Bargain hunting for starting pitchers

Josh Beckett

All 2009 Fantasy Articles | 2009 Position Rankings

As someone who loyally subscribes to the “wait for pitching” strategy on draft day, I’m always on the lookout for value starters. Experience has shown me that there are plenty of nice starting pitching bargains in the middle and late rounds every year, and if I’m diligent enough, I can also add pitching via the waiver wire during the season. All of which allows me to load up on as much hitting as I can in the early rounds, understanding that the more offensive firepower I have on my roster, the easier it will be to trade for a top-line starter should I find myself in need of reinforcements for the stretch run.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I ignore pitching on draft day. Far from it. Those SP bargains I mentioned above are available each year, if you know what to look for. Sure, it’s nice to have a reliable horse like Johan Santana or Brandon Webb anchoring your pitching staff, but the cost of adding someone like that is usually a little too steep for my tastes. So instead, my goal is to take five to seven solid starters who can deliver quality ratios while racking up strikeouts. Ideally, I also look for guys who pitch for successful teams, hoping that will translate to wins for my team.

The guys I target tend to fall into one of four categories: Young Guns, Rebound Vets, Undervalued Arms and Late Steals. As I’ve admitted in previous posts, I’m a sucker for upside but that doesn’t mean I’ll fall for any promising youngster with a lively arm. I’m also a sucker for a good revival story so I’m always looking for veterans with a solid track record whose stock has fallen because of an off year, while guys in the undervalued category tend to fly under the radar despite their consistent production. Finally, I try to wrap up every draft with one or two late-round picks that could pay off big in the long run.

Below, I’ve listed several pitchers I’ve got my eye on in each of these four categories, using the Average Draft Position (ADP) from ESPN’s draft kit as a guide. I’ve included the ADP as well as the SP rank (SP13, for example) for each of the 16 starters below. These aren’t, of course, the only guys who would qualify in these categories, just the ones at the top of my list. If you’re thinking about stockpiling bats early in your draft, maybe they should be at the top of your list too.

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Fantasy baseball draft tips: Tier it up!

All 2009 Fantasy Articles | 2009 Position Rankings

You’re hunched over your desk, boring a hole into your cheat sheet. “Michael Young or Joey Votto?” You’re up in two picks. Make that one pick. Panic sets in. “Michael Young or Joey Votto?” You’re running out of time. Your eyes dart right to left between the two names. “Michael Young or Joey Votto?!” Time’s up; you need to make a choice. “MICHAEL YOUNG OR JOEY VOTTO?!” You burst into tears.

Okay, maybe you don’t actually cry…or maybe you do, I don’t know. Either way, you can potentially avoid this kind of draft day drama entirely if you spend a little more time preparing beforehand. Sure, you probably at least have one or two cheat sheets from your fantasy magazines or websites in front of you. Maybe you even took the time to put together your own cheat sheet. Unfortunately, that just means you’re looking at a jumbled mess of names organized by position. What does it all really mean?


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