Congratulations! You have reached that point in your draft where you have a full set of position players, several starting pitchers, and a couple of relievers. That is great for you. However, as the picture above suggests, you have not yet finished what you started. You need to create some depth on your team. So does pretty much everybody else in your league, though. The last 6 or 7 rounds of a draft may consist of 10 different people each grabbing the guy ranked the highest by the experts at Full Spectrum Baseball (that is a shameless self-promotion right there, yep). Of course, it is quite possible that more than a few of those team owners are simply ready to get out of the basement and outside into the sunlight thing that so many people are raving about these days.
Do not be that owner. Stop for a moment and think. Are you drafting the best player available just because he may or may not be the best player available? More importantly, should you be drafting to fill needs in your team? Maybe the needs are not immediately apparent, but it is your job to anticipate some of those needs anyway. Good luck.
If you play in a league that allows you to keep bench players, then you pretty much ALWAYS need a second catcher. If you pay close attention to when your primary catcher will be sitting out, then you can hopefully substitute that backup catcher for a game or two. It would be an absolute shame to reach the end of the season with only 120 games played by your catcher. Give serious thought to who you want backing up the top guy.
- Jonathan Lucroy, John Buck, and Geovany Soto should all make the short list of 2nd catchers available in a 10 team draft. All 3 topped the 50 rbi mark and have the potential to hit 15 hr or more a season.
What about anticipating need at first base? Sure, a lot of those guys are like Prince Fielder and rarely take a day off. That does not mean you should ignore first base as a position of need. Personally, I usually opt to stack my “utility” positions with at least 1 guy who qualifies at first base. Even the 2nd and 3rd tier at 1B can provide you with .775+ OPS and some run production.
- Do not sleep on guys like Carlos Lee, Nick Swisher, and Howie Kendrick. After Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto, and Prince Fielder, there is still a substantial list of hot names to select from, and they will go fast. Freddie Freeman, Eric Hosmer, Gaby Sanchez, Adrian Gonzalez, and Mark Teixeira will go quickly as well. All is not necessarily lost, though. Lee, Swisher, and Kendrick won’t necessarily last forever, but they aren’t the first names that come to mind, either.
- If you have a really early pick in your draft, the “Miggy Switch Strategy” might be worth considering. To employ the strategy, you draft Miguel Cabrera as a first basemen, knowing all along that he will be eligible at 3rd base very early on. You then use a subsequent draft pick on a full time guy at first base. Cabrera can cover when your guy at first is injured, or you may build some depth at the corner infield spots that allows you the luxury of making a big trade at some point during the season.
If your league makes use of a middle infield (MI) position, then there your draft could force you to look for guys outside the top 15 at both the SS and 2B positions.
- Team owners in need of some home run help should keep names like Ryan Raburn, Gordon Beckham, Yuniesky Betancourt, and Alex Gonzalez in mind.
- Need some speed? Alcides Escobar, Jason Bartlett, and Aaron Hill all topped 20 stolen bases last season.
A quick glance at the players available at third base should tell you that there is some reasonably good depth at the position. Even so, team owners should keep in mind the reasons why so many players are ranked close together at the position.
- Danny Valencia provides a bit of power, but he does so without providing much in the way of steals or OPS.
- Chipper Jones was a top 15 guy at 3B last season, but his most recent injury puts him in the “do not draft this guy” bucket.
- Remember Chase Headley, because his numbers were a little low last year due to the fact he only played 113 games. He still managed a respectable number of runs scored, rbi, steals, and OPS. Headley can definitely fill the stat sheet, and he can play multiple positions. If he qualifies at positions other than third base, then that is a potential bonus factor.
In need of a real bargain or steal for your 4th outfielder or “UTIL” position? Cameron Maybin stole 40 bases last year. Nick Markakis had a bit of an off year in which his production was well below his career average. He managed only 73 rbi, but he has topped that mark 3 times in 5 years leading up to 2011. Austin Jackson crossed the plate 90 times last season, even though he only hit .249 with a .317 OBP. Both numbers are well below what he posted in his rookie season (2010), so he could also be a nice addition as a 4th outfielder.
While I will not argue the merits of having top tier players in as many positions as possible, I will also go on record stating that the extra production from unexpected sources is what makes fantasy baseball really interesting. You do not earn credibility for drafting the obvious perennial Silver Slugger winner the same way you do by getting an extra 20 hr from a utility guy or 80 rbi from your backup middle infielder.