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RotoBaller.com Daily League Analysis: How to Approach Daily League Snake Drafts, Part 1

The information in this Daily League Strategy piece is limited to those sites which permit daily snake drafts such as the ones described. Stay tuned to RotoBaller.com for more articles covering all of your favorite Daily League formats in the coming days and weeks!

Daily Snake Drafts: Part I

One of the fun things to do while playing fantasy baseball on DraftStreet is participate in Snake Drafts. Most of us wait all year for our favorite league's draft but once it's over we have to wait until next year to draft again. This can be especially painful when you have a bad draft and a mediocre team all season. The option of playing in daily leagues, where every day is a fresh start, is a fun way to keep interest no matter how poorly your team is performing in regular yearly leagues. Plus, if you play for money and you win, you get money deposited into your account right away. The feeling of winning is addicting, the feeling of losing is frustrating and I often see a trend in those who lose consistently. Here are some tips on how to approach snake drafts for daily leagues.

Billy Beane 2006

Prepare: I can't emphasize this point enough. I see too many people join daily snakes with no game plan whatsoever. They haven't analyzed matchups and they intend to use their “knowledge” to draft the best players. You can guess what almost always happens with these guys. They draft the big name players, regardless of the matchup, and they finish dead last. Discouraged and frustrated, they decide daily leagues aren't for them and stop playing. Think of it this way: How confident would you feel if you approached your most expensive season long fantasy league the way you just approached the daily league? You'd be shaking, nervous, unsure of yourself, and scared that every pick was a mistake. Take the time to visit MLB.com's Injury Report, and look at the day-to-day matchups. I always avoid players that are considered questionable, regardless of the random blog out there reporting he is “likely” to play.

Utilize the player queue: It is there to help you! Use it! If you are serious about playing and winning your snake leagues then you shouldn't join a Daily Snake until you have some players you are targeting. You won't know your spot in the draft order until five minutes before the draft starts. By the time the draft starts your player que should include 10-15 guys you want on your team for sure. Don't settle for a player you don't want because he has slid a few spots and a couple of guys you really wanted were taken instead. Take the time given to you and evaluate which player makes the most sense. Go with him and don't dwell on it. Start looking for a few guys you want with your next pick.

Learn from your mistakes: So maybe you took all our advice and still finished last. Don't be discouraged. Every other player who just finished higher than you has finished last before. Avoid the knee-jerk reaction moves like withdrawing or blowing all your remaining funds. The best thing to do if seriously discouraged is take a day off from daily games. The best way to stop a losing streak is to put yourself in a position where you can't lose. To get your mojo back, play in some free leagues using our tips and advice until you feel comfortable playing with real money again. We are here to help so just ask us!

Part II of How to Approach Daily League Snake Drafts can be found here.   

Have questions? Tweet them to us @RotoBaller or Cole personally @RotoCole

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Breakout or Bust? The Fantasy Impact of Second-Year Prospects

Brandon Belt 2011Brandon Belt

Just about two years ago, Brandon Belt was a hot topic among fantasy enthusiasts, and with good reason. The young Giants first baseman had just blown through three levels of the minors in 2010, finishing with a combined .352 BA, 24 HR and 112 RBI. In 2011, he picked up right where he left off hitting .309 with 8 HR and 32 RBI in just 165 AB before getting called up to the majors. In 187 big league AB, Belt did show some power (9 HR), but overall he struggled, batting only .225 and striking out at an alarmingly high rate (57). 2012 was an even more puzzling year for Belt. In 411 AB in SF, he raised his average (.275) and walks (54) while lowering his strikeout rate (106). The question is: did he make these adjustments at the cost of all his punch (7 HR)? When looking at all of these numbers as a whole, I get the feeling that Belt felt that striking out too often was a quick way for him to head back to AAA, and so he toned his swing down a bit.

