Thanks to the fantasy baseball sabbatical of our longtime pal Nick Minnix, the Tout Wars Mixed League (15-team, snake draft) had an extra spot for good ol’ Rudy. Grey is also in the league (his draft review here) which gives Razzball two chances to win and me three chances to beat Grey in a 2015 league (RCL and Yahoo Friends & Family the other two). It is also the 3rd straight expert draft (LABR Mixed, CBS AL) that fellow Austinite Paul Sporer was in the same draft as me. So I have the opportunity for two hat tricks this year (or to be hat tricked….grr, pessimistic parentheticals).
The one wrinkle in Tout Wars vs. LABR or the NFBC 15-team format is that it is OBP vs. AVG. This made draft planning a little more challenging because NFBC ADP and any learnings from past drafts are fairly useless for hitters. But since my Player Rater code already has 5×5 OBP set up, I at least had solid player values to lean on.
See here for draft reviews from other drafters and industry snoopers. Actually, wait. Read my team review first.
Below is Team Rudy – drafting from the 12 hole:
|B||Jimmy Nelson (SP)||21.312|
|B||Wei-Yin Chen (SP)||22.319|
|B||Shane Victorino (OF)||24.349|
|B||Francisco Lindor (SS)||26.379|
|B||Brett Anderson (SP)||28.409|
|B||Justin Masterson (SP)||29.432|
Early Round Notes (Note: when I say ‘top player on my board’, I’m am stretching the truth a bit. Just interpret it as ‘around the top of my board, I liked the player and felt he was going soon’.)
- I was near certain that the first 11 off the board would be (in some order): Trout, McCutchen, Stanton, Abreu, Kershaw, Miggy, Goldschmidt, Rizzo, Bautista, Encarnacion, Gomez). So my plan was to take any of those players that fell but, otherwise, take Joey Votto thanks to his tremendous OBP. The hope was Puig or Donaldson make it back to me for Pick #2 and, if not, take Scherzer (I am just not a Tulo or Hanley 1st round pick guy given their injuries). Luckily, Paul Sporer chose Votto in front of me so I got Encarnacion and avoided the barrage of ‘How could you take Votto in the 1st round – it’s not 2012?!’ comments on Twitter and this post.
- Puig went #14 but, luckily, Anthony Perri of Fantistics took both Tulowitzki and Hanley Ramirez off the board which paved the way for Donaldson as my 2nd pick. While Encarnacion and Donaldson are not great OBP guys, they both have 11-12% walk rates and moderate K-rates which give them an above average OBP floor to go with their potential for 60+ combined HRs.
- My 3rd/4th picks went about as well as I could have hoped. Dickerson and Kluber were my top two players on my board after Grey snagged Starling Marte 5 picks before mine. Luckily, Dickerson lasted until my 3rd pick. I understand some industry hesitance to buy into him given he was not a top prospect and has 1 full year under his belt but I see him as a 5-category contributor (thanks in large part to Coors). Kluber at #4 marked my first of several repeat picks from my LABR team and was a no-brainer to me since he was the best SP on the board and there were 22 picks before my 5th pick and who knows what kind of pitching run might happen.
- Perhaps the 5th was destined to be my most interesting round. After choosing Kluber, I looked at my board and felt Matt Harvey was likely to be the best player available. Yeah, right! He went 5.63 – 31 picks earlier than where I got him in LABR. I might have bit on Kimbrel (after Grey took Chapman) but I had planned to grab two closers around rounds 10-12 and invest in hitting. And suddenly I realized when running through the available options, “Oh s**t, I’m going to take Billy Hamilton”.
- Before taking Ben Revere in my recent NFBC draft, I do not recall EVER selecting a low power / high speed OF in the first 10 rounds of a snake draft. Maybe Ichiro once?
