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Not So Average Draft Position PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 19 February 2014 00:00

Well it’s not quite an annual rant but some of you really need to know the truth about ADP.

As in Average Draft Position – and even that is a misnomer. What it really is comes from averaging already drafted spots of players in drafts. BUT the key components are:

1) When were these drafts? How current is the information?

2) What was the league format that was being drafted?

3) Who was in the draft? How many bots? (If that answer is any number other than 0 throw it away)

Number one is I hope, self-explanatory, as is number three.

Number two is probably the most important. The LABR mixed draft that Todd wrote about here is terrific information. Not about where to draft someone in YOUR draft but about what THAT writer or analyst thought about the player pool on THAT particular day.  But does your draft match the same positions or have the same number of players? Nobody drafting in the NFBC or FBPC should view that as more than entertaining information because the formats are totally different – in both the high stakes leagues you have all the draft slots to assemble a starting lineup, you don’t have to have all the specific roster slots filled at the end of 23 rounds. And LABR, like Tout, has very different reserve player rules than the high stakes leagues, and even if it was only one (and I suspect it was several more than that) drafter who purposely waited on a player to make sure they had Reserve status (i.e. can be activated/reserved any week as opposed to a drafted player who can only be reserved for DL status), it would skew the positions.

What you really need to know, rather than the number of the draft slots averaged out, is what was the earliest the player was drafted and what was the latest spot the player was drafted (information that NFBC gives its paying customers) with min and max for each player in addition to the averaged number. Yes, all the shows in addition to the weekly NFBC show on SiriusXM are using that information, although we really don’t know the last time the radio folk got the updated numbers. And even then we don’t know if some of the really odd “earliest picks” were the result of some online accident (but there are instances of that).

I am not saying that ADP is not valuable assuming everything is a perfect match for the league you will be drafting in. It does give you “market research.” But remember the most important thing is YOUR rankings and knowing where to draft players. And don’t forget you can ask questions with quick answers in our Platinum Forums.

And the best way to get that is to draft – even if it is just practice. And if you want practice and can’t afford low entry leagues or can’t find leagues that match what you need to practice for, try the Draft Wizard by fantasy pros. You can set the parameters you want and do a whole draft in less than an hour. Still at blazing speeds, slow down and look at the players actually being drafted instead of just making your next pick.

Finally, remember that if all your picks are based on Average Draft Position, you will only have an average team.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 February 2014 01:49
 
What a Difference a Year Makes PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Thursday, 13 February 2014 00:00

Especially in fantasy baseball drafts – risers and fallers abound. But I thought we could kill two birds in one column by showing you the rosters I drafted for an NFBC style Draft & Hold league at First Pitch Arizona, which is the first weekend of November.

NOV 2012 for 2013 season – drafting from the #2 hole where I took Mike Trout

C – A.J. Ellis, Rob Brantly, Jason Castro, Ryan Hanigan

1B – Ryan Howard, Kendrys Morales, Chris McGuiness

3B – Manny Machado, Lonnie Chisenhall, Juan Francisco

2B – Jason Kipnis, Robert Andino, Eduardo Nunez

SS – Marco Scutaro, Jurickson Profar, Clint Barmes

OF – Mike Trout, Jose Bautista, Desmond Jennings, Josh Reddick, Starling Marte, Aaron Hicks, Avisail Garcia, Russ Canzler, Wil Venable

SP – Yu Darvish, David Price, Kris Medlen, Jeremy Hellickson, Hisashi Iwakuma, Rick Porcello, Danny Duffy, Patrick Corbin, Mark Rogers, Erasmo Ramirez, Bartolo Colon, Eric Stults, Robbie Erlin, Martin Perez

RP – Joe Nathan, Tom Wilhelmsen, Glen Perkins, Nate Jones, Vinnie Pestano, Santiago Casilla, Josh Fields, Franklin Morales, Nate Jones, Drew Smyly, Robbie Ross, Sean Doolittle

I started this draft with Trout, Bautista and Price but you can see that an awful lot of later picks bore fruit. I ended up with only the third/fourth best offense with 56.0 points but strangled the pitching categories with 71.5 points and won the league by four points with a total of 127.5. Only Derek Van Riper of Rotowire, who finished 2nd, was also over 100 points – in fact 3rd was 90 points.

