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Tuesday 28th Mar 2017

Assorted Rants, Rumblings and Ruminations from the Mind of a “So-Called” Expert

I’ll start this off by saying I still love this part-time hobby, full-time obsession we call fantasy baseball. I have often pondered what it is going to take for me to quit playing and rigor mortis has usually been my conclusion. That said, lately I have been scratching my head, trying to figure out if the game has passed me by and I need to rethink a few things in terms of my approach.

In a nutshell, I believe fantasy baseball should be a game of skill, first coming up with an idea of how each player will perform, be it formally with a spreadsheet or in a more Zen-like manner, based on experience, common sense and intuition. Then this performance should be ranked, again be it formally or informally in a relative manner, this guy is better than that guy who in turn is better than the guy over there. Next, you assemble your roster, procuring as much potential as possible, combining your player ranking with game theory. Finally, you manage your roster during the season, making moves along the way to improve your team via the means available to you. I don’t like to put a percentage on what is most important, but I do feel if you consider the process to be three parts, what you do before the draft/auction should be most important, followed by the draft/auction with the in-season management coming in third. This is not a reflection of the time spent on each, just the relative importance I not so humbly believe each portion should contribute to the success of your team. I am cognizant of the fact that rules have evolved to sway the scales to in-season management, but that’s OK.

Back in the day, all one needed to succeed in all this was having better access to player information. Forget projections and valuation. It didn’t matter what hot prospects were on the way. If you knew who was playing before the other guys, you won simply because you had more at-bats and innings pitched. Stars and scrubs was the way to go, because you knew the scrubs better than everyone else. In season, you knew the injury replacement and role changes first, which is all that was necessary to win. Their BABIP didn’t matter. The difference in velocity between their four-seamer and circle change was moot. Playing time was the key. Back then there was no MLB Extra Innings or SiriusXM, let alone the Internet. The daily notes section of USA Today was the fantasy lifeblood! The Sunday notes column that Peter Gammons wrote in the Boston Globe was a fantasy player’s dream. Baseball Weekly, the Sporting News, these were the equivalent of Rotoworld and Fangraphs.

sports-weekly

But then Al Gore invented the Internet and things began to change. Who remembers Mosaic? How about Nando net? If it were not for Usenet and recreation.sports.baseball.fantasy, I would not be writing this and you would not be reading this now. Mosaic was the first Internet browser. For those not familiar get this, you could only look at ONE PAGE AT A TIME! There were no tabs, no jump links, let alone bookmarks or favorites. But man, was it GREAT! I suspect those of us in school with access to computers had a bit of an advantage over those less fortunate. Nando.net was the news portal and featured s huge sports portion, replete with everything a fantasy enthusiast needed in terms of stats, box scores, lineups, etc. Usenet was the home of newsgroups, which were the precursor to message forums. The unfortunate downfall of Usenet was the proliferation of pornography SPAM.

The primary influence the Internet had on our hobby was bringing information to the masses. Simply knowing who was playing was no longer the key to success as everybody was soon privy to that. Be it via Compuserve, Prodigy or AOL, if you played fantasy baseball, you subscribed to one of those services. I have fond memories of traveling with the first thing I did after checking into my room was unplugging the phone and plugging in my laptop, then crossing my fingers there was a local AOL access number. Anyway, this all sparked a revolution of sorts and changed, for the better, the way the game was played.

Since everyone now knew who was playing and their stats, the new completive advantage emanated from superior player evaluation, in part pioneered by our colleague Ron Shandler in concert with player valuation, with luminaries such as Alex Patton and John Benson at the forefront. Success was now borne from refined player projection and valuation theory. And I’d like to think that this is still important to this day, as suggested earlier.

Of course, with the Internet explosion, what used to be niche analysis is now in the mainstream.  The advantage you used to have because you knew to look past ERA is now minimized. Most everyone knows a hitter with a BABIP higher or lower than their career norm will regress. That said, just because something is commonplace, that doesn’t mean everyone is equally adept at the analysis, evaluation and application. This is where the wheat is separated from the chaff.

The problem I have with today’s game is all this is now seemingly moot due to the incredible increase in player injuries, especially in the single league, AL and NL only formats. I know, there’s no crying in baseball, injuries can happen to everyone and it is up to the owner to rise above their ill fate and overcome – I get that. But it is frustrating as all get out that months….not days….not weeks….but months of preparation can be for naught due to things completely out of one’s control. Again, this is just a game. I am not less of a person because I did not win my fantasy league. It’s just frustrating. The balance of what I personally deem as most important has shifted to in-season management deciding leagues out of necessity, due to injuries.

