The start of the baseball season also kicks off one of the favorite entertainments of baseball fans, the fantasy league.
The passion that exists for this world means that all the platforms have special Fantasy sections dedicated exclusively to these games, with analysts who write articles every day recommending this or that player and explaining the reasons why they do so. We are going to try to bring this world a little closer to new players who want to get started in it.
There are a multitude of options to play, from the simplest and free to the somewhat more complex paid leagues, which already require a certain amount of skill and, of course, dedication. We’re not going to focus on the latter, but rather on the former, which any new fan is looking for when it comes to getting started in the fantasy world.
For many people, the succession of players in the 30 MLB teams can be too much to follow, apart from some of your favourite teams.
Add to that the successive ups and downs of players between the major and minor leagues and the list can become endless. And here the fantasy league helps and a lot.
Getting into a fantasy is going to allow us to follow the competition day by day, read news about the players, read statistics and little by little start to understand them, so that soon we know which players are doing better than the rest and which ones we have to try to sign before our opponents realize they are free.
You don’t have to be afraid of making transfers or letting someone who is not as good as expected go free. We may even find out at some point (finally!) that the player who has stopped scoring points is because he has been sent to the Triple-A team and not because he has suddenly forgotten what it’s like to hit.
Those mistakes are normal and will make us more aware of the next transfer, avoiding signing because the name sounds more or less familiar and focusing more on reading both news and numbers about that player before we decide to include him in our team.
The different platforms
The Fantasy World is very spread out. There are leagues in practically all the specialized websites, such as those of MLB itself, ESPN, Yahoo, CBS, Fox… There are different formats, although one of the most popular is the one that awards points to players according to their performance on the field and these are added to those of your team, thus establishing a classification in the style of a regular league in which the winner is the one who accumulates more points at the end of the league.
Others, however, are of daily management and are the ones I recommend because it will force us to follow the competition closely to see which players are in better or worse shape and thus decide each day which players we include in our initial roster and which we put on the bench to warm up.
Others are managed weekly, so on Mondays we will have to make the necessary adjustments in our line-up by putting in the team those who we think will be more productive and praying that none of them will be injured once the change window has been closed.
We can opt for a league in which the actions of each player are rewarded with points, which can be negative if our chosen one has a bad day.
Others, on the other hand, add up the positive actions of our players (RBIs, homers, stolen bases, batting percentage, strikeouts, ERA…) or subtract the negative ones (hits and runs awarded, defensive errors, base steals…) and at the end of the week compare them with those of our opponent and see which of the two gets the final victory.
The choice of pitchers is important, as it cannot be otherwise in this sport. On some platforms this choice is individual, so you may be playing with five pitchers from five different teams, while on others you choose the full rotation of a team.
And the same goes for the relays, with the closeers being the most sought-after since saved games are usually one of the most used statistics by all leagues. You will have to be very clear about the format of your league and the maximum number of pitchers of one or another class you are allowed to have to choose your strategy.
Tips for draft day
It is undoubtedly one of the most important days (if not the most important) of the entire competition. I recommend you to prepare well, because on the good or bad choice of your players will depend the success or failure of your team in the coming months. You will have to be aware of the possible players who are injured or it is not clear if they are going to be part of the roster of 25 of your team in the end.
My advice, which you may or may not follow, is that at the beginning of the draft you should focus more on acquiring good hitters rather than pitchers. You’re going to have to cover a minimum of eight offensive positions (or more if playing DH, UTIL or other options) and big hitters are highly sought after.
In addition, they will play almost every day, while pitchers will only play once every five or six days. And of course, the injuries of the latter are usually more serious and it is not uncommon for them to spend more than a month or two in dry-dock, time in which they will not produce anything for your team.
Try to get all the positions doubled so that by the end of the draft you have two players who can get first base, two catchers, at least four outsiders… many players can get more than one position and those can help you keep your positions filled on any given day of competition, making sure you score points even when your star player gets a day off.
And if your league plays with a designated hitter (DH), try to pick one as soon as possible, as there aren’t many available and you may not be able to fill that slot unless you get sloppy. Don’t forget that there are only 15 teams in MLB that play with DH.