Okay, either you need to think of warmer things because it is freezing in your part of the world or you are suddenly without your fantasy football team(s) to occupy your gaming/strategy cells or you just looked at a calendar for the new year and realized spring training games start next month and 2011 fantasy baseball drafts will soon be knocking. So it is time to start your draft prep and you want projections or a draft list or…..
Well we will eventually get to those lists, but first we need to look back and remember what we learned from 2010 to make us better drafters in 2011. So let’s start by taking a look at the consensus first round for 15 team mixed leagues using the “standard” 5X5 scoring categories from last spring:
1 – Albert Pujols, 1B, St. Louis
2 - Hanley Ramirez, SS, Florida
3 – Alex Rodriguez, 3B, NY Yankees
4 – Ryan Braun, OF, Milwaukee
5 - Chase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia
6– Matt Kemp, OF, LA Dodgers
7 – Prince Fielder, 1B, Milwaukee
8 – Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay
9 – Mark Teixeira, 1B, NY Yankees
10 – Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Detroit
11 – Joe Mauer, C, Minnesota
12 – Ryan Howard, 1B, Philadelphia
13 – Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado
14 – Carl Crawford, OF, Tampa Bay
15 – David Wright, 3B, NY Mets
So how did the first round picks perform in 2010? That should be one of the first things you want to make sure you have in your drafting memory cells. Now, write down your list of how valuable those fifteen players ACTUALLY were last year –the order is more important than the actual dollars earned but you are welcome to try both.
Really for maximum benefit you should stop and do the exercise and then read on……
So how did those players perform relative to their draft position? Next to the consensus list above are the dollars each player actually earned for that league format last year.Albert Pujols, 1B, St. Louis $42
If we say we want to get at least thirty dollars of value from players we use our first pick on, we can see that injury aside, that only about half of the players drafted in the first round earned their keep.
We can never predict injuries just as breakout seasons are just as unpredictable but hopefully we can see them coming, not just when they will arrive.
So who were the top fifteen performing hitters last year?
$46 Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Colorado
$42 Albert Pujols, 1B, St.Louis
$40 Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati
$39 Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Detroit
$39 Carl Crawford, OF, Tampa Bay
$37 Josh Hamilton, OF, Texas
$37 Jose Bautista, OF, Toronto
$32 Robinson Cano, 2B, NY Yankees
$32 Paul Konerko, 1B, Chicago White Sox
$30 Ryan Braun, OF, Milwaukee
$30 Matt Holliday, OF, St.Louis
$29 Hanley Ramirez, SS, Florida
$28 Alex Rios, OF, Chicago White Sox
$28 David Wright, 3B, NY Mets
$28 Adrian Beltre, 3B, Boston
Hamilton is a very talented player that slipped several rounds last year for very valid injury concerns. Even last year as the AL MVP he missed a month but was still that valuable to fantasy teams and the Rangers.
While many expected Gonzalez to increase his $26 value from 2009, nobody drafted him in the first three rounds. Bautista’s season had no predictable basis – in 2009 he wasn’t even a full time player.
Meanwhile Cano, Holliday, and Votto were all drafted in the second round last year so their value was solid and not as surprising.
In defining your draft plan for 2011 should you take last year’s most valuable players and hope for a repeat or move a few players up in your ranking? We will take a look at that in the next entry in The Captain’s Log.
In the last Shopping Cart, I made a reference to leagues where you might acquire a player in FAAB and what his salary would be if he were to be kept next year.
And in last week’s Captain’s Log (“The road ahead in fantasy baseball”) also talked about some free agent pickups that might help this year but would be worth even more last year.
This brings up a very important point that I understand is different for many of you – your league’s rules – what they are now and what they should be. The salary structure in keeper leagues must be sound so that the values from your auction prices and minor league drafts (if you have them) are not subverted. With trades that are often unbalanced as one team who is in contention this year is dealing with a team that is looking to improve it’s roster for next year and beyond, it is imperative that your rules work together or it will break your league apart with arguments, disagreements, and keepers or prices that are unfair.
Here are some basic tenets of AL or NL only keeper leagues (more fully explained by an article I did some years ago about optimum salary structure for keeper leagues):
Okay, here is the original article with some items summarized at the end. I am glad to answer questions about the article or the rules themselves on the message boards.