For benchmarks, here were my totals and points in each category:

Batting Average: .2693 (11)

Runs: 987 (14, 60 behind 1st)

Home Runs: 232 (10)

Runs Batted In: 869 (8)

Stolen Bases: 177 (13)

Earned Run Average: 3.295 (15)

Wins: 101 (14, one win behind 1st)

WHIP: 1.160 (15)

Strikeouts: 1357 (15)

Saves: 96 (12.5)

Now let’s see how my team ended up this year (again drafting the first 23 players in November and the rest online in January). I drew the first spot and picked the same player.

NOV 2013 for 2014 season

C – Wilson Ramos, Evan Gattis (C/OF), Yan Gomes (C/1B), Josmil Pinto

1B – Adrian Gonzalez, Mike Napoli

3B – Chase Headley, Juan Francisco (1B/3B)

2B – Daniel Murphy, Darwin Barney, Ryan Goins

SS – Erick Aybar, Brad Miller, Mike Aviles (2B/3B/SS)

OF – Mike Trout, Carlos Gomez, Wil Myers, J.B. Shuck, Matt Joyce, A.J. Pollock, Brandon Barnes, Skip Schumaker (2B/OF), Jose Tabata, Kyle Parker

UT – Garrett Jones (1B/OF)

SP – Jose Fernandez, David Price, Alex Cobb, Travis Wood, Tyson Ross, Dan Straily, Carlos Torres, Brett Oberholtzer, Henderson Alvarez, Eric Johnson, Miguel A. Gonzalez, Jason Vargas, Ross Detwiler, Felipe Paulino, Andrew Heaney, Trevor Bauer, David Hale, Rubby De La Rosa

RP – Trevor Rosenthal, Danny Farquhar, Cody Allen, Josh Fields, Brad Ziegler, A.J. Ramos, Mike Dunn

Here is hoping for a repeat.
Last Updated on Thursday, 13 February 2014 09:25
 
Drafting Catchers - What's Your Approach? PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Tuesday, 11 February 2014 00:00

Okay, we are specifically talking about the catchers you would roster in an NFBC 50-round Draft & Hold league. Remember that the 50 players you draft are all you have for the entire 2014 season – there are no free agent pickups.

So which ones do you take and how many do you roster?

If you read “Don’t Get CAUGHT Short” you know my thoughts on the subject. But obviously, some have other opinions. Read the following and then tell me yours.

Here are the rostered catchers from a recent Draft & Hold league:

Team 1 - Brian McCann & John Jaso

Team 2 - Wilson Ramos, Dioner Navarro, A.J. Ellis & Josmil Pinto

Team 3 - Tyler Flowers, Brayan Pena, Steve Clevenger, Steven Vogt, Francisco Cervelli & Jesus Montero

Team 4 - Yadier Molina, Carlos Ruiz, Kurt Suzuki, Erik Kratz & Jose Molina

Team 5 - Jonathan Lucroy, Salvador Perez, Martin Maldonado & Brett Hayes

Team 6 - Jason Castro, Evan Gattis, Russell Martin, Jose Lobaton & Ryan Doumit

Team 7 - A.J. Pierzynski, Travis D'Arnaud, Ryan Hanigan & Ryan Lavarnway

Team 8 - Jarrod Saltalamacchia, J.P. Arencibia & Wil Nieves

Team 9 - Carlos Santana, Welington Castillo, John Buck & George Kottaras

Team 10 - Joe Mauer, Miguel Montero, Bryan Holaday, Anthony Recker & Mike McKenry

Team 11 - Buster Posey, Chris Iannetta, David Ross, Gerald Laird, Hector Sanchez & Tim Federowicz

Team 12 - Matt Wieters, Nick Hundley, Yasmani Grandal & Derek Norris

Team 13 - Alex Avila, Devin Mesoraco, Josh Phegley & Ramon Hernandez

Team 14 - Yan Gomes, Mike Zunino, Hank Conger & Austin Hedges

Team 15 - Wilin Rosario, Geovany Soto, Carlos Corporan & Christian Bethancourt

So which team do you think will get the best hitting contributions from their catchers?

Are there any teams that will not be able to compete all year with their catchers?

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 February 2014 08:40
 
At What Cost? PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 05 February 2014 00:00

I mentioned in an earlier column that drafting minor league prospects in the NFBC draft and hold leagues was in my opinion largely a waste of a draft pick. Drafters are seduced by the contributions made in previous years by a Mike Trout or Yasiel Puig once they arrived in the major leagues in May or June.

