Tuesday, March 25, 2014

12 Team 6x6 Roto League Draft Results

Last weekend I flew up to St. Louis to participate in the annual live draft for my biggest league each year – a 12-team 6x6 (standard, plus OPS and CG) roto league with large rosters (IF, OF, UTIL), with a pretty significant buy-in ($175) and a $1,000 payout to the winner.  Since this is the type of league my Draft Strategy 101 series was geared toward, I wanted to go over the draft results and see how well I applied the principles I outlined therein when on the clock and drafting live.

I also asked a number of other managers a couple questions about their draft results, and had one do the same for me.  While none of us are fantasy “experts,” we have been doing this league for over 10 years (and other leagues going back farther than that), and are pretty well-informed when it comes to fantasy baseball.

Now, I know nobody is really that interested in other people’s fantasy teams, but the idea here was to get the reasoning behind different picks and strategies.  I’m of the opinion that there is no such thing as too much information – the more takes you can get on a subject, the better able you are to formulate your own informed opinion.  But if you are happy with the current amount of information you have and don’t want to read another draft results article, then go ahead and click away now.  Don’t worry, you won’t hurt my feelings.

Click here for full draft results

I’ll start with a quick rundown of my results, then go into the questions for the other managers.  I was drafting 11 out of 12, so I’ll look at the picks two at a time to speed things up a bit:

Rds. 1 & 2 – Robinson Cano & Prince Fielder

I was hoping Ryan Braun would fall to 11, but he ended up going at #5 overall.  After that I was looking for as much safe IF power as I could find.  Cano was a no-brainer, with the clear-cut lead in all production categories at his position and, as I’ve mentioned, I don’t think the move to SEA will hurt his numbers that much.  With the 2nd pick I was also considering Longoria and Votto, but ultimately decided Prince offered the most power upside of the group while still providing a pretty safe floor now that he is in the womb of the Ballpark in Arlington.

Rd. 3 & 4 – Jose Bautista & Justin Verlander

Coming in, I had my eye on Bautista with my 3rd pick.  He hadn’t lasted that long in any of the mock drafts I’d done, and I basically decided I would take him if he’s there no matter what.  I think he clearly had the highest power floor of any of the players left, and if his wrist is fully healed this year (all indications say it is), he should be a great value at the end of the 3rd round.  See below for more of my stance on Verlander, but suffice it to say that I’m stoked to get a guy who has been a top-20 pick each of the last 3-4 years as the anchor of my staff in the early 4th round.

Rds. 5 & 6 – Billy Hamilton & Ryan Zimmerman

Before you tear into my Hamilton pick, let me say that I had Myers, Kemp, Holliday, and Cespedes all ahead of him and lined up for my 5th pick, but they all went shortly ahead of me.  I still wanted another OF with this pick, and felt very comfortable with my power floor to this point, so I figured I’d take a chance on Hamilton.  See below for more of my take on him.  As for Zimmerman, he’d never been available that late when I was mocking, and I thought there was a big drop-off at 3B after him.  Yes, he’s injury-prone, but after passing on the top-5 3B in the first two rounds, I was pretty excited to still be able to get Zim outside of the first 5 rounds.

Rds. 7 & 8 – Joe Mauer & Danny Salazar

I broke my own rule here with Mauer, as I usually don’t consider a C before round 8, but I only missed the cut-off by two picks and couldn’t resist the value of him at 83 overall.  He will be playing 1B almost exclusively this year, which is a trait that has produced some of the best fantasy Cs the last few years (see Mike Napoli and Victor Martinez last year), and he’s a 3-time batting champ who makes me feel much more comfortable with the BA risk of guys like Bautista and Hamilton on my roster.  Salazar was obviously a reach, but when you are picking near a turn you often have to reach to make sure you get the guys you want.  His upside is through the roof this year, and if he can give us just 175 IP, I foresee 200 Ks with a low-3s ERA and a WHIP in the 1.15 range…

Rds.  9 & 10 – Mat Latos & Domonic Brown

…And being able to get Latos at 9.11 made me feel even better with the reach for Salazar the previous turn.  It’s almost like I took my #3 SP before my #2.  Latos is progressing well and should be ready to go by the 2nd week of the season.  While his HR/FB may regress a bit from last year, he should also get a little more luck in the Wins department this year, and he’s a strong K guy which is by far the most important characteristic a fantasy SP can have.  Brown was head and shoulders above everyone else I had available at LF at this point (we have the individual OF positions, instead of just 3 OFs), so I decided to take him here and hope we get more of his 1st half self this year than his 2nd half self from last year.

