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While Grey and I are usually around (more Grey than me) to answer pre-draft and post-draft questions, we don’t have a solution just yet for inter-draft questions.

As we wait for the first prototype of our Razzball helmet that allows us to help call the plays for our readers, here are some tips that will allow you to call audibles like Peyton Manning. (Look slig me, Doc, I’m makin’ football analogies!)

I’m in the middle of a draft and I’m somewhat to completely set at a position BUT I can’t believe this hitter is still available.  Should I draft him and 1) Fill CI, MI, or UTIL earlier in the draft than expected  and/or 2) Draft him to set up a pre-season trade?

Generally no on #1.  Always “No” on #2.

I’ll start with the answer to #2.  NEVER draft thinking you’ll be able to trade anyone for close to face value.  Two simple reasons:  1) Everyone is in wanderlust with their team after the draft and generally overvalue most players on their roster and 2) If they valued this player nearly as much as you, then he wouldn’t have dropped as far in the draft!

For #1, I’d only do this if the player is clearly the best hitter on the board with slight consideration for position scarcity.  If you drafted Pujols in the 1st round and inexplicably Adrian Gonzalez still available in the 4th round, then sure.  But I’m pretty confident that the 2B, SS, or 3B you have your eyes on isn’t by far the best hitter out there.  I’m supremely confident if you’re eying a Catcher.  But even if they are slightly better than a player at another position, I’d draft the other guy.  Why?  Better roster flexibility throughout the draft – you ALWAYS want the best values and filling up one position and being scarce in another prevents this – and if the league is undervaluing this position early (based on your valuation), then they probably will undervalue it late in the draft too.

Same as above but it’s a pitcher.

You’re not going to get good trade value from a starting pitcher and if you’ve already got a couple of top SPs, that next one will have less incremental value for you.  You obviously value pitchers more than your league mates and will have no problem drafting 5-6 SPs you like spread out throughout the draft that’ll better maximize value and draft flexibility.

Relievers are the exception to the rule.  They are the only players that have fair trade value given their scarcity.  Nothing wrong with stocking up on saves in April/May and then trading a closer when a good deal can be had.   But I can’t see any reason to draft more than 2 closers in the first 10 rounds – even if a top closer is still hanging around by the 9th/10th.

How do I factor upside into my draft choices?

Sprinkle it in throughout the draft and take more risks later in the draft.

For those who read this blog religiously (which must suck for our Jewish readership as our content must be even more nonsensical when read right to left), you may know that Grey has a perpetual boner (RIP btw) for upside while I’m a bit more conservative.  Here’s why….

You have to realize that ‘upside’ is factored into legitimate projections (CHONE, ZiPs, PECOTA, Marcel) and that the chances of performing above these projections is about the same as performing below these projections.  So ‘upside’ is a sunny word for risk and drafting on ‘upside’ (vs. projected results which represents their ‘average’ statistical outcome) generally means you are reaching for that player.

It’s best to balance ‘upside’ players with more dependable players so you’re getting the most value out of every draft pick and minimizing risk.  I remember seeing a 2009 AL expert draft last year where someone drafted Liriano, David Price, and Chamberlain as 3 of his top 4 starters.  That was nothing more than pitcher roulette in my eyes and they obviously didn’t hit their number.

But towards the end of the draft, upside is great because the ‘dependable’ players aren’t much better than the players available on the free agent wire.  So you might as well take a shot on someone sexy in the hopes they overdeliver knowing you can fall back on a dependable player via free agency.

You play it too safe, Rudy.  Flexibility.  Manage risk.   Blech.  Screw your mutual fund approach. I want to play the stock market.  Any recommendations?

While I think maximizing draft value is the best chance of winning a league, I admire someone who’s willing to roll the dice.  Gamble is my last name.

If you want to gamble by taking a lot of young ‘upside’ picks, go ahead.  It could work but I highly doubt it.

If you think you’re great at finding pitching bargains, go right ahead and wait until the 10th round or so to draft pitchers.  Just realize that there will definitely be at least 1-2 drafters in your league already deploying that strategy which makes it tougher to win with this gambit (because of the increased competition for early hitters/late pitchers).

My gambit of choice would be to draft 2 pitchers in the 3rd-5th rounds – hopefully snagging 2 of the top 5 or 6 starters before an inevitable starting pitching run occurs.  In the next 5 rounds, get 2 premium closers and another SP.  Get at least two more closers before the end of the draft and some pitchers with solid Wins and K numbers.  The intent is to finish near the top in all 5 pitching categories.

