Monday, March 24, 2008

Going Once, Going Twice…

Sold! Prince Fielder for $45. That was how the draft started on Friday night. This is an 8 team NL only, H2H points league hosted on CBS. The auction style draft presents numerous challenge and opportunities for the astute fantasy owner to capitalize on (and the unprepared fantasy owner to fail).

We have a $330 salary cap and one keeper heading into each season. An owner can only keep a player for one year which means it is more important to have someone that can help you right now rather than 3 years down the road. Heading into the season I kept Jake Peavy at $33. At only 10% of my budget Peavy is a steal. I was able to acquire Peavy at a discount in last year’s draft because of his down year in 2006. Peavy was my #2 ranked starter behind Carpenter and I was thrilled to get him at such a price (I was willing to go up to $41 for him). I am fully expecting Peavy to put up numbers similar to last year’s line. Another 19 win season might be asking too much, but as long as he keeps his K rate up and wins at least 15 I’ll be happy.

My strategy heading into the draft was to spend roughly $215 on hitting and $115 on pitching. This was merely a guideline. The reason for the slightly higher pitching allocation (most owners stick to a 25% - 30% pitching budget) is that this league setup favors top starters. A pitcher, on a good week, can carry you to a victory. With Peavy already locked up at $33 I had roughly $80 more to spend. I was hoping to grab another top tier starter, two closers, and round out the rest of my staff with high upside, high k rate pitchers who play on teams with good offenses.

On the hitting side I generally eschew the big time bats that go for penthouse prices. I’d prefer to spread out my budget on quite a few $20-$35 hitters rather than break the bank for the Prince Fielder’s of the world. Also, I focus on power over speed. The home run is king, especially in points leagues. A couple of homers from one of your outfielders will more than compensate for their 0-3 days with 2 strikeouts (a negative category in this league).

This actually brings up a good strategy point – know your league rules and how they actually apply to the ultimate scoring product. This league penalizes a player 1 point for every strikeout. Most of the other owners in this league completely misinterpret the effect of this rule and end up avoiding/undervaluing some very valuable hitters. For instance, I was able to snag Adam Dunn last year for $21 while players like Garret Atkins, who finished with only 20 more fantasy points than Dunn, went for $40+. The key is to assess a players overall value relative to the scoring system. Dunn struck out 165 times last year. However, he hit 40 HRs (HRs are king) and walked 101 times. I’ll gladly take the bad (KOs) with the good (massive power and discipline).

Now onto the draft. It didn’t take long for me to dive in. When Carlos Beltran’s price stalled in the mid thirties I had to chime in with a bid. It held up and I grabbed my first player for $36. Beltran was one of my hitting anchors last year when I paid $44 for him. Although he wasn’t specifically on my radar this year I was glad to get him at what I deemed a fair price.

My next grab was Rickie Weeks for $18. This league places a premium on quality infielders, especially those up the middle. If you wait too long to grab them then you can wind up in a bidding war for a Freddy Sanchez type and end up spending $20 on a slap-hitter with no power or speed. Weeks has the potential for a 20-20 season and I’m happy to let him achieve that on my squad. I’d rather have Weeks at $18 then Uggla at $25.

The next name I grabbed was Matt Capps for $6. Last year numerous closers went for double digit prices so I felt that Capps for $6 was a steal. As the draft went on it became clear that all of the owners were gun shy with their closer bids and many of the better closers (Valverde, F. Cordero) eventually went for less than Capps. With that said, Capps is coming off of a nice season and I expect more of the same in 2008.

My next two picks were Miguel Tejada for $28 and Mark Teixeira for $41. Tejada provides me with some pop up the middle. The big three shortstops all went for prices north of $50. I am not comfortable spending top dollar for hitters, especially those that aren’t huge power sources. Tejeada has the chance of having the most HRs amongst NL shortstops and I got him for less than half the price of Jose Reyes ($58). Teixeira is a nice bet to approach 40 HRs with healthy Run and RBI totals. It is a contract year for him and he is auditioning himself for the Mets and Yankees to get into a real life bidding war for his services.

Another big bat comes my way next in the form of Carlos Lee ($39). Lee is a power hitter in a good lineup and should produce a season statistically similar to his 2007. At this point I have two OF’s and a 1B that will each hit around 35 HRs and two MI’s that will each hit around 20 HRs each. That is a nice core to build around.

I have yet to secure my #2 SP at this point and that is because the going rate for pitchers was a little steep. Santana went for $56 which isn’t out of line for this league. However, Webb ($50), Zambrano ($40), Haren ($32) and Maine ($30) all seem like poor bets to earn those prices. Having Peavy at $33 is a real advantage.

My number 2 SP slot is finally filled when I draft Gallardo for $20. I already indicated in my War Room draft re-cap that I feel Yovani is in for a monster season so I will not repeat myself.

Next I grabbed Kouzmanoff for $13. His park limits his power output but over the last few months of 2007 he really put things together. Those 11 post-break HRs are a sign of a big power spike for 2008.

