Draft review: FSIC

Sorry this article is coming a little late. I’ve had it nearly completed for a few weeks and never got around to finishing it. Anyway, this year I’ve teamed up with Paul Singman to compete in the Fantasy Sports Invitational Challenge (FSIC). It’s an NL-only league, and you can view our team and some of the thoughts I had about our draft below. Feel free to give us your take on the roster in the comments.

FSIC Roster

C – Jason Kendall
1B – James Loney
2B – Alfredo Amezaga
3B – Garrett Atkins
SS – Jose Reyes
CI – Casey Kotchman
MI – Jack Wilson
OF – Nate McLouth
OF – Raul Ibanez
OF – Cody Ross
OF – Kosuke Fukudome
OF – Chris Dickerson
UT – Nyjer Morgan

P – Javier Vazquez
P – Derek Lowe
P – Kenshin Kawakami
P – Jorge De La Rosa
P – Ross Ohlendorf
P – Joel Hanrahan
P – Kevin Gregg
P – Hong-Chih Kuo
P – Kyle McClellan

3B – Pedro Feliz
P – Cha Seung Baek
P – Jason Hammel
P – Trevor Hoffman
P – Wade LeBlanc

Strategy and thoughts

We didn’t have a super-elaborate strategy, mostly just drafting for value. Here are a few of the tenets we followed:

Don’t worry too much about position scarcity
We of course accounted for the exact effects of position scarcity, but in an NL-only league, replacement level is virtually the same at all positions — a low-skill player who will likely get only 200 at-bats. While people overspent on Dan Uggla and Stephen Drew, we were content to take guys like Alfredo Amezaga and Jack Wilson at the end of the draft while grabbing higher-skilled hitters early.

Don’t take a top catcher
In a one-catcher league, it simply isn’t an efficient use of resources to take a top catcher early. Jason Kendall was one of our last picks and is a perfectly capable starter. The first catchers off the board (Brian McCann and Geovany Soto) were the 15th and 16th hitters selected, yet our rankings had the first catcher as merely an even money proposition if taken as the 40th hitter. It seemed that a few teams overestimated the impacts of position scarcity in this setup.

Consistency early
Regular readers know that I love taking consistent players early, and we managed to do this fairly effectively. Reyes (Round 1) and Ibanez (Round 4) are as consistent as they come, and Atkins (Round 2) has also been quite consistent. McLouth (Round 3) has been consistent enough for the skills he’s shown and the value we got on him. Loney, as a fifth rounder, also looks like a good pick, even if he’s not quite as consistent as you’d like.

There will be bargains on NL outfielders
Same approach as I took in LABR, there were some good, cheap NL outfielders this year. Fukudome and Morgan are already tearing it up, and Cody Ross has finally broke out of his slump, hitting three home runs this weekend. He’s a great bet for 25 dingers. I also really like Chris Dickerson if he can ever get going and procure a little more playing time.

There are undervalued starters late
We felt it was more important to get hitters who will actually be regulars or semi-regulars rather than overextend ourselves on pitching early on. There are still quality pitchers — or at least pitchers with upside — late, but the same is not always true for hitters in NL-only leagues.

Kawakami, de la Rosa, Baek, and Ohlendorf all have a chance at a sub-4.00 ERA, and we managed to get two top starters in Vazquez and Lowe besides. Also, at the time, McClellan looked like he could wind up starting (and it’s still possible he will). LeBlanc was more of a speculative pick that could turn a profit mid-season, and we recently picked up Jason Hammel, who should post an ERA in the 4.25 to 4.50 area by moving to the National League (if he gets a spot in Colorado’s rotation).

Wait until the middle-tier of closers
Disappointingly, Heath Bell went off the board one pick before us, but Hanrahan is a good closer too. We kind of got stuck with Trevor Hoffman as well (thanks to a glitch in the draft room), but we were able to get Kevin Gregg late in the draft (before he was announced as the closer). Three closers in an NL-only league puts us among the elite, and it didn’t cost too terribly much. We’ll probably end up trading one at some point, though, once Hoffman comes back and proves he is healthy.

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To some extent, I disagree with your recommendation to not take a top catcher in this situation.  NL-only and AL-only leagues are deep and basically show the same kind of depth as a 2-catcher mixed league.  The drop off from McCann/Soto/Martin to Doumit/Iannetta/B. Molina is large (though I’m a big Iannetta fan).  Then dropoff after Doumit/Iannetta/B. Molina is pretty big.  While you don’t necessarily need McCann/Soto/Martin, I wouldn’t really want any of the bottom tier guys as my starter (Hundley/Flores/Pudge/Y. Molina/Kendall/Schneider.  The rule on catchers should, at the very least, be to end up with one of the top 6-7… Read more »

In this kind of format, good catcher is not very valuable. You may very well produce more by grabbing a top 1B or OF and end up producing more with no catcher. It is always stunning to know how insignificant a difference is between good catcher and average catcher. There is just not many good hitting catcher in MLB.

Derek Carty
Derek Carty
Thanks for the feedback, mymrbig. While that may sound good in theory, we must always consider what your opponents are thinking and doing and what the exact values of players are.  Catchers in this league turned out to be less valuable than catchers in a 12-team, two-C, mixed league. Sure, maybe you don’t want to end up with a guy like Kendall in an ideal scenario, but if your opponents are overestimated the effects of position scarcity (they were), your choice is to reach (or severely reach, as would have been the case) or simply ride it out. There was… Read more »

Derek, just as a point of reference, who is replacement level for 3B versus C?  I’m going under the assumption that Atkins and Soto were grabbed at roughly the same spot in the draft, and it might be useful to look at their relative replacement’s stats to show that Soto was a reach that early.

Derek Carty
Derek Carty

Sure thing, Jeff.

Nick Hundley was my replacement level catcher (followed by John Baker and Jesus Flores) and a 180 AB Mike Lamb was replacement level at 1B (followed by a 100 AB Mat Gamel and a 125 AB Wes Helms – Ramon Vazquez at 210 AB was slightly above replacement level).