While hitters are generally valued higher than pitchers, it is tougher to find hitter values but they are there.  I’d punt Catcher since you’re paying a premium for position scarcity and you want to focus on raw numbers to balance your pitcher-heavy draft.  I’d punt both 2B and SS until at least the double-digit rounds as there are much better values to be had later in the draft.   Throughout the draft, concentrate on everyday hitters with a likely shot of hitting 1st through 5th in the lineup – it doesn’t matter if they are on a bad team.  The reason for focusing on lineup position is that they are solid bets for 160+ Runs and RBIs.   Since power-speed players generally come at premiums,  mix and match hitters who come undervalued because they are particularly weak in a dimension – e.g., Adam Dunn (average) and Michael Bourn (power).  As the season goes on, trade closers to improve offensive numbers.

Will this strategy work?  Yeah, some of the time.  I wouldn’t recommend it over a more balanced draft but if it was a sure thing, they wouldn’t call it gambling…

64 Responses

  1. Steve says:
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    Great job Rudy. This is really useful stuff – just the sort of stuff you need to be armed with.
    You’ve got a much better chance of making a good decision on the fly if you’re not trying to come up with the reasoning for it at the same time!

  2. Luke Bavarious says:
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    Long time listener, first time caller.

    Just wanted to get some expert thoughts on my 10 team NL only H2H draft from last night, any and all advice is welcome, strengths, weaknesses, etc.

    5×5 + K’s and errors for hitters, HR allowed and K/9 for pitchers.

    C: Soto (Ianetta)
    1B: Howard
    2B: Kelly Johnson (Desmond)
    SS: AEscobar
    3B: Zimmerman
    OF: Pence, CGonzalez, Bruce (Fowler)
    Util: Morgan, Glaus
    SP: Wainwright, Kershaw, Sanchez, Bailey, Latos, Chapman (Sean Marshall (yes, really))
    RP: Qualls, Capps (Dotel)

    Bench players in parentheses.

    A few of my own thoughts….

    I feel like I’m missing another power hitter and am hoping an alligator bites off Guzman’s arm while they are at spring training in Florida so I don’t have to play Kelly Johnson.

    Ianetta was the best power hitter available and I don’t have a ton of trust in either Ianetta or Soto but like the upside.

    There are literally no pitchers (SP or RP) available in FA (I’m talkin paulino/mcClellan/Lindstrom) , which is why I haven’t filled out my bench with SPs yet. Any deep, deep, deep sleepers at SP that I should look out for?

    I apologize that I have failed in acquiring Ian Stewart, but someone jumped way up to take him.

    Hit me with some knowledge, por favor.

    Thanks

  3. TheQuestforMerlin says:
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    I think I unwittingly channeled an inner ‘Rudy Gamble’ for my RCL draft (pick 8/12):

    C. Mike Napoli (16)
    1B. Joey Votto (3)
    2B. Aaron Hill (7)
    3B. Evan Longoria (1)
    SS. Alcides Escobar (14)
    MI. Kelly Johnson (20)
    CI. Michael Cuddyer (12)
    OF. Matt Holliday (2)
    OF. Torii Hunter (8)
    OF. Nate McLouth (10)
    OF. Dexter Fowler (13)
    OF. Conor Jackson (21)
    UTIL. Miguel Tejada (22)
    Bench. Pedro Alvarez (24)
    Bench. Sean Rodriguez (25)

    SP. Justin Verlander (4)
    SP. Johan Santana (5)
    SP. Scott Kazmir (15)
    SP. Ervin Santana (17)
    SP. Matt Latos (19)
    SP. Brandon Morrow (23)
    RP. Jonathan Broxton (6)
    RP. Francisco Rodriguez (9)
    RP. Huston Street (11)
    RP. Brandon Lyon (18)

    With most RCLers in my league (those scoundrels) drafting hitting and ‘pairs’ I decided to draft pitching a little early (especially closers, surprisingly) and then go for pitching upside late. I’m a little concerned with HR’s and power…

    Oh, and Conor Jackson… what do you reckon to his potential to (mini) breakout?

  4. Thanks Rudy, very helpful stuff. How would you adjust your formula (2 of the top 5/6 starters in the 3rd-5th Rounds, then 2 premium closers + another SP in the next 5 rounds,…then at least two more closers & some Win&K pitchers before its over); for a small 10 team League? & would a H2H format also follow this template?

  5. ichirosan says:
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    I know you hate Crapolanco with a passion, but… would you trade Jorge Cantú for him in a 20-man league where your other options are Kaz Matsui, Chris Getz, Akinori Iwamura, Luis Castillo, and the chance Ian Desmond wins a starting job?

