Sunday, April 10, 2011

Fantasy Baseball Draft Advice for Beginners Part 1

Darn you PTI! I meant to say “Draft Day.” The big day finally came, and I participated in my first Fantasy Baseball draft. I know this was a few weeks ago but it's interesting, as a fantasy baseball rookie, to look back and see where I might have been right or wrong. This is for you folks who are interested in following my rookie campaign year-long and for you rookies who are trying desperately to anticipate how your draft will play out, and like a lonely senior two days before the prom, you're looking for anyone, anything who will be your date...but instead of a date, I'll be a guide. I will tell you everything going through my mind for most of this draft (the last few rounds weren't very exciting). That said, yes, this will be a long one. Might as well try out the Fantasy Baseball Express app in the meantime.
Going into the draft, I knew that I only knew two of the other eight participants. Anthony, whom I don't know very well yet, and Adam, whom I have played against in Fantasy Football for several years.

I tried to remind myself of several things before we actually started:
- Targeting 80 HRs and 60 SBs with my first three picks
- Targeting 285 HRs and 190 SBs overall
- Go offensive early and often
- Upon discovering that I had the 8th pick in the draft, I would miss on some of the “sure-fire” guys, unless I was drafting against Leonard the Stock Picking Monkey and his friends
- I presumed I was drafting with Brewers' fans, so I figured those guys would go higher than usual

This league is a points league, not a 5x5. There are single points given for things like stolen bases, runs, total bases, but extra points for home runs, Wins (Pitchers), Shutouts, things like that. Also, we have no Corner or Middle Infield slots. We must have a LF, CF, and RF, along with two other Outfielders, regardless of specific position.

I've been advised (mostly through your buddy and mine, Mike the Fantasy Man) to go for pitching a little earlier than I might otherwise. The Shutout is not something that will come up often, but I want at least one guy who can be a threat to pitch those on occasion. Power is also a big concern for me. Homers are 4 points in this league (plus the 4 in total bases, totaling 8), and there are only a handful of people who can crank a ton of homers.

Going into the first round, since I wouldn't be picking for a while, I knew I had a good chance of getting two of my top-tier players. In order, my value list had: Pujols, Hanley Ramirez, Cano (yes, 3rd on my list), Crawford, Braun, Cargo, Wright, Cabrera (feeling a LOT better about him lately), Adrian Gonzalez, Tulowitzki, Longoria. Knowing that some pitching would probably go in the first couple rounds, I thought 2 of these guys in my top 11 could be mine in the first 13 picks of the draft. I debated my list a lot over the last week or so, it was assembled, ready to go, and the early part of the draft would be the easy part.

For now though, all I could do was look over my list, and wait to see how things played out.

Round 1
1: 1B Albert Pujols – Note: Duh.
2: LF Ryan Braun – Proves my 5th prep note to be true, because no one who was not a Brewer fan would take Braun this high...but hey, that might help me, right? I immediately presumed that this owner either A) is crazy or B) is good, but just really really wanted Braun.
3: SS Hanley Ramirez – Again, “Duh.” I was surprised at how long it took him to make this pick.
4: 3B Evan Longoria – I'm with Mike, I think he's a little overrated this year. Glad to see him go though, as it makes the odds of getting one of my more desired players better!
5: (friend Anthony) - 1B Miguel Cabrera – Solves the question of whether I should consider him or not. If everyone had gone by my list, Miggy would've been the top guy on the board when my pick came around. Not surprised he went before my pick, not that upset either, but the more I hear about his situation, the more convinced I am that he'll have a very good year.

At this point, my pick is “in the hole” as they say, I reassessed my list. Cano, Crawford, Cargo were my top three. The debating and disputing had been done earlier, so there wasn't any question...these were my guys. One of these guys would be mine, then I would reassess while the final two guys picked.

6: SP Roy Halladay – Celebrate.
7: LF Carl Crawford – I really liked Crawford, still do...but a day or two ago I decided I HAD to put Cano over him. I felt a lot better about my mock drafts overall when I had him.
8 (Me): 2B Robinson Cano

Absolutely thrilled. I proclaimed “Robinson Cano, welcome to the Obscure References!” Oh...that's my team titled because I often make jokes referencing shows or movies that none of my friends have or ever will see...mostly because I think I'm the only person who's ever seen these shows/movies...moving on...

Reassessing my position, I see Cargo, Wright, Adrian G, and Tulo as the only guys on my top tier remaining. Odds are, I'll get one of these guys with my next pick. If not, Votto is next on my list, and he's not a bad value at #13.

