Friday, March 25, 2005

My Fantasy Baseball draft 

Last night, we had the FBL in draft in my "primary" fantasy league, which consists of various and sundry Rangers fans from cyberspace. It is a 17 team roto-style league, 6X6, using OBP, slugging, homers, RBIs, steals, and runs scored on offense, and wins, saves, IP, ERA, WHIP, and Ks for the pitchers. 21 players -- 12 offensive positions, 9 pitchers, no bench.

I've been competing in this particular league since 2001, and have never won, but have finished 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 6th...not bad, considering there are generally at least 16 teams. This year, though, I'm as pleased with my draft as I've been with any of my drafts ever, and so I thought I'd run through it with everyone...

1st round -- Albert Pujols. Surprised he was there. I was going #2 overall, and was expecting to see Pujols go first, which would have left me choosing between ARod and Bobby Abreu. But ARod went #1, so I took Pujols.

2nd round -- Adam Dunn. Like a lot of statheads, I think he's got a great chance to break out, and his low batting average is irrelevant since we use OBP, and Dunn is always solid there. For the #33 overall pick, I thought this was a great bargain.

3rd round -- Vernon Wells. I didn't feel great about this pick, but I needed a CF (we use a LF/CF/RF/OF format for the 4 outfielders), and I think Wells should rebound and have a season closer to 2003 than 2004. But I didn't really like anyone else on the board that much -- Rivera, Prior and Garciaparra went immediately after Wells -- and I figured if I was going to reach for a "position" pick, it was going to be Wells at CF, rather than Garciaparra at SS or Kent or Giles at 2B, because I had a couple of sleepers in the middle infield I was more willing to wait for. So I held my nose and took Wells.

4th round -- Lance Berkman. One of the problems with having a very early (or late) pick in a serpentine draft with a lot of teams is that your second pick in the back-to-backs are more difficult, since you have a bunch of players (30, in this case) going off the board between choices. In this case, I saw a lot of guys disappear that I had flagged as possibilities, but Berkman slipped to me, and I just couldn't pass him up. Yeah, he's going to spend the first few weeks of the season on the D.L., but he's also a top-10 fantasy player when healthy, and with him sitting there at #67, I had to take him. I thought he was a terrific value there.

5th round -- Mike Lowell. Like Wells, a pick I didn't feel great about, but there was an early run on third basemen, and Lowell is a solid contributor, so I pulled the trigger, rather than have to poke around after the likes of Chone Figgins or Corey Koskie.

6th round -- Jeremy Bonderman. My first pitcher, and chosen much earlier than I usually take starters...my strategy is generally to load up on offense early, and get some middle of the road starting pitchers late in the draft. But Bonderman fits the profile of pitchers I like for fantasy purposes -- strikeout guy in a pitcher's park -- and like Dunn, he's someone who seems poised for a breakout, particularly given how well he pitched late last season. I wouldn't be shocked to see him go Oliver Perez or Johan Santana on the league this season...this was a high-risk, high-reward pick, but one I felt very good about.

7th round -- Larry Walker. Much like Berkman, a guy who will put up good numbers, but in an unknown number of ABs. He'll probably only get 450 ABs, but he'll put up good runs scored and RBI numbers in the Cards lineup, and will produce enough when he's not on the d.l. to make him a good value pick at #104.

8th round -- Khalil Greene. I had targeted Greene and Bobby Crosby at shortstop, and with Crosby going in the 7th, I figured I needed to jump on Greene. Another guy I see as being a legit candidate for a breakout season, someone who looks ready to establish himself as a top-tier shortstop, after a solid fantasy season in 2004.

9th round -- Mike Cuddyer. This prompted much groaning from folks, who apparently had targeted him as well. The beautiful thing about Cuddyer is that he qualifies as a second baseman, and he's finally going to play everyday in the hitter-friendly Metrodome. An 800 OPS from a second baseman is a steal in the 9th round...

10th and 11th rounds -- Odalis Perez and Adam Eaton. Interesting juxtaposition...I'm not a big Perez guy, but I've always loved Eaton, and been disappointing that he hasn't had more success. But like Bonderman, they are guys in pitcher's parks who should put up good strikeout numbers, and I seem to end up with Eaton in at least one league every season...I don't want to miss out when he has his 2004 Ben Sheets season.

12th round -- Craig Wilson. Great value pick here, I thought. It would be even better if he qualified at catcher, but now that he's finally playing every day in Pittsburgh, I looked at him as a steal when he dropped to #203.

13th round -- Andy Pettitte. Like Perez, I've always thought Pettitte was a bit overrated, but coming back from his arm problems, if he's healthy, he's a steal in the 13th round, and is one of the type of high-risk/high-reward pitchers I want to target in this range.

14th and 15th rounds -- Glendon Rusch and Jorge Julio. Our league requires you to fill three RP spots, and Rusch and Julio both qualify. Rusch had a decent season in the Cub rotation last year, and should start off there this season, while I want to see if Julio ends up re-claiming the closer role in Baltimore.

16th round -- Trot Nixon. A guy who should put up good numbers, even sitting against lefties. Got buried in the Yahoo rankings because of his injury last season, and slipped. Great value pick there.

17th and 18th rounds -- Brandon Backe and Tony Armas. Armas is a guy who, like Eaton, I always seem to end up with. If he can give me a few healthy months, he's worth an 18th rounder. Backe should stick in the Houston rotation this season, give me innings and some wins with a decent ERA and WHIP.

19th round -- John Buck. I needed a catcher. He was the best one left. Less than a 50% chance he's still on my roster come June 1, but I'll give him a shot.

20th round -- Wily Mo Pena. A guy who qualifies at CF, and he'll get playing time if Griffey or Kearns get hurt, which means he'll get playing time. Lousy OBP, but provides steals, homers and slugging. Basically a late-round flyer on a guy who has a chance of putting up huge numbers, and a much better chance of not reaching 400 ABs.

21st round -- Cliff Lee. He was on the board. I needed a starter. I think he's better than he pitched last season.

So that's it. I need to try to deal for a closer or two, and as always, my starting pitching will probably get churned, but I'm very happy with my draft. I'm quite optimistic about the coming fantasy season...

very cool. would we recognize the name of any of the other owners from the NMLR message board?
Only a couple...it is primarily folks from the ESPN message boards...
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