But those are unique players both from a talent perspective but also because there were enough signs – a late-season call-up in 2011 for Trout and blazing spring training for Puig last year.

But for all the other prospects currently being drafted by participants in the leagues, what is the cost to their team?

Let’s take a look at a draft that is almost finished and see whether the prospect pick is worth the draft pick used.

George Springer, OF, HOU - While not regarded as the top minor league prospect (currently #21 on the MLB Top 100 list), Springer is getting drafted well ahead of players higher on prospect lists largely because of a huge year in 2013 when he slugged 37 home runs and had 45 stolen bases at Double-A and Triple-A. But Houston won’t start Springer’s clock until late-May or early-June – the MLB “Super Two” date each season. Springer currently has an NFBC ADP of 185, meaning you would have to take him in the 16th round, in this draft ahead of guys like Brett Lawrie, Jimmy Rollins or Francisco Liriano, all of whom will start contributing to your team on Opening Day.

Oscar Taveras, OF, STL - Taveras is again one of the top-five minor league prospects (currently #3 on MLB Top 100) but has nowhere to play in St. Louis, which currently projects an outfield of Matt Holliday, Peter Bourjos and Allen Craig – Craig moving from first base so Matt Adams can play every day. Taveras currently has an ADP of 262, but in the 17th round you could draft Marlon Byrd, D.J. LeMahieu or Corey Kluber, again all contributing stats from day one, while you wait for the Cardinals to need Taveras.

Javier Baez, SS, CHC - Currently #7 on the MLB Top 100 list, Baez has tremendous bat speed and power, with 37 home runs and 111 RBI along with 20 stolen bases at Class-A and Double-A in 2013. In addition to the monetary consideration, Baez is not a great fielder, clearly behind Starlin Castro at shortstop for the Cubs. True, he is a better hitter than what the Cubs will open the season with at third base, but with an ADP of 349 you are passing on Trevor Plouffe, a starting major league player who will hit 20+ home runs.

Byron Buxton, OF, MIN and Miguel Sano, 3B, MIN - Even though Buxton is currently the #1 prospect on the MLB Top 100 list (and virtually every other list) while Sano is at #4, Sano actually has an earlier ADP of 457 to Buxton’s 470, and that is correct in terms of likely playing time in the Majors this year. There is speculation that Sano might even compete for a spot in the Twins’ starting lineup to open the season or at least make a June debut, while no on projects Buxton to be up before September, at the earliest, because Buxton was only in A-ball last season while Sano reached Double-A. Drafting Buxton in the 32nd round would cost you another everyday player at that position, like a Gerardo Parra, for a player we may not see all year. At least by drafting Sano in the 31st round, you are just pushing a reserve pick. But, not only does he have to be called up to justify the player you didn’t draft, he has to be clear of the elbow problems he had last year or face a year recovering from Tommy John surgery.

I didn’t address the few pitchers who are drafted as early as the hitters because there is far more turnover in MLB pitching staffs during a season and the top pitching prospect on the MLB list at #5, Archie Bradley, who will be given a chance to crack the Diamondbacks rotation in March. Still, instead of Bradley, you could get a sure starter or closer at #298 in Bartolo Colon or Nate Jones.

Taijuan Walker, just one spot below Bradley on the Top 100, is virtually guaranteed a spot in the Seattle Mariners rotation. Thus his ADP of 224 makes a lot more sense for early drafters.

This is not to say I would not draft a prospect hitter – especially the ones you might think will be up in June, as in the case of Sano and maybe Springer. But remember we have no idea if/when those MLB clubs will decide to promote the players, and it might not be until September. I simply cannot take them when it costs me an everyday player and before I have my starting lineup drafted.

Depth is very important in this format where you will not have access to any free agents, especially the top minor league prospects. But playable depth is far more important than a player you can only hope you will be able to put into your lineup at some point during the season.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 February 2014 10:00
 
Mike Trout's Fantasy Contract PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Sunday, 26 January 2014 00:00

Fantasy baseball players aren’t concerned with what the Angels are eventually going to pay Mike Trout for those in keeper leagues have their own Trout contract problem THIS spring.

In AL-only keeper leagues, Trout was rostered in many leagues as a minor league prospect or farm player in 2010 or 2011. Many fantasy players likely didn’t activate him for his 40 games during the second half of the 2011 season, so the outfielder's contract clock then began in 2012 as $5 or $10 per season contract in most setups.