  6. Cheese

    Cheese says:
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    What do you expect from Conor Jackson this season? He’s not in the top 300, but I think he should be. He’ll probably bat 2nd between Drew and Upton, and he should put up solid numbers across the board for a late round flier. Sure, you want upside late in the draft, but if the upside doesn’t look too great, why not draft him? I have him projected at about 85/15/75/.300/10. That’s pretty decent, and he played well in the Dominican Republic league.

  7. matthole says:
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    awesome insight. You mentioned you’d take Adgonz at CI if he fell to rd 4. Which other 1B and 3B would make the exception for and which rd (presume 4th?)….ie: joey votto be a guy youd take at CI if you took 1B in rd1? or morneau?

    Thanks

  8. AdamK says:
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    nicely done. so, anyone going to draft M Reynolds, Ian Stewart and Chris Davis?

  9. matthole says:
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    Also, same rules for BRAN strategy apply in 2K10 or any modifications? Would you still punt MI till teen rds? or would you take reyes or rollins in rd3 or any ped/cano/phillips in rd4/5? Thanks again

  10. ThePoonTycoon says:
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    @matthole: doubt i’d think about jumping on a MI as early as a CI. but part of that is that i normally play for the power stats early, and not many CIs help out much there. also, i am keeping rollins in one keeper league simply because the thought of SSs after the top 4 makes me ill, but i’m also kinda worried about him this year. if you draft hanley in the 1st, i wouldn’t take another SS until late for CI purposes. if you draft utley in the 1st, i would maybe consider cano or phillips if they fell far enough (not a pedroia fan), but i’d imagine there is an OF or something out there that can give you better than cano’s or phillips’ numbers. i’d be watching for brian roberts to fall into the 6th or 7th round, he gets forgotten about and gives you good numbers all around and would provide good value aorund those rounds.

    @matthole: i’d probably consider taking them if they are there in the 5th or 6th rounds. i think it all comes down to value though. if you are looking at the guys available and you feel like you’d be reaching for a 2B or whatever and would prefer to wait 4 or 5 more rounds before drafting someone else, you think votto or morneau is clearly the best pick on the board, then go for it. i’ve filled a util spot early simply because i wasn’t thrilled with the value of the options on the board at the positions i needed, so i took the value pick at the util spot and waited for for value at the other positions later. you just gotta play it by how you feel when your pick rolls around.

  11. ThePoonTycoon says:
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    i guess basically when it comes to filling UTIL/CI/MI roles, if the best hitter on the board (regardless of position) happens to be at a position i’ve already filled, then i’ll take them as a UTIL/CI/MI guy. otherwise, it’s tough to pass up on a better fantasy hitter at a position you haven’t filled in order to chase a util guy because you perceive him to be good value due to his normal position scarcity (position scarcity plays a much lesser role once you fill that position).

  12. matthole says:
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    @ThePoonTycoon: I think you misread my first post. Also, 1B IS a power position…..

  13. Frank Rizzo says:
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    Good questions to ask/answer Rudy. This is the stuff running through my mind predraft and during mocks right now.
    -I did a mock last night and tried something different. It was just a mock so I was messing around……10 team and I had pick 9. I took D Wright and Longoria in the 1st/2nd. Somehow A Gonz made it back to me so I took him in the 3rd. Then, for the hell of it, I took Youkilis. I still ended with a solid team imo getting Asdrubal at SS and I Stewart at 2b. I just thought it was interesting for a couple reasons. There’s major scarcity at 3b this year and in a 10 team league, you can afford to toy around some. Is this a horrible idea? After grabbing so much IF power in that draft I took speed in the OF. Guys like Borbon and R Davis.

  14. ThePoonTycoon says:
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    @matthole: i was responding to “Would you still punt MI till teen rds? or would you take reyes or rollins in rd3 or any ped/cano/phillips in rd4/5? Thanks again”. i didn’t go back and pay attention to a previous post.

    like i said, i think if the best fantasy hitter on the baord, regardless of position, happens to be a guy at a position you have already filed, then i wouldn’t hesitate to fill the util spot. the likelihood of that being a 2B or SS not named hanley or chase until way later in the draft is pretty slim, thus i would imagine you’d be far more likely to fill a CI spot early than a MI spot if you stick to that reasoning.

  15. @TheQuestforMerlin: I think you’ve got an interesting squad there. Verlander/Santana is a great 1-2. Very good ‘pen. Longoria/Holliday/Votto is a nice haul for the first 3 rounds. And you’re not lacking for speed.

    I’d ditch Alvarez at this point and pick up a 6th OF that you can rotate into the lineup.

    As for CoJo, I think he’s a solid 5th OF for 12-team. He won’t be great in any one category but can put up .285/80/15/80/10.

