Monday, March 31, 2008

Draft Inspection

Last week one of our readers participated in a draft and he asked me to assess the results. The interesting element here is that I had provided him with a tiered cheat sheet and a game plan prior to draft day. This was the first time that I had done this for someone and I was interested to hear the results.

A little background is in order. The reader is a former astute fantasy baseball player. Over the years he has gravitated away from playing in multiple leagues and has given less time to player analysis. This year he did not do any research and it was up to me to bring him up to speed. This is important because I don't want to mislead you into thinking that I was working with a clean slate.

The league has an atypical setup. The rosters are shallow: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 3 OF, Util, 4 SP, 3 RP, 5 bench and 2 DL spots. It is a H2H, daily roster change league and the scoring categories are as follows:

Offense: R, HR, RBI, SB, TB, K, OBP
Pitching: W, W%, K/9, IP, SV, ERA, WHIP

I provided him with an Excel file containing a tiered cheat sheet, an overall top 30, ADP values from ESPN, and a plan that included a general strategy and some notes about the cheat sheet. Here are the results:

C: Chris Snyder (20th round)
1B: Paul Konerko (12)
2B: B.J. Upton (3)
3B: Miguel Cabrera (1)
SS: Miguel Tejada (8)
OF: Carl Crawford (2)
OF: Alfonso Soriano (4)
OF: Alex Rios (5)
Util: Corey Hart (7)
BN: Dustin Pedroia (18)
BN: Kevin Kouzmanoff (21)

SP: Cole Hamels (6)
SP: John Smoltz (10)
SP: Yovani Gallardo (13)
SP: James Shields (14)
RP: Billy Wagner (9)
RP: Francisco Cordero (11)
RP: Matt Capps (16)
BN: Adam Wainwright (15)
BN: Ted Lilly (17)
BN: Rand Johnson (19)

The reader took Miguel Cabrera with the number 7 pick, with Hanley Ramirez still on the board. This was by design. I feel that Hanley carries some risk heading into this season, and it’s a risk I would rather not take. I had him rated 8th overall and Cabrera 6th overall. On the way back Ryan Braun was still available, but he drafted Carl Crawford instead. His rationale was that he wanted to grab elite speed to balance out his selection of Cabrera in the first. I would have taken Braun here but Crawford is a fine pick.

BJ Upton is a STEAL in the 3rd round, let alone 27th overall. The average may drop into the .280 range but he will threaten 30/30 this season. I was able to land Upton this late in one league but I used a 2nd round pick on him in two other leagues.

This is where the confusion sets in for me: Alfonso Soriano is on the board 34 picks into the draft. Granted, strikeouts are a category and Soriano will accumulate 125+ this year. But a potential 40/40 hitter should not be around this late, and neither should Rios at 47th overall.

Pitchers apparently were flying off the board yet our loyal reader stuck to the plan and waited until Round 6 to grab his first arm. Cole Hamels should thrive in this scoring format, provided he has a healthy season. Corey Hart in the 7th round is incredible value (probably 4 rounds worth). Tejada in the 8th is solid, as is Wagner in the 9th.

Seven of the next eight picks were arms and all are at great values. The only pick that I would not have made in this sequence was Adam Wainwright. I am a little nervous about his innings jump last year (127 inning increase from 2006 to 2007). I probably would have taken Lilly at this spot and Dustin McGowan later on.

Pedroia and Kouzmanoff will probably not start too many games for this squad. I would probably drop Pedroia right away and grab Manny Parra (whom I know is still available). Kouzmanoff is in for a nice year but it would be impossible to start him over Hart in the Util spot or Cabrera at 3B. I would consider dropping him for another arm.

Part of the plan I devised revolved around the two DL spots. The reader correctly made sure to grab two guys that were DL bound (Gallardo and Johnson). This allowed him to pick up both Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez after the draft. I probably would have taken Parra over Volquez but that is just splitting hairs.

Overall this will be a top 3 team. Strikeouts (on the offensive side) are the only apparent weakness. Since I have a vested interest in this team’s performance I will be monitoring the progress all season. Hopefully this one will be a contender.

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