The Five-Tool Player: New Years Fantasy Resolutions

Note: This article is hosted here for archival purposes only. It does not necessarily represent the values of the Iron Warrior or Waterloo Engineering Society in the present day.

Happy New Year baseball fans! It is the oldest, most played, toughest, and most gratifying of fantasy sports. “The Five-Tool Player” will address various fantasy baseball topics throughout the term to help you fantasy baseball engineering fanatics succeed in the coming season. In the spirit of 2011, I present to you my three fantasy New Year resolutions.

Note: My preference is to play the standard head-to-head 5×5, 12-team mixed league with Runs, Home Runs, RBI, Stolen Bases, Average, Wins, Saves, Strikeouts, ERA, and WHIP as categories. The advice in “The Five-Tool Player” will relate most to this style.

Resolution #1: More Mocking
No, I will not imitate you with a falsetto. Yes, I will do more mock drafts. Mock drafting is simulating your fantasy baseball draft, complete with pre-draft preparations and routines, opposing human managers, and anything else that will recreate your draft environment. Mocks have many benefits whether you are compete in the fantasy majors or just a rookie taking your first imaginary hacks in our real fake game. You can focus on executing your strategy in the heat of battle. It also builds your faux-mettle if players on your queue are snatched up. Arguably the most important aspect of mock drafts is the opportunity to gauge players that are being reached for and players that you can draft later. This allows you to adjust your values for the real deal. I like to mock draft at least three times. The first one is simply to remind myself of all the players in the league. The second one focuses on drafting sleepers and guys with high upside. The third is about refining my draft strategy. By game day, I am confident I will leave my draft victorious.

Resolution #2: Less Early-Season Judging
I like to change my team early in April, whether I am adding hot players, dropping cold players, or making bold trades. My team is not paint, I cannot just watch it, but it is sometimes detrimental to act too quickly, especially early in the season. There are two categories of players here: perennial slow starters and hotshot prospects that trip over the starting line. The poster boy for the first group must be Troy Tulowitzki, he of the .237 AVG, 7 HR, 39 RBI, 45 Runs, and 4 SB line over 339 April at-bats. If you can wait for him to shake off his off-season slumber, he posts a .304-32-102-99-8 over 493 career at-bats in September. Other names include Johan Santana, Ryan Howard, Mark Teixeira, and second-half stud Adam LaRoche. In terms of the second group, I was a victim of overreacting last season on some guy named David Price, the ace of the Tampa Bay Rays. My pitching strategy is predicated on strong starting pitchers that can provide on all four SP categories, especially strikeouts. From April to May, Price pitched well for me, but ballooned my WHIP with at least one walk in all his starts. I was fed up after a five-walk performance against Houston on May 23rd. Reminded by his 1.35 WHIP last season, I ditched him. Oops. The walks remained but he finished the year with a 1.19 WHIP, and it was more than balanced by his 19 wins, 2.72 ERA, and 188 strikeouts. When Brian Matusz has a couple of blow-ups this season, I will remind myself of his great potential.

Resolution #3: Don’t Pay for Saves
A few seasons ago I had this rule where I would anchor my team with a stud closer early in the draft, somewhere in rounds 5 to 7. I was wooed by the prospect of 40+ saves from one player with fantastic ratios and K/9 to boot. Many promising teams crumbled by season’s end. Closers are attractive because only they can get saves, but they are just that, one-category contributors. They do not pitch enough innings to meaningfully affect ERA and WHIP. A strong starting pitcher will pitch three times as many innings, so their peripherals are more important to consider. Also, think of the relief men who were not their team’s closers to start their season, guys like Neftali Feliz (40 saves), Canadian John Axford (24), Chris Perez (23), Jon Rauch (21), and Hong-Chih Kuo (12). Many of these players could have been picked up on the waiver wire. In the draft’s early rounds, if I do pick a pitcher, I will pick a starting pitcher who can contribute in four categories for me, instead of being distracted by these celebrated one-trick ponies.

One of the most enjoyable parts of fantasy baseball is making a funny team name. The one I used last season was Honeynut Ichiros. Send me your favourite fantasy team names at and I will share them during the term.

Leave a Reply