With the 2009 fantasy baseball rankings in the bag, we turn to strategy.  Did you know your very own mustachioed ‘pert has a fantasy baseball draft strategy?  It’s called Performance Enhancing Draft Strategy or PEDS.  As you can see from that link, it’s in its 2nd year of existence.  With a new year comes some changes.  The first big change, I lost the 2nd -ing.  Not sure why I was dropping gerunds like they were “tic-tacs,” but I’m a changed man.  I was younger then, almost a full year.  Let’s face it, I was naïve.  That draft strategy was like amateur hour.  And this is the first time I’m admitting this to anyone, but my cousin wrote the whole thing.  I’m not going to tell you my cousin’s name or why I had him write it.  I was young and stupid.  Not as young or as stupid as I was the day or weeks preceding that draft strategy post, but young and naïve and stupid nevertheless.  Luckily, I got all of my young, amateur hour, stupidness out in that one post and I was able to go back to being a fantasy baseball blogger without the assistance of my cousin, Tom.  Okay, I am telling you his name.  But that’s the last you’re ever going to hear from him or me on him or him on me.  We’re through, Tom and I.  This is 100% my fantasy baseball draft strategy and some that I cribbed from other people.  Enjoy.

1.  Never draft a pitcher with your first two picks.

No Johan.  No Lincecum.  No Javier Vazquez if you’re a diehard CHONEr.  They’re fantastic.  I love them all.  If I had a pet guinea pig, I’d name him Joham.  These sums-a-snitches give you the value of a 1st or 2nd rounder.  They do.  I said it.  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 Utley or Teixeira or Beltran or whoever is too great.  Recognize!  Or not.  Your call.

2. Never take a closer in the first tier.

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 Papelbon, Nathan, Rivera, Lidge… Wait, this has a name!  I need to look it up in my fantasy baseball glossary… I knew it!  This is a closer run!  I have to take K-Rod with my next pick!  And why am I not wearing pants?!”  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.  You barely need a 2nd tier one.  Grab some schmohawks later that will get saves, because, as we all know, SAGNOF.

3. Have your offense squared away before the final rounds and never take an offensive bench player.

As appealing as Ryan Church seems on your bench, it’s poppycock.  You’re not going to hold onto these late round offense guys anyway.  You’re going to get to the first week of the season and you’re going to wonder why you have Jose Guillen on your bench.  Instead of an offensive bench player, grab a middle reliever who seems like he has a good chance of taking over for the incumbent closer.  Or grab a starter.

4. When deep into a position, take a flier 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 fliers late.  You’re looking at either Crapolanco or Ian Stewart for your MI spot, who do you choose?  Pierzynski or Saltymochachino?  Valerie Harper or Sandy Duncan?  You get the picture.

5. When in doubt, draft your second, third and fourth starters from NL teams.

Self-explanatory.  No DH, pitchers hitting, weaker offenses.  They bunt in the NL!  So when choosing between Greinke and Lowe, go Lowe.  Between Kershaw and Baker, go Kershaw.  Instead of chewing gum, chew bacon!

If you follow these five simple steps, I guarantee you will be in the top three in your league battling for your championship.  PEDS is so easy, it should be illegal.  You’re welcome.

  1. Emporers Monkey says:

    Great advice, I hope nobody in my league reads this site. I refuse to take a SP with any of my first five picks, I also dont take closers with my top 10.

    On a side note, it was Fat Tuesday tonight and its amazing what drunk chicks do for a 10 cent strand of beads.

  2. Lou Poulas

    Lou says:

    Couldn’t agree more

  3. sean says:

    Wow. Haven’t thought of The Hogan Family in years!

  4. Fman99 says:

    Super read, thanks Grey. Keep em coming!

    It is tough to resist the allure of stud pitchers and closers though in the first 6-8 rounds, you must admit.

  5. AJ says:

    Great stuff as always. My draft is 11 days away so I’m in cram mode….

