If you are in a keeper league, then you have important decisions to make long before your number is called in the first round of your draft. You have to decide who you are going to keep and who you are going to cut loose, based on the rules and regulations of your league.
In this post we highlight some keeper league strategy tips that will help you make the right decisions about who to build around for 2012 and beyond.
Keep batters over pitchers.
Hitters are more predictable and less prone to injuries than pitchers.
Remember how many SP pick-ups emerged on the waiver wire last year? Free agent pick-ups included: Brandon Beachy, Matt Moore, Cory Luebke, Mike Minor, Alexi Ogando, Derek Holland, and Zack Britton, just to name a few.
Keep pitchers if they have:
- Higher ground ball rates (Over 1.25/inning)
- Solid K/BB rates (Over 2.5)
- Solid K/9 rate (Over 7 per 9 innings for starters, 8 per 9 innings for relievers).
Keep players of value at positions of scarcity.
Relative value based on position should be a huge determining factor once you’ve whittled your list of keeper candidates down to 2-3 players. At a scarce position, don’t be afraid to keep or pay a little bit more for elite players.
Never keep a closer or 1B unless they’re on the cheap end.
These are more than replaceable commodities.
Ask yourself with any player you want to keep: can I get him in the same round or at the same price again in this year’s draft/auction? This is one approach that is true in fantasy or in real life baseball.
There are exceptions to the rule, but they are very. You can always find guys for saves in the end game.
Remember position flexibility and eligibility.
Miguel Cabrera and Hanley Ramirez will gain 3B eligibility after the first 5 or 10 games based upon your league’s eligibility rules. Players like Ryan Roberts, Howie Kendrick, and Emilio Bonifacio will offer flexibility right from the start, while others will gain flexibility throughout the year.
Keep talented younger players who are on the brink of a call up.
In terms of prospects, keep a very close eye on call-ups at two points in the season.
There are two benchmarks that ensure a player has to wait another year of service time to hit free agency (April 15-20) or avoids the dreaded Super Two label (June 1-10) that plagues teams. Don’t be afraid to keep them to avoid losing them on waivers later in the season.
However, with that being said, keep guys that will pan out this year and not 3 years from now.
Don’t plan to have the best team 2 years from now. Play to win this year. The time is now!
Keep this in mind when keeping/picking up younger pitchers:
How many innings did he throw last year? Is he coming off injury?
The Verducci effect notes that pitchers on the good side of 25 should not have their workload increased by more than 30 innings per year. If your young phenom threw just 150 or so innings last year (a la Mat Latos 2009-10), don’t plan on him being around (or effective) in September this year. Teams are more cautious than ever with young arms.
Keep players who are locks for batting 1-5 in their lineup.
This grouping will generate the largest amount of runs, higher batting average, more RBI opportunities, and home runs. Building your team around hitters in these slots gives you an automatic edge versus leaguemates who have guys playing in the 8 or 9th spot in the batting order.
Be careful of players who are due for regressions or those who have relocated ball parks.
Did a pitcher/hitter move to a more or less friendly environment for his skill set? Is a pitcher’s new defense behind him worse or better? Was he unlucky/lucky last year (High HR rate or BABIP)?
When it comes to pitching, however, remember that strikeouts play in any ballpark.
Keep players headed into contract years or looking for long-term extensions.
Prime Example for 2012: Zack Greinke.
Don’t keep injury plagued players.
Sure it’s always intriguing, but we all enjoy our sleep. Save those headaches for someone else.