As negotiations between MLB owners and players continue, hopeful fantasy baseball Players remain vigilant in their quest for a 2020 championship.
If you’ve already recruited and your league stubbornly insists on keeping it going, you should be working hard on the exchange phones to adjust your roster for the dramatic changes that a truncated season will bring to your strategy. If you have yet to draft or your league has wisely offered a redo, your strategy adjustments should be tested.
Some may scoff at the notion of mock writing, but in a year where no one knows what to expect, understanding public perception is paramount to its success.
The fantasy baseball draft landscape has seen some significant changes in the past three months. If he was drafting in February, most preferred an early attack to the initial pitch, and the top echelon of the headlines ran out before the end of the third round of a 12-team draft. However, a simulated industry draft that took place last week tells a very different story.
The public still seems to see Gerrit Cole and Jacob deGrom as first-round picks, and Walker Buehler continues to haunt the first round. But for the first time in years, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander have seen their average draft position (ADP) drop in more than a dozen selections.
Previously coveted weapons like Mike Clevinger, Luis Castillo and Zack Greinke are also falling. In a truncated season, a pitcher who goes from 32 to 18 starts crushes his value, and high-level offensive output, such as strong totals from stolen bases or a high proportion of home runs at bat is much more valuable.
As the value of the initial release falls, recent simulated drafts show the perceived increase in the value of closers. A shorter season reduces the risk that a closer will lose his job, as there are fewer opportunities for saves to be saved. It can happen? Of course, but the managers who have established firefighters in the ninth inning will likely lengthen the leash even further, under the circumstances.
Elite closers like Josh Hader and Aroldis Chapman have maintained their ADP in recent months, but the next level of closers, relievers like Taylor Rodgers, Ken Giles and Hector Neris, have seen their ADP rise proportionally. That rise continues through the levels until we finally start to see men like Aaron Bummer and Emilio Pagan take a round or two earlier as well.
With the game of baseball on hold for so long, casual fantasy players aren’t paying enough attention to the strategy changes needed to win. Those who remain disciplined and vigilant will reap the benefits once the season begins. The season may not be that long, but the true fantasy champions who are working on their simulated draft strategies right now, just consider this to be another part of the routine.
Howard Bender is the Vice President of Operations and Chief Content Officer for Fantasy-Alarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and watch it on the award-winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the fantasy sports channel SiriusXM Monday through Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. Visit FantasyAlarm.com for all of your fantasy baseball tips.