- But one of my takeaways from my 2014 draft failures was the realization that the near universal bias to draft speed with other skills (like power) leads to overvaluing that type of player. There is no way I would have drafted 2014 Will Venable in the first 15 rounds if it were not for the allure of 20/20. Brad Miller got me with the potential for 15/15. While this power/speed type is rife for overvaluing, the inverse is generally true in that speed only (aka SAGNOF) guys are undervalued. Granted, a guy like Billy Hamilton only really makes sense for a team that has drafted heavy power/light speed with their early picks. That fit my draft to a tee. The value seemed to be there – I had him as the 37th ranked player and it was pick 72 (or 52 picks after Mike Podhorzer drafted him in LABR). So why not grab him and then focus the rest of your offensive efforts in the other 4 categories? (Fun support point: Billy Hamilton’s ADP in 84 Razzball Commenter Leagues was 81. Teams that drafted him had the 2nd highest average standings points of all hitters drafted on 50+ teams. Jose Altuve was #1)
- My other ‘interesting’ top 10 round pick came after choosing perhaps the most boring trio in recent draft memory: Choo, Shields, and Holliday. In three words: OBP, Petco, OBP.
- Then Kris Bryant with pick #132 in the 9th round! After LABR, I gave more thought to Bryant and felt he had been undervalued. If I had a do-over, I would’ve grabbed Bryant or Soler instead of Rosenthal and Alex Gordon. Bryant has Stantonian power, 3 years of college baseball plus one monster minor league season under his belt, has shown a good eye (important for OBP), is coming up sometime in mid/late April, and will have no playing time limitations assuming he does not completely c**p the bed (as opposed to Mookie Betts who is getting drafted earlier and I has some PT concerns with Castillo/Victorino). The fact that I had Donaldson is actually a plus as it means I did not have to waste a pick on a placeholder 3B – I drafted Billy Butler as a CI who can move to UTIL once Bryant is promoted. I am about 85% confident that people look back on their 2015 drafts and say, “Why the hell did I not take Kris Bryant when I could have had him at a ridiculous discount?”.
- Further support:
And I did go back and double-check – Kris Bryant’s ZiPS *is* the best projection ZiPS has ever given a rookie.
— Dan Szymborski (@DSzymborski) March 16, 2015
- Further support:
This section goes over some larger draft goals/philosophies + evaluating other teams’ decisions. It went over well in my LABR team review so thought I would do it again. I kept the ‘In General’ text the same to call out any hypocrises / changes of heart.
|In General||My Team||Observations on Other Teams|
|Upside vs Reliability||Sprinkle upside picks throughout draft, veer towards reliability in early rounds. Be cautious of guys with brutal contact rates (e.g., Springer, Baez, Bryant)||Well, I changed my mind on Bryant but it is an OBP league and he has a good eye. I think I succeded here. A lot of solid bats/arms with more upside bets on the hitting side (Dickerson, Hamilton, Bryant, Jose Ramirez) than pitching side.||No team jumps out as too ‘upside-y’ or too reliable.|
|Bouncebacks||I like them as long as health not a question mark, skills/age look positive, and properly discounted.||Shin-Soo Choo is my only early round bounceback but his OBP skills + solid 4 category contributions make him an ideal target. Minor bounceback bets on Victorino and Billy Butler.||Did not love Anthony Perri’s Fielder and Chris Davis turn at #3/#4. I think Pujols or A-Gonz and Arenado (who all went soon after) are better plays. Paul Sporer is heavily invested in bouncebacks (Votto, Zimmermann, Machado, Mauer) but the OBP appeal is clear.|
|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, unless there is a large value difference, I am choosing the player who provides better balance.||Very happy with this one. I track as above average in each category and that is with conservative PAs for Bryant and Jose Ramirez (note: I have Lindor too).||I ran the numbers on all the teams and, without divulging too much to maintain a sliver of competitive advantage, there are a surprising number of imbalanced offenses. Here is a crazy stat: if i exclude my fairly balanced team, the team correlation between $HR and $OBP is NEGATIVE 65%. This is crazy since they have a positive correlation at the player level. Perhaps this is due to varying levels of over and undercompensation of OBP?|
