The Tenth Team: The Beginner’s Guide to Fantasy Baseball for the Ultra Casual, Noobs.

Sometimes life gets in the way. You make plans and then some things get in the way. Sometimes you plan to go golfing with a friend for tomorrow. But then that friend drinks more adult beverages than they should the night before and you don’t hear back from them for days.

Or you are a member of a long time fantasy baseball keeper league and suddenly you find yourself in the year where you are engaged, moving, and traveling the most you ever had for work and have to put your favorite hobby on hold.

Other times you have an article you were suppose to do almost two weeks ago, but you had a 60 hour work week and a funeral to attend. So now you are piecing together what you vaguely remember you promised to say.

The point is that life likes to poke it’s ugly face in the way and delay things that had previously been planned. Everyone has to adapt and figure out what to do without a certain person, even if promises were made and commitments scheduled. Now, a new person has to be found to fill the void that another friend or friends left behind.

That person is you. You’re the friend who just got roped into a league for a sport you barely pay attention to. Or maybe you do pay attention, but only know your home team and even then, only on the surface level. Or you could be someone’s significant other who joined to help out and get closer to your bae. Regardless, you are the tenth man, or in this case, the tenth team.

I know who you are because I’ve been there. I was that tenth team needed to fill out a league. And almost 10 years later, I’m now the one looking for a tenth team.

First a disclaimer: This isn’t some expert guide of fantasy baseball for those looking for tips and tricks that will help them win. No, this guide is for those looking to figure out what they just got themselves into.

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So let’s dive into this:

What is a Snake draft?

Told you this would be really simple. A snake draft is just a simple picking of players starting with the first team and going to the last. It then offers a nice twist by giving the last team the pick again and then going right up to the first team.

What is an Auction draft?

Unlike a Snake draft, it goes in a circle, going from the last team back to the first. This time you “nominate” players for people to put fake money on. The price of the player rises depending on who all bids and how much per bid. Any player can be nominated at any time so you end up getting some wild early round picks.

Ignore home team bias

I get it. You’re Red Sox Nation, a die hard Phillies phan, or whatever. Forget about your team and leave your homer bias at the door. Or at least manage it so you pick the best player from your home team. The point is to not draft or acquire all the players on your favorite team. It rarely works out. Think of your fantasy team as the “what if?” kind of team. You have the chance to draft players your home team could not. What I’ve seen some people do is rename they’re fantasy team something similar to their home team so as to make the adjustment to fantasy. You’ll be rooting for players that might just be on your home team’s rivals.

You can’t win your league with your 1st rounder, but you can lose itbraun winking

This is more for those that are trying to reinvent the wheel. I remember one year I was determined to draft Josh Beckett as my first rounder because I wanted to grab a top pitcher and I wanted to be a little different than the rankings. It was probably one of my worst years and began my unconditional hate toward Beckett and his innate ability to get injured. You want to pick guys that are dependable for your team, that will give you the stats worthy of a 1st round pick. Just do your research and don’t over think it too much.


It’s a universal truth that hitters are typically more durable and more dependable than pitchers when it comes to fantasy production. The only time this isn’t true is in a points league which is not something you are ready for at this time. Just know that when it comes to drafting, trading, or anything in between, hitters beat out pitchers in terms of the long run.

Waiver Claim vs. Free Agent

While both are ways to pick up players, one costs you something while the other one is, well free. Depending on your league, a waiver claim for a player might just cost you your higher priority spot on the waiver order. If you are the person with the higher priority than everyone else who put in a claim, you’ll get the player, but then go to the lowest priority in the league while everyone else moves up.

In other leagues, teams are given fake money called FAAB (Free Agent Acquisition Budget). Instead of just claiming a player, teams can place silent bids on him. Whoever bids the most, gets the player. You of course can bid $0, but just know that if someone else bids $1, you’ll lose. There is usually a period of time for a waiver claim and once that time passes, whoever won that player, will acquire him.

Finally a free agent is a player you can pick up without giving up anything. There’s no waiting period as it’s first come, first served. Leagues with FAAB typically don’t have free agents, offering instead to keep to their waiver system.

What is this ERA?

