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Wednesday 7th Dec 2016

A number of years back, my late friend Jim Vail organized a sort of roto league amongst a cluster of friends.

This league was a simple one, designed with the minimum of effort, for in it we each simply picked the three batters we thought would hit the most home runs in the coming year. Entry to the league was a meager $10.

The year was 2000, when both Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were the big hitters, and while I did pick Sammy, I also went with Barry Bonds and Vladimir Guerrero. That was unlike everyone else in the league, each of whom took McGwire and Sosa, but all took Bonds as well.

Well, Vlady hit 12 more dingers than Big Mac that year, so needless to say, I won. In fact I remember telling Jim to keep the money, and we used it to have a great Chinese dinner when I visisted Phoenix the following spring.

Over the course of talking that winter, Jim did ask me why I took Vlady instead of McGwire, like everyone else. I answered I did not really know why Vlady of all hitters, but that I had a feeling McGwire would have a tougher year, and that Guerrero was that good. But, mostly I did it because I was pretty sure all the other players would not take him and that meant either I would win, or not. But, at least there would not be a potential ten-way tie making the season good for nothing.

When I said that Jim paused and thought for a moment, and then looked at me and said, "so, playing the game out is really kind of like a big laboratory for you then?"

I thought about it for a moment--for no one had ever suggested such a thing to me before--and nodded, saying "yes, that I guess it was."

Well, in the course of the pretty fun and wonderfully paced (its slowwwwwwwww) MLB.com experts draft, I got into a fun exchange with my bud Cory Schwartz from MLB.com. Cory took Eric Hosmer pretty early (third round) and also took Desmond Jennings in the fourth, Madison Bumgarner in the eighth, and Jason Kipnis in the tenth, after bagging Troy Tulowitzki with the fourth overall selection of the Mock.

Now, I will admit that all of these picks might have been early in the world of ADP, but I thought a couple of things.

First, these are all guys I would be happy to have on my roster at one point or another. They are all young. They are all good. And, they all likely have improvement ahead of them, and if Cory plays a roster with these guys and one or two of them have a break out, he has a seriously dangerous team.

In fact, Cory plays percentages a couple of ways by taking so many up-and-comers, the first being these are all touted young players, the second being that the more guys he gives a chance to, the greater the odds he will indeed hit the break out nail on the head.

Because, as we all know, there will indeed be break out players this year. And, we also know that if say Bumgarner, Tulo, and Hosmer simply repeat last year, should Kipnis and Jennings bust it out, that is indeed what makes his team look like a winner.

I sent a note to Cory telling him how much I liked his picks and team, and he did reply back a couple of things. One was that these were some of "his guys" which I understood meant he had been tracking them and maybe even drafting them as ultra picks for a few years, and he was watching his choices grow into full blown major league players and enjoying the rewards of both powers of observation and his faith in them.

I also asked Cory how much differently he drafted in a mock as opposed to the real deal, however, and he replied "I do things a little bit differently in mocks because I want to experiment, but it’s also a chance to practice my gameplan so I don’t go off the reservation **too much**. For instance, in a typical draft I would not take as my first three players a trio of guys who might combined for maybe 20-25 steals, tops. But, it’s a worthy exercise to see how that plays out over the full draft."

Ture enough.  Of course the risk in taking Kipnis say over Neil Walker is that Kipnis could turn into Gordon Beckham (who himself had better become Alex Gordon or his career will be in jeopardy) hitting .240-10-50 or so, while Walker goes a steadier .285-12-70 on an unfortunately dull team.  Cory said, the reason he did take Kipnis was "...in any case I’d rather reach a little here for Kipnis’ power/speed upside, acknowledging the average risk, than to take the known mediocrity of a Neil Walker."

True enough. 

Comments   

0 #23 Antonio Abruzzese 2012-02-01 21:13
Quoting Todd Zola:
and Runner -- little did you know your comments would be the subject of much of the discussion on Jeff and Chris's show today. Nice job.