Additionally, and this is the part that I am re-thinking, another repercussion of the injury madness is salient analysis is becoming secondary to whimsical gut feels. I have a saying I like to use when it comes to fantasy baseball: I’d rather be wrong for the right reasons than right for the wrong reasons. The idea is the process is more important than the result. Sometimes, the result is not reflective of the process. But, for the longest time, being right 51% of the time led to overall success. Lately, at least it seems anyway, I have been victim of what poker players term bad beats.  The odds were in my favor, the cards just didn’t fall my way.

At the end of the day, I know my little saying is still the right way of looking at things. The process is still paramount. but perhaps the means I calculate the odds could be refined.

Methinks it is time to start re-thinking the reasons.

As you likely know by now, DraftStreet.com is promoting a bi-monthly FreeRoll contest for Mastersball.com readers, the second of which is scheduled for tonight, Friday April 27. If you want to participate and try to win your share of the $350 up for grabs, CLICK HERE, but hurry as lineups lock at 7:05 PM ET/4:05 PM PT.

The format is a salary cap game where you fit fourteen players under a cap and accumulate points based on their Friday night performance. A couple of weeks ago, in a FreeRoll set up exclusively for Mastersball.com, our own Ryan Carey took home the big prize of $100 while I finished a respectable third, adding $50 to my account.  Look out Ryan; I’m out to get you this week!

As I discussed when I shared my strategy for the initial FreeRoll, I plan on sticking to some basic principles when selecting my players. They are as follows:

  • Favor players at home
  • Favor pitchers in pitcher’s parks and hitters in hitter’s parks
  • Deploy as many L-R and R-L hitting matchups as possible
  • Start pitchers against lesser teams
  • Ignore specific hitter versus pitcher stats as they are not significant, no matter how enticing, in such a small sample
  • Thinking about the contest in the two weeks between promotions, I have three more rules of thumb I am going to heed:

  • Pay attention to the weather reports to assure all roster spots will be occupied by an active player
  • Choose the cheapest closer that pairs with one of your starting pitchers
  • Fill the fourth pitcher spot with a starting pitcher
  • In the inaugural contest, I went with two starters and their associated closers. It did not take me long to learn that it is starting pitching that will rack up the points most nights and it is not guaranteed your closer gets into the game. Having three starting pitchers assures you of getting points in a roster spot that could be occupied by a closer that does not even warm up. The downside is starting pitchers are the highest priced entities in the game so you really need to hit on your pitching as well as find the bargain bats so you can stay under the cap.

    An idea that I want to investigate for future promotions is finding a starting pitcher edge using umpire tendencies. In depth data is kept with respect to how an umpire calls a game. Now, before you think this is the holy grail of this sort of competition, please realize each umpire is behind the plate for only 30-40 games a season and for every pitcher friendly  arbiter, there will be one not so kind. Then consider that there are some pitchers you are not going to start regardless of the man in blue calling balls and strikes. The point is, the opportunities to deploy this tactic will be limited, but when they in fact exist, you can save some significant salary cap space. For those playing more than just the promotional FreeRolls, you may want to do a Internet search on umpire data to find a day you can gain this competitive advantage. My intention is to elaborate on this topic in my column accompanying the next promotional FreeRoll.

    Here is the squad I selected for tonight’s contest. If I make any last minute changes, I will post them in the comments below. The name of my entry is ToddZ. I will discuss it in terms of how I put the team together then at the end, the players by position and salary will be listed.

    My first step was deciding on three starters and the closer. At first blush, three arms piqued my interest, all with home tilts: Ricky Romero (TOR) versus Blake Beavan (SEA), Clayton Kershaw (LAD) versus Ross Detwiler (WAS) and Tommy Hanson (ATL) versus A.J. Burnett (PIT). All the home teams should be favored, playing rather suspect offenses. As I proceeded to fill out my hitters, I didn’t think there would be ample salary to fill each spot with a player I was comfortable using, so I looked for another hurler. I opted to go against one of my rules of thumb and am using Drew Pomeranz (COL) versus Chris Schwinden (NYM).  The obvious hope is the potent Rockie attack is able to get to the Mets’ rookie, making his 2012 debut, giving Pomeranz the win. For the closer, I am counting on Francisco Cordero to save the victory for Romero.

