There is a special day in mid-February where I can freely and shamelessly express my love. Appreciate my partner in life. Get lost in romance.

That is Valentine’s Day. But the day before it was the 15-team LABR Mixed draft which is more fun and less expensive.

As always, thanks to Steve Gardner at USA Today for the invite. Can’t believe this is the 5th year I’ve been in this league.

I was holed up in an NYC hotel for the draft where luckily the wifi did not shit the bed (nor did I). No kids disrupting the draft. A background soundtrack of sporadic car horns and loud-talking pedestrians. I was able to grab the HDMI cord from the cable box so I could rock the two screens. If only I remembered to pick up a pastrami sandwich and a six pack, I could’ve been in Costanza heaven.

Quick Perspective On The Difference Between 15-Team Mixed w/ Weekly Roster Changes vs. 10/12-team Mixed Daily Roster Changes
I am going to share with you the only relevant difference between these two formats. If you are someone who plays shallow leagues with daily roster changes (and typically a high transaction cap), repeat this as a mantra in your head when drafting in this format (like in NFBC).

The 2018 Razzball Commenter Leagues are now open! Free to join with prizes! All the exclamation points!

More of our PAs/IP need to come from players you draft or get in trades.

Free agency is still very important for filling roster holes and you still need to churn out the underperforming parts of your roster. This does not mean you avoid all risky/upside players and only draft a team full of boring, safe players.  The roster management skills you learn playing daily (ideally using our tools like the Streamonator and Hittertron) will come in very handy.

You just do not have the same safety net in this format if you mess up your draft because there just isn’t enough free agent talent or FAAB $ (especially LABR which is $100 vs NFBC and Tout which is $1000). Certain strategies like “Draft 3 Starters and stream the rest” is near impossible to pull off.

So think about the time you invest during the season in a daily format and invest some of it during draft prep to make sure you look back on your draft with no regrets.

Last Year Recap (here’s my post-draft writeup)
I finished in 4th place in a tight group with winner Jake Ciely of, Mike Podhorzer of FanGraphs, and Fred Zinkie of Congrats to Jake.

I had a great top 7 rounds of the draft picking from spot #15. Blackmon, Correa, Odor, Strasburg, Adam Jones, Hosmer, and Kimbrel was about as close to the ‘nuts’ as you are going to get in an expert draft. I also had arguably the best last 2 pick combo (28th/29th) in the history of the league (I’m too lazy to confirm this) with Joey Gallo and Corey Knebel. Add in Felipe Rivero for $1 in the first FAAB period and I had a great core.

The Achilles’ heel of this team was SP3/SP4 with Steven Matz and Drew Smyly and some rough Win luck. My killer Strasburg/Shark/Kimbrel/Rivero/Knebel quintet and decent FAAB SP pickups ensured strong ratios and K’s but I was starved for Wins all year. Seriously, look at the standings. What are the odds someone could total the most K’s, the least BB’s, and yet tie for last in Wins?

My speed bets (Odubel, Nunez) were mediocre and there was no speed available to trade. I thought I hit the lottery with Mallex Smith in FAAB (after Kevin Kiermeier went down) and the mediocre SBs were not worth his other sub-mediocre stats. I compounded my SB weakness by trading Merrifield (another $1 pickup) before he went on an SB tear for Jameson Taillon – a trade I would not have had to make with just 100 IP each from the 2016 versions of Matz and Smyly or finding one breakout in later rounds (e.g., Severino) or just some damn Wins. Ok done.

2018 Draft
I found a process in 2017 that I liked so I stuck with it this year. I build a War Room that allows me to mock draft against NFBC ADP and track my team $ totals per category. My goal is to anticipate the tough decisions and plan accordingly. The #1 thing I am looking to avoid is being in a position in the draft where I am chasing a category or position and I am dependent/desperate for a specific player to make my team whole. Those are the cases where you have to overdraft the player, get lucky, or scramble. The #2 thing I am looking to avoid is a panic pick when you just do not know whom to choose.

I do a handful of mocks and I end up with a general script for the first half of the draft. I try to have contingencies on every pick – e.g., Pick 3 is SP out of (Strasburg, Severino, Thor, DeGrom). This isn’t set in stone. If a great value falls my way, I adapt. The goal is to minimize scrambling or realizing post-draft that my team has a major hole.

Here are the full results of the 2018 LABR Mixed League Draft. Below are my picks and my analysis:

