BERNIE'S BASEBALL WORLD

A FANTASY BASEBALL BLUEPRINT

JT Realmuto
Bernie Pleskoff
Written by Bernie Pleskoff

This past Friday, Doug Hall and I reintroduced Short Hops, our podcast that is all baseball in general, and fantasy baseball in particular. We had a few technical hiccups, but stick with us. It takes time to roll out a new venture.

Fantasy baseball is a fascinating game to play for even the most casual fans. If you have never played before, fantasy baseball can become all consuming.

Over countless years playing fantasy baseball in several formats, I have found the following to be true:

No. 1- Your fantasy baseball team becomes almost as important as the real baseball team you follow and root for.  You constantly find yourself checking stats of your fantasy team(s). There are years when you don’t know the stats of the real team you follow. You just know if the team won or lost the most recent game.

No. 2- Fantasy baseball is based upon a combination of knowledge and luck. A fantasy team owner can do all the homework necessary to field a quality team. However, if a player on the fantasy team gets hurt, the impact of the injury can determine seasonal outcomes. If a manager decides to switch to a platoon midway through a season, the season is impacted. And of course, there is luck involved with hitting and pitching. Hard hit balls can be caught. Excellent pitches can be smoked. What looked like a hit for your fantasy team’s player may be called an error. Your team’s pitcher may be squeezed by the umpire and you lose strikeouts.There are countless variables that impact your skill and knowledge in creating a solid fantasy team. That’s life in the fantasy baseball world. I have learned to accept anything that comes my way.

TYPES OF FANTASY BASEBALL LEAGUES

Most leagues in which I play use the roto style of scoring. Points are distributed throughout the season for specific categories of performance. Common roto leagues use hitting statistics that include batting average or on-base percentage, home runs, runs batted in, stolen bases, and runs scored. (Note: I prefer on-base percentage to batting average. OBP is a more comprehensive statistics that values walks.) Pitching categories usually include earned run average (ERA), walks and hits yielded per innings pitched (WHIP) wins or quality starts (I prefer quality starts) strikeouts and saves. Some leagues use holds. Some leagues omit strikeouts. Leagues vary, so check the rules of your league and scoring categories before you draft.

Some teams are head to head leagues, with teams facing only one team per seven day period.Instead of stats accumulating for an entire season, only one week’s stats determine a weekly competitive head to head winner. The same categories are usually used.

DRAFT VS. AUCTION ROSTER CONSTRUCTION

In general, fantasy baseball rosters are compiled in one of two ways. A draft type roster assembly allows each fantasy team owner to select players in a pre-determined draft order. Generally, the draft allows each club to pick a player during his/her turn.  At the end of the first round and after every owner has selected his/her first player, the order reverses. The person with the last selection makes the first pick in the second round. The last selection in the second round belongs to the person who made the first pick in Round 1. That type of draft is called a “snake draft.”

There are some drafts that determine the order of each round with a roll of the dice.

There are some drafts that have the same order for each round.

If you are in a draft style league, know where you are situation in the drafting order. It makes a difference in your strategy.

An auction type roster for stocking and selecting players occurs when each fantasy team owner “bids” on a player nominated either by selection of a team owner or randomly selected by the system platform being used.  In most cases, each fantasy owner is given a budget of $260 to field a team. The team owner “bids” against other team owners until all rosters are full.

Some leagues use a different salary cap figure.

In general, the system platform being used will not allow a team owner to bid beyond the remaining money available in his/her budget to complete a full team.

HOW I BUILD MY TEAMS

I have tried several different methods of making the sausage year in and year out. After years of trying a little of this and a little of that, I have settled on a system of player procurement that works for me. I know what players I want and I have a plan of how to get there. I am not prepared to reveal the ingredients of my recipe, but I will share how I gather those ingredients.

Fortunately, I have won my share of fantasy leagues and I have been told I have helped others win their leagues as well. So, until I determine my system is broken, I’m sticking with it. To be certain, I have not always finished in the money.

For me, when luck is removed as a factor, fantasy baseball success can be dependent upon one word: OPPORTUNITY. Is the player going to be in the lineup every day or is he part of a platoon? If he is part of the platoon, does he hit against right-handed pitching or left-handed pitching?

Is the pitcher I draft as a starter going to be used as part of the regular rotation? If so, in what slot? The 5th starter on every major league club gets fewer starts.

Here are the factors I consider when building my fantasy clubs:

Player history-to date, how has this player performed in his development and in his career at the major league level?

Player positions-does the player play multiple positions? If so, that allows me to deploy him in several places on my roster and that flexibility is awesome.

Player’s team-Is the player on a team that wins games, scores runs and moves the lineup along? Do my pitchers pitch for good teams that yield few runs, lose less games than they win and can be counted upon to be in every game they play?

Player’s position in the lineup-Is the player hitting in a valuable run-producing spot in the batting order? In the National League, how close to the pitcher does the batter hit? Does the player’s position in the lineup give him a chance to score runs? Steal bases?

Player’s home park: Does the player compete in a traditionally “hitter friendly” or traditional “pitcher friendly” park? I have to review that carefully.

