Snake Draft Retrospective, Ridiculous Bargains Edition

I torture myself every year by looking back at what could have been.

I have a league that has been going on for the better part of two decades – it used to be housed on the old “Sandbox” but migrated to Yahoo many years ago and it has had anywhere from ten to twelve owners year to year. It’s your proverbial bragging rights league, although as we’ve gotten older, more money has been wagered but I’m convinced we’d play for a thimble just to say we beat the next guy. This season, it was set up as a pretty simple standard, ten team non-keeper points league with a snake draft.

With the draft well behind in the rear view mirror and the next one six long months away, I decided to take a look at the results just to see if there was anything to take away from it.

In doing so, I marveled at the bargains that people pulled during the draft, and it rather got me salivating thinking about what hidden gems there will be in 2012. What follows are the highlights from this past March, and a cool reminder that I ought not over-imbibe on draft day until at least the 20th round.

AL MVP candidate Jacoby Ellsbury went 72nd overall in the draft, just before Francisco Cordero and just after Corey Hart. His ADP was actually in the 80′s headed into the draft, but this owner clearly brought his crystal ball as Ellsbury is the leading point producer in the league for any hitter. The next three are Curtis Granderson, Matt Kemp, and Ryan Braun. Not a bad return for an 8th round pick.

Interestingly, after his slow-ish start, Ellsbury was dealt for none other than James Shields, who was drafted way down at 181. That manager no doubt thought he was wicked-smart, only to have Shields go on to do what you all know he’s done. Shields wound up being the fourth best point producer at SP in this system, and actually had about 20% more points than did Ellsbury (don’t get me started about how this league over-values the win).

The next three bats down the list were all sort of comeback hopefuls after less than spectacular 2010 performances. David Ortiz at 139, Curtis Granderson at 142 and Alex Gordon at 176. The Granderson pick may very well be the pick of the draft on offense. Somehow, the same owner who drafted Granderson also drafted David Ortiz but only managed to finish 7th, a testament that a couple fortuitous picks can’t save you. Gordon was actually drafted ahead of his ADP in this league but is so far the second highest point producer at third base (although in most formats, Gordon will lose his third base eligibility, which is a shame).

The real story of this draft was the quality of the pitching had in very late rounds. Jeremy Hellickson and Josh Beckett both went in the 17th rounds but the three biggies were James Shields, Craig Kimbrel (223) and Ian Kennedy (238). We’ve already discussed Shields, but Kimbrel was far and away the most valuable reliever in this league while Kennedy was ninth in overall points, ahead of the likes of Felix Hernandez, Cole Hamels, and Tim Lincecum.

It’s simply remarkable to look back and realize one could have likely built a championship caliber team without making a single pick until the 8th round. And while it’s totally unreasonable to expect that you could strike gold with every pick, when I look back at drafts, I always feel like there are lessons to be learned. Sometimes painful lessons.

Even though I’ve been at this for some time now, and even though I know better than to do so — when preparing for our draft this past year, I recall obsessing over the first three rounds and yet, this league was won on value picks far later in the draft. This off season, there will no doubt be plenty of analysis about value picks in the middle and later part of your drafts and I’m committing to having a much more robust target list down to the last man standing.




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Michael was born in Massachusetts and grew up in the Seattle area but had nothing to do with the Heathcliff Slocumb trade although Boston fans are welcome to thank him. You can find him on twitter at @michaelcbarr.


18 Responses to “Snake Draft Retrospective, Ridiculous Bargains Edition”

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  1. Brad Johnson says:

    How did Kimbrel go so late? In my leagues (all 12 teamers, 1 snake, 3 auction) he went in the 11th round and cost anywhere from $10-15. He went into the season as my 3rd ranked closer yet I failed to land him in all leagues because someone else was higher on him.

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    • Brad Johnson says:

      Actually he was kept for $8 in my home league. I spent all of April and May trying to trade Max Scherzer + for him.

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    • Michael Barr says:

      We held the draft really early when the consensus was that he was going to split duties with Venters. Even so, he should have been good for 28 saves or more and with his stikeout profile, should have gone way, way earlier. I can’t really explain it other than in a 10 team league, I think everyone was satisfied at closer at that point. I’m fairly certain he was drafted as a third closer. Turns out, 9 of us looked like idiots.

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    • Bill says:

      Yeah, we had an early draft in my league and that depressed Kimbrel’s value. I seem to recall it being a coin flip between Venters and Kimbrel as to to who would be the primary closer.

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  2. Pat says:

    The real story this year was how many first and second round picks went bust. Ramirez, Crawford, Longoria, Wright, etc.

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    • Toby Ziegler says:

      Preaching to the choir. Traded for Hanley, Crawford, and Longoria early in the season. Luckily, I dealt Crawford shortly after I acquired him.

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      • Brad Johnson says:

        I traded Pineda (8 to keep), Morrison, and Coghlan for Crawford early in the season. He was supposed to secure me the SB title, but I watched a couple Red Sox games and decided he just looked bad so I ended up quickly repackaging him for Latos (15 to keep) and Harper (8 to keep).

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    • ImKeithHernandez says:

      I drafted Dunn and Hanley. Then I traded Fielder for Crawford pre-season. Somehow I finished in third and fighting for third place in the playoffs. None of those players are on my current team (Crawford being the last to go, finally cut the chord a few weeks ago).

      Dunn and Crawford had been two of the most consistent fantasy performers (Hanley too, although some signs of decline showed up recently). I still can’t believe my safe picks blew up so horribly.

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    • Michael Barr says:

      Well if anyone would like to see a post on the relative value of the consensus top 24 picks, I could pull something together. Retrospectives are always obvious when you look at them, but they’re also kind of fun. Let me know if that’s something you’d like to see.

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    • Bill says:

      Longoria was worthwhile once he came back.

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  3. Visnovsky says:

    As a 2010 Jacoby Ellsbury fantasy owner, what he has done this year makes me sick. After getting only 18 games from him in 2010, I refused to own him this year. Now, the bastard has put up a ridiculous season for the team that ran-away with the league title.

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  4. Wade8813 says:

    This makes me wonder if maybe Fantasy Baseball is more or less a crapshoot. Sure, you have to know a minimum amount, but nobody expected so many top tier players to flop, or so many low tier players to excel.

    And if Fantasy Baseball is so luck based, I’d only imagine other fantasy sports are even worse.

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    • Bill but not Ted says:

      Everything in life is mostly luck, why would fantasy sports be any different?

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      • Bill says:

        Hardly. People who succeed largely succeed because they make smart choices. The reverse is also generally true.

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    • Bill says:

      No, Fantasy Baseball is not a crap shoot. Good fantasy Baseball owners will consistently win. The guy who drafted Papi and Granderson got lucky, but he still lost. I suspect that he made a number of bad decisions in the draft and on the waiver wire. Ridiculously small sample sizes make fantasy football more of a crap shoot.

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      • SKob says:

        Everything head-to-head is a crapshoot! The best team in the regular season only really wins 1/3 of the time – football or baseball. Roto leagues are similar, but better owners are always near the top in redraft leagues.

        Top owners can be perennial top contenders and favorites, but recurring winners are rare and are usually due to duping stupid people in that league who are friends.

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