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The Tribune’s Top 10 fantasy baseball tips

After a long winter, the greatest (and original) fantasy sport is back: baseball. Here are some tips for all of you gamers out there, planning  on joining a pool for the 2013 MLB season.

 

Do not become too enamored with the youngsters

Notwithstanding Mike Trout and Bryce Harper’s amazing seasons last year, most rookies and second-year players need time to develop in the big leagues. Don’t be the person drafting Jurickson Profar, Oscar Tavares, and Manny Machado way too early. Instead, focus on reliable veterans such as Paul Konerko, Adrian Beltre, and Derek Jeter.

 

Be aware of last year’s performances

Given the luck inherent in baseball, it is possible that many players over and under-performed last year (I’m looking at you, Cliff Lee), relative to their true talent ability. Be sure to look at some more underlying statistics like Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP), Line Drive Percentage (LD%), and Fly Ball Percentage (FB%) to see if your player is due for a repeat performance.

 

Stay away from injury risks in the early rounds

The early rounds are the time to build a core group of players who will generate points for your team. This means avoiding players who have spent a lot of time on the disabled list in the past, which is the best predictor for future injuries. It’s also important to keep track of any spring training injuries. You don’t want to take Chase Headley, Curtis Granderson, or Mark Teixeira as top guys when they’re injured.

 

Chase the K’s

Make sure to draft pitchers whose strikeout rate hovers around nine per nine innings. Not surprisingly, many of these pitchers are also great contributors in the WHIP and ERA categories.

 

Wait on closers

There is incredible turnover of closer jobs during the year, meaning that if you are quick on the waiver wire, they can grab these new save contributors. Do not take closers in the first 12 rounds, when you can be building other areas of your team.

 

Generally ignore spring training performance

It is unlikely that Julio Teheran and Rick Porcello will be the best pitchers in the big leagues this year. That being said, keep away from Ricky Romero and Roy Halladay; their springs have been alarmingly bad.

 

Head-to-Head tips

Do not draft starting pitchers, but instead focus on getting two-to-four of the best closers in the game, basically ensuring you win Saves, ERA, and WHIP categories every week. Also, by avoiding starting pitchers, you can stack your offensive lineup.

 

Try out the Auction system

For those who haven’t tried, an auction draft gives every team a set budget and then lets all the league managers bid on the players they want. You can draft the team you want, but keep in mind that it does take a very long time to complete this type of draft.

 

Players I like for 2013

Domonic Brown, Alex Hicks, Cliff Lee, Jose Reyes, Will Middlebrooks, Jesus Montero, Andrelton Simmons, Anthony Rizzo, Ben Revere, Ryan Howard, and Justin Upton.

 

 Players I don’t like for 2013

Ryan Braun (possible 50 game drug suspension), Josh Hamilton, Hunter Pence, Adam Jones, Aramis Ramirez, and Jonathan Papelbon.

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