|I should have sat him, too. (Icon/SMI)|
This year I got walloped in my home league—the second year out of four that I’ve finished further down than I’d have liked. Thankfully, I finished at the top last year, so I don’t feel like a total schlum. What went wrong this year? I was desultory in RBIs and runs and mediocre in WHIP and ERA almost from the get-go. It is a 12-team league with BA, runs, RBIs, HR, SO/BB and SB on the batting side and K, WHIP, ERA, W-L, S and HD on the pitching side.
I had the 12th pick in the draft. Here were my picks, in order: Miguel Cabrera, Mark Teixeira, Brandon Phillips, Vladimir Guerrero, Curtis Granderson, Chipper Jones, Jay Bruce, Joakim Soria, B.J. Ryan, Derek Lowe, Yovani Gallardo, Aaron Harang, Milton Bradley, Matt Cain, Randy Johnson, Mike Pelfrey, Jason Isringhausen, Clayton Kershaw, Jim Thome, Trevor Hoffman.
There are some doozies in my draft. I’m happy with Kershaw in the 18th, Hoffman in the 20th and Cain in the 14th. I expected good things from Gallardo and wasn’t disappointed. If Lowe and Harang had pitched anywhere close to my expectations, I should have been fine, even with the risky Johnson and Pelfrey.
Alas, Harang looks like he has become a Dusty Baker special. I followed some of his games and it always seemed like he’d have one bad inning and then pitch really well for the rest of the game. More often than not it was the other way around: He’d be pitching well, reach about 100 pitches and Baker would leave him in long enough to get worked over in the late innings.
I ended up having a fairly solid closer core with Hoffman, Rodney and Soria. I would later trade Rodney in the second half. I was hoping that Isringhausen and Ryan would get a shot at closing in Tampa and Toronto, respectively. But if they didn’t, I also hoped that they would at least be decent setup men and garner some holds for me. Obviously picking Ryan that early (or really at all) was incredible folly.
As the draft was progressing, I realized that I wasn’t going to get any particularly interesting shortstop or catcher, but I also saw that by the mid-teen rounds, all my competitors had drafted at those positions already. So I mentally targeted Elvis Andrus and A.J. Pierzynski for the late, late rounds. As it happened, two teams swooped in to pick them up as backups literally just a couple of picks before I was going to, leaving me in a real bind. My hope was that my consolation picks—Lowrie and Saltalamacchia—would at least give me something by virtue of being on strong offensive teams. Saltalamacchia also had a bit of upside potential. Nevertheless, I had two big holes in my offense. Thankfully, my hole at shortstop would lead me to pick up Ben Zobrist early on.
I had a lot of power in my lineup. I was second in home runs for most of the first half of the season. At the same time, I was last in runs and RBIs—a juxtaposition that is hard to achieve. Bradley’s inconsistency and Guerrero’s injury quickly opened more holes in my lineup. Bruce would hit 22 home runs in 345 at bats, but yield only 47 runs and 58 RBIs. Jones’ 2009 season wasn’t half as good as his 2008.
So, while I got reliable performances from four out of my first five picks and picked up a dynamo in Zobrist, I still lacked competitive production from my third baseman and two (out of four) outfield spots. Since I had Thome as my DH, I had no suitable backups either.
Hindsight is always better, but what lessons can I draw from this year? If I had one pick to do over, it would be the Ryan pick at the end of the ninth round. I think I might have been trying to rush to the bathroom or something at that point in the draft (he says to himself charitably). I wasn’t working from a solid strategy there.
Lowe was a strategic pick. I wanted a dependable innings eater on a good team to give my rate stats some ballast. I figured 200 innings of 3.60 ERA and 1.25 WHIP would let me take some other risks. Many of those risks paid off, but the ballast sank my ship. I won’t be buying ballast early again.