The key to Belt’s success in 2013 is regular playing time. He is pretty much the same player against both RHP and LHP, and a full-time starting job should give him the confidence to finally let it fly and be the slugger that he can be. If the Giants commit to Belt as their everyday first baseman, I see him taking a larger step forward and delivering numbers closer to what we saw from him in the minors.

UPSIDE: .280, 22 HR, 85 RBI

ROTOBALLER.COM BREAKOUT RATING: 7/10 - Solid though not overwhelming chance that he reaches this upside.

Starling Marte

When Starling Marte got his shot with Pittsburgh in 2012 he responded by hitting .257 with 5 HR, 17 RBI and 12 SB in 167 AB. Many considered these numbers to be a disappointment considering the hype around the rookie. After looking closely at his minor league numbers, I would disagree with that assessment. Marte was hitting .282 with 12 HR and 22 SB in 393 AB at the time of his call up. Solid numbers for sure, but by no means earth-shattering. In fact, in his entire minor league career, he has never held a .400 OBP. The point here is that this a free-swinging speedy player, and his major league stats basically mirror what he did in the minors. It's important to remember that not every rookie takes the league by storm a la Mike Trout or Stephen Strasburg. Marte’s 2012 was not a disappointment, but a normal year in the maturing process of a young player. The best thing about Marte is that speed doesn’t go into slumps, so even if he struggles with batting average and power numbers, he should still be able to steal 30 bases easily with regular playing time. I look for him to take a step forward this year.

UPSIDE: .275, 10 HR, 55 RBI, 85 R, 34 SB

ROTOBALLER.COM BREAKOUT RATING: 6/10 - Decent chance he reaches this upside.

Brett Jackson
Back in 2009, if Cubs officials were asked what their major league outfield would look like in three years, it definitely would have included Brett Jackson. Jackson cruised through the lower levels of the minors, showing off a high average with both power and speed. He never hit below .295 while consistently posting an OBP around .400. He seemed to be on the fast track to be a major league star.

Unfortunately, things went downhill from there. In two seasons at AA, Jackson only hit a combined .266 while striking out a whopping 137 times in 474 AB. While he still managed to show some speed and power, his home runs at stolen bases were halved compared to his A-level performance. Nevertheless, the Cubs pushed on with Jackson, sending him to AAA in mid-2011, with very similar results. In just under 600 AB at the AAA level, Jackson has hit only .269 with 14 HR and 33 SB. Those numbers wouldn't be so terrible if they didn’t include an amazing 222 K. In Jackson’s brief appearance at the major league level in 2012 he showed more of the same, hitting a meager .175 and striking out 59 times in 120 AB.

Jackson is clearly overmatched by advanced pitching and I don’t see anything changing without a complete overhaul of his swing and approach. I don’t see him as much more than a career minor leaguer or possible pinch runner/defensive replacement as things stand now.

ROTOBALLER.COM BREKAOUT RATING: 1/10 - Almost no chance Jackson breaks out in the MLB this year.

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Read RotoBaller.com's prospect raankings series for deeper analysis of some even younger guys who could contribute in 2013. Part I, Part II and Part III should give you all the information you need for your non-keeper league draft endgame.

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PED Rumors: 2013 Fantasy Baseball Outlook for Braun, Cano, Granderson, A-Rod

Robinson Cano holding bat 2011So what are we to make of this entire situation with some significant names potentially getting suspended for 50 games? Well for one thing, it's certainly a bit of a shocker, even with all the news in the past few years about steroids and performance enhancing drugs. On the other hand, it's not really THAT shocking considering that Braun was essentially busted (or nearly busted) last year for PED use. And Alex Rodriguez has of course been linked to steroids in the past. But I'm not really sure that anyone was expecting to see Robinson Cano or Curtis Granderson mentioned in these MLB rumors.

One thing's for sure: if this rumor indeed does hold true, it would hold some pretty serious negative clout in the eyes of the media, the fans, Major League Baseball and baseball professionals everywhere. And being that three of the four players named in this rumor are Yankees, the team's image and reputation of baseball greatness would be tainted. Keep in mind, though, that at this point, this is all still just a rumor-- speculation, something heard through the grapevine, a leak from an unnamed source, nothing confirmed, nothing solid, no reason yet to throw anybody under the bus. There's nothing in this report to diminish a player's stats, abilities and reputation. Well at least not yet...

