AL/NL Fantasy Baseball Auction Strategy: Hitting

Specific Fantasy Baseball strategies should be undertaken in AL-only & NL-only leagues given the smaller player pools. Shawn Childs shares his thoughts on the subject.
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When you start to game plan for an auction, a Fantasy owner needs to separate hitting from pitching. Each area is 50 percent of the game, but you will have to find a blend spending that fits your game style.

When game planning your hitting base, a Fantasy owner needs to identify the key players to build the foundation of their offense. Your core could be three or four players depending on how much you want to invest in each player. I look for three players to start my hitting team. I want one player that will give me a high batting average with power (.300/30/100). The second player needs to offer some power, high average, and plus speed (.300/10/60/40). The last player will be a balanced player (.300/20/80/20).

Note: in today's game, a player hitting .280 may be the new .300 based on the improved pitching stats in major league baseball. You can divide up your hitting budget any way you like and come up with your blend of hitters. I want to build a base in all the hitting categories, and I’m willing to pay for it. I will spend $90 to $100 on three to four players. Each year the players will change, and a Fantasy owner will need to adjust their plan to the inventory.

When deciding on your key players, a Fantasy owner needs to come up with a plan to get a C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS and three outfielders. These eight players will be the core of your team. After you take out your three premium players bought in the auction, you will need five more players from the remaining positions.

In the American and the National Leagues, there are 15 teams. With each team having nine starting hitters in the American League, it leaves a pool of 135 starting players divided by 12 Fantasy teams (11.25 potential starter per team in AL Fantasy leagues). Each Fantasy owner will have between ten and 12 starting hitters in their line-up. Most likely every team will have three holes (part-time players) in their starting line-up. Out of those 135 starting slots in line-ups, there are probably a dozen or so who don’t play every day.

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In the NL, the breakdown is even less. There are 15 teams with eight starting hitter roster spots. It breaks down to ten starters per team. Every team could have four holes in their starting line-up in the NL. When you are building your team, you can put your holes anywhere in your starting line-up. As the season goes on, you hope to fill a few holes from your bench or the waiver wire.

Depending on your budget plan, a Fantasy owner will spend between $150 to $170 on your eight core players. You will need patience to execute the end game and come up with two or three bats that could get full time at bats for short money. When you fill out your remaining hitting spots, you need to look for players who will get the most at-bats or young players with upside. The player who will get the most at-bats might not be the player who is given a starting job when the season starts.

Most owners in an AL or NL auction league are afraid to take a zero in their staring hitting line-up. Sometimes it is better to buy an upside minor league player in the auction rounds rather than risk losing a potential impact player in reserve rounds. Buying a low upside player with playing time risk doesn't make a lot of sense in the long run in Fantasy leagues. For example, if you thought San Diego SS Fernando Tatis was going to get called up early in 2019, it would make more sense to put him in your starting line up and take a zero than draft a weak backend middle infielder with no real upside in at-bats for $1. Most likely a player with part-time value can be found on the waiver wire or rostered in the reserve round. Which is more important; a player playing once a week or a player who could play get regular at-bats at some point in the season? This decision is tough because the once week player could get more at-bats if there were an injury that created more playing time.

A Fantasy owner will be more successful in an auction by developing a solid game plan before the auction. When you decide on who you want for your core batters on your team, do some research and try to find a completed auction where players are playing for real money. The flow of players will be different, but you can get a feel for public opinion. The LABR is a great reference for the auction leagues. By knowing about what players will go for, you will have a better idea if you can build the nucleus of hitting roster. You shouldn’t be surprised at the draft table. A good player is going to draw a lot of interest. If you want him, you should be ready to make your winning move.

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