Sunday night's game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Atlanta Braves marks the beginning of Major League Baseball's regular season.
While the MLB is far from the only league to debut with the opening pitch, thousands of fantasy baseball leagues will concurrently kick off with less publicity, but an equal amount of passion. In that spirit, The Lamron has put together a brief primer to the upcoming fantasy season.
When drafting your fantasy team, it certainly helps to draft the best possible player with every pick. Although not everyone will be fortunate enough to get the No. 1 pick, they should be decisive in their selection.
The top two players this year are Hanley Ramirez, a shortstop for the Florida Marlins, and Albert Pujols, the first baseman and perennial MVP candidate for the St. Louis Cardinals. Let's take a look at the merits of each player.
At only 25 years of age, Ramirez has already amassed two 50-steal seasons and has scored at least 119 runs in all three years as starting shortstop. His value is enhanced by the general dearth of talent at the shortstop position throughout baseball.
On the other hand, Pujols plays first base, one of the most offensively gifted positions in baseball. Despite this, he has consistently been one of the top hitters in the game for his entire career. Since Pujols burst onto the scene in 2001, his seasonal averages (per 162 games played) are 42 home runs, 200 hits, 124 runs scored, 128 runs batted in and a stratospheric .334 batting average. He's arguably the best fantasy player, not to mention the best player in baseball.
After the first few rounds of the draft are out of the way, it gets a little trickier. One needs to sift through burned-out stars, rising talent and perpetually mediocre players to find "bargains" - players who will end up being much more valuable to the fantasy team than their draft position might indicate. Starting pitchers and closers are also snatched up in these vital middle rounds.
In such times of indecisiveness, one can be tempted to draft an average player from their favorite franchise in lieu of a better option. Don't allow yourself to fall victim to this hometown bias. If you do, you'll spend the rest of the year wondering why you drafted the overpaid, injury-prone A.J. Burnett over less-hyped pitchers such as Zach Greinke, Ervin Santana or Edinson Volquez.
One final tip: Don't draft closers until the later rounds. There is never a shortage of saves on any team, so draft three or four no-names from small-market teams instead of wasting a fourth-round pick on Francisco Rodriguez.