  6. Grey, PEDS is spot-on. Consider me a PEDSophile.

    My one minor quibble: I draft offensive bench players late, if they’re fliers, i.e. Justin Upton; Elijah Dukes; etc. (Last year, stashed Longo. Soo. Weet. Two years ago: Alex Gordon. Soo. Poop.)

    Then again, I play in a high-octane, no MI/CI, 1 C, 3 OF league. That’s right — it’s as shallow as a local TV weatherperson! That’s how I like it!*

    @Fman99: Picking starting pitchers in round 6 and after is totally fine. (>coughcoughcoughcough<). Just don’t be the guy who takes Johan at pick 14. Did that guy win your league last year? No, he did not.

    And stay away from closers until round 12. That’s right! I said it! ROUND 12.

    You will get sweaty when Closer Run #1 starts (rounds 4 through 6 — goodbye Papelbon! See ya, Nathan! We hardly knew ye, K-Rod!) and itchy when Closer Run #2 starts (rounds 8 through 10 — F-Cord, long time no see! Soria, ya commie, homo-loving son of a gun!)

    But after those noisy parades pass through town, you can walk down Main Street and you know what you will find littered about on the ground? SAVES. Hey, it’s Heath Bell! Look — Chad Qualls! Mike Gonzo — is that you? Joel Hanrahanhanan? Hey, Joey — you look simply Devine!

    *You can criticize, but to my mind, having to start 5 OF and 2 C is just weird. Where are we, Mars? Is this baseball, or SporkoBall, the game they play in space with two catchers?**

    **Lance Parrish is now a star of SporkoBall.

  7. Kevin says:

    I don’t draft a pitcher until round 8 typically and a closer is a last priority. Good stuff.

  8. pops says:

    All these years, it’s like I’ve been looking at fantasy baseball through coke – bottled glasses with an uber thick prescription. Thanks Grey.

  9. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Emporers Monkey: Skin to win!

    @sean: That’s a shame.

    @Fman99: Closers don’t bother me. At a certain point, starters become irresistible.

    @Baron Von Vulturewins: I’d imagine there’s lots of hitters on the waiver wire in any league outside of Sporkoball.

    I usually grab a closer in the 2nd tier. Broxton may be a commie, homo-loving son of a gun, but he’s my commie, homo-loving son of a gun.

    @Kevin: @pops: Cool, glad it helps!

  10. BBQKing says:

    What about an auction-strategy addendum…I mean, a lot of this can be applied as prices rather than rounds, but anything specific to the auction?

  11. Grey

    Grey says:

    @BBQKing: I’ll have an auction one.

  12. @Grey: I def. eye closers in rounds 9 and 10. But a lot of the starters I want as my 2nd or 3rd guy come up then as well (e.g. Shields, Gallardo, Matt Cain, Vazquez).

    Also, second/third tier OFs, like VWells, Dye, Bruce are usually gone by the end of round 10. I need to fill up my OF first — I’d rather have Brian Wilson in Round 14 than the OFs still on the board, guys like Nady and Hawpe and Burrell — blech.

    Obviously, a lot depends on draft position, but as a general rule I go:

    Rounds 1-5: Infielders, one impact OF

    Rounds 6 – 10: Starters, 2nd/3rd OF

    Rounds 11 – 15: Closers, catcher

    Rounds 16 – 21: Fliers

  13. Christopher says:

    @Baron Von Vulturewins: Great insight on watching the closer runs, and it applies when the SP run begins in Rd 3 or 4. Of course, that’s when you’re stacking your O…

    I must now work on software that prevents league mates from ever finding this site…

  14. @Christopher: It’s true — this year is going to be tough for me, watching CC, Peavy, Hamels, and Webb peel off the board… but there’s too much talent available later (Lackey, Felix, C-Bills, Shields, etc. etc. etc.).

    Looking at my league’s 6th round last year, it was particularly star-crossed for pitchers: Zambrano, Smoltz, Lackey, Harang, Chris Young… not one of which returned 6th round value (Lackey came closest — and he was injured at the time of the draft, other wise he would have gone higher…)

  15. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Baron Von Vulturewins: Every year it seems like 5 great pitchers come out of the 11th round. Conceivably in the 11th round this year, Wainwright, Billingsley, Joba, Gallardo and Cain. That’s more of a non sequitur Cust kayin’ than anything, but I thought I’d mention it.

