Last night, I participated in the other division of expert drafts, Tout Wars. If you recall, in mid-February I partook in the LABR mixed online draft league for the second year after its inaugural 2012 season. Not surprisingly, Tout Wars wanted a piece of the online snake draft action as well and started up their own version this year. When I received the invite to take part in Tout Wars, I was super excited, as it was my goal since I started my fantasy baseball writing career. The format is essentially the same as LABR, with one big difference — it counts OBP instead of AVG. It is a 15-team league with the standard 23-man rosters and a 4 man bench. The reserve roster is smaller than the six allowed in LABR. Interestingly, and strangely, Eno Sarris is also a member of the league. Without further ado, let’s see how I did.
But before I jump ahead to my team, there were two questions I had heading into this draft. First, I always use ADP data, as you are well aware. But, there is no ADP information available for a 15-team OBP league. So do I still use the NFBC data in which owners were drafting players based on their batting average? I decided to add the ADP data to my spreadsheet anyway just in case, as at the very least, it should come in handy for pitchers.
The other question I had was whether the members of Tout Wars would accurately make the valuation changes necessary given the change in stat category. Obviously, I had to assume that everyone would be drafting properly and the selection of players would reflect the use of OBP instead of AVG.
So with those questions out of the way, let’s finally get into the drafting fun. The lack of truly reliable ADP did make it somewhat challenging. There were times when I wasn’t sure if it was too early to take a player and whether I would be able to snag him the following round. There were times when less obvious players enjoyed a value boost from the use of OBP that I wasn’t sure everyone else would be keen on. Do I let the player sit atop my rankings for a while or just draft him, potentially eating up my potential for profit?
From the very beginning, it was pretty obvious that a handful of owners were drafting as if it were a traditional 5×5 league that uses AVG instead of OBP. Not all the owners of course, as many of them made picks that would only be made in an OBP league. Other picks just made me scratch my head — they were questionable even in a traditional 5×5, but the switch to OBP made the selections even stranger.
So you should know my strategy by now — lots of hitting early, draft a pitcher or two late in the first 10 rounds, finish up my hitting, and then fill up the rest of my pitching staff and reserve list with my breakout candidates and sleepers, assuming I will hit on a few. I think it worked out beautifully and am quite happy with my team, especially my offense. Let’s see if you agree.
Oh, I picked 7th.
My Winning Squad (Round):
C: Yadier Molina (7)
C: Chris Iannetta (21)
I really wanted and expected to draft Mike Napoli here, but he went with the first pick in the 7th round, so I settled on Molina. Iannetta, who I already apparently like more in traditional 5×5, gets a huge boost from the switch to OBP.
1B: Joey Votto (1)
Would have been by far the OBP leader in baseball if he didn’t get hurt last year. I was debating between he and Prince Fielder, but I had Votto worth a couple bucks more and although he’s probably a bigger risk due to the injury factor, I think he has some more upside to my projection than Fielder does.
3B: Kevin Youkilis (15)
Not the OBP monster he used to be, but remains in a good situation in the middle of the Yankees order. I had keyed in on drafting Mark Reynolds, since at the time I wanted more power, but he was literally taken the pick before me.
CI: Chris Carter (17)
A perfect example of not knowing how long I could wait to draft him. His ADP was something ridiculous like the 24th round, but predictably he has been drafted within a huge range. When I took him, Eno was annoyed, which makes me believe he would not have lasted much longer. Once again, he gets a nice boost from the switch to OBP and provides me with what I had wanted to get from Reynolds.
2B: Ian Kinsler (2)
Should have a pretty solid OBP for a second baseman. Robinson Cano actually gets hurt a lot from the category switch and so I had Kinsler valued just a buck and a half less.
SS: Derek Jeter (12)
Shortstops tended to get drafted much earlier here, with the move to OBP seemingly being ignored. The options thinned quickly, but Jeter lasted a while and provides a little of everything, while offering one of the best OBP marks at the position.
MI: Chase Utley (8)
Very possibly too early on Utley, but he also gets a nice boost from OBP and we haven’t heard of any injury issues at all so far. I feel quite optimistic that he will record the most at-bats he has since 2009.
OF: Matt Holliday (3)
Old boring vet? I seem to draft him in a lot of leagues every year. Consistently reliable and a strong 4-category performer.