C 64 5.4 Buster Posey SF 59 5
C 274 19.4 Tyler Flowers ATL 302 (28)
1B 117 8.12 Justin Smoak TOR 150 (33)
2B 87 6.12 Rougned Odor TEX 108 (21)
SS 4 1.4 Trea Turner WSH 5 (1)
3B 184 13.4 Maikel Franco PHI 234 (50)
OF 27 2.12 George Springer HOU 31  (4)
OF 124 9.4 Ronald Acuna ATL 125   (1)
OF 214 15.4 Willie Calhoun TEX 261  (47)
OF 244 17.4 Shin-Soo Choo TEX 258 (14)
OF 267 18.12 Hunter Renfroe SD 298 (31)
CI 177 12.12 Justin Bour MIA 197  (20)
MI (2B/SS) 147 10.12 Paul DeJong STL 147 0
UTIL (OF) 357 24.12 Gerardo Parra COL 337  20
SP 34 3.4 Luis Severino NYY 33 1
SP 57 4.12 Yu Darvish CHC 52 5
SP 154 11.4 Jeff Samardzija SF 139 15
SP 207 14.12 Charlie Morton HOU 173 34
SP 237 16.12 Dinelson Lamet SD 217 20
SP 364 25.4 Hyun-Jin Ryu LAD 341 23
SP 304 21.4 Joe Musgrove PIT 379 (75)
RP 94 7.4 Felipe Rivero PIT 91 3
RP 297 20.12 Brad Boxberger ARI 326 (29)
2B/SS/3B 334 23.4 Eduardo Escobar MIN 435  (101)
OF 417 28.12 Derek Fisher HOU 421 (4)
SP 387 26.12 Chris Stratton SF NA (63)
SP 394 27.4 Andrew Heaney LAA 433 (39)
RP 327 22.12 Cam Bedrosian LAA 331  (4)
RP 424 29.4 Sam Dyson SF NA (26)

Draft Strategy Overview

  • There were two areas in the draft where I just didn’t like the value of certain players: a) Starting pitchers from the 6th-13th round (so 2nd-tier SP2 through top tier SP4) and b) Speed for just about the whole draft. To avoid those pitfalls, I wanted Trea Turner at #4 to secure speed early and 2 of the top 20 SPs using my 3rd and either 4th or 5th pick. I was prepared to avoid SPs through 6th-13th rounds unless a great value fell in my lap.
  • Aim for balance across categories – particularly on power/speed/AVG.
  • Hew close to 67/33 hit/pitch mix.
  • Get one very good closer and bargain-hunt in back half of draft for solid K RPs with some shot at saves.

Early Round Notes

  • Trea Turner + George Springer + Luis Severino went according to plan. I was hoping Strasburg might slip to my 3rd pick but he went at 2.30. I had Thor ahead of Severino on my rankings but, push comes to shove, I couldn’t pull the trigger on him because of health and Win concerns. Looking across all the teams, it is was hard to go wrong in the first 3 rounds.
  • The first adjustment I had to make in the draft was Christian Yelich going 3.4 to BaseballHQ’s Ray Murphy. I had him ranked at #24 – way ahead of his NFBC ADP of #68 – and, by my calculations, a solid bet to come back to me at pick #57. No such luck.
  • On the plus side, Yu Darvish made it back to me. I seem to be more bullish on him than most and feel he is a safer bet on W/K/WHIP than other SPs in this range (Verlander, Greinke, Nola, C-Mart). Buster Posey was one of my contingencies for Yelich as someone to bolster AVG and provide solid R/HR/RBI. Rare case where I could get an early catcher at near position-neutral value.
  • Rougned Odor and Felipe Rivero went according to script at 6/7. While the 10-15 SBs are nice, I targeted Odor for his HRs as I had to play catchup after having only one HR bat in the first 5 rounds. I thought he paired well with Posey’s strong AVG. I love Rivero.
  • My second ‘off-script’ moment in the top rounds was when Steve Gardner jumped 1.5 rounds for Joey Gallo. I had him at about a 50/50 chance to make it to my 8th pick based on NFBC ADP and figured, if anything, this group has more bias towards low AVG power. I had Justin Smoak ear-marked for my 9th or 10th pick but felt like he was by far the best tolerable AVG CI power bat in the draft and several teams in the draft needed 1Bs.

General Notes/Strategy
I am going to re-use the same format from the previous three years as most readers seem to prefer it to just a pick-by-pick analysis. This format does mean I talk more about my competitors’ teams than most post-draft write-ups. I do my best to be respectful yet honest.

Hopefully, you’ll find some piece of strategy you can apply to your upcoming drafts. I have updated this to reflect changes in my philosophy since last year. Some of it incorporates learning. Some of it is driven by changes in the player pool.

You’ll see me note a lot of percentages about pick values. I calculate pick values based on my auction dollar projections. The #1 pick gets the $ value of the 1st ranked player, etc. Generally, the last pick in the 22nd round is worth a dollar (13 hitters + 9 pitchers * 15 teams) as I budget $0 for the 2nd catcher. The 23rd to 29th rounds are valued at or around $0.

 Topic In General My Team Observations on Other Teams
Upside vs Reliability Sprinkle upside picks throughout draft, veer towards reliability in early rounds. Does anyone disagree that Trea Turner has the most upside of any player in 2018? I think his floor (assuming health) is great so his upside is the icing.

So here is a ‘take’ on upside. Natural draft bias is to accept more risk later in the draft. This can create some ‘upside’ opportunities in the middle of the draft. I snagged two of the three best rookie hitters IMO in Ronald Acuna (9th) and Willie Calhoun (15th). That was a good round for HR/SB OFs as Margot and Polanco went after Acuna. I took on more risk for sure but Acuna is the best rookie bet since Kris Bryant (another guy I drafted around this time in the draft). He has 30 SB upside in a draft where SBs are going at a premium and he is solid in the other 4 categories. If he comes up before May 1st, I’m only looking at a month where I need to backfill with a 6th OF and lose a spot on the bench. As for Calhoun, he has power w/o massive K’s (so good AVG) and I think he’s a near lock for playing time as a corner OF/DH.

