A Basic Primer to Roto Drafting

It’s every baseball nerd’s favorite time of year – Fantasy Baseball Season! I have done close to 15 mock and live roto drafts, and have found some notable things., both on the hitting and pitching side and I am excited to share them with you, in order to make you more successful come draft day. This article will be looking into rotisserie style leagues, so let’s get to it!

Rotisserie is probably the second most popular style of fantasy baseball, but certainly the one that takes on the most strategy. It uses 5×5 scoring – for offense, it scores batting average, homeruns, RBI, stolen bases, and runs, and for pitching, it scores ERA, WHIP, strikeouts, wins, and saves. The idea is to construct your team in a way that it can succeed in all five categories on both sides of the ball, though some times you’ll find owners waving the white flag on one category in order to be really good in another. You typically find rotisserie to be in a 10 or 12 team format, with the occasional 8 or 14 team style as well. Now that I’ve explained the basics of what a roto leageu is, let’s get into what i’ve learned.

Starting with hitters, you don’t have to worry about not drafting players who strikeout a ton, because in this specifc format, players aren’t penalized for striking. This bodes well specifically for power hitting corner infielders like Todd Frazier and Chris Davis, or power hitting outfielders like Mark Trumbo or Khris Davis, who are all guys who you can get in round 7 (do note, these guys will help in both homeruns and RBI, but are also highly likely to make that average category dip a lot). Moreover, if you aren’t able to get guys who are base stealers early, don’t freak out. There are guys in the middle to late rounds who can give you 20 or more steals like Jose Peraza (15th round ADP on Fantasy Pros), Elvis Andrus (16th round ADP), Keon Broxton (20th round ADP), or Ender Inciarte (20th round ADP).

It also seems like this year, the pitching is as deep as it has ever been. There are lots of steady, reliable, perennial top-5 pitcher types at the beginning on the draft (Kershaw, Scherzer, Bumgarner, Sale, etc.) but there is also a lot of very high upside talent late as well (Manaea, Rodon, Snell, Paxton), with a great mix of good, or even great relief pitchers (Jansen, Chapman, Britton, etc.) to balance them out in the middle of the draft. In roto formats, you really want to make sure to balance out your pitching by going with six starters and three relievers, or even five starters and four relievers. However, I have seen many owners decide to go with majority relievers to maximize output in the percentage categories (ERA and WHIP) to go along with their saves at the cost of being not so good at wins or strikeouts, or go with majority of starters to maximize the output in the wins and strikeouts categories. When it comes to relievers, don’t freak out if the big three relievers (Jansen, Chapman, Britton) are going earlier than you anticipated and you aren’t ready to draft relievers. There are lots of good relievers in rounds 8-12 that have the potential to be of better value, one of which I will get to in a little bit.

When preparing and doing your roto draft, make sure you share the love on your team with each category. Trying to stack one category doesn’t always do you well because you sacrifice doing well in another category. Take advantage of guys who hit dingers and strikeout a lot because strikeouts aren’t going to hurt you. There are plenty of option for steals late, as well as there being a ton of high-upside guys you can take that can put your team over the top.