The State of the Union address is tonight and President Obama will fail to address one very important issue. How early is too early to draft a closer? In fantasy baseball, you get very different opinions on this topic. The guys at ESPN will tell you never to pay for saves while the experts at MLB.com will tell you that you need to lock up a stud closer early. So which philosophy is the correct one for you to follow?
As someone who has played fantasy baseball for 17 years, I can tell you it really depends on the format of your league and knowing the draft strategies of other owners. Yes, I know this second rule is sometimes impossible for the millions of us who are addicted to drafting. So why not get into one more league with a bunch of strangers just to draft? Should this be your situation, all you need to do when drafting is live by one simple rule: never be the guy to start the closer run in your draft.
Sure, you will miss out on Craig Kimbrel, but I’m pretty positive that not many owners have ever won their league because they drafted Kimbrel. Should you be in a 12-team league that drafts in a snake format, you could end up with the 12th best closer, but the odds of 11 guys in a row taking a closer is very low. In fact, in my 17 years of drafting, I don’t think I have ever seen that happen.
In snake style drafts, it is very simple to wait until someone starts the closer run. It happens in almost every draft, but what if it doesn’t? Easy. Depending on the format of your league, roto, points or head-to-head, follow this strategy.
In roto and points leagues, don’t take a closer before the sixth or seventh round. Closers will contribute in more than just one category, but their contribution to strikeouts, ERA and WHIP won’t be very significant in specialty leagues.
On the flip side, should you be playing in a head-to-head league, you can consider taking a closer as early as the fourth round. Closers make much more of an impact in leagues with week-to-week matchups. Make sure to check what your minimum innings pitched for the week is, because if it is low enough, than you can even load up on all closers. Sure you will be conceding strikeouts each week, but most of the time you will win saves, ERA, WHIP and you will be surprised how often you also take the wins category. Depending on the rules of your league, you can always pitch and ditch your starters.
These strategies can also be applied should you be participating in an auction draft. Just don’t be the guy who breaks the bank on Kimbrel and sets the ceiling for the rest of the closers.
When drafting closers, it pays to be patient. Happy drafting.