    @Luke Bavarious: Your team looks pretty loaded for 10-team NL only. You should be fine on power. Your AVG may have issues (Howard, Bruce) but i don’t worry about AVG quite as much for H2H.

    The pitching staff looks pretty good – strong on K’s but a little too young/risky for my taste. I would’ve liked at least one veteran starter in the top 3. I can’t think of any deep NL sleepers off the top of my head – my NL draft is coming up though so i’ll be on it soon. I assume Medlen is taken, right? Clayton Richard? Bumgarner? Hammel? Kennedy? Stults on LA?

  16. matthole says:
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    @ThePoonTycoon: Then you also misread the second post :)

    I was asking about his BRAN strategy; not about drafting multiple MI’s in the early rds, etc…

    asking if he’d punt MI’s altogether till mid rds (not drafting 2, but 1)

  17. CoreyII says:
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    Here is a draft strategy question for everyone. H2H Keeper league, all 5 of my keepers are hitters (spread throughout the draft). I’ve also traded a lot of my draft picks away during my playoff push last season, so I will end up with a lot of scrubs in the last rounds and in free agency.

    So – the question is – do I make sure to finish building my offense w/ my remaining draft picks and make sure I have a dominant lineup thus leaving my pitching to late round risks (basically forcing me to stream SPs all year in an attempt to win Ks and Ws), or do I try to build some semblance of a rotation leaving both my offense and my pitching fairly weak?

  18. @Steve: Thanks!

    @zombie: In a 10-team league, you probably need to be more aggressive – acquiring 4 SPs in the first 12 rounds and trying to get 5 closers. The downside is people will get good SPs in lower rounds b/c there is more supply than demand. The upside is that there is enough offense to pick up throughout the draft. Again, I recommend going w/ a balanced draft so use this riskier strategy at your own peril.

    For H2H, don’t do it. Pitching is hard to bank on for weekly stats. My advice for H2H would be to punt SBs and focus on the other 4 offensive categories. SBs are streaky and it’s tougher to depend on Ellsbury or Bourn stealing 2-3 SBs than a middle of the lineup guy give you 5+ Runs and RBIs.

    @ichirosan: Grey hates Crapolanco. I like him a bit more IF he hits #2 for the Phillies where he’ll get 90+ Runs. In a 20-team league, Cantu and Polanco have about the same value. Okay to swap.

    @matthole: I can’t see taking two 3Bs. I think A-Gonz/Votto/Morneau are top 50 picks. So perhaps if they are still available when drafting in the 5th round of a 12-team league I’d be willing to grab one even if I had a 1B.

    @AdamK: I probably would only want one per team but yes on all three at the right price.

    @matthole: BRAN still applies. I wouldn’t punt 2B/SS but I’d probably only take one of the two in the first 9 rounds and would NOT fill the MI slot.

    @Frank Rizzo: If I had Wright in the 1st round, no way I take Longoria in the 2nd round over Howard, Fielder, Miggy or M-Teix. If they are gone, I imagine Kemp, Holliday, or Crawford are still there. I’d even grab Kinsler before another 3B. It’s not that it couldn’t work….it’s just that there’s enough 3Bs to go around for 10-team that no one’s going to give you a premium for Longo or Youk so why stock up?

  19. Frank Rizzo says:
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    @Rudy Gamble: Thanks, and I’m sure you’re right. Is that the order you’d take those 1b’s in if you already had Wright after the 1st round? Howard/Fielder/Miggy/Teix?

  20. @Frank Rizzo: Fielder / Howard / Miggy / M-Teix.

    @CoreyII: For H2H, I’d worry about offense and aim for pitcher depth vs. quality then play matchups…

  21. ThePoonTycoon says:
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    @Frank Rizzo:fielder, teixiera, howard, cabrera

  22. matthole says:
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    @Rudy Gamble: Thanks again

  23. mc serch says:
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    @Rudy Gamble: I have a question that is topical to drafting strategy. Does anyone know of a site which will calculate team projections? Meaning if I draft a squad (or am in the process of drafting a squad) I can plug in the players I’ve drafted and get a projected total for my team for each category. Then I can see if I need more steals, or more Ks or better WHIP etc. to meet the benchmarks I’ve established for each category. Anyone?
    Thanks!

  24. magicterp says:
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    Thanks Rudy, great stuff.
    Quick question – what is the typical inflation rate for going from mixed to NL-only in a 10-team auction league? Some say 10-15%, but in the mocks I’ve been seeing, the upper echelon of talent goes for maybe 20-25% more in NL-only’s.
    Thanks!