    The next step was going through each position, starting at the bottom of the salaries in an effort to find a lower priced gem fitting the above criteria (L-R/R-L , at home in a hitter’s park). My goal was to find batter’s under $5000 or so. If I was unable to find someone at a position, I left it empty until the next pass, when I had a better idea of how much salary I had to play with. I added John Buck (MIA), Gaby Sanchez (MIA) and Eric Thames (TOR). The Marlins’ Buck and Sanchez are both righties scheduled to face southpaw Joe Saunders. Lefty Thames has a date with righty Beavan.

    I then raised the limit to around $6000 and added Brandon Phillips (CIN) and Giancarlo Stanton (MIA). Righty Phillips has lefty Wandy Rodriguez (HOU) on the docket while the right-handed Stanton hopes to get off the snide against Saunders.

    At this point, I decide to go back through the lowest salaries and see if there were some starters that did not meet all of the desired criteria, but still made sense to play. Welcome to the fold, Marlon Byrd (BOS). The new Red Sox centerfielder is on the road, facing fellow right-hander John Danks, but the salary was dirt cheap and US Cellular is favorable, plus Byrd should have chances to score and knock in teammates as the Boston attack is warming up.

    Now the fun begins as I get to fill in with some upper echelon sticks. When it comes to the elite, I am not as concerned about L/R and R/L. I’ll take guys in good hitting parks, facing weaker pitching or in a strong lineup. David Wright (NYM), Troy Tulowitzki (COL) and Ben Zobrist (TAM) added some star power to the squad. Wright is facing Pomeranz, who I am starting, but I still like the righty third-sackers chances of having a strong night against the raw southpaw. In an effort to counter that, Tulowitzki will hopefully do some damage against fellow righty Schwinden, but he is at home and home is Coors Field. Zobrist is a switch hitter but he is on the road with Matt Harrison (TEX) on the bump. Texas is a great hitter’s park so Zobrist should be fine.

    I was left with one utility spot, so the obvious step is going to the amount left and choosing the best player left that can fit under the cap. It is important to note that the selection does not have to be the highest priced player left, just the best player. Though, if you leave a significant amount of salary unspent, you should take the time to make sure you can’t upgrade another spot. The final roster spot went to the switch hitting Jed Lowrie (HOU) as he will dig in against Mike Leake (CIN) on the road, but the Great American Ballpark is a hitter’s paradise and I am not a Leake fan.

    TEAM SUMMARY:
    C: John Buck ($3768)
    1B: Gaby Sanchez ($5187)
    2B: Brandon Phillips ($5974)
    3B: David Wright ($8057)
    SS:  Troy Tulowitzki ($9148)
    OF Eric Thames ($4347)
    OF: Giancarlo Stanton ($6024)
    OF Marlon Byrd ($2543)
    U: Ben Zobrist ($6561)
    U: Jed Lowrie ($6030)
    SP: Clayton Kershaw ($16,531)
    SP: Ricky Romero ($14306)
    RP: Francisco Cordero ($1956)
    P: Drew Pomeranz ($9409)
    TOTAL SALARY: $99,841

     

    Here are some thoughts while I decompress after staring at spreadsheets for 12 hours a day since November 1.

    The Founding Fathers had it right – the best time to conduct your fantasy draft or auction is the weekend after opening day, with only those on 25-man rosters eligible for pick-up. I know, with the number of fantasy enthusiasts playing the game this is logistically impossible, but it provides the truest and cleanest opening of the season. This game should be about how we feel each player will perform, how we value that performance and how we assemble our rosters with the most potential to earn points. Granted, how we feel each player will perform encompasses a playing time component, but the guess is that much more educated after 25-man rosters are established. This may seem trite, but after spending two days a week since December 1 trying to assign playing time, doing it KNOWING the 25-man roster was so much easier.

    While I am not rooting against any players, I admit I am sort of hoping a couple of players struggle a bit this season. It is not about wanting to be right; it is about trusting the system and philosophy that I want to be right. Emilio Bonifacio may be a great guy, but I think he is a complete mirage and on behalf of my system, I hope he struggles. Of course if he does, this does not mean the system is right, but it will make me feel better.

    Ditto for Brett Lawrie and to a lesser extent Eric Hosmer and Desmond Jennings. Baseball is supposed to be hard to play and we are not supposed to expect that much out of rookies and sophomores. These guys are being drafted ahead of established veterans. I understand risk and upside, but the man-crush on this troika has been a bit over the top. As a fan, I hope these guys kick-ass. As a fantasy analyst – not so much.

