A fantasy league draft is the official opening of the league, but dedicated owners should have already started their research for the 2012 season. It all starts with what kind of player is an owner's top priority. I personally draft two ace pitchers with my first two picks year in and year out.
Contrary to my childhood belief of hitting wins baseball games, pitching is the real bread and butter of World Series and fantasy baseball champions.
Who are the best pitchers after Justin Verlander? He was clearly the best pitcher and arguably the best player in baseball last season. This means, if you don't have the first pick, he'll be off of the board by time it's your selection.
The top five pitchers to select after Verlander are the Los Angeles Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw, the San Francisco Giants' Tim Lincecum, the Tampa Bay Rays' James Shields, and the Philadelphia Phillies' duo of Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. This list isn't in any type of order; each player has the same fantasy merit in my book.
All five of them had 200-plus strikeouts and ERAs of 2.82 or lower last season. Shields' 2.82 ERA was ninth in the league, but his 225 Ks gave him fifth best.
There is no way any of these six--counting Verlander--guys will still be available in the second round. With this said, research must be done to find out the next tier of ace pitchers to select.
The New York Yankees' CC Sabathia has a chance of still being on the board if the league isn't compiled of Yankees homers. His 230 strikeouts were fourth best in the league last season, but his 3.00 ERA brought him down the ranks.
Another go-to-guy at this point might be the Los Angeles Angels' Dan Haren, who threw 192 Ks, had a 3.17 ERA, and a league fifth-best WHIP of 1.02.
Fantasy baseball isn't a trend or something serious players do for an hour a week and then move on to something different. From the beginning to the end of the MLB season, a fantasy owner is a title to a 9-to-5 job.
It's the best 9-to-5 job a baseball fan will find because owners have to pay close attention to the MLB and get the opportunity to dominate a league full of friends and/or colleagues. When I say close, I mean intensely close.
If you have a left-handed pitcher who struggles against right-handed batters, don't start him against the Yankees or another solid right-handed hitting lineup.
Note: I have been a dedicated fantasy baseball owner since the 2007 season and plan to continue my domination for many decades to come by using the draft strategy of selecting two ace pitchers in the first and second round.