After Trout's terrific contributions to those fantasy owners in 2012 and 2013, the time for a decision comes this spring:  How long do they lock him up with a long-term contract? The standard for extending a player is adding five dollars for each year he will be contracted past 2014. So if he is currently at $5 as season (as I have him in my AL keeper league) the choices would be:

Keep him at $5 this season and he goes back into the auction pool in 2015.

Add $5 and keep him at $10 for 2014 and 2015.

Add $10 and keep him at $15 for 2014, 2015, and 2016.

Add $15 dollars and keep him at $20 for 2014 through 2017.

Add $20 dollars and keep him at $25 for 2014 through 2018.

Add even more five dollar increments and keep him for much longer.

Sure, we all want to own Trout for the foreseeable future but unlike MLB, our game places a salary cap on our teams, making us examine the efficacy of long-term contracts.

So what fits your team?

I don’t see too many examples of this, but if you had a team with only a clear window to win this year – perhaps with several key expiring contracts – you might not be able to spend too many dollars on Trout and just keep him at $5. The good thing about this approach, aside from a tremendous profit this year, would be that if for some reason you weren’t going to win your league, you could get a huge return from the teams contending for your league championship. If you had that “win now” team and could spend the $10, and then if injuries or unexpected poor performance from your expiring players were to happen, you could trade them instead and still have a nice $10 Trout next season.

So what is the value (profit if you will) of Trout at differing contract levels? What is your maximum return on a long-term contract?

First, we need to look at how much Trout has earned in his first two full seasons and what we project him to earn in 2014. In AL-only leagues, Trout earned $47 in 5x5 keeper leagues ($48 in 4x4). He then earned $45 in 2013. Mastersball projections for 2014 have him earning $38 (likely based on a lower batting average...after all he dropped from .326 to .323 last year). But we have to project for several future seasons to get contract values, so I am going to value him at a flat $40 for the next five years. Even if his batting average is lower, maybe something else is higher and he maintains value of $40 or more.

Okay, let’s go back to the contract options and see what the net profits are at a current five dollar salary with five dollars for each additional year you extend him (If you are at $10 now or add ten dollars per year you can change these scenarios with your numbers).

Keep him at $5 this year – Earn $35.

Add one year so $10 this year and next – Earn $30+30 = $60.

Add two years so $15 contract – Earn $25+25+25 = $75.

Add three years so $20 contract - Earn $20+20+20+20 = $80.

Add four years so $25 contract – Earn $15+15+15+15+15 = $75.

Add five years so $30 contract – Earn $10+10+10+10+10+10 = $60.

So while having him for the next five years is as much profit as a three-year deal, the maximum profit is to sign him to a four-year contract – three additional years, so $20 in 2014 through 2017 and make a 20 dollar profit on him each year.

My Mike Trout will be on my Great American Rotisseleague roster as $20C17, at our auction on April 1 adding three seasons to his current 5D12.

Your mileage may vary.

 

Last Updated on Sunday, 26 January 2014 12:31
 
Don't Get CAUGHT Short PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Saturday, 11 January 2014 00:00

It is the time of the year when many fantasy baseball players are drafting “draft and hold” teams in various competitions.

As the name suggests better than the “Draftmasters” or “Draft Experts” handles, these are larger (usually 50-player) rosters where there are no free agents added throughout the upcoming season.

So all you have to set your lineup each period are the players you drafted. That should mean that you have an appropriate number of backups at each position or even better players with multiple position eligibility that can be moved around when needed.

In my experience (having won several of these leagues), one of the key positions that is usually under drafted is the Catcher position. We know that this position is shorter on rotisserie contributors to start with, especially when most of these leagues start two backstops. But in addition, injuries, even minor ones, could see you collecting zeroes in the counting stats unless you roster is built with this in mind.

On a typical 50-man roster, I want to draft four catchers to try and ensure that doesn’t happen to my team. This year, players are lucky that there are a couple of playable catchers who qualify at another position, so Evan Gattis (C/OF) and Yan Gomes (C/1B) and even backups like Ryan Doumit (C/OF) or reaching further, Chris Hermann (C/OF) should be rostered perhaps a round or two before you think they fit.

