Believe it or not, it is time to talk about fantasy baseball. In the professional sports league with the shortest break, MLB plays the World Series in October and then pitchers and catchers report to camp at the start of February. CBSSports experts held their first mock draft on Jan. 10 based on rotisserie-styled fantasy baseball.
Fantasy baseball veterans know all about roto baseball and head-to-head leagues, but to some newcomers, the differences between strategies may be puzzling. Here is a look at what to look for when playing roto baseball compared to traditional leagues.
Of course, the big difference is that, in roto leagues, the teams don't play another team each week. Instead of a head-to-head matchup where the winning team gets a "W," a roto league just builds points as the season wears on, and whoever leads in each category gets more points than the teams beneath them.
The scoring normally involves five-by-five categories, with five pitching stats and five offensive stats that come into play. The offensive stats are runs, RBI, home runs, stolen bases and batting average. The pitching stats are wins, saves, strikeouts, ERA and WHIP.
The way it works is that, in 10-team leagues, whichever team in the league has the most home runs gets 10 points, the second place team gets nine, and so on, until the team with the least homers gets one point. Once all the categories come into play, whoever has the most points is in first place and so on.
The problem with roto leagues is that, once you fall behind in a category, it is really hard to catch up with the other teams.
One key in roto leagues is to concentrate on offense. A good average to shoot for is three hitters to every two pitchers as you go through the draft. You don't want to distort the balance of your team, but offense is ultimately more important than pitching in roto leagues. There will be better pitchers in middle rounds than hitters, so take that into account.
The important thing to remember is that you are not drafting an all-star team. You are drafting for stats and need to look at balancing your team based on skill sets. Even if someone is a "better" baseball player, if you need steals draft someone fast over an all-star. A team full of all-stars will lose in fantasy roto baseball.
The first five players you should draft are three elite power hitters, preferably five-tool hitters, and two elite strikeout pitchers. Next, grab two closers, a speedy player for stolen bases, another quality power hitter, and another strikeout pitcher in any order. This is where you will balance out your team to try not to ignore any scoring position in the roto league. If there are no real speedsters left, try to find as close as you can to a five-tool hitter.
Notice, I never mentioned drafting RBI hitters or run producers. That is because the top of the lineup scores the most runs and that is where the speed is. The middle of the lineup includes the home run hitters, and they are the ones who score the most RBIs. Get home run hitters, and your RBIs should be covered. Grab speedsters, and your runs should be secure.
Batting average is not something you should rely too much on, just draft good enough hitters and speed players that can also hit for average. Try to make sure the player's career average is not down around .260 or lower, or that could hurt the rest of his production.
For the rest of the draft, choose players based on their rankings regardless of position because these are your bench players and role players. It might also be nice to grab one more closer to give your team three, because that will give you a huge advantage in that category over every other team in your league.