  16. Fresh says:

    What do you think of drafting your top two from the same team? I’m considering a howard/utley or howard/rollins combo for the 9th and 12th picks in a h2h points league.

    How much does it damage your consistency? I’m thinking of maybe a week or two througout the year where you get hurt, maybe just a little; but the rest of the weeks these guys can carry your team.

  17. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Fresh: It’s not a concern when the guys are valuable anyway, and those two are.

  18. IowaCubs

    IowaCubs says:

    @Grey: Nice post, Grey. I agree with most of what you said, ‘sept for number 4. I could always grap Polanco and snag whatever upside guy you speak of off the wire. At the worst case, I’d have Polanco, and at best, I’d grab a guy I know has a starting job for sure… I think of Blake DeWitt and Jerry Hariston, jr. last year as examples of guys I could eventually add in replace of Polanco.

  19. @Grey: That may be, though I sincerely doubt C-Bills, Gallardo, or Joba make it out of the 10th in my league.

    C-Bills could go as high as the 7th, given there’s one owner who’s had him two years running and lurves him irresponsibly. Same guy reached for Lincecum last year in the mid-7th, mostly to thwart me. (I had Lince for latter half of ’07.) That worked out pretty well.

    Joba has the Yankee hype factor here in NYC, so he goes no later than the 8th or 9th, I predict.

    Gallardo doesn’t make it through 10 because I’ll have already taken him.

    Wainwright I’m happy to get in round 11. Cain I’m mixed on — drafted him last year and he underwhelmed. But I could go back — I love making the same mistake twice. Isn’t that right, Alex Gordon?

  20. Christopher says:

    @Baron Von Vulturewins: Baron, I’d be interested to know who else went in your 6th round that delivered 6th rd or above value. That means the guy who took, say, Harang (gulp – that was me last year in my league) lost even more than just Harang’s 11-13 Rd value.

  21. sean says:

    I’m not worried about the first SP run. I’m much more worried about the douche who burns my 8-10 round SP targets with his random snares in rounds 5-7. He’s got a team of Hamilton, Johan, CC, McCann, and he’s looking to add on more pitchers in the middle rounds because he got burnt on pitching last year

  22. sean says:

    @grey: “Instead of an offensive bench player, grab a middle reliever who seems like he has a good chance of taking over for the incumbent closer. Or grab a starter.” I would assume that we should grab every available closer before we look at either of these, right? I’m drafting in a ten team league, so there may still be closers available at the endgame.

  23. Christopher says:

    @Baron Von Vulturewins: “Rounds 1-5: Infielders, one impact OF

    Rounds 6 – 10: Starters, 2nd/3rd OF

    Rounds 11 – 15: Closers, catcher

    Rounds 16 – 21: Fliers”
    Baron, 1st round, you have pick 8 or 9 (10 team league): who you taking? Figure SS is gone (HanRam, Reyes); A-rod, Pujols too.

    Grey, feel free to jump in too!

  24. Christopher says:

    @sean: Yeah, those random snags can explode a draft strategy…good stuff to think about.

  25. Grey

    Grey says:

    @IowaCubs: That’s a bit of tomato-tomahto if you’re replacing Polanco anyway. Also, I find people hold onto guys such as Polanco too long if they have the option, where if you have Ian Stewart and he’s not playing then you’re forced to look harder.

    @Baron Von Vulturewins: Conceivably is a magic word that covers every round. You’re probably right if you’re facing people who know what they’re doing/read Razzball, but ofttimes those guys would be available.

    @sean: Yes, in ten team leagues you grab every available closer. See Baron’s comment #6, all of those guys should be drafted.