  25. matthole says:
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    @mc serch: im pretty sure they have that here in the war room

  26. Commish Cauda says:
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    I have a follow-up to the recent HOLDS article…

    I play in a deep 20-team salary cap, H2H-POINTS keeper league that counts holds for RPs. So middle relievers have value…especially those who have shots at the closer position

    We’re near the end of our slow, online draft righ. I’m was considering Brandon League, but with Nathan’s recent elbow problems, would I be better served taking Jon Rauch (Guerrier is already taken)?

  27. mc serch says:
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    @matthole: Thanks for the response but I lost the link to that War Room stuff awhile ago. Unfortunately, for me, who has never worked with spreadsheets, it was pretty to look at but basically unusable. I’d like a site that will allow me to simply plug in some names and get the projections totaled up. MDC does something like it when rank the teams who participated in a mock draft.

  28. @magicterp: auction leagues are hard to predict. it just takes one or two people to bid like crazy. my advice – never bid more than $40 and be wary of bidding above $20 unless you’re getting a bargain. my goal in single league auctions is to build depth throughout the team. but if i can get lincecum at a bargain, i’m taking it.

    the reason i love single league is there can be such a big difference at each position depending on how well you draft/manage. it’s tough in mixed-league when you draft a solid team and then you see similar players still in free agency. in single league, the only thing in free agency is 200 AB guys so having a 500 AB guy is a huge advantage.

    i’ve got an NL draft on wednesday. on friday, i’m aiming to have the draft results (it’s a snake draft though :() as well as NL-only point shares. I’ll have AL-only point shares up late next week (my AL-only draft is March 18th).

  29. Tony says:
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    @mc serch: i think all those “projections” are a joke. You just can’t account for what a player will REALLY do. You can project all you want, but guys without track records, The RYAN BRAUNS AND LONGORIAS of a few years ago can not be figured in….

    best thing you could do is use your own projections, or this sites, and take 30 minutes and just tally the stats…. using what MDC does can NOT be accurate.

  30. @mc serch: I don’t know a site that does it. I definitely recommend getting handy with spreadsheets. I had to do it originally for work but it makes tasks like this so easy. the key formulas are VLOOKUP and SUMIF….

    if you want an easier method, just use Point Shares. the advantage is that you can find out your team’s strengths/weaknesses without calculating the stats for the whole league…

  31. Jeff W. says:
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    All:

    Questions about my expected first few picks in my keeper draft — I pick #11 in a serpentine draft.

    FYIs:

    -12 teams, mixed, 25-man roster with C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, IF, LF, RF, CF, OF, UTIL, 1500 IP, 3 DL slots)

    -7×6 roto scoring including OBP, SLG, and HLD.

    -90 players are already off the board with keeper picks; you can keep a player for up to 3 more years after you draft them.

    -I kept 5 power bats with very little speed (Longoria, Dunn, Lind, Bruce, Panda) 1 multi-category OF (Pence) and 2 SP — Wainwright and Hanson.

    -I still need SS and 2B, and feel the need for speed, Maverick.

    Round 1 (pick 11):
    Cole Hamels, Ubaldo Jimenez, or John Palpelbon?

    (I like Hamels, but wonder if Jimenez will be better for the next 4 years.)

    Round 2 (pick 20 — after a supplemental round):
    Elvis Andrus, Dexter Fowler, Nyjer Morgan?

    (I like Fowler, but fear that he will miss playing time; I like Andrus, but fear the BA; I like Morgan, but he gives no power at all and isn’t a good long-term play.)

    Round 3 (pick 41):
    Best Closer, Rickie Weeks, or Ian Stewart?

    (I will really need a closer, but I really want to fill that 2B slot, and I think these might be the last 2 potentially great 2B available.)

    Round 4 (pick 44):
    Who knows . . . speedy OF? best remaining RP? SP?

    Any constructive thoughts are welcome — I’m particularly interested in this year, but have an eye to player productivity over the next 2-4 years.

    Thanks!
    -JW

  32. Eric H. says:
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    @Rudy: I pick 11th in a 12-team 5×5 ML. We start 1 C, 1 UTIL, no MI and no CI. How early would you grab SPs in that format? Still 2 in the first 10 rounds? Would you still punt SS and 2B until late? Thanks.

  33. Nate Marcum says:
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    @mc serch: Once BaseballMonster.com loads their updated projections, they have a pretty nice user friendly set-up. I love the war room, but I only have Excel Viewer on my computer.

    I will let the commenters and others know when I see that the site has updated.

  34. Nate Marcum says:
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    I should have checked the site before I commented…the new projections are up. I would use that as a baseline with Grey’s projections as your final decision makers.

  35. @Tony: i disagree with you a bit re: projections. the creators of those systems will admit that they are less accurate for rookies. While rookie success tends to follow AA and/or AAA success, there are cases where guys seem destined and then fail. Think of all those awesome years Brandon Wood put up. Reminds me as a Yankee fan of Hensley Meulens.

