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2013 Draft Prep: Al Melchior's Roto strategies

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More Rotisserie strategies: Scott White | Nando Di Fino

Rotisserie leagues have their own flavor, and with the focus on a limited number of categories, certain stats take on added importance. Home runs, stolen bases and pitcher strikeouts, for example, have just a little more weight.

What implications does this have for a draft strategy? While having (in most formats) a relatively small set of categories may simplify the process of ranking and evaluating players, some aspects of this style of play are not as simple as they may seem on the surface.

Here are four guidelines that can smooth your way through a Rotisserie draft. While every draft is unique, these principles are aimed at helping you to find the best value for your roster, regardless of the size and rules of your league.

1. Target closers-in-waiting

In standard 12-team leagues, nearly every owner should be able to get two reliable closers, but getting a third productive reliever could really put your team ahead of the curve. However, the bottom of the closer barrel doesn't offer the most appetizing options. Whether you're in this situation or you're an owner in a deeper league just trying to get a decent second reliever, your best alternative is probably to target a pitcher who hasn't yet been annointed as a closer. Recall that three of last season's best closers -- Fernando Rodney, Aroldis Chapman and Rafael Soriano -- did not enter the regular season as their team's ninth-inning specialist. Several of this season's opening day closers are likely to lose their roles due to injuries or ineffectiveness, and that opens the door for a "closer-in-waiting" to emerge from the setup ranks. Not only does it pay to identify teams with shaky closer situations, but to find the relievers on those teams who post closer-like ERAs, WHIPs and strikeout rates. (Paging Kenley Jansen, Ernesto Frieri and Joaquin Benoit ...)

2. Power/speed threats come at a premium

Potentially Exclusive Company
Projected to Reach or Come Near 20/20
HR SB
Mike Trout, OF, Angels 31 45
Carlos Gomez, OF, Brewers 23 35
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Red Sox 17 34
B.J. Upton, OF, Braves 22 32
Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers 38 29
Matt Kemp, OF, Dodgers 35 27
Ian Kinsler, 2B, Rangers 24 27
Ian Desmond, SS, Nationals 22 26
Jimmy Rollins, SS, Phillies 20 26
Jason Kipnis, 2B, Indians 17 26
Andrew McCuthen, OF, Pirates 28 24
Jason Heyward, OF, Braves 30 22
Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Rockies 28 22
Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals 26 22
Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Red Sox 18 22
Lorenzo Cain, OF, Royals 17 22
Alex Rios, OF, White Sox 21 21
Danny Espinosa, 2B, Nationals 20 21
Justin Ruggiano, OF, Marlins 17 20
Yoenis Cespedes, OF, Athletics 27 19
Hanley Ramirez, SS, Dodgers 23 19
Michael Saunders, OF, Mariners 23 18
Eric Hosmer, 1B, Royals 21 18
Justin Upton, OF, Braves 26 17
Ben Zobrist, OF, Rays 21 18

After declining in four of the last five seasons, home runs made a comeback in 2012, as major leaguers swatted a total of 4,934 of them, up from 4,552 a year before. They also maintained most of the spike in stolen bases they created in 2011, but these trends didn't generate an explosion of speed/power threats for Fantasy. Only 10 players made the 20/20 club in 2012, as compared with 12 from the prior season. In other words, despite the recent uptick in homers and steals, there are still just a handful of players who can be counted on to make a sizeable impact in both categories. We are currently projecting 14 players with at least 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases for the 2013 season, and on Draft Day, owners should keep an eye on the remaining members of this list as the draft progresses. Players like Carlos Gomez and Danny Espinosa may just be middle-round options due to their questionable ability to help with batting average, but both are worth keeping in your draft queue because of their unique speed/power combination. Also, bear in mind that if you plan on targeting spots on your roster for these players, you will most likely be using outfield, second base or shortstop slots on them.

3. Don't chase wins

It's true that pitchers on teams that win tend to do better in the Wins category than their counterparts on losing teams. That doesn't mean that it's a good idea to target pitchers based on which uniform they wear or their history in the category. For one thing, it's not always easy to tell which teams will be "good," as the Orioles, Athletics and Red Sox showed last year. Also, a team can lack wins due to the quality of their pitchers (and not the other way around), and as we saw with R.A. Dickey, A.J. Burnett and Jason Vargas last season, an able pitcher can post a good record on a team that doesn't score many runs. Then there are always the hard-luck losers, like Cliff Lee and Jeremy Hellickson in 2012, who suffer from unexpectedly poor run support and are saddled with losing records despite low ERAs. Owners are best off to draft pitchers who do well in the other categories, and typically, the wins will follow. Then you won't make the mistake of drafting someone like Tim Hudson (16 wins in 2012, current 223 ADP) or Matt Harrison (18 wins, 237 ADP) a couple of rounds earlier than you need to.