Rds. 11 & 12 – Rafael Soriano & JJ Hardy

I was planning on taking my first closer at this turn anyway, and was pretty excited to see Soriano still there at 11.11.  Since then he’s lost a bit of his luster, as his decreasing K/9 from last year and repeated poundings he’s taking this spring have me a bit worried about his prospects this season.  But he’s the guy on what should be a strong Nats squad this year, so I’ll take my chances with him, though I did add Tyler Clippard after the draft as insurance.  With Hardy, I filled my last starting offensive lineup spot (besides IF, OF, UTIL) with a SS who has averaged over 25 HR over the last 3 years.  This now gives me an entire IF (1B, 2B, 3B, SS) who hit over 25 HR last year, while only needing two top-5 picks to assemble it.  Color me excited.

Rds. 13 & 14 – Brandon Belt & Ernesto Frieri

Belt fills my IF spot (and backs up Prince) with a solid average and on-base skills, and the upside for a power breakout in his age-26 season.  Frieri is my pet RP this year, as he has by far the cheapest price of the elite-K/9 RPs.  Yes, his control could use some work, but I am pretty stoked to get almost a 13.0 K/9 in the 14th round and from my RP2.

Rds. 15 & 16 – Justin Masterson & Khris Davis

While the young, buzzy SPs (Shelby, Wacha, Salazar, Gray, Cobb, et al.) are getting more and more expensive as draft season goes on, Masterson appears to be getting cheaper, and I, for one, am thankful for it.  This is a guy who should perform at an SP2 level this year (SP3 at worst), but is currently priced as an SP4 or 5.  I’ve already analyzed his numbers from last year so I won’t go into them again, but he has carried that improvement from last year into this spring, giving up only 2 ER in 19 IP with a 20/4 K/BB walk ratio.  What’s not to like?  I was hoping for a bit more speed in round 16 – had my eye on either Adam Eaton or Kole Calhoun – but the guys I wanted got snagged before I had a shot at them.  Khris Davis was just my fallback option, but I certainly don’t mind adding a bit more power this late.  This guy had a .317 ISO last year (!) in a not-insignificant 136 ABs.  At this point it’s all about upside, if he doesn’t pan out I’ll have no problem dropping him.

Rds. 17-23 – Christian Yelich, Dan Haren, Dee Gordon, Yovani Gallardo, Chris Carter, Michael Brantley, Russell Martin

I was looking for speed in these later rounds, as I felt my power base was pretty well set, and I was happy to be able to land Yelich and Gordon this late.  Yelich could go 20/20 this year with just modest improvements over his rookie numbers.  Excitement for Gordon has obviously been tempered by the signing of Justin Turner and subsequent announcement that he’ll be the starting 2B, but Gordon has elite-level speed and can make a difference even if he’s only playing part-time (and hopefully his 3/4 showing in Australia will earn him some more playing time).  Haren and Gallardo are just late round upside plays for the back end of my rotation.  I will be surprised if they end the year on my team as I will actively be playing the waiver wire for breakout SPs this year.   Brantley has been having a great spring (19/38 with 10 RBI), offers a bit of SB upside, and was a valuable contributor last year to my eventual league winning squad, so perhaps this was a bit of a sentimental pick.  But who really cares in round 22?  Carter has already been dropped (in the aforementioned Clippard acquisition), and Martin had just hit his 4th spring HR before this draft so I was excited about a possible resurgence from him this year as a last round flyer.  He’s unlikely to make it through April on my roster though.