I'm definitely not worthy. Credit goes out to you guys.
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0 #22 Todd Zola 2012-01-30 20:34
Even though I touched on it last week, I think the whole ADP concept deserves more attention and I will address it for tomorrow's column

and Runner -- little did you know your comments would be the subject of much of the discussion on Jeff and Chris's show today. Nice job.
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0 #21 Jeff Erickson 2012-01-30 19:59
I agree, there's definitely a default bias whenever you're drafting with an online tool like MDC, or if you're drafting on the league manager's draft software.
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0 #20 Lawr Michaels 2012-01-30 19:51
as Z will verify (and you probably saw from the NFBC draft we did) i don't even use sheets. i just like a magazine to be able to double check stuff (age, walks, whiffs, generally, and position sometimes) and so i don't forget anyone.

but, it is true, ADP is there in one's face. but, it also is relative to what i am looking for. now i am looking to fill out catcher and pitching, so the overall ADP does not really matter.
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0 #19 Ryan Carey 2012-01-30 18:57
I agree with you on ADP - my point is that when you use a service like MDC's you can't ignore the ADP that exists in the draft room. Believe in it or not - It's there right in your face and everyone sees it. At a draft table you work off your sheets and will be more likely to take a wider view of the player pool. In the draft room - the view invariably gets narrowed down with those players "in view" being the ones you think about first.
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0 #18 Lawr Michaels 2012-01-30 17:26
ryan-

thx for the correction. and carlos santana was hidden: he was cory's #3 guy.

but, i don't really believe in ADP. it only impacts the draft to the degree that the drafter allows it to (hmm, is that existential enough?).
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0 #17 Ryan Carey 2012-01-30 16:47
Also - it should be noted that since this "Mock" was run on MDC - the default ADP of the draft room WILL have some effect on the flow of the player pool especially in the opening rounds. One example here for me is Justin Upton. MDC has him at #7 on their list. He went #8 in this draft ahead of Ellsbury and Carlos Gonzalez. I haven't seen him go that high in any drafts or Mocks I have done. His NFBC ADP is 12. So there is one obvious example of MDC affecting the flow of the draft.

I have participated in two "real" drafts that Perry has been writing about. We are doing these drafts via email - so I personally really enjoy these drafts as the flow of players seems more pure. Even more interesting is starting the second draft with many of the same owners immediately after the first draft is over. One of the things I have always disliked about mocking online is the effect the draft room player list has on a draft. I much prefer a setting where everyone enters with their own rankings and lists and drafts accordingly. BUT, if you are going to be in a draft room - and want to get "your" guys - you will be forced to be aggressive sometimes - it's just a reality.
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0 #16 Ryan Carey 2012-01-30 16:31
One thing to clear up here is that Cory took Hosmer in the 5th rd - not the third as Lawr wrote. Getting Hosmer at THAT point was right at MDC's ADP (which is where this mock is being run) and actually great value IMO. Just this fact change anyone's thinking? Jennings has an ADP of 55. So while Cory moves him up to get him - in order to roster both players - one HAD to be moved up to the 4th.

Bumgarner came in with an ADP of 74. Cory gets him in the 8th rd. Much later than ADP (actually 13 teams has pitching lasting longer in this draft which makes sense).

Kipnis gets a big bump up from his ADP of 161 - but seems more of a reaction to to the market in this draft as Kipnis was the 12th 2B drafted. (J Weeks went a couple picks later).

Actually - I think Cory has one of the better teams drafted here- but that's me.
I don't think it's shocking for someone to admit they are willing to take risks in a mock that they might not in a money league.
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0 #15 Lawr Michaels 2012-01-30 15:54
well, i think there is one other aspect to consider, and that is for better or worse cory and todd and jeff et al and i are friends, and for the most part, we all "mock" together for the bulk of january-february, and they we draft against one another in earnest in march and play it out.

in other words for use, this stuff is as close to a home league as we get.

and, again, just because we are friends, does not mean we don't want to win or are not trying.

but, we also know one another and our habits, just like any league becomes familiar.

although, as an example of different paths, jeff correctly noted pitching is so much deeper these days.

so, i could wait for a good basic rotation. that said, i could not let timmy or feliz go when my spot came up. it does mean i have to scrounge for a little more power late, but, it also makes me so strong in whip and era and whiffs.

but, that is a very different path for me in any draft.

and, who knows what will happen in a real draft?
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0 #14 Antonio Abruzzese 2012-01-30 15:22
To quote Pablo Francisco, this all happens cause "they put it out there".
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