OF: Desmond Jennings (4)
Lots of excitement and upside here. He has shown some excellent walk rates in the minors, so with OBP the category, no need to concern yourself with a potential .250 average. A 15-40 season is well within reach.
OF: Shin-Soo Choo (5)
One of the biggest beneficiaries of the switch to OBP. It’s funny because he has typically been overvalued in all the leagues I have drafted in so far, but with a career .381 OBP and a move to a much more hitter friendly venue, he’s an underrated strong option.
OF: Carlos Gomez (14)
Yes, the OBP will suck, but I had him valued as an 8th rounder, so I could not just keep passing him up. Initially, I didn’t want to draft another outfielder, but as he continued to sit atop my rankings, eventually I was forced to cave for that potential 20-40 season.
OF: Justin Ruggiano (16)
A Podhorzer team wouldn’t be complete with Ruggiano on it. I drafted him in the 18th round in the LABR league, and his value didn’t change much from OBP. Maybe I could have waited another round or two, but at that point in the draft, no one screamed to me that they had to be drafted.
U: Lorenzo Cain (20)
How he lasted until the 20th, I do not know. I didn’t have any intention of drafting another power/speed combo guy, but the opportunity presented itself and I simply could not pass up on the value.
P: C.C. Sabathia (6)
Round six for a pitcher?! I know, I know. Early on, I was considering really diverting from my strategy and drafting Cliff Lee if he fell a little further. That didn’t happen and Sabathia’s name kept staring at me in the face from atop my rankings. I felt maybe I should take a near-ace for a change so my pitching staff has at least one 200-inning guy. Of course, he has old age and injury issues of his own, but that’s why he fell all the way to the ninth pick of the sixth round to begin with. Crossing my fingers he is completely healthy and remains so all season.
P: Tim Lincecum (9)
I was able to wait another round to grab Lincecum this time after selecting him in the 8th in LABR. I had no idea everyone was this down on him. Heck, Roy Halladay seems to be going a lot earlier in every draft (he went in the 4th in this one) and he is much older and actually dealt with injuries last year. I think Lincecum’s chances for a bounce back are much, much greater.
P: Dan Haren (10)
Why stop at just Lincecum as a rebound candidate when I could pair him with another in the form of Haren?! I will talk about Haren more in a future “Pod’s Picks” posting, but bottom line is the move to the National League combined with better luck should lead to a rebound.
P: Sergio Romo (11)
P: Glen Perkins (13)
As the various closer runs were occurring, I avoided them and just picked up the best of what was left. I am happy with these two.
P: Matt Garza (18)
Yes, he’s injured and will likely miss the first month. But, 18th round?! I simply couldn’t pass that up, especially since we have an unlimited DL, so I could immediately replace him.
P: Andrew Cashner (19)
Like Ruggiano’s appearance above, this wouldn’t be a proper Pod team without Cashner on it. If he does not join every one of my teams this season, you are given my permission to stop reading my articles, because clearly I messed up. He now might be ready for opening day, so his price could start creeping up.
P: Trevor Bauer (23)
The same spot I plucked him in LABR. This late, it’s really just an upside and hope pick. I think he will greatly benefit from the expected superb outfield defense in Cleveland.
P: Chad Billingsley (24)
Similar to my thought process regarding Garza, I had no interest in Billingsley in the teen rounds, but when you get into round 24, I simply had to take a shot. I have no expectations of a full season, but if he can pitch well until he needs that imminent TJ surgery, then I’ll be happy.
BN: Drew Stubbs (22)
BN: Frank Francisco (25)
BN: Chris Archer (26)
BN: Wily Peralta (27)
I never thought Drew Stubbs would end up on any of my teams, ever, but as he still remained out there in round 22, I simply had to add him to my bench before even filling my active roster. I have him valued the same as Cain at nearly $10, and trust me, I’m not a Stubbs fan. I keep adding Franky Frank to my teams as well. If he is actually healthy, I think he will bounce back and close games…successfully. If not, to free agency he goes and nothing lost.
Archer and Peralta are some of my sleeper names with good strikeout potential. I drafted Peralta’s competition Mark Rogers in LABR and generally prefer him, but to my shock, another owner liked Rogers’ upside just as much as I did and scooped him up in the 24th round.
Overall, I am excited about my offense, though with a small bench and only one bench hitter, dealing with injuries is going to be fun. My pitching, as usual, is the big question. Like my LABR team’s staff, it has big upside, but lots of question marks.
Okay, I’m done, now rip me apart!