Overall, I’m very satisfied with the squad I put together, and think I did a pretty good job following the tenets of strategy I outlined earlier this month.  Obviously, a lot of my speed production is dependent on one guy (Billy Hamilton), but I feel good enough about the rest of my offense that I believe I’ll be able to compete even if Hamilton realizes his worst-case-scenario and gets demoted.  I also like my pitching staff, especially at the top, but will consider it a work-in-progress over the first 2-3 months of the season.  The draft is only half the battle, and now it’s time to improve upon the foundation placed during the draft with quality in-season management.

Now let’s see what some of the other managers had to say about some of the more pressing questions about their drafts:

3rd Pick – Us and Them (Ryan Hildebrandt), previous finishes: 2013 - 2nd, ’12 - 8th, ’11 - 11th, ’10 - 6th, ’09 - 3rd


Q.  Here's your chance to convince everyone, why was Hanley worth the 3rd overall pick?


A.  Counting down the yahoo rankings:

Paul Goldschmidt – I don’t take first basemen in the first round.

Andrew McCutchen – I like him a lot.  Take away April and he was a .331 hitter.  After the all star break he posted a 1.001 OPS.  He hits at home .329 (2012) and .337 (2013).  I didn’t draft him third because I can find something around his type of production later.  His team also brings down his value since the Pirates don’t score runs.  This spring he is hitting around .500 with 5 HR in 34abs, with only 8 runs and 7 RBIs.  Starling Marte, their leadoff hitter, played in 135 games and finished with 83 runs, 20 of which came in April (24.1%).  Marte played in 17 games during the month of September and had 4 runs with 0 walks and 11k’s.  Cutch is a great player, but on the wrong team.

Cargo gets hurt every year.

Braun’s OPS dipped last year before he got busted.  He could return to greatness, I’m just not using the 3rd pick to find out.

With the 3rd pick I took Hanley because of position scarcity.  I’m not getting Tulo in the second, and I want to draft Pedroia in the 3rd and Desmond won’t get back to me.   I think Hanley can put up numbers like McCutchen, but at SS with more runs and RBIs.  Before last year, Hanley had played 7 full seasons and 6 times he played over 140 games.  150 games from Hanley at what I think is the weakest position justifies taking him at 3rd overall, and I’m not getting him otherwise.

Q.  You were reaching left and right for guys you like - Werth in the 6th, Abreu 8th, Springer 14th, Taveras 17th - what are you expecting from these guys this year?


A.  I think Werth in the 6th was completely justified.  I get McCutchen type of numbers, but 5 rounds later.

97 R  21 HR  84 RBI  27 SB  .317 AVG  .912 OPS    McCutchen (2013)
84 R  25 HR  82 RBI  10 SB  .318 AVG  .930 OPS    Werth (2013)

I wanted to take Pence but Sam took him two picks before me.  I knew I was taking a pitcher in the 7th so I took the best available hitter and his name was Werth.

Yes getting a player that bats 3rd and hits for power in the 12th round sounds awesome, but it’s not realistic. Again when I drafted Abreu, I felt like he was the best player on the draft board.  I don’t care what yahoo ranks him at, if he is the best player left, I’m taking him.

I took Springer in the 14th because I expect him to come up in early June.  The Astros are trying to save money and keep Springer under control for another season by waiting until June to call him up.  Once he comes up, I can see someone giving up a lot to try to trade for his services.  Same thing with Taveras.  Craig likes to get hurt and Bourjos can struggle.

Q.  Who would you say was the steal of the draft (SOD)?


A.  Joakim Soria, Rangers closer should put up nice numbers in the 18th round.

Q. Who would you say was the reach of the draft (ROD)?


A.  Kinsler in the third by Ricky.  For me, probably Corbin since I found out the next day that he would need TJ.

5th Pick – Dank RiBI Sandwich (Sam Gartland), previous finishes: 11th, 1st, 4th, 4th, 2nd


Q.  I thought Braun might fall to me at 11, but you snagged him with the 5th pick (with Goldy still on the board, no less), what are you expecting from him this year?