I found OF to be full of solid upside value as I also bet on the plus power of Hunter Renfroe (18th round) and the power/speed combo of Derek Fisher (28th round).

On pitching, I like the balance. Severino/Lamet bring the sexy. Darvish/Shark bring solid track records.

I don’t think anyone went overboard on upside. Old pal Tim McLeod –  now at Prospect361 (prospecting every day but Christmas, Easter, July 4th, and Arbor Day) – unsurprisingly has a lot of young players. Trout makes for a helluva reliable foundation though and hard not to like guys such as Benintendi, Albies and Devers.

Also not surprising to me that both Fred Zinkie and Scott Pianowski skewed towards ‘safer’ veteran hitters.

Bouncebacks I like them as long as health not a question mark, skills/age look positive, and properly discounted. I have had little luck in past years on identifying strong bouncebacks in this draft. Last year’s Carlos Gomez, Drew Smyly, Wei-Yin Chen, and Matt Duffy was a barrelful of useless.

I don’t see any true bouncebacks on my roster. Maybe that’s for the best.

David Dahl and Michael Brantley were the two major bounceback targets for me but, like with Yelich, this group thought more like me than the NFBCers do.

Bret Sayre of Baseball Prospectus looks like the king bouncebacker with Hendricks, Schwarber, Brantley, Joc, and Matz. I like Brantley and Matz. Rotowire’s DVR gave him a run with Polanco in the 9th and Villar/Dahl in 13/14 – the risk/reward on those makes sense to me but it also adds more risk to an offense with below-average investment (58% of draft pick value)

Category Balance vs Best Player Available In a weekly league with FAAB, I prefer to come out of drafts without glaring weaknesses. So I do monitor this during draft so, everything equal, I am taking the player who provides better balance. Mission accomplished (I project as above average in all stats based on my values) but whereas last year I did it through a lot of balanced bats, this year there was more mixing/matching – mainly with strong AVG/decent HR players and mediocre AVG/strong HR players. In fact, the only player on my opening day roster that I have as below average in power is Gerardo Parra. We have a repeat of last year where Alan Harrison of The Fantasy Fix and Scott Pianowski both look weak on SBs (as does Jake Ciely). Several teams seem weak on Saves but I share the general feeling amongst those owners that the bottom half of closers are subpar bets. Bret Sayre and Tim McLeod both have strong SB / weak HR squads IMO.
ADP vs “Get Your Guys!” I prefer to wait as long as possible for guys I like but adjust based on draft room dynamics. The NFBC ADP skews more SP-friendly which makes more hitters picks feel like reaches. That said, I went above ADP on several players.

For Smoak (+33), W. Calhoun (+47) and Renfroe (+30), it was because I really wanted them. The only justification for Maikel Franco (+50) is that Zinkie and Ray Murphy drafted 7 3Bs combined in their first 11 rounds and Franco was near the top of my board. I still see the upside but not my plan.

For pitchers, my patience was rewarded with Shark, Morton, and Lamet all at 1-2 round discounts. I reached on Musgrove in the 21st round…if you believe that there is such thing as a reach in the 21st round.

Scott Pianowski ‘got his guys’ as Matt Carpenter (+102) and Adam Jones (+45) were two of the top 3 reaches based on ADP in the top 100 picks (Ozzie Albies by Tim McLeod was the other). I have a huge amount of respect for Scott and know he’s less hung up than me on ADP.

Fred Zinkie and the FG duo of Collette/Sporer both had 2 of the top 7 best first 100 picks vs ADP with Upton/Knebel and deGrom/Chapman.

Anticipate Other Teams’ Picks When Prioritizing Get ahead of player runs to minimized getting snaked. I loved getting the 4th slot but was not psyched to see Zinkie to the left of me and Ray Murphy to the right. Amazingly, though, I was not snaked once all draft. Sure, guys I wanted got drafted but never right near my pick. There wasn’t a Rudy tilt all draft.

I do think planning helped here. I correctly guessed pre-draft that there’d be a major RP run b/w my 7th and 8th pick so got Rivero at 7 (5 RPs went in next 23 picks). I erred on aggressive with Smoak and Bour because I didn’t think they’d make it back to me. And I jumped in a little early for C2 with Flowers in the 19th anticipating a catcher run (7 catchers in next 25 picks)

Hard to judge other teams on this but it did feel like other owners maybe got stuck in those SB and SP traps and either overpaid or punted.
Hit/Pitch Mix I’m typically looking to stay about league average which is roughly 67/24/9 for Hit/SP/RP.

For this year, I wanted to spend a little less on Closers.

The room went 67/25/8 and I went 66.5/27/6.5. Last year, two drafters invested 40+% in pitching. This year there were 4 teams and they were also, not coindentally, the quartet to draft an SP in the first round. Alan Harrison had the largest pitching investment with a 57.5/42.5 split after investing a 1st, 4th, and 6th on pitchers.

Just like last year, Pianowski and Podhorzer invested the most in hitting at 87% (?!) and 76% respectively.