For Granderson to be guilty of performance-enhancing drugs I'd have to believe that it wouldn't be some sort of anabolic steroid, but rather some new-age cream or "clear" serum that assists in rapid recovery from injuries, similar to what Andy Pettitte claims to have used HGH for in the past. If Braun is indeed found guilty then now the question becomes: how real is Ryan Braun? He is without a doubt one of the most talented and dominant hitters in baseball, if not the most behind possibly only Miguel Cabrera. He has been dominating the league in every facet and every fantasy baseball category since his call up to the big leagues. One would have to assume that Braun isn't all fake, as his talent and abilities are through-the-roof regardless. But maybe Braun isn't an elite hitter anymore, and is only hitting 22 HR instead of 32. And out of all the players mentioned here, his reputation may get hit the hardest. After just getting away last year from a 50-game suspension by the skin of his teeth, the fans and media may come back much harder and harsher on baseball's golden boy.

So what are the implications of this for fantasy baseball, and all of those people who have not yet drafted their teams for 2013? That is a very interesting question, especially for somebody with one of the first few picks in the draft, where guys like Ryan Braun and Robinson Cano normally get taken. So how are we to prepare for our upcoming drafts? No worries, RotoBaller is here to help.

The thing is, nobody can sit here and tell you for sure what's going to happen. Nobody knows exactly if these guys used PEDs, or if this is all just some hoax. But at the same time, is anyone really crazy enough to sit here and tell me that they are taking Ryan Braun with their #1 or #2 or #3 overall pick in the draft tomorrow night? I'm not sure if Braun's guilty, and I certainly hope that he isn't, for the sake of all of us baseball lovers, fantasy baseball lovers, and general admirers of great athletes. But I sure as hell am not touching Braun if I have the opportunity in a draft tomorrow night. Not unless I hear some more concrete news on this rumor first. The risk is just too high, and there's no need to take on that kind of a risk when competing for a fantasy championship, especially if it means taking a risk with your first overall pick in the draft! Your first-round pick is somebody who has to without a doubt, without any shred of hesitation, anchor your team and be an absolute monster stud if you want any chance of winning your league. Of course this doesn't mean that you can't win your league if you lose your 1st overall pick for 50 (or 150) games, but it certainly doesn't make things easier. So what happens if you draft Braun in the first round of your draft, and he ends up getting suspended? Well that's a very good question and a difficult one to answer in a vacuum without knowing who else you've drafted. But to make a long story short, you will most likely lose the most important and most productive fantasy producer on your team for a third of the season, which will make it that much harder for you to contend, to make that extra push, to have those extra stats, or to accumulate those extra two HR or SB in order to make a push for the playoffs or a win that championship.

Someone like Granderson does not pose as big of an issue from a fantasy baseball perspective if he is indeed suspended, since we expected him to miss some time due to his injury. He would only end up missing a few extra games, which would only diminish his draft value and overall value for the season by 5% or 10%, or drop him one or two rounds in the draft. Alex Rodriguez is barely even on the fantasy radar this year with all of his injury concerns, so the implications here would be very minimal. From a fantasy perspective, this rumor makes things so difficult because none of us WANT to believe that 50-game suspensions are coming. But the smart thing to do in this type of uncertainty is avoid the risk, and play it safe.

So with all of that, I will leave you with my closing thoughts: if you are drafting over the next few days before any additional concrete news comes out regarding this rumor, do yourself a favor and do not draft Ryan Braun or Robinson Cano with your top picks. In this day and age, we have to take a risk-management approach in order to succeed in the long term, and fantasy baseball is a game of long-term gains. The risk that you are exposing yourself to by taking Braun or Cano is just too large. Your early-round picks should anchor your team for an entire season, and a future suspension would end up coming back to bite you and debilitate your team in a major way and over the long haul. So cross those guys off your list, and come up with a backup plan. A replacement plan for Braun or Cano may not be easy to find, but someone comparable can be drafted in the same or later rounds. Instead of Cano, go for Pedroia a round or two later. Instead of Braun, go for Mike Trout or Matt Kemp or Jose Bautista or Josh Hamilton or Andrew McCutchen or Carlos Gonzalez.

