Here is the first 2009 Fantasy Man Early Bird Expert Mock Draft. I pulled in 11 other experts at the last minute to complete an early bird mock draft for you to take a gander at. If you're like me and can't get enough fantasy baseball advice, even in November, why not get ahead by looking at an early mock draft?
We had a great group of knowlegable fantasy experts so make sure to check out their websites. Cory Dobson is representing Fantasy Baseball Express as I am representing TheFantasyMan.com, in case anyone was wondering
Below, you will find the analysis of the draft by some of our participants. I will post them to this article as they come in so be sure to check back over the next week or so.
Thank you to Mock Draft Central for hosting our draft. Make sure you check out MDC for the 2009 season. It's free to join.
To view the draft CLICK HERE
Draft Order: (Randomly selected)John Toczydlowski - Roto Think Tank & Patton & Co.
Jon Williams - Roto ExpertsCory Dobson - Fantasy Baseball Express
Rafael Oliveira - Fantasy Baseball Cafe
Mark Haverty - Crucial Sports
Geoffrey Stein - Mock Draft Central
Mike Kuchera - The Fantasy Man
Jason Revelia - Roto Experts
Eno Sarris - Baseball Guys
Heath Shaffer - Roto Champs
Kyle Stack - Roto Experts
Grey Albright - Razzball
To view the draft CLICK HERE
Mike Kuchera - The Fantasy Man
Strategy: To not make an ass out of myself ..... and to pick the players with the most potential available. I know that's not much of a strategy but I was really looking for players that have a ton of upside mixed in with the really safe bets. Simple as that. I wasn't too worried about weak positions or number crunching, I just wanted to load up on categories. I usually like to go by the "Law of Averages" where 232HR/125SB usually puts your team in the top 3 of those offensive categories. I like to strive for 300HR/150SB potential from my starting roster.
R1 - Miguel Cabrera - My first pick was half deliberate and half an oops! I drafted Cabrera think he'd qualify at 3B but he only played 14 games at 3B, so I had to stick him at CI for the moment. I almost thought Reyes was going to fall in my lap.
R2 - Mark Teixeira - It was either Tex or Braun, and in this case, I went for the sure thing.
R3 - Carlos Lee - I actually thought Braun could slip to me here, then I was going to take Santana but Revelia picked him in from of me. Again, Lee is a super safe pick here.
R4 - Carlos Quentin - I'm already loaded at power and lack speed, but this is where I cannot pass up the superstar potential. I think he can be a .300/40/120/10 guy.
R5 - Jacoby Ellsbury - 50+SB and that ton of potential possible. Maybe a round or two early but he'll be a star... I hope!
R6 - Roy Halladay - Experts always wait on pitching, but still couldn't believe he was there!
R7 - Geovany Soto - I was looking for Brian McCann before I realized he was gone. Soto has 25+HR potential.
R8 - Mariano Rivera - I didn't want to get stuck picking Salomen Torres or someone like that. Plus, still plenty solid RP's to pick from.
R9 - Miguel Tejada - SS is super weak this year after the first few are gone but he's a safe pick this late. I was hoping Jeter would slip.
R10 - Carlos Delgado - Here is where the Cabrera gaff hurts and where I truly realized it. I was hoping to get Delgado as my CI but Cabrera was at CI, tex at 1B, 3B and DH open. Delgado makes a solid pick here assuming he doesn't collapse again and he's really the last big impact power guy out there.
R11 - Alexei Ramirez - Found him by accident and couldn't believe he was still there. .300 with 20/20 potential and never K's is lovely at this point in the draft. It's Dustin Pedroia 9 or 10 rounds later.
R12 - B.J. Ryan - Should not have made it this far, but he'll be super solid.
R13 - Zack Greinke - I have been waiting on SP's because the talent pool is so deep, plu, you can get top-notch guys who had down years in 2008 i.e. Aaron Harang, Chris Young, etc.
R14 - Aaron Harang - See?
R15 - Chris Young - Unbelievable! Harang and Young were top 20 SP's last year!
R16 - John Smoltz - This was my first real big risk in this draft....not bad for a 16th round pick as it sounds like he'll be ready in 2009. Plus, plenty of serviceable SP's on waiver wire.
R17 - Mark Reynolds - His 30+ HR potential is what I was looking at. It was either Reynolds or Hank Blalock. I still need another SB guy but there were still a few OF's out there.
R18 - Carlos Gomez - Just as I suspected. It was either Gomez, Pierre, or Bourn.