    This time last year, Matt Holliday was considered a rock, one of the most reliable players in the game. Then he had an appendectomy and a moth fly into his ear and he is suddenly a health risk? OK, he also had a quad injury that cost him some time, but if it were not for those other two flukes, Holliday would not be discounted. Heck, it took us three years to finally downgrade both Nelson Cruz and Kevin Youkilis based on their health history. How come everyone was so quick to lump Holliday into that group?

    I know I am not the only one to say this so let me just join the crowd that feels opening day felt so diluted this year.

    If the dude on my radio is so good at investing in the stock market, why does he need to sell a book explaining his method? Why isn’t he just cleaning up on Wall Street? Ditto for the guy betting on games in Las Vegas.

    I know it means absolutely diddly-squat, but yet I spent about 20 minutes checking the live standings of all my leagues after the LA-SD game ended last night. I was happy when my team was at or near the top of the standings and bummed when they were not. Admit it; I was not the only one.

    I hesitate to include this since I oversee a couple of leagues and it may seem self-serving, but it is not. Sometime in the next week or so, shoot your commissioner a note thanking him or her for their getting your league good to go, they deserve it.

    We’re not quite there yet, but we are close to the play-by-play guy screaming RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUN with a chorus of vuvuzelas blaring in the background when a guy crosses the plate.

    Yes, Andrew Bailey is injury-prone and a health risk. But come on, his thumb injury was a complete fluke, not a reflection of his character.

    Here is a question to all those saying Ryan Braun will struggle because his buddy Prince Fielder is no longer with him – exactly who did Matt Kemp have in the lineup last season?

    Is it just me or has the majesty of a great throw from the outfield slowly disappearing?

    With Passover falling on Easter Sunday, do Chinese restaurants even bother opening?

    As you have likely seen, Mastersball and DraftStreet.com are working together on a promotion. For details about the Mastersball $300 Freeroll, click HERE . In brief, the fine folks at DraftStreet.com have arranged for a contest just for Mastersball’s fans. It costs nothing to enter and someone is going to win $100. Six others will also earn a cash prize. I promise, you will never have better odds.

    As part of the promotion, I am entering a team into the contest and will detail my thought processes. The idea is to assemble the best team possible with the catch being each player is assigned a salary in proportion to their potential and you need to build a team under a cap.

    Here are the roster requirements and scoring system:

    650DS

    Nothing really stands out with respect to taking advantage of a certain profile of player. Some points leagues award only one point for a steal but with DraftStreet awarding two, speedsters can be as useful as power hitters, though power hitters still are preferred since a homer scores a minimum of seven points unto itself.

    Later in the season, I will take the time to work out a means to rank the available players in terms of bang for the buck. Today, as I get a feel for the game, I am going to keep it rather simple, identifying five criteria for hitters and three for pitchers to be used to filter my players.

    HITTERS

  • choose lefties facing a righty starter and righties facing a lefty starter
  • choose hitters in their home park
  • choose parks that are hitter's parks
  • choose hitters facing an average or worse starting pitcher
  • choose hitters in strong lineups
  • PITCHERS

  • choose a starting pitcher working at home
  • choose a starting pitcher in a favorable park
  • choose a starting pitcher facing a weak lineup
  • Conspicuous by its absence is a review of how batters fare against specific pitchers and vice versa. I'll save this for another time as it deserves its own space, but the sample size of hitter-pitcher matchups is too small to be useful. To be honest, this is the point where I hope to gain an edge over those that overemphasize this type of analysis.

    In brief, the desire to use hitters in hitter's parks and pitchers in pitcher's parks is obvious. Studies have shown that a player's skills are up to 10% superior at home as opposed to on the road which is an edge I want to capture. Finally, it is another given that right-handed hitters fare better against southpaws and left-handed hitters enjoy more success against right-handers. The gameplan will be to have each player meet as many of these three criteria as possible, plus be matched up against weaker competition.

    My initial sense is getting starting pitchers that have great games is paramount to finishing with a score among the day's best so my first step is going to be deciding on a couple of ace starters. For the reliever, I will look to pair up one of the starter's closer. For the last picther spot, I would prefer a starter since you don't know if the closer is going to get in the game. However, in the likely event I cannot afford a third starter, I will pair up the other starter.