Hopefully none of this holds up and this just ends up becoming a fun article that was written. And let's not forget that this is all just a rumor right now-- just a leak, just a story that hasn't been published on any major news publications or sports networks yet. This is all still unconfirmed. But hope for the best, and proceed with caution on draft day. If the worst outcome arises, and these players are suspended for performance-enhancing drugs, you'll thank yourself for not taking on that huge risk on draft day... and instead sit back, kick your legs up, and smile at your team's success.

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Read Reid Contini's instant analysis on this story as it was breaking yesterday... and be sure to check out RotoBaller's complete 2013 OF Rankings, as well as our Digging Deeper into Outfielders piece!
 




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BREAKING NEWS: Braun, Cano, A-Rod, Granderson all suspended for PEDs?

Curtis Granderson running 2011Here is some potentially HUGE breaking news released by rotoinfo.com earlier today.

RotoBaller will be monitoring this story 24x7 - and are available to discuss, consult, and answer any questions you may have about this matter as you prepare for your fantasy baseball drafts.


RotoBaller.com's Fantasy Analysis:


A potential bombshell report is beginning to circulate the internet claiming that Ryan Braun, Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, and Alex Rodriguez will all be suspended 50 games this season for a failed PED test.

The initial source of the information is Joe Bisceglie, sports beat writer for the eclectic website Dog and Pony Show; he claims an anonymous source texted him yesterday with the information. It’s understandable to wonder “Joe who? Dog and Pony what?” but giving him some credibility here is the fact that last season this same source provided Bisceglie with the Melky Cabrera PED suspension story, which Bisceglie then tweeted a full month before it hit mainstream media outlets.

Braun, Rodriguez and Cabrera were all named in the recent PED scandal at an anti-aging clinic in Miami, and all three have been associated with steroid use in the past. Following the 2011 season Braun had a positive PED test overturned on a chain-of-custody technicality, while Rodriguez has admitted to previous steroid use and Cabrera was suspended 50 games by MLB last season for a positive test. Any links Cano may have to PEDs are tenuous at best, and largely have to do with his close personal relationships with Rodriguez and Cabrera. Granderson, meanwhile, has never been linked to PEDs.

If true, this story will shake both the sport of baseball and upcoming fantasy drafts to the core. Both Braun and Cano are first-round picks in redraft leagues, but if suspended they will obviously fall in draft rankings. Braun’s stock in particular would take a significant hit both fantasy-wise and in real life, all but certainly placing an asterisk next to his 2011 MVP campaign and casting a pall over what has thus far been a Hall of Fame caliber career. Granderson would take a smaller hit from a fantasy perspective, as he is already out into early May with a broken arm; since the Yankees outfielder would be able to serve his suspension while on the disabled list, he’d probably be looking at a relatively modest 15-20 additional games missed. And Rodriguez is already out for a large portion of the season following hip surgery, so a suspension would have little to no impact on his draft slot.

Stay tuned to RotoBaller.com for constant updates on this developing story. IF this holds true and the news is confirmed, then RotoBaller will be updating all of our fantasy baseball rankings...
 

 

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RotoBaller's 2013 Fantasy Baseball Strategy: When in Doubt, Go with Position Flexibility

When in doubt…Go with flexibility.

Much like when choosing that special someone at a bar, for fantasy position players, when in doubt, go with flexibility.  As the game of baseball evolves, teams are looking for players that are more athletic and capable of playing more than one standard position.