  26. @Grey: My league’s not full of geniuses, but they’re relatively sleeper-savvy. Soto and Lincecum went earlier than avg ADP last year. I imagine Weiters and C-Bills and Elijah Dukes will go early this year too.

    @Christopher: Well, last year in my league, the 6th round was a mixed bag. It went

    Hunter Pence
    Michael Young
    Dustin Pedroia
    John Smoltz
    Chipper Jones
    Francisco Rodríguez
    Aaron Harang
    Chris B. Young
    John Lackey
    Brian McCann
    Chris Young (the pitcher)

    Overperformed: Pedroia, Chipper Jones, K-Rod (only b/c of the mutant saves count)
    Delivered value: Lackey, McCann
    Underperformed: Everyone else

    Notable players, taken in the 7th and 8th, that you could have instead of Aaron Harang:

    Scott Kazmir
    Tim Lincecum
    Ian Kinsler
    Adrián González


    Mr. Roy Halladay (remember, going into ’08 his Ks were trending down.)

    Keep in mind, though, my regular league is a mixed-bag of friends, ranging from stathead geek obsessives like yours truly to a guy that lets his 12-year-old Yankees-fan son pick his team.

    @sean: In general, my rule of thumb is to reach one or two rounds for players I particularly want. After all, you’ve got to live with them all summer. I don’t want to sit there and think “Well, I had a feeling about Jay Bruce, but at least I didn’t reach one round!” After the draft, you care who’s on your roster, not what round you get him in.

    @Christopher: After the Holy Quintangle (Han, Reyes, Pujols, Wright, A-Rod)*, I’ll target Miggy or Braun. Basically, young sluggers with upside. (One of these years Miggy will put up a .320/120/45/145 season for the ages, like vintage Manny.)

    If I’m at 8th or 9th or higher, I’m thinking a 2B/1B combo in a snake draft: Utley/Tex, or Kinsler/Tex, or maybe Kinsler/Beltran. My real concern in that case is 3B, which will be really thin by the time my 3rd round pick comes again. Oh, and SS too — if I have a low pick, my plan is to target like this: 2B, 1b or OF, OF (or Peavy if he drops), Alexei Ramirez in the 4th.

    That said, barring injuries, leagues aren’t won in the first 5 rounds. You’re just divvying up the superstars. Leagues are won in rounds 6 through 15. Hell, last year the guy who took Youk in the 15th won the whole thing, basically on that decision alone.

    *I will not draft A-Rod in the first, third, or 20th round. It’s not the Steroids. It’s the Slap.

  27. Christopher says:

    @Baron Von Vulturewins: Thanks Baron. Those 7-8 Rd names make your point about winning the league in the late rounds (something I plan on doing this year, thanks to Razzball!).

  28. Garrett says:

    I like to have some offensive guys on the bench to start the season, because there are always a lot of rain outs in April and it’s nice to be able to slot some guys in and not get into a hole with your games played.

  29. sean says:

    We preach a lot about knowing your opponents, but I’m struggling with how to approach random leagues. My leaguemates are definitely not like Baron’s; these folks will all have paid a pretty entry fee to try to step on someone else’s throat for cash.

    Where should I look to predict tendencies? I’ve begun analyzing where the CBS ADP and rankings differ from MDC ADP to get a feel for where the pre-ranks might affect the draft. I’ve combined that with looking over Grey’s rankings to determine where I can get solid value based on Razzball targets v. ADP/CBS ADP.

    Any other suggestions would be much appreciated.

    One alarming issue is the REALLY high CBS ADP for closers (Razzball rank in ()
    Marmol 66 (149)
    Soria 72 (95)
    Jenks 78 (103)
    Wood 90 (119)
    Broxton 97 (96)
    Valverde 99 (132)
    Ryan 100 (106)
    Fuentes 107 (109)
    Cordero 127 (102)
    Street 131 (218)
    Capps 135 (192)
    Hoffman 138 (214)
    Wilson 141 (191)
    Gonzalez 142 (193)
    Devine 158 (190)
    Lindstrom 174 (220)
    Bell 177 (188)

    These numbers almost guarantee that I’ll have to adopt a SAGNOF approach. Otherwise, I’m going to have to snag a donkeycorn in the 9-10th round, and I don’t know that I’m comfortable with that, even for you, Jonathan Broxton.

