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My FanGraphs Keeper League Mock Draft: Rounds 1-3

We FanGraphers decided we couldn’t wait any longer. Why wait until March when you could draft NOW?! Not only did we mock it up last night, but we assumed a keeper league. WOAH. We gathered 12 of our most intelligent, hilarious and handsome writers, used standard roster sizes minus one catcher and drafted five reserves. I know you are dying to find out how the action unfolded, but before I begin the process of unveiling the winning team (mine, obviously), I will share my keeper league philosophy/strategy for the draft.

So as I mentioned, this was supposed to be a keeper draft. Well, I kind of ignored that. Typically, fantasy players in keeper drafts overvalue the heck out of young players, and the older veterans come at quite the discount. Suddenly it seems as if everyone is playing for the future, rather than to win THIS YEAR. Forget 2013 and beyond. There are always top prospects getting people excited, and injuries, trades and the unexpected will no doubt screw up the plans of many. So for the most part, I just drafted as if I were trying to win in 2012. If this had been a real keeper league draft, I could figure out how to win in 2013 when the time comes.

The second part of my strategy involved pitchers. In straight drafts like this one, I typically wait pretty late before selecting my first pitcher. By late, I mean in round nine at the earliest. For a keeper league, though, I thought waiting even later than this might be more prudent. Pitchers are difficult enough to project for just the current season, so going out any further is even more of a crap shoot.

I had the second overall pick…


(1.2) Albert Pujols

This year is tough. The current player at the top of the ADP charts is Matt Kemp, who actually fell to me, but I could not justify taking him. In the first round, I refuse to take any players who have only proven once they are worthy of first round value (okay, so maybe Kemp’s 2009 was worth first round value…but we’re talking second overall pick here!). So when I knock out those players, plus the guys who clearly weren’t going to generate enough value to be worth second overall, I was left with old mister reliable. Over the last three years, Busch Stadium suppressed right-handed homers by 23%, so the move to Angel Stadium should be better for Pujols’ power. The only other real consideration here would have been Ryan Braun, but that idea was quickly squashed due to the weekend’s shenanigans.

(2.11) Ian Kinsler

In my real drafts, I come prepared with all my projections and dollar values, so I know exactly when to draft a player. Being that this was just a mock and the first one of the off-season, I felt rather lost. I really didn’t love anyone at this point. However, looking back at this pick now, I am satisfied. When healthy, Kinsler goes 30-30. It’s so simple! I have no idea why he keeps switching off between a .240 BABIP and a .310+ BABIP. Let’s hope the trend continues and he’s due for another one of his .310+ marks. Then he won’t (mock) kill me in batting average. It’s interesting that Kinsler actually doesn’t have home run power much above the league average. It’s the fact that he makes fantastic contact and hits a ton of fly balls that drives the power output. Since those metrics are typically consistent year to year, I don’t care how those homers are being hit, but it should continue.

(3.2) Carl Crawford

I was debating here between Crawford and another massive disappointment with the hope for a rebound, David Wright. I chose Crawford, for no particular reason really. His season really wasn’t as bad as it looks on the surface. His strikeout rate was up a bit, power down a little and BABIP worse than normal. But his batted ball profile was the same as it’s always been, so I’m inclined to believe the lower BABIP was just bad luck. The only question I have is relating to the disappearance of his speed. If he steals around 20 bases again, this pick sucked. He did hit seven triples though, so clearly some speed is still there. He just didn’t run as often, and I am not sure if it was a team decision (unlikely since Ellsbury has always stolen), a hidden injury or just extra cautiousness in his attempt to live up to his new contract. Whatever it was, I am willing to give him a mulligan, knowing that he has first round upside.

1B- Albert Pujols
2B- Ian Kinsler
OF- Carl Crawford