great question Jonas and good luck this season (oh and that would be Tip 6 – hope for good luck, as that’s what determines a majority of leagues).


This is great stuff. Thanks for the advice!

This is great stuff–thanks for the advice!

You’re definitely right. Fantasy baseball would help bring people back into the game. Even though I don’t think it’s possible for me to love baseball even more than I already do, fantasy baseball has made me watch even more baseball. I’m beginning to talk to my fantasy team players almost as affectionately as I talk to my Red Sox players.

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