My 2014 LABR Mixed League Team

We are now heading into the third year of the LABR mixed league. In its inaugural 2012 season, I finished in the middle of the pack. Last year, I finished second. If you’re a fan of following trends, then clearly I’m going to finish somewhere in the negative mid-single digits this year. I think that’s good. On Tues night, I endured an exhausting nearly four hour online snake draft…in early February. Yup, LABR likes to draft early so the results could be published in the fantasy issue of USA Today Sports Weekly. Of course, that makes it extremely difficult to draft a real team with so many position battles yet to be fought.

This is a 15-team 5×5 league with the standard 14/9 starting rosters and 6 bench spots. We are also allowed an unlimited number of players on the disabled list. I drew the ninth overall pick and immediately knew who was going to fall to me as my selection. Well, thought I knew.

My Winning Squad (Round):

C: Evan Gattis (10)

C: Jason Castro (12)

1B: Eric Hosmer (3)

3B: David Wright (2)

CI: Anthony Rizzo (6)

2B: Aaron Hill (7)

SS: Everth Cabrera (5)

MI: Brad Miller (13)

OF: Ryan Braun (1)

OF: Domonic Brown (9)

OF: Khris Davis (15)

OF: Michael Brantley (17)

OF: Junior Lake (19)

U: Mitch Moreland (20)

P: Madison Bumgarner (4)

P: Hisashi Iwakuma (8)

P: Ernesto Frieri (11)

P: CC Sabathia (14)

P: Tim Lincecum (16)

P: Alex Wood (18)

P: Kevin Gausman (21)

P: James Paxton (22)

P: Jenrry Mejia (23)

BN: Josh Beckett (24)

BN: Tyler Skaggs (25)

BN: Henry Urrutia (26)

BN: Carlos Carrasco (27)

BN: Rickie Weeks (28)

BN: DJ LeMahieu (29)

As is often the case, my the team I ended up with is quite surprising. But we’ll discuss those surprises and what led to my selection with a round-by-round recap.

Rd 1: As soon as I learned I had the ninth pick, I just knew I would end up with Braun. His NFBC ADP was 11 and there seemed to be a guaranteed group of players who went in the top 10. Although he’s obviously not without risk, I’m extremely happy to have landed him since this was a first round full of players I didn’t feel comfortable with as first rounders.

Rd 2: Simply a value play here. Somehow my projections produced a ninth overall ranking for David Wright, so was satisfied getting him in the second, though not surprised given his ADP of 25. Steals from your third baseman is nice.

Rd 3: Ughhh, this was the beginning of what I feared was a disastrous remaining draft. Having fully believed that Jean Segura was legit and not being scared off by his poor second half, I was praying that he would fall to me. He had already last past his ADP of 29, so I was getting increasingly nervous. Then what do ya know, he was taken the pick right before me. Unfortunately, I had no backup plan, something I usually make sure to have since you have a time limit to make your pick.

I panicked, had no idea what to do and ended up taking Eric Hosmer. According to my values, it was a fair selection, but it felt way too early. It’s not like I’m a huge fan of his to begin with, but let’s hope the big second half was a precursor for a mini-David Wright type season.

Tip: HAVE A BACKUP PLAN!

Rd 4: Round four was craaaaaaazy. Five of the first six picks were starting pitchers. If you know me, you know I never take starting pitchers early. Last year in this same draft, I didn’t take my first starter until the seventh round. But no hitter stood out at the time and I made the decision to go with a pitcher for a change…as did everybody else apparently. First, I thought Adam Wainwright might slip to me. He did not. Then I thought I’d take whoever fell to me between Justin Verlander and Felix Hernandez. They each went in the two picks before mine. Being too stubborn to go with a hitter at this point, I went with Madison Bumgarner before there was another step down to the next starter, despite himself being a step down from the previously selected starters.

Tip: Join an auction league, snake drafts will give you a heart attack.

