As the season approaches, you’ve probably done all the research you could possibly do to prep for your fantasy baseball draft. From cheat sheets, to draft kits, to podcasts — you’re ready. Depending on who you listen to, you can take a few different approaches with your draft.
Loading up on power early, grabbing a player at “weaker” positions, and waiting on pitching until later all seem to be popular choices.
But here’s a fantasy baseball draft strategy that you probably haven’t heard much about — waiting on first basemen and platooning two of them.
Personally, I’m a fan of grabbing a top first baseman and a top outfielder within the first two rounds. With that, I’ll wait and grab one ace for my pitching staff in round four, and let the draft play out from there.
In order to platoon two players at first base, you have to play in daily leagues. If you’re in a weekly league, throw this strategy out the window. If you’re in a daily league and you want to throw it out, just hear me out.
When Joey Votto was selected before I picked at No. 12 in an OBP league, I thought about taking this approach. I could load up on other positions, while waiting until Round 13 and Round 20 to take my starting first baseman. However, it was too risky for me to try it.
But, if you play in a daily league and want to take a chance, why not grab two players who find themselves in a platoon situation and roster them both? You already play the role of a general manager of a fake team, so why not play manager, too?
For this example, let’s look at the Oakland A’s Brandon Moss and the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Gaby Sanchez. Moss has an ADP of 129, according to FantasyPros.com. As for Sanchez, well, he’s not being drafted at all. After the Pirates sent Andrew Lambo down to Triple-A Indianapolis earlier this week, it looks like Sanchez will get the bulk of the time at first base. Last year, however, the same plan was in place, but it didn’t last long because of his struggles against right-handed pitching.
As a fantasy owner, this is perfect for you.
When the Pirates go up against a left-handed pitcher, you can feel comfortable putting Sanchez into your lineup for a solid average and OBP. Meanwhile, when Oakland faces a righty, Moss is your guy.
The A’s are frustrating when it comes to fantasy because aside from guys like Yoenis Cespedes and Jed Lowrie, the lineup can change each day depending on who is pitching. Moss has embraced and excelled in that role since arriving in Oakland. Last year, against right-handers, Moss had a .268/.353/.552 slash line with 26 homers, 71 RBI and a .300 BABIP.
On the other side of things, Sanchez destroyed left-handed pitching last year. He had only four homers and 14 RBI in 102 at bats, but he had a .333/.448./539 slash with a .361 BABIP. The BABIP is up from .263 in 2012, but those find a way of balancing out.
So, if you took the above approach, what kind of numbers could you end up with? By looking at this year’s projections on FantasyPros.com, which are made up from eight different sources, you’re looking at a player who grades out similarly to David Ortiz.
- Sanchez/Moss: 20 HR, 88 RBI, .300 BA, .400 OBP, .545 SLG
- David Ortiz: 26 HR, 88 RBI, .295 BA, .382 OBP, .531 SLG
Even if you adjust the numbers on days when they both play, when you decide not to use one in your corner infield, utility or outfield (Moss) spot, the comparison sticks.
Look, it’s not the most ideal approach to have, but if you miss out on the top-tier first basemen in your draft, and you aren’t comfortable taking a risk with Brandon Belt, Anthony Rizzo or Jose Abreu, it’s certainly a strategy worth employing.