In a current D&H competition where we drafted the first 23 players in early November and are completing the 50-man rosters online, I waited until the 12/13 turn to take my first catcher but took both Wilson Ramos and Gattis. In Round 16, I drafted Gomes. We are now in Round 27 where I selected Josmil Pinto with the first pick of the round. You may think I didn’t need him but I think the teams with Matt Wieters and J.P. Arencibia or Carlos Santana and Hank Conger, to say nothing of the teams with only Joe Mauer or Stephen Vogt at this point, are going to lose whatever chances they might have had with their shortcomings at the catcher position.

Last Updated on Saturday, 11 January 2014 10:58
 
Where Will Tanaka Pitch? PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Friday, 27 December 2013 12:38

Unless you were really out of reach for the Christmas holiday, you know by now that Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka has in fact been posted by the Rakuten Eagles so that he can get out of his contract with them and sign with a MLB team to pitch in the US in 2014.

Now the great debate on where Tanaka and his agent Casey Close will choose to sign.

And really there are 31 choices because the new posting agreement between MLB and the Japanese league limits the posting fee – the money given to the Eagles as compensation – to $20 million when it used to be an auction where the right would go to the highest bidding team. If you remember just a few years ago when Yu Darvish was posted, the Texas Rangers won that right with a bid of $51.7 million (and there were reportedly other clubs near the $50 million mark).

So how many teams are interested in signing Tanaka? Really for just the $20 M every single MLB club should call Close and ask to negotiate. All 30 clubs should be willing to pay $20 million, but let’s take a quick look at:

  1. Which teams NEED Tanaka
  2. Which teams WANT Tanaka, and
  3. Which team(s) will actually pay enough to sign Tanaka

You could argue that every team needs a starting pitcher who is potentially as good as Darvish. Remember that he is not an older pitcher. Tanaka is just 25 years old like Darvish, so offering him a six or seven year contract has a very reasonable expectation of full value throughout the life of the contract.

Here is my short list of teams that need to sign Tanaka:

Kansas City Royals – definitely took a step up last year but their starting rotation is still not championship caliber and they have to replace Ervin Santana. Signing Tanaka would enable the Royals to go toe to toe with the Detroit Tigers.

Cleveland Indians – they need to replace Ubaldo Jimenez to compete against the Tigers but the Indians spent a lot of money last year and didn’t get the years they hoped for from Bourn and Swisher. Will they do it again?

The Pittsburgh Pirates finally had a good season and their fans responded and while they have some excellent prospects on the way they should sign Tanaka and make sure they get back to the playoffs in 2014.

The Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays both have poor rotations that will not compete for the AL East crown but Tanaka would go a long way towards putting them in shouting distance.

And again, while all 30 teams want Tanaka, we don’t know who REALLY wants him – here are a few teams I think might step up to battle you know who:

Seattle Mariners – just signing Robinson Cano isn’t enough to really compete with the Rangers, Angels and Athletics. Reuniting Tanaka with former Eagles teammate Hisashi Iwakuma might be. With Felix Hernandez, Iwakuma and Tanaka, they certainly would have the best 1-2-3 SP in the division.

Chicago Cubs – no their offense is not quite ready, but Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler and Albert Amora will make their MLB debuts in 2014 or 2015 and more importantly, Theo Epstein and the club owners need to ignite their fan base with a better view of what is to come and signing Tanaka would certainly do that.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – will Arte Moreno spend another 100 million plus dollars on a contract this year? Doubtful from a financial standpoint, but the Angels' rotation is hurting and what could be better for Moreno and the Halos than seeing Tanaka fans drive down from Los Angeles to Anaheim? One additional thought that really makes this idea sing – can you imagine any television set in Japan off on the new national holiday when Tanaka is starting for the Angels against Darvish for the Rangers?  I can’t either.

Okay, let’s go to the last group.

Right now, there is only one sure team at the table. Not only do the New York Yankees need help with their starting pitching, but they have the purse to beat any other bids for Tanaka. Under the tax threshold be damned. They are the YANKEES.

Some of you wondered why I said 31 choices.

There is only one person who gets to choose from all the suitors – Tanaka (and wife, Japanese idol and pop recording star Mai Satoda) can actually choose where they want to live/pitch for the next six or seven years. That has never been the case before for a star pitcher in Japan coming to play Major League Baseball in the United States.

Last Updated on Friday, 27 December 2013 18:18
 
Out of Their Handcuffs PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 18 September 2013 00:00

Prior to fantasy drafts each year, you will likely hear arguments about the efficacy of drafting RB “handcuffs.”