Rd 5: We can be fairly certain that Everth Cabrera is going to be the same player with or without PEDs and the potential for 50 steals was good value here according to my calculations. I love the significantly improved contact rate, but whether he could sustain it will be a big factor in determining whether he could repeat his rates.

Rd 6: For the second year in a row, I took Anthony Rizzo in the sixth round. I figured he would be undervalued this year, but was hoping he would be a little more so than it appears he is. I don’t think I got great value here, but there were no real bargains on the board at the moment. I wish his surrounding lineup was better, as his RBI and runs scored totals will suffer.

Rd 7: Aaron Hill is another coming off a disappointing year, but his season was marred by injury. Second base really stinks this year and I knew I had to do something before there was a big drop-off. It will be important for him to rebound in steals, otherwise it’s borderline he earns seventh round value.

Rd 8: Shocked I ended up drafting Hisashi Iwakuma and then he thanks me by getting injured and likely being out for most of April. Figured he would be overvalued and actually had an ADP in the sixth round, so not sure how he lasted until the eighth.

Rd 9: The second straight surprising pick I made as I called Domonic Brown a second half bust candidate last year based on a HR/FB rate not supported by his batted ball distance. Who knew I’d end up drafting him?! Just goes to show you that every player has a value and even if you think you don’t like someone, he could still be had, and should be had, at the right price. Brown had an eighth round ADP and that’s where I valued him as well.

Rd 10: Three times a charm? Yet another surprising choice of Evan Gattis, as several months ago I essentially threw up my hands thinking I had no idea what to expect from in the future. But he’s the every day catcher in Atlanta and should be a lock for 20+ homers, while batting in a good spot in what should be a better Braves offense.

Rd 11: By this round, every good and safe closer was already gone. I hate knowing that I’m passing up much better value to dip into the remaining closer waters, but it had to be done. I think Ernesto Frieri will be fine this year and at least I could count on lots of strikeouts from a reliever at the very least.

Rd 12: I’m pretty sure that I’m valuing Jason Castro higher than most, so I wondered how long I could wait before gobbling him up. I think his power surge last season was absolutely for real and he’ll be hitting third again, behind a pretty good on base guy in the newly acquired Dexter Fowler.

Rd 13: Brad Miller is one of my favorite sleepers and I was biting my lip hoping he wouldn’t be swiped just ahead of me. He should hit leadoff behind an improved Mariners lineup and be a nice source of power and speed.

Rds 14 & 16: I lumped these two rounds together for obvious reasons. I’m betting on bounce back campaigns for both CC Sabathia and Tim Lincecum and given how late I got them, didn’t have to invest much. There’s therefore a whole lot of upside without much risk. Well, the risk is I start them and they suck again of course. This is the second year in a row I drafted Lincecum in this league. Last year I took him in the eighth round. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Sabathia 2013 SIERA: 3.95
Lincecum 2013 SIERA: 3.75

Rds 15 & 19: Needed to fill out my remaining outfield slots and opted for a pair of sleeper delights in Khris Davis and Junior Lake. This Davis doesn’t have nearly the gargantuan power his inflated HR/FB rate would suggest, but he does have excellent power and some speed too. Could be a bargain in the 15th. I wasn’t too keen on Lake given his poor strikeout rate and inflated .377 BABIP until I checked out his xBABIP. Would you believe that xBABIP suggests he was actually unlucky?! That mark was a crazy .432, likely a result of his high line drive rate and oodles of infield and bunt hits. He is similar to Davis, but with the opposite power/speed profile.

Rd 17: Was literally all set to draft Oswaldo Arcia who you know I’m a fan of until, you guessed it, he was drafted the pick before me. I needed an outfielder and Michael Brantley was easily the best one still available. Actually, I valued him a fraction more than Arcia, but preferred the youngster with upside. And it’s fitting that I drafted Brantley as just 2 1/2 months ago I shared my pessimism on his 2014 prospects. Who knew I’d draft so many players I thought I didn’t like?