Multi-position eligible players are more valuable then your typical one position eligible players and when deciding whom to take on draft day, go with flexibility. That’s not to say that if you have to decide between Albert Pujols and Nick Swisher, that you
should take Swisher because he is eligible at OF and Prince Albert is not; however if deciding between Nick Swisher and Alfonso Soriano, the extra OF eligibility should sway you towards the former Yankee.

Now, every league has different standards for how many games a player must play at a certain position in order to become eligible at that position, so for your viewing pleasure I have included the position and number of games started.*

5. Adrian Gonzalez, LAD, 2012: 1B (151); OF: (18) - Most people are in two different camps regarding Mr. Gonzalez. Is he a bounce back candidate that batted .298 with 31HR and 101 RBI back in 2010 with San Diego or a bust that the spendthrift Dodgers should not have traded for who batted .299 with 18HR and 108 RBI with Boston and L.A. in 2012. His true power is probably somewhere in between; but Mr. Gonzlez is #5 on this list because he is eligible at two positions that are fairly top heavy. Mr. Gonzalez is being taken in the third round  on average, and you may want to jump on this guy early given his positional mobility along with new lineup and surroundings.

4. Hanley Ramirez, LAD, 2012: SS (57); 3B (98) - Much like Adrian Gonzalez, some people are willing to throw in the towel on the once elite SS and others think he will regain the form that made him one of the best, if not the best SS in baseball. However, Hanley is on this list because he is not just a SS, but also has that 3B eligibility. If you draft the former 2006 Rookie of the Year and 2009 NL batting champ early on in the draft, I suggest you look to cover your bases with some other players on this list who may be available later on.

3. Nick Swisher, CLE, 2012: 1B (41); OF (109)
Newly acquired bopper, Swisher projects to be batting in the middle of a revamped and potent Indians lineup featuring speedsters Michael Brantley and free agent acquisition Michael Bourn at the top of the order, along with mainstays Carlos Santana, Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Kipniss.  Not to mention Drew Stubbs who was acquired via the Shin Soo Choo deal, and Mark Reynolds. With all these players looking to get playing time, it would appear that Swisher will be the first baseman with Stubbs, Brantley and Bourn manning the OF and Reynolds as the full-time DH. However, Swisher still has the eligibility from a year ago. Because of the newly revamped Indians lineup, Swisher should have nice opportunities for RBIs at the very least, and he should not lose any value coming from New York, especially given the flexibility at OF and 1B.

2. Ben Zobrist, TB, 2012: 2B (58); SS (47); OF (71)
Joe Maddon is someone who loves taking players and putting them all around the field and that’s not just when David Ortiz and Mark Texieria are up at that plate. Maddon is one of the preeminent managers to take a player like Ben Zobrist and use him all over the diamond. Now, because Zobrist gained eligibility at SS last year, that would seem the most logical spot to play him; but that should give you more flexibility with taking other positional players or if Zoby drops in your draft, he may end up being that super stud you can plug in should an elite player get hurt.

MPrado01
1. Martin Prado, AZ, 2012: 1B (4); 2B (10); 3B (25); SS (13); OF (119)
There is a reason Mr. Prado is #1 on this list. I mean, just look at all that flexibility!!! Normally, you would take someone like Prado and say that SS seems to be the most logical choice to play him and you would probably be correct; however I say draft someone like Prado and that gives you the option to then draft the next best player regardless of the position and that gives you even more flexibility should the next player or even Prado himself, get hurt. Say you draft Prado in roughly the 10th Round - that gives you the flexibility to gamble and take Jose Reyes or even Hanley Ramirez early on and then you have a backup in case of injury or high quality starter at a weak position like 3B.

Honorable mentions: Danny Espinosa, Allen Craig, Marco Scutaro.

Lost eligibility: Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion.

*Note: Games do not add up to 162 as a player need not play 9 innings at any position to become eligible at said position (i.e. Hanley Ramirez could play 5 innings at SS and 4 innings at 3B and that would be considered 1 game at SS and 1 game at 3B even though
it was only 1 game total and not two games)