Closers My position on Closers changes every year. This year – I wanted a very good RP in the 7th round and then wait until at least the 18th round before buying two high K-guys in the mix. I really like Rivero as my RP1. Boxberger (20th) and Bedrosian (22nd) have flashed closer talent when healthy. I don’t think the D-backs really want Archie Bradley locked into a 1 inning role and Blake Parker seems like a placeholder. Took Sam Dyson with my last pick as he pitched well last year and Melancon has injury and performance risk as the closer favorite. I am not a fan of DVR (Jansen) and Stephania Bell (Kimbrel) picking closers at the tail end of the third round. I would’ve preferred Ozuna or Marte.

Despite those picks, the room still spent a little less in draft capital on Closers than previous years. I think it was just one of those years where the back half of closers are uninspiring.

Middle Infielders Pay no premiums for ‘scarce’ positions. Stay patient. Adjust player choices based on offensive category balance. (Note: I’ve been crapping on ‘position scarcity‘ for years but suddenly all I keep reading are announcements that position scarcity is dead.) And yet I draft three MIs in the first 10 rounds!

I would have taken Trea Turner if he wasn’t a middle infielder.

I was looking for power bats between rounds 6-10 and Roughned Odor (6th) and Paul DeJong (10th) were solid values at those draft slots. I currently have 9 MIs projected at 25+ HRs. Odor and DeJong are two. The only other one not drafted in first 5 rounds was Trevor Story.

No major MI inflation in the room. The top 30 MIs only went about $1 higher in value than my estimates and almost of that is based on people jumping to secure speedsters like Dee Gordon, Moncada, and Segura.
Catchers I typically like to punt Catchers. The demands of the position lead to greater injury risk and more volatile offensive numbers IMO. But would prefer this year to target catchers that aren’t AVG sieves. There is typically one catcher a year whom I value around ADP and, this year, it was Buster Posey. He’s not as great as he was but I liked how his .300 AVG with solid counting stats set up the rest of my draft.

I reached a bit for Tyler Flowers at 19.4 but no catchers in that range match his power + contact rate. Plus, I think he could sneak into the 4th or 5th lineup spots and goose up his R/RBI.

No major change in ‘room’ behavior versus past years.
Starting Pitchers Draft quality and quantity. Mix upside and consistency. Aim for about 9 SPs. I really like my collection of SPs, especially at their price (27% of draft capital). 

Severino/Darvish/Samardzija are a rock solid core IMO. Morton, Lamet, Musgrove, Ryu, Heaney, and Stratton should provide solid matchup options when healthy and unlimited DL and persistent FAABing should address this group’s biggest weakness.

This is one area where investment and expected return are about equal across thee teams.

I was surprised to see pal Dr. Roto only drafted 5 SPs (6 RPs!). It usually takes 8 healthy SPs to find 6 good starters for a week. It will be tough to keep up with W/K going 4-5 RPs/week and everyone should be competing for emerging SPs in early FAAB rounds. (Note: Pianowski also drafted 5 SPs).

Steve Gardner, on the other hand, drafted 11 SPs, 2 more than me and 4 others at 9 SPs. One is a DL stash (Nelson) and one is a prospect who’ll sit on the bench (Honeywell). Should be interesting to see how he deploys them (or trades one to Pianowski or Dr Roto)

Speed SBs are in such short supply that it is more important than ever to have a plan for where you can draft speed at value Drafting Trea Turner (or Jose Altuve) in the 1st round takes a lot of pressure off drafting speed (Trout/Betts certainly help too).

I could have used Turner to build up a huge strength in SBs…but that only makes sense in a market that is undervaluing SBs and that was not the case.

My other top 25 SB pick was Ronald Acuna whom I feel I got at slightly above value.

Best part of having this twosome is that they can contribute in all 5 categories versus sacrificing HR/RBI.

Worst part is I have no safety net for SBs on this team. 3rd best SB guy is Roughned Odor and Derek Fisher is just a 20 SB type. If Turner gets hurt or Acuna gets delayed, I could see struggling in SBs. These are the reasons why I’m always FAABing.

The room spent about $1.50 in draft capital (1-2 rounds) above ADP to secure speed. The best value in my eyes was Starlin Marte at 3.15 by Dr. Roto. I liked Inciarte (Podhorzer) and Peraza (Gardner) as well. Had been taking Peraza as my 2nd speed play in mocks but shifted to Acuna/OF. If I didn’t get Acuna, may have been on him and shied away from DeJong.

Worst value for me was Billy Hamilton and Yoan Moncada.

As noted earlier, there are a couple teams that are low in SBs whether by design or perhaps not wanting to pay a premium.

Last notes (I swear):

  • Almost no regrets with this draft but…
    • Looking at the draft a week later, I think I would have taken Devers with the 8th pick and hoped Smoak came back. If not, take two of Bour, Gurriel and Zimmerman between the 10th and 12th rounds.
    • Also not sure why I drafted Hunter Renfroe over Randall Grichuk. Now with Myers moving to the OF because of the Hosmer pickup, Grichuk might actually have more job security.
  • Based on my total $, the three most valuable drafts besides mine happened to be the three guys that finished ahead of me last year (Ciely, Zinkie, Podhorzer). Not going to be a d**k and tell you who I have as having the least valuable drafts but feel free to guess in the comments (i won’t confirm/deny).
  1. Darek says:

    Nice in depth analysis of your strategy. Very interesting..

