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Winning Fantasy Baseball Strategies

Updated on April 8, 2015

Playing Fantasy Baseball

Over the past decade, playing fantasy sports has seen a massive growth in popularity. Now, instead of just watching games and following your favorite team you can pick your own team made up of players that you draft or bid on.

Baseball is a very popular fantasy sport. While not as big as fantasy football, it's still great fun and will keep you busy during those summer months. Since there are so many games, your stats will change amost every single night. Most of the time you are watching a game, one or more of your fantasy players may be playing in it. Even when you're not watching your favorite team, you'll have something to cheer for.

This hub will go through some winning baseball strategies for joining or creating a league, drafting you team, playing during the regular season, and winning your league at the end. These are suggestions that I have used to win fantasy baseball leagues in the past, and they can certainly work for you.

Albert Pujols
Albert Pujols
Hanley Ramirez
Hanley Ramirez
Miguel Cabrera
Miguel Cabrera

Joining Or Creating A Fantasy Baseball League

The first step to playing fantasy baseball is to join or create a league. If you're a newbie, it's a good idea to join one. If you have some experience, you may want to create your own league with the settings you desire.

There are 2 main styles of fantasy baseball leagues - rotisserie and head to head. In a rotisserie, or roto, league your team gets a ranking for each statistic based on the overall totals of your starting players (the stats of players on your bench won't be counted).

When you play fantasy baseball, you can also select AL only, NL only and mixed leagues. Most leagues are mixed, but you can still find plenty that are AL or NL only.

If you have never played fantasy baseball before, it's best to choose a league with basic settings. These are the ones with the most important statistics involved, one player per offensive position, and a reasonable amount of pitching positions. You may also want to join a league with 8 or 10 teams rather than one with 12 or more.

Most basic leagues will have 1 catcher (C), 1 first baseman (1B), 1 second baseman (2B), 1 third baseman (3B), 1 shortstop (SS), and 3 outfielders (OF). Many fantasy baseball leagues will have 1 or 2 utility slots where you can put a player from any position in. Some will have the OF slots split into left, center, and right fielders (LF,CF,RF). Other hitting positions you may see in fantasy leagues include designated hitter (DH), middle infielder (MI - shortstop or second baseman), and corner infielder (CI - first or third baseman). If you prefer, you can join a deep league with multiple players per position. In deeper leagues, you'll be able to speculate more on certain players in the middle and late draft rounds.

Pitching positions are made up of starting pitchers (SP), relief pitchers (RP), and pitchers (P - either starting or relief pitcher). A basic pitching set up is usually something like 2 or 3 SPs, 2 RPs, and 2 or 3 Ps. Some leagues will be deeper than this of course.

Almost every fantasy baseball leagues also have some bench (BN) slots and many have injured reserve (IR) slots. The bench will be made up of extra players that you can put in your starting line up at any time. Injured reserve is for players who will be out for a while.

As far as stats go, look for leagues that have offensive categories such as batting average (AVG), hits (H), runs (R), home runs (HR), runs batted in (RBI), and stolen bases (SB) and pitching categories such as wins (W), saves (SV), strikeouts (K), earned run average (ERA), and walks and hits per innings pitched (WHIP). There are many more stats that leagues may have. Some will even include fielding stats or stats that rarely or almost never happen like cycles, no hitters, and perfect games.

When you create a fantasy baseball league, you can set it up any way you want. The type of league, amount of teams, stats, positions, and time of the draft is totally up to you. You can also decide on making your league a public one that anyone can join or a private one for people you know. If you feel up to it, creating your own fantasy baseball league can be great fun.

Chase Utley
Chase Utley
Zach Greinke
Zach Greinke
Ryan Braun
Ryan Braun

Drafting Your Fantasy Baseball Team

Once you join or create a fantasy baseball league, the next step is to draft your team. You always have the option to join a league that automatically drafts your team for you, but where's the fun in that? When you draft your own team, you can pick your favorite players and speculate on what prospects will come into their own. You can also curse out owners who select the player you were going to pick next and feel proud of your self when you feel that you've made a steal with a late pick. There many winning fantasy baseball strategies you can take advantage of when you draft your team.

When you draft your fantasy baseball team, you need to pick at least one player per offensive starting position. Of course this should be obvious, so what you really need to think about is when to draft each position. This is because some positions, such as first base and outfield, are perennially much deeper than others and have a lot of players that will potentially have big seasons. Meanwhile, positions like catcher and second base usually aren't very deep. Catcher is usually a relatively weak position and you shouldn't draft one too early. A lot of years there is a big difference between the top tier second basemen and shortstops and the lower tiers. You may not want to wait too long before you draft these positions. Since many fantasy baseball leagues have utility slots that allow for players from any position, you may want to draft an extra first baseman or outfielder.

