Originally written on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 10/9/13
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Last spring, we heard more about JBJ than we did about Josh Donaldson…oops.The fantasy baseball season is over! You either did well or you didn’t. It’s as black and white as that. It never ends, though, as fantasy football is in full swing and fantasy hockey just started (people care about this, right?). Basketball is just around the corner. With every season comes learning experiences. We already learned how stockpiling at-bats can push an average team to a championship, and here are 10 things I learned from this past fantasy season.10. Monitor spring training but don’t overpay for servicesIf you watched spring training this past season, you noticed that Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Domonic Brown lit things up. Brown was already a starter and Bradley, Jr. made the opening day roster for the Red Sox. Brown continued his spring and had an All-Star season. Bradley, Jr. stunk up the joint. He looked lost at the plate and was really only good for his defense.If you spent a late-round draft pick on JBJ instead of, say, Josh Donaldson or Jean Segura, you utterly missed. Those are just two examples of guys that had breakout seasons, but the point is this: Waste a late-round pick on a guy that actually has a starting job rather than a guy who makes the team on the last day of spring training.9. Familiarize yourself with top prospectsDepending on whether your league has NA spots, you should really be aware of two things:The top MLB prospectsThe top few prospects of each teamIf you were, you would have been ahead of the curve on Sonny Gray, Michael Wacha, Yasiel Puig, and Wil Myers (just to name a few). Stashing these players, or even being ahead of the curve, will help you in a pinch if you’re struggling or trying to get over the hump. Sometimes, all it takes is one player to jump-start a team.8. Don’t let your bias/favortism cloud a draft pickMy prime example of this came at my first draft pick at the end of the 1st round of a 14 team draft. In the 11 spot, I was going to go with one of the top 2 hurlers (Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw) or reach for someone I really wanted. Well, I picked Verlander, a favorite, instead of Cy Young dynamo Kershaw. I think we know how that turned out. If it comes down to 2 players like that, it can be hard, but sometimes, going with your heart can cause you heartache.7. Mock Drafts: Do them consistently or not at allIf you planned on waiting for particular players, your approach may not work if you haven’t been up to date on how mocks are unfolding.Depending on the site you use (ESPN, Yahoo!, MLB, etc.), mock drafts are usually a fun and good way to see how drafts might unfold. The problem is, if you do a few to get a feel and then ignore them until your actual draft, a lot of things can change. Players get injured and the rankings usually change to reflect that. If you planned on waiting for particular players, your approach may not work if you haven’t been up to date on how mocks are unfolding.6. Know the progress of injured playersTracking a player’s progress returning from an injury is also important. How many sessions has Johnny Cueto or Alexi Ogando thrown? Are they bullpen sessions or simulated games? Are Derek Jeter or Jason Heyward on rehab assignments yet or have they just started baseball activities? If you know when a player is close to a return, it could help your team if you’re hurting at a position or block a team you are fighting against.5. Don’t overpay for closersOr sometimes, like I do in football with kickers, don’t even draft one. Chances are, someone eagerly stacked their lineup with closers while missing out on other positions. Depending on your league and in-season management approach, having a good 4th or 5th OF might be more important than having Craig Kimbrel or Aroldis Chapman.And with the uncertain nature of the position, often times the closer to start the year isn’t the one who often finishes it. My RP to start the season were Jason Grilli and Vinnie Pestano. At the end of the year, they were Danny Farquhar, Koji Uehara and Mark Melancon. Point made yet? How about the fact that one of the playoff teams in my league only had Chris Perez, who missed time, and finished in second place?4. Use your DL spotsUsually you have one or two DL spots. Use them to your advantage. Stash players who didn’t get drafted or players who will get dropped. I was in a league where someone dropped Jose Reyes because he would miss two months. Well, the guy who beat me to that enjoyed him from June on. If you ain’t hustlin’, you ain’t tryin’, so you’re really doing yourself a disservice if you ignore these roster spots.3. Don’t be afraid to tradeIf you’re bored with your team or are desperate like I was, don’t be afraid to shake things up. Most likely, there is another team in your league that is in the same position. I was in last place in one league and posted that I wanted to make a blockbuster deal, and one of the other teams that was struggling obliged. We both ended up making the playoffs. Also, don’t be afraid to make little trades. Acquiring depth (especially at pitching) is vital as pitchers seem to get hurt more often (and at more inopportune times) than position players. That might just be me, but that’s been my experience.2. If you want to pick up a player, do it before someone else doesEric Stults. Alex Wood. Tyson Ross. Nate Schierholtz. Those names might not have set the world on fire this year, but each guy had a good stretch of dominant production that could have swung in your favor. In each of those instances, I was a day late. The chances are that if you’re thinking of adding a player, there’s likely another toolbag in your league thinking the same thing. He might just be the guy to click submit before you, so go with your instinct. It’s OK to be wrong, but it’s not OK to constantly hear from a loudmouth how they “added the guy that you didn’t.”1. Don’t give upThis caveat I cannot stress enough. Journey said it best — Don’t stop believin’. If you don’t pay attention to your league or don’t care because it isn’t a money league, that’s fine. But if you care a lot and find yourself checking your team ad naseum, you are probably like me. I care about every league I join, otherwise, I wouldn’t have joined.I was in 14th place out of 14 teams heading into June in my league of record. I proposed the “looking to make a blockbuster deal” thing. I slowly moved my way up the rankings through the summer and eventually nabbed the sixth playoff spot the week before they started. Had I folded, I might have floated by and ended up in 10th place or worse. The point is, no matter what spot you are in, your team can always get better. Giving up just signals that you don’t care and that you shouldn’t have joined in the first place.
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