Interview with a Fantasy Baseball Rookie

Black and White Baseball
I think you can learn a lot by listening and observing how others approach things. I reached out to Steve Gansen, someone who is new to the game of fantasy baseball. I wanted to get a little insight into what some of the things a rookie fantasy baseball player learned in the past year.

Read through, soak it in, and perhaps Steve’s experience last year can help you avoid some of his early fantasy baseball mistakes, or encourage you in your fantasy baseball approach. I left it uncut, so let’s get to it.

Steve, you’ve played just a couple years so you’re still learning new strategies and growing in your knowledge of the game. How do you approach the draft? Do you have a predetermined plan and budget split or do you just go where the draft takes you?

Last year I had about five superstars in mind, three hitters and two pitchers, and wanted to come way with at least two of them as the foundation of my team. I was willing to spend up to $70 to get at least one of my hitters, and $50 for one of my pitchers. With that strategy I was able to land Justin Upton and Cliff Lee. Needless to say, I learned no one person is worth breaking the bank. This year I’ ll be practicing better sabermetrics in my draft choices, spreading risk across lesser names but higher all around value.

What’s your edge? What is it about your play style or strategy that allowed you to out-fox your opponents?

I pay close attention to roster trends to make sure I don’t miss a red hot player who can help my team at a week position. For instance, I noticed David Murphy was up 20% or so in roster adds and with some more research learned the reason was his manager was giving him a greater role in the lineup due to his hot bat. In our league you have to move quick, so I snatched him up and it paid off for several weeks when I needed him as an injury replacement.

What player will you never touch again? Why?

Tie between Upton and Ryan Zimmerman. Burned badly with both, Upton for having faith in what turned out to be overvalued power. Zimmerman for hitting .220 for me and .400 when I traded him. Yes, I am irrationally bitter toward him.

What are the harder position for you to fill when playing fantasy baseball?

I have had difficulty with middle infield power ever since Brady Anderson stopped taking steroids. My teams have had disappointing power in general, but I’d kill for 30 combined homers at SS and 2B.

What are some common misconceptions about player evaluation?

That strikeouts are a trade off for homers. Some of the best power hitters seem to have reasonable contact rates. I will never look at someone seriously who K’s 150 times over a full season unless he guarantees 40 homers and 110 walks, which is nobody. Another misconception I’ve had is undervaluing batting average. You have to be at .270 overall to be reasonably in the mix.

What is the most fun aspect of Fantasy Baseball?

The chess match with all the various intelligent strategists, guessing what they are up to while keeping them guessing what you are up to.

Reading through that it’s easy to find takeaways, from not putting too much faith into superstars, to undervaluing batting average in drafts, to watching roster trends closely. It’s also comforting to know that every fantasy baseball player has a couple guys that they irrationally avoid. A big ‘Thank You’ you to Steve for sharing what he learned this past fantasy baseball season.

Tags: Draft Justin Upton Ryan Zimmerman Strategy

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