It stands for Earned Run Average. I first thought it was short for Error when I read it and people seemed to almost treat it that way. But it’s actually the amount of runs a pitcher let’s in if he were to pitch all 9 innings. An “earned run” is a run scored that is counted to the opposing team’s pitcher. ERA is calculated by taking the total number of earned runs allowed, dividing it by the number of innings pitched, and multiplying by nine. Think of ERA like the pitcher’s version of Average, only this time, you want a lower one. Usually anything under 4 is good. Under 3 is elite.


In terms of valuing a pitcher, trust the WHIP more than the ERA. A lower WHIP eventually will help give you get a lower ERA. WHIP Stands for Walks plus Hits per Innings Pitched. WHIP shows a pitcher’s ability to keep players off bases. If a player isn’t on a base, he can’t score or be scored.

Power Plays

When selecting hitters, power always trumps speed. This is because a home run is able to score not only a RBI (Runs Batted In), but also a run. Yes, a batter gets credit for scoring himself into home. Speed on the other hand, only nets you 2 possible stats; runs and stolen bases and even then, it’s no guarantee you’ll get the run. And if you play in a league that has OPS, power will drag that stat along as well.

Don’t get caught up in the Closer hype

Closers are the Relief Pitchers that come in at the last inning to “close out” the game. They are awarded the Save if the winning score is no more than 3 runs, if they aren’t the winning pitching, and if they pitch at least a third of an inning. There are some other parts of the rule, but this gives you a general gist of it. The position is incredibly over hyped as Closers are the most volatile position in the game, often losing their job for little reason. For this reason, it is an incredibly bad idea to draft them before you get your hitters and Starting Pitchers situated first. Chances are, you can always find a new Closer later in the year.

3 pieces of crap players do not equal 1 really good player

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This is dealing with trades with another team. I know, I know, you want to make up your piss poor draft by getting a great player and the only way to do that is to trade quantity for quality. The problem is that doesn’t work and it will insult your trade partner. Try to get a trade close to even. Look to what they could use and trade that if you have an excess of it. If not, then go to another team that has a need you can provide.

At the same time, don’t let someone swindle you with their bunch of pieces of crap for your first rounder. Even if they say it’s a win-win deal for you both. Even if they say that so and so player is going to be really good. Do some research or ask a second opinion in the league first. People are always looking for a way to get ahead in this game and some times they can be devious and skeevy.

Learn the names of players

This one is a longer goal to do, but it will seriously help. Read articles on sites like ESPN, Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, or even Overtime Network. Listen to podcasts and watch games. I highly recommend getting an MLB.TV account as it is a great deal for the amount of games you get. Just start to learn the names and values of players and it’ll make everything so much easier.

Don’t get seduced by prospects


They look all new a shiny and you feel like an expert scout or Billy Beane (you don’t know him? Forget it, you’re not ready yet), but trust me, just leave prospects be for now. Unless you are entering a keeper or dynasty league, you shouldn’t worry about the young up and comers too much. They rarely pan out as well as their draft value would indicate. Unless you’re picking one to stick it to a league mate, just go for the players with proven track records (aka players that have a full year or more of stats behind them).


Trash talk

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Sometimes you don’t even need to know what you’re trash talking about. I had a friend who knew nothing about baseball, but would talk crap to my league about things like the severity of an abdominal injury for Ryan Zimmerman. People would get mad, but at the end of the day, it’s all just fun and games. Be prepared to take a lot your first year, but find the time to dish some back out.

15 Day DL does not mean 15 Days

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DL stands for Disabled List (not down low). It is for whenever a player is injured and the MLB team wants to not have that player take up a spot on the active roster. MLB likes to use 3 different types of DL: 7 Day, 15 Day, and 60 Day. 7 Day is usually reserved for concussions. 15 and 60 are used for injuries that last longer. A player can be retroactively placed on a disabled list no more than 10 days.

The days described DO NOT mean the player will be out only for those days, but that the player has to stay out for AT LEAST those many days. He most likely will be out longer, but check on the injury to be sure. Most fantasy leagues only have 1 or 2 DL spots for injured players. If you have more injured players, you might want to see if an injured player is worth holding on to for that period of time.

Have Fun

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Don’t take it too seriously and don’t panic. Especially don’t panic if your Ace pitcher goes down with some season ending injury. Just roll with the punches and remember that it’s your first year. No one has much expectations from you. Which sounds bad, but can be good for staying under the radar and making moves.