Originally posted on Fantasy Baseball Dugout  |  Last updated 2/22/12

Evan Longoria is a cool first round pick if you are drafting last.

A statistical analysis of the best draft position in your fantasy baseball draft.

There’s a lot of debate among fantasy baseball managers as to what is the best position to have in your fantasy baseball league draft.  The reason that there is any debate at all is that most leagues use a snake format.  If you are a beginner in fantasy baseball, this means that the manager that picks last in the first round, gets the first pick in the second round and this format proceeds throughout the draft.

Many leagues will allow the manager to draw a number out of a hat.  Then, the manager, in his first attempt at fantasy baseball strategy in the draft, chooses his actual draft position.

Steve Gardner of USA Today likes being in the middle in his drafts.

I prefer to draft somewhere in the middle of a snake draft depending on the strength of the top of the player pool on a given year. That way, you don’t have to worry as much about waiting so long in between picks and you can avoid getting shut out of a particular position (shortstop) or a particular category (stolen bases).

Here are some thoughts from other fantasy baseball managers at Fantasy Baseball Cafe about their personal preference for draft position:

I’m increasingly convinced that draft position doesn’t matter diddly. It’s much more important, IMO, who you draft in rounds 11+ than in the first few.  –mkultra

Draft position matters much less in fantasy baseball than other fantasy sports. With fantasy baseball you need to have a deep understanding of the game and of many players if you want to do well. In football it’s mostly about the RBs and in basketball you need to have one or two superstars (because basketball can be dominated by one man in both real life and fantasy).  –Jake2005

Still others didn’t take our question as seriously.

I like drafting from the sitting up position in the bed. I’ve got my laptop hooked up and I’ve got everything I need within reach. — Cadensdad

A lot of fantasy baseball managers like to pick one of the elite players and are willing to move down since there are multiple top players in a mixed league.  That means that if you think Cabrera, Pujols, and Kemp are much better than the next group of  Bautista and Tulowitzki, then you decide on the third pick.

Miguel Cabrera is ESPN's top pick with an auction value of $35.

To most managers it comes down to personal preference.  Some like having the first pick in the draft; others like the last pick so that they can make two consecutive picks.  Others like to have it somewhere down the middle–exactly the spot where our presidential candidates will be come October.

At Fantasy Baseball Dugout, however, we like to try to figure things out statistically sometimes.  Not Bill James kind of statistically, but statistically anyway.  So, we took the top 300 rankings at ESPN and figured out the total auction dollar points that you would draft if you went right in order based on the ESPN rankings.

We looked at a Mixed 10-team league which is likely the most common format.  After 12 rounds, you drafting at the $9 level and there isn’t much change from round to round or pick to pick so we figured that was adequate to make our determination of what is the best draft position in a 10 team mixed league.

After 12 rounds, the total auction dollars drafted varied from a high of $212 to a low of $206.  The fact is that the lower positions of the draft make it harder to make up the dollars.  Surprisingly, its not the first and second rounds of the snake that make the big difference, its actually the third and fourth rounds.  The top pick in the first round was Cabrera at $35 and the 10th pick was Longoria at $30.  That $5 dollar difference, however, was made up in the second round snake where the 11th overall pick was Halladay at $29 versus Reyes at $24–surprisingly another $5 differential.  In the third round, however, the team drafting first chose Lee at $24 as the overall 21st pick while the team drafting last chose Weaver at $19.  This $5 differential, however, was not made up in round four where the last team drafting picked up Lincecum at $19 for the 31st overall pick and the team drafting first got Hamilton as the 40th overall pick at $18.

...but you'll take a haircut with the 20th overall pick with Reyes valued at just $24.

The results of our study show that after 12 rounds, here are the total auction dollar values that your team would have in a 10-team mixed league draft.

  • Position 2 – $212
  • Positon 1 – $211
  • Position 3 – $211
  • Position 4 – $210
  • Position 5 – $209
  • Position 6 – $208
  • Position 7 – $207
  • Position 8 – $207
  • Position 10 – $207
  • Position 9 – $206

Based on our analysis of the 2012 fantasy baseball talent pool, we believe that drafting in position # 2 is the best position in the draft.  The worst is position # 9 with a significant $5 swing from the best to the worst draft positions.




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