R19 - Rick Ankiel - I debated here. I wanted another SB guy like Pierre or Bourn, but I am high on Ankiel in a contract year to hit 35+ HR.
R20 - Jose Lopez - I needed an MI and it was either Orlando Cabrera or Lopez. Cabrera would provide 20 SB's but Lopez was 9th in hits in 2008 and never K's.
R21 - Chris Carpenter - My second big risk after Smoltz but same reasoning applies here.
R22 - Yadier Molina - I could have went for the 20+HR potential of Kelly Shoppach but I opted for the higher BA in Molina.
R23 - Frank Francisco - If he wins the closer job, I'll win the saves category! Otherwise, I can always drop for new talent!
Cory Dobson - Fantasy Baseball Express
I was asked about 20 min prior to the draft to fill in for Mike’s other entity, Fantasy Baseball Express. I certainly had the time and ability to do the draft, but haven’t thought much about baseball since my beloved Brewers and Cubs fell in the divisional series. My strategy became a winging it approach and try not to embarrass myself too badly.
Last year at this time, I was a lot more like the other drafters in this particular mock, trying to run a forum/blog and research 2007 stats and even attempt 2008 projections from 3 yr averages and predict how/who would make an impact from the minor leagues. The task was far too daunting for one stay at home dad, and the off-season interest in my site just couldn’t gather much momentum. Only a handful of participants checked in frequently, and fewer added to the discussions.
I may re-incarnate it this season, who knows….address for those interested was:http://fantasyaddiction.freeforums.org/portal.php
My draft went fairly well overall, considering the circumstances. 1st round, I was going to take H Ramirez, figuring A Rod would go #1 and someone else likely #2…a Pujols, Utley, etc. When John picked him #1, David Wright became a solid, dependable, 5 category type player at a decent position to fill early. Will be interesting to see what happens in the new ball park.
2nd round, I was all set to take my boy, Ryan Braun. The pre-ranks weren’t very good, and certainly down on him, so I thought it would be easy pickings. When Sarris tabbed him, I moved onto Teix, and he lasted all of 2 picks. Ichiro Suzuki is not someone I ever target in a draft, but went for the ++ BA he provides, and probably should have gone elsewhere, likely power.
3rd round was a tossup. I thought about R Martin with the 2 C requirement, but he didn’t really produce for me like I’d hoped (at his auction salary) in the league I run with Mike as a participant. None of the other names jumped out at me, and as a Brewers fan, I saw first hand what kind of magic CC Sabathia can put together when motivated by new scenery. I really don’t expect him to stick around in MIL, but he’ll likely stay in the NL (IMO) where he can hit and find great success.
4th round I was very excited to land Curtis Granderson. He’s becoming a lot like Sizemore, IMO, and got him 3 rounds later.
5th round I went for some power with Garret Atkins, though I’m not exactly sold on him. What position will he play? Will Stewart outseat him (or continue to try and convert to 2b)? Will he get moved? Will Helton, so 1b is cleared for him? Solid pick at this point, but not sold overall.
6th round was a pick to Mike’s heart, since I was technically drafting for him. I know how he loves them Yanks (and I loathe, BTW), so I took the aging Derek Jeter. I needed some MI help after my pick, M Young, was selected 2 picks before me. I also considered Liriano at this point, who was also gone.
7th round got my man in K-Rod. I don’t expect him to top out near 60 again, but his willingness to fight through pain, and adjust his pitching to compensate w/o further injury, was impressive. He’ll sign a fat contract, and with any, his motivation may be lax. Also considered Nathan at this point.
8th round went with a young stud in EdisonVolquez. Finally hitting on his potential from the DVD days in Texas, the kid was great and will continue to be. Might have taken him a bit early, looking back on how SP got drafted in this mock, but I can see him putting up numbers like Lackey and Lester, two guys selected right before him.
9th round went with some young, emerging talent in Ryan Zimmerman. Not quite the pop my team probably needed at this point, and not a ton of support in that lineup, but I like the way he plays the game and would provide solid numbers if he stays away from the injury bug.
10th-15th..certainly not a lot of flash here, and my hand was called by 2 C requirements. I dislike catchers, especially with R Martin’s somewhat off year (at least by my expectations), V Mart’s injury bug, and the dearth behind that. I like Kurt Suzuki as a backend type catcher, but real iffy as my starter. Felix Hernandez just can’t find a way to put it all together, maybe this will be the year…and worth a shot at this point. Kelly Johnson is a solid producer in ATL, and not a bad 2b to have. Jeff Francoeur sux, but if he can learn just a bit of patience at the plate, his BA/HR potential would go up. Aaron Rowand was a nice bat to add to a big OF requirement at this point in the draft, a guy I usually look at for a 4th or 5th OF in deep leagues. Fausto Carmona should be able to re-kindle the magic from 2007, and certainly worth the shot in the 15th.
