Just finished a fantasy baseball draft and broke several of my fantasy baseball draft tips. I’d be disappointed in myself, if I didn’t do it based on my seven draft prep recommendations, specifically No. 1: Know your league rules.
The Expert Invitational is a 12-team Yahoo league created by Jzak. It’s a standard 5×5 roto league, and I write most of my baseball posts with head-to-head leagues in mind, so not all of my suggestions were going to hold true. We also had five pitcher slots that were not specific to relievers or starters, and in a roto league there is no minimum innings requirement on any given week. You just better be prepared to pay the price in accumulating stats like strikeouts if you rely on relievers.
I followed my normal path for the first six rounds — getting as many every category guys as I could — but then I picked pitchers in rounds 7, 8, 10, 11 and 12. And three of those five were closers — Brad Lidge, Brian Fuentes and B.J. Ryan — completely poo-pooing my tip about waiting on closers.
Why did I do what I did?
First off, it was a 12-team league with some really knowledgeable fantasy players, so the talent went off the board fast. There was a point or two where I didn’t want any of the guys on the front page of available players. Rather than reach for someone else, I grabbed a couple guys who guarantee me 30 saves or more. They’ll also get 60 or more Ks and help out in WHIP and ERA. In a roto league, being near the top of any category is going to net you overall points. If relievers can help me win three of the five categories, that should give me an edge. It’ll backfire and burn the eyebrows right off my face. I’ll look ridiculous, but survive.
Cardinals closer Jason Motte ended up on my roster a few rounds later, he should contribute in every category except wins, and I mixed Scott Kazmir with four upside starters to round out my pitching staff.
There aren’t too many roto leagues under my belt, and I haven’t done well in the leagues I have played in, so I varied my approach. Here’s how everything played out, and my reason for picking the guys where I did:
1. (5) David Wright, 3B, Mets – Can’t believe he fell to me at 5
2. (20) Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds – His batting average isn’t great, but he’s a stud in all the other categories and an infielder
3. (29) Nick Markakis, OF, Orioles – Maybe I’m the only one who sees the offensive potential in Baltimore, because I’ve got him in almost every league.
4. (44) Alexei Ramírez, SS, White Sox – A five-category player who also qualifies at second base and outfield.
5. (53) Corey Hart. OF, Brewers – another player on a solid offensive team who hits for power and runs. his batting average is a little squishy, but closer to .280 than it is to .240.
6. (68) Garrett Atkins, 1B, Rockies – For this exercise, Atkins is a first baseman not a third baseman. He’ll help keep my average up and he plays for the Rockies. I think he’s primed for a bad season, but he was the only guy I felt like picking at this spot, so I clicked draft.
7. (77) Brad Lidge, RP, Phillies – I’ve talked about the relievers above, but Lidge saved a bunch with a handful of strikeouts last year, and the Phillies are a better team in 2009.
8. (92) Scott Kazmir, SP, Rays – I have Kazmir in a couple leagues. Not sure what else to say. He’s a good pitcher. Not great, but the best guy available at this spot.
9. (101) Raúl Ibañez, OF, Phillies – This guy was an RBI machine for years in the wasteland that is Seattle. He’ll have plenty of guys on in front of him in Philly. Monster year coming.
10. (116) Brian Fuentes, RP, Angels – Replacing K-Rod won’t be easy, but Fuentes put up really great numbers pitching in Colorado. Gotta figure he’ll be just as dominant, and he’ll be pitching for one of the best teams in the American League.
11. (125) Edinson Vólquez, SP, Reds – The ballpark isn’t friendly, but he strikes everybody out. Were his numbers last year an aberration? The other members of the draft must think so. He fit into my draft-upside-starters philosophy.
12. (140) B.J. Ryan, RP, Blue Jays – 30 saves, 60 Ks, best 2008 ERA and WHIP of any of the closers left at this point in the draft. He does scare me.
13. (149) Pat Burrell, OF, Rays – Another power and RBI guy, only unlike Ibanez, Burrell is likely to hurt my batting average. But without having to worry about playing defense this year, he’s poised to put up big numbers.
14. (164) Max Scherzer, SP, Diamondbacks – Got some eye-popping stats from last year, and the upside I was looking for.
15. (173) Jason Motte, RP, Cardinals – Did you see the very small sample he provided last year? It was sick. He’ll be the closer. He has to be.
16. (188) Hank Blalock, 3B, Rangers – I had Carlos Guillen queued up in this spot, but replaced him with Blalock. With Guillen, you know what your going to get: A good average and pedestrian numbers elsewhere. If Blalock is healthy, he could hit .280 with 20 more homers and a gaggle more RBIs than Guillen. And, like Burrell, he’s DHing this year and won’t have to concern himself with that pesky defense crap.
17. (197) Emmanuel Burriss, 2B, Giants – The question came up whether Burriss should be drafted. And while I probably took him too early, I felt his steals and potential .280 average (he hit .283 in limited time last year) would offset my Burrell pick. I didn’t know a lot about Burriss, but saw he won the starting job and asked the guys over at Razzball (www.razzball.com) what they thought. They said pencil him in for 40 steals if he gets 500 at-bats. After seeing his 08 stats, I’d put him up there for 100 runs, too, if he gets 500 ABs. Potential 100 runs, 40 steals and a .283 average this late in the draft? Sold.
18. (212) Jair Jurrjens, SP, Braves – I mentioned him, along with Motte and Scherzer in my 2009 breakout players post.
19. (221) Ramón Hernández, C, Orioles – Still don’t know why everyone doesn’t wait until the end of the draft to pick a catcher. If Hernandez is healthy I expect 20 homers, 70 RBIs and a .260 average.
20. (236) Fausto Carmona, SP, Indians – We’ll probably never see the Carmona that elevated to ridiculous heights in 2007, but with that season in mind, he probably will never again pitch as bad as he did in 2008. If he puts up numbers a couple notches worse than his 2007 season, and several better than 2008, he’ll be a steal at 236 overall.
*number in parentheses is overall pick
Want to rate my draft? Please do. What do you think about the guys on this list? Which guys have you picked, which guys have you skipped and who did you skip them for? Let us know in the comments.