Friday, February 19, 2010

First Fantasy Team of the Season

Warning: Self-Indulgent Post. I drafted my first fantasy team this season over on a CBS Public free league. It's a standard 5x5 Roto wtih just 10 teams. The rosters are:

C-C-1B-2B-SS-3B-MI-CI-OF-OF-OF-OF-OF-UT-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-BN-BN-BN-BN-BN-BN

Quite an expanded roster from what I've been used to (though, I play in a really deep keeper league). My draft went well in my opinion. I decided to post my teams here, so I can remember what the actual draft went like at the end of the season and see how much my team changed with trades and waivers. This is the first of a number of them leading up to my Auction Keeper League team: the one that actually matters. Other than that, I'm also participating in a brand new keeper league, one of Razzball's RCL leagues, and some other publics most likely. All of these should bring slightly different perspectives to the draft board, and I'll explain why for each draft. Anyway, here it goes. I had the 9th pick overall in a snake draft format (so, for the second round, it was of course the 2nd pick). I include Mock Draft Central ADPs next to each player:

Round 1 - # 9 - Prince Fielder (ADP of 8.27)
I took Fielder here for a few reason. I often end up low on power in my Roto drafts. I'm not sure why this happens, as I usually do relatively well in all the other categories, but I really dislike guys like Ryan Howard, etc. because of what they do to my batting average. For some reason I still have a little old school love for the BA. Fielder is a .300 type hitter and absolutely mashes HR. I got him right at his Mock Draft Central ADP. The reason I chose him over other available options that rank higher in ADP is that the 10th pick was an autodrafter, and it was going by the CBS rankings, which left my next pick below anyone the next team would have picked (taking Halladay and Tex).

Round 2 - #12 - Matt Kemp (ADP of 7.68)
The fact that I got both Fielder and Kemp made me jump with joy. These guys are both first rounders according to Mock Draft Central. Not only was I able to load up on power early on, but I also got some speed. This is a great start.

Round 3 - #29 - Jimmy Rollins (ADP of 21.91)
I'm actually very partial to Tulowitzki, but he was taken at the end of Round 2. There was a slight run on the top tier shortstops going into the 3rd round. I REALLY dislike Rollins, but I wasn't sure what else to do. While I'm high on Stephen Drew for this year (I think he'll be way undervalued after a disappointing 2009), with a MI spot I needed to take a middle infielder this early. Therefore, Jimmy Rollins. Speed doesn't seem to be a huge issue for my team with this pick and Matt Kemp earlier.

Round 4 - #32 - Adrian Gonzalez (ADP of 31.04)
Get Adrian out of San Diego and you could be looking at a .300-50-125 type of hitter. This guy can flat out hit, and I don't see much difference between him and Tex, other than the fact that I got him 3 rounds later. Talk about a huge power option late. There's a chance he gets traded mid-season, which would likely add about 4 or 5 HR to what he'd have otherwise. Imagine him in Fenway for half a season! I got him around his ADP, but he could be a monster return in Round 4.

Round 5 - #49 - Ben Zobrist (ADP of 57)
I did a small reach here for Zobrist, but I'm not sure the Mock Draft Central drafts include such a large roster. With Zobrist and Rollins, I have my middle infield looking pretty solid. I don't expect him to repeat last year, but there was a definite run on 2B in this round, and having him at a dual eligibility in a 5 OF league is nice. I'm happy with this pick.

Round 6 - #52 - Ryan Zimmerman (ADP of 33.99)
This is a huge value. Most of us know that 3B is a little more shallow than years past. Zimmerman is arguable a Top 3 at the position with Wright and Longoria. What most people don't realize is Zimmerman is still improving. He's also got the likes of Nyjer Morgan and Adam Dunn in the lineup with him that should provide some more RBI and R opportunities, and hasn't gone below the 47th pick in any MDC draft.. This guy went WAY under the radar, given he had a .293-33-106-110 line last year. I really would have liked Joey Votto (ADP of 30.13) in this position, but I already had 2 first basemen and needed to lock up the other corner. Votto was taken on the next pick. The fact that these two guys were available this late is ridiculous. I'm starting to feel the domination coming on.