A.  I wasn't expecting Goldy to fall to me whatsoever.  That being said, I was all but sure I was taking Braun with my pick regardless of who was there (with the exception of the obvious top 2 picks).  Last year, the scandal came out around January; he was therefore dealing with the controversy since day 1 of the season.  In addition, he was hampered by a thumb injury throughout last season.  For a guy who refuses to wear gloves or other protective equipment as it disrupts his swing, he was not able to thrive at the plate.  People in the fantasy baseball community are very quick to dismiss what Braun's ceiling is/could be. That being said, what do people think his floor is? If you map out his stats last year for a complete season, it looks something like this: 76/23/97/10/.298.  That's not a bad season whatsoever.  Given the reasons I mentioned earlier, I am expecting him to return to his "old self" and put up huge fantasy (top 3) numbers once again.

My biggest concern is that his SB production may drop.  That being said, he has a 78.3% success rate.  Does juicing help with SB?  Not in my opinion.  Since the arrival of Rob Roenicke in 2011, he posted higher SB attempts than ever in his career.  I believe that his SB production will be impacted more so by managerial decisions than other factors (age, juicing, etc.).  Miller Park is an extremely underrated hitter's ballpark.  In addition, the brewers have a very good schedule in terms of hitter's parks, and a pretty potent lineup.  So my question to the fantasy community is:  How much risk is there with this guy....really?  In my opinion, not much.  Here's my projection:

2014 Projection: 600 PA, 98 R, 27 HR, 107 RBI, 18 SB, .315 BA

Q.  It looks like you'll be starting Carpenter at 3B, any worries about him not producing to the levels usually expected from a corner infield spot?


A.  Clearly I'm not expecting corner infield numbers (HR/RBI production) from Carpenter.  No one is.  I am however expecting similar numbers to what he put up last year, which is nothing less than stellar.  That being said, if there is any part of my team I am not fond of, it is my IF spot/HR/RBI production.  I tried to grab a number of players who provide good avg./speed/power and think I did a great job of this, especially in my OF.  I also think that in taking a pitcher in Max Scherzer with my third pick, the result was overall decreased offense in the end.  I also am very happy with my entire rotation and think it is one of the strongest in the league.  As for Carpenter, in a St. Louis dominated league, I knew he wasn't going to come back to me in the 5th round.  I also know that having St. Louis players in a St. Louis dominated league provides excellent trade bait.  It's a long season and I know I can make adjustments as it unfolds.  My plan is to most likely trade a pitcher and hitter at some point.  I would like to target a player such as Napoli or Trumbo who will provide the production I am looking for without the hefty price tag.  I think that although these players don't provide all around 5 stat categories, the majority of my lineup provides very good all around numbers with high average hitting.  As a result, I can most likely find a power bat and sacrifice avg.

SOD - Torii Hunter

ROD – Ian Kinsler

7th Pick – Schmiitake Mushrooms (John Cooperman), previous finishes 12th, 9th, 2nd, 5th, 9th


Q.  So...Goldschmidt at 7.  Couldn't have seen that coming (not that you mind).  How much did that change whatever draft plan you might have had coming in?


A.  I was shocked that Goldy dropped to 7 and it was crystal clear that he would be my pick; although I did Google him to make sure he didn't break his leg or something. This did not mess up my draft strategy at all. I predict another season of vintage Braun-esque numbers.

Q.  You took Wainer and Jose Fernandez in rounds 2 and 3, was getting 2 SPs in the first 3 rounds your plan from the beginning?


A.  With Fernandez I just couldn't pass up the potential and the solid numbers he has already provided. I believe he was top 15 overall in yahoo rankings at the end of the 2013 season and that was as a 20 year old rookie who didn't win many games (not that he will win a lot more this year most likely). K rate and ERA/WHIP are elite. Should vie for Cy Young Award. He and Wainer are the best two pitching anchors on any team in our fantasy league. I feel I plugged my offense with enough boom or bust picks that overall it should pan out and complement my pitching well.

