Monday, March 28, 2011

NL King - Executing a Fantasy Baseball Draft Plan

We're nearing the end of the fantasy baseball draft season and you've been offered advice, from me, the NL King since last fall. Now, after all that hard work, I thought it would be interesting to write an article on executing a draft plan. Talk about one's draft plan, did they execute it, did they adjust to how their individual draft went and how did it come out. I had my N.L. Only League Auction draft last night and will use my team as the guinea pig to illustrate this exercise. If you still have your draft this week, I hope this helps.

My League: I am in an NL only 12 team, 5X5 traditional keeper league. We can keep up to 10 players to be decided before draft day.

My Keepers: I winded up keeping the max amount of keepers in 10, my 10 were: Freddie Freeman (1B), Melvin Mora (3B), Carlos Gonzalez (OF), Andrew McCutchen (OF), Tyler Colvin (OF), Ubaldo Jimenez (P), Clayton Kershaw (P), Luke Gregerson (P), Evan Meek (P), Jason Motte (P) and I had $174 draft dollars. These keepers were the result of a rebuild last season.

My Game Plan: With my keepers, I felt the most glaring need was to get a strong closer and then simply add to both my hitting and pitching. My game plan was to get either Brian Wilson or Carlos Marmol who I figured would go between $30 and low 30's. The other big player I was focusing one was to get a bat for between $28 - $32 who could give me power and speed. My targets in order were Justin Upton, Matt Holliday, Hunter Pence, Jason Werth, Jimmy Rollins and Brandon Phillips. The rest of my team was going to be built with depth, I was going to try and bring back to my team Miguel Montero for around $15, get 3 more hitters for between $15 to $20 per player, get my 3rd starting pitching for $15, get my 4th starting pitcher for close to $10 and get a young guy with upside hopefully cheap at the end. Finally try to have a good end game filling out my last 4 hitting spots.

Hitting:  Justin Upton came up in the first few picks and I made what I thought could be the winning bid at $32 but Upton winded up going $36 because of his huge potential, so I didn't get him. The next player up was Joey Votto and the bidding was struggling when he hit the high 30's, I bid $40 and won the bid and landed the 2010 NL MVP. I felt I got an elite player, the 2nd best player in my draft and at an undervalued price. The down side was my draft plan budgeted my top hitter for $32, so I was minus $8 versus my draft plan so I was going to have to adjust and take that into consideration going forward. I did get Miguel Montero back for $17, a couple of more dollars than I wanted to pay but there were no solid catchers in my draft. I winded up only getting 1 hitter in the budgeted $15 - $20 range in terms of pricing and that was in Starlin Castro who I got at $21. His great spring aside, this kid has huge potential and will be hitting in the two spot for the Cubs. Then I acquired 3 solid bats in the last third of my draft in Ryan Ludwick ($11), Miguel Tejada ($9) and Brad Hawpe ($9). Ludwick I had in my draft as part of the $15 to $20 group so I saved 4 dollars on him which help offset the $8 more I spent on Votto versus my draft plan. My end game hitters were, JR Towles ($1), Skip Schumaker ($3) and Nate McLouth ($5).

Hitting Analysis - While I didn't follow my draft plan 100%, I felt I adjusted to the draft and took advantage of values. In addition I added one of the elite hitters in the national league in Joey Votto which gives me 3 stud hitters on my squad with Votto, Cargo and McCutchen. I added solid bats in Tejada, Ludwick, Hawpe and Montero who is one of the few catchers who can hit and has upside. I added a young gun in Starlin Castro who has a lot of potential and goes with my other young guns in Freddie Freeman and Tyler Colvin. I already have Melvin Mora as a depth player and added JR Towles, Skip Schumaker and Nate McLouth to go with him. If McLouth can even just regain 2/3 of his old form I got a steal. I also added for depth in the reserves - taxi squad part of my draft Scott Cousins of the Marlins and John Mayberry Jr of the Phils. I feel my lineup is deep, has power, speed and is strong in average. Other than JR Towles everyone is either a starting player or will get significant playing time. I also like the balance of my roster between studs, potential young guys and solid veterans.

Pitching: Brian Wilson was nominated before Carlos Marmol and since I valued the two of them roughly the same my game plan was to be aggressive on the first guy that comes up because I did not want to find myself in a bidding war on the second guy on a two player list. I landed Brian Wilson at $32, I was aggressive in my bidding and probably over paid by let's say $4 or $5 in my league but I secured the talent. I know he has the oblique thing but he should be back worst case mid April I think he will be back sooner than that but it's a long season. Then I made an adjustment to my draft strategy, my plan was to spend around $23 on my 3rd and 4th starting pitchers but the starting pitchers for whatever reason in my draft were going very high and I was worried about over paying on a $15 guy. Also one of the guys I was targeting for around $12 Jair Jurrjens had an MRI Friday afternoon on his right side and the results were not going to be available until Saturday and it didn't sound good. So when Matt Garza came up and the bidding was crawling in the high teens I bid $20 and won Garza. Having Jimenez, Kershaw and Garza as my front 3 starters I feel is very strong. I added late Johan Santana at just $3, Santana could be back late June and felt that at that crazy price for him it was a great gamble versus getting a depth starter. I then landed to fill out my pitching roster a young guy who could break through in Bud Norris at $1. In the reserve portion of my draft I added Wade LeBlanc of the Padres to serve as a quality depth starter for me, Mike Leake a young guy with talent but has to get that ratio down otherwise he will never be on my active roster and Ryan Webb who I think just might have a crack at the Marlins closer role sometime this season.

Pitching Analysis: I landed my stud closer, got an even better #3 Starting Pitcher than I planned in Matt Garza, landed Bud Norris as I planned for my 5th starting slot but my #4 starting pitcher in Wade LeBlanc I was hoping for a little bit better but LeBlanc can be useful. Feel like 7 of my 9 pitchers are big plus guys in the percentage categories and all of them are strong in K's. My last 2 spots went to Norris who is strong in K's and has potential and LeBlanc a solid veteran. I only have 1 closer for sure come opening day in Brian Wilson but arguably he is the best one in the NL and between Luke Gregerson, Jason Motte, Evan Meek and Ryan Webb between their stuff and the closer situations on those teams there is a very good chance one of them becomes a closer sometime this season.

Summary: While I made deviations from my draft plan I felt they were for the better. I landed a lot more upgrades in talented than I budgeted for but the good news was I got a lot of solid players later on in the draft so it did not come at the expense of the 2nd half of my roster. I am very optimistic about my team this year, all I am asking for is good health and let the chips fall where they may. Hope you guys enjoyed this article.

NL King - C.Lizza

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