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Draft Strategy for Keeper Leagues - Custom Fantasy Baseball Advice


By Sports Crazy on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The following article was written by RotoBaller.com’s team of expert analysts, in response to a question asked by one of our RotoBaller readers.  You can click here for more info if you’re interested in having RotoBaller’s experts answer a custom fantasy baseball question.

 

Question Submitted to RotoBaller

  • Fantasy Baseball Question: I need to pick four keepers. I'm fairly certain of three (Goldschmidt, Puig and Marte), but wanted to know what your thoughts were before choosing the last one. I'll list all of the eligible players. Please list the keepers in order for me and tell me if there's a large gap between any of the rankings. As I mentioned, I'm most interested in spots 3, 4, and 5. Goldschmidt, Utley, Andrus, Cuddyer, Marte, Granderson, Puig, Liriano, Sale.  Thanks.
  • Player Pool: Mixed
  • # of Teams: 11-13
  • League Info and Categories: 12-13 team rotisserie league with the following hitting categories: Avg, OPS, HR, R, RBI, SB, K, BB and the following pitching categories: W, ERA, WHIP, K, QS, Sv, Hld, K/BB
  • Roster Positions: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, CI, MI, OF (4) Util, SP (3), RP(3) P(3) DL(3) Bench (5)
  • League Host: ESPN
  • Any Other League Details: Because of a glitch in the rules last year, none of these will be eligible to be kept beyond this year. Generally, we're allowed 4 keepers who are drafted in the 6th round or after. Free agent pick ups can be kept. After this year, we're only allowed to keep 4 players. 60 transaction limit, but I generally do well streaming, especially to fill in for injuries. 1600 IP limit GP limit per position (that I never run into, so it's not really relevant). Oh, and if it matters, we are likely using ESPN again, but may be moving to Yahoo if that matters.

RotoBaller Detailed Analysis

Let’s get right to the nitty-gritty of your question and try to guide you through the process of choosing your keepers.
Based on the information that you provided to us, we are going to list, in order of value, the entire list of your keepers and give you our reasoning for the four we chose based on your league’s scoring criteria.
Keeper Rankings:
Keeper Analysis:
#1 & #2 - We don’t have to overthink why we would designate Paul Goldschmidt as the number one keeper on your squad; after all, he is only the best first baseman in all of fantasy baseball heading into 2014. Even Chris Sale at #2 is not too big of a shocker, considering the guy has averaged a 3.058 ERA and 1.10 WHIP over his first two seasons as a big-league starter. Pick No. 3 is where your list starts to get interesting, and we will focus the most time on the players listed in those slots:
Yasiel Puig - With the most raw offensive upside out of almost any outfield keeper in fantasy baseball not named Trout or Harper, this young star is a must-keep in any format that rewards offense.  Simply put, the parts of his game that make him a liability to an MLB team (or manager) are not the parts that would affect his fantasy value negatively (unless somehow his on- or off-field antics finally catch up to him). Since we are not in the business of analyzing baseball players’ personal lives to determine their future success, we have to stick to the facts (and numbers that we know) and those certainly tell us that Mr. Puig is just a stud through and through.  With a full season of MLB action ahead of him, in addition to to a potentially full season of hitting in front of Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez, we think the possibilities are sky high for the former Cuban defector.
Starling Marte - Most people would see your list and surely assume we would pick Elvis Andrus as the fourth keeper for your squad, but we have several good reasons why we strongly feel Starling Marte is your guy here. To begin with, outfield depth is shallower than most drafters assume heading into 2014. Additionally, the difference between the upper tiers of outfielders, middle tiers, and lower tiers is quite large, and the level of high end production severely falls off after the players left available in round 6 or 7 in most drafts.  The largest percentage of all fantasy baseball offense is generated from the outfield slots, so we always recommend to generally stock up wisely whenever possible.  We also have to consider potential upside in this delicate decision.  In this case, even though Elvis Andrus is still relatively young (25), he is more veteran of a player having played for several full MLB seasons, so we more or less know who he is as a player (and a fantasy baseball player). Last year was somewhat of a statistical ceiling season for Andrus as he went on a second half tear with the bat, so those who think he is a lock to improve on his numbers are in for a rather big disappointment. Yes, his stats leave him in the upper crust of fantasy SS and MI, but with a bunch of young and emerging talent at the shortstop position heading into the 2014 season, you can keep the super valuable outfielder (Marte) and target an Andrelton Simmons type of shortstop several rounds later.
 
The Rest - We really like the season Cuddyer put up last season (and his position flexibility in some leagues), but he does not fit the criteria of what we consider a “safe” or high upside keeper.  Curtis Granderson is coming off of a disappointing and injury filled 2013 campaign and will surely be playing with a chip on his shoulder, but given his age and the weak Mets lineup around him, we would avoid that kind of batting average liability and potential for bust moving to the NL (and a less hitter friendly home field environment) for the first time in his accomplished career.  As for Chase Utley, we simply would never recommend keeping a player who has proven to be an injury risk as he’s aged.  Missing way too much time over the past two seasons with severe knee issues has relegated Chase Utley to a more of a draft day lottery ticket, than a player that you could not live without heading into the season.
We hope that this analysis gave you the reassurance and confidence to make the best possible decision for your fantasy baseball keeper league.  Please don’t hesitate to write us back with any feedback you may have, and also check out all of our MLB preseason and fantasy baseball draft prep articles at RotoBaller.com.

 

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