    That reliever rush is pretty predictable in the mocks/drafts I’ve done. Usually Osuna/ Knebel are the sentinel event for the rush, but very quickly there are usually 10 relievers gone within a couple rounds.

    • @Darek: Thanks and agreed on the closer run. Tends to be around 7th/8th round in most 15-team drafts.

  2. Tom says:

    I think Stephania has a weak squad and surprisingly I’m not totally down (only just a tad down) on Collette and Sporer who usually have an awful draft IMHO.

  3. Brian says:

    Didn’t somebody not draft a pitcher until way late? I imagine that’s who is projected to finish far in last place. Wish people wouldn’t use an “expert” draft to try neat little whims out.

    • @Brian: Scott Pianowski didn’t draft an SP until the 14th round and had an 87/13 hit/pitch split which is the most extreme I have seen.

      BUT, I focus more on total $ value vs simulated standings in the preseason since you can always trade. He has a ton of offensive value so he’s not near the bottom for me.

  4. The Great Knoche says:

    Really liked the start of draft, although did not expect that at all with Turner. Kind of was concerned on your Corners, but seemed to work out ok.

    I liked yours and Ciely the best. Stanton, Judge to start and getting good mix rest of way I was pretty high on.

    • @The Great Knoche: thanks. was pretty tight-lipped about it but Turner is #3 on my projecitons. Stanton and his bonkers HR projections is 1st and I passed only b/c of strategy. Agreed on Jake’s team.

  5. Chris says:

    Nice draft…

    suprise with some picks, specially Ian Desmond on Rd. 8.

    would like your recommendation for a 7 player keeper league, 14 teams, H2h:

    R, H, 2b, 3b, Hr, rbi, sb, bb, avg
    W, L, K, Hld, Sv, ERA, WHIP, QS, K/9

    For sure:
    Blackmon + Machado + JD Martinez + Dozier + McCutchen + Kluber

    For my 7th keeper, please let me know, which is best for my team:
    Didi Gregorius + Lorenzo Cain + Tanaka + McCullers

    thanks for the advise!

    • @Chris: Thanks. I’d go with Tanaka out of that group.

  6. OaktownSteve says:

    I hear Franco is a launch angle guy this off season. He better watch out. There’s a chance they’ll run Kingery over to 3rd is Franco bombs again. They’re also giving Kingry reps in CF in the spring. They’re going to try and find a spot for him early.

    Parra’s hand surgery is a bummer. Guys who have that hammate bone surgery seem like they are able to comeback pretty quick but then they’re not particularly effective.

    I think RBIs might be a tricky area for you. Springer brings the bombs but hitting out of the leadoff limits his ribs (85 last year). Taking him and Turner put you in a little hole there. Smoak and Bour look like your only middle of the order guys.

    Good luck, Rudy. I’m sure you’ll be right in there again this year.

  7. CoreyII says:

    Thanks for the detailed strategic post!

    How would a H2H league change your evaluation of a guy like Gallo? More or less valuable?

    What about the speed issue? Would you be looking to pay less for it then in a Roto league?


    • @CoreyII: Thanks. H2H plays similar to this format in that I think you need a stable of SPs vs relying on a lot of streaming. I fade SBs in H2H – maybe not completely but something like weigh the other 4 category $ by 1.1 and SBs as 0.6.

  8. Big Magoo

    Big Magoo says:

    Are you concerned with Severino’s steep workload increase or his heavy slider usage? He looked electric throughout most of the season before hitting a bit of a wall in October. Think it was roughly a 60 inning increase over ’16 when you include the postseason work.

    Acuna is probably your biggest wildcard, but Calhoun is probably my favorite pick of yours in this draft. Outside of Dahl, he might be my top mid-late round hitter target this year. Love the power/contact combo.

    I agree with Oaktown that RBIs might be a bit of an issue. The performances of your CIs will be key. Not sure that Bour will crack 70 in that lineup. Franco is a big question mark too. Could always trade for one in-season if needed though.

    Did not like the drafts from Stephania Bell or Dr. Roto at all. Not sure about Pianowski’s strategy of waiting so long on pitching either. Zinkie’s team looks like a threat once again.

    I think DVR’s team could be sneaky good. Excellent pitching and I love most of the bats that he drafted in the 11-16 area to go with Freeman/Cruz/Hosmer. Don’t love the fact that he doubled up on closers in the first seven rounds, and going Braun/Polanco back-to-back at 8-9 is a bit risky, but he should be in the hunt.

    Good luck!

    • @Big Magoo: Good hearing from you. Fair points on Severino. I used to be more concerned on that stuff but just couldn’t find any predictiveness with it for SPs. Declining FB speed and existing injuries do worry me. Kind of regret not just taking Thor with the flawed logic that he lightening won’t strike twice with him since he controls it.

      I definitely went 3rd tier on CIs. I will be on FAAB alert in general for bats. Nature of the beast with 15-team.

      Agree on DVR’s team. Great potential but the RP investment too high for my taste.

