The Impact of Spring Training on Fantasy Baseball Drafts

Professional baseball players head to Florida or Arizona every year to play in spring training games. For fantasy baseball participants, this is a chance to see players in action before league drafts occur.

Even though the games are strictly exhibitions, the results of most are usually reported in local and national newspapers. Some games are even broadcast on radio, television and the Internet. Many fantasy owners pay attention to this and treat it as a reference point for their draft.

Certain aspects of spring training are in fact beneficial to fantasy draft preparation. However, there are also certain points about spring that fantasy owners should give little or no attention to. Below are some key pieces of advice about using spring training as a fantasy baseball draft research tool.

Ignore Spring Statistics
Many fantasy baseball owners make the mistake of drafting players based on a “good spring.” On the flip side, others might avoid perennial stars due to low spring production one year. Either way, a player’s spring statistics are generally not indicative of regular season potential.

Spring competition levels do not reflect that of the MLB regular season. Teams often use spring training games as a tryout for younger players or aging former stars. Also some veterans utilize these March games for practicing new approaches, such as a swing adjustment or new throwing motion.

Analyze New Position Performance
Certain veteran players will test out new defensive positions during spring training games. It is recommended that fantasy participants be aware of this. Potential owners of that player can benefit if he does add or switch positions.

A player usually gains additional fantasy position eligibility after playing at different spots in the regular season. Aside from this, more playing time can be earned by switching or moving positions in the field. Therefore, if this spring experiment is successful, that player becomes a more attractive option on draft day.

Avoid Rookies
Every year rookie sensations take the field in MLB spring training games. Chances are they have already received quite a bit of media attention due to expectations surrounding them. A few strong spring performances by a rookie will most likely create even more hype.

All of the fanfare might tempt fantasy owners into drafting first year players with a high pick, possibly even first round. When considering such a move, owners should remember that a rookie’s spring performance proves very little in terms of potential future success. Since they have not been tested by a rigorous 162 game MLB season, it is best to pass up rookies during the early rounds of a fantasy baseball draft.

Be Aware of Injuries
Starting lineups are announced for spring training games, just as they are in the regular season. Fantasy owners should watch for late scratches of key players due to injury. This may indicate that a player is hurt worse that what has been reported.

If a player was hurt in the previous season, missing scheduled spring starts could mean he is not completely healthy. Although managers will probably be overcautious about starting injured players in spring training, it is still important to monitor this. A fantasy owner does not want to be stuck with players on the disabled list, especially among top draft choices.