|ADP vs “Get Your Guys!”||I prefer to wait as long as possible for guys I like but adjust based on draft room dynamics.||Since ADP does not really exist for 5×5 OBP hitters, this is a little subjective but I think the only players that I jumped the gun were Jose Ramirez and Jimmy Nelson and they were late round picks.||These are some of the picks that felt too early to me: Lucroy (2nd), Betances & K-Rob (5th, before Holland), Bogaerts (6th), Semien (8th), Souza (8th), a host of middle relievers in 16th/17th round|
|Hit/Pitch Mix||I price at 67/33 and 22/11 for SP/RP. That’s my general goal.||The total split for the league was 66.5% / 23.9% / 9.6%. I avoided a repeat of LABR where I went 60% H/ 26% SP / 15% RP with a 65% H / 24% SP / 10% RP split. The biggest change was waiting on closers. I Didn’t draft my first until round 11 vs. two top 10 round picks in LABR. I was tracking very hitter-heavy (espec. for me) with 8 of my first 10 picks being hitters but I reverted back to form with 7 of my next 10 picks being pitchers.||The team splits were all over the place. 4 teams were under 61% in hitting (Both Tom and Greg from NFBC, Charlie Wiegert, and Grey) while 7 were between 70-71%. There were only 4 between 65-69%. Tom, Greg, and Tim McLeod had 30+% in SP while six were 20.2% or less (with Paul Sporer the lowest at 15.8%).|
|Closers||Like MLB.com’s Fred Zinkie and Jeff Erickson of Rotowire, I like having 2 dependable closers in the 15-team format. HATE HATE HATE relying on FAAB or trades to fill a closer spot.||As noted above, I shifted strategies with a goal of picking off 2 closers right above the dependable closer line. Very happy with Perkins/Benoit in the 11th/12th round. Also happy to take a third closer in Jake McGee with my 16th round pick. All signs are positive that he will regain the closer role in late April and he was VERY good last year.||Defending hamp Tim McLeod’s 10th round pick of Jean Segura when he already had Reyes + Wong confuses me as a closer run was in progress. He ended up with Feliz and two fliers (Quackenbush, Ottavino). BHQ’s Brett Hershey bypassed various low-tier closers for Brad Boxberger and Sergio Romo. I like Boxberger but would have taken Mejia or Cecil there. Paul Sporer took no changes with Betances/Allen in the 5th/6th – clearly confident that his SP knowledge would allow him to go all LIMA on us.|
|Middle Infielders||Do not overpay for ‘scarcity’. Aim for middle rounds. Focus on R/RBI/SB/AVG over HR. Emphasis on skills.||Very happy with Neil Walker in the 10th, Jose Ramirez in the 19th, and Scooter Gennett in the 23rd. A slight overpay for Jose Ramirez, perhaps, but that was an SB play, not SS. Neil Walker vs Ian Desmond is a fascinating comparison. Here are the Steamer PA/R/HR/RBI/OBP projections: ID 620/67/18/75/.310, NW 600/69/18/72/.343. Fair case for saying Steamer is cheating Desmond a few HRs. That said, I got Walker 8 rounds later. Now I understand others see Desmond as a surer thing for counting stats or prefer SS vs 2B but I think that this marks an excellent case where desire for power/speed lead to premium pricing.||Interestingly, the draft pick value spent on 2B/SS was about on par with my non-adjusted allotment. I think some players were picked earlier because of scarcity inflation but it evened out. One note here: I have a ton of respect for Anthony Perri but pairing Tulo and Hanley #1/#2 is either an amazing or lethal combo. I christen that move the ‘speedball‘.|
|Catchers||I like to punt Catchers. The demands of the position lead to greater injury risk and more volatile offensive numbers IMO.||I am eh on my 14th round pick of Wilson Ramos. The non-adjusted C value was there. I am very very happy with
||As expected, the room invested about double the draft pick value I had on my draft board for catchers. It felt like the room was a little more measured on C investments thank LABR. Shocked that Robinson Chirinos made it to the last pick in the draft.|
|Starting Pitchers||Draft quality and quantity. Mix upside and consistency.||I think Kluber/Shields are a strong top two. I know Shields has benefitted from pitcher parks and good defenses and he’s going to a bad defense in SD but I am optimistic he has close to a career year. Kennedy/McCarthy/Hammel are solid NL K/BB types and I hope to play matchups and/or get lucky between the five of: AJ Burnett, Jimmy Nelson, Wei-Yin Chen, Brett Anderson and Justin Masterson.||I can see the thinking behind the LIMA-esque SP choices of FG’s Sporer + Sarris and BHQ’s Hershey and Murphy. But Paul Greco’s bargain budget staff really looks like one with Fister/Tanaka/Verlander/ Weaver/Kazmir/CJ Wilson. A lot has to break right (or not break in re: to Tanaka’s elbow) for that not to be a bottom 3 staff IMO.|