      • Big Magoo

        Big Magoo says:

        @Rudy Gamble: I don’t think that I’m too worried about the slider % from Severino, but the extra workload is a bit concerning. Pitching stressful innings while fatigued tends to have a carryover effect. There’s no doubt that Severino is a stud when healthy though. Maybe that bill comes due in ’19 or ’20.

        Love Thor this year. He’s slimmed down again, Callaway’s in town, and the Mets have a new head trainer (which is no minor thing considering the team’s recent track record injury-wise). His injury wasn’t arm related either. Think he is in the conversation for the top fantasy SP if he stays healthy.

        I’m with you on Rivero. Fantastic stuff, solid control, keeps the ball in the yard. Targeting him and Diaz as RP1s this year.

        Kind of glossed over your Morton pick the first time around. Think you got a good deal on him.

        DeJong’s BB/K scares me a bit, but there’s no doubt that he has some serious pop in his bat. Don’t think he’ll pull an Aledmys Diaz-like disappearing act in St. Louis.

        Springer and Posey were solid high floor picks to go with all of your upside bats. Looks like a nice balance there.

        So far, so good. It looks like you’ll be in the mix. I’ll be rooting for you!

  9. OldNavy says:

    The problem I have is finding players to draft towards the end of a 20 team hth 30 player league.
    Thanks for your strategy and expertise. I am in three of the Razzball leagues it should be fun.
    I am a 71 year old who loves the competition,

    • @OldNavy: nice! The preseason player raters have way more than 600 players. I like to look for upside players ($/G > 0) with lower projected PA/IP in late rounds. Derek Fisher in this draft was an example.

  10. Packers says:

    Thanks, Rudy. I really enjoyed reading about your thought process when making your picks. Even with all your prep work you wouldn’t mind a do over here and there. I think most drafters experience the same thing. Just have to keep your composure. Good luck, I hope you win it.

    • @Packers: Thanks. I try to share the thought progress so people can decide for themselves. Most important part is avoiding the post-draft regrets! I hope I win too!

  11. Rawr... says:

    This is a great article. Drafting in a hotel when the wi-fi works and you have beers is the best.

    I am so high on Samardzjia and I’m glad to see that someone else is too. He had an amazing strikeout to walk ratio last year, and a bit of a HR issue. I’m assuming he HR rate should stablize this year in SF and last year’s rate will be the outlier. If you play in daily leagues just stay away from his Colorado starts.

    • @Rawr…: Thanks. Shark is much higher in my rankings – mainly b/c Steamer likes him a lot. I drafted him in almost the same spot last year and people generally crapped on the pick. They might’ve been right in that I could’ve gotten better value but certainly beat just about everyone but Paxton at that draft position.

      I think we know Shark is a durable, solid K, great BB guy who gives up hard contact. Pitching in SF should afford him more margin for error than most pitchers get. Last year’s ERA/HRs were about as bad as they could get with his peripherals. So room for improvement for sure.

  12. henncoop says:

    Very sweet analysis of your & the overall draft. This draft write-up definitely got the juices flowing for what my process should be on upcoming draft days.
    Appreciate you sharing your thoughts & process of doing a draft …nice work!!

  13. RicoSuave says:

    This is great Rudy!

    What strategy would you use on a 16 team H2H points league? 5pts. per W, -3pts. (L), 3pts. (QS) 5 pts (SV) 0.5 pts. (K)

    • @RicoSuave: Thanks. I think i’d be deploying a similar strategy as you see in this draft. Depends on when SPs start going off the board but I like 2 picks b/w the 2nd-6th and then none in 7th-10th. This draft board is a good case where you can tie yourself in knots after a draft. Case in point: I would trade Severino/Posey for Nola + Yelich or Bregman or Rendon or Ozuna. I could have had any of those hitters in the 3rd round (where I picked Severino) and Nola in the 5th (where I took Posey). BUT, that’s hindsight. Prior to my 3rd pick, it is a probability game on what pitchers are taken between my 3.4 pick and my 5.4 pick. 4 teams behind me drafted no SPs in their first 4 picks. That is more than expected. It meant Darvish fell to my 4th and Nola was available at 5.4. Run this draft 10 times (with some randomness in experts) and I think Darvish/Nola being available at 4/5 is 30%. If I stretch it out to Nola/Quintana Nola/C-Mart, etc., maybe i’m getting into 70%. ALSO, Yelich’s ADP had him being available in 5th round even after filtering NFBC to post-MIL trade but clearly that assumption was wrong. And that’s the way you need to think. I might not take a SP in the same position later this year because of this analysis.

  14. Duda Want to Build a Snowman? says:

    Nice drafting! FYI Sporer and crew fawn over your team (and Razzball generally) a few times during their live draft pod.

    • @Duda Want to Build a Snowman?: Nice. I wouldn’t have pegged them as the most likely team that I was snaking but it does make me feel good about all the pre-draft planning. I do know they drafted Trea Turner last year and probably look at me taking him at #4 like proud fathers.

      • Duda Want to Build a Snowman? says:

        @Rudy Gamble: Yea! I don’t know if they ever felt like you snaked them . . . it was more that, whenever they would periodically check in on teams, they would see yours and sort of wished that was their team (even if they didn’t plan those picks at the time).

