I am a veteran of auction leagues who this year stuck my toe into my first fantasy draft, joining a long-distance league of guys whose common connection is the University of Virginia. Ours is a 14-team mixed league with 23 roster spots: eight position players, two utility players, eight pitchers, including at least two relievers, and five bench players. We had a snake draft the last weekend in March, with the order computer generated. What follows is a review of the players I selected and some thoughts about what has gone right and what wrong. I will post a more detailed analysis of what I think I have learned from the experience, but in the meantime would welcome your thoughts and comments.
1.(3) Alex Rodriguez
2. (26) Adrian Gonzalez
3. (31) Mark Reynolds
4. (54) Jose Reyes
5. (59) Nelson Cruz
6. (82) Clayton Kershaw
7. (87) Javier Vazquez
8. (111) Carlos Gonzalez
9. (115) Julio Borbon
10. (138) Brett Anderson
11. (143) Rafael Soriano
12. (166) Kurt Suzuki
13. (171) David Aardsma
14. (194) Vladimir Guerrero
15. (199) Jonathan Sanchez
16. (222) Mat Latos
17. (227) Brian Matusz
18. (250) Scott Sizemore
19. (255) Magglio Ordonez
20. (278) Travis Snider
21. (283) Everth Cabrera
22. (306) Chris Young
23.(311) Peter Moylan
Draft analysis (not pick-by pick but some observations)
(1) I hated getting the third pick as there was a big perceived drop-off after Albert Pujols and Hansley Ramirez. I debated long and hard about going with ARod or Ryan Braun and the tipping point for me was what I expected would be an un-godly number of RBI opportunities in a Yankee lineup I thought might feature three .400 OBP guys at the top of the order. ARod does have a few more RBI but with his wonky hip I would rather have Braun right now. Braun ended up sliding to sixth behind Chase Utley and Matt Kemp.
(2) Reynolds’ batting average has been painful but should improve as his BABIP returns to his and league norms.
(3) Reyes was a gamble and has neither been a flop or a success—so far. If his health continues I like the odds of the latter.
(4) Cruz was having a monster years before his hamstring intervened; that said, he did present an elevated injury risk.
(5) Also down for the count have been Anderson (injuries), Snider (injuries) and Sizemore (demotion). Those losses would kill me in a deep league—injuries have killed me in my 12-team AL roto league. But in a mixed league with 14 owners, the free agent pool is much deeper. The shallower the league, the more one can withstand colossal failures, and I would think that makes it more justifiable to take risks on draft or auction day.
(6) Drafting closers is a bit like playing chicken—I held off as long as I could, waiting while 10 closers were drafted before taking Soriano and 16 before taking Aardsma.
(7) There’s little need to take starting pitching earlier when players such as Latos, Sanchez and Matusz are available so late. Certainly Laros and Sanchez in the mid-teens have out-performed two of my three top-10 pitchers in Vasquez and Anderson. And there were plenty of other good arms taken in the mid-teens and still others not drafted at all.
(8) My stars to-date—those who have exceeded expectations—have been Guerrero, Carlos Gonzalez and to a lesser extent Ordonez: Something old, something new and something blue.
(9) Moylan was an accident pick—got to hung up sorting possibilities for that all-important last pick and the clock ran out and my pick was computer-generated.
March 31 Drop Moylan Add Kyle Blanks April 14 Drop Young Add Phil Hughes (dropped five days earlier for Delmon Young) April 27 Drop Cabrera Add Carlos Zambrano (dropped four days earlier for Doug Fister) May 3 Drop Snider Add Eric Young May 15 Drop Young Add Gordon Beckham (dropped three days earlier) May 16 Drop Sizemore Add Ian Kennedy May 16 Drop Blanks Add Snider May 16 Drop Zambrano Add Mike Stanton May 20 Drop Snider Add David Freese (dropped three days earlier) May 23 Drop Stanton Add Kosuke Fukudome (dropped three days earlier) June 8 Drop Anderson Add Snider June 8 Drop Fukudome Add Brett Cecil June 8 Drop Snider Add John Axford June 9 Drop Beckham Add Skip Schumaker (dropped 19 days earlier) June 10 Drop Borbon Add Juan Pierre
(1) Best pick-ups have been Hughes and Kennedy and I’m hopeful Cecil will continue to pitch well. Only Hughes was drafted and he was dropped early, which reinforces my view that you can wait to draft pitchers.
(2) My schedule is too busy to be the first to nab a player just called up or returning from the disabled list, so I try to compensate by anticipating, but not too successfully so far—I took Stanton too soon, then dropped him.
(3) One team’s trash is another’s treasure: Six of my signings have been of cast-offs.
There has only been single trade in what is a start-up league with another nixed by owners. I have yet to be approached with a trade proposal; I have made several offers but to no avail.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes but fewer than my rivals—as of Sunday night my team was in first place with 104 points, the second-place team was at 98.5 and one other team was above 90. I lead the league in only one category—RBI—so my success has been predicated on a lack of a major weakness: I’m in the top half of every category. Many categories are tight, especially wins and runs, so I have added starting pitchers and Pierre. Our league has a maximum cap on innings above which cumulative stats don’t count, but so far I’m on pace to reach but not exceed the cap.