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:
1. Avoid guys that are prone to nagging injuries.
You put Carlos Gonzalez on an H2H team and you wanna strangle someone. Hopefully, not the guy sitting behind you wearing biker shorts and eating an apple. Go ahead, look behind you. Yeah, that’s me. What’s up? I let myself in. Since H2H is played on a week-to-week basis, you can’t afford to take many goose eggs as a player nurses his hammy day-to-day. BTW, I once nursed a hammy and everyone kept asking me why I was breastfeeding a pig.
2. Don’t punt anything, but don’t buy steal-only guys.
What’s Billy Hamilton or Michael Bourn et al going to get you? 3 steals per week? They’re not going to win you steals. So you’re going to get 3 steals from Hamilton one week, your opponent is going to get 5 steals from his whole team and you’re going to lose steals anyway. Or you’re not going to get anything from the aforementioned et al’s then you’re going to lose that week too. You just lost two weeks and the season hasn’t even started yet. See what those steal-only guys get you? That doesn’t mean to punt these categories. It means draft a balanced team. Guys that will get you speed and power. Then if the weekend rolls around and you’re within breathing distance of winning speed, you pick up some steals off waivers to try and win it — hello, Jarrod Dyson. If someone is going against you and you punt steals, then you’re giving them one category. Are they giving you categories? No offense, you seem like a good person, but I wouldn’t give you any categories. There will be weeks when you’ll be out of the running for steals (pun point!), then you can make the decision to punt at that point (punt point!).
3. Starters, Starters, Starters…
If you can’t beat them with quality, you beat them with quantity. Chances are you should be able to win Ks and Wins every week with this drafting strategy. Then if you can win Saves, you’re only dealing with WHIP and ERA. Figure at least once in a while your opponent is going to lose ERA or WHIP on their own doing. Figure a few times you’ll win ERA and WHIP on your own doing. In roto, I say take a late round flyer on possible saves or a starter, with H2H, I say always take a starter. Then another starter, then another. Take them until you can’t take anymore. Be robust in your starters. This also means to wait even longer for starters. Pretty self-explanatory, but for those who like self-explanatory things explained. You don’t need a top starter when you’re throwing lots of junk out there anyway. I’m a big fan of streaming in H2H. If streaming isn’t an option due to it being a weekly league, then extra starters are even more important so you can go with match-ups for the week.
4. The Waivers are Your Oysters.
Don’t like Michael Brantley’s match-ups this week? Then you’re speaking a language I don’t understand, he’s great every week. But, okay, say he’s slumping and going into Safeco, then you grab a different bat with better match-ups. I take this approach in roto too with the last man on my team, but in H2H it’s even more pronounced. Besides some of your top hitters and pitchers, everyone’s fluid. To mix metaphors with nonsense, the waiver wire is your own personal Idaho filled with potatoes and you’re an Irishman.