  30. Grey

    Grey says:

    @sean: All rankings are benchmarks. If you know you want a donkey-corn, then when you see others grabbing Broxton, Jenks and Cordero you grab Capps or Devine or Fuentes. If you grab one a round or too earlier, it’s not a big deal as long as you leave the draft with three closers.

  31. Ethan Stein says:

    About rule 1, in a 5 player keeper league, I have on my roster now through some trades to keep, A-Rod, Rollins, Utley, Hamilton and Johan. The draft has not yet happened and the keeper deadline is next week. I just traded Carlos Lee and Roy Halliday for Santana after trying to do something similar for Jose Reyes or Ramirez (Using rollins instead of Lee) but did work. Smart move? Should I try to move Johan, or since he is not my first 2 picks, its ok?

  32. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Ethan Stein: It’s fine. You should keep Johan now, but I want Lee and Halladay over Johan.

  33. @sean: In this case, you should go in with your own idea of who you can live with. When all the other closers start vanishing — regardless of round — you start thinking of picking your guys.

    Just don’t be afraid to leave with some bottom feeders. Also, when people are taking guys like Kerry Wood in the 8th round (!!!), you can be stockpiling useful offensive players.

  34. sean says:

    @[email protected]: i think some flexibility in my approach will probably be best served. i agree with both of you that reaching is necessary and proper at times.

  35. rhymenoceros says:

    I’ve been using a strategy very similar to this for three years. I’ve yet to finish out of the money in any of the leagues. Statistically and theoretically it just makes sense, at least to me. If all my RCL compadres read this article and apply it aggressively to the draft, March 15 will be a freaking bloodbath.

  36. sean says:

    Boof Bonser out for the year…
    I really wanted to draft him and finish 9th

  37. Grey

    Grey says:

    @sean: Ha! Thanks for the heads up!

  38. Mike says:

    So what you are saying is that I should drop Alex Gordon, Shin-Soo Choo, Rickie Weeks & Fred Lewis and pick up guys like Ubaldo Jimenez, Jeremy Guthrie, Manny Parra, Wandy Rodriguez, Jorge De La Rosa? I’d personally like to keep Gordon for the inevitable Chipper injury, but is that what you’re telling me?

    Anyway, I only recently found Razzball but I thoroughly enjoy it.


  39. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Mike: I don’t know the depth of your league, but it sounds very shallow. I would not drop any of those guys. But I also think those other guys (minus De La Rosa) should be owned.

  40. Grey love the site! As far as drafting strategy in the early rounds do you focus on getting certain positions covered or do you just get the best player available? And what round do you typically draft your first pitcher?

  41. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Exonerated: Get the best player available. Typically, I get a starter in the 5th to 6th rounds, but, as mentioned earlier, I would take Santana in the 3rd round or Peavy in the 4th or 5th, etc.

  42. Mike says:

    Grey, it’s a standard Yahoo public roto league. C 1b 2b ss 3b OF OF OF Util SP SP RP RP P P P and 5 bench spots…12 team league

    My starting hitters are Iannetta Fielder Phillips Reyes Rios Dye Milledge Votto

    my starting pitchers are Shields Harden Fuentes Qualls Cain M.Gonzalez R.Johnson

    Bench guys equal 4 listed above and Joey Devine

    I probably need insurance for both Randy Johnson and Harden, and I wanted to draft Jimenez, Wandy, Guthrie & Parra but I ran out of roster spots.

  43. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Mike: You don’t have the pitchers you need to compete. Offense isn’t your problem right now. I don’t think dropping any of your bench guys is going to necessarily fix your problems, but drop Choo for Guthrie.

