I’m gonna do something no other fantasy baseball analyst is likely to do. I’m gonna admit to a bit of a weakness. I spent my fantasy childhood almost exclusively competing in auction leagues. It’s still a format that I prefer for a variety of reasons, but mainly because I believe it gives every manager more control over how they shape their roster. My auction strategy has been honed over the years and I’m confident I will be a contender in any auction league I take part in. What has been harder to come by for me though, is a consistent draft strategy for snake drafts.
Now, I’ve won my share of snake draft leagues, but I’ve also had my share of middle-of-the-pack finishes. I’ve always focused on a draft strategy that focuses on taking the best player regardless of team needs. It’s worked well in active leagues where trading is common and I can convert the excess value in one category into value in other categories I need. It hasn’t worked so well in industry leagues where managers seem a lot more reticent to make deals. In order to be more consistent in snake drafts, I’m putting more of a focus on having a more balanced team coming out of the draft.
I still lean toward the best player available, but this year I’m giving myself a little more leeway and emphasizing statistical and positional needs a bit more. With that in mind, I’ve been working on a blueprint for the first 10 rounds of my snake drafts.
Draft Strategy for the First 10 Rounds
With Fantrax currently in the middle of a staff mock to test out our new draft room, it was a perfect time to test out my tweaked draft strategy. So here are the ingredients I was looking for ahead of the draft.
- 2 Pitchers with proven No. 1 Starter Upside
- 2 Sources of 20+ Steals
- 3 Sources of 30+ HRs
- 1 Top Tier Closer
- 1 SP with upside and good K potential
- 1 More solid hitter without regard to category strengths
- 1 of my hitters has to be a third baseman. That position gets barren real fast and I didn’t want to be reaching later on for the last decent bat.
There’s still some flexibility here, but building a balanced roster early should allow me to take the best values later on and also take a few shots on those personal sleepers we all have.
So how did it work out? I just selected my 10th player as I was sitting down to write this and I’m pretty happy with how things went. Here are my first 10 picks:
- Trea Turner
- Starling Marte
- Jacob deGrom
- Pete Alonso
- Nolan Arenado
- Jack Flaherty
- Emmanuel Clase
- Joey Gallo
- Alek Manoah
- Kyle Schwarber
I drew the No. 3 pick, so I felt pretty good about getting a five-category stud. I considered Jose Ramirez with my first pick, but I sacrificed a bit of power for more speed and a better batting average. My thinking was that I’ll probably be drafting some power bats later that might be lacking in the average department and Turner will help buffer that.
I’m thinking I reached a bit on Marte in the second round, but players with any kind of stolen base value were drying up quickly. He may not match last year’s output, but he’ll approach 30 SBs and should hit for an average that helps my team.
Jacob deGrom in the third round is highway robbery… or a wasted pick. Yeah, I’ve vacillated on that pick since I made it. In the end, I felt like passing by potentially the most valuable player in fantasy baseball was just too much. I’ve got a lot of mid-round pitchers I like so I’ll probably make it a point to add one more SP than I normally might later in the draft.
I covered my corners with the next two picks. Third base gets ugly pretty quickly and first base isn’t as deep in elite bats as many people think. I’m not overly high on Arenado, but he’s as durable as they come and he should at least be able to match last year’s power numbers.
I really like Flaherty in the sixth round. Like deGrom, his health is a bit of a concern. He missed time last year with a shoulder strain but he was a No. 1 starter when he was able to take the mound. Give him 30 starts and we’ll be talking about him as a Top-10 pitcher in next year’s drafts.
I took Clase as the third closer off the board and I’m fine with that. He may not have the track record of Josh Hader or Liam Hendricks, but the stats from 2021 aren’t all that far apart.
Gallo and Schwarber were the last two hitters I drafted in the first 10 rounds. Their suspect batting averages may mean I have to pay a bit more attention to that category later in the draft, but I couldn’t pass up two potential 40-HR bats. If the rumors about Colorado targeting Schwarber are true, his average could be a lot better than we’re expecting.
I’m absolutely elated that I was able to grab Alek Manoah in the ninth round. The projection systems aren’t as high on him as I am, but he has everything it takes to be the kind of horse who can lead a fantasy staff. The Blue Jays didn’t seem to be overly cautious with his inning last year and I think they could let him approach 200 IP in 2022.
And the Verdict
As I said, I think I covered my bases pretty well here but I don’t think you can meet all these needs without a question mark or two. This slight shift in draft strategy seems to have given me some freedom. I think the big bats of Alonso, Gallo, and Schwarber will allow me (and require me) to chase a bit of average and speed late. I hate one-category wonders, but a player like Myles Straw might be the icing on my SB cake. I’ll also need to add a second closer, but I don’t want to sacrifice ratios in doing so. I’m thinking Atlanta’s Will Smith or Camilo Doval of the Giants might be available when I’m ready to grab my other closer.
If this league were to play out, I’m sure deGrom would be the key. If he gets his starts, my pitching has the best base possible. If his arm issues recur, that’s a lot of ground to make up.
What are your thoughts on my shift in draft strategy? Did I reach too much on Marte and Arenado? Let me know where I went wrong in the comments below.