Fantasy Baseball 2011 Wrap Up

Warning: This is about fantasy baseball strategy.

I’m in an annual, ultra-competitive fantasy baseball league. This was, I believe, my sixth year involved in it. I finished first in 2010, third in 2008 and with the close of the regular season yesterday, have now added a second place finish to my record.

My competitors in this league are all advanced stat-geek types. So I have to play the role of the guy who moneyballs the moneyballers. I go for guys like Scott Podsednik in 2009 and 2010 (65 combined steals) and Coco Crisp in 2011 (49 steals this year) or Tim Stauffer.

The secret to my success was discovered in 2008 when I started creating projections of the raw stats needed to finish near the top in each category. The league is usually a 14 or 15 team league so with so many teams, I discovered it was better to not try to be at the top of each category. Instead, a winning strategy was to finish with 10 out of an available 14 points in each category.

10s across the board was just as good as going 15 – 5 – 15 – 5, etc. Better actually, because predicting what it takes to get to 10 turns out to be way more accurate than predicting what it takes to get to 15.

For 2011, we had a 15 team league so I projected out estimated numbers of what I needed to finish at least in the top four in all 10 categories.

That would have earned me 111 points.
The winner of this year’s league ended up at 111.5.

I ended up in second with 102. Turns out my projections were a little low.
So while I didn’t hit my marks to finish first, they were good enough for a comfortable second place finish.

Here are my projections form March compared with my finish.

  Batting Pitching
Projection 1045 256 1015 146 .3454 90 66 1196 3.51 1.23
Final Totals 1004 233 997 162 .345 90 47 1200 3.51 1.23

I’m actually amazed how close I got to where I set out to finish. Had I just projected my needs a little higher, maybe that 111 would have been attainable.

What makes it possible to get so close to these projected numbers is never losing sight of the kinds of players you need for each role/position. It’s a simple excel spreadsheet once you know the numbers you need to get to.

You’ve got to find guys who can contribute for little or no money. Specifically for 2011, my key value players drafted were:

Doug Fister $1
Tim Stauffer $1
Jhoulys Chacin $4
Jair Jurrjens $1
Brandon McCarthy $1
Josh Willingham $1
Seth Smith $1
Coco Crisp $8
JP Arencibia $5

(In 2009, I was the guy in your league who got Jose Bautista at $1. The good ole days…)

Here’s how half of the roster compared with projections

Scary accurate.

Cracking the pitching side of things is still a work in progress. I nail getting cheap SPs every year but struggle with the RPs. In 2012, I’m going to spend more on high-end RPs. I’ve learned now that in my system I need guys who add value to your strikeout totals from the RP roles.