Never Too Early To Start Next Year’s Draft Prep

by Moonlight Graham

The top ten in my draft this season were Pujols, Hanley, ARod, Mauer, Utley, Braun, Miguel Cabrera, Howard, Longoria and Lincecum.  I know it’s early, but how many of these are still in next year’s first round and who replaces the guys that drop?  Artie DiSori -  Wallin, PA

Hey, Artie.  Looks like your fantasy baseball draft was standard, shotgun format last season. However, it’ll bear little resemblance to next year’s I’m afraid, especially with the emergence of a few young superstars.  If I was to sit at a draft table today, I’d still expect Pujols to top the list.  What follows may surprise some, but it’s how Moonlight’s first draft list will look.  Votto, Hanley, Cabrera, Cano, Braun, CarGO, Longoria, Tulo and King Felix.  Don’t get me wrong; I still love guys like Mauer and Lincecum but prefer to populate my Top Ten with young studs on the rise.

A big problem in my fantasy baseball league this year was that the guys that dumped failed to maintain their rosters for the rest of the season.  Any ideas how we might be able to avoid the same problem next year?  Pete Westad – Ruth, OK

A perennial problem, Pete, like kids stealing candy in a candy store.  You can never really stop it, but you can minimize the effect by adding incentive to team maintenance.  In the Hausier’s Krowedum Roto League, we’re content that we’ve handled it.  First, in a ten team league, we pay the top four spots instead of three.  Second, there is a cash award for each of the twelve statistical categories so, even if a team is out of the running, there’s still a chance for financial gain.  Finally, although our draft order is determined by the previous season’s standings, we don’t just flip the order.  The first selection goes to the fifth place finisher; the highest finisher not in the money.  Then sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth so that everyone is motivated to finish as high as possible.

I’ve finished in the bottom half of my league in each of my first three seasons, mostly due to lack of preparation, I must confess.  How early can I get moving on my fantasy baseball draft prep for 2011 and what are the best resources?  Ray Reilly-  Mumble, AZ

First thing I would do, Ray, is take a look at last year’s draft and see where you may have reached for a player too early and how many guys you drafted based on a peak performance that was probably a career year now unattainable.  That done, my first move is to get a Sirius/XM radio account and tune in to both the MLB Network and the Fantasy Sports Channel (especially Rotowire’s Fantasy Sports Today with Jeff Erickson and Chris Liss).  Both are terrific resources for off-season info not available elsewhere.  Another helpful tool is Ron Shandler’s Baseball Forecaster which ships in early December and can be ordered online at baseballhq.com.  It’s a little heavy on the math and you won’t use all of his theories but there are some tremendously useful trends and statistical info that should give you a leg up on the competition. Lastly, log on to MockDraftCentral and CBSSportsline for free mock drafts starting in January.  Try different tactics: pitchers first, outfielders first, etc., and you’ll garner a very helpful sense of where players are being drafted.

I came very close to winning my head to head league this season on the strength of a terrific draft.  What really ticks me off, however, is that, even though I prepared for my draft better than my competition, I lost to a guy that made in-season pickups like Buster Posey, Travis Wood and Ike Davis.  What’s the best way to identify next year’s rookie stars?  Cookie Gilchrist- Farco, MO

Well, Cook, my first stop would be the Organizational Rankings issues of Baseball America that print throughout the winter. But, at the risk of sounding like a shill for Sirius/XM, MLB Network offers the most comprehensive source of minor league information with its Minors and Majors program every Sunday morning from 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM.  The host, Grant Paulsen, is quite simply, the most knowledgable broadcaster on the subject. That he is also funny and carries the enthusiasm you’d expect from a 22 year old makes the listen that much more enjoyable.

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