It’s All About MeApril 2nd, 2012 by Chris Hill in Uncategorized
First off, let's face it: I have absolutely no business playing in this league or commenting on the draft. I just happen to be one of those degenerate gamblers who keeps moving up in competition until they can't win, then I stubbornly play until I am busted or moving up to the next level. So here I am with experts, rocket scientists, and card players far better than moi. My sole entry qualification: I know how to play Q3 when the flop comes A 3 3. (Which is code for: "I have the entry fee and Eric knows I am a giant fish". Hey, in a league this good one sure loser is a good thing to have. That would be me.)
That said, I certainly improved from last year. I didn't blow the bank on Morneau, Lackey, Hughes, Feliz and Papelbon. I actually found out the values experts were paying in the AL auctions for LABR and Tout Wars (this is publicly available, who had a clue?). I read everything Derek Carty wrote on Baseball Prospectus in hopes he would appear, and even if he didn't, I was sure BP's PFM values and Derek's insights would prove to be tremendously valuable. I was correct in that.
In short, I educated myself to at least reasonable beginner's status. Just where you want to be against 9 of the best players in the country.
My own auction plan was, it turns out, absolutely the wrong way to approach a thin league (10 teams instead of 12). I established budgets of 80 for infield, 80 for outfield and utility, 20 for discretionary/catcher, 30 for closers/relievers and 50 for starting pitching. I resolved not to be a bull in a China shop and blow my budget on 4 or 5 stars, as the variance/injury risk factor of placing all one's eggs in maybe 6 or 7 players hands seemed excessive to me. I had looked at other expert drafts, and while a few players went the dramatic "Studs and Scrubs" method, most avoided multiple major purchases, tried to fill as many slots with quality players as possible, and reserved significant money for the end of the draft. I had resolved to be a good boy, play like the nits I was in the league with, and just try to be a little luckier.
It turns out that in a ten team league that's dumber than leaving dog dirt on your front porch in midsummer. Player after player I passed over a dollar or two, notably Hosmer at 25, Bourjos at 18, Ackley at 10, Moreland at 10, and half the guy's on Derek's team at whatever low price he paid for them (and he does buy right for sure). I watched Bill and Eric step out and pay huge for the guys they wanted early and wondered what had transformed them from the tight players I thought they were. Alas, the answer turned out to be they (and most everyone else) were simply drafting smarter than me. In a ten team league, 1 dollar players do not totally suck. I bought some very marginal players early (Allen and Paulino) thinking that no one would be left at the end for 1 dollar and reserve picks and I was after depth. Guess what? Tons of guys were left for a buck and as reserves. I had no outfield and had passed on half the player universe to save money and at the end money didn't really matter because all the players were generic and useable. No one was putting "no ones" in their lineup, broke or not. Heck, Bill filled two roster slots with reserve picks and they weren't that totally terrible.
So, looking at my own auction, I'd say by far my biggest mistake was in not buying one or two more higher quality players and instead ending up spending too much on Allen, Paulino and reserve players. Yet again this year I have made what amounts to a 10% (or more) budget mistake. (On the subject of Allen: 8 may be "insane", in the sense that he is a better gamble at 2 or 3, but he actually projects to have as many homeruns and stolen bases as Hosmer in James and Steamer, and the bidding went me 4, derek 5, bill 6, derek 7, me 8. I am prepared to be slightly dumber than Derek and Bill). Further on the downside for me, I bought the pitchers lots of players love to hate: Pineda, Hellickson and Scherzer, and the hitters many dislike: Cespedes, Rasmus and Allen. But having been as contrarian as usual, I also tried to buy some "solid" guys: Konerko and Reynolds- both very predictable players, two reliable closers, and solid middle infield (Kinsler and Kipnis). Rather than wait until the end of the season, I will say now that I think the experts are wrong about Hellickson. I know he had a 5.5 k rate per nine and a 3.3 walk rate per nine in 2011. But his fastball velocity, swinging strike, first strike, in zone percentage and multiple pitch selection say those are numbers that are going to improve greatly this year. He may not look like much of a starting hand to anyone else, but I am playing him. For Rasmus, just read what Derek wrote about Alex Gordon last year and change the name. Virtually identical situations and players. If I miss I miss, but Gordon paid 30 last year and I gave him to Derek at 15 instead of going 16. Not twice. Plus Rasmus was an outfielder and I didn;t have any.