16-20th…Huston Street isn’t a great closer, and may be on the move, but should have some closing gig wherever he is. Jeremy Hermida is definitely not a guy I normally look at, with his high chance for injury, but needed some potential power from an OF slot. Brandon Wood is my perennial potential guy after the numbers he put up in the minors (at times)…and fills many a “minors” league spot for me in leagues. Ronny Paulino only falls on my team as a backup guy with C eligibility, though I probably should have gone with Towles here. Chase Headley is a guy I really like, and he could really step it up this year, be it in LF or maybe even back to 3b.
21-23…went with 3 guys I have been following as prospect type pitchers in good situations to play for 2009. Gio Gonzalez could be the next in line at OAK for prospect to moneyball stud, Chris Volstad should factor in with FLA’s young and improving team, and Colin Balester should break camp with WAS.
Not a great draft, plenty of question marks…and I haven’t really assessed it against the other teams yet. Thanks for the invite.
Eno Sarris - Baseball Guys
You can view Eno's analysis HERE at BaseballGuys.com
Grey Albright - Razzball
You can view Grey's analysis HERE at Razzball.com
John Toczydlowski - Roto Think Tank & Patton & Co.
I want to first thank Mike for the chance to participate in the auction. As background for those of you that have not been to our site, Roto Think Tank is now a three year old blog focusing primarily on auction strategy and player valuation and evaluation. My partner, Mike Gianella, and I have been playing fantasy baseball for, jeez, 15 years or so. We began our venture into analysis and strategy with Alex Patton, and continue to work with his site, Patton & Co., in our "downtime."
Admittedly, this was not my best draft. I was a bit thrown off initially by the interface (accounting for picks in round 4 and 5, but I'll get to that later), and did not have a chance to pre-rank players. And, well, in November, it is difficult to get into that draft mindset. I also admit to being a non-pro on mixed league 12 team leagues. One of the hardest things for me to do in a draft is play it straight - I love strategies. But that was my plan going in.
R1 - Hanley Ramirez. Two things about Hanley. One, he is only 25 years old. Two, he can flat out hit. I am a big fan of position scarcity, even in mixed league, and shortstop is a position that does fall off sharply after the first couple of players (how badly did Rollins owners feel this year?). Strong 4 category player with a contribution in RBI from the shortstop position had to be my first pick.
R2 - Dustin Pedroia. There is little not to love from Pedroia. Increase in extra base hits from 48 to 73. A 10 point increase in OPS+. A 5 category contributor from the second base slot. Deserving of a number 24 pick.
R3 - Lance Berkman. Lance is still only 32 years old. He rebounded from an "off-year" in 2007 and returned to the form of his very solid mid- to late 20s seasons. 5 first basemen were already off the board at number 25; as a result, Berkman was a no-brainer for stability at the corner.
R4-5 - Vlad Guerrero and Victor Martinez. Well, this is where the interface got me. In the interest of full disclosure, I told Geoff that I did not want to roll back several picks. It is hard to go wrong with Vlad despite age. He was not my first choice this early, but you can live with the production. Unfortunately, Vlad's body is older than his real age, and he reminds me of Andre Dawson in the twilight of a career too early. V. Martinez is not the guy I wanted at catcher...Soto was my guy. But once I had a catcher, I did not want to give up another pick too early. Injuries robbed V-mart of his power this year...I do expect a bounce back in light of his good 2007 numbers and his relative youth.
R6 - Edwin Encarnacion. Encarnacion was, in retrospect, a product of my discombobulation after the R4-5 debacle. Third base does drop off, but there were better picks than Edwin available. He truly is an enigma, though I am very encouraged by the increase in his walk rate, despite the corresponding increase in strikeouts. He should be a 30+HR guy in that bandbox.
R7-8 - Jamie Shields and Adam Wainwright. Admittedly a little early for Shields, I like my pitchers in their mid- to late 20s and with stuff. Shields is both. He is a + WHIP and steady ERA guy who made strides in his ability to pitch in 2008. With a good team behind him (despite being in the stacked AL East), I have a hunch he will continue on the upside of the development curve. Wainwright is a favorite of mine. Assuming health (which with Adam is not a given), Wainwright is poised to become a top tier starter, and was on pace to do so last year until derailed by his injury. I expect big things from him this year on a competitive Cardinals team.