8th Pick – T.W.Uptons (Mike Hill), previous finishes 6th, 12th, 5th, 7th, 6th


Q.  Did you feel you had to draft BJ Upton in order to make the team name work, or was he just gravy on top of an already made name after your 4th round steal of Justin?  Or were you just blacked out already at that point?


A.  My answer is Yes.  I do think I'll get some value from BJ, though.  If he can not worry about hitting HR's and just focuses on getting on base, he could have massive runs scored and 20+ swipes.

Q.  Kershaw, Cole, Moore...I sure hope your staff in great because it sure resembles mine in the keeper.  We all expect great things from Kersh, but what are your expectations for Cole and Moore this year?


A. 
Cole - 200 IP, 14 W, 2 CG, 199 K, 3.20 ERA, 1.15 WHIP
Moore - 189 IP, 15 W, 3 CG, 201 K, 3.17 ERA, 1.20 WHIP

SOD - Yordano Ventura

ROD - Billy Hamilton (although he could be the SOD as well)

9th Pick – IamThe1WhoTanakas (Andrew Schulman), Previous finishes 5th, 11th, 10th, 9th, 10th


Q.  Davis and Tulowitzki both have massive upsides, but they also present some significant downsides.  How close to last year's numbers will Davis get, and how many games will Tulo play this year?


A.  With Davis, I never thought he would fall to #9, so didn't do too much research, so not sure what others saw that they disliked in him but I expect him to play close to last years numbers, while home runs may drop to the 40s, I expect the average to stay close to last years numbers. Davis in my mind is on the upswing of his career and I think will be a steal at #9.

Tulo is always a question mark, but I don't think 140 games is unreasonable. Unfortunately he always seems to get hurt in somewhat fluke ways, but he plays the game right and when you play the position he does and as hard as he plays, things happen. I drafted Jeter as a back up to Tulow in case of injury and I think Jeter will play great in his last year, especially since the Yankees have a decent lineup.

Q.  Donaldson in the 6th and Leonys in the 10th both seemed a hair early, what are you expecting from these guys this year and why?


A.  In Donaldson I think I got the best 3B available, and don't think I took him all too early with the drop off in 3B being pretty high. He finished 4th in the AL MVP vote last year and hit for power in his minor league career. I think his average may come down a little but will sit around .280.  Leonys I may have taken a tad early, but I needed speed and I expect close to 40 bags.

SOD - Tanaka in the 8th quite possibly.

ROD - Kershaw - Pitcher in the first round? Always risky, especially with how he finished in the playoffs.

10th Pick – ChipBeef’nScotch (Anthony Fazzari), previous finishes 4th, 5th, 8th, 10th, 4th


Q.  You started with three big-time corners in the first 3 rounds (Edwin, Longo, Freeman), how much of this was planned and how much was taking what the draft gave you?


A.  I planned to take at least two corners with my first three picks, but getting three was even better.  Power is scarce in the draft pool this season and the outfielders near my pick are too risky for my blood.  I am not bullish on any of the third basemen after the top 5 so snagging not just one, but two of the top five guys, gives me a competitive advantage.  Virtually none of the corners were drafted beyond their ADP and there were some major reaches (i.e. AGonz 37th overall, Abreu 94th).  It's not hard to put together a solid outfield with later picks and I did just that by drafting Myers, Marte, Grandy, Cruz, and Calhoun.

Q.  After Bumgarner your staff is all young guys coming off strong showings last year, what should we expect from your band of up-and-comers (Bailey, Cobb, Gray, Ross)?


A.  I am always looking to draft as many young starters loaded with upside as possible.  Last year, I found incredible value drafting Harvey in the 12th and Bailey in the 15th.  I think any of these guys could be this year's Matt Harvey.  I'm not sure which one, but the more of these SP's I can get the better.  You don't need 5 aces to win your fantasy league, but you need more than one.  Since I'm not willing to sacrifice hitting by drafting multiple stud pitchers, I need to find ones that come out of the woodwork.  I would have loved to get Salazar or Cingrani as well, but at least I have shares of them elsewhere.

