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Want to keep your post-draft roster from being full of you-know-what? Work Razzball’s BRAN (Balanced Roster After Nine) strategy into your diet so your roster doesn’t turn out irregular!

I know I could spend an extra 20 minutes brainstorming an acronym that’s more alpha-male but combining  power with our strategy’s high fiber content makes me flash back to the old SNL Colon Blow commercials.

Okay, I’m done with the crap(py) metaphors.

The BRAN strategy is for snake drafts with only one catcher (proponents of two catcher leagues are the real tools of ignorance if you ask me…).  It applies for 10 or 12 team mixed leagues.

There’s no doubt you’ll find some differences between the fantasy baseball draft strategies of blogmate Grey and myself – e.g., he says not to draft a 1st tier closer where I recommend it.  How boring of a site would we be if we agreed on everything?    Just goes to show that there are multiple strategies to success in fantasy baseball and that you have to find the one that best fits your drafting and FA pickup skills .

Anyway, here are the objectives of the BRAN strategy:
1) Get as much value as possible out of our first 9 picks which means keeping flexibility to take advantage of bargains.

2) Remain balanced enough w/ your roster to take advantage of bargains at any position in rounds 10-25 – i.e., if you stack up on OFs in the 1st 9 rounds, you have to ignore OF bargains in favor of backfilling other positions (like pitcher).

Here is the plan:
In the first 9 rounds, fill 6 set positions (1B, 2 OF, 2 SP, RP) and 3 ‘flex’ picks that can be used on the best values across any position.  See below for the position breakdown – note that OF (2/3) means draft at least 2 OFs and no more than 3 OFs.  Also, any round projections for players is based on 10-team leagues.

C (0/1) – I hate picking a catcher in the first 9 rounds because 1) the stat difference between a top 3 catcher and the last drafted catcher are the smallest of any position, 2) no one is going to take an additional catcher so I know I’ll get at least the last catcher on my draft list and 3) catchers seem more likely to get injured.  If you’re going to take one, aim to take someone going at least a round later than they should go.

1B (1/2) -As my blogmate Grey points out in his Top 20 1st Basemen post, there is a top tier of about 8-10 1Bs (depending on how you feel about Youk and Votto, though Youk will get snagged earlier for 3B).  The first 8 of these guys are going to get snagged in the first 4 rounds (Pujols, Howard, Cabrera, Teixeira, Berkman, Fielder, Morneau, A-Gonz).  High-ceiling guys like Votto and Chris Davis will get picked one or more rounds early because owners w/o 1Bs will panic.  Solid vets like D-Lee and Delgado can get snagged any time as a team’s cornerman.  My advice is if there is a 1B at a good value in the first 4 rounds, grab him.  If a top-tier 1B is still hanging around in rounds 6-9, grab him for cornerman.

2B (0/1) – The same deal applies for 2B and SS so I’ll just write it once.  Middle infielders picked in the first 9 rounds almost always turn out below the expected value at that draft position.  Last year, Ian Kinsler was the only one out of 10 MIs drafted in Rounds 3-8 that provided above-average value (and, yes, that factors in position scarcity).  I called this before last season in a middling infielder post.  I’d look to use one of your 3 Flex Picks on either a 2B or SS and then grab the other and a MI in rounds 10-25.  After catcher, I’d say these are the best positions to punt.

SS (0/1) – See 2B.

3B (0/1) -This is a strange year for 3B.  A-Rod and Wright rule the category now that two of the top four no longer qualify (Cabrera, Braun).  No argument w/ them as your 1st round pick.  I don’t think there’s value to be found until Round 4 (Aramis Ramirez).  Atkins could be a steal at Round 5/6.  I’d avoid jumping at Chris Davis and Youk unless the value is there based on Marcel or CHONE projections – e.g., don’t believe Bill James’s projections on Chris Davis and assume Youkilis regresses after a career year.

OF (2/3) – Since the BRAN strategy is all about balance, I suggest breaking the draft into 5 segments and aim to get one per segment.  Think 1 OF in Rounds 1-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20, 21+.  If you can get two high-value OFs in a five round segment, go for it.  There is no reason to have more than 3 OFs in the 1st 9 rounds though.

SP (2/3) – Similar to OFs.  There are some that love to punt SPs until Round 10 or so.  Seems unnecessary to me.  I’d aim to get at least one SP in the first 5 rounds and another one before Round 9.  Realize there will be a round or two between the 3rd and the 6th where a number of SPs are picked – get ahead of that wave to get the most value.

RP (1/2) – My ideal closer pick is something like the 3rd-5th closer off the board as detailed in this closer post from last year.  Aim for a closer in Round 5-7 that can be your foundation (and help with ERA/WHIP/Ks).  If a top tier closer makes it to Rounds 7-9 and you still have Flex picks, go for it and then you can focus on stocking up on OF and SP in rounds 10-12.