    After that, the plan is to start at the bottom of each position and find the first hitter than meets as many of the five hitting criteria as possible. By filling in with the cheapest options, I can then go pricey with the utilities and bounce salary around until the cap is reached with the best possible lineup.

    Without further ado, here is my entry into today's Mastersball $300 Freeroll:

    C: Carlos Ruiz, PHI ($5771) - Ruiz is at home and Citizens Back Park favors offense. R.A. Dickey pitches for the opposing Mets. By this time, the Phillies should have faced Dickey enough to make the knuckler less of a challenge to hit. Ruiz and Dickey are both righties, but this edge is lost with a knuckler.

    1B: Adam Lind, TOR ($6591) - Lefty Lind facing righty Tommy Hunter in the Rogers Center -- all systrems go.

    2B: Dan Uggla, ATL ($6845) - While Turner Field is not particularly hitter friendly, Uggla has the power to hit it out anywhere and the righty is facing a southpaw in Randy Wolf that has been known to allow a gopher ball or two.

    3B: Mike Moustakas, KC ($5694) - Moustakas should be able to put the ball in play against Derek Lowe.

    SS: Jimmy Rollins, PHI ($6753) - The switch-hitting Rollins joins teammate Ruiz, squaring off against Dickey.

    OF1: Curtis Granderson, NYY ($7797) - The Grandy Man has a good chance of taking Ervin Santana deep with the short porch in The Bronx.

    OF2: Eric Thames, TOR ($5484) - Another lefty to face the less than imposing Hunter.

    OF3: Alex Gordon, KC ($5438) - Like Moustakas, not looking for a homer but a couple of knocks and some production. Gordon should be able to at least make good contact off of Lowe.

    UT1: Juan Rivera, LAD ($7164) - Ah, the majesty of a one-day game. Rivera eats up lefties and Clayton Richard is no Clayton Kershaw.

    UT2: Adam Jones, BAL ($7667) - Jones is the only hitter to go against two of the primary criteria as he is on the road and facing a fellow righ-hander. I'll take my chance Jones can get on and is looking to run this season. Plus, there was no one I liked better in the price range and I could not find amy more switches I liked more.

    SP1: Felix Hernandez, SEA ($16485) - The King at home facing the Athletics, what's not to like?

    SP2: Matt Cain, SF (14267) - Cain in AT&T facing the less than imposing Pirate attack, sign me up.

    RP: Brian Wilson, SF ($2118) - Closers are cheap since there is a chance they will not pitch, but my thesis is if I feel the starter will do well, the closer should have a chance to do his thing.

    P: Brandon League, SEA ($1903) - As the season wears on, I hope to be use a third starter, but there were no bargains with sticks sufficient to free up salary.

    There you have it. Total salary is $99977, $23 under the limit.

    Here is your chance to teach The Master a lesson, and win a few bucks along the way. So hurry, and click HERE for details.

    Good luck!!

    First off real quick, I would like to extend a true heartfelt thank you to a few kind and generous individuals without whom I would not be able to write this review.

    I spent the better part of Saturday afternoon in the basement, drafting what I hope is the grand champion of the National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC). Of course there are 419 others with the same goal, but hey, at least my chances are better than hitting the Mega Millions drawing.

    By means of quick review, 28 leagues with 15 teams each comprise the Main Event of the NFBC. There will be 28 league champions, then all 420 get lumped together and an overall winner is crowned and gets their picture taken with one of those really big checks, with $100,000 in the amount box.

    I was assigned the 15th pick in the first round and was perfectly okay with that. While I would have preferred picking in the first two to start with either Albert Pujols or Miguel Cabrera, I am not a fan of the second round inventory usually available to those picking in the first half of the first round, so if I did not pick first or second, my next desired area was thirteen to fifteen since there are sixteen or so players I would like to start my team with and I would be assured of getting two of them from the back end of the first.

    Coming in to the draft, my plan was as usual: to strive for balance in terms of stats and positions so during the latter two-thirds of the festivities, I would be choosing the best player available and not chasing a position or a category. While I am by no means married to the average draft position (ADP) reports the NFBC provides based on its earlier drafts, I do use them to get a feel for the market value of certain players and when I can expect runs to occur.

    The 15-hole has its advantages and disadvantages. One advantage is the possibility of players you really like falling to you at the 15/16 turn. Another is the ability to force runs on players, most likely closers, by doubling up at a position later in the draft. Personally, I happen to like picks close to the wheel as I will often choose the players in tandem as it helps me piece together the big picture. A major disadvantage is the strong possibility of missing out on a run, again, usually closers, as there are 28 players chosen between your picks when you are 15th.