The Rest: As usual, I loaded up on young, high upside starting pitchers. Between Alex Wood, Kevin Gausman, James Paxton, Jenrry Mejia, Tyler Skaggs and Carlos Carrasco, I figure at least one of them is going to have a major breakout year. I’m also cautiously optimistic about a rebound for Josh Beckett, provided good health.

Overall, my frown after the Hosmer disaster was turned upside down as I left the draft with a smile. I managed to draft an offense strong in both power and speed and love my collection of pitchers, with both rebound and breakout potential.




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Mike Podhorzer produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. He also sells beautiful photos through his online gallery, Pod's Pics. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.


25 Responses to “My 2014 LABR Mixed League Team”

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  1. Bill says:

    At what point does following value become offset by having to pick guys you’ve singled out as being overvalued ? At the end of the day you now have guys you hate having on your team.

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    • Kevin says:

      I agree. I get way too hung up on value and rankings during drafts then wind up drafting someone that “fell” to me despite never having any interest in that player at all and miss out on so many of the players I was targeting. At the end of the day, if your team wins it will be fun, but if not, you’re stuck rooting for a team you never wanted all season.

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    • I don’t dislike anyone. I just singled some guys out thinking they might be overvalued given their performance. I was obviously wrong! Everyone has a value and I’ll happily draft someone I thought I didn’t like if he’s under my value.

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    • The answer to this question is that you should factor this into your rankings. In drafts, do some mocks and see where someone lands. How much you ” like” or “dislike” a player should depend somewhat on what he can do for your team. There are logical floors where you might hate a player but it’s fairly obvious he provides more value than the guys behind him.

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  2. Amoral says:

    Where is BJ Upton?

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  3. lester bangs says:

    Like Brantley as a cheap final piece. Good luck with Sabathia.

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  4. The Stranger says:

    Looks like a good team as long as some of the cheap pitching pans out, or you can jump on guys in-season. Are the full draft results posted anywhere? These expert drafts always play out so differently from any draft I’ve been in – must be because the site rankings really drive the draft in most leagues.

    On the topic of drafting guys you don’t like, presumably you like them where you drafted them. And there might actually be a small in-season advantage to not having “your” guys. If you get a guy you’re really high on and he struggles, maybe you stick with him longer than you should. If you thought he was a bum to begin with, there’s no hesitation on benching him.

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  5. LarryA says:

    Of course Everth Cabrera will be the same with and without HGH, thats why no olympic runner ever even bothers to take any HG/roids.

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  6. Rudy Gamble says:

    The guy who took Segura and Arcia before you sounds like one sharp cookie!

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    • A cookie filled with poo and vomit :-) It just amazes me how often that kind of stuff happens. It’s not like 4 picks ahead of me, always the pick right before me!

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      • Rudy Gamble says:

        Yeah, I hate that sinking feeling when your queue dries up to 1 and there’s one pick left before your next turn. I was in that position a couple times when you were about to pick and luckily you never got me.

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  7. OaktownSteve says:

    It’s a tough break with Iwakuma. Hopefully he won’t be out too long. He’s about 24 picks below his NFBC ADP there. He’s also a guy that I didn’t like coming in this year. Most expect some fall off from him but the peripherals still say a lot of good things about him so you start to question, why do I not like this guy? With his BB rate you hope he’s at minimum a whip helper and that’s going to be good for your strategy as you look for late upside K guys who might get a little whippy. Can’t let you totally off the hook for the pick as I agree with others above as I think you have to try to be disciplined about taking the guys you think will perform and not get caught up in perceived value, but I can still kind of understand the mindset there.

    That being said, I really like what you did with the back end of the pitching staff. Delaying pitching and trying to find some late gems is a strategy I like. None of those guys you took are without a narrative of success for this season lurking in there. Sabbathia and Lincecum are both evolving, trying to adjust their own approach to their changed skill sets but both have particular pieces that allow you to think they can outperform the draft slot (Sabbathia great command, Lincecum swing and miss pitches) if the can learn to play to their (current) strengths.