DH (0/1) – In a league with just one UTIL slot, a DH really hurts roster flexibility.  Determine what fair value is for a DH and then wait an extra 2 rounds before drafting.

From Around The Web

  1. Baron Von Vulturewins

    Baron Von Vulturewins says:
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    Interesting strategy — and high in fibre!

    re: “Last year, Ian Kinsler was the only one out of 10 MIs drafted in Rounds 3-8 that provided above-average value”

    Where was Pedroia’s ADP at? Presumably, if he’d been taken in rounds 3 – 8 he would have provided above average value, no?

    Which MIs are you targeting late in drafts, after punting through first 10 rounds?

  2. Fman99 says:
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    I agree with some parts of this strategy, but not others. I do like the idea of largely ignoring catchers and 2B/SS in the first 9-10 rounds, but I’m more likely to ignore pitching there too and stock up with hitters.

    My league has a CI spot and 2 UTIL in addition to 4 OF so I can just load up on the best hitters in the first 7-8 rounds, almost regardless of position, and then fill in the gaps in the teen rounds.

  3. Travis says:
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    Which round do you think D. Lee/Pena/Delgado become deals? In a few mock drafts I’ve noticed them sticking around for a long time but I’m not sure when to jump.

  4. Martin says:
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    how bout if u draft reyes or utley then what happens?

    And I forget where i put this question but in a league with R, HR, RBI,SB, AVG, OPS, TB what would the top five fantasy baseball rankings be

  5. Frank Rizzo says:
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    This is Gold Rudy! Gold! Gracias.

  6. @Baron Von Vulturewins: Pedroia had an ADP of #176 – he was a fantastic value. 5th overall and 2nd amongst hitters – http://razzball.com/2008-draft-rankings/2008-best-values-10-team/.

    I don’t have the full average draft position data at my disposal but here are MIs that probably go 10th round or later that I like in no particular order: Weeks, DeRosa, Jose Lopez, Kendrick, Theriot, Ian Stewart, Mark Ellis, Aviles, Khalil Greene, Freddy Sanchez, Placido Polanco. Would I prefer to have the 2nd tier 2B/SS (basically anyone not named Hanley, Reyes, Rollins, or Utley) – totally. But I don’t believe in overpaying for those guys.

    @Fman99: That’s the common strategy. But then everyone is drafting pitchers in the later rounds. I prefer to be going against the tide and, thus, you can pounce on bargains either on the high side (say, Papelbon in the 6th/7th round) or low side (taking an Elijah Dukes-type as a late pick).

    @Travis: I’d say the 11th round and later in a 10 team draft. 10th round and after for 12 team.

    @Martin: A Reyes/Utley 1-2 punch is fantastic. Those would go under the wildcards. With the next 7 picks, I’d focus on power-hitting OFs (near ignoring their speed), try to snag one of the last 1Bs, and get some pitching.

    @Frank Rizzo: Thanks. It turned out much better than my strategy that revolved around Hershey’s Syrup, Bosco, and Ovaltine…

  7. Steve says:
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    @Rudy Gamble: I take it your liking Atkins this year? Where do you see him going in 12-teamers?

    I’ve seen him falling into the 90s in some ESPN 10-team mocks – they do have him ranked fairly low, though.

    I drafted him early 4th last year – and we all know how that turned out.

  8. Steve says:
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    @Rudy Gamble: Typo!

    Should be “… you’re liking… ” obviously.

  9. cubbies299 says:
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    Okay, I’m taking your advice on the first four keepers, but do you think it’s criminal of me to keep Kazmir over Gallardo? Kazmir is ungodly good when healthy, and I can draft Gallardo myself 6 rounds after Kaz would have been picked. I do like Gallardo a lot going into next season, but I can just reach for him a round early and have him still

  10. @Steve: I think Atkins is probably worth a 5th or 6th Round pick this year. .290/100/20/100 at 3B is not bad at all. 9th round is a crazy bargain…he’s even a good value at 1B in 9th round….

    @cubbies299: If it is an auction-based keeper where you have Gallardo at a crazy cheap price, seems like your reasoning makes sense. If there are only 5 keepers per team, I wouldn’t sweat long-term pitching decisions since most will keep 4-5 hitters…

  11. Baron Von Vulturewins

    Baron Von Vulturewins says:
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    @Rudy Gamble: Okay, Mr. Gamble — one further question.

    Do you have any sample rosters from last season that were drafted using this strategy? My brain says it makes sense, but my heart wants to jump off a train imagining coming out of the draft with, say, Aviles and K. Johnson as my middle infield. I’d love to see some real-world examples of what this strategy can net you.