4. Strikeouts for hitters may be more relevant than you think

While standard Rotisserie formats don't include strikeouts as a category for hitters, that doesn't mean that strikeout trends are something that Roto owners can ignore. Of course, an increase in strikeouts puts a hitter at risk of losing points on his batting average (unless he manages to get more hits on balls in play), and you can't hit for extra-base power when you don't make contact with the ball. Last season, Kendrys Morales provided an example of the domino effect of a surging strikeout rate. Though he experienced only minor decreases in his flyball and home run per flyball rates, Morales' at-bat per home run ratio increased from 17.5 in his injury-shortened 2010 campaign (his most recent season) to 22.0 in 2012. He also lost 17 points on his batting average, and his RBI and runs scored per at-bat dropped precipitously, and all of this can be linked -- either directly or indirectly -- to Morales' strikeout rate jumping by nearly 50 percent. Owners in standard and shallow leagues may not be that concerned about a middle-round option like Morales, but high-end batters like Josh Hamilton and Curtis Granderson, whose strikeout rates are trending in the wrong direction, come with risks that all Rotisserie owners should note.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Al Melchior at @almelccbs . You can also send us an email us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Angels' Johnny Giavotella hits walk-off double Wednesday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:34 am ET) Angels second baseman Johnny Giavotella drove in the winning run during Wednesday's 4-3 win over the Mariners.

With the game tied at 3-3 in bottom of the ninth inning, Giavotella hit a double to drive in Erick Aybar for the game-winning run. The double was Giavotella's only hit in four at-bats during the game. He has now hit safely in three-consecutive games.


Angels' Mike Trout smacks seventh home run of season Wednesday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:30 am ET) Angels outfielder Mike Trout connected on his seventh home run of the season to help lead the Angels to a 4-3 win over the Mariners on Wednesday.

The two-run home run occurred in the third inning and was hit off Mariners starter Roenis Elias. It was Trout's lone hit in four at-bats during the game. Trout is now hitting .300 on the season


Mariners P Roenis Elias receives no-decision during Wednesday's game
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:08 am ET) Despite a solid seven innings of work, Mariners pitcher Roenis Elias was not able to earn a win during Wednesday's 4-3 loss to the Angels.

Elias surrendered three runs on six hits over seven innings. He also struck out five and walked one. His biggest mistake came in the third inning when he gave up a two-run home run to Mike Trout and he received a no-decision for his effort.

Elias is now 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA on the season. It was his third-consecutive start allowing three runs or less.

His next expected start is scheduled for Wednesday against the Padres.


Angels P C.J. Wilson earns quality start in Wednesday's game
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:59 am ET) Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson failed to earn a win during Wednesday's 4-3 victory over the Mariners, but he did receive a quality start for his effort.

Street tossed seven solid innings of work after giving up two runs on seven hits. He also struck out four batters and walked none. His lone mistake was a two-run home run to Kyle Seager in the fourth inning. He lowered his ERA to 2.70.

Wilson was in line for the win during the game, but closer Huston Street was not able to close the game in the ninth. The Angels won the game on a walk-off double from Johnny Giavotella.

Wilson's next expected start is scheduled for Tuesday against the Rockies.


Angels P Huston Street blows first game of season Wednesday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:51 am ET) Angels pitcher Huston Street was unable to convert his 10th save of the season during Wednesday's 4-3 win over the Mariners.

Street entered the ninth inning with a one-run lead, but he surrendered two hits to open the inning, which led to Dustin Ackley driving in the tying run on a sacrifice fly. It was his first blown save of the season in 10 opportunities. 

Despite blowing the save, Street picked up the win when the Angels won the game in the bottom of the ninth inning. Street is now 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA on the season.


Royals DH Kendrys Morales homers in loss to Indians
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(12:50 am ET) Royals designated hitter Kendrys Morales hit his fourth home run of the season in Wednesday night's 10-3 loss to the Indians. 

Morales homered in the bottom of the fourth inning, which also brought home Lorenzo Cain. The homer didn't matter much as the Indians blew out the Royals in the end. Morales finished the game 1 of 3 and struck out in two other at-bats. He also drew a walk. 

He's now hitting .306/.364/.486 for the season. 


Indians' Brandon Moss hits fifth home run in win over Royals
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(12:46 am ET) Indians outfielder Brandon Moss hit his fifth home run of the season in the ninth inning of Wednesday night's 10-3 win over the Royals. 

Moss took a 2-1 pitch to deep right field for the solo homer. He finished the game 2 of 5 with three RBI. The other two RBI he recorded came on a double to right field in the seventh inning. 

Moss is now hitting .241/.298/.506 this season. 


Indians rough up Royals P Danny Duffy in first inning
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(12:42 am ET) Royals pitcher Danny Duffy had a disastrous start in Wednesday night's 10-3 loss to the Indians. 

Duffy only lasted one inning and allowed four earned runs on six hits. He didn't record any strikeouts and didn't walk anyone. This is his first loss of the season as he's now 2-1. Duffy's ERA is 3.86. 

Duffy's next start is projected for May 11 against the Rangers. 


Indians P Carlos Carrasco strikes out 6 against Royals
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(12:39 am ET) Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco struck out six batters during Wednesday night's 10-3 win over the Royals. 

Carrasco went seven innings and allowed three earned runs. Carrasco threw 98 pitches, gave up five hits and walked two batters. He improved to 4-2 and now has an ERA of 4.71 this season. 

Carrasco's next start is projected for May 12 against the Cardinals. 


White Sox OF Conor Gillaspie hits first homer of season
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(12:28 am ET) White Sox infielder Conor Gillaspie hit his first home run of the season in Wednesday night's 7-6 win over the Tigers. 

Gillaspie hit a solo shot to right field on a 2-0 pitch in the second inning. He finished the game 1 for 3 and is now hitting a slash line of .242/.288/.419. 


 
 
 
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