When I participate in an expert draft, I am contractually obligated to write about it. Astute readers may have noticed that Derek Ambrosino, Michael Stein, Ben Pritchett, and Nick Fleder already fulfilled their obligations.
Since it is customary, I will open with a very brief rundown of my final product. We can discuss things more in depth in the comments.
C. Mike Napoli – 4/37
C. Miguel Montero – 10/109
1B. Prince Fielder – 2/13
2B. Chase Utley – 5/61
SS. Starlin Castro – 3/36
3B. Mat Gamel – 23/276
CI. Michael Morse – 5/60
MI. Ben Zobrist – 8/85
OF. Curtis Granderson – 1/12
OF. Bryce Harper – 15/180
OF. Matt Joyce – 16/181
OF. Dexter Fowler – 17/204
OF. Jose Tabata – 18/205
DH. Jim Thome – 25/301
P. Matt Moore – 7/84
P. Jordan Zimmermann – 9/108
P. Anibal Sanchez – 12/133
P. Chris Sale – 13/156
P. Clay Buchholz – 14/157
P. Erik Bedard – 20/229
P. Jonathan Papelbon – 11/132
P. Grant Balfour – 21/252
P. Javy Guerra – 22/253
BN. Chipper Jones – 24/277
BN. Nolan Reimold – 25/300
BN. Nyjer Morgan – 19/228 (whoops)
The league featured some notable peculiarities that tripped up my general strategy. We’re dealing with a very small, three man bench. In a traditional, five bench player environment, I would have liked to add one more utility infielder, another outfielder (in place of Morgan, more on that in a moment), and an elite set up man or two.
In terms of structural rules, we were forced to select a DH rather than a UTIL. I ignored that particular imperative (hence the Thome choice). There was no IP limit in place, but Derek said something about pretending it was 1600 innings so that’s what I drafted. Typically, I draft only four starters I love and fill in the blanks later. In this case, I would have drafted a position player rather than Clay Buchholz.
My biggest mistake of the draft was Morgan. The selection was an error between the user (me) and the draft interface. Bedard was highlighted on my wish list and thus I thought he was the name in my cue. The reason Morgan had been clicked on in the first place is because I was investigating last round picks while waiting for my turn. Unfortunately, I clicked the draft button and wound up with Morgan rather than Bedard. I no longer remember who I wanted to pair with Bedard on that particular turn.
If you want to talk more generally about my team, I’ll be happy to discuss in comments land.
Lessons from the turn
I chose to draft from the turn. I was the third owner to sign up and only slots one and two had been taken. The reason for my choice was twofold, to challenge myself and to practice. My only snake draft is a linear weights, keeper league where I will be picking twelfth.
Practicing from the turn in serious mocks can be very informative because there is absolutely no temptation to wait on a player. The lesson of the offseason from multiple outlets has been to draft based on your board, not ADP. Most THT readers are going to be in above average leagues and the more competitive a league is, the less that ADP should inform our decisions.
One example from my list—I came very close to selecting Pablo Sandoval in the third round turn. That pick would have been before Ryan Zimmerman, Adrian Beltre, and Alex Rodriguez. All three players tend to be unanimously ranked above Sandoval, but I lean towards preferring Sandoval. The Giants lineup is a little fugly, which will hurt his runs and RBI totals, but I love his combination of batting average and power for a standard league. I ended up with Starlin Castro and Mike Napoli with those picks.
This is not to say that I necessarily project Sandoval to have better stats than Zimmerman, but I do prefer to roster Sandoval for a variety of reasons.* At that point in the draft, I knew that if I did not pick a third baseman, catcher, or shortstop, that I would be waiting a long time to finish filling out that position. I was more comfortable with my backup plan of Mat Gamel and Chipper Jones (which I nailed, whether you agree with it or not) than my backup plans at shortstop (Mike Aviles) or catcher (Ramon Hernandez).
*I can see the question marks above your heads, let’s talk about this in the comments.
This transitions nicely to my lesson about reaching. I reached early and often in this draft and I feel pretty good about the results. I plucked Chase Utley, Matt Moore, Chris Sale, Bryce Harper, Dexter Fowler, and Jose Tabata off the draft tree before they were fully ripe.
Those reaches fall into convenient buckets. Utley is the formerly elite player who has been relegated to the second or third tier by injuries. He called my dad about two weeks ago and told him he was going to have a great season (literally, this happened), so I figured I’d bite. That’s not the most analytical explanation, but Utley is also my favorite player and has the potential to return first round production if he can stay healthy (an admittedly unlikely ‘if’).
Moore, Sale, and Harper are all hyped, unproven youngsters with incredible skill sets. Harper is probably the pick people disagree with the most, I sandwiched that pick between Nick’s choice of Lorenzo Cain and my choice of Matt Joyce. Other outfielders selected around that time include Torii Hunter, Austin Jackson, Yeonis Cespedes, Angel Pagan, Mike Trout, and Michael Brantley. Harper might debut at any time, but his floor is comparable to most of those players and his ceiling made him a favorable choice to me.
Fowler and Tabata fall in the team need bucket—in this case, speed. My team lacked bonafide burners, Curtis Granderson and Ben Zobrist were the main providers in that category. With Fowler and Tabata (especially the latter), I put my team in the position to be one waiver move away from competing in steals.
The last major lesson I learned is more of a theory. It goes something like this—the more informed a league is, the less prone it is to position runs. Closer and catcher are the two most common positions to be drafted “too early.”
No true run on closers ever occurred. Dave picked the first closer, Craig Kimbrel, in round six. He struck again in round nine with a (baffling) Drew Storen pick. I picked the third closer, Jonathan Papelbon in the 11th round – a position where he is rarely available. Two more closers went in the 11th including another to Dave. Dave selected a FOURTH closer in the 12th, and Josh picked the first non-closer reliever – Kenley Jansen. A pseudo-run started in the middle of the 15th through the 16th round, but that’s so late in the draft that they might have been value picks.
Catcher picks were scattered throughout the draft with most owners waiting until the late rounds to address the position. This might have been because a lot of those owners play one catcher leagues and didn’t care to adjust their strategy, or it might have been several smart owners agreeing that it often doesn’t make sense to fight over a weak position. Why fight for table scraps at one table when there’s an untouched cake at another?
This concludes today’s lessons. What do you think I should have learned?