Hey all! My thanks to both Rudy and Grey for allowing me the opportunity to ramble for a bit on one of my favorite off-season topics, the fantasy mock draft. It’s the beginning of January and this would be the perfect opportunity to commence that 2009 preseason fine tuning. The start of spring training is still several months away and taking advantage of that “break” between seasons can make a huge difference in those final 2009 results. Sure the honey-do list can be shortened, but please remember guys don’t set the bar too high. Taking too much of a break can lead to over-bonding, which then creates a false sense of illusion when spring training gets rolling, and you and the PC get rejoined at the hip for another six months.
In a standard 12 team league, assuming you have a 23 man roster with a six man bench, your season, all six months of it, is led out of the gate by a scant 43 minutes and 30 seconds, or as we like to call it the draft. Don’t get me wrong here, 2009 fantasy baseball rankings and 2009 fantasy baseball projections are both crucial and essential components in preseason preparation, but the ability to mold those projections into a cohesive and winning team is another very important skill set, and an art all unto itself, that should not be overlooked.
Most mock drafts allow for a fifteen or twenty minute window prior to the actual draft, much the same as your actual league drafts. I know we all like to chat it up with the old gang and practice the ritual trash talk, but use at least a portion of this time to identify some of the key players you will be targeting. Draft day is the wrong time to be sorting through for the first time the actual mechanics of the “player queue.” I personally like to list sleeper picks, high risk/high reward types and the slew of closer wannabees that can be used to attempt to vulture cheap saves near the end of the draft. This whole process takes maybe five-to-ten minutes and still allows ample time to socialize.
The ability to be constantly monitoring the players that are still available by position is an invaluable skill. I am constantly monitoring player movement by position, especially the positions that I know can lead to trouble down the road like catcher, shortstop and this year first base. Knowing constantly what is available is a necessity when looking forward into the middle and latter rounds of a draft.
Monitor other teams’ rosters as they draft. Look for trends and strategies that might have serious implications further on into the draft. The art of scanning rosters with everything else that is going on in a draft is a challenge to say the least, but if you want to be ready for opportunity to knock you better be prepared to do the work it takes as well. You’re looking at a 17th round pick and doing the old, “Should I make a move now or wait another round,” and lo and behold a quick glance reveals that the teams picking before your next pick have all those slots filled. Makes that decision a bit easier now doesn’t it?
Work on different strategies and picking from different draft slots. Remember the goal is to work towards gaining that extra edge come draft day, and picking fourth in a mock for two months because you like the options available there isn’t really going to help you a whole lot on draft day when you end up in the ninth slot. It’s all about knowing the potential and probable outcomes and the ability to react in a positive manner when confronted by them. Try taking starting pitcher’s early, or letting them slide into the middle or latter rounds. Build a team based on those big power bats. Draft speed early or try and procure it late. Forgo the big stolen base threats and build your stolen bases from a balanced approach. Practice starting player runs, and understand the implications of getting caught in one.
There is a lot going on, in a very, very short period of time in a draft. The skills required to identify, analyze and react on the fly require many hours of practice. If one is comfortable with the actual draft mechanics in January, it certainly leads to the potential to be a dominating force with the commencement of league play in mid-March. The ability and skill-set to “control” the draft and your destiny, rather than accepting it as one’s fate gives you a huge edge over the competition come draft day.
I will be running a weekly Sunday night mock over at Mock Draft Central starting January 11th at 8:00 pm EDT and I’d like to extend an invitation to all Razzball readers that might be interested in practicing the craft. Head on over and join me for some invaluable practice and discussion as we head into spring training. Thanks again to Rudy, Grey and all the Razzball readers and here’s wishing you a Razztastic fantasy filled 2009!
(Besides wearing shorts two sizes too small, Tim also contributes at Rotorob.com.)