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Fantasy Baseball Drafts: Slow vs. Fast – Finding the Sweet Spot

A fantasy baseball draft is just like sex. Drag it out too long and you become numb to its beauty. Get it over with too quickly and you’re leaving something on the table. There’s a sweet spot in the process, but you can’t know what it is until you’ve experienced both extremes.

Last year was that for me in fantasyland. On one end, my 20-team dynasty league used a 6-hour per pick slow draft, which lasted more than a week. On the other, a 12-team redraft league went with 60 seconds per pick and was completed in 90 minutes.

Both left much to be desired.

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Slow Drafts vs. Fast Drafts

The slow draft offered less pressure, the benefit of well-considered picks, and didn’t require a specific date and time for everyone to be online simultaneously.

But, it didn’t feel like something fun my league-mates and I were doing together. Rather, it was an individual experience. My picks were something I did while I was at work, on the bus, or in the bathroom at a restaurant.

The fast-paced draft offered the community and event-driven fanfare that I was seeking. Everyone was present, pumped, and ready to rock. But it took a while (and some compromise) to find a time that worked for everyone.

Most of my beef, though, was that the pace was simply not enjoyable. It was hard to keep track of who was drafted where, and I could barely get to the fridge and back before my turn came around again. At the end of it, I sat back, shell-shocked, and wondered, “What the hell just happened?!”

It felt rushed, like we were just trying to get it over with. Our commissioner said as much when announcing the pick time, complaining that other drafts he was in “took way too long.”

Finding the Sweet Spot

Hearing my commissioner talk that way really annoyed me. To me, his words were a major draft mistake. A fantasy baseball draft is the most exciting and important moment of the six-month campaign. Don’t you want to soak it in and enjoy it? Is it really too much to ask to commit an evening to the draft?

Maybe it is, because you’re a single parent or work at night or whatever, and everyone in your league wants it that way. In that case, I have no beef; go ahead with your slow draft. The same goes for those on the other end of the spectrum. Set the pick time to 10 seconds, finish quickly, and get back to whatever else is so important.

Me? I’m seeking out leagues that treat the fantasy baseball draft with the respect it deserves, as the main event it should be. Commissioners planning one-night affairs, please heed my advice: Set the pick time to at least 2 minutes per pick.

Based on my experiences with one-minute round drafts that take around 90 minutes, you can expect a standard league draft with two-minute rounds to last about 3 hours, at most.

This is not too much to ask! I don’t care how many leagues you are playing in. Each fantasy baseball draft deserves a proper pace that brings the league together, allows managers to put some thought into their picks, and creates an environment where the process can be enjoyed. For those who have better things to do, there’s always autopick. 

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