When it comes to picking pitchers for your fantasy baseball team, you're probably better off waiting at least a few rounds. There are always quality starting pitchers available late in drafts and some that don't even get drafted will have big seasons. If you want one of the top 2 or 3 pitchers you'll have to get them somewhat early (usually 2nd or 3rd round). You should definitely wait a while before you start picking relief pitchers. Even the top relievers won't get drafted very early. This is because besides saves they won't contribute as much to other pitching stats due to their low amount of innings pitched. You can also find quality relievers late in most drafts.

While you should focus more on hitters early in fantasy baseball drafts, you may want to draft more pitchers for your bench positions. Since starting pitchers only play once every five or six days, you can give your team an advantage in stats such as wins and strikeouts if you have more of them. Having more hitters on your bench may not do you as much good as having more pitchers because most hitters are playing almost every day. It's not going to do you much good to have a backup at some positions - especially if you're rarely going to put those players in the utility slots.

Of course, the way you draft your team is entirely up to you. Just have fun with it.

Fantasy Baseball Season Strategies

Now that you've joined or created a league and drafted your team, there are still many winning fantasy baseball strategies that you must keep in mind once the actual baseball season begins.

The most obvious strategy is to keep track of your team and league during the season. In many fantasy baseball leagues, especially free leagues, you will find inactive managers who never change their line ups. Some managers will be active at the beginning of the season, and then throw in the towel if they don't get off to a good start. It's best not to worry too much about the first few weeks of the season.

Another winning fantasy baseball tip is to keep an eye on players on waivers and free agents. There are bound to be quality players and budding superstars available at some point that will have big seasons. There are also going to be players that will have a hot start before cooling down. You've got know what to look for. If a player has been average throughout his career and all of the sudden he hits .350 through the first 2 weeks of the season, what are the chances that he'll keep on that pace in the long run. This happens every year. By contrast, a superstar may have a slow start. Most of the time (unless they have an injury) they'll come out of it. This will sometimes lead to a fantasy baseball manager dropping a stud after a bad first month for an average player who starts hot. You can take advantage of this by keeping close track of the waiver and free agency lists - especially early in the season. If you see somebody drop a slow starting superstar - put in a waiver claim for him. If you want to pick up a young player with potential who has a hot start, drop a mediocre player from your team.

Another winning fantasy baseball strategy is to trade effectively. There are many options when it comes to trading. You can try trading for a slow starting superstar - even if it takes 2 good players. You can also do the opposite. If you have a weakness at a certain position but are strong in another, search out teams that have the opposite position issues and offer a trade.

During the fantasy baseball season, there may also be limits you need to keep an eye on. In roto leagues, it's likely that there will be a limit on the amount of games that can be played at each position - usually 162, but it can be different depending on what the settings are. This means that if you reach that amount of games at a position before the season ends, your players stats at that position won't be counted anymore. There should be a chart that will track this for you so you don't overdo it. There may also be a minimum amount of innings pitched that you have to hit each week in a head to head league. Maximum moves per week or season and max trades per week or season may also be in your league. Watching out for these limits is also one of the best fantasy baseball strategies.

Evan Longoria
Evan Longoria
Joe Mauer
Joe Mauer

End Of The Season And Playoff Strategies

There are also some winning fantasy baseball strategies to keep in mind towards the end of the season.

For roto leagues, you should see what stats you have a shot of improving on towards the end of the season and make changes accordingly. However, if you do this you also need to avoid depleting other statistics that other teams may catch up to you on.

Head to head leagues will have playoffs for the last few weeks of the regular baseball season. If you make the playoffs, you need to try to win each week at all costs. At this point, if you have a superstar player who's injured and only pinch hitting or not playing at all, your best option may be to drop them.

One of the best fantasy baseball strategies to use over the last few days of the season is to drop starting pitchers that don't have another start and pick up ones that do. This can give you a better chance at getting more wins and strikeouts if you need them (your opponent may do this as well - making it even more of a must do). You'll also need to gauge how this may affect your percentage stats like ERA and WHIP. Of course this all depends on whether or not your league has a limit on innings pitched per week.

If you end up winning your fantasy baseball league - congratulations. If you lose - well, there's always next year.

Daily Fantasy Leagues

Over the past few years, daily fantasy baseball leagues have blown up in popularity. Part of the reason for this is likely the possibility if instant gratification, as you don't have to wait for an entire season to finish before finding out if you win or lose. With daily fantasy leagues you can create different lineups every day and try to beat fellow players on the major daily fantasy sites.


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    • Double Down profile image

      Double Down 

      8 years ago

      I personally love to select players with multi position eligibility late in drafts, even if they are not the best player on the board.

    • profile image

      Marie Felipe 

      8 years ago

      Great Hub... Thanks for the help.I will probably be using this strategies. I love playing fantasy sports!

    • profile image

      Marie Felipe 

      8 years ago

      Great hub... I might as well try these strategies. I love playing fantasy sports!

    • Andrew Oneten profile image

      Andrew Oneten 

      8 years ago from Massachusetts

      Great article for beginners. Nice work.


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