Well, we are now two weeks into the 2013 NFL season and we have already seen players escape their handcuffs and take center stage for their NFL and fantasy teams.

True, some backs like Fred Jackson and Knowshon Moreno weren’t your classic young runner behind the established starter. But F-Jax is getting a lot more work than everyone thought he would behind C.J. Spiller, and Moreno, the more experienced player, has proved his worth to Peyton Manning and the Broncos over rookie Montee Ball and second year runner Ronnie Hillman. The same would have been true of the Colts' Vick Ballard but he is now out for the season and thus not in your fantasy plans.

I am pretty sure that Jackson and Moreno aren’t available on your waiver wire (if they are please stop reading this immediately and go put in your bid/claim), but they check in after two weeks as RB16 (Moreno) and RB24 (Jackson), and ahead of players drafted much earlier like Steven Jackson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Stevan Ridley, Ray Rice and Frank Gore.

It is why the better players rostered them instead of taking a second quarterback or top defense or kicker in the middle of their drafts.

bernard_pierce

It is also why they, and hopefully you, drafted true handcuffs like Bernard Pierce (who may start for Rice this week), Ben Tate (who is sharing time with Arian Foster while he gets up to full health) and Jacquizz Rodgers (who will split backfield duties for the Falcons with Jason Snelling while S-Jax is out, currently thought to be 2-4 weeks). Snelling should be picked up in almost all formats this week  for his value to Atlanta in short yardage or goal line situations or in case Jackson is out longer. Snelling will get more carries while Rodgers will get more passing targets.

Not all backup runners really have the value they should. The question is how effective would they be IF they were the starter? So team and scheme are very important. But should Rice have more than the reported hip pointer or further injure it, it is clear Pierce would be very effective, and Tate always runs well in Foster’s shadow and would be a RB1 if Foster could not play at any point later this season.

The same could be said of a similar runner, the Eagles' Bryce Brown, who gets a handful of carries now for Philadelphia but would be a valuable RB2 or Flex starter if LeSean McCoy were to miss any time.

I don’t think James Starks fits the same mold, although he was great last Sunday and will no doubt be added in many leagues this week. Remember scheme/team because at heart the Packers are still a passing team and in some games there aren’t enough carries even IF the back is capable.

I do think Joique (pronounced joyk) Bell of the Detroit Lions should he added if available whether you play him right away or wait for Reggie Bush to be totally out of the lineup.

Bottom line is whether they are running backs instead of pink or furry, handcuffs can have a lot of fantasy value.

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 September 2013 10:22
 
2013 Arizona Fall League Primer PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 11 September 2013 00:00

We still have a few weeks left in the 2013 MLB regular season and hopefully your team is still in the hunt for glory and prizes. But just a week after the regular season ends, my favorite league of the year (and I see action in five seasonal leagues each year) will begin play.

The Arizona Fall League, AFL for short, is THE developmental league for major league baseball. Consider just a few of these numbers for the league’s 21-year history:

  • More than 60% of all players appearing in the AFL have reached the major leagues
  • 197 of those have been MLB All-Stars
  • Eleven have been MLB MVPs
  • Three Cy Young Award winners (Carpenter, Halladay, Webb)
  • Three World Series MVPs (Dye, Eckstein, Jeter)
  • 24 MLB Rookies of the Year

So let’s take a look at who we will see make their AFL debuts in 2013. First, for those not familiar with the league setup, there are six AFL teams whose rosters are populated by players from five major league teams. Here is the player eligibility as defined by MLB, who runs this league:

Roster size is established at 35 players per team.

Each major league organization is required to provide seven players subject to the following eligibility requirements:

• All Triple-A and Double-A players are eligible provided they are on Double-A rosters no later than August 15.

• Each organization is permitted to send two Class A Advanced-level players in addition to the current allowance of two “A-exempt” players (who are under contract as of August 15). Foreign players are allowed as long as the player is not on his native country’s primary protected player list.

• No players with more than one year active or two years total of credited major league service as of August 31 (including major league disabled list time) are eligible but a team may select one player picked in the most recently concluded Major League Rule 5 Draft.

• Each team is allotted 20 pitchers but only 15 are designated “eligible” each game day.

