One of the many perks of being a fantasy baseball blog with a modicum of popularity is the chance to play in expert leagues. For the 4th straight year, Razzball’s gunning for a LABR crown (3rd straight in the 15-team mixed league snake format) to put atop my afro’d head (Grey’s moustache is all the regality his noggin needs).
We finished far out of contention thanks to scoring less standings points than a majority of the teams. There is no way to explain a poor fantasy season without sounding whiny. My fingers are resisting the urge to write “wah” in parentheticals as I type this paragraph. Our draft was decent through six rounds – including Paul Goldschmidt in the 2nd and Pence in the 6th – but it is hard to compete when your pitching staff goes to he-double hockey sticks between draft day and May. Our SP3 through SP7 (Niese, Garza, Beckett, Estrada, Luebke) were either hurt, ineffective or ineffective because they were hurt. Our CL1 (Axford) lost his job before tax day and my man-crush on Berkman cost us (beyond the fact he did bupkus) as it took our CL2 down from the Cishek tier to deciding between Marmol and Bruce Rondon. Maybe this could be overcome in a shallower league or if our hitting was so amazing that we could trade some for pitching. That wasn’t the case though. Congratulations to Fred Zinkie of MLB.com who ended up lapping the field for the victory.
2014 Draft Strategy
Here were some learnings from 2013 that drove my 2014 drafting strategy:
- Get two top 20 closers. Spending precious FAAB on potential closers is costly and ineffective.
- SPs will get injured so draft in bulk.
- When in doubt, take the hitter with the better AVG (AVG struggles were a hallmark of almost all my teams last year)
- Do not get caught on the wrong end of a position ‘run’. If/when you do, select a different position. Have faith that there is depth at every position.
- Divide and conquer with Grey. I take our LABR team and he takes our Tout Wars team. We agree a lot more than we disagree on players and draft strategy…but we figured we might as well try something new to break the schneid.
One area of my ‘game’ that I changed in 2014 – inspired by Larry Schechter’s Winning Fantasy Baseball – was to better plot out my draft. Typically, I invest 99.9% of my time getting my projections/rankings/$ in order and let the draft take care of itself. Looking back, I think it was stupid/naïve to think I could just ‘draft on the fly’ in an expert league.
For this draft, I used the NFBC ADP data (which I think is the best ADP data out there when predicting snake drafts in competitive leagues) and mapped out round by round where I thought players would be drafted and my $ estimates for them (even though this is a snake draft, I prefer using $ vs a ranking to compare player values). This let me see how my values compared vs the ‘field’ and identify where the best bargains were at the various positions.
Based on having the 8th spot (our highest draft position in like 3 years of expert snake drafts!), I concluded that I could get a 1B/OF or OF/1B in the first two rounds at fair value and then had a good shot at a solid bat in the 3rd round (hoping for Upton, liking Bruce). After that, I would just look for the best value on the board while trying to maintain category balance throughout the draft so I could avoid being in a position where I had to reach to satisfy a need/weakness.
Below are the results of the draft. Here is a link to the full results.
|BE (OF)||Carlos Quentin||25.368|
|BE (C)||Ryan Doumit||27.398|
I am not going to bore you or me with a round-by-round analysis but here would be the highlights if I did it:
- Chris Davis vs Adam Jones vs Ryan Braun vs Robinson Cano – I considered all these players with the 8th pick. I quickly ruled out Cano because I did not feel confident I would get good value in the 2nd/3rd rounds on a 1B and OF. I concluded that there would definitely be a solid OF available in the 2nd round while there was a chance that all my top 2 round 1B targets (Davis, Fielder, Votto, EE, and Freeman) would be gone. So I went with Davis and I got my 2nd round OF target in Yasiel Puig. (Note: Freeman made it back it pick #22 and this had an impact on my next draft with KFFL where I also picked 8th.)
- My hopes for one of J-Up/Stanton/Bruce/Choo to fall to me in Round 3 were dashed. The only player left with a ‘2nd round’ grade was Jean Segura. Did I have a little agita with him because of his 2nd half swoon? Sure. But I also figured that the lack of SB options would lead to speed being overvalued in the next few rounds. Plus, Segura will be solid in the other 4 categories (for a SS) which cannot always be said for speed plays (cough – Billy Hamilton – cough).
- After an OF ‘run’ dashed my 3rd round selection, an SP ‘run’ in the 4th knocked off just about every desired SP target short of Jose Fernandez. I think he would have been a solid pick here but decided that Craig provided better value given his 1B/OF eligibility (taking the heat off picking a CI) and plus AVG/RBI.
- With just about every team in front of me having 1-2 SP, I felt comfortable skipping an SP in the 5th round to take the best closer on the board (Jansen), confident that it was much more likely I could get my SP target (Zimmerman) with my 6th pick versus Jansen (or Greg Holland) finding their way back to me. (This was true as Holland and Rosenthal went before my 6th pick and only one SP was taken).
- As I discussed in the Hit/Pitch split post, you can draft a Kershaw in the first round but still avoid drafting a team too heavily invested in pitching. Steve Gardner of USAToday drafted Kershaw with the 5th pick. I did not draft a pitcher until the 5th round (68th pick) in Kenley Jansen. Yet, when I added up our hit/pitch splits (using the $ figures from my 15-team auction values) associated with each of our picks, I found that our teams had similar hit/pitch investments (him 174/94, me 171/96…counting the first few bench spots). Granted, I drafted a few more pitchers than Steve but I found it funny that the perceptions of our two drafts were that Steve was the SP-crazy one while I waited all the way to the 6th round. If you like a player, draft him when you have to – Kershaw wasn’t make it back to Steve so he had to take him there. You just need to adjust your draft strategy in the picks following to get back on the hit/pitch pace you decided on before the draft. (I ended up going 3 SPs between the 6th and 9th rounds to bolster the lack of an ‘ace’).
- My biggest post-draft regret was my 1st catcher position. I like to punt catching in drafts but Yadier Molina in the 7th round provided solid value. I think Gyorko is the more valuable player but I think there were more 2B bargains later in the draft than Catchers. I did not get the memo that Josmil Pinto will likely not start the year in Minnesota – which will mean I will regret this pick through June or will be super lucky when he starts the year in Twinstripes. No idea how much Doumit plays but I can always dump him for a replacement-level catcher. I don’t mind AJ Ellis at all as a 2nd catcher.