    I highly encourage drafting high upside rookie hitters who have a path towards a starting position. Braun, Longoria, and Dread Pirate are good examples. But there’s a much higher risk factor in here given they haven’t hit MLB pitching and might be kept down b/c of $$$ reasons.

    My one word of caution is don’t overpay for a rookie expecting great success. Wieters in 2009 is a solid example. But once you get past about 150 drafted players, all rules are off assuming you’ve got the bench space in case you have to wait. I especially encourage this in single-league drafts – I scored last year with McCutchen and got some nice payoffs on Jake Fox and would’ve on Happ if I didn’t drop him (ugh!)

  36. Baron Von Vulturewins

    Baron Von Vulturewins says:
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    Great article, Rudy. I’m planning to hew much closer to BRAN this year after getting burned w/ MIs early last year.

    Yeah, I said “hew.”

  37. GTS says:
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    Rudy – have you checked out Baseball Prospectus’ Player Forecast Manager? Have you compared the results to your Point Share system? I’m wondering how they match up. Also, do you find value with BP’s PFM system?

  38. Tony says:
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    @Rudy Gamble: i’d like to see a years end review of some of “their projections and rankings” compared to what really ends up….

  39. brett says:
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    @Tony: @Rudy Gamble: I dislike relying on projections for a few reasons. While they’re fine for what they are, projections can’t account for breakout seasons, injuries or most importantly for me: IN SEASON TRANSACTIONS.

    I’d rather have a team that’s low on projected value with a few key sleepers because i can always go to the waiver wire and add projected value if my sleepers don’t pan out. And if they do, i’m higher than projected value would have placed me to begin with.

    I also struggle with justifying paying for projected value when it comes to assembling a rotation. There’s so much that can be gained from playing matchups and adding starters in season that it seems almost foolish to aim at certain totals on draft day. Because of this, I’m ranked near the bottom of ever conventional draft projection, almost all the time. But i’m okay with that.

  40. brett says:
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    I guess in conclusion i focus on high projections when assembling the core of my team but i never to try to round out my team by having the optimal projected totals in every category. Seems like a way of limiting your ceiling.

  41. @Baron Von Vulturewins: coolio.

    @GTS: i have played around with baseball prospectus’ player forecast manager as i use it to download PA/AB for hitters and IP for pitchers.

    I don’t use any BP projected stats anymore after I’ve seen tests where CHONE and ZiPS are more accurate. Plus, CHONE and ZiPS are free.

    I just did a 12-team MLB league on their system and I’m not liking the results – though not sure if it’s their projections or $ methodology. They’ve got a few things to fiddle with position value though i’m not sure what that does. but on the default level, Dustin Pedroia is the 10th most valuable hitter at $31. I have him at $17. They’ve got Braun at #1 at $47 followed by Hanley at $46 and Pujols at $42. I have Pujols at $38 and Hanley and Braun at $35.

    The biggest different may be that their system forces a hitter/pitcher split at 180/80. I don’t have a split. I just base the values on their points contribution. So that split juices up the hitter values to where they potentially may be at an auction but not their true value. So I have Cano at $14, they have him at $21. His true value in my eyes is $14. I might go over b/c i think he has upside or is ‘safer’ than other options but will let him go if he gets anywher near $21.

    Then again, 12 team MLB auctions are a little funky anyway. It works better in single leagues…or at least a deeper MLB format

  42. GTS says:
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    @Rudy Gamble: Thanks for the info!

  43. @brett: i think that’s sound. there are no prizes for drafting the best ‘projected’ team. as i said in the post, upside over ‘safe’ becomes increasingly attractive as you get lower in the draft – especially in shallow leagues where you can always grab a crapolanco off waivers. in deep leagues, you do need a couple ‘breakouts’ but the more ‘upside’ vs. safe bets, the more cases where the breakouts even out with the busts….sometimes the safe bargain is worth it…

  44. mc serch says:
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    @Tony: yeah, i totally agree about projections in general and I do use grey’s projections while drafting. Adding them up longhand as a draft is in progress is tough though…thanks.

  45. mc serch says:
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    @Nate Marcum: OK will check it out…thanks!

  46. brett says:
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    @Rudy Gamble: Agreed completely. I’m a fan of risk aversion in general but i don’t have use for a bunch of 70-18-70-.275-5 lines on my roster.

    Even if they are good value late in the draft, i’d rather use that roster spot to play the hot hand, spot-start a matchup, or take a gamble on a newly recalled prospect. Especially in leagues with unlimited transactions. The more middling talent that ties down my roster flexibility the worse off i feel.

