Excitement, nervousness and maybe even a bit of panic have begun to set in. Sunday was the first official day of spring and as of today my official draft day countdown sits at four. I have literally prepared for this draft for the past five months, yet still sit here wondering what else is there that I could do to feel at ease?
I’ve gone over every team’s 40-man roster and depth charts extensively, countless times. Still, maybe there is a sleeper hidden someplace that I haven’t looked yet.
I’ve looked and relooked at the career stats and profiles of over 700 players. Yet somehow, I still have that feeling that there are things I haven’t noticed. Maybe if I had paid more attention last year, I would’ve noticed what a monster Jose Bautista was in September 2009. I may have combined that with the knowledge that he had a full-time job coming out of the spring and even was going to lead off for the Jays to begin the season. Still, with all of these factors pointing in his direction, he wasn’t even on my radar last year. Every mammoth homerun that Bautista swatted last season was a constant reminder that I needed to improve my research before 2011. While no one could have predicted that he would hit 54 home runs last year, the indicators were there that he had solid power potential and the path to a full-time job for the first time in his career.
I’ve developed an inordinate amount of draft plans, yet still am not entirely sure on which direction to go when my name is called at pick 12, let alone in round two at pick 19. I’ve tried to look at every possible angle and develop contingency plans depending on every possibility that could happen in the first 10 rounds. I know in which tier I am looking for players at each position, how I want to build my rotation, where my closers will be drafted and what kind of power/speed combo that I need to roster. Having the ability to stick to this plan during the draft, yet still being somewhat flexible is a delicate balance.
From the 12th spot, this will mean finessing players at the short end of the snake. With only six picks between my selections on the short end, I need to pay extremely close attention to how the teams in slots 13-15 are building their roster. Can I start a run on closers in round five and then grab one of the outfielders that I’m looking at in round six? Or if these teams appear to be short on outfielders and speed themselves, I have to take the outfielder first and the closer on the way back around. You have to think of every possible scenario and strive to plan your moves numerous rounds ahead of time.
I’ve studied four main event drafts from this past weekend in Las Vegas and averaged them together to get a way more realistic ADP showing current trends and where players are actually being selected. I know who my sleepers are and what round I need to take them in to assure that they end up on my roster. The other people in my league aren’t guppies though, and will undoubtedly be armed with the same data. I have to make sure not to let my emotions get the best of me if one of my targeted sleepers gets drafted the pick before mine. I need to maintain my composure and stick to the contingency plans that I have so carefully crafted and laid out beforehand.
I learned last year that drafting too many players with injury concerns can derail your season before it even gets going. I have spent countless hours researching injuries and player durability. Players with serious injury concerns are in red on my draft board and under no circumstances will I be taking them. I understand that there is a luck factor associated with this, but avoiding these players will give me an added advantage over the field. Albeit a small one, I will gladly capitalize on any advantages that I can find.
To the naked eye of the observer, it seems like I would be ready for this draft. However, even as I sit here writing this article the pressure continues to mount. Maybe I take this hobby too seriously, but I don’t want it to just be a casual hobby. I aspire to be the best, and my extreme competitive nature only fuels this desire. I compete in the NFBC because I want to play against the best players in the world. To measure my skills in drafting and team construction against 389 other people who love and respect this game as much as I do.
Next week, I will do an in depth breakdown on how my draft turned out for you fine folks. Until then, I need every waking second to squeeze in as much information as I possibly can and too look under every rock to find the next Jose Bautista.