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Posted: Sun Mar 06, 2016 6:48 pm
by The Randy Johnson
I'm posting this for a couple of reasons:

#1. I love Grey's pitcher rankings. His methodology and, dare I say, instincts have led me to great success the last few years in my very competitive 16 team 5x5 roto league.

#2. Every year I read the pitcher pairing's post and look at the pairing tool and slap my forehead at the complexity of it all.

There is a much easier way that ALSO (I feel) better takes into account the realities of an actual live draft. As we all know, everyone uses different sources for their player rankings, so while guys tend to come off the board in an order that relatively follows the ranking system you're using, this is not strictly the case (and in some cases can be far from it). Basically, you don't want to be left out in the cold if you were planning on taking two starters from Tier X later on, but they all get snagged earlier than they should have and when "later on" arrives you're left with Derek Holland. Fortunately for you, if other drafters are taking the guys from Tier X too early, that means there will almost invariably be guys from higher tiers around LATER than they should be, and you can capitalize, but only if you're paying attention.

So here goes. The rules are simple:

1. Ignore the tiers that Grey tells you to ignore unless things REALLY go south on you and you have to draft from them. Usually the way Grey does his rankings, this isn't a problem because other drafters will take these guys before it becomes an issue. Which is the point. For this year, guys to ignore include:

Dallas Keuchel
Zack Greinke
Felix Hernandez

Adam Wainwright
Michael Wacha
Carlos Martinez

Masahiro Tanaka
Sonny Gray
James Shields
Jordan Zimmermann
Hisashi Iwakuma

Shelby Miller
Collin McHugh
Jaime Garcia
John Lackey
Justin Verlander
Julio Teheran
Gio Gonzalez
Kenta Maeda

Avoid these guys, let everyone else draft them, unless you run into trouble.

2. THERE ARE REALLY ONLY THREE (3) TIERS OF SP's. Sorry to shout, but if you look through Grey's pitcher pairings, and think about it, you will find out this is true. So basically, per Grey's pitcher pairings, you want THREE SP's FROM TIER 1, TWO SP'S FROM TIER 2, and ONE SP FROM TIER 3. Simple as that:

Tier 1
Gerrit Cole
Jose Fernandez
Noah Syndergaard
Stephen Strasburg
Carlos Carrasco
Chris Archer
Corey Kluber
Danny Salazar
Tyson Ross
Johnny Cueto
Cole Hamels
Francisco Liriano
Jon Lester
Steven Matz
Carlos Rodon
Taijuan Walker
Yu Darvish
Michael Pineda
Raisel Iglesias
Garrett Richards
Patrick Corbin
Jake Odorizzi
Yordano Ventura
Lance McCullers
Jeff Samardzija

Tier 2
Luis Severino
Drew Smyly
Marcus Stroman
Jose Quintana
Scott Kazmir
Kyle Hendricks
Wei-Yin Chen
Mike Leake
Jason Hammel
Joe Ross
Aaron Nola
Eduardo Rodriguez
Kevin Gausman
Mike Fiers
Andrew Heaney

Tier 3
Ian Kennedy
Clay Buchholz
Nate Karns
Hyun-Jin Ryu

Daniel Norris
Vincent Velasquez
Erasmo Ramirez
Trevor Bauer
James Paxton
Aaron Sanchez
Rich Hill
Nathan Eovaldi
Jimmy Nelson
Jose Berrios
Tanner Roark

(the guys in italics in Tier 3 are not strictly from a Grey-recommended Tier, but could be taken if you feel your rotation is too upside-y, as he put it)

Got it?