To interrupt for a moment, I wanted to talk about mixed league strategy. I always assumed that, in mixed leagues, the pitching pool is deeper than the hitting pool, and that it is easier to find replacement level players (or VORP equality if you will) from the pitcher free agent pool than from the hitter free agent pool. In both 12 team mixed drafts I have done, I picked pitchers late and still feel very good about my staff. Time will tell whether this strategy works.
R9 - Joey Votto. Highly under-rated because he plays in obscurity. He put up an OPS+ of 124 as a 24 year old rookie, and I see nothing in his numbers to suggest a step backward next year. I like Votto very much in this round.
R10-11 - Torii Hunter and Lastings Milledge. Hunter is a safe pick. If you take 2001-2008 and look, they look pretty similar. The worry - there is a lot of wear and tear on that 33 year old body and the power, RBI and average slipped a little. Milledge is a medium risk/high reward player. At his age, the power and speed are still developing, and his K/BB is not awful (though its not really good either). A move out of Washington will certainly help his stock, but he's going nowhere for the moment. There were safer picks, but speed and upside are important.
R12 - Richie Weeks. Not my favorite player, but young and with upside. His K/BB suggests that, if he were to cut down Ks by 1 every 30 AB, he would likely raise his average above .250. He reminds me of Jimmy Rollins in some ways; he hits the ball in the air a lot because of his power, when his speed suggests that being a line-drive hitter would be more beneficial.
R13-14. John Danks and Matt Garza. Danks came out of nowhere this year for a breakout. If he had not run out of gas at the end of the year, his numbers would look even better. The key is keeping the ball in the park. I see no step backward coming. Garza is another favorite - young and with stuff. Come to think of it, the Rays really fleeced the Twins in this trade. I was ecstatic to get Garza this late...with one hesitation. With his stuff, why does he pitch to so much contact? 128Ks in over 170 IP - not what you expect with his stuff.
R15 - Xavier Nady. Safe pick here...he just produces, and has progressed as he's gotten older and picked up more ABs. Don't expect more than what he did last year, but there is no reason he will not duplicate those numbers. Sexy picks are good, but sometimes, you need to assure yourself of stats.
Here is where I abandoned the strategy of playing it straight and making safe picks. I saw where my team was headed, and I thought it needed some "juice." And juice it got.
R16-17. Clayton Kershaw and Ubaldo Jimenez. We know what Kershaw is...in that park, I have to believe good things will come. Jimenez is about 40 less walks from being unhittable. He does not pitch to contact. He keeps the ball in the park (partly because hitters are afraid of getting drilled and have poor footing at the plate). Youth and experience = a potential top tier starter.
R18 - Jesus Flores. He strikes out a lot, but he has potential 15 HR power. He is still inexperienced, but will play full-time in 2009.
R19 - Scott Baker. Baker refined his stuff, pitching to less contact. His K/IP increased despite not having "monster" stuff. He is still young and looks on the verge of hitting the 200 IP mark next year. If he can keep the HR down to the low 20s, so many of those being solo because he doesn't walk many, he should be in the league leaders in ERA and WHIP.
R20 - Ryan Garko. Really, you ask? Garko had a slump this year, with decreases in extra-base hits, HR, and average. On the other hand, he knocked in 90 runs and slightly reduced strikeouts while slightly increasing walks. As a round 20 DH, you can't ask for much more.
R21 - Michael Bourn. I hate this pick already and I will hate it all year. Bourn is a 5th outfielder who Ed Wade believes is an All-Star. He strikes out 25% of the time, gets caught stealing 20% of the time, and put up an OPS of 57. Yes...57. In a mixed league, if you are desperate for speed, take Carlos Gomez...he put up an OPS of 79.
R22-23 - Manny Parra and Carlos Villanueva. Both Brewers. Both young. Both with a lot of potential. At this stage, you look for closers-in-waiting (I didn't like most of those), or your high risk/high reward picks. Villanueva, by the way, drastically reduced his walks this season. He might have an eventual role in the pen, but I don't think you can give up on him as a starter quite yet.
In the end, the roster has holes but did not turn out too poorly. I am short on saves (okay, I have none) and my average could be in trouble, but runs, HR and RBI should be solid. My pitching staff has proven young veterans, with a couple of potential stars if things break right. All-in-all, not a bad day's work. And drafting, auctioning and writing about baseball is better than working!
More analysis to come.....