        It’s funny you say “proud father” – pretty sure that’s the exact phrase that Jason used when he saw Turner go.

  15. Bill says:

    Rudy, is there going to be a razzball/nfbc league again?

    • @Bill: signup post goes out later today!

  16. Milarky says:

    Hey Rudy, interesting take on not reaching for speed guys that hurt in HR/RBI. Normally I agree but I have a dilemma in my keeper league – I’m keeping Stanton, Rizzo and Rendon, but for my 4th hitter I have to choose one of Gordon (at OF), Schoop, Segura, or even Buxton. Given these choices I was leaning Gordon, which Grey also agreed with in another post. Which way would you lean?

    • Milarky says:

      @Milarky: Sorry, should have mentioned its a 10-team roto, weekly roster lock, but with deep rosters (18 hitters start). 6 offensive categories (extra one is SLG%).

      • @Milarky: gah, adding SLG%. With 18 hitters, I think Gordon’s anemic power isn’t a big deal. I can see going Buxton instead if you want upside. I think you can wait on Segura.

    • @Milarky: There is no one way to put together the puzzle. I’m taking Dee Gordon FOR SURE at that pick. You’ve got a great power base there. Gordon went at #26 in this draft.

  17. Skeezix says:

    Great stuff Rudy. So I was curious about who to keep as my second pitching keeper (we only keep 2, my first is Kluber). I was defaulting to Severino even though I also could keep deGrom. Then I had a look at Steamer and ZOINKS, you’ve/its got Sev at #17, and deGrom at #3 – that difference really surprised me. I see that you drafted Sev in LABR, so in my situation (standard 5 categories roto), which one would you keep and is it close?

    • @Skeezix: Not sure where you are looking at SP values. My Steamer-derived $ values are here:, I have them worth about the same. Maybe the other source (Fangraphs?) has a bigger IP disparity b/w the two than I do (12 IP for DeGrom). In this format, I went with Severino b/c I’m still on tilt from last year on Wins so tie goes to the SP on the better team. But it’s really a coin flip IMO. Right this second, I’d draft Thor or hitter at that spot :)

  18. swaggerjackers says:

    Solid draft and solid commentary. A few thoughts:

    1) I like the idea of getting a headstart on steals with Turner, as well. Otherwise it feels like you’re playing catchup with steals all draft which limits options for pure power bats later on in favor of guys with limited stolen base upside.
    2) Acuna scares me from a call-up perspective. As a rosterbater, I dislike the idea of burning up a bench spot for an unknown amount of weeks/months. There’s an opportunity cost associated with less roster flexibility on a week to week basis as well as the inability to jump on hot wavier pickups. Combine that with the 10 day DL causing even more of those idle-bench situations and I just can’t pull the trigger if he doesn’t outright win the job during spring training.
    3) Who would you say are some of the top ranked SP’s that you’re staying away from this season? Last year you mentioned Synder, which was a great call.

    • @swaggerjackers: Re: Acuna, the bet is he’s called up by May 1st. I actually focused my ‘propsecting’ on him and Calhoun vs later picks like, say, Senzel or Honeywell who seem more likely to be in minors for 60 days. Got burned last year with De Leon. Also, this is unlimited DL so bench spot not AS critical. Did I say stay away from Thor last year? Only would’ve done that if injury murmurs were already out. My preferences tend to look like my $/rankings as I bake in concerns about injuries and playing time. Certain guys like Greinke and Cole always go higher than my values. I stay away from Verlander because of his age and always seem to get him on down years…not good reasons.

  19. TheTinDoor

    TheTinDoor says:

    It would be shocking to see Stephania in the top half of the league.

    Did you read Pianow’s draft recap? Basically he said “goal of the draft is to get as much value as possible, full stop”. But he did note that in hindsight there are a couple of places where he would have been better off going pitcher… didn’t exactly admit that he made a mistake in the draft, but reading between the lines, this roster construction was not his plan.

    I’m a HUGE Pianow fan, one of the sharpest analysts out there. But this reminds me a little of that expert a few years ago who left $50 on the table by sticking too tightly to his values. Pianow doesn’t draft via strict dollar sheet but this feels like a draft mistake of focusing too closely on value over roster construction.

    • @TheTinDoor: On same page as you. I’m closer to Pianowski than I am w/ other experts. He’s one of the few that can excel in daily transaction leagues (along w/ Grey, myself, Rotowire guys, Rotoworld guys, Dalton Del Don). My experience with daily transaction leagues gives me an advantage (mainly use of the razz tools and an itchy trigger finger) and I think it gives Scott one as well. But, from my perspective, this draft makes more sense in daily transaction w/ 3 bench/1-2 DL than weekly w/ 6 bench and unlimited DL b/c it’s tough to build SP depth in FAAB. That’s why I note SP depth in the recap so y’all don’t make that mistake if you play this format (note: my NFBC team last year finished 3rd b/c I didn’t draft enough SP depth….or just invested in the wrong guys…)

    • Grey

      Grey says:

      That’s Hall of Famer Stephania Bell! I don’t think she’s ever finished above 10th, in any league

      • @Grey: i can’t speak for all leagues…but she’s been in LABR for past two years and finished 14th place both years. She has no place to go but up….except if she finishes in 14th or 15th place.

