My LABR Mixed League Team

First off, thanks to everyone who gave me their suggestions on who to select first overall and provided strategy advice when I asked you all to help me win the inaugural LABR mixed league. We held the draft on Sat. night and it was great to already get back into the swing of the fantasy season. I have never drafted this early, so having a fantasy team before March begins is exciting! Though as expected there were several times where my player was taken literally right before my pick, I am very pleased with how my team turned out.

Typically in every league I participate in, it’s the same old story for my teams. I go offense heavy and either spend relatively little on pitching (auction leagues) or take my first starter later than all or most other owners. I didn’t have this exact idea in my head before the draft, but soon into it, I realized more than ever that I was going to wait, wait, wait on pitching and ensure my offense is dominating. I ended up being the 14th (out of 15) team to draft a starting pitcher.

Now for the roster unveiling:

Player             Team   Rd

C Matt Wieters BAL R5 P1

C Nick Hundley SD R18 P15

1B Albert Pujols ANA R1 P1

3B David Wright NYM R2 P15

CI Paul Goldschmidt ARI R9 P1

2B Dustin Ackley SEA R12 P15

SS Jimmy Rollins PHI R6 P15

MI Ryan Raburn DET R20 P15

OF Matt Holliday STL R3 P1

OF Carl Crawford BOS R4 P15

OF Alex Gordon KC R7 P1

OF Nick Markakis BAL R10 P15

OF Lorenzo Cain KC R16 P15

Util Ben Revere MIN R19 P1

SP Michael Pineda NYY R8 P15

SP Jaime Garcia STL R11 P1

SP Chris Sale CHW R15 P1

SP Daniel Bard BOS R17 P1

SP Johan Santana NYM R21 P1

SP Homer Bailey CIN R22 P15

SP Edinson Volquez SD R23 P1

RP Andrew Bailey BOS R13 P1

RP Frank Francisco NYM R14 P15

Reserve:

OF Jerry Sands LA R24 P15

RP Brian Fuentes OAK R25 P1

RP Wilton Lopez HOU R26 P15

SP Felipe Paulino KC R27 P1

RP Aaron Crow KC R28 P15

3B Jimmy Paredes HOU R29 P1

Thoughts on Offense:

Surprise! I drafted Pujols first. I was pretty sure he would appear at the top of my dollar values and I was right. However, it was much closer than I expected. I valued Braun barely less and Kemp right beneath him, followed by a small drop to Cabrera. However, at first overall, I was absolutely not taking Kemp coming off a career season, and only one year removed from going just 28/19 and hitting .249. Way too much risk to be taken first overall. I considered Braun, but couldn’t think of any reason to take him instead of Pujols considering I valued him less and I think there’s a bit more upside to my Pujols projection than Braun.

I know many are clamoring for Cabrera first with potential third base eligibility, but if you play with a corner infield position, you would use 1B/3B as your replacement level, meaning Cabrera doesn’t truly gain any value at all. Statistically, he is clearly inferior to Pujols, so the third base eligibility, which isn’t even guaranteed, is really the only argument. I think the multi-position eligiblity helps, though that’s hard to place a value on of course. I just don’t think third base eligibility specifically changes his value.

At catcher, I was totally sure I would draft Ryan Doumit. That was foolish though as Ray Murphy of Baseball HQ is in the league and their projections are even better than mine! So he scooped him up at a time I thought I could continue waiting. ADP seriously goes out the window when drafting with experts. I ended up with Nick Hundley after targeting many catchers earlier just to see them drafted right before my selection. In fact, I was all set to take Salvador Perez in the 18th round, but alas, that thief Tom Trudeau of Bloomberg Sports stole him the pick before mine.

I was ecstatic to have gotten David Wright with the 30th overall pick. He should be healthy now and with the fences coming in, he’s a potential first round value. At corner, I figured I would get Ike Davis since I valued him much earlier than his ADP. But again, these are experts for a reason! My friend Tim Heaney of KFFL took him four picks before my turn. So I ended up with the consolation prize of Goldschmidt, who isn’t all that different from Davis, but should also chip in high single-digit steals. I just pray he doesn’t lose playing time to Lyle Overbay.

