Thursday, March 28, 2013

Breaking Down the NL King Draft

I thought it would be an interesting exercise to break down my draft in an article and try to hit home some points in terms of one's draft auction style. So let's do it.

I am in an NL only very competitive 5 X 5 Keeper League. We have 11 teams and most of the owners in my league have been in this league for quite some time, as our league is entering it's 22nd season. Our keeper league we are allowed to keep up to 10 keepers.

My Keeper List:
My keeper list going into the draft was as follows:
C - Michael McKenry - Pitt - 1
1B - Tyler Colvin - Col - 1
2B - Danny Espinosa - Wsh - 16
OF - Norichika Aoki - Mil - 5
OF - Logan Morrison - Mia - 4
OF - Roger Bernadina - Wsh - 1
P - Clayton Kershaw - LA - 39
P - Johnny Cueto - Cinn - 20
P - Ross Detwiller - Wsh - 2
P - Jason Motte - Stl - 29

I felt going in I was off to an incredible start with my pitching. I had the #1 starter in the NL in Kershaw, had Johnny Cueto at a very good price coming off an ace year, I had a real good young starter on a top team in Detwiller at a ridiculous cheap price and I had one of the top NL closers in Motte granted at an expensive price. Closers in our league tend to go higher than other leagues and last year the closers went out of control so I decided to keep Motte. In terms of my hitting I didn't have any superstars but I had 6 hitters at $28 and had some real nice hitters in Colvin, Espinosa and especially Aoki. I also had roster flexibility heading into the draft as Colvin, Morrison & Espinosa qualified at multipe  positions.

Draft Plan:
My plan was to spend heavy on hitting ( I had a total of $142 draft dollars). On my 4 pitcher keepers it cost me $90. My pitching plan was simple get 3 starters at cheap prices who while will not be studs can give me nice numbers in W's & K's and not hurt my ERA & Ratio. Then I was going to get two stud middle relievers hopefully at $1 each. I was targeting Mitchell Boggs because besides being a strong middle reliever if something happened to Motte I felt pretty certain Boggs was took over the closers role. Then I wanted as my second middle man David Hernandez who is a stud arm and puts up killer numbers in K's & Ratio.

In terms of my hitting I wanted to get 5 solid to big bats. I was targeting Joey Votto & Starlin Castro as my big bats, land Miguel Montero as my catcher, bring Ryan Ludwick back at a mid level price and get one more quality hitter. Wasn't going to be easy but could I pull all of this off?

Draft Night:
Our draft was last Friday night and it started out with the prices being somewhat reasonable but nobody had come up on my targeted lists be it hitter or pitcher. I participated in the bidding just to stay active but nothing happened until the end of the 1st round when Ian Desmond came up. Now I had Castro & Desmond ranked pretty close. I like Castro a bit better although given the teams they play for and their supporting cast you can easily make an argument that Desmond is the better player to get for 2013. However I have always been a Desmond fan and he came into his own last year despite missing 32 games had 25HR & 21SB & .292 Avg and good R & RBI. I won the bidding at $26 and the owner who had Desmond last year to my surprise decided not to use his topper rights (in our league each team gets 2 topper rights per draft) so I had Desmond at $26. Great start to land a power and speed guy at middle infield at market value I felt. But that mean Castro was out of the plan.

Then shortly after that Joey Votto came up, I felt that after his season last year where his knee injury killed his 2nd half that Votto would go a reasonable price, somewhere slightly below $35. That did not happen as Votto went $40 due to a 2 team bidding war so I passed. Chase Headley shortly came up after that and I know per my article the warning signs on Headley but that doesn't mean I did not like Headley. So when I could top Headley at 21 I did so. I had my 3B and another player who is a positive average with power and speed and at pretty good price. I think a number of players passed maybe as many as rounds worth and it just didn't happen for me until Matt Holliday came up. To me as long as Holiday plays 150 games he is money in the bank. I love those kind of players because there is so much uncertainity with most players. I felt that Holliday was similar to Votto but at 10% less numbers so when I won the bidding at $26 I was thrilled. That followed shortly there after of me landing my targeted catcher in Montero for $19. I also liked Lucroy ($17) & Rosario ($18) who I just missed out in the bidding. Few picks later Shin Chin Choo came up and I landed another positive average player with power and speed and I got Choo at $25.

Okay so I had added to my hitting Desmond, Headley, Holliday, Montero & Choo. While none of them were Ryan Braun or Andrew McCutchen they were all really strong players in their own rights. I wanted to add 5 quality to strong bats and I already did so at this stage of the draft. I had $25 left I needed to round out my hitting roster with my last 3 hitters (OF, Corner & Mid Infielder) and really focus on pitching now. But an interesting thing happened as I now knew my next couple of players had to be pitchers, however Rickie Weeks came up. I had Weeks last year and while his final numbers were good his average really hurt me. In addition I still view him as injury risk as he has had many injuries throughout his career. I did have topper rights and when the bidding stopped at $15 I had the opportunity to top Weeks at just $16. It was a really good deal, too good to pass up right? But I did pass it up as I only had $25 left and still needed 8 players 5 of which were pitchers so I passed. I had landed Weeks I would have been in $1 land for my last 7 players not a good place to be.

