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Friday 23rd Jun 2017

I do it, you do it, we all do it. After all, it's only human nature to second guess our draft day decisions. And the whole thing is kind of ridiculous because the second guessing takes place after the fact, as in "If I knew Pitcher X would be available in the seventh round, I would've taken a hitter in the fourth round rather than Pitcher Y and paired that hitter with Pitcher X." Sounds great, but the reality is that we never know, so this line of thinking is clearly flawed. The problem is that I still fall into this trap sometimes. After all, it is only human nature. But wishing for a trip back in time really is a waste of time. So why not put that time to good use and actually figure out if you would've been better off taking an alternate route.

So, using the 12-team MLB.com Fantasy 411 Slow Mock (still in progress) as the example, here are a couple of picks I made that I might have not made had I known the future draft results.

Jose Abreu (Round 2, Pick 11): I do like Abreu a lot this year, and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if he earns this draft position. But Adrian Gonzalez fell to Round 6, Pick 10, and is there really a 47-pick difference in value between these two first basemen?

Madison Bumgarner (Round 4, Pick 11): Bumgarner is about as safe as it gets at a SP position that tends to be very unpredictable from one season to the next. That said, I was pleasantly surprised to land Felix Hernandez as well, three rounds later at 7.02. I would've been plenty comfortable with King Felix as my ace.

OK, let's get to it. Below are two rosters through seven rounds. The first roster is the team I drafted while the second is the team I would have drafted had I known that Gonzalez and Hernandez would remain on the board for as long as they did. I'm calling this squad the "Optimal Team" but the question I'm curious to address is whether or not it would have been optimal. In an effort to address that question, I've included the 2016 Mastersball projections for each of these players with the full team stats at the bottom.

Actual Team

Rd 1 - Mike Trout: .298 AVG, 37 HR, 88 RBI, 114 R, 14 SB  175 587

Rd 2 - Jose Abreu: .292 AVG, 33 HR, 106 RBI, 96 R, 1 SB  180 617

Rd 3 - Ryan Braun: .275 AVG, 22 HR, 75 RBI, 80 R, 18 SB  143 520

Rd 4 - Madison Bumgarner: 16 W, 2.96 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 227 K in 219 IP

Rd 5 - Nelson Cruz: .266 AVG, 38 HR, 86 RBI, 93 R, 4 SB  159 597

Rd 6 - Adrian Beltre: .298 AVG, 16 HR, 71 RBI, 71 R, 1 SB  152 510

Rd 7 - Felix Hernandez: 15 W, 2.95 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 214 K in 217 IP

TOTAL: .286 AVG, 146 HR, 426 RBI, 454 R, 38 SB

31 W, 2.95 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 441 K in 436 IP

Optimal Team

Rd 1 - Mike Trout: .298 AVG, 37 HR, 88 RBI, 114 R, 14 SB  175 587

Rd 2 - Ryan Braun: .275 AVG, 22 HR, 75 RBI, 80 R, 18 SB  143 520

Rd 3 - Dee Gordon: .286 AVG, 3 HR, 44 RBI, 83 R, 60 SB  179 625

Rd 4 - Carlos Gomez: .262 AVG, 17 HR, 72 RBI, 77 R, 28 SB  142 541

Rd 5 - Adrian Gonzalez: .293 AVG, 28 HR, 96 RBI, 90 R, 1 SB  169 576

Rd 6 - Adrian Beltre: .298 AVG, 16 HR, 71 RBI, 71 R, 1 SB  152 510

Rd 7 - Felix Hernandez: 15 W, 2.95 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 214 K in 217 IP

TOTAL: .286 AVG, 123 HR, 446 RBI, 515 R, 122 SB

15 W, 2.95 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 214 K in 217 IP

Of course, the Optimal Team consists of one more hitter than the Actual Team, so accurately comparing the counting stats is tough. But the ratio stats (AVG, ERA, WHIP) came out to be virtually identical, and despite having one fewer hitter, the Actual Team beat out the Optimal Team in homers while falling just short in the RBI category. The SB competition is a runaway in favor of the Optimal Team but I always prioritize power over speed in drafts, as steals are easier to find on the waiver wire during the season than home runs. And unlike in past years, I'm warming up to the idea of drafting two high-end starting pitchers and securing 400-plus strikeouts to go along with the excellent ERA and WHIP.

The verdict? As it turns out, the Optimal Team isn't optimal. I'll side with the Actual Team and my days of second guessing are over.

Until my next draft.

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