I don’t necessarily like Ackley any more than anyone else, so I am surprised I ended up with him. I thought he would have gone earlier too to be honest. Just a case of a second baseman near the top of my values at a time when I needed one. And hey, he gained 10 pounds of muscle in the off-season! I decided on Raburn at MI as my other choices were boring player A or boring player B, most of which provided little power and maybe 20 steals. I had more than enough steals, so chose the guy with the most power potential. He is supposed to be the starting second baseman in Detroit, so if he can actually hold the job all year and reach 500 at-bats, he’ll be a steal and maybe hit 20+ homers.

In the outfield, I don’t know what to think of Crawford. Someone in the draft room thanked me for taking him as he sat at the top of the default rankings at the time and this particular owner couldn’t keep looking at his name. Others thought it was good value at pick 60. I am thinking that along with Wright, here is another guy who has shown first round value ability in the past and will still be just 30 years old this season. There was just too much profit potential to pass him up, even with the question marks surrounding his wrist, and of course last year’s disappointing performance.

Thoughts on Pitching:

Wow! This is the type of staff I dream about. Or have nightmares about. Talk about high risk, high reward, this is what happens when you wait until the end of round 8 in a 15 team league to draft your first starter. And it’s a starter with question marks of his own, moving out of the cozy confines of SAFECO and into a bandbox in the AL East!

After realizing early on how little ADP has helped, I couldn’t wait any longer and made sure I snagged one of my favorite pitching sleepers in Sale. Good timing too, as another owner said it was his next pick. Since I apparently wanted to corner the market on relievers turned starters, I also went with Bard and Crow (as a reserve pick).

I am cautiously excited about the pick of Santana. I had no idea I would end up with him, but in the 21st round, I noticed his name surrounded by a bunch of low strikeout, boring pitchers and knew it was a great opportunity to take the chance. Word is he may even be the Mets opening day starter, so he could pay huge dividends for my team for as long as he remains healthy. Yes, I am still a member of the Edinson Volquez Support Group. Seriously, if he can’t pitch in PETCO, then it’s time to find a new profession.

On reserve, I took fliers in Fuentes and Lopez, thinking the former may open the season as the Athletics closer and the latter would compete with Brandon Lyon and David Carpenter for Astros closing duties.

So yeah, that pitching staff may look absolutely terrible to many or the epitome of excitement to others. There is tons of upside (and risk!) and nearly all of them are strong strikeout pitchers. I would much rather be in a position to have to improve my pitching than my hitting during the season. As it stands now, I think my staff is just fine. Not the best, mind you, but good enough when paired with that offense.

Overall:

Mock Draft Central spits out projected standings after the draft based on projections from Rotowire. They should obviously be taken with a grain of salt for several reasons. One issue relates to injury prone players who are projected for fewer than 500 at-bats. Obviously, if the player is injured, you will replace him, but the projected standings cannot possibly take this into account, which hurts your counting stat projections. Simiarlyl, for guys like Sale and Bard who might be shut down after reaching an innings cap, the projections assume I won’t be using any other pitcher in their slots when that happens. That hurts my wins and strikeout projections.

Caveats aside, I thought they were entertaining. It projects me for the best offense in the league, with 64 out of 75 possible points. That’s awesome and at least makes me feel good that I accomplished my goal of drafting the top offense…at least according to Rotowire’s projections. Then I laughed when moving my eyes over to the pitching categories. 11 points. Out of 75. Woohoo! Too funny. A 2.0 in WHIP and 1.0 in ERA. That’s cool, we’ll just have to see how much work I’ll really need to do on my staff during the year.

You can check out the full draft here.

Read 2011 Tout Wars mixed league champion Fred Zinkie’s recap on MLB.com.



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Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: 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.


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Steve
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Steve

Way too much risk and not enough reward in your pitching staff IMO.

I like Pineda and Garcia, both very solid. Sale and Bard are huge risks. Bard hasn’t been a starter since ’07 and he was awful then. Sale has more upside but is still probably going to be limited by innings.

Johan is a huge question mark. Pitchers coming back from his injury have not fared well historically.

Bailey has some nice upside, but cannot be relied on either.

Volquez has some bounceback in him for sure, especially in Petco. But the walks still kill him, and he hasn’t been effective in years.

Paulino is a decent sleeper, but with this raggedy staff you would have been well served to stock the bench with some more lottery tickets.

I wouldn’t be surprised if you got barely 1,000 innings out of your projected starting 7 SP’s.

The offense looks solid, but I don’t think it’s gonna be enough to carry you.

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