Monday, February 11, 2008

FSE Draft Strategy Series - 20/20 Head-to-Head Drafting Plan

Many believe that drafting for a classic Rotisserie league and drafting for a Head-to-Head league are the exact same thing. That a player's value will remain the same or similar no matter what. I tend to disagree strongly with people who think like this. It is my opinion that in a Head-to-Head league to have a very successful team, you need to have balance of guys who can hit a home run, or steal a base. This is why it is extremely important to stock up on players who can go 20/20 (20 home runs/ 20 stolen bases). A player who can go 20/20 quite simply can give you the threat of a home run, or a stolen base every week while the weeks where they do nothing will be few and far between.

Everything stems from the 20/20 stat in Head-to-Head. If a guy is stealing 20 bases a season, it means he is getting on base (good batting average). If he is hitting 20 home runs it means he is hitting a decent amount of home runs and getting a good amount of RBIs also. Combine both stats and it shows how they can score a solid amount of runs. Remember, I am not saying 1 20/20 guy can make or break your team, you need to commit to the strategy and draft it up and down your line up (Sans 1B and catcher, where the 20/20 options are almost nil). Obviously, it is near impossible to get every single player on your team to go 20/20, which is why you should also be looking for guys who can hit 25home runs with 15 stolen bases. Basically, you want to make sure the guys you are drafting can do a variety of things for your team.

EXAMPLE: STOLEN BASES

Lets say you draft Ichiro Suzuki hoping, as your main source of stolen bases. Last season he finished with a total of 37 stolen bases, pretty good. But, in a head-to-head his numbers could have cost you big time. All totaled in the entire month of April Ichiro had 1 stolen base. All totaled in the entire month of September Ichiro had 1 stolen base. That is 2 months and 2 stolen bases for a guy who you were counting on to lead your team in stolen bases, and both were in critical months. If your main stolen base threat has months like this it can kill you, in that stat category, and can branch off to others. For instance, if a player isn't stealing as many bases, that means he will probably score less runs because he is in scoring position less. It also could mean he is not getting on base enough, which could hurt your batting average.

Example 2: Lets say you draft Juan Pierre as your main source of stolen bases in 2007. All totaled he finished with 67 stolen bases, a very good amount. If you are doing rotisserie, having him will put you in the upper eschelon come season's end. In Head-to-Head, his 5 stolen bases totaled in the month of May could really hurt your team, and cause you to lose a few close match ups.

EXAMPLE: HOME RUNS

Let's say you were fortunate to draft Prince Fielder, in his second full season. He hit 50 home runs last season, and in rotisserie would help any team's season total, be near the top of that league. In Head-to-Head, he was also very good, except for the month of July when he hit 3 home runs. If you were counting for Prince to hit between 6-9 home runs for you, this month he killed you. Chances are, in early July, if you did not own him, you had recently traded for him and given up a whole lot, and got few immediate results.

Another example would be Ryan Howard. Looking for the big slugger, the first round pick, to power your team to early wins in April and May. Well, the big man only hit 3 home runs in April, and if you drafted him with the hopes that he could lead the team in home runs, chances are he did, for the season. But in head-to-head, in the month of April, he could have caused your team to get off to an extremely slow start.

CONCLUSION

A player's stats for your basic rotisserie team, over the course of a season, will all even out. Players who are stolen base threats will get their steals, and sluggers will hit their home runs. This is not the case for a head-to-head league, where your record, and success is judged on a week to week basis. As I stated earlier, you should do your best to draft a team with players who can all do a variety of things. When I draft I make a list of the players I want to have at each spot, and how valuable I think they will be. There are times when I take a player 2-3 rounds too early, just to ensure that I will wind up with him. I like to go into a draft knowing who I want, rather than trying to figure out who I should take; the round shouldn't be the deciding factor.

I plans on putting up a series of position by position draft ranking soon based on the 20/20 strategy. Most of the players who are ranked near the top of regular draft boards will remain the same (Albert Pujols, A-Rod, Chase Utley, Hanley Ramirez/ Jose Reyes), but these are also players who can hit a home run and steal a base, something that I view as being of paramount importance. The rest of the players listed might stray from conventional wisdom and be a bit controversial to some people.

20/20 is a different strategy, but I guarantee the benefits will outweigh the risks.

Looking ahead, future FSE Draft Strategy articles will focus on when to draft rookies and why, the importance at looking at a previous season's second half numbers and why closers are overrated.

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