Almost 30 players were called out and sold before I grabbed my next two bats back to back. Jorge Cantu for $4 is a good gamble. Earlier in the day I saw on Rotoworld that the Marlins waived Castillo, clearing the way for Cantu to open the season as the everyday 3B. Here’s hoping that his big spring carries over into the regular season. Hermida at $10 is highway robbery. You’ll notice a theme between this roster and the one I drafted in my War Room league. There are 11 overlapping players, and Hermida is one of them.

My next few picks were low cost, high upside plays: McClouth for $2, Kerry Wood for $1 (my second closer) and Milledge for $4. Both of these OFs will be reserves for me. I was hoping for a potential 20-20 season for Lastings this year but it seems as if Manny Acta is not a friend of the stolen base.

My 3 SP ended up being Randy Wolf. I called out his name for a $1 and you could here a pin drop. I guess all of the injuries have turned people off. However, he generally has a healthy K rate and now he pitches in an extremely favorable park. I like this gamble.

Here is how my final roster came together:

C: Chris Snyder ($3)
1B: Mark Teixeira ($41)
2B: Rickie Weeks ($18)
3B: Kevin Kouzmanoff ($13)
SS: Miguel Tejada ($28)
CI: Adrian Gonzalez ($26)
MI: Tad Iguchi ($5)
OF: Carlos Beltran ($36)
OF: Carlos Lee ($39)
OF: Jeremy Hermida ($10)
OF: Pat Burrell ($14)
BN: Lastings Milledge ($4)
BN: Nate McClouth ($2)
BN: Chase Headley ($1)
BN: Jorge Cantu ($4)
BN: Scott Hairston (Supplemental)
BN: Nomar Garciaparra (Supplemental)
BN: Jeff Baker (Supplemental)

SP: Jake Peavy ($33 Keeper)
SP: Yovani Gallardo ($20)
SP: Randy Wolf ($1)
SP: Mark Prior ($1)
SP: Manny Parra ($1)
SP: Johnny Cueto ($2)
SP: Edinson Volquez ($1)
RP: Matt Capps ($6)
RP: Kerry Wood ($1)
BN: Wandy Rodriguez (Supplemental)

Total Hitting Spent: $244 ($29 over my budgeted allowance)
Total Pitching Spent: $66 ($49 under my budgeted allowance)

That’s right – I left $20 on the table. In hindsight I would have liked to have grabbed either Cain or Lincecum with that extra money. Both of those guys went for $15. Aside from that blunder, I also severely underspent on pitching. The reason for this development was that I kept finding bargains on the hitting side. Going into the first few weeks of the season I am in rough shape on the pitching side of the ledger. Gallardo and Prior are hurt and my young trio (Parra, Cueto, and Volquez) are unproven. I need at least one of them to step up and come out of the gate throwing smoke. If my bats can keep me competitive until my arms get healthy then I think I can be a force beginning mid-May.

The complete results of the draft will be posted later on this week after Mike writes his analysis. Feel free to chime in and let me know your thoughts.


Brett Greenfield said...


Nice draft. Love the $1 staff. Milledge at $4 was a steal, considering NL only.

Kooooz should provide great value at $13.

Keep up the good work.

TJ said...

Re Rickie Weeks: I tend to have mixed emotions on Weeks. The guy cant stay healthy for a full season and tends to be overvalued in most drafts. Though he has power potential, I was not impressed with his RBI total from last year. I would much rather go really cheap at 2b or go for broke at 2b rather then get caught in the middle with an injury prone Weeks. For example, take that 20 or so leftover and apply it to Phillips at 40 and then set it and forget it each week at 2b.

Chris said...

TJ: Thanks for the comment. Weeks definitely has a problem staying healthy. His low RBI total is attributed to his lineup spot and his low AB total (409). If he can put together a mostly healthy season I could see a 20 HR, 25 SB, 95 runs, 65 RBI. He does strike-out a lot but he has also increase his walk rate substantially.

As for the $20, I think I'd still spend it on another SP rather than on an upgrade at 2B. We'll see how the season plays out soon enough. Hopefully I fielded a team that can compete with yours.

TJ said...

hey chris...just wante dto get back to you and say its nice to read analysis on H2H leagues that are points based like ours. Much of the magazines and websites focuses on roto style leagues and its nice to finally see relevant analysis for our style of auction league. Your comment on Adam Dunn is wrthy and a good one..he is very valuable in our league more so than in a roto league because of his pop. I also think u got a steal with Hermida. I wanted his but he went sorta early for OF's and i was sitting waiting for more value to emerge having spent my cap on my IF. In the end, i settled on 1 OFs for 10 bucks each who may not be as good as Hermida (ANkiel and Fukudome) but i guess they both have upside with Ankiel hitting behind Pujols. Overall, great job with the site.

Chris said...

Thanks for the compliments TJ. Mike and I will do our best to discuss relevant topics. I agree that most fantasy baseball info is directed at typical roto-style 12 team leagues. Most of my leagues are set up much differently.