My (ever so valuable) Opinion on everyone elses draft:
Eric: Suddenly preoccupied with batting average at a counting stats expense. Very solid team except for the closers not being in existence again this year and having team speed that can be measured on a sundial. I liked him better when his top two starters were named Burnett and Bedard. His need to trade seems a strength not a weakness given his playing history and roster.
Trevor: I love Trevor's team, especially the part where he hops right on the Kendrys Morales bandwagon for the second year in a row- that's rare courage. Needs Broxton, Liriano and Morrow to fill and he crushes everybody. I should have never let him get Hosmer at 25.
Derek: Derek's team is always a bunch of guys we didn't want that we change our minds about maybe midway through the season. His hitting theme is "last years cripples". His two top hitters are BJ Upton and Coco Crisp- not guys I'd want to build my castle on (Well, maybe Upton if he was actually able to play baseball on draft day), but he gets solid production on the hitting side from every slot and looks strong for pitching. Certainly cannot be counted out given his track record. If his hitters rebound as well as Dwight Howard, he is solidly in the money. If they rebound like Josh Howard, he's toast.
Scott: Very solid draft with a distinct NY flavor. I'd be worried about Jeter first and foremost, but I hate Jeter. Thought he got a great deal on Beltre at 25 and bought the most reliable hitter in the league in Cano. No visible weaknesses beyond an $18 shortstop that cannot hit righties. Not exactly a huge team flaw.
Wigstings: These guys never argue with each other. Amazing. Decided to pitch saves, dangerous in a league where others have done the same. Put 40 units of the budget on Dunn, Feliz and Crawford- that is either going to be their best play or their worst, and vested another 20% in catching. Went true Stars and Scrubs. If they hit all three "rehab picks" and avoid a catcher injury, they can be very strong, but look short saves and stolen bases both. Probably need to trade at some point.
Bill: I have to admit, I see no point in spending 23 units to own Capps and Bailey as between them you have maybe 3/4 of one closer. But that is nitpicking (no pun intended, or not a good one anyway). Weiters and Lawrie are fantasy darlings this year and Bill got them for par almost exactly. They should be huge for him. He got a sneaky good player in Harrison at 3 (me being cheap again). Outfield a huge strength. Other than closer issues and a shallow pitching staff, his team is formidable in the extreme.
Clark: He appears to be semi-pitching pitching, at least starting pitching, which is funny given pitching selection was his primary strength last year. But last year he pulled the trigger on buying Jared Weaver just as the season started and I wouldn't be surprised if that happened again. Huge speed surplus and solid projectible hitters. I like his team quite a bit.
Paul: sacrificed pitching depth for quality, made good budget choices for saves and has Fielder, Gordon, Kendrick, Ellsbury and Verlander all on the same team. If he obtains one more quality starter and Morneau retuns to form, he will be giving Trevor a run for the money and then some.
Razzball: They crushed hitting but are may be slightly lagging for speed, but probably have a better than middle score there. Gonzales and Longoria are headliners and Granderson if he doesn;t regress puts them over the top. They sacrificed some saves and pitching depth to buy dominant hitting, but need to do very little work (maybe turn one lesser bat into two good starters) and they will be giving Trevor and Paul a run for the money.
I put myself no better than seventh at present. The teams are all exceptionally balanced and well thought out. I don;t think anyone is so far out that a few lucky trades and resource reallocations cannot get them in the money. This is, as advertised, an exceptionally difficult league to win. I hope everyone else appreciates my donation to the prize pool.
Best of luck one and all