Optimum Salary Structure
by Perry Van Hook
At Ron Shandler’s AFL First Pitch symposium in October, there were several questions about FAAB, Salary Cap and Free Agent salaries and contracts.
The questions were not unusual given that most of the attendees play in multiple leagues. What is surprising is that many of these leagues do not have a set of rules where all these components are interrelated to each other as they should be.
In keeper leagues, especially those with minor league systems, the salary of a free agent cannot logically be less than that of a minor leaguer. If you drafted Delmon Young, Tampa Bay’s talented young OF as a minor leaguer, you don’t want his salary to be higher than that of Joey Gathright who another team picked up as a free agent during the year.
At the same time, the league needs to have the Auction salaries protected. If you purchased B.J. Ryan for $1 in last year’s auction, there should be a far greater benefit to you than to a team who picked him up during the year as a free agent. (This also gives more value to your roster moves and helps promote trades during the year as the player increases in value.)
There are several leagues where the salary of the Free Agent player is tied to the winning FAAB bid. This will severely distort your leagues salaries as the previous examples noted. The FAAB (Free Agent Acquisition Budget) bid is only indicative of the “closed auction” price that you paid for that player in that week’s (month’s) bidding. For standard leagues with an Auction budget of $260, a free agent pickup (whether that player was a reserve pick or added during the course of the season) should have a contract of “10F04” - $10 contract for retention purposes, acquired as a free agent, starting with the 2004 season. BTW this salary nomenclature has a huge advantage over trying to use letters (A, B, C) or numbers (1,2) designating when a player was acquired, as those indicators have to be changed every year, and you are not quite sure whether a team changed their 12B player to this year’s 12O or 12C. If you use $,X,YR (13D04 = $13 salary, Drafted, in 2004), you and everybody in your league or anyone you discuss trade or keeper decisions with, will know the status of the player without guessing or needing an explanation. The salary ($), and year acquired are self explanatory, here are the suggestions you might use for X = the method of acquisition. D is drafted, F picked up as free agent, X cannot be retained, M minor leaguer and C for a player under contract (where the year acquired would be changed to indicate the year the contract ends, i.e., 10C05 a player under contract for this year for $10 who will be a free agent in 2006).
At the same time, if we are playing in a league using a Salary Cap (and we should be, but that is another column), we must not put a team at or near the cap because they had to replace a few players who were injured or sent to the minors or traded out of the league. Again, based on the standard $260 league, a free agent’s contract should be $10, but only a $5 charge against the cap. Note to Commissioners: this is fairly simple as most of the websites where your leagues are hosted allow you to set automatic FA salaries, and/or easily adjust them when making your league’s transactions.
If you play in a league that allows players traded from the other league to be FAABed you will need to use a different method for the salary cap. You should not have to worry about the retention salary – these players should all be released to the free agent pool at the end of the current season (designated as $X04).
Their salary against the cap should be based on the FAAB bids as follows:
FA Bids $1-5, $5 against the cap like normal Free Agents
FA Bids $6-19, $X (the actual bid amount)
FA Bids $20+, $20 against the salary cap
This will adequately put a premium on acquiring a premium player if he is traded during the season, yet not force a team to tear apart their roster in order to acquire him. At the same time it enhances the strategy in your league’s Free Agent bidding process.
Remember that all these facets of rotisserie league management are interrelated – you would be hard pressed to effectively use a Salary Cap if a free agent’s player was his actual bid price. In addition, you would effectively not be permitting your teams to find next year’s Lew Ford or Esteban Loaiza (2003 version).
Here is a total recap of my suggested salary treatment:
Auction/keeper budget: $260
Reserve picks/Free agents: $10 for retention; $5 against the cap*
Minor League players: $ 5 (or 3) upon being activated to your roster)
NL players to AL League: $ NO contract for retention; scale against cap
FAAB budget: $100 per team; minimum $1 bids ($0 bids only when
a team uses all its FAAB; NO trading of FAAB$
Salary Cap: $300 (note – this permits plenty of trading, but many
leagues successfully use 320 or 340 – above that
will cause serious trading problems)
*Free agents When replacing a player who is on the DL, the charge against
the cap for the replacement player should be $5, or the salary
of the player being replaced if less than five dollars. For instance,
if you are replacing your $1 catcher, the new catcher
should be $1 against the cap, but as a free agent, hiscontract would still be 10F04.
