Usually on Friday I go over one player who can be looked at keeping in keeper leagues, but the other day in the comments I was asked for some general fantasy baseball keeper league strategy. A request and dedication, if you will. For illustration purposes, let’s look at last year’s Chase Utley keeper post. Go ahead, read it. This’ll be here when you return. Welcome back! Okay, in that post I told you to keep Marmol and Utley. At the time, Utley was about to have hip surgery and Marmol wasn’t the closer. In my oversized brain, I figured, hip surgery be damned, Utley would still be a top hitter at a weak position. Which brings me to my first fantasy baseball keeper point:
1. Top hitters at weak positions rule in keepers.
Utley, Mauer, Hanley, et al. are top keepers. I’m not a fan of drafting Mauer very early on in redrafts. But in a keeper league, I’m assuming you have him for a lot cheaper than he’ll go in redrafts, especially when considering he went late in 2009 drafts because of back issues.
2. Value is a trump card.
In the above Utley/Marmol example, I knew Marmol would be very cheap on your team because he was nothing but a middle man in 2008. Though he had the stuff to be the closer in 2009 and Kevin Gregg blocking him — ha! Are you keeping Marmol over Miguel Cabrera? Not unless Nurse Ratched just gave you a lobotomy. Would I have told you last year to keep a 20th round Marmol over, say, a 8th round Vernon Wells? Yes, I would’ve. Another example of value as trump card, Derrek Lee in the 6th round or Kendry Morales in the 20th round? Kendry Morales wins.
3. Try to figure out who your leaguemates are keeping.
Or the inverse of that, who will be available on draft day. This is sometimes easier said than done, but you should be able to gauge more or less the guys that will be kept. For instance, if there’s going to be no top 3rd basemen in the draft, it makes Kevin Youkilis in the 3rd round a lot more appealing.
4. When in doubt, keep a hitter.
I’m not opposed to keeping a pitcher or two, but if I could have my druthers — those are MY druthers! — I’d keep hitters. Same that holds true for redraft leagues holds true for keepers. Pitchers are unpredictable from year to year.
5. Take a gamble on upside.
Some players have top 50 upside. Think The Dread Pirate. Am I gambling on upside over a proven commodity? No, I’m not. But if you keep, say, 5 keepers, take 4 proven guys and gamble on one guy to have some upside.
6. Don’t be cute; go for the win this year vs. the future win.
This point couches point number five. Don’t overload on future talent. I’m sure Strasburg will be dynamite. He may even be dy-no-mite. That doesn’t mean you’re playing 2011 before 2010 even starts, future boy.