3. DRAFT. From here, all you have to do is PAY ATTENTION during your draft. Have a list of these SP's out and cross them off when they are taken. This will allow you to FOCUS ON YOUR OFFENSE (which is more important). Put off drafting SP's as late as you can afford to, but not so late that you miss the boat. This is where paying attention comes into play. When your turn comes up you know how many more picks it will be until it's your turn again. Look at your tiers. If half the guys in Tier 1 are gone and you don't have a starter yet, probably time to jump in the pool. If you have 2 starters already and there are 4 or 5 guys left in Tier 1, you can (probably) afford to wait another round (maybe, unless you're on the end of a 16 team snake draft... this is why you need to pay attention and know your draft position and format). This is not that hard to do, and the more times you do it the more feel you will get for it. A hint: You want 3 guys from Tier 1. There are 25 guys in Tier 1. By the time 8 (roughly 1/3) guys from Tier 1 are gone, you probably want to have one. You probably want 2 when 16 (2/3) are gone. This is not foolproof, as runs on any position can and do happen in drafts, but it is a pretty decent rule of thumb. When you do pick, pick the best SP available to you. All you do is rinse and repeat until your draft is over and you tear up your league with your awesome staff.

Now, a couple of caveats:

-Pay attention to all tiers, not just the one you're currently trying to draft from. If less-than-worthy adversaries are plucking from lower tiers--leaving SP's from higher tiers in the process--don't be afraid to cash in.

Example: You have your first 3 starting pitchers from Tier 1, but, oh no, half the guys from Tier 2 are already gone. You feel nervous about this and decide you need to take your first SP from Tier 2. But, lo and behold, you notice that someone from Tier 1 is still on the board. Take him and re-evaluate the next time around. Don't take a worse player because you feel beholden to the scheme.

Another Example: You have no SP's. Half the guys from Tier 1 are gone. You feel like now is the time to get going. You notice that for some reason Madison Bumgarner is still there. But Grey said I don't need someone from a Tier this high. Grey's right, but this is the DEFINITION of someone FALLING TO YOU. Take him and re-evaluate next turn. Again, don't get shut out and don't hinder yourself by being too focused on the drafting strategy.

-Heed Grey's warnings about WHIP and K and balance and such (read his posts) as best you can. If you're following this strategy, though, it really shouldn't be a big deal.

-If you make a mistake and sell yourself short on a Tier and run out of SP's to draft, you can bite the bullet and take someone from one of Grey's IGNORE tiers who is ranked around the tier you just got shut out of. For some reason, these guys will often be hanging around. Hopefully it won't come to this.

One of the GREAT things about this strategy is that it often leaves you with a staff that is better than what Grey thinks you need in order to win your league (because you capitalized on the SP's that other drafters let fall to you!) without over-reaching. Honestly, Grey may look at your staff and say "this staff is too good", but it doesn't matter because if you waited any longer not only would the guy you took have been gone, but the later guys you were planning on taking may also have been gone.

If you do these things, you will have great chances of success. Last year, I drafted LAST in my 16-team 5x5 league and won the league with:

Tyson Ross
Jake Arrieta
Danny Salazar
Matt Shoemaker
Jason Hammel
Nathan Eovaldi
Trevor Bauer

Tyson Ross was my first pitcher off the board, Round 7, Pick 16, #112 overall (followed immediately by Arrieta, Round 8, Pick 1, #118). Now I ended up dropping (Shoemaker I'm looking in your direction), adding, and trading some along the way, but you get the picture.

In conclusion:
1. Use the 3 tiers, keep track of them, and look ahead.
2. Focus on your O and wait as long as you can to draft pitchers, but not too long. Again, finding this balance can take some practice.
3. Take the best SP available when you decide to pick.
4. Laugh at those who take Kershaw in Round 1. Fools. Bwahahahahaha!


Posted: Tue Mar 08, 2016 11:28 am
by connman
Great post, I'm printing it out for my draft tool folder.
Clearly a lot of work to put together and much appreciated


Posted: Mon Mar 14, 2016 7:51 pm
by benchland
Extremely helpful post. I copied and pasted then removed all keepers. My outlook at drafting not only became more positive, I can easily draft everyone I want in this 16 team league without reaching at any point. Well done flame thrower!