On Tuesday, Howard Bender organized the first draft of the 2014 season for his Mock Draft Army. You can learn more about the army here.
It was an unusually informative mock for me. I went into the draft cold, with no draft sheets or prep for a 5×5 snake draft. The only snake league I’ve played in the last four years is a linear weights-based keeper league. It suffices to say that some hiccups were to be expected.
Overall, I think I had a terrible draft. Well, it was terrible in the sense that I drafted the wrong guys at the wrong time. Shame on me. From a big picture perspective, I actually did alright since I managed my categories successfully. Were this an actual league, I would expect this roster to give me a six or better in every category. Fortunately, I learned some things about the player pool that should serve me well this spring regardless of format. I’ll share those with you in the moment, but first I’ll present my team.
The reported statistics are Steamer projections. For the average, ERA, and WHIP categories, I just pretended every player had equal playing time. I could have weighted things by at bats or innings pitched, but why spend the extra 3 minutes?
As I mentioned, I think I had a terrible draft, but I managed my roto categories fairly well. My specialty in fantasy baseball is managing platoons, building multiple redundancies, and combing the waiver wire, all of which aren’t available to me this mock draft format. Even with Taveras contributing nothing, my lineup has a solid base. I figure there are about 1,250 plate appearances unaccounted for, including 600 to whoever I sub in for Taveras, another 400 to whoever becomes my primary utility bat, and 250 scattered throughout the rest of the lineup. I consider Belt and Howard to fill about 1.33 spots since I would platoon both of them. The lineup also has solid depth for a no-bench draft. Bogaerts will be 3B, SS, MI, CI, U and Castellanos will be 3B, CI, OF, U. Second base and catcher are the only positions without redundancy.
I think Steamer shafted me on my pitcher projections as I expect much better out of all five starters. Ventura was a throwaway pick in the last round just because he’s interesting. He might not have a job, so don’t go pumping him up your draft board just because a tossed a pick his way. There were better and/or safer pitchers available. Even with the sometimes ugly Steamer projections, my team has a strong K/9 ratio and is set to compete in saves, ERA, and WHIP. Wins looks like a problem category, but we all know that they’re practically unpredictable. Meanwhile, I have 430 innings in reserve if we assume it’s a 1450 IP league.
I learned a few things about the depth of certain positions. Outfield is much shallower than I expected. You get down to flawed gambles not too long after Alex Gordon and Jayson Werth leave the board. As always, there is plenty to platoon there, so it’s not a big deal if you only fill one slot with a four or five category guy. Just make sure you have enough roster spots to fill in the holes.
Catcher is remarkably deep, which isn’t a total surprise since guys like Joe Mauer and Carlos Santana have (probably) opened up playing time for decent options like Josmil Pinto and Yan Gomes. I’m also a big fan of McCann this year with the designated hitter slot available to him. I didn’t want to draft Posey where I did, but I ran out of time and he was at the top of the default board.
Starting pitching is remarkably deep. I took Hernandez and Sale because they looked like the best talents relative to their position at the time, but in retrospect, I should have used one of those picks on a shallower position. As you’ll notice in the draft results link, there were plenty of solid pitchers still available, and the middle rounds were packed with above average quality. Nothing stood out about the relievers.
Second base, shortstop, and third base remain fairly shallow, although none of them are disastrously thin. First base remains deceptive. There is late draft power to be had at CI or UTIL, but don’t sleep on the position. After the top tier of first basemen, the pool gets depressingly risky. As I mentioned, I had to turn to a Belt-Howard platoon in order to secure decent first base production.
The depth at pitcher has convinced me to reduce my budget for starters. I usually try to gain an edge in pitching by outspending my opponents – often by landing an extra top closer (this is an auction strategy that doesn’t convert well to snake drafts). I find that I’m particularly adept at platooning outfielders, so I usually under-invest in them. This season, I think it’s time to reverse those strategies. The sheer depth of starters could mute the value of the top few tiers. Perhaps maximizing elite relief innings may be the ticket to the top.
This is just mock number one of the season. I’ll post up the results of future industry mocks, especially if I’ve learned something from them.
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