I typically keep these expert league draft write-ups short but I think this year’s Yahoo! Friends & Family draft was an interesting draft to both:  1) Share some of my in-draft thinking and 2) Go off on tangents based on a couple of interesting draft gambits.   So apologies in advance for the Tolstoyan/Grantlandian length of this post.

Fantasy baseball draft rooms feel like poker tables.  Now I do not play a lot of poker but, for analogy’s sake, I’ll say there are two types of tables when you play with good players:  1) Strong but predictable play with occasional risks/bluffs and 2) Unpredictable but strong play that takes you out of your comfort zone.

Most leagues we play in fall under the former for 15-team mixed snake drafts (AL/NL-only auctions a whole different beast).  There really was not a moment in this year’s 15-team mixed LABR and KFFL drafts where I felt uncomfortable.  I had a general strategy, my values, and the NFBC ADPs. All peachy.  I am not saying I dominated those drafts – just that I felt pretty comfortable.  It did not hurt that I picked 8th in both those drafts so I did not have to worry as much about position runs.

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I was fortunate enough to be invited to this year in KFFL’s Fantasy Baseball Analysis Draft (which leads to a BAD acronym).  It has historically been a 12-team mixed snake draft league but has now been expanded to 15 teams.

Some drafts require a lot of prep time – this one had the prep time of a TV dinner.  It came right on the heels of LABR which follows the same format.  Then my pals at KFFL (Nick Minnix and Tim Heaney) were nice enough to ‘randomly’ assign me the same pick (#8) I had in LABR.  Sweet.

My strategy going into the draft was similar to LABR – draft 9+ SPs, be AVG-conscious, get two top 15 closers, try to nab one of the speedy/solid AVG MIs, and anticipate and/or dodge position runs.  There were a couple of post-LABR draft learnings I incorporated:

I know how much you love draft strategy (do you? Yeah, of course you do!). Whether it’s snake draft or auction draft. You gobble this shizz up. Okay, I wasn’t speaking literally, take the corner of your computer monitor out of your mouth. Auction drafts are the best. They’re like that time you followed a man with a pony tail into the gym locker room only to realize his broad shoulders were that of a large lesbian and you were in the women’s locker room and had to run out. Happy accidents! So, lots of you know my fantasy baseball auction tips already, but some of you just joining us — Hey, close the door behind you! Were you raised in a barn? — may not. Lots of the strategy for my snake drafts also applies here. If you ask me — and you kinda did ask me by reading this shizz — auction drafts are where it’s at, yo! You get in a room with your best fantasy baseball buddies. The guys you haven’t seen since last year’s draft. The guys you don’t want to see until next year’s draft. One guy, and there’s always one, has to show you why the Droid is better than the iPhone. Then you have the guy who will go the extra dollar for (fill-in favorite player from his favorite team). You know that’s his favorite player because he’s wearing his jersey. There’s also the guy who wears a jersey of a player he would never draft from a team he hates just to throw you off his scent, only he points this out to show you how clever he thinks he is; he’s not. There’s the guy that makes you question why you’re even friends with him. There’s the guy who has a solar calculator and insists on sitting by the window. There’s the guy who is allergic to cats and, even though there’s no cat, insists someone’s clothes are ‘covered in dander.’ There’s the guy who brings healthy snacks and something with bean sprouts that he says is wrapped in a lavash just so no one will ask him for any of it. And, of course, you have the guy who brings only Cheetos and turns everything he touches orange, and, if he touches something that was already orange, he makes it oranger. Through all of this, it always turns out, this day is the best day of the year. Auction draft day is better than your wedding day. I can now speak from experience. As for online auction drafts, they’re just a’ight. Anyway, here’s some tried and true tips to help you through your auction fantasy baseball draft:

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This is a post for the fantasy baseball drafters who use Excel, Google Docs, or some other war room software that automatically totals a drafted team’s stats while in the middle of a draft.  Or perhaps for those of you who do mock drafts or simulated drafts.

The below grid represents my projected 75% mark in each stat category across 10/12/14/15/16 team ESPN and Yahoo default roster format leagues.

These numbers should only be used directionally.  Please note that each projection source projects to a different league average so your team may look great if using a ‘bullish’ source and look poor if using a ‘bearish’ source.

Personally, I ignore team totals throughout a draft and go by feel in terms of my team’s balance.  While I have had regrettable drafts over the years, I do not recall one that failed because my team was not balanced enough.  If I do happen to have the time and curiosity to do an in-draft litmus test, I just add up the dollar values per category to see which categories are lowest.