    When I was mocksterbating from the 15th hole (to mocksterbate is to do a mock draft by yourself), I came to the realization that something had to give. I don’t care who you are and how good a drafter you may be, after 10 picks, you are not going to have a thunderous offense, lights out starting pitching and shutdown closers. You may think you do, but you don’t. Unless you are drafting with a bunch of morons, if you go through the other 14 teams, each one will be better than you in one of the three areas. And if they are not, they tried too hard to be solid in all three and ended up mediocre instead. Please don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to imply the draft is won in the first ten rounds, far from it. But the idea is to have a thunderous offense, lights out starting pitching and shutdown closers by the end of the 23rd, so what you do in the first ten sets you up for that. I came to the conclusion that you can draft an edge in two of the three areas, while you need to work hard to realize that edge in the third, unless you get extremely lucky.

    The most likely means of getting lucky was to wait on closers and hope a couple of reliable stoppers slip, but the danger of that is as suggested, not having it happen and completely missing out on runs. And, while I know closers are constantly emerging during the season, those advising to troll for saves are overlooking a couple of important things: there will be others fishing and for every guy that emerges to save twenty games, there were twice as many that failed to hold the job. Not to mention, the impact closers have on your ERA and WHIP is more important now than a few years ago as the ratios categories are now more tightly bunched top to bottom and these in-season closers often have suspect peripherals. A such, I made the conscious decision to make sure I had to closers I really like by the end of round ten, even if I (hopefully) started the run.

    Based on that, it was apparent my entire draft would be predicated by what I did at the 3/4 selection turn. As many of you know, my spring crusade has been to contradict those suggesting the smart strategy is to “wait on pitching.” However, I do not consider not taking an arm until the 5th round to be waiting on pitching. In the week leading up the draft, I was waffling between doubling up with stud starters at 3/4, taking one arm and one stick or eschewing hurlers all together and starting with four bats. Ultimately, I decided I would let the draft dictate my direction, but with the overriding thought that between hitting and pitching, it is easier to rely on the old axiom: bully hitting, manage pitching. I may get out of my comfort zone not taking a top-eight or so starting pitching, but it is easier to overcome that than make up offense.

    With that as a backdrop, here is the team I will be taking into battle, with a brief description of the thought process at each pair of picks.

    1/2 – Prince Fielder and Evan Longoria: Scarcity is so misunderstood in today’s landscape. I decided I was not going to get hung up at all on positions and leave potential stats on the table early by reaching for a middle infielder. My top remaining hitters were Fielder, who was #8 on my board and Longoria, #15. As it happens, I indeed had a better player fall to me, at least according to my rankings, though I am certain the ADP will have both right around that area.

    3/4 – Hunter Pence and Brandon Phillips: I was all set to take Cole Hamels and Jered Weaver here, but Weaver was plucked two picks previous to my turns. I then thought about Hamels and Dan Haren, but ultimately fell back on bully hitting and manage pitching. Phillips may have been a reach based on ADP, but he was right where he should have been according to my numbers and I like Pence as an early round upside play.

    5/6 – C.J. Wilson and James Shields: For a second I thought I was actually drafting with morons (he says tongue in cheek, this was a strong group) as Haren and Matt Cain kept falling, but alas, they were both selected before my turn so I took the two highest ranked guys on my cheat sheet. As an idea of how my earlier drafts have gone, Shields is my THIRD starter in several, now he is my co-anchor. This is my virgin experience owning Wilson. The more I look at his numbers, the warmer I am becoming to the Angels new starter. I think I have a decent shot at the target 400 K’s from my first two arms.

    7/8 – Alex Avila and Jason Werth: This was a small risk as many closer runs occur in the next couple of rounds, but one I was willing to take as Craig Kimbrel was the only closer off the board thus far and it would take a TREMENDOUS run to lock me out. I wanted to draft a catcher at this spot, hoping for Matt Wieters or Miguel Montero but happily setting for Avila. Werth was strictly the proverbial value pick and someone I had identified as a likely selection since my rankings have him higher than the NFBC ADP.