  47. mc serch says:
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    @Rudy Gamble: Yeah I know i’m well behind the technology curve on this one (as well as many other issues, as my associate never fails to advise me)…and thanks for all your hard work, Rudy, we all really appreciate it.

  48. brett says:
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    @mc serch: Yeah, definitely worth it to give the war room a shot. It might take a couple hours to get the hang of, but i have a feeling it’s exactly what you’re looking for. And spreadsheets are sweet.

  49. Cain Fan says:
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    @Rudy Gamble:

    Would love to hear your insight on my squad. I too drafted in RCL 8 last night w. merlin. I am much more similar to you in my approach than Rudy in terms of safe older guys except I wait on SP typically. Any way, do you see any weaknesses?

    C-V. Martinez
    1B-Howard
    2B-F. Lopez (will prob drop for another 2B)
    SS-E. Cabrera
    3B-Wright
    MI-Hardy
    CI-Youkilis
    OF-Werth
    OF-C. Lee
    OF-Borbon
    OF-Rasmus
    OF-JD Drew
    UT-N. Johnson
    BN-Swisher

    SP-Cain
    SP-Peavy
    SP-Baker
    SP-Garza
    SP-Burnett
    SP-Zambrano
    RP-Hoffman
    RP-Francisco
    RP-Jenks
    RP-Capps
    RP-Gregerson

  50. Cain Fan says:
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    EDIT: more similar to you in my approach than GREY. . .

  51. Tony says:
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    @brett: Yeah alot of what you said was my thinking as well, i just didn’t state it as clearly.

  52. Stephen says:
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    @TheQuestforMerlin: You’re in my league. Don’t give away any of our secrets.

  53. Stephen says:
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    @TheQuestforMerlin: You’re in my league, don’t give away our secrets.

  54. Euroalien says:
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    Rudy/Grey….. what do you project as stats & prospects for David Freese and Connor Jackson……. neither made the Top 300 but they are being touted as late round “sleepers”. Love all the pre-season draft advice – for once I feel on top of stuff heading into my draft.

  55. Luke Bavarious says:
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    @Rudy Gamble

    Ya, I kind of threw caution to the wind on AVG. and went for upside in the pitchers.

    I wanted Tim Hudson, but he was taken one pick before mine and I had to start to scramble.

    Richard, Bumgarner, Kennedy were all drafted.

    Hammel looks to be worth a look, does Medlen have a spot in the rotation though?

    Worth dropping anyone for either of them?

    Thanks

  56. Luke Bavarious says:
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    @Rudy

    Wow I just took a closer look at Hammel and I’m impressed. I will def pick him up as soon as the waiver period ends. Who should I drop for him though? Marshall, I’m guessing?

  57. @Luke Bavarious: yeah on marshall. just a heads-up though….i’ve got hammel on the 20 risky pitcher list that’ll be going up later this week but he’s worth picking up over marshall. i like medlen a lot – he’ll start the year in the ‘pen and is really strong on K’s. will likely start some games at some point.

  58. Awesomus Maximus

    Awesomus Maximus says:
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    Just curious if your answer to the “… draft him to set up a pre-season trade?” question in the article changes if you’re in an auction draft, especially focusing on the “Same as above but it’s a pitcher.” addendum. In my experience, almost every player that would be a first round pick in a “snake” auction goes for much more than what I would consider “good” value ($40s, sometimes $50s).

    For the manager who ends up taking one of these guys, this overspending handicaps the rest of his draft. For the manager who DOESN’T take one of these guys, he’s probably going to be short on offense in some capacity, since you basically NEED a first-round bat to hit the projections you’ll need to win your league.

    My thinking is, the best way to get a first round bat without paying for it at auction is to acquire a surplus of SP talent, since that is where the best values/deals will be, and this is where those handicapped managers will realize they’ve fallen short after the draft. For example, in a league where I employed this draft strategy, I just traded Votto/Johan (paid $20/$17) for Pujols/Blanton (other guy paid $44/$1). Essentially, I paid $36 for Pujols this way (if you assume Blanton would have gone for $1, which he always does). Ignoring whether or not I got the better end of the trade (which I believe I did, obviously), but I almost NEVER see Pujols go for under $41… so at the very least, I got him at a great price. The two factors that allowed me to do this were 1.) the manager who owned Pujols desperately needed solid SP and 2.) I stocked up at SP, so I still have F-Her, Ubaldo, Hamels, Burnett and Nolasco… losing Johan isn’t a loss.

    Does this makes sense or am I out of my gourd?