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For the start of Spring Training, Rudy, Nick and I are heading to Arizona. Road trip! We leave today and return on Monday. If Nick’s lucky, we won’t make him carry Rudy’s Excel spreadsheets. We plan to take in a game or two, stand shoulder to shoulder and breath in the fresh, homophobic air of Arizona. That cactus smells like hate! Perhaps Rudy and I will walk into a bar hand-in-hand and see if we get kicked out. Baseball, like a flower, blooms in the spring. They also share equally effusive PR people. Just the other day I read about how a petunia’s branches had gained 15 pounds and was in the best shape of its life. Sure, it’s always good to look at spring training numbers to give you an idea what you can expect from guys during the season — can I draft Jedd Gyorko yet?! Players in spring training are facing the top pitchers who are all displaying their best stuff. No one needs time to get warmed up. No one’s trying new pitches or getting a feel for the ball. They are at the height of their game in March. In fact, I think someone should propose to Bud that the World Series could easily be played in March. Yes, The March Classic. I like how that sounds. Since these spring training numbers mean so much, I decided to look at some players’ stats so far:

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This post is a sequel to this post on maximizing ABs.

In recent posts, I used the results of our 2013 Razzball Commenter Leagues (based on 64 12-team mixed leagues with daily roster changes and unlimited pickups) to show:

So this leaves 41% of Pitching Standings Points that could be attributed to a manager’s in-season moves.

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Many people don’t know this, but one of the great scenes in modern cinema was nearly about fantasy baseball but was turned on its head due to a misunderstanding. Darren Aronofsky, being Polish and thus having things assbackwards, originally intended Jennifer Connelly in Requiem for a Dream to be doing a scene about head-to-head fantasy baseball strategy instead of what turned out to be ass-to-ass. Sometimes it takes a true auteur to recognize happy accidents and go with them. “So, I said to Darren, you want me to debate the merits of taking a pitcher early while I’m connected to this other girl by a dildo? And he just gave me a blank stare.” That’s a line from Jennifer on the DVD commentary. Head-to-Head, or H2H, doesn’t change a lot to our 2014 fantasy baseball rankings. There are 300 billion suns in the Milky Way galaxy. There are 100s of billions of galaxies in the universe. There are at least 256,000 planets exactly like Earth. Time is a flat circle, says Rust Cohle. Yet, there’s only one Miggy Cabrera. (Though Ciggy Mabrera on Planet Yurick is pretty good too. Not a first rounder though.) H2H doesn’t change that. The strategy for playing in the middle of the season in H2H leagues changes. You aren’t hoping Billy Butler hits 25 homers by October, but whether or not he’ll hit a homer on Sunday or if you should sit him to try and win steals. It’s all about the match-ups, y’all! So you want to build a team that can match up well with any other team. (FYI, I’ve gone over this stuff before, but some of you might need a pine tree refresher hung from your rear view.) Anyway, let’s look at some H2H fantasy baseball draft strategy:

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The first piece of good or bad news for a fantasy baseball owner (at least in non-keeper, snake draft leagues) is their draft order spot.  Everyone has draft order preferences and they often vary by the year.  In some years where there was no overwhelming #1 pick, I preferred a middle pick so I did not have to wait a gazillion picks between turns.  I recall some drafts where I really liked the depth through pick 16 or so and wanted a late first round pick to grab two.  Last year, I wanted a top 2 pick because I felt Trout and Cabrera were clear #1/#2 and I did not want the agita of drafting Braunogenesis (of course I picked #3 and got Braun).

Anyway, I thought it might be an interesting exercise to estimate the value of draft order even though I understand this is typically randomized so this is less ‘strategy’ and more about ‘fate’.  This analysis is based on 12-team mixed leagues but I assume the same principles are in play for deeper league formats.

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Rudy’s been dropping a bunch of fantasy baseball strategy posts lately. Here’s one on how to split up your hitting and pitching. And here’s one looking at the consequences of showing up to your draft ten minutes late. As for my strategy posts, they’re timeless — so I recycle ‘em. For most of you, been here, read this shizz already, but there’s Razzball newbies (Razzbabies?) that need some coddling occasionally. If you know PEDS, skip ahead into the comments and discuss innovative uses for my mustache. I’ll start, “If you get really close to me, you can use my mustache as an umbrella.” For the Razzbabies, come here and let Uncle Grey burp you. Maybe I can get you to spit up everything you learned at ESPN. Fantasy baseball strategies are as old as the earth, if the earth were ten or so years old. There’s a LIMA Plan (Low Investment Mound Aces) by Ron Shandler. There’s been a ZIMA Plan by Matthew Berry; it involves a lot of stumbling around, groping and the hiccups. There’s been a Punt One Category draft strategy. There’s been a Punt Two Categories draft strategy, which was conceived by a leaguemate of Punt One Category who just couldn’t stand being upstaged. And there’s the Forget When Your Draft Is So Your Team Is Autodrafted strategy. I love when my leaguemates use that one. Then there’s my fantasy baseball snake draft strategy, Performance Enhancing Draft Strategy or PEDS. (You might even want to use this strategy for our Razzball leagues. Join now. Thank you.)

PEDS has five basic steps. If you follow these steps, you will place near the top in all of your leagues. No plan is foolproof because, unfortunately, they still have to play the games, but PEDS puts you in the best position possible to win coming out of your draft. Actually, this plan is foolproof and you should ignore the previous sentence that said no plan is foolproof. No sentence is foolproof, that’s more accurate. Okay, onto the steps:

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