    9/10- Joel Hanrahan and Jason Motte: YAHTZEE!!! These names may not seem that sexy, but they profile perfectly for what I wanted – I consider then both secure in their jobs, they are minimal health risks and fan a goodly number of hitters. I really need the reliability because they are in effect helping me recoup some of that edge I lost by waiting a little bit for starters. To this point, only Kimbrel, Mariano Rivera, Jonathan Papelbon, John Axford and Jose Valverde were off the board. Hanrahan and Motte were my 4th and 5th ranked closers, so I was quite elated. And I would be even more ecstatic if this double dip forces a run.

    11/12 – Anibal Sanchez and Neil Walker: I LOVE it when a plan comes together – of the 28 previous picks since my last one, a whopping 15 were closers! While I am not sure I took advantage, it did give me the opportunity to think long and hard about Sanchez, a guy completely off my radar as I usually have three quality starters at this point and am looking in other directions. Suffice it to say I saw enough in Sanchez to make him my SP3 and I think he has upside. Injury is a concern, but he has notched over 200 stanzas each of the past two seasons. Walker closed out my middle infield but I like his potential as a clean-up bat in an improving lineup and there were at least three shortstops I still liked available.

    13/14 – Wilson Ramos and Gaby Sanchez: This was a combination of figuring if I passed on pitching at 3/4 I should probably make sure I keep the hitting edge along with there being no starters I liked here. Ramos is a guy I have picked a lot lately while Sanchez is solid and the last corner man before the injury risks top the lists.

    15/16 – Alejandro De Aza and Justin Masterson: I need some speed, but did not want to do it at the complete expense of homers and De Aza has a shot at double digits albeit very low double digits. If Masterson can retain the gains he made versus lefties, he is a solid SP4.

    17/18 – Ian Desmond and Ted Lilly: I really did not expect to end up with Desmond, figuring to get Marcos Scutaro or Zack Cozart. I played chicken with Scutaro and ultimately lost. Cozart is a bit of a wild card so I went with Desmond, who should provide excellent counting stats and I should be able to absorb his average, since he is my first player to really be deficient in the category relative to the position. I like the Lilly pick as a balance to the Masterson choice. Fly ball guys like Lilly have a better WHIP but worse ERA while the opposite is true for worm burners like Masterson, so overall my ERA and WHIP should stay in sync.

    19/20 – Michael Brantley and Jeff Samardzija: Once it was announced Brantley would be atop the Tribe order, those extra plate appearances and stolen base opportunities vaulted him up my rankings several spots. This brings us to Samardzija. It is cliché, but he is a complete wild card with tremendous upside, which is something this staff needs. I am going to be throwing pitching darts all summer, why not start now?

    21/22 – Dayan Viciedo and Nolan Reimold: Viciedo is a site favorite and Reimold is another wild card of sort, but again, hitting at the top of the order is enticing. I consider these spots somewhat fungible, but like the upside potential of both.

    23/24 – Sean Rodriguez and Ty Wigginton: The NFBC allows Friday activations for hitters, so I like to have some multiple eligibility guys to afford some flexibility. Save catcher, I now have everything covered.

    25/26 – Andrew Cashner and Jonny Venters: Remember that whole manage pitching thing? One way to do it is to deploy solid set up men with high strikeouts while you search for the emerging starter. And with Cashner, it doesn’t hurt that he is behind Huston Street, not known for his ability to avoid the disabled list.

    27/28 – Kris Medlen and Mark Melancon: Medlen is an arm you want regardless of role and Melancon is the probable understudy of the American League’s version of Street in Andrew Bailey.

    29/30 – Kyle Seager and Chris Narveson: Lawr is very high on Seager so this pick was an ode to my esteemed partner while Narveson is a guy whose underlying peripherals are promising and prescient of an increase in strikeouts.

    C: Avila, Ramos
    1B/3B: Fielder, Longoria, Sanchez
    2B/SS: Phillips, Desmond, Walker
    OF: Pence, Werth, De Aza, Brantley, Viciedo
    UT: Reimold (S Rodriguez, Wigginton, Seager)
    SP: Wilson, Shields, A Sanchez, Masterson, Lilly, Samardzija (Narveson)
    RP: Hanrahan, Motte, Venters (Cashner, Medlen, Melancon)

    I’ll spare you the trouble.

    Zola, your pitching sucks and your outfield ain’t so hot either.

    I agree. But I also feel both areas can be addressed in-season and I have plenty of high K relievers to hold down the fort with respect to pitching, while the bats should be strong enough to get by until I can get one more quality stick in the lineup.

     

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