We are now about two weeks past the actual half way point in terms of games played and have about two weeks before the MLB non-waiver trade deadline and likely your league’s trade deadline. Perhaps a time when you should consider getting seventy five cents for your dollar…..
While you are having boxscore withdrawal during the All-Star break, you should spend a few minutes considering some players who could be players worth adding/activating for the second half of the 2010 fantasy season.
There is some risk with most of these players – obviously they didn’t play much if at all during the first half. So can they really help you and what should you realistically expect from:
Carlos Beltran, OF, NY Mets
Edinson Volquez, SP, Cincinnati
Erik Bedard, SP, Seattle
Brian Roberts, 2B, Baltimore
Brandon Webb, SP, Arizona
The availability of these players in your leagues will vary – in some they may be owned and be trade targets, while in others several may be free agents if they weren’t drafted or were subsequently dropped. If you drafted these players you have different options depending on whether you are contending or looking at rebuilding.
One word of caution – you will see some playing time projections for some or all of these players, but remember most of that is grasping for straws because even if we know they are (supposedly) playing right away, we don’t know how much they will be able to play or for sure if they can avoid a recurrence or secondary injury.
Carlos Beltran –Will be in the Mets lineup immediately after the All-Star break, playing CF and batting fourth. Beltran is coming off knee surgery and will be wearing a leg brace. While he says that it doesn’t bother him when he is running he will still have to deal with it. With the brace and some continued pain in his leg, I don’t see the stolen bases we remember as likely being a part of his game this year. Assuming Beltran gets 150+ at bats (he has already said he doesn’t expect to be playing in every game), I would expect 6-8 HR and 20+ RBI with a BA of .280+, but again while he might have a stolen base or two you shouldn’t be counting on that.
Edinson Volquez – He is expected to be in the Reds rotation, if not immediately after the break, certainly by next week. Volquez was very impressive in his rehab outings – a .196 ERA in AAA action and in his last game gave up only one hit and three walks in seven shutout innings with nine strikeouts. Don’t expect starts like that at the major league level, but he should be an effective starter if he can stay in the rotation for the balance of the year and the Reds are winning more games this year and should be in the division race all year.
Erik Bedard was supposed to be back in the Mariners rotation after several very successful rehab outings, but had more discomfort in the shoulder and was shut down again. He is not expected to throw a bullpen until the end of this week at the earliest and then if he can continue will be sent out for at least one more rehab outing. Since the Mariners are more concerned with next year their only interest in having him pitch at the big league level would be to trade him to an interested team.
Brian Roberts began playing in rehab games with the Gulf Coast League (rookie) Orioles and may move up to AA Bowie next week which would if successful put him on a pace to rejoin the Orioles by the beginning of August.
Brandon Webb has thrown some bullpen sessions and been happy with the progress. The Diamondbacks are aiming to get him started with some rehab after the break and hope he can possibly return in August.
Realistically, Beltran and Volquez should help their fantasy owners the most. Roberts will be right behind. Bedard and Webb are less likely to furnish quality innings this year.
If you own Beltran, Volquez, or Roberts and are in contention you can likely get some contribution from them if you have a weak spot at their positions. If you are good there or want to reduce the risk, you might consider trading them to a rebuilding team for help in a different category/position.
If you are looking at acquiring any of them to play for your team next year, at least acknowledge the inherited risk, but the play may well be rewarded especially IMO in the case of Volquez and Roberts and to a lesser degree Beltran.
Category management is very important as the season moves along. The questions all fantasy players should be constantly asking and re-asking themselves is: "What are the categories I can most easily improve?" and "What categories can I deal from without having to worry about losing any or as little ground as possible?
I get questions all the time about how to improve a team in the standings that reference the place in certain categories where more points are available.
Here is a better way to look at the category – What are the CURRENT rates of the teams around you in that category?