Sunday, March 10, 2013

Fantasy Focus: Yet Another Mock Draft

With the long spring season in baseball, it seems like an eternity waiting for my fantasy baseball draft which is scheduled for Friday, March 29.  After pouring over draft rankings and thinking out strategies in my head, I needed to test some of them out, so signed up for a mock auction draft on Yahoo Friday night.  I specifically wanted to clarify my budgeting at the top of the draft, see if I could punt Saves and get the SP's with RP eligibility that I wanted for the right price, and see what players I could get at the end of the draft if I spend big at the top.

In past years, I used to mainly look for pitchers with high K rates and  pretty much ignored ERA and WHIP.  Last year, I made a concerted effort to roster pitchers with historically low WHIP's and found that it paid off by putting WHIP consistently in the Win column for Savvy Vets.

My goal was to get 3-4 stud players for a total of around $150, add in 2-3 in the $10-20 range and then try to fill out the rest of my roster with players who cost less than $10.  Here's how it went:

C   Wilin Rosario, Rockies  $10.  My backup plan was Welington Castillo, but Rosario came up huge for the Savvy Vets in last year's championship run.  If I can get him for under $15, Rosario is my catcher.

1B  Albert Pujols, Angels  $45.  My initial thought was to see if I could get one of the Big 3 for $50 each, then get one ace pitcher and go scrubs the rest of the way.  Alas, every one of the Big 3 went for well over $50 with Mike Trout going for the big 6-oh.  I then adjusted my sights to try for my #4 and #5 ranked players, Cano and Pujols. I was hoping to get them in the low $40's, and then maybe try for 2 aces.  Not sure what I would have done if Pujols, my #5 went for over $45, but he didn't and I landed him.

2B  Robinson Cano, Yankees  $42.  I have Cano ranked #4 overall, but he gives the biggest positional advantage on the board.

3B   Pablo Sandoval, Giants  $19.  This might have been a slight overpay for Sandoval, and he does carry some risk, but if he has the breakout season I think he might and he's not on my fantasy team, I will not be happy.  So, I think I've gotta go for Sandoval in my draft.

SS  Jean Segura, Brewers  $1.  I made a run at Ian Desmond, but another guy started bidding me up out of my price range.  Made another run at Alcides Escobar.  Based on his minor league record, I think there is a decent chance Segura outperforms Escobar anyway.  Rookies are always dicey though.  I may be busy on the FA/Waiver wire looking fo SS's with him, but it's only a $1 risk.

OF  Yeonis Cespedes, A's.  $21.  There are 4 young 5 tool OF's I really like, Bryce Harper, Jason Heyward, Adam Jones and Cespedes.  Cespedes seems to be the most affordable of that group.  He may have the highest ceiling too, well, except for Harper but Harper is way more expensive.

OF  Ben Revere, Phillies  $4.  I think Revere is likely to put up better numbers than Michael Bourn and is going for a fraction of the cost.

OF  Michael Cuddyer, Rockies  $3.  Cuddyer was hurt last year, but hit 16 HR with 8 SB's in 394 PA.  Projected to a full season he gets you 24 HR and 10+ SB which is what his ZIPS projection says he will do in 2013.

UT  Pedro Alvarez, Pirates  $4.  Alvarez hit 30 HR last year. He's a former #2 overall draft pick and is still very early in his career.

UT  Starling Marte, Pirates  $1.  Marte was a beast coming up through the minors and his MLB debut last year was impressive.  Good bet for at least 10/30 with a whole lot more than that possible.

SP  Justin Verlander, Tigers  $36.  Having saved some $ on the offensive side by not overpaying for any of the Big 3, I decided to get aggressive on pitching side.  I always like to have strong pitching anyway.  IMO, pitching is the most underrated aspect of fantasy baseball by most analysts.  Verlander is the #1 SP on my board.  He's got the stuff and the track record and is in the prime of his career.

SP  David Price, Rays  $32.  I have Price as my #4 but in the same top tier as Verlander, Kershaw and Strasburg.  He's going for at least $5 and a full round later than the other 3 which makes him undervalued in my book.

RP  Marco Estrada, Brewers  $4.  This is where I diverged a bit.  Last year, I ended up with a very weak bullpen and was not really competitive in Saves in the second half or my fantasy playoffs.  This has gotten me thinking, you either win the category or you lose it. There is no in-between.  If I could win the championship by essentially punting Saves, I might do even better if I go all the way and replace those pitchers with good SP's who have RP eligibility.  The top guys for that are Medlen, Chapman and Lynn.  Medlen and Chapman are expensive and Lynn has a high WHIP and is looking like a regressor.  Estrada, Iwakuma and Erasmo Ramirez are my targets in this scenario.

RP  Hisashi Iwakuma, Mariners  $1.  At this price, I consider Iwakuma one of the major bargains in fantasy baseball even if you fill your RP slots with closers and just use him in a SP slot.

P   Doug Fister, Tigers  $9.  Fister is fairly popular as a breakout candidate for 2009.  He's getting knocked around in spring training so far, but I still believe.

P  Anibal Sanchez, Tigers  $6.  I almost like Sanchez better than Fister and he's going cheaper.

P  Matt Harvey, Mets  $6.  I was hoping to get Harvey for $4 but I love him as a breakout candidate.

P  Homer Bailey, Reds  $3.  He was a beast down the stretch and into the postseason last year.  A classic post-hype sleeper.

BN  Wade Miley, D'Backs  $1.  There are thoughts that he is a classic regression candidate and I hate his home ballpark for a pitcher, but the WHIP looks good.

BN  Phil Hughes, Yankees  $2.  Hughes helped the Savvy Vets a lot last year and he's another post-hype sleeper type.  Yankee pitchers are always good for W's but they are such a mess this year, I might have to re-think this one.

BN  Tommy Milone, A's  $1.  Milone won't light it up with K's, but he doesn't give up walks and he pitches in a great ballpark for pitchers.

BN  Dylan Bundy, Orioles  $1.  Bundy will start the season in the minors, but will almost certainly be called by the first of June. He will have immediate fantasy value.

BN  Gerrit Cole, Pirates.  $1.  See Dylan Bundy above.

I left $7 on the table which is more than I would like.  Looking over my roster, I could have gotten a more established SS or maybe upgraded an OF or UT slot, but overall I am reasonably happy with my offense.  The one pitcher who I really wanted and got away was Brett Anderson and in retrospect, I could have used the extra $7 to be more aggressive in landing him.

This was a 12 team draft.  My real life fantasy league is 10 teams but 3 more roster spots each, so the total number of players drafted is quite close.  My league has an extra IF, SP and RP slot.  I would have moved Alvarez to the IF slot and targeted Dayan Viciedo for a cheap source of power for the vacated UT slot.  Erasmo Ramirez would have been my 3'rd RP and maybe Alex Cobb for my extra SP slot.

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