Here are the six AFL teams for 2013 with their home ballpark and the five MLB teams sending them players:

EAST Division

Mesa Solar Sox, playing at Hohokam Park in Mesa (Angels, Athletics, Cubs, Nationals, Tigers)

Salt River Rafters, playing at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale (Blue Jays, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Rays, Rockies)

Scottsdale Scorpions, playing at Scottsdale Stadium (Braves, Giants, Mets, Pirates, Yankees)

WEST Division

Glendale Desert Dogs, playing at Camelback Ranch (Dodgers, Marlins, Reds, Twins, White Sox)

Peoria Javelinas, playing at Surprise Stadium (Astros, Mariners, Padres, Phillies, Royals)

Surprise Saguaros, playing at Surprise Stadium (Brewers, Indians, Orioles, Rangers, Red Sox)

Because Peoria Stadium and the Mariners and Padres clubhouses are undergoing renovation, there won’t be a team playing in Peoria, so there will be two teams sharing the facilities at Surprise Stadium and complex.

Play will begin on Tuesday, October 8 and continue through Thursday, November 14 with the one-game league championship between the division winners on Saturday, November 17 at Scottsdale Stadium. That game and the Rising Stars All-Star game, which will be played on Saturday, November 2 at Surprise Stadium, will likely be televised on the MLB Network as they were last year and are must see TV for serious roto players and baseball enthusiasts – unless of course you can join us down here and see the game in person (as will all the attendees of the Arizona First Pitch Forum).

25 of MLB.com's current Top 100 Prospects will be on AFL rosters this fall, including at least two first-round players from the June draft – Chicago Cubs 3B Kris Bryant (out of San Diego State University) and Miami Marlins 3B Colin Moran (out of North Carolina University). The current number one ranked prospect, Minnesota Twins OF Byron Buxton, will be playing for the Glendale Desert Dogs.

I will post a short preview of each team in following columns in the AFL BLOG, but if you needed one additional nugget to get down here and scout your future players – two-thirds of the Cubs outfield of the future, Albert Amora and Jorge Soler, will be playing for the Mesa Solar Sox.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 09:23
 
Captain Morgan's Lotto Ticket PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 04 September 2013 00:04

In last week’s column, I told you about the quarter million dollar FF grand prize for the FBGPC (Football Guys Players Championship).

On Tuesday night, Greg Morgan and this Captain drafted the “Captain Morgan” squad for this $350 contest. While Greg has other entries in this event, this is my only lotto ticket, so I wanted us to roster as much potential as we could.

While the contest does have the highest ROI for any of the high stakes FF contests, it also has some specific rules to work around. First, the 12 teams in each league play H2H against all the other teams for the first 11 weeks. That is important because you can’t get to the $250,000 Championship round without qualifying in your league. The two automatic qualifiers are the team with the best H2H record and the team with the (next) highest total points for the 11 weeks. We want to try hard to go that route because the only other way to qualify is to win the League Championship by winning in both weeks 12 and 13.

That would mean, for instance, that if you were going to wait several rounds for your quarterback, you might want to strike Russell Wilson off your target list. With a Week 12 bye, he can’t help you if you need those two wins.

We didn’t have that problem in the first round having drawn the #2 pick. So unless our #1 team was mesmerized and took Calvin Johnson, or Jimmy Graham, or Aaron Rodgers, or some lesser running back, we would not be able to draft Adrian Peterson. We would have to settle for the pocket hamster and draft Tampa’s Doug Martin. But other teams might think twice about drafting LeSean McCoy or C.J. Spiller, who will also be off in that first playoff – or perhaps play in game.

The big question we faced was WHO would be available at 2.11?

No doubt most of the secondary running backs and top tier wide receivers would be taken ahead of us. Our pre-draft plan was to take either Darren Sproles or Randall Cobb in the second round and then draft one of the stud TE – Jason Witten or Tony Gonzalez – with the second pick in the third round.

Well, both Sproles and Cobb were there, so we took the Saints' halfback first and then decided to go for it and took Cobb in the third round. Theoretically, that meant we would have to make a good guess on which TE to take and when – but sometimes fate assists, and we were able to take Gonzo at 4.11 and then took Pierre Garcon in the fifth round.

