On Monday I participated in an online draft for an analyst league hosted by Grey Albright of Razzball. This league would be the “expert” league that would also be competing in an overall competition against Razzball.com readers participating in their own leagues. The draft boasted an excellent roster of writers from around the web such as Eric Mack, Brandon Funston, Scott Pianowski and Tim Dierkes to name a few. This was a 12-team snake draft with basic 5x5 scoring. However, this league uses only one catcher and only allots three bench slots, meaning you had only 25 rounds to fill out your lineup. The other quirks were a byproduct of the league being run on ESPN. The first is that each team is only allowed 180 games started for the year. The second was that this was my first time drafting in the ESPN room this year, and while it wasn’t that big of a deal, their rankings did compel me to move on a couple players I liked earlier than I have in other drafts so far this year. While these settings may seem somewhat constricting, they are in fact what most drafters play with over there, so hopefully this provides a little insight on one way to approach these types of drafts. Here is the Mastersball entry, drafted from the No. 3 spot:
1.03 Matt Kemp, OF – I would have preferred to have started closer to the 12/13 turn, and was hoping either Pujols or Cabrera would fall. When they didn’t the decision for me came down to Kemp or Braun. I decided to go with Kemp, making this the first time I have landed the five-category stud this year.
2.22 Mark Teixeira, 1B – Going in I was targeting either Jose Reyes or Adrian Beltre with this pick. Reyes was gone, but Beltre was there along with Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander. I didn’t expect Tex to be there for me and decided to take the power and consistency he brings to the table. I will write one more time that I expect the lefty slugger’s average to rebound this year. If he can hit .270 I’d be thrilled.
3.27 Justin Verlander, P – I was hoping that perhaps I could sneak Beltre around the turn and he almost makes it back to me, but is stolen at pick 26. Looking at the landscape, I decide the smartest play is to grab the sliding Verlander and get a rock solid anchor for the top of my rotation.
4.46 Ben Zobrist, 2B (OF) – Being near either turn means you have to sit and watch a bunch of names disappear from your queue before you get a chance to pick again. It also means you have to balance being aggressive on certain players or positions with being smart and taking what the draft presents you sometimes. Zobrist keeps finding his way onto my teams as a solid 4th round selection.
5.51 Starlin Castro, SS – I really wanted to take Cole Hamels with this pick and took a lot of time to consider my choices. I thought about Kevin Youkilis and Alex Rodriguez here, but thought one of them might make it back. My strategy in drafts this year has often been to wait on the SS position, but this time I decided to get a little BA/speed boost for my squad, while also hopefully encouraging others to move on the position. I was confident I could still land an SP2 I liked with my next pair of picks.
6.70 Matt Cain, P – While four SS’s come off the board, so does A-Rod, and then just before my pick, Eno Sarris takes my target, Youkilis. Matt Cain is there though, and he is the perfect guy to slot in behind Verlander as a No. 2.
7.75 Adam Jones, OF - I decide the time is ripe to get another OF and decide to take Jones over Shin-Soo Choo and Carl Crawford. Crawford was very enticing here, but I decided to let someone else take the risk. I have drafted Choo ahead of Jones a couple times already this year, and even debated the merits of it with Todd and Perry this preseason. This time I decided to go with the power upside that Jones brings to the table.
8.94 Miguel Montero, C – I miss out on two more 3B in Michael Young and Aramis Ramirez, and as the second tier of catchers get scooped up, I decide to not take a chance and secure the last one left from my target area. As the pick got closer I noticed Jonathan Paplebon and almost changed my mind.
9.99 John Axford, P – Missed out on Paps, but Axford was a comparable (some would argue better) alternative. Mat Latos was a consideration here, but since my plan was to try and secure three closers, I decided to make one of them an elite one.
10.118 Ricky Romero, P – I was on the lookout for another starter who could deliver the strikeouts from this point in the draft, and Romero was definitely on my target list coming in. I have been drinking Todd’s Kool-Aid on Romero, and believe he was far and away the best pitcher left on the board when I chose him. He did come at the cost of Mark Reynolds, who I just couldn’t stomach picking over Romero.
At this point in the draft I was off to a very solid start. While I had missed out on the entire third base inventory (12 had been drafted), I had the rest of my infield covered, a good start in the OF, an elite closer and three high quality starters. In retrospect, the only pick I might change was the Castro pick. I think I would take Youkilis and wait on SS like I have been doing most of the time. I was extremely pleased with the rest of my draft, and while there were a few players that got away, for the most part I was able to secure the talents of many of my favorite middle and late round targets this year. I think I definitely maximized my choices in the second half of this draft and ended up wih a team that should be able to stay in the hunt all season long.
Here are my picks the rest of the way:
11.123 Melky Cabrera, OF
12.142 Adam Lind, CI
13.147 Andrew Bailey, P
14.166 Mike Moustakas, 3B
15.171 Brandon McCarthy, P
16.190 Delmon Young, OF
17.195 Kenley Jansen, P
18.214 Marco Scutaro, MI
19.219 Alejandro De Aza, OF
20.238 Mike Carp, UT (1B/OF)
21.243 Doug Fister, P
22.262 Justin Masterson, P
23.267 Michael Brantley, OF
24.286 Bud Norris, P
25.291 Sean Marshall, P