9 (friend Adam): SS Troy Tulowitzki – Wise pick.
10: 1B Joey Votto – I'm kinda down on him, don't mind seeing him go.

That pick completed the first round. I'll give you more in-depth analysis of the mind of a rookie during the draft in my next post.

10: SP Tim Lincecum – We hit the turn, and another pitcher goes. So much the better! Means one of my guys will fall to me!
9: 3B David Wright – And I'm reminded how difficult it is drafting against Adam. It would've been nice taking care of my 3B spot, but now he's got his SS and 3B spots filled. Looking back, this is the second time in as many rounds where I identified the top two players on my value list, and the second one was selected just ahead of my pick.
8 (Me): OF Carlos Gonzalez – Thrilled. Dual threat, some power, some speed. Qualifies for all Outfield positions. Thrilled. Stoked.

Let me pause here for a second. At this point in the draft, I have two of my “top-tier” players, two guys I would've been perfectly happy with in the first round. Granted, I had 11 guys on that list, and I'm in a 10 team league. I'm easy to please, okay? I only had 9 on my second-tier, so no matter what, I can't complain so far. I prepared well to this point in the draft. I got guys I like, I picked quickly, which may have added some pressure to the guys around me if they didn't do their homework. One position of need was filled (2B), and the second guy I got is a great all-around help to my team.

Now back to watching other people draft. At this point, I'm tracking who is taken, but I am not looking at who I hope will be available with my next pick. 14 players will be chosen before I can pick up my next guy, so I'm not gonna fret over guys I like being picked.

7: 3B Ryan Zimmerman – Dang it, liked him. This isn't far from where he was supposed to be picked, so I can't say I'm surprised.
6: CF Josh Hamilton
5: 1B Adrian Gonzalez
4: SP Felix Hernandez – I like King Felix, don't get me wrong, but I am happy to see pitchers going here because it means guys that I really like will slide a little bit further.
3: 1B Kevin Youkilis – I also like seeing guys like him going here because I have Youk very low on my list. Not sure about his health over the course of the year, so I really don't mind him going.
2: SP Cliff Lee
1: LF Matt Holliday – Celebrate.
1: SP Zach Greinke – Point 5 proven correct once again.
2: 1B Mark Teixeira
3: RF Nelson Cruz
4: 1B Prince Fielder – Drats. I would have loved to have had a chance at him.

Although truthfully, as I looked at my list once again, a number of my second-tier guys were gone, but a few remained. Matt Kemp was second on my list, Fielder had been third, but now Pedroia occupied that spot, followed by Andrew McCutchen. Number one on my list was still available, and I hoped...I hoped he'd still be available. I knew I didn't need Pedroia at this point, and McCutchen in the third seemed a little early, as did the next guys on my list, so I was hoping one of my top two would survive the next three picks.

5: CF Matt Kemp – The good news: my top available player was still on the board (and I could only hope he would still be there, because otherwise, I'd be getting one of my third-tier players instead). Secretly...little nervous about my pick.
6: SP Jon Lester
7: SP CC Sabathia
8: (with great pleasure) 3B Alex Rodriguez - *insert Happy Dance here*

At this point, I'm so happy with my first three picks, I don't care who I get with my fourth. Any of the next four on my list (Pedroia, McCutchen, Bautista, Dunn) would be fine with me...although I have to admit, Dan Uggla was looking more tempting at this point, since I already had Cano and figured a little more power wouldn't be a bad idea. Yes, I need a 1B like Dunn more, even Bautista who qualifies as a RF would be better for me, but I do so love annoying my opponents, and picking another 2B would be such fun. Buuuut...any of my top four would be nice (yes, four picks would be made before my next pick, but I wasn't concerned that ALL four would get picked.

9: C Joe Mauer – One pick where Adam and I differ. He can have Mauer confirms what I just said about my top four not ALL being picked.
10: 3B Jose Bautista – Dang...would've liked him, as he also qualifies as a RF.
10: SP Clayton Kershaw
9: 2B Dustin Pedroia on my board is available, and I could sure use him, so I gladly select CF Andrew McCutchen here. I was majorly tempted to risk losing McCutchen and drafting power hitter Adam Dunn, to address my 1B spot, but I like Andrew too much. I knew I needed some stolen bases as well, and that my power was okay so far, so I went McCutchen.

That's the first four rounds...I'll be back with my thoughts as they changed through the next few rounds. These were trickier rounds because my prep could only help me so much, and the unpredictable picks would become more frequent.

David Bobke

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