Fantasy Baseball: Hitters a top draft priority

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    Baseball season is right around the corner and I can’t wait.

    I was the kid in first grade who replied “Baseball,” when asked what my favorite season was.

    God didn’t give me the talent to play in college or at the professional level. But I do feel He gave me an incredible mind for the sport, which isn’t really helpful unless I want to bug everyone I am watching a game with or I’m going to be a sports writer.

    At least I’m not wasting what I do have.

    I am also using my God-given talent to play fantasy baseball, giving me the opportunity to own, and manage, my very own major league baseball team.

    I have been playing fantasy sports for about five years or so and I have played it for the four major sports; baseball, football, hockey and basketball.

    But baseball has always been my favorite.

    So now, I am going to share my knowledge with you through a weekly fantasy baseball column, telling you about players I think you should pick up, players you should trade and which hurlers you should plug into your roster for some key starts.

    In this first installment, I really just want to go over basic draft strategy with you.

    There are two different kinds of drafts: auction and standard draft.

    For the first-timer or someone who isn’t an intense player, you should stick with the standard approach.

    What I do in a standard draft is use my first seven or eight picks on bats because quality arms can be picked up in later rounds.

    More experienced players, you should try the auction style. This is the truest form of draft because it involves bidding against your competitors to buy the players you want or need.

    My advice on those is to look for bargains. Think about each player and decide how much you are willing to spend on him. I did a practice draft on ESPN.com and many players go for more than their projected value, so prepare for that. I spent most of my money, $36, on defending-champion Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins.

    That was more than I wanted to pay, but I needed a shortstop and I wanted Rollins.

    Think about how much you want to spend on pitching and offense. I suggest a 75/25 budget split favoring the offense.

    I am in a ridiculous auction-style keeper league with some of my friends from high school, with contracts and minor leaguers. Most leagues don’t have all of these stipulations, but they do make the game far more interesting and involved.

    You can do mock drafts and auctions for free on the ESPN Web site to practice your skills.

    I also want to give some of you a chance to be in a league with me and give you a chance to teach me some lessons. The first nine people to e-mail me at [email protected] and want to be in the league will be invited to join a league I created on the ESPN Web site called Go Frogs!

    Go practice your drafts and I’ll have more advice for you next week.