Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

9 Tips on Surviving Your Fantasy Baseball Draft

Forget Libya.  Forget work.  And forget anything you normally ignore, like family, friends, or the federal agents who have been sitting outside your house in an unmarked Crown Vic for two weeks. It’s time for all of us hardcore baseball fans to become obnoxious assholes and statistics wonks and get ready for The Draft.  Pitchers and catchers have reported to spring training; every lard-assed 5′-11, 330-pound designated hitter has declared that they lost between 30 and 50 pounds this off-season, which drops their body mass index from morbidly obese to obese.  It will only be a matter of time before you are eating $8 hot dogs and drinking $10 beers (unless you are a Phillies fan, in which case you will be vomiting $8 hot dogs and $10 beers onto the kid sitting in front of you.)

You have only matter of weeks to spend untold amounts on every Bill James-related annual book of figures and memorize a decade or more of two dozen statistics for a thousand players (minus the 40-man roster for the Pirates, because seriously, you aren’t going to pick a single one of those fuckers, especially when they’re playing for Clint “every plate appearance is a bunt opportunity” Hurdle.)  Time to try to remember how to calculate the career park-adjusted average cup adjustments per plate appearance (CPAACAP) and why it’s important when picking your second-string utility players.  And don’t forget you’ll need to go to all of the baseball reference sites to argue if MLB rule 7.08 (a) (1) applies if a batter reaches first base and then gets abducted by aliens, which would obviously skew a century of statistics on baserunning.

To some of us, the fantasy baseball draft is more important than Jesus, as it should be.  Because if you’re right about Jesus and the second coming and you’re one of the 16,000 who goes to heaven, it doesn’t mean shit if you aren’t able to rub it in the faces of your friends who get left behind.  Most of the appeal of fantasy baseball, aside from the ability to burn man-years of work at your desk while appearing to actually do work, is its power to humiliate and denigrate your peers when you win a bullshit statistical category like steals or saves by stringing together a bunch of has-been bench players who barely made the team in Kansas City, while your friend who got A-Rod in the first round of the draft gets to mope through the first two months of the season while he is benched for ‘fatigue’.  This is why it’s important to get the edge, to figure out ways to dominate the competition, and how to ridicule your friends by taunting them with pictures of multimillion dollar a-list players with genitals crudely sketched near their mouths and/or anuses in Microsoft Paint.

I’ll cut to the chase.  Here are a few things to keep in mind as you get ready for the draft.

  1. It’s important to remember that while MLB players are scrutinized with constant drug tests that can fire up a false positive if a fan in a five dollar bleacher seat happened to take a cold medication last winter, it’s completely legal for fantasy baseball managers to imbibe in any sort of legal or illegal theraputic or recreational drugs.  There are a whole new breed of powerful nootropic pharmaceuticals available over the internet, although garden-variety street hallucinogenics can do wonders for your memory retention.
  2. If your league’s software offers an auto-draft option that populates your roster based on the picks of every other person using the software, do not use it.  Auto-draft is for pussies and cowards.  You’re also basing your picks on what the majority picks, which is a lot like saying “I’m totally fine with George W. Bush serving another five terms, as long as a majority of mouth-breathers and idiots can agree on it, too.”
  3. Use all of the time allotted for your picks.  For example, if your software allows you two and a half minutes to pick, even if you have the name of a player right in front of you and it only takes a single mouse click to add them, wait until 2:29 has elapsed on the clock.  This makes it much more of a urine retention showdown for the other players, especially if you’re drinking.  (I’m assuming you’re planning on either wearing a catheter or adult incontinence undergarment, which is what all good pro gamblers use when trying to wait out lesser-bladdered players at a casino table.)
  4. Most draft strategies have to do with filling your hitting positions first, then moving on to pitching.  Also, most so-called experts in the field will advise against picking closing pitchers until the end of the draft.  This means it’s typically very easy to fill all of your pitching spots with all of the best closers in the sport at the very start of the draft.  This kind of hoarding won’t help you in offense, but it means nobody else will get a closer, and you’ll be able to deal.
  5. Just like it’s possible for certain AL East teams to buy World Series wins, it’s completely possible for you to buy a fantasy baseball victory.  I was in a league that strictly prohibited monetary bribes, but found a loophole that enabled me to have both Cy Young winning pitchers and an all-Silver Slugger offense, simply by giving away 23 iPads during the course of the season.
  6. If you are in a league in which you don’t know the other players in real life and your main tactic is violence and intimidation, make sure your user ID is not linked in any way to your physical mailing address.  There’s nothing worse than threatening every other owner and then waking up to flaming bags of shit on your doorstep for the next three months.
  7. I publish a weekly newsletter for fantasy players that grades and orders each player’s propensity for going apeshit insane and losing games due to drug use, parole violations, Guitar Hero-related injuries, or DUIs.  It’s a must-have for planning ahead during the season.  Contact me for more details.
  8. For internet-based drafts, it’s absolutely imperative to have a backup internet connection and a UPS or backup generator, in case of any loss of connectivity.  I typically have a second OC-768 Optical Carrier connection installed the week before a draft to ensure I have a constant 39,813.12 Mbit/s connection to all of the statistics, video, and pornography I might need during a draft.
  9. Be prepared to ditch any planned strategy at a moment’s notice and blindly grab every player based on maybe hearing their name once on SportsCenter.  Even the best planned wars involve a complete breakdown in command.

Hopefully, these tips will help you form an iron-clad strategy for survival.  Let me know of any other strategies you may have developed, and I’ll see you on opening day.