SOD - Goldschmidt slipping to 7th overall was shocking, but I'll say Jay Bruce in the middle of the 5th round is incredible value.  That's one of the safest 30-100's in the game at a fantastic price.

ROD - I'll say Tanaka with the 88th overall pick is a huge reach.  I can't endorse taking a pitcher who has never faced major league pitching and pitches in a hitter's park over guys coming off great years like Cobb, Teheran, Minor, Cingrani, etc.

11th Pick – MastersonOfMyDomain (Clayton Scherrer), previous finishes 1st, 3rd, 3rd, 8th, 5th (questions asked by Anthony Fazzari)


Q.  Your starting hitters are all power guys except for speedy sensation Billy Hamilton.  Did you plan this structure of your lineup and what do you project from Hamilton to make him worth a 5th round pick?


A.  I wouldn't say I planned it, but after doing a number of mocks beforehand it became pretty clear that this structure was a strong possibility based on where I was drafting.  I always try to lock down as much prodigious power as I can early on in drafts, and this year the guys who offered that along with speed were just not there around my picks.  Sure, I would have been interested in a Carlos Gomez or a Yasiel Puig or a David Wright, but they all went in the 22 picks between my 2nd and 3rd pick, and I didn't think they were worth taking over Prince with my 2nd pick.  That said, I'm pretty happy with how things turned out, as I have some awesome power (especially in my infield, and pretty cheaply), along with the upside of competing in (and possibly winning) SBs with only one player.  Obviously the range of possible outcomes is astronomical for Hamilton, but if he stays in the majors all year (which I think he will, because it's in the Reds' interest) I put his floor around 80-0-30-70-.235-.620, which may suck but still serves my purpose of contributing a huge number to my otherwise lacking SB totals.  What I'm actually expecting from him is in the neighborhood of 100-2-40-90-.265-.700, with upside for even more gaudy SB and R totals.

Q.  You are clearly expecting some bounce-back seasons from your starting staff (i.e. Verlander, Haren, Gallardo).  Are you concerned about your pitching ratios and what were the thoughts behind assembling this group of starters?


A.  Well, Haren and Gallardo are my 5th and 6th starters, so I'm not necessarily expecting much from them.  They are nothing more than cheap upside plays that have shown the ability to deliver elite fantasy seasons in the past.  If they don't work out, I'll have no problem dropping them early this season.  As for Verlander, he's a perfect example of a Last Year's Bum to me.  A top-3 SP off the board each of the last 3-4 years, Verlander's one bad season has dropped him down to the 8-10 range of SPs, and I feel great about the value I got in him at the start of the 4th round.  Sure there are some concerns with him: last year's numbers are pretty painful on the eyes, and there is the recent core surgery to worry about as well.  But he has had a strong spring (13 2/3 scoreless innings, only 7 hits allowed), and that has made me focus increasingly on his stellar career than his sketchy recent results.  I was also interested in Chris Sale here (who ended up lasting another 11 picks), but I ultimately decided that Verlander, while probably a little bit more of a risk, offers considerably more upside, especially in a CG league (even though I know he had none last year).
I definitely see the downside in the staff's ratios, but ratios are unpredictable every year anyway, so I wouldn't say I'm more concerned about that than usual.  I think the unmentioned guys in the middle of my staff (Latos, Salazar, Masterson) should help out a good deal in these areas as well.

SOD - Besides Goldschmidt at 7 overall, I really liked Sam getting Bruce with the 5th pick of the 5th round (53rd overall).  He is one of the safest 30-100 guys out there, and I was considering him with the 35th pick when I ended up taking Bautista.

ROD – I was surprised by a number of picks (AGonz at 37, Werth at 70, Abreu at 94, etc.), but the biggest shock had to be Kinsler in the 3rd round at pick 28.  He was already on the downside of his career, and is now moving from possibly the best hitting ballpark in the majors to a park where he has his under .200 for his career.

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