I stunk up the joint last year in AL LABR, one of the longest-going super leagues in the business. I combined terrible draft choices with terrible free agent auction decisions and even a bad trade in order to end up tenth of twelve. I showed poor restraint and discipline at the draft, I lacked the context necessary for making good decisions, and I panicked a bit late in the season. I’m not so proud of that season.
At least this year I feel a lot better about the draft. As Razzball’s Grey Albright said at the after-party, there’s a long way from feeling good to doing good in the final tally. Admitted. But since I actually didn’t even feel great about my draft results last year, I’ll take this as a positive sign.
Let’s take a look at the team and the better decision-making process that went into it.
AL LABR has a $260 cap for the first 23 players, and then goes to a snake draft for the reserve rounds. Players in your starting lineup can only be pushed to the bench if they are demoted to the minors or injured. Waiver wire pickups must go straight into the lineup. If a player stays injured all year, at some point you can recover their auction value as FAAB money. You start with $100 FAAB. Here’s the full draft board.
|C||Derek Norris||6||SP||Alex Cobb||18|
|C||Hank Conger||4||SP||Sonny Gray||17|
|1B||Eric Hosmer||26||SP||Tyler Skaggs||5|
|2B||Jason Kipnis||33||SP||Kevin Gausman||6|
|SS||Brad Miller||17||SP||Dallas Keuchel||2|
|3B||Matt Dominguez||11||P||Derek Holland||2|
|MI||Brian Dozier||14||RP||Ernesto Frieri||14|
|CI||Justin Smoak||7||RP||Chad Qualls||6|
|OF||Wil Myers||24||RP||Bud Norris||4|
|OF||Josh Reddick||14||RSP||Alex Meyer|
|OF||David Murphy||5||RSP||Kyle Drabek|
|OF||Robbie Grossman||3||RSP||Shaun Marcum|
|UT||Matt Davidson||7||RRP||Josh Zeid|
The main thing I did was not ever go over my auction values. Well, okay, I did once: Matt Davidson was only four bucks in my sheet, which used the Standard Points Gained system with projections averaged between Steamer and Zips (with a little mucking about by me). (Thanks very much to Jeff Zimmerman for help on that sheet.) But I didn’t love Justin Smoak as my CI, I wanted my Utility bat to be a CI, and Davidson was the last guy I really wanted to roster. And I had the money late in the game, so there you have it.
I’ll admit Jason Kipnis, Sonny Gray and Alex Cobb were right at my values, but that’s life. Sometimes you get pushed to your number and you still take them. You have to spend your money after all. It’s much better than last year’s frivolity of pushing Brett Anderson all the way to $17. At least it feels that way now.
I liked what I saw at the catcher position on Ray Flowers’ team last year — cheap catchers gave him money elsewhere. I thought Hank Conger and Derek Norris had some upside and high-ish floors in that they should both approach 350-400 plate appearances at worst. $10! Instead of spending too much time throwing guys I didn’t want, I made sure that Norris and Conger were out there in the middle of the draft. I needed to know if I could get them or if I would need to move money to the catcher spot in my planning sheet.
I love my lineup, I’ll admit to being giddy about several buys. Brad Miller and Brian Dozier for $31 feels great to me. Some question Brad Miller, but Nick Franklin is no shortstop and the projection systems love him. Because I got speed with my power, there’s no spot that’s devoid of power. My batting average might be bad — Matt Dominguez, Brian Dozier, Justin Smoak, Josh Reddick and Matt Davidson will drag it down even if they have good seasons — but a .253 team batting average would have been worth five points last year. That does not seem unattainable with at least half of my lineup projected for better than that.
After considering pushing my pitching staff values higher after some reason conversations, I didn’t spend a ton on my staff. 28% means I even spent *less* than last year.
There’s obviously some risk. Most of my team is young, the track records are not long. But Alex Cobb and Sonny Gray each threw at least 1000 pitches last year and those pitches graded out excellently by the peripherals. As much as I have denigrated Tyler Skaggs in the past, his change-up and curve both have excellent whiff rates, and he’s now in a pitcher’s park. Kevin Gausman‘s per-pitch numbers are off the chart, and he’s the only pitcher on the Baltimore staff with ace-like upside. I know he could end up on the outside looking in, though, so I basically handcuffed him with Bud Norris. I figure between the two I will get an good starter and reliever combination, either way. Dallas Keuchel scrapped his curve for a good slider, so I took a shot at him. Derek Holland was free, so I pounced. With Jesse Crain hurting, I figure Chad Qualls at least starts the season closing, and once I push Holland to the bench, I have the waiver wire to comb through.
The reserve rounds were about upside with an asterisk, that asterisk being that the upside had to be close to the bigs. Obviously I fell in love with Meyer at the fall league, and they were building up his innings total for a reason. Dean Anna and Nolan Reimold are fringe major leaguers, but they’re part of two groups (the Baltimore outfield and the New York infield) which are in flux and could use some talent. Kyle Drabek and Shaun Marcum could be fifth starters for their teams. Josh Zeid‘s per pitch numbers are better than Josh Fields‘.
Anyway, if I fail to spend $42 on my first FAAB pickup — last year I spent that on Brandon Maurer because I had Erasmo Ramirez and thought I was handcuffing a Seattle rotation spot — and if I don’t make a bad trade again — I panicked at sent Felix Doubront for Johnny Giavotella because I didn’t have a middle infielder — I’ll be ahead of the game this year.
And where I left last year’s draft playing the “If this guy gets that job and this guy gets that job” game, I feel like almost everyone on my team has a starting role. If Matt Davidson doesn’t, he won’t stick around for a plate appearance a week, he’ll be sent down, I can demote him, and look for a waiver wire utility bat. The platoon guys on my roster are left-handed. Gausman and Norris have semi-intertwined fates. The Angels need pitching enough to let Skaggs run with it. I’ve got upside on my bench in the few places that I need it, and I avoided the one dollar player. One dollar players in this league are usually part-time players with ugly projections.
So yeah, I *feel* great about this team, and at least that’s a step better than last year. What are your thoughts about the team?
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