Round 7 - #69 - Javier Vazquez (ADP of 62.68)
Ah finally! A pitcher. I usually don't go for pitchers until at least the 7th Round. This year, there are a huge number of middling 200K candidates just waiting for me to grab them. Vazquez had a career year last year, and I don't expect a repeat in the AL East. But he's always had great peripherals, and as a Yankee he's going to get some wins. Not a bad way to anchor a rotation, especially when you also have...

Round 8 - #72 - Yovanni Gallardo (ADP of 88.17)
Another reach you say? I don't think so. I am very high on Gallardo this season, and I think he's in line for a King Felix 2009 Light type of season. I don't see him keeping his walk rate above 4 and I think it was a consequence of being young and not being totally comfortable on his new knee. Plus, the guy just before me took Brian Roberts at #71 overall (ADP of 41.37), so the huge value went off the board. Gallardo will probably have 200 K's. This is the year for him to break out. Bold Prediction: Gallardo gets in the Cy Young talk with Tim Lincecum and Roy Halladay.

Round 9 - #99 - Nelson Cruz (ADP of 67.53)
I love this pick here. With the guys I have in my lineup, I can take a guy who will hurt the batting average a little bit. Cruz hit 33 HR in less than a full season of AB, with plenty of stolen bases to boot. Getting him about 32 places past his ADP doesn't hurt in a 5 OF league either. Score this one a win for me...he hasn't dropped below Pick #86 at MDC.

Round 10 - #102 - Brandon Webb (ADP of 124.62)
Continuing with my pitching staff in the middle rounds, I took an ace. Not a possible ace, but one we know is capable of Cy Young seasons. While Webb missed all of last year, he's just a year removed from a 22 win season. So while there's risk in this pick, a Round 10 spot is well worth it. I could end up with 3 aces on my staff in Gallardo-Vazquez-Webb without using any pick above Round 7. I don't see how this pick here could go wrong. Plus, if his K's decrease, I can always replace them with....

Round 11 - #119 - Ricky Nolasco (ADP of 107.08)
I'm also high on Nolasco to rebound. Given his ridiculously low walk rate, and ability to strike the hell out of everyone in the second half last year, Nolasco is a great pick in Round 11. We all know about his terrible luck last season, and there is still the skill set to be an MLB ace here. Nolasco and Josh Johnson should be scary for the Marlins competitors. He has the strikeout potential of an ace, and his addition could give me 800 strikeouts with my first 4 pitchers. Nice.

Round 12 - #122 - Jose Lopez (ADP of 123.47)
Perenially underrated Jose Lopez is a nice steal here. He's a second basemen in a league where I could use some extra middle infield. If not, he's even serviceable at the utility position with 25 HR and 100 RBI potential on an improving Seattle team. Chone Figgins hitting in front of him won't hurt a bit. He must not get the love because of his awful walk rate, but he still hits and BB's only matter for Runs in this fantasy league. I got him right around his ADP, but the fact that he was available here kind of makes me regret taking Ben Zobrist so high--I could have had Adam Lind instead. Ugh. Either way, I think 2B is good to go for me.

Round 13 - #139 - Raul Ibanez (ADP of 95.44)
Ibanez's second half must have really put some owners off. Even if he goes back to his standard .290-25-100 season, this is a huge value. Yes, he's getting older, but despite his amazing first half last year, we didn't see him take much advantage of Citizen's Bandbox Park. Perhaps this year he'll get a little luckier there and keep up the power a bit. If not, there's not much lost here with a 13th round pick. He must have gotten lost in everyone's queues.

Round 14 - #142 - Kurt Suzuki (ADP of 131.47)
I guess it's time to take a catcher. While I don't recommend taking a catcher any earlier than the 8th or 9th round (unless it's Mauer), I think it's important to find ones that get full time at bats. Suzuki will be starting all year most likely, and having that consistency is important to me. Nothing special here, though I was upset that it made me miss out on Hunter Pence and Brad Hawpe.