With only the top three quarterbacks off the board in the fifth round, we pushed the envelope again and took the best two wideouts we could on the 6/7 turn, rostering James Jones and Tavon Austin. In fact, the sixth round was our only major disappointment of the first half of the draft – if only DeAngelo Williams had made it to 6.11. Cam Newton (6th) and Tom Brady (7th) were taken before our pick in the 8th round so we took Justin Blackmon at 8.11 knowing we would still have a choice of signal callers three picks later. Ultimately, I chose Tony Romo at 9.02 over Colin Kaepernick, but that was really a coin flip as I think either would do fine for our team.

Here then is our lottery ticket – very strong for the starting lineup with just some work needed perhaps for our running back plays.

Pos – Player (draft round)

QB - Tony Romo (9) & Matt Schaub (16)

RB – Doug Martin (1), Darren Sproles (2), Fred Jackson (10), Knowshon Moreno (13), Zac Stacy (17) & Jordan Todman (20)

WR – Randall Cobb (3), Pierre Garcon (5), James Jones (6), Tavon Austin (7), Justin Blackmon (8), Markus Wheaton (15) & Marlon Brown (18)

TE – Tony Gonzalez (4), Justin Thomas (11) & Heath Miller (14)

K – Blair Walsh (19)

DST – New England Patriots (12) (Facing the Bills and then the Jets in the first two weeks)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 September 2013 06:51
 
How to Draft a $250,000 Team PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Thursday, 29 August 2013 00:00

There are several really good high stakes FF contests – NFFC, FFPC and FFWC – where some of the top players in the country compete for grand prizes of $100,000 to $250,000.

But while those are great contests, the entry fees range from $1400 to $1800. Meanwhile, many of those same top players plus hundreds just like you can get a $350 entry to the FBGPC which also has a grand prize of a quarter of a million dollars.

True, there will be a lot more entries, and yes, it may be akin to a lottery draw in the three-week final sprint, but at least you have the chance to build the team yourself.

So how do you draft a team that will give you a chance to get through your league’s regular season in Weeks 1-11 as either the best H2H record or with the most total points or be second in either category, get into the league playoffs in Weeks 12-13 and win the LCG and thus an entry into the Championship Bracket for Weeks 14-16?

First, let’s look at the scoring differences – 1.5 PPR for TE with 1 PPR for RB and WR, as well as full credit for offensive players for kickoff or punt return touchdowns. The first is very important, the second not as much, but it would still help you choose additional WR4s.

Combine that with the starting lineup requirements – QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, TE plus TWO Flex (RB/WR/TE) spots. That means you could start four running backs or four wide receivers or three tight ends that get the additional reception bonuses. Really, that means you can draft many different ways.

So what are some things to do or not to do in drafting in this format? (the FBGPC is a collaboration between FBG.com and the FFPC so it uses the same format)

First, you shouldn’t even think about drafting a quarterback in the early rounds.

Sure, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees figure to lead all players in scoring, but the difference in quarterback scoring is very small, especially in points per game. Remember that QBs get four points for passing touchdowns but, like everyone else, six points for rushing touchdowns. This helps the quarterbacks who run more be closer in PPG to the pure passers.

Also, the double flex pushes down the relative value of quarterback scoring. The advantage of not drafting a quarterback in the early rounds is getting more explosive players at RB, WR and TE.

The scoring also makes tight ends more valuable than they are in normal leagues, and while I think some players are drafting secondary tight ends too early, if you did find a second or even third tight end who had a great season, you can play them at those flex spots.

Second, you would like to get either a stud or well above average TE in the early rounds and have an advantage against your league mates.

Third, I want to dispel a myth I see on many FF sites – the wide receiver pool is so deep you don’t have to draft them early. While there may be a lot of WRs who are playable at your Flex spots – thus WR3 or WR4, there are a limited number of stud wideouts who are really WR1 or WR2 scorers.

If you thought you would just start the draft RB, RB, RB and then find your WR and TE, you will already be lower at WR1 and WR2 than many in your league.

Given the ability to play any RB/WR/TE in those two Flex spots, you really should be drafting the best player available in your early rounds. Still, I would want to come through the first five or six rounds with two RB, two WR and one TE, leaving room for the other player to be for now your FLEX1.

Lastly, if you are one of those who think you should be drafting the Seattle or San Francisco DST because they were so much better than other teams last year, please look again at the words WERE and LAST. From year to year, barely half the highest scoring defenses (or kickers) repeat their performances.

Leave your DST and K until the very late rounds and instead continue to try and find RBs, WRs, and yes, TEs who may emerge as very playable in those two Flex spots.

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 August 2013 17:38
 
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