Fantasy baseball drafts are coming up soon and is everyone beginning their annual scramble for draft information, rankings, sleepers and draft strategies. Much like the NFL draft nobody will know the true results of a draft until the seasons over and the drafted players have played. Many times the best advice doesn’t come to be and conversely, what looked like bad picks, end up being great picks. When you think about it, drafting is mostly about not making big mistakes, rather than making a “genius” draft move.
The one mistake that many fantasy baseball managers make is their draft is focused on the fantasy past and not the fantasy future. It is much like the MLB Futures where the experts decide who is going to be the best Major League Baseball team in 2014, not who was the best in team 2013. On this note, you may want to investigate what teams are expected to be the best in 2014. Naturally, the best teams will have some of the most successful fantasy players, so when searching for who to draft, this is a great place to start.
For example, in 2012 Chris Davis did not finish near the top in the overall fantasy rankings, yet he led the majors with 53 home runs and 138 RBI’s in 2013. On the other hand, veteran Adam LaRoche finished with nearly identical stats to Chris Davis in 2012, batting .270 with 33 home runs. Managers who wanted to play it safe and who drafted for the past, would likely have felt safer drafting LaRoche, while managers looking to the fantasy future made their move on Chris Davis.
This strategy isn’t about drafting younger players over veterans, it is simply making sure you are not focused on just the players previous season statistics. In 2014 some players to look at for this strategy would be like Cubs first basemen, Anthony Rizzo. Much like Chris Davis, he was a known prospect who had yet to 100% pan out. Rizzo’s .230 batting average and 23 home runs were barely worth starting in 2013. But that is the past, consider his future. Compare him to a past stud, Prince Fielder. Feilder is still living off of his past “studness” and will likely be drafted early again. Is it possible that Rizzo performs better than fielder in 2014? When you look at Fielders .279 average and 25 home runs in 2014, it is a distinct possibility, and Rizzo will come much cheaper.
This is just one example, but focusing on the future of Major League Baseball is often the superior strategy to just looking at the past.