        • Grey

          Grey says:

          Someone should make sure her computer screen isn’t turned upside down

          • @Grey: i’ve heard stranger things…

  20. Daniel Moran says:

    You mentioned reaching and ‘getting your man’ vs waiting as adp dictates; any advice on threading the needle?

    For example, you said you assign buckets of players you expect will Fall to you in certain picks. I like that advice, but what if you don’t know your draft position until 30 minutes until the draft starts?

    Do you know of any websites that offer adp and volatility/standard deviation of that pick? For example: Trout has an ADP of 1ish with a very low volatility, vs Acuna with an ADP of 200ish with a 40 pick volatility within one standard deviation. This would help me get a better idea of how likely a pick will fall within a certain range, and this how much risk I’m taking by waiting on grabbing them vs reaching and ‘getting your man’

    • @Daniel Moran: I have an Excel War Room that does this on the fly. You put in # of teams + draft slot and it gives a % chance the player is available in each round. I’m giving it away for free for returning Roto Deluxe subscribers (our daily/weekly tool) which goes on sale this weekend. Can make exception if you are a first-time purchaserif you remind me about it.

      • Daniel Moran says:

        @Rudy Gamble: Ah that’s awesome! I believe I am a returning subscriber, looking forward to it!

      • Stupid Sexy Glanders says:

        @Rudy Gamble: it’s an algorithm that shandler gives out yearly in his book. just wish i knew the long hand version of it as a non-exceler.

  21. AL KOHOLIC says:

    Great job Rudy, im targeting Frano as a late rounder comeback this year also

  22. dubjay says:

    Hey Rudy. Like the look of your draft and really appreciate your insight.
    Wondering who you would take as my first pick in a 12 team H2H 5X5 keeper league(keep 10)Standard yahoo scoring
    My team so far is


    best available FAs


  23. Marti says:

    Thoughts on why you have yelich ranked so high? I am considering keeping him at $28 in my NL only auction Roto keeper League with a 260 budget

    • @Marti: IMO NFBC ADP was a little low on Yelich but he’s been trending up w/ the move to Milwaukee. I see Yelich as basically Goldy with a little less power.

  24. Ken Erdedy says:

    Great recap Rudy. Love the work you do on the tools here.

    I’m struggling with a keeper decision. It’s a 12 tm h2h with traditional 5×5 categories. Snake draft with a total of 7 keepers

    We keep a total of seven players. I’ll put the draft-round cost in parentheses.

    I plan to keep Arenado (1), Rizzo (2), Freeman (3), and JRam (4). I’m also keeping Severino in the last round.

    I’m trying to figure out my last 2 Keepers. I can choose between Upton, Benintendi, and Seager (each of whom would cost a 5th round pick, so if i kept two of them it would cost my 5th and 6th round picks). Other possibilities would be Khris Davis (7) or Justin Turner (8).

    I tend to think it’s got to be 2 of Upton/Beni/Seager but can’t figure out which 2. What do you think?

  25. Stupid Sexy Glanders says:

    16 team keep 6. OPS, QS, hits, holds added 7×7 h2h. yahoo standard so only 3 OF, no CI/MI.
    goldy/arenado/thor for sure but what’s next best 3: a.wood/segura/odor/dr. castellanos/pollock/sunday santana. usually a 2nd pitcher probably wouldn’t be in play, but QS and segura/odor looking worse than they did last year at this time maybe wood.

    grey: wood/segura/pollock
    ralph: castellanos/santana (playing time scares me, otherwise probably agree easily)/segura

    see what you think.

      • Stupid Sexy Glanders says:

        @Rudy Gamble: interesting, as i tend to never want to keep more than maybe a 1/4th of keepers in leagues like this as pitchers, QS is only thing leaning me towards wood here. castellanos isn’t loved as much as i hoped by the OPS’er (rater) (9.7) but of course he appears to have a good bit of upside. whereas the rater hates segura (3.8) but everybody agrees he’s in need. possibly due to shallow leagues (a 16’er here BUT start few players) nabbing a steals base (goldy/pollock/segura) allows me to NEVER have to pure sagnof like last year with maybin on this team numerous times, hurting me in OPS stuff.

  26. Mike says:

    I’m surprised you didn’t take Stanton to be honest. I also don’t understand the Zinkie Kershaw pick even though his team looks very strong overall.

    What do you think on these keepers for a team I’m taking over? They are in tiers based on original selection. H2H 5×5 QS instead of W, shallow with 20 total on roster(3 OF, no CI/MI, 1 util, 7 pitchers, 4 bench, 3DL).

    Tier 1: Adam Jones, McCullers Jr, or Gausman
    Tier 2: Ozuna
    Tier 3: 2 of Moncada, Villar, Porcello (any of these could be tier 1/2 also)

    Thinking McCullers, Ozuna, Moncada, and monitoring if Villar wins his job, otherwise Porcello. If McCullers is hurt I can probably stream since its so shallow. Jones vs McCullers is probably the hardest choice, all based on how many innings you project for him.

    • @Mike: I’m sure I’ll have some Stanton shares before the preseason is gone. Just preferred a Turner-led draft. I think you’re about right on your keepers.

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