Interlude: You might notice that I haven't gotten a closer yet. Well, closers are stupidheads. Usually I'd take at least one to supplement my ERA and WHIP at this point, but because of the autodraft for one team, there was an enormous run on closers. Every time one got close to value in the coming rounds, he was snatched up just before I was going to take him (for example, Chad Qualls and Joakim Soria). In fact, one autodraft owner ended up with 7 closers before even taking a SP (or more than 1 or 2 batters). A lesson in not showing up to your draft I guess.


Round 15 - #159 - Scott Baker (ADP of 155.2)
Despite not even having the MDC list open, I see.2med to get a lot of guys right around their average. This was an unfortunate accident on this pick. Baker is no exception to the ADP trend, and if he pitches like he did in 2008 and the second half of 2009, I've got a legitimate #2 starter behind my five 200K aces from earlier. Baker could be the ace of the Twins this year, a rotation filled with quality-but-not-absolutely-oustanding starters. That, of course, will depend on the (non)resurgence of Francisco Liriano.

Round 16 - #162 - Matt Garza (ADP of 125.45)
I actually meant to take Garza at Round 15 and then decide on Baker later. Unfortunately, I clicked the wrong button, and ended up having to take Garza 3 picks later. Why is this bad? Well, because I had a closer in mind for this pick after taking Garza in Round 15. But, since another closer was taken in between, I decided to stick with my pick from before. Garza is a big value at this slot, especially if he brings his walk rate down a little bit. Garza is one of my favorite pitchers to watch with his absolutely wicked deuce. He's a candidate for 180+ K's to go along with my other guys. Not sure how real his 189 were last year, but perhaps he could even improve given that he's still relatively young and coming into his prime.

Round 17 - #179 - Matt Capps (ADP of 215)
This was about the time things were getting hairy. Every time I was ready to pounce on a player, he'd be picked up right before me. I wouldn't pay much attention to the ADP with middling closers. It varies like crazy. Capps has been taken as early as 167 and as late as not even drafted on MDC. I decided to finally go with a closer at this point, though. Capps had an awful year in 2009 with some injury, but has always had solid Roto stats in the past. He won't get a huge number of save chances in Washington, but hopefully with 2 closers and a few more in waiting, I can put myself in the middling levels of saves. Remember, a single team has more than enough saves, which means the supply will be fairly low to everyone else as well to start the season. I may not be too far off the guys picking Papelbon and Rivera in the 6th Round once I pick up another guy.

Round 18 - #182 - Nick Swisher (ADP of 249.08)
Here, I decided to load up on the last option for some power available, even if it was a bit early. Swisher will get plenty of play time running around the OF, 1B and DH for the Yankees, so we should see a decent number of R and RBI from the guy. He can't hit for average, but gets on base enough to put up some other counting stats. My average has been pretty solid across the draft, so I have the room to take on a .250 hitter if he's going to get me 30 HR. Plus, he can be used at OF/1B/CI/UT. I get a decent amount of flexibility with Swisher and Zobrist on my team, even if they don't turn out to be huge assets.

Round 19 - #199 - A.J. Pierzynski (ADP of 249.75)
Sticking with my 'regular play time catchers' philosophy, I went with boring old AJ. He doesn't outperform anyone with his skills, but he's dependable and puts up enough counting stats to keep me up in the rankings with 2 catchers. Boring, but very useful. Now time to focus on other things and upside!

Round 20 - #202 - Juan Pierre (ADP of 223.36)
I wanted to improve on my speed a bit, and felt like I could take on a singles-or-nothing hitter like Pierre with the big bats I have in place. The idea of him with Ozzie Guillen and playing every day in Chicago has me salivating a bit for a boat load of steals. Nyjer Morgan and Michael Bourn were taken pretty early, and don't have the track record that Pierre does. He's a good bet for solid average and 50 steals with a full season. At the top of the White Sox lineup, he could approach 100 runs. Look for Pierre's ADP to improve in the coming weeks now that everyone knows he's got a gig in Chicago.

