Coming off our middle of the bell curve performance as rookies in last year’s NL LABR league (frigin’ Vazquez – he has even a mediocre April/May, we don’t drop him and we finish in 3rd place), we were invited back to participate in the first-ever 15-team mixed league LABR (click link to see the other league participants). The draft was held this past Saturday (February 25th) and the results will be printed in an upcoming USA Today Sports Weekly. In case you are allergic to paper or hate suspense, click here for the draft results.
Unlike many expert fantasy baseball leagues, this was a snake draft vs. an auction draft. Standard 5×5 with 2 C/1B/2B/SS/3B/CI/MI/5 OF/UTIL/9 P/6 bench. No IP cap. The biggest differences vs. your standard friend league is 1) weekly roster changes and 2) a limited free agent budget of $100 with a minimum bid of $1. These rules changed our typical draft strategy in the following ways:
- Downgrade middle relievers as you can’t rotate them in on SP off days. MRs are only a last resort if you have several bad SP matchups.
- Similar to H2H, you want to have an extra SP or two on the bench to take advantage of matchups and 2 start weeks.
- Because there is a cap on in-season pickups, we wanted to draft bench players with upside and have a roster with some flexibility to handle injuries across multiple positions.
Here is the team we drafted.
|C*||Jesus Montero||R9 Pick 131|
|C||Rod Barajas||R21 Pick 311|
|1B||Adrian Gonzalez||R1 Pick 11|
|2B||Aaron Hill||R13 Pick 191|
|SS||Asdrubal Cabrera||R5 Pick 71|
|3B||Evan Longoria||R2 Pick 20|
|OF||Nelson Cruz||R4 Pick 50|
|OF||Ichiro Suzuki||R7 Pick 101|
|OF||Alex Rios||R12 Pick 170|
|OF||Yoenis Cespedes||R15 Pick 221|
|OF||Denard Span||R20 Pick 290|
|1B/3B||Mike Carp||R19 Pick 281|
|2B/SS||Zack Cozart||R18 Pick 260|
|UTIL*||Andres Torres||R24 Pick 350|
|SP||Tim Lincecum||R3 Pick 41|
|SP||Madison Bumgarner||R6 Pick 80|
|SP||Anibal Sanchez||R10 Pick 140|
|SP||Colby Lewis||R14 Pick 200|
|SP||Jhoulys Chacin||R17 Pick 251|
|SP||Brad Peacock||R22 Pick 220|
|RP||Drew Storen||R8 Pick 110|
|RP||Carlos Marmol||R11 Pick 161|
|RP||Jim Johnson||R16 Pick 230|
|Bench 3B||Ian Stewart||R26 Pick 380|
|Bench C*||Wilin Rosario||R23 Pick 341|
|Bench RP||Fautino De Los Santos||R25 Pick 371|
|Bench SP||Hisashi Iwakuma||R27 Pick 401|
|Bench SP||Danny Hultzen||R28 Pick 410|
|Bench RP||Kevin Gregg||R29 Pick 431|
* Rosario will start at C and Montero at UTIL until Montero gets C-eligibility.
- There were definitely a few surprises at the draft. One owner drafted catchers with their 3rd and 4th round picks. Starlin Castro was a top 30 pick (I had him as #69 – ESPN ADP of #57). But one of these surprises helped us out a lot more than others…
- Evan Longoria fell to us at pick #20. There have been over 500 drafts in the last two weeks on MockDraftCentral and #20 is the farthest he fell. Even more surprising, Jonah “The Extra 2%” Keri of Grantland.com didn’t care to take him with either the 15th or 16th pick. We debated taking him at #11 instead of Adrian Gonzalez but decided not to out of concern for 1B depth as Pujols/Miggy/Votto were already off the board, we knew A-Gonz and Fielder (taken
#17#16) wouldn’t make it back, and didn’t feel comfortable banking on Teixeira. But to get Adrian Gonzalez and Longoria who were both in my top 13 position players was sweet.
- We had planned to take an OF with the 2nd pick and ended up waiting until our 4th pick to take Nelson Cruz. His injuries concern us but he was definitely the best OF left on the board and came at solid value at pick #40. To give you an idea, Desmond Jennings, Carl Crawford, and Drew Stubbs were the next three OFs taken.
- After 10 years and countless drafts, this was the first time Grey or myself drafted Ichiro. He’s always gone about 5 rounds earlier than I think he should go. But he was the best OF on the board by the time we had to select our 2nd OF and we needed speed. If he bounces back to .300, steals 30 SB, and gets a respectable # of RBIs out of the 3 hole, he’s going to be a solid value.
- We planned to punt both our catcher positions but Jesus Montero available at pick
#91#131 in a 2-catcher/15 team league? Santana, Mauer, Napoli, Wieters, and Posey were all taken in the first 66 picks. I think he came at a discount because our league has strict position eligibility rules for the draft and he was at DH. But it’s only 5 games in-season for C eligibility so hopefully it’s just 2 weeks or so before we can shift him to Catcher. All this meant was that we couldn’t fill UTIL during the draft but – aside from whomever drafts Ortiz – the UTIL position is near replacement-level in a 15-team league.
- I’m happy with our pitching staff. I’m a little warier than Grey on Brad Peacock but getting Iwakuma from the Mariners as a 7th SP makes me feel better. Getting three closers in a 15-team league puts us in great position for top 3 in saves (or survive an injury/demotion).
- I’m pretty happy with our hitter depth/flexibility. Carp has 1B/OF eligibility which helps if we have OF injuries/underperformance. Ian Stewart seemed like a good gamble for bench and he could take CI in case we need to move Carp to OF. We will dump the 3rd catcher once Montero gets C-eligibility so we can consider whether we want to roster an MI backup or another pitcher.
- Based on my projections, we ended up with a team that is average or better in all 10 categories. We’ve ‘won’ drafts before and lost the league but this definitely gives us some confidence going into the season (FWIW, I predicted we’d finish 6th last year in LABR and we finished tied for 7th. But I projected the team that finished in first at 11th and the team I projected would finish in 1st finished in 9th.)