    Paxton improved his secondary pitches and has health back on his side. Mejia and Carrasco are TJ guys who came back with power stuff. Mejia had a lot better results and he got raves from scouts and baseball watchers for how he looked. Gausman has stuff and pedigree. There are lots of guys who come up and get crushed in their cup of coffee and then come back the next year and get it put together. Alex Wood appears very solid provided he can get a rotation spot and stick. There have been few pitchers more mercurial than Beckett. He seems to get written off then pitch well again for stretches. Gambling on a resurgence not the worst thing in the world.

    It’s s bit of a high risk/high reward game. If it turns out you did enough with the extra resources shifted to offense and a couple of the speculative plays work out you’ll be ducky.

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    • Thanks for the well thought out breakdown! Definitely a high risk/high reward game at pitching, and my experience in these types of leagues is that pitching is easier to find during the season than hitting. It’s rare that a full-time offensive player is a free agent, but pitching is always appearing.

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      • OaktownSteve says:

        It’s a deep league so you won’t find a ton of pitching but you can still find some. A lot more than you can find MIs though.

        I think some people probably look at your pitching and think it’s just a point and hope thing. I wanted to commend you on the thought that went into the picks. There’s reasons for optimism on all those guys.

        Think the Moreland pick could be sneaky good too so long as they don’t sign Nelson Cruz.

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      • Yup, I’m used to the reactions to my pitching. Same song and dance every time! I keep doing it though because the strategy works.

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  8. stonepie says:

    towards the end of drafts, most picks you take wont end up on your team for very long anyway so might as well go upside.

    as for liking and not liking guys, my league labeled these players as our “emotional attachments”. these are the guys you have a fond affection for and have a tough time letting go via trade or drop.

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  9. ML says:

    First thing I said to myself when I saw the post was he better mention that hosmer pick. Got a good laugh reading this. 15 team and if you project the upside for him it’s actually kind of close to where he should. Hopefully it works out.

    Didn’t like Rudy’s team. Weak pitching.

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    • Rudy Gamble says:

      You think the below pitching staff is weak in a 15-team mixed league where you start 9 pitchers?:

      SP1: Jordan Zimmermann
      SP2: Anibal Sanchez
      SP3: Michael Wacha
      SP4: Justin Masterson
      SP5: Chris Archer
      SP6: Jake Peavy
      SP7: Wade Miley
      SP8: Erasmo Ramirez
      SP9: Jake Odorizzi
      SP10: Jameson Taillon
      RP1: Kenley Jansen
      RP2: Addison Reed

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      • ray says:

        not at all Rudy. Like your pitching staff better than Mike’s. Not sure you want to wait on pitching that long this season.

        love Mike’s offense though.

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      • Mike610 says:

        Apologies for the re-post. Changed device.

        Yep, hence my statement. I think your in the bottom third.

        Zimmermann doesnt K enough to be a number one. Anibal does, but he’s probably in line for some regression and has yet to throw the innings of a top flight fantasy sp. Wacha still needs to develop secondary pitches. You put alot of stock into what masterson did last year. Love Archer. Peavy can be ok but dont trust him. Miley eh. Erasmo ugh. Odorizzi nice value. Same with Taillon.

        Just my view. Means nothing. You shouldn’t be so sensitive.

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  10. dirck says:

    I completely agree that pitching is much easier to pick up off the free agent list during the season than hitting .In a 16 team dynasty league,here are some of the guys that I have picked up as free agents in the last 2 years —- Cashner,Corbin,Miley, Griffin,Straily,E. Santana Morton,McAllister,Dempster ,E.Jackson,J.Kelly,

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  11. Mike610 says:

    Yep, hence my statement. I think your in the bottom third.

    Zimmermann doesnt K enough to be a number one. Anibal does, but he’s probably in line for some regression and has yet to throw the innings of a top flight fantasy sp. Wacha still needs to develop secondary pitches. You put alot of stock into what masterson did last year. Love Archer. Peavy can be ok but dont trust him. Miley eh. Erasmo ugh. Odorizzi nice value. Same with Taillon.

    Just my view. Means nothing. You shouldn’t be so sensitive.

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