  12. @Baron Von Vulturewins: Oh…and this is an extreme one as I did feel (and was vindicated by final season value) that Johan was worthy of a 1st round pick. I agree with Grey for this year….I don’t advocate taking a starter in the first two rounds…but that’s only b/c I don’t feel any one pitcher is as sure a lock as Johan last year (I thought the switch in league might return him to WHIP ~1.00 and ~250Ks. The fact he still regressed in WHIP and K/9 tells me that he’s moved back into the top pack of pitchers vs. ruling it. Also don’t think Sabathia and Lincecum are as sure of bets as I’d like with a top 2 round SP)

  13. Doc says:
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    Hi Rudy, and razzball.
    Thank you for writing up this draft strategy for us. I’ve decided to follow this one for one of my favorite leagues (5th year). If I join another league I’ll use it for that one too. I really like an active league with an active message board, so I doubt I’ll be in another one, they are hard to find.

    The past couple years I would draft Pitching late, and…I’m not pleased with the results, so it’s time for a change for me. The league I’m in consists of 10 active managers and it’s real difficult sometimes to snag the hot FA’s off the wire, I miss out a lot. I could use a top closer in the 5th to break out for the middle of the pack (finished 4-8 place in saves past few years) and that’s even with me picking up a few closers. Same goes for SP. I always find myself trying to trade for a elite SP during the season cause the pitchers I drafted just weren’t good enough to carry my staff. It’d be nice to have 1 or 2 this year. I know there’s risk, just gotta make smart picks…Someone like Halladay. Only time he had probs with the arm was in 2006, had like ulnar nerve irritation or something, from throwing the cutter to much. He’s made the adjustments to avoid injury now. Now that Zaun is gone, Barajas is his catcher and look for the K’s to remain at last years level. Barajas is real good at moving behind the plate and calling pitches. I know this is hard for people to believe a catcher could be responsible for such a thing, but it ‘s what I saw last year. With Zaun it was always pitch to contact BS, but when Barajas caught him the K’s went up.

    Rudy, I was curious, what SP’s and RP would you have on your radar in the 3-7 rounds?

    Thanks Rudy and Co, . keep up the superb work here at razzball. :D

  14. @Doc: Thanks Doc. I haven’t finished up my Point Share research for 2009 but here are guys I think I’ll be targeting in those rounds: Peavy, Haren, Webb, Beckett & Oswalt. I veer towards NL (partic NL West), guys on strong teams, and good K potential.

    I think Halladay will have lesser value (relative to draft pick) because: 1) coming off a great year, 2) pitches in AL East, and 3) His K rate skyrocketed last year due to a huge increase in cut fastballs. He’s able to throw cutters at 90+ MPH which is a winning formula – see Rivera and Loaiza during his miracle year. Trouble is that it’s really tough to throw cutters this hard. Not sure why but it is. Look at Jim Abbott and Steve Avery who faded early as they lost velocity. I think Halladay will still be good in 2009 but may need revert to the sinking fastball pitcher with average K rates…

  15. Doc says:
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    good stuff, thank you :) I’m a jays fan so I have a crush on Halladay, but your concerns on him are warranted, indeed. It’s good to remind myself the facts on him.

    Rudy, In my league I have 4 OF, 2 UTIL, and 4 INF slots, 12 teams. Would you do anything different? I know one thing, I won’t draft a catcher till after the 10th, maybe Doumit or Iannetta. I’m unsure what to do about Infielders though. I definitely don’t want to draft a Derek Jeter in the 4th again this year, lol.

  16. Doc says:
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    I’m sorry for the spam, just have to make a correction.
    I meant there is 6 Infielders (MI/CI), 4 OF.

    But this don’t matter anyway cause you covered this in your draft strategy (flex). Sorry again for the spam.

  17. @Doc: So only 4 OFs and 2 UTIL. That wouldn’t impact my OF strategy too much since likely one of those UTIL will be an OF. But it does mean that DH isn’t as bad and that you need to be more aggressive on power-hitting cornermen since they now have an extra UTIL roster slot.

    As it gets later in the draft, you may find some people taking a 4th MI for their UTIL or bench. If you had a very late game play like Freddy Sanchez or Aaron Hill, you might draft him a round or two earlier because of this. The drafters that do this are generally idiots and will drop the guy soon enough. What looks genius on draft day – I’ll get Ty Wiggington for my bench b/c he can play various positions! – looks idealistic a week later when your closer needs backing up. :)

  18. Simply Fred

    simply fred says:
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    @Doc: Hoping this somehow ends up in your email basket.

    Interested in your “catcher makes a difference” strategy. Do you take a look each pre-season for battery changes? If so, any chance you post a “Look for improved performance from these SPs this year” (due to new battery mates)???

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