Or as I like to call it FML SMDH. That’s so pithy it should be a widely used internet acronym. Since Al Gore invented the internet as a means of discovering far-off acronyms, Al would love FML SMDH, if he wasn’t too busy ridding CVSs everywhere of aerosol cans. “Ma’am, our planet is under attack, I need your can of Aqua Net.” That’s Al at a CVS near you. So, in the past, I’ve given you snake draft fantasy baseball strategy posts under the acronym of PEDS, but I just found out that acronym was co-opted by some unseemly business. That you let me carry on for 7 years calling it PEDS, I’m not sure I can ever forgive you. *less than a second later* Okay, I accept your apology. 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 was a ZIMA Plan by Matthew Berry; it involved 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, Fantasy Master Lothario’s Strategic Method of Domination Henceforth or FML SMDH. (You might even want to use this strategy for our Razzball leagues. Join now. Thank you.)
FML SMDH 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 FML SMDH 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:
1. Never draft a pitcher with your first two picks.
No Kershaw. No F-Her. No Scherzer. You abstain! They’re fantastic. I love them all. I’d eat sushi off their nipples. I’d watch Better Call Saul with them while sandwiched between your chatty mom and even-more-chatty aunt, and I hate when people talk while I’m watching TV. That’s how much I like them! These starters give you the value of a 1st or 2nd rounder. They do. I said it. Sue me (for my Gregg Jefferies rookie cards)! The problem is the loss of one of your 1st two hitters is really difficult to bounce back from. You, son, are putting yourself in a hole. A hole? Yes, you are. The absence of Goldschmidt or McCutchen or who(m)ever is too great. Could you win drafting a pitcher in the 1st two rounds? Sure, anything can happen. I mean, at one time, some very smart people thought Sarah Palin was actually a decent idea to be a heartbeat from the presidency. That doesn’t mean you want to stack the deck against yourself. If you take a pitcher with the first two picks, you need to be right on your other top hitters. It’s way too risky. Go hitters early.
2. Never take a top-tier closer.
This is a tough one for some people. I’m going to be you for a brief moment. Me as you, “Hey, everyone’s starting to take closers in the fifth round. There goes Kimbrel, Kenley, Aroldis… Wait, I have to take a closer with my next pick, too! And where are my pants?! For the Lord’s sake, why don’t I have pants on?!” See what happened there? You done got swept up. You did. You got swept up in a closer run. Ignore everyone who takes closers. You don’t need a top tier one. Stick to your own game plan. Grab some schmohawks later that will get saves because, as we all know, SAGNOF.
3. When deep into a position, take a flyer on upside.
Nobody in the history of fantasy baseball has ever won a league by playing it safe in the late rounds. In 1995, I tried drafting Mike Greenwell as my fifth outfielder; just didn’t work. A darn fine year by Klesko wasted! You play it safe in the early rounds. You take solid contributors early. You take flyers late. You’re looking at either Jed Lowrie or Jose Ramirez, who do you choose? Steven Souza or Torii Hunter? Watching the USFL 30 for 30 again while wearing your Donald Trump wig or watching something new that you’ve heard good things about? You get the picture. Embrace the unknown late.
4. When in doubt, draft for OBP and K/9.
I’m not saying in the first round. Or the 2nd. Or 12th (unless you’re in a 45-team league). I’m saying when you get in the final rounds of the draft this is your determining factors for hitters and pitchers. Easier said than done, right? Actually, no, it is easy. It’s not like you need a photographic memory of who has a higher OBP and a better K/9. I know you barely remember the sentence you just read. I’m not telling you to know these rates off the top of your medulla oblongata. All I’m saying is there’s more than seven seconds between your picks, so simply look up which of the two pitchers you’re choosing between has a higher K/9 or which of the two hitters has a better OBP. It’s just boiling guys down to their absolute simplest form. If a hitter has a better OBP, then, when you’re in the 22nd round, at least you’re getting a guy that should get on base more, which should help runs, RBIs and average. As for pitchers, at least you’re getting someone that can strikeout hitters, which should help ERA, WHIP and Ks.
5. Draft your team.
This is the most important rule. This rule is like the number one rule in meditation: You have to find your breath. Ask Tina Turner, she knows. This rule isn’t simply a literal statement. I’m not saying don’t hire someone off Craigslist because you need to draft your team. It’s a metaphysical credo that must be followed. You must draft guys you want. Once the draft is over, no one cares where you drafted anyone. Sure, you might take a bit of guff for taking someone a few rounds before everyone else would’ve drafted them. Well, tell those people, “Keep your guff, you guffers!” No one is going to pat you on the back in October and say, “You came in fourth, but I sure loved how you got Arenado in the 7th round.” You’re about to curl up in the basement of your mother’s house for the next six months with your fantasy team, draft guys you want. If you think you can wait an extra round on someone, then go for it, but if you really want to reach for someone, don’t worry about it. You need to draft your team, and not the team you think your leaguemates would draft. For two years in a row, my Razzball commenter league team (Sign up now!) has appeared near the bottom of the post-draft auto-simulated rankings that are done by ESPN. One year I won the league, the next year I came in 2nd. It didn’t matter that ESPN or anyone hated my team post-draft. All that mattered was I drafted the team I wanted. Now find your breath, young prematurely balding man, and embrace FML SMDH.