Want to win your fantasy league this summer? You’ve come to the right words. I’ve been playing rotisserie baseball for almost 25 years, amassing a wealth of knowledge, insight and steroid jokes along the way. Follow these five tips and you’ll be crushing the competition:
1. Choose a strategy It’s critical to decide on a big-picture approach. Some people focus on power over speed. Others prefer proven value over potential. As for me, I’ve perfected a system in which I punt pitching. I literally never take a pitcher before round 14. It sounds crazy, but it represents a revolutionary approach to the game. And take it from me: It does not work. It has never worked, not once. Last year, my team ERA was visible from space, as was the sight of my head exploding when the Jays kept starting Drew Hutchison on the road. Another decade or so of this and I may have no choice but to try a different strategy.
2. Put in the work I listen to a lot of baseball talk from spring training, mining interviews for important nuggets of intelligence. Right now, I have a huge advantage going into my draft because I know that 100 percent of the players interviewed so far on MLB Radio are “feeling good” and “looking forward to the season.”
3. Trust your preparation I spend 45 days crafting a detailed breakdown of 320 major- and minor-league players. I forecast proprietary statistics for the coming season and arrive at the draft with a perfectly calibrated spreadsheet of picks. Then I panic in round three, deviate from my plan and spend the rest of the evening in a catatonic state, asking things like, “Is Jason Varitek still available?” Typically, I look down at the end of a draft to discover my outfield is made up of Carlos Gomez, Adam Eaton, Antonio Banderas, our waitress and the poop emoji.
4. Make sure your roster hits all the sweet spots Pay close attention here, newbies. Over the past quarter of a century, I’ve identified seven key player “types” that invariably find their way onto my team:
• The OVERHYPED ROOKIE I take him seven rounds too early because some guy on a podcast said 30 home runs “is definitely a possibility.” Turns out it’s even more possible that he strikes out 68 percent of the time and, on the way back to the dugout, steps in a bear trap.
• The LIGHTS-OUT RELIEF PITCHER He loses his job as closer approximately four minutes into the season.
• The SPEED GUY WHO STOPS STEALING I’ve developed a sixth sense for drafting players whose stolen-base production is poised to plummet somewhere between 80 and 99 percent. I’m like the Mentalist, but for lethargy.
• The HOT-HITTING UPSTART He delivers scalding numbers for six weeks before inexplicably spending three months on the DL with something weird like “bad vibes” or “rib tickles.”
• The ULTIMATE POST-HYPE BREAKOUT SLEEPER His dismal performance last season has him so far off the radar that he can be snagged in round 17, which would be an absolute steal if he weren’t currently working at a car wash.
• The FIVE-TOOL PRODIGY He’ll spend the summer flailing wildly at the plate before figuring out in September that he needs glasses.
• BARRY ZITO This “retirement” thing is clearly a ploy. It’s just a matter of time until he rounds back into form.
5. Keep things in perspective Full disclosure: I’ve never won my league—not once in 25 years. I don’t even think I’ve come close. Basically, it’s as though the Cleveland Browns and Marco Rubio had a child, and that child fell down a well, and that concussed well-baby decided to play fantasy baseball. But I do know this much: When my players underperform, it’s important to pause and remember that they are human beings—lazy, failing human beings who are ruining my summer. I wonder if Jason Varitek is on the waiver wire?