I had my first Yahoo draft of the season last Saturday and it turned out quite badly. Just about every player went for $10 above my projections. Thankfully, my keeper roster was unfair, so I didn’t need to accomplish much in the draft. My plan was to win Miguel Cabrera, a couple elite closers, and sit on my heels. But I missed Cabrera and then I missed plans B, C, and D. I even missed Jose Abreu, who I thought I could nab for under $20 (wrong). In the end, my “big ticket” expenditures were Craig Kimbrel (25), Kyle Seager (18), Brian McCann (17), and Elvis Andrus (16). I’m not pleased with any of those prices, but I had to spend the money on somebody.
I’ll share my roster in a moment, but I should probably point out the league quirks first. It’s a 12 team, 5×5 roto league, but we use OPS instead of AVG. That’s why I’m not so happy with a $16 Andrus. Then again, I targeted Andrus because his 40 steals will give me a shot at a perfect 60 point offense.
Our auction budget is $310 for a 29 man roster. This is the source of my consternation over player prices. We’re entering the fifth year of the league and in all previous drafts my rivals have clearly not adjusted for the non-standard budget. Surprisingly, it seems like everyone was ready this time around. I factored historical bidding tendencies into my price list, unfortunately I had no way of knowing things had changed until we were 30 to 50 picks in.
The league has a 1550 innings cap and 162 games played per position. We use standard deep rosters and added a NA slot this season for minor leaguers. Rather than discriminating between SP and RP, we use nine generic P slots. Below is my roster.
|BN MI||Jimmy Rollins||7||draft|
|BN MI||Jurickson Profar||8||keeper|
|BN CI||Chase Headley||4||draft|
|BN OF||Marlon Byrd||2||draft|
|BN OF||Josh Reddick||4||draft|
|BN OF||Justin Ruggiano||1||draft|
|BN OF||Gregory Polanco||3||draft|
We naturally have six bench spots. By hiring on only seven starters (a temporary gambit), I have room for up to eight bench players. After moving Syndergaard to NA, I have to wait on FAAB before I can fill my roster. The player I’ve targeted will be the subject of a post in the near future.
There are a couple reasons why I drafted so many position players and left my rotation with a meager 650 to 1150 innings. First, this is the league where I honed my Daily Grind technique. I should have no problem cycling about 400 innings at better than league average. As a rule, I don’t hire pitchers who are fantasy average or worse unless they cost almost nothing. Even then, they should have a useful strikeout rate.
More importantly, this draft was VERY early for Yahoo. I know I can find or trade for starting pitchers later, but tolerable position players can be hard to acquire. Now I’ve all but ensured that I’ll get 162 games player per position (except catcher), even if my team suffers a ton of spring injuries. This approach complements my own strengths and weaknesses as a fantasy player, and it was an adaptation to the particular dynamics of our draft. In other words, use this approach with caution and don’t blame me if it backfires.
The players I took also represented the best values in the draft at the time. I maybe shouldn’t have spent $4 late in the draft on Headley when a couple pitchers were left on the board. After all, Seager, Lind, and Profar can fill the 3B/CI roles. However, I considered Headley too valuable a lottery ticket compared with the available pitchers. Headley has $20 upside, my pitching alternatives had $5 upside. Similarly, Reddick and Ruggiano were too ridiculously tasty at those prices. In retrospect, I would pass on Byrd, who I project to be my least useful outfielder, but I took him before the others. I do think $2 is a good price on a middle of the order hitter with decent power.
By stockpiling outfielders, I’ve created some imbalances across the league. One owner has an empty OF slot and another is counting Dustin Ackley as a starter. Meanwhile, I have nine starting quality OF and one prospect. With the exception of Stanton, Bautista, and Byrd, my outfielders combine for massive five category production. Stanton and Bautista make up for their low stolen base total with plenty of mashing. Owners desperate for an outfield know to get in touch with me. I may be able to leverage my hoard to acquire an elite starting pitcher in early April.
Last but not least, I think you can see some of my sleepers. Let’s run through them.
Seager: Not so sleepy anymore, but he has 40 home run plus stolen base upside. All we’re waiting to learn is where he’ll hit in the lineup.
Headley: A fully healthy season could result in a rebound. He had a .359 wOBA in the second half, perhaps that’s indicative of things to come? A fast start to the season could make him an extremely valuable trade asset.
Rollins: He’s supposed to bat second for the Phillies this year. I fully expect 30 home runs plus stolen bases. If you can snap him up as a $2 backup MI, you’ll be really well positioned. I had to spend a few extra shekels. Same as Headley, he could become a useful trade asset.
Reddick: I’ve been over-targeting Reddick this draft season, but I love his combination of power and speed. His defense should ensure that he plays every day he’s healthy. His previous wrist injury is keeping his acquisition cost down – for now.
Ruggiano: He climbed onto the fantasy radar after a .401 BABIP buoyed his 2012 numbers. Last season, a .260 BABIP torpedoed them. Now fully liberated from Miami, Ruggiano should get plenty of playing time and could bat near the middle of the order. A 650 plate appearance could come with 50! home runs plus steals. Even if the other categories are less than desirable, that’s a leverageable profile.
Ventura: He features possibly the best stuff on a roster that includes a lot of very talented relievers – and he’s a starter. His fastball can touch triple digits and he can snap off some nice bendy pitches. His outing the other day elicited a lot of buzz, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he beat out Danny Duffy and Wade Davis for the fifth starter job. If he struggles as a starter, he has a ready role as an ultra elite reliever.
Polanco: You may notice that I’m a big fan of five category production, but that I focus most of my attention on home runs and stolen bases. The other categories tend to manage themselves just by maximizing plate appearances with a diverse mix of players. Polanco stole 38 bases across three levels last season and 40 the previous year. His scouting report includes good pop with 20 home run upside, although he’s not yet reached that ceiling. He could be a good batting average guy too. He’s expected to provide elite defense in an outfield corner, which could accelerate his promotion. He’s very unlikely to beat Jose Tabata and Travis Snider out of spring training, but he could get the call early.
Syndergaard: The Mets will probably treat him with kid gloves, including a shutdown date around the beginning of September. He’s shown good command and control to go with a high strikeout rate. He has very little left to prove in the minors, but we can be almost certain that the Mets will delay his service clock.
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