Then the pitchers are targeted who I felt might go cheap and give me nice value started to come up. First it was Carlos Villanueva, granted he is on the Cubs but felt he can give me decent numbers in the percentage categories with good K's and 10 or 11 wins and I nabbed him at $4. Right after that Matt Garza came up and while he is out the month of April and will be traded by the Cubs by July 31st when I was able to get Garza at $6 that was just to good of a deal to pass up. I had Garza in 2011 and while he didn't win a lot of games that year he was strong in ERA, Ratio & K's. Then shortly there after Rickey Nolasco came up and due to anti Marlin sentiment (can't blame anyone for that) I landed Nolasco for $3. So I got my 3 starters per my targeted list in Garza, Nolasco & Villanueva for just $13.

Now I was set for my end game as I had $12 for my last 5 spots which were 1 Outfielder, 1 Corner Infielder, 1 Middle Infielder & 2 Pitchers which were going to be middle relievers. Ryan Ludwick came up and I was able to top him but the skin of my teeth at $8 and add a 6th quality bat. That left 4 players for $4, which meant I could only get a player I brought up. I now was solely focused on the relievers. I brought up Mitchell Boggs when it was my turn and no one bid as they were waiting on other players and not focusing on middle relievers at that time. Given that Jason Motte is going to start the season on the DL that was a stroke of good luck and I got my #1 middle reliever per my draft plan. The same thing happened 11 picks later when it was my turn again and landed David Hernandez at $1 as my 2nd middle reliever and completely my pitching roster. I finished my last 2 hitters with Eric Chavez & Jerry Hairston Jr at $1 each.

In the reserves / taxi squad I landed Nolan Arenado (I can only keep him if he makes the opening day roster our league rules prohibits from drafting minor league players with rookie status), Aaron Harang, Jeremy Affeldt, Casey Kotchman and Jeff Karstens. I landed some starting pitching depth, another solid middle reliever on a good team, I have Morrison who will miss the first 2 to 4 weeks so Kotchman made sense and I took a chance on Arenado who I am still waiting to hear on as I write this.

So my final roster looks like this:
C - McKenry - Pitt - 1
C - Montero - Arz - 19
1B - Colvin - Col - 1
3B - Headley - SD - 21
Cnr - Chavez - Arz - 1
2B - Espinosa - Wsh - 16
SS - Desmond - Wsh - 26
Mid Inf - Hairston Jr - 1
OF - Bernadina - 1
OF - Aoki - 5
OF - Morrison - 4
OF - Choo - 25
OF - Holliday - 26
UP - Ludwick - 8
P - Kershaw - 39
P - Cueto - 20
P - Detwiller - 2
P - Motte - 29
P - Villanueva - 4
P - Garza - 6
P - Nolasco - 3
P - Boggs - 1
P - Hernandez - 1

Reserves / Taxi Squad:
3B - Arenado - 1
P - Harang - 1
P - Affeldt - 1
1B - Kotchman - 1
P - Karstens - 1

Final Analysis:
I was very happy how things went although does not assure one will have a top team. I didn't get my top 2 bats I was targeting but landed a number of strong bats and landed my pitching plan to a T at just $15. I was very intrigued by the Cubs reliever Fujikawa and wanted to figure out a way to get him during the draft but the way my draft and it wasn't meant to be so someone else got him at $9. But I feel I have a deep hitting lineup with power throughout and I feel half of hitting roster will be double digit steals as well as having a higher majority of hitters I expect to be positive average hitters. I have 2 stud starters, a strong young guy in Detwiller, 3 nice cheap starters, a strong closer in Motte (let's hope his injury is nothing serious) and 2 stud middle relievers.

After just missing out of the money last season and finishing for a tie for 5th place and literally being a few stats away from not only being in the money but finishing as high as 2nd place I am ready for a strong 2013. I feel I have a team that can challenge for the title but like every team I need to stay away as much as possible from the injury bug, stay away from guys have down years and catch a break or two. Looking at my team the open points I see is Headley & Morrison will be on the DL for most of April and Garza won't be ready until 1st week of May. Also while I know Garza will get traded by July 31st I hope he stays in the NL because in my league if you have a player traded to the AL you get no compensation other than that players salary gets added to your free agent budget. A big key for me is that come August 1st Chase Headley is a Padre or if he is traded that he is still in the NL. I tried to ride the wave of my draft where I felt the values and my draft plan meet each other. I believe that worked and tried to be flexible and aggressive throughout the draft. I hope by me breaking down the draft you got something out of it or at least got entertained.

Follow me on twitter @ TheNLKing

Please feel free to send me NL fantasy baseball advice questions via twitter.

NL King - C.Lizza

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