Round 21 - #219 - Octavio Dotel (ADP of 281.96)
Time for another closer. Yuck. Even if Dotel and Capps get a save in every win for their respective teams, I might only finish in the middle of the pack in saves. This is literally the last closer off the board, and I'll try to compensate a little later by picking up hard throwing setup guys in hopes of someone getting hurt. Otherwise, taking Capps and Dotel are a waste, unless they get me up to at least 7th or 8th in the saves standings. On second thought, I might just trade them away for middle relievers with better rate stats. Dotel, though, has the potential to put up big K numbers in limited time. If both my closers get 30 saves, I'll be in decent shape here.

Round 22 - #222 - Todd Helton (ADP of 213.44)
This is the first time in a while that I've had Todd Helton on my fantasy team. I think he's pretty undervalued being taken this late in the draft, and jump at the chance to add some gauranteed batting average help to my utility slot. No, Helton doens't have the .370-40-120 seasons like he used to, but he's perfectly capable of hitting .310 with a reasonable number of RBI's with a lot of young hitters in the lineup with him. I loved Helton back in his heyday, and hopefully he can bring some of that love back with this value pick.

Round 23 - #239 - Shaun Marcum (ADP of 330.10)
Like I said, time to go with upside. Marcum was on track to become a great pitcher in Toronto before being derailed by injury. I suspect he'll be looking at the #1 spot this year if he's healthy enough now that Roy Halladay has left the building. A little reach at this point when I think about it more, as he probably would have been available in the last round. But I've always liked Marcum, so maybe it'll work out.

Round 24 - #242 - Nolan Reimold (ADP of 207.49)
Wow! I guess I missed him, too, but this could be a big pick. Reimold has every right to start in a 5 OF league, and fully healthy this year, he could be a .280-27-90 type of hitter. I think I redeemed the Marcum pick here.

Round 25 - #259 - Phil Hughes (ADP of 324.59)
I guess everyone else missed the year Hughes had in 2009. With a full season of starts, Hughes has the ability to be a fantasy ace. I know I've used this a lot here, but it's the truth. 200K potential, and he's still so young. My opinion is he should get the #5 job for the Yanks, which makes him a possibility for 18 wins. Joba is overrated, go with Hughes!

Round 26 - #262 - Julio Borbon (ADP of 199.57)
I'll happily drink the Borbon Koolaid in Round 26. He's probably going to be starting, and if he's there all season, we're talking about 40+ steals on my bench. That's nice just in case Pierre goes down, or the Rangers decide Borbon is a better OF option than Nelson Cruz.

Round 27 - #279 - Neftali Feliz (ADP of 173.38)
I've been in love with Feliz since my college buddy told me about him when he was umpiring the plate in the Texas league. Said he couldn't even see his fastball during warmups it was so nasty. Feliz will strike people out. As a starter in Texas, I don't like him that much for my team. But as a reliever with Frank Francisco having strange arm things going on last year, I might have gotten myself some saves. Feliz is a future star, but this year I think he'll be better off in the Pen. If not, I've definitely got a hold on strikeouts in this league.

Round 28 - #282 - Matt Thornton (ADP of 303.22)
Here's where I'm taking some upside guys in relief roles. Jenks did not look good last year...plus he's a big fatty. JJ Putz, well, who knows. Thornton had a nice year and can strike batters out pretty frequently. I'll take a chance on him and, if nothing else, help out my rate stats when Nolasco gets unlucky.

Round 29 - #299 - David Price (ADP of 175.36)
I guess everyone forgot about David Price being proclaimed ultimate Tampa Bay Pitching God. I'll take him in the last round, and happily laugh at everyone when he realizes his potential. Price hasn't gotten past Pick #208 in any MDC draft, so I think this was a lucky pick on my part...he's still here because I, too, passed him up in the previous 28 rounds.


All in all, I think this is a definite championship, barring catastrophic injury. I'll go ahead and rate it an A+. I'll need some realized upside in the pitching categories, but I think I have it here. This team is scary in such a large roster league, and I'm looking forward to the upcoming season. Post your thoughts if you felt it necessary to actually read this self-indulgent article.

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