Manager tendencies: Does the player’s manager like to bunt? Does he like to run his players and steal bases? Does he pull his pitchers quickly? Does he allow his pitcher to get himself out of trouble? Does the manager burn out his bullpen? Does the manager call the shots, or is that done by the front office?

Team schedule: I look ahead to the last two weeks of the baseball season when I develop my clubs. Will the team be playing meaningful games in September or will the regulars be replaced by new additions to the 40-man roster? The last two weeks of the season is where many fantasy baseball championships are won or lost. I also look at the interleague schedule as it applies to designated hitters who do not play a position in the American League.

My opponents-I get to know the people I am playing against. Do they use the waiver wire? Do they make trades? Should I be prepared to make a waiver claim to keep my opponent from getting a player and meeting an unmet need? I watch the moves the league members make.

KNOW THE RULES

I have seen fantasy leagues lost because a player didn’t know the league rules. I admit that while I may know the rules, I may not understand them. I had to leave a fantasy football league this past season because I didn’t understand the rules. I asked the Commissioner and he was very curt and unhelpful in his responses. I left the league. Know and understand the rules.

Know and trust the Commissioner. The league commissioner usually has the final say in disputes. If you don’t trust the commissioner, either learn to trust him/her or leave the league.

A good commissioner is patient and communicates.

Fantasy baseball leagues often have team owners that lose interest when they are behind in the standings. If you aren’t going to play the entire season, you shouldn’t join a league. When football season takes over the headlines, will you still manager your baseball team? I hope so.

HAVE FUN

Unless you are playing for high financial stakes, play fantasy football as a game. Think of it as a game. Relate to it as a game. You will win and you will lose. Accept both graciously. If you aren’t having fun in the league, you should evaluate your desire to continue in the next season.

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Every edition of our Short Hops podcast will be posted on Friday morning at iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play and here at the ClubhouseCorner.com site.

During each edition of Short Hops I will answer any fantasy related question that is asked by followers on the Twitter feeds @ShortHops and @ClubhouseCorner. Use the hashtag #QuestionforBernie. So if you have a fantasy related question to ask me, do so on either one of the two Twitter accounts listed. It is likely the only place I will answer fantasy related questions will be on the podcast.

FANTASY 2019-MY CATCHER RANKINGS

Here are my C rankings as of January 13 for the 2019 regular baseball season. Rankings may be updated if new information is known before the season begins:

1-  Gary Sanchez-New York Yankees

2-  J T Realmuto-Florida Marlins $

3-  Yasmany Grandal-Milwaukee Brewers

4-  Wilson Contreras-Chicago Cubs

5-  Sal Perez-Kansas City Royals

6-  Yadier Molina-St. Louis Cardinals

7-  Wilson Ramos-New York Mets

8-  Buster Posey-San Francisco Giants

9-  Robinson Chirinos-Houston Astros

10-Wellington Castillo-Chicago White Sox

11-Jorge Alfaro-Philadelphia Phillies

12- Francisco Mejia-San Diego Padres

13- Mike Zunino-Tampa Bay Rays

14- Isiah Kiner-Falefa-Texas Rangers

15- Tucker Barnhart-Cincinnati Reds

16- Francisco Cervelli-Pittsburgh Pirates

17- John Hicks-Detroit Tigers

18- Yan Gomes-Washington Nationals

19- Jonathan Lucroy-Los Angeles Angels

20- Kurt Suzuki-Washington Nationals

21- Austin Hedges-San Diego Padres

22- Austin Barnes-Los Angeles Dodgers

23- Danny Jansen-Toronto Blue Jays

24- Christian Vazquez-Boston Red Sox #

25- Manny Pina-Milwaukee Brewers

26- Josh Phegley-Oakland Athletics

27- Omar Narvaez-Seattle Mariners

28- Chris Iannetta-Colorado Rockies

29- Brian McCann-Atlanta Braves

30- Carson Kelly-Arizona Diamondbacks

31- Jason Castro-Minnesota Twins

32- Roberto Perez-Cleveland Indians &

Note: Willians Astudillo of the Twins  could be an outstanding catcher selection. However, he will have to hit in spring training to make the club. He should be eligible at 3B as well as C in most leagues. I really like his upside. Don’t forget about him-especially if you hear any buzz about him coming from Florida.

-Realmuto could move to No. 1 depending upon a potential trade

-Sandy Leon could get a big share of the catching duties in Boston (beware)

-Kevin Plawicki may ultimately win the catching role in Cleveland

I have not ranked free agent Evan Gattis who would be in the middle of the pack.

My UNDER THE RADAR catcher for 2019 is Isiah Kiner-Falefa of the Texas Rangers. Kiner-Falefa has a solid bat, plays multiple positions and has the ability to exceed expectations.

The aforementioned Astudillo also fits in the UNDER THE RADAR category.

Follow me on Twitter @BerniePleskoff and listen to me weekly on Short Hops on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play and right here at ClubhouseCorner.com

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About the author

Bernie Pleskoff

Bernie Pleskoff

Bernie Pleskoff is a former professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Bernie's work has been featured on MLB Pipeline, MLB.com and FanRag Sports, among others. You can follow Bernie Pleskoff on Twitter @BerniePleskoff

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