  59. AL KOHOLIC says:
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    going on now,hudson 3 inn. 3 hit 3 k,s 1 run,scherzer 1 third inning 4 hit 3 walks 5 runs and no k,s,its only preseason but

  60. Luke Bavarious says:
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    @Rudy

    Ah, I see. Thanks for the heads up. Last year I was good at avoiding the mines in the risky pitcher segment (drafted Vazquez, Greinke, Baker), and I think with how deep my league is, it’s still worth taking the chance on him cause it’s just a desert wasteland in FA. The fact his FIP was below 4 is enough for me to throw a party.

    I was definitely watching medlen last year and will grab him this year if he gets another chance.

    At this point I’m also watching the Cards #5 situation and the Marlins young guys like a hawk.

    Do you have any hope for any of those guys (Garcia/McClellan/Hill) or (Volstad/West/Miller)?

    I’m especially interested in the Cards guys because if one of them wins the job and starts off hot I can deal him to somebody (all Cards fans league).

  61. TheQuestforMerlin says:
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    @Cain Fan: I don’t know if i’m ‘best’ placed to offer objective insight however, my thoughts: You have the ideal 1/2 rnd picks, Wright and Howard. And you snuck in with some picks I was hoping would fall to me (C. Lee, Burnett and Zambrano). Nice offensive balance, short on flashy upside but ultimately solid. I don’t know if Youk was great value in the 3rd, but I can’t remember who else was available. 4 closers = great although they’re a mixed bag (SAGNOF in any case) and you have a nice 1/2 starting pitching punch. Not a big fan of Baker and Garza however.

    I predict you will finish at best, in 2nd place. ;-)

    @Stephen: RCL 8 (The Extroadinary League of Gentlemen) for the win!

    @Rudy Gamble: Cheers for the comments! Yeah, I do need another hitter, I could rotate Cuddyer in the OF spot, but then i’d need a CI. I’m going to watch for a ‘Lind-type’ breakout from someone this year hopefully. I’m interested to follow Alvarez in spring at least, see where he ends up and how he performs. I just have one of those gut feelings about him being an above average contributor right away when (if) he gets the shot. We’ll see…

  62. J Matthews says:
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    @mc search

    I have an Excel application available on Google Docs if you wanted to check it out. Ideally, there are a couple of things to setup, but you could get by with just typing in player’s names and see your team totals if that’s what you’re after.

    For anyone else interested, it’s simply a draft tracker at this point in time. There isn’t a ranked list of players or anything, you simply enter your league’s setup, and then you type in each player as they are drafted, and you will get the up-to-date standings (either aggregate or average, switched whenever you want) for your league. I have CHONE and ESPN projections loaded into it, or you can enter your own set (or optionally use mine as a 3rd set). These can be switched back and forth at will.

    You can track up to 16 teams, up to 18 batters and 14 pitchers (positions can be selected for ease of use), and stat-wise you can select up to a 10×10 league from the following categories…

    R, HR, RBI, SB, AVG, OBP, SLG, OPS, H, XBH, 1B, 2B, 3B, BB, K, CS, NSB

    W, SV, K, ERA, WHIP, QS, HD, SV+HD, BAA, OBA, BB, K/9, BB/9, K/BB, IP

    Pretty sure I’ve fixed any bugs as I’ve played around with it, but no 100% guarantees (I also don’t know how it runs with older versions of Excel), but if anyone wants to check it out to see if it would be helpful, let me know. I could see some advantages/disadvantages compared to the War Room depending on what you’re looking for.

    I don’t want to post anything without Rudy’s (or Grey’s) permission, so if he wants to chime in (or take a look at it first), I’ll wait before posting an email address or whatever would be appropriate.

  63. Cain Fan says:
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    @merlin- yeah i tend to err on the side of safe (reliable) over upside in 1 yr leagues. It tends to track well with success, I might miss out on 1-2 guys but in the end I can live with that. I actually took Youk in the 4th round, not a ton of difference since I was on the wrap but I didnt like anyone else and needed a solid contributor who had a high avg. With howard and werth, followed by my last round picks I knew I would be light on AVG. Maybe its a reach but when we have 3B and CI I will take the extra value. With Johnson and Swisher I am able to flip Youk if anyone is interested and still be able to fill in the CI slot.

    I think Garza is going to have a huge yr, check his peripherals from the past 2 yrs, sure he is in the AL East but hes a solid K producer and I got him at 107 (not too bad). I liked Baker’s upside and low WHIP, he allowed me to take Burnett and Zambrano who I got at a ridiculous discount. And yes I tend to SAGNOF also but when a closer is available at 227 I am going to grab them (especially with the risk of my others).

    I do appreciate the input though, should be a fun league. Looks like we have a bunch of knowledgeable guys to deal with.

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