Anatomy of a Draft: Rotisserie

The major difference between head-to-head and rotisserie fantasy baseball is that rotisserie is a marathon, and not just a series of weekly matchups. Instead of drafting based on fielding a good team each week you need to be set up for the long run (the entire season). Your job in rotisserie is to find those players who can help you overall, and if they slip early you need to drop and swap them for other players who can help you.

There are ten major categories in rotisserie leagues, five for batters, and five for pitchers:

FOR BATTERS

  1. Batting Average (BA)
  2. Homeruns (HR)
  3. Runs (R)
  4. Runs Batted In (RBI)
  5. Stolen Bases (SB)

FOR PITCHERS

  1. Earned Run Average (ERA)
  2. Strikeouts (K)
  3. Saves (S)
  4. Wins (W)
  5. Walks, Plus Hits, Per Innings Pitched (WHIP)

What I love about the categories is that element of shuffling around your lineups to fix deficits that show up in your team. If, for example, you are in 8th place in steals maybe you can pick up a player from the waiver wire who has the ability to steal a lot of bases and insert him into your lineup. Or if you’re behind in saves you make a trade with another fantasy manager, giving up a starter for a closer. In fact, you’ll probably see many more trades and waiver pickups during the course of the rotisserie season than you’ll ever see in head-to-head.

Just like in head-to-head, though, it’s important to decide early prior to the draft which direction you want to go, either with the batters, or with the pitchers. I tend to lean more toward pitching in rotisserie because I think more can be adjusted in-season when it comes to batters than it can with pitchers, so most of my rotisserie drafts lean early and often on pitching, and the one below is no exception. Here is my first rotisserie draft of the season (I picked 8th)…

Round 1: Felix Hernandez, SP (SEA)
Round 2: Jose Abreu, 1B (CHW)
Round 3: Corey Kluber, SP (CLE)
Round 4: Cole Hamels, SP (PHI)
Round 5: Greg Holland, RP (KC)
Round 6: Craig Kimbrel, RP (ATL)
Round 7: Jason Kipnis, 2B (CLE)
Round 8: David Robertson, RP (CHW)
Round 9: Jay Bruce, OF (CIN)
Round 10: Marcell Ozuna, OF (MIA)

My preference for pitching over hitting is clear from the start because while I sprinkled in a few batters in my first 10 rounds, the vast majority of my picks were pitchers, both starting pitchers, and closers. Relief pitching is a premium to have, and unlike head-to-head you can utilize as many relief pitchers as you want from week to week. Besides, usually top-tier closers keep a low ERA and WHIP, and have a high strikeout rate, all three important categories in rotisserie. They’re gold.

Here is my final starting lineup for that team…

Catcher 1: Brian McCann, NYY
Catcher 2: Carlos Ruiz, PHI
First Base: Jose Abreu, CHW
Second Base: Jason Kipnis, CLE
Third Base: Pedro Alvarez, PIT
Shortstop: Alexei Ramirez, CHW
Middle Infield: Jimmy Rollins, LAD
Corner Infield: Matt Carpenter, STL
Outfield 1: Jay Bruce, CIN
Outfield 2: Yoenis Cespedes, DET
Outfield 3: Khris Davis, MIL
Outfield 4: Austin Jackson, SEA
Outfield 5: Marcell Ozuna, MIA
Utility: Brett Gardner, NYY
Bench: Freddy Galvis, Rajai Davis

Pitcher 1: Felix Hernandez
Pitcher 2: Cole Hamels
Pitcher 3: Corey Kluber
Pitcher 4: Greg Holland
Pitcher 5: Craig Kimbrel
Pitcher 6: Neftali Feliz
Pitcher 7: David Robertson
Pitcher 8: Francisco Rodriguez
Pitcher 9: LaTroy Hawkins
Bench: Justin Verlander, Joe Nathan, Addison Reed, Sean Doolittle (although when healthy I will probably replace a reliever with Verlander in the starting lineup)

Notes: Because I have the top two relievers in the game (Holland, Kimbrel) and a solid core around them I believe I will be able to heavily compete in every pitching category all season long. I was able to pick up Verlander late in the draft, and if he is a dud I have options, but if he reverts to form then he was a steal. As for batters, admittedly there are some holes, but for the most part I picked up batters with power and/or the ability to steal a lot of bases. If I can just hang somewhere in the middle of the pack in most batting categories I should be okay.

Oh, and because I have so many of the top relievers I know some good trade offers will come my way early and often for them. Life is good.

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