  44. AJ says:

    Since there’s no where else to put it, I’m slapping this question right here. Deal. I can keep two players at the round they were drafted at last year. My options are: Bay 7th, Chris Davis 10th (FA’s are 10th automatically), Shields 12th, Connor Jackson 20th. Shields makes the most sense, but I’m torn on another. So I can make a trade for someone like Volquez 10th(FA), Alexei Ramirez 10th (FA), Kemp 11th, Victorino 11th, S Drew 16th, Dye 16th, Doumit 18th, Broxton 23rd or maybe one or two others. But I’d have to lose some draft position to acquire those guys. Example, last year I traded down from the 9th round to the 13th round to keep Rios at the 8th round, and from 14 to 18 to keep Kinsler at 13. Kinsler obviously worked out and I guess Rios was still a value in the 8th. So my question(s) is(are) should I keep Sheilds, and Bay or Davis or should I make a move for somebody else. Love to have your input on the subject….

  45. Grey

    Grey says:

    @AJ: This question should go in the forum. Also, I might be having a stupid problem here, but your wording has me confused. You can trade for Kemp in the 11th and Alexei in the 10th? Then do it.

  46. AJ says:

    posting made in the keeper section….

  47. Josh says:

    I have just started reading this site recently, great way to pass college lectures!

    My biggest question is, if I’m punting catchers, closers, starters till at least the 4th if not all the way to the 8th, am I really going to have enough needs to draft just offense in the first 7 rounds? I’d be happy with Cruz and/or Span in my OF, Davis or Votto in the infield. Plus, with all the muddling middle infielders, I’m not sure I want any middle infielders outside the first 2 rounds. So where should I be looking in rounds 2-7? Best available player or what?

    And I don’t think I can resist a second tier closer. Fuentes and Capps are two guys I really want this year.

  48. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Josh: Cool, good to have you commenting. re: Rounds 2-7 — Steady offensive performers with little downside. Think Berkman, Carlos Lee, Beltran, Markakis, Rios, Chipper, Kemp, etc.

    I also like Capps and Fuentes.

    EDIT: Typo. Word.

  49. Benny says:

    One question

    I am in a league where we have 9 hitters with 9 stats, and 9 pitchers with 7 stats, should my strategy remain the same as yours? Thanks to anyone for any help

  50. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Benny: No, your strategy would need to change a bit for the climate of your league. Your hitters are still very valauble, but I have no idea what the other categories are so you need to focus on those categories, as well.

  51. Benny says:

    Thanks Grey

    Hitters – R, H, HR, RBI, SB, BB, AVG, SLAM, OFA

    Pitchers – W, CG, SHO, SV, K, ERA, WHIP

    I was gonna move pitchers up a round (or two) compared to most strategies.

    I’m thinking it’ll be a bit easier to find good pitchers in FA than good hitters, but I’m not really sure.

  52. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Benny: I wouldn’t move hitters up. I’d go with what we have here.

  53. Colin says:

    Grey, I’m looking at Myers to bounce back this year. 35 pounds less and in a contract year could equal a solid season with 15 wins and lots of K’s. Thoughts?

  54. Colin says:

    Good points. But my thinking is the thought of a huge pay day in the winter will trump all that and he’ll end up with decent numbers considering where he will be drafted.

  55. Tom says:

    Are F-Hernandez, Wainwright, J. Johnson, E. Jackson decent enough 1-4 to start a season with? I love grabbing one pitcher like Hernandez early and concentrating on bats, but I feel really weak in starting pitching now. It could be worse, but what do you like least: Wainwright as #2, Johnson as a #3 or Jackson being on my team?

  56. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Tom: Your front three are fine, but Edwin isn’t worth starting right now except in very deep leagues.

  57. @Tom: Is that a 10 or 12 team mixed league? It’s really weak for 10 team and just weak for 12 team…

  58. xxxTheToadxxx says:

    “Self-explanatory. No DH, pitchers hitting, weaker offenses. They bunt in the NL! SO WHEN CHOOSING BETWEEN GREINKE AND LOWE, GO LOWE. Between Kershaw and Baker, go Kershaw. Instead of chewing gum, chew bacon!”


Comments are closed.