Sunday, March 18, 2007

The warm-up draft . . .

Today we had a quick fantasy baseball draft with my buddy Fitz, who moved to Texas, got married and became the butt-end of jokes (all unrelated I'm sure). It's not a money league, and it includes two wives and such platinum hits as "Roy Oswalt 4th" and "Joe Mauer 6th" but I made some interesting decisions, and I thought walking through it would be illustrative. Plus, the errors these guys made are good prep for your money league - most don't really have any idea about some key points regarding FBB on draft day, which is why these leagues are a gold mine if you gamble.

I picked third, which this season is kind of a rough spot - the obvious first two players, Pujols and Santana, are just popular enough to really put you in an awkward situation, and I honestly think the 3-hole can be one of about 8 different players depending on your league parameters. This league used just about every category (including such ridiculous stuff as K/9 and using all of AVG, OBP, H and BB - Jesus), so that made for an interesting decision.

It's a head-to-head league - and here's a pro tip for you: in relatively deep head-to-head leagues, you can basically punt steals. Steals are generally overrated anyway, and unlike true Roto leagues, you only have to win more categories each week - it's hard to get buried, especially with 11 or more categories. Plus, steals are really a 'singular' category - guys with power add multi-dimensional aspects (HRs obviously lead to RBI, OPS and etc), but steals don't really correlate with anything else. However, this also means it's an easy category to win . . . my rule: don't pick steals-only guys, but look for a few guys who add 10 or 15 SB a year, and try to 'patch together' a few wins in the steals category. For a Roto league, throw this advice out the window.

For that reason, I punted on platinum hits like Reyes and Soriano, and went with Miguel Cabrera 3rd . . . BPro's Player Forecast Manager had him listed 4 (Ortiz was ahead), but I felt his all-around numbers and extremely positive health history pushed him ahead. Plus, he's basically mini-Pujols.

Another important point: 3B isn't really a difficult position to fill anymore . . . especially with guys like Alex Gordon going late, there's just no positional scarcity anymore. It's essentially equivalent to 1B now - however, 2B is rough, so I went Utley on the way back, then had to pick between Hafner and Sizemore next . . . I went Sizemore for overall numbers, but I'm not sure that's the right pick there.

Basically, so far my strategy has been to try to pick upper-echelon infielders early but recognize that SS and 3B can be filled on the cheap later - between Stephen Drew and others, you shouldn't need to sacrifice numbers on the alter of positional scarcity. Once the run on pitchers starts, I try to jump on the early end so I can fill for depth late, and unless you're getting BJ Ryan or Joe Nathan, don't waste a high pick on a reliever unless your league is way above average (if you have to think about it, it's not).

The draft:

1. (3) Miguel Cabrera
2. (14) Chase Utley
3. (19) Grady Sizemore
4. (30) Jason Bay
5. (35) Matt Holliday
6. (46) Jake Peavy
7. (51) Brian McCann
8. (62) B.J. Ryan
9. (67) Prince Fielder
10. (78) Jeremy Bonderman
11. (83) Félix Hernández
12. (94) Garrett Atkins
13. (99) Dan Haren
14. (110) Curt Schilling
15. (115) Carlos Guillén
16. (126) Chris Capuano
17. (131) Chris Ray
18. (142) Delmon Young
19. (147) Brian Fuentes
20. (158) Javier Vázquez
21. (163) Howie Kendrick
22. (174) Cliff Lee

Don't expect to get Atkins that late, these kids are basically functionally retarded - also note that I may have overdrafted McCann, but the next pick was a total Braves homer and the drop-off after Mauer/McCann is kind of sick. Honestly, I think in a 10- or 12-team league I might even go as high as the 4th or 5th round, but he's pretty underrated by casual fans so try to let guys like him slide if you can.


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