FanPost

Fantasy A's

[Update: A new fantasy baseball site has been brought to my attention today. It is powered by Fangraphs and is called ottoneu. It is an auction style draft with keepers and 40 man rosters (which includes minor leaguers). They offer both the standard 5x5 as well as a sabermetrically inclined 4x4 as well as a pure Fangraphs points scoring system. I hate to sound like I'm plugging this site, but I'm just excited.]

Pitchers and catchers are starting to report which means it's almost time for 2011 Oakland A's baseball! Of course, this also means that fantasy baseball is coming as well. Between the two, I couldn't be happier.

Baseball is my true love, but I can't help but think about how my appreciation for, and understanding of, baseball has grown because of my participation in fantasy baseball. It is largely because of fantasy baseball that I know what I know about the players on the other 29 teams. Fantasy baseball is also one of the primary forces that got me into sabermetric analysis. And, of course, fantasy baseball isn't all about trying to win; it's also a ton of fun. To start with you've get to choose a team name; from ReBillying (thanks DubElXero) to Your Wuertz Enemy (thanks Boone). One of my other favorite parts of fantasy baseball is that you get to choose who is on your team (well duh). But seriously, it's fun to try and assemble the best possible team, but it's also fun to draft some of your favorite players since you will be rooting for them all year (hopefully). I imagine that I'm not alone when I say that most of my favorite ballplayers are Oakland A's, but who is worth drafting onto your fantasy baseball team?

After the jump I'll take a look at the 2011 Oakland Athletics that are currently being drafted. I will also briefly talk about different types of drafts, different stats used in fantasy baseball, and finally I will provide some links to my favorite fantasy sources on the interweb.

The last four years of Oakland A's baseball have been frustrating for many reasons. One of the smallest reasons why these years have been difficult is because the A's have consistently had very few draft worthy players, and 2011 isn't looking all that much different, although it's looking better than last year.

Your 2011 Fantasy A's (per Mock Draft Central APDs*)

Player ADP Draft Rank by Position Earliest Latest Draft %
Trevor Cahill 94 25 83 124 100%
Andrew Bailey 143 8 105 166 100%
Gio Gonzalez 177 46 124 206 100%
Kurt Suzuki 179 11 145 227 100%
Brett Anderson 206 55 123 ND 89%
Brian Fuentes 297 22 205 ND 75%
Hideki Matsui 402 4 179 ND 34%
Coco Crisp 434 65 205 ND 26%
Josh Willingham 470 72 261 ND 15%
Cliff Pennington 476 24 287 ND 13%
Daric Barton 485 24 308 ND 8%
Dallas Braden 493 95 292 ND 4%

A few quick notes on the chart above. ADP is the average draft position that each player has been taken at Mock Draft Central using the standard 12-team 5x5 format (more on that later) from drafts between 2/5/11 and 2/13/11. As you can see from the chart above the quantity of players drafted is actually fairly respectible. What our A's lack though is a top end fantasy talent. The closest that we have is Bailey, as he being taken as the 8th closing pitcher on average (Note that while Matsui is ranked 4th among all DHs drafted, there are only five pure DHs being drafted). For now, I will leave my analysis of the players and their ADPs for the comment section.

*In order to access this information you need to create a free account

Auction vs. Snake Drafts

Snake drafts are the most prevalent types of fantasy baseball drafts. A snake draft allows each team to draft any undraftedplayer each round, with the draft order of teams reversing every round.

An auction draft (which I have yet to take part in; 2011 will be my first year) has a nomination process where each team will nominate an undrafted player to be bid upon each round. Teams then take turns placing bids on that player until a team doesn't get outbid.  Each team starts the draft with the same amount of money to use to draft their teams. This allows you to have much more control over the construction of your roster since you can literally draft anyone so long as you can afford them.

As you might guess (or already know) auction drafts can be much more involved as it becomes ever more important that you have an understanding of literally all of the draftable players since you could theoretically be involved in bidding on every player drafted.

Again, I will leave further discussion of the different draft types to the comments because their are members of the AN community that have much more expertise than I when it comes to fantasy drafts (specifically auction drafts).

The Standard 5x5 Stats

The standard for fantasy leagues is to have five offensive stats and five pitching stats. The standards are: AVG, R, RBI, HR, and SB for hitters, and ERA, WHIP, K, SV, and W for pitchers. Many leagues will customize the stats used to include all sorts of different stats, but these are the regulars. In light of many discussions that take place on AN it may seem funny that the regular fantasy stats are the ones that get the most flack on AN; and I will gladly include myself in the crowd that sees the limitations of these stats. That being said, I am here to provide my support for the use of the standard 5x5 stats, let me explain. One of the largest shortfalls of most of these stats is their projectability, and I think that is a good thing for fantasy baseball. If we used stats that were more easily projectable, such as xFIP, then fantasy baseball would start to boil down to who knows the most about sabermetrics. While that does still sound like fun to me, I wouldn't say that it would make me feel like a baseball GM. Real life GMs don't get the luxury of playing baseball on paper using a simulator that will play every game 10,000 times; randomness plays a very large and very real role in their jobs. A real GM may construct his team with sabermetrics in mind, but ultimately, RBIs, runs, wins, saves: these are stats that pile up when your team is winning. In other words, I like the standard 5x5 precisely because they are so, relatively, random and difficult to predict.

The Links

Below is a list of links to websites that I frequently visit to help me learn, practice, and play everything fantasy baseball. There are certainly many other great sites out there, but these should be a good start.

The Hardball Times

Fangraphs

Fake Teams (a part of SB Nation)

Mock Draft Central

Yahoo

CBS Sports

My personal favorite right now is The Hardball Times. They recently did a fun mock draft by fantasy experts and then discussed the whole draft with a small explanation of each draft pick by each team owner. 

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What do you all think? Are you going to be playing fantasy baseball this year? Who are some of your favorites that you are hoping to draft? Any exciting new strategies that you want to share?  

[As with any of my fanposts I encourage any critizism that you see fit. My writing is passable at best, and my fantasy experience is likely dwarfed by many here at AN; so please, help me out.]

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