Experiment #5: Opposite strategies PDF Print E-mail
Written by Pasko Varnica   
Saturday, 14 March 2015 12:02

After more than two dozen mock drafts, the real thing is here. Ah, spring training, spring flowers, spring showers, or no showers for us in California and, most importantly, spring drafts.

I joined two real auction drafts recently. One draft was for NFBC, the other one for a private league. Being only two days apart, I decided to experiment with opposite strategies. Hence the word “experiment” in the title of this post.

“Experiment” in the sense that I am curious about which approach will prove to be superior to the other by the end of the season. We will review this topic again after the season is over, post-mortem, when the leaves turn red and autumn is in the air.

To be valid, we must assume that the quality of competition and the severity of injuries will be equivalent. That’s impossible to predict, but we know that injuries will happen. Any draft strategy must incorporate the reality of today’s baseball. However, multiple major injuries to one team while the other skates unscathed will invalidate this experiment.

Both drafts were 15 teams, auction, mixed league format using the Roto 5x5 scoring system and a standard $260 budget. The concepts depicted here can be extrapolated to snake drafts by assuming that early-round picks in snake equate to expensive players in auction. For example, to make myself clear, a $1 player in auction is equivalent to a last round pick in snake.

Money, money, the root of all evil. All this would be a moot point if I were a Hollywood celebrity and my budget were limitless. However, we cannot escape the reality and the reality is simple: with $260 to spend, our team will not consist exclusively of top tier or near top tier players. The key question then is “where to go cheap?”

Team 1 strategy: save $ for pitching

Team 2 strategy: do not overspend; ensure to have money towards the end of the draft to avoid being stuck with the least productive lowest tier players (i.e. $1 players). Stick to the 70%/30% hitters/pitchers ratio.

Opposite experimental strategy (A): Catchers: spend nothing, splurge or somewhere in between?

Team 1: Kurt Suzuki $2 / Ryan Hanigan $1 Total spent $3

Rational: catchers have been historically the most injury prone hitters, so why spend?

Team 2: Brian McCann $11 / Yadier Molina $13 Total spent $24

Rational: do not splurge on Buster Posey but get proven producers

Opposite experimental strategy (B): Corner Infield: Get a top tier player or not?

Team 1: Edwin Encarnacion $32 / Matt Carpenter $10 / Justin Smoak $1 Total spent $43

Rational: cannot ignore that considerable production comes from this position; get one top 1B or 3B.

Team 2: Joey Votto $19 / Josh Harrison $12 / Adam Lind $5 Total spent $36

Rational: overpaid for Votto, saved on Lind, overall met the objective of spending in the mid 30’s.

Opposite experimental strategy (C): Middle Infield: Get a top tier player or not?

Team 1: Ben Zobrist $12 / JJ Hardy $6 / Jhonny Peralta $6 Total spent $24

Rational: After catching, this position is the least productive, so why spend?

Team 2: Robinson Cano $23 / Starlin Castro $12 / Neil Walker $10 Total spent $45

Rational: There is a big drop-off in production after the top tier, hence get a player before the projected drop-off.

   Outfield: no opposing strategy; the objective in both cases was to pay for HRs and acquire an outfield that is balanced in terms of Roto hitting categories. Both drafts showed that the outfield is deep this year. A deep position calls for some planning by analyzing players’ projections. Add the numbers. For example, add projections for two outfielders who can be had for a buck plus a reasonably expensive catcher. Repeat by adding projections for one $1 outfielder, one $1 catcher and a middle tier outfielder whose $ value makes the two additions equivalent money wise. Which projection numbers look better? Draft accordingly. 

Team 1: Yoenis Cespedes $20 / Ben Revere $17 / Jason Heyward $17 / Alex Gordon $14 / Coco Crisp $3 Total spent $71

Team 2: Giancarlo Stanton $38 / Rusney Castillo $13 / Brett Gardener $13 / Melky Cabrera $10 / David Peralta $1 Total spent $75

Utility: Team 1: Nelson Cruz $11 Team 2: Adam LaRoche $9

Both players come with a huge question mark about their performance with new teams. Their price was right.

Opposite experimental strategy (D): To spend or not to spend on pitching?

Team 1: Max Scherzer $34 / Jake Arrieta $16 / Julio Teheran $14 / Hyun-jin Ryu $14 / Jake Odorizzi $7 / Danny Duffy $1 Total spent $86

Rational: A lot has been written on about the new era of pitching. My interpretation of that is that we ought to revise the old hitting/pitching ratio in favor of pitching and get Clayton Kershaw or another elite player if you can.

Team 2: Alex Wood $15 / Jacob DeGrom $13 / Collin McHugh $7 / Matt Shoemaker $6 / Kevin Gausman $4 / Scott Kazmir $4 Total spent $49

Rational: Spend the usual 25% to 30% of total budget on pitching; keep an eye on newcomers during the season.

Opposite experimental strategy (E): Not opposite, but still different

Team 1: Aroldis Chapman $21 / JP Howell $1 / Tony Watson $1 Total spent $22

Rational: Get a top RP and two $1 ones at the end of the draft; considering the high turnover of closers, new ones will be available during the season, so why pay?

Team 2: Trevor Rosenthal $12 /Koji Uehara $9 / JP Howell $1 Total spent $22

Rational: I was surprised that while top tier closers went for low to mid 20’s, other solid ones went for much less. Hence the closer situation of Team 2 appears superior to that of Team 1. By the time Team 1 acquires two new RPs, Team 2 will be well ahead in the Saves category.

   Final thought: Team 1 has spent much more than Team 2 on pitching. The only valid comparison is the end of the season result: that is, which of the two teams will find itself higher than the other team in the final standings of their respective leagues.

   I would put my money on Team 1. 

Last Updated on Saturday, 14 March 2015 16:34
Greetings From Camelback Ranch PDF Print E-mail
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Thursday, 05 March 2015 17:49

Camelback Ranch Stadium and complex is just west of University of Phoenix Stadium, and is home to the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers.

As with most shared complexes, the first two games of spring training are a real home and home series, so on Wednesday the White Sox were the visiting team and the Dodgers the home team with that being flipped on Thursday. In Wednesday’s game, Chicago’s #3 SP Jose Quintana had a very quick two innings, with six Dodgers in a row retired, two by strikeout.

On offense, shortstop Alexei Ramirez led the way with three RBI on a single and a double, but Adam Eaton, Jose Abreu, Adam LaRoche, and Avisail Garcia all contributed hits against starter Erik Bedard and relievers Juan Nicasio and Carlos Frias. Nicasio can’t blame Coors Field any more – he just gives up too many hits.

The lone bright spot in the Dodgers starting lineup was DH Joc Pederson, who was 2-for-2 with a single and a double, scoring a run.

Both Wednesday lineups looked like in-season lineups but Thursday saw a wide array of subs as Clayton Kershaw was pitching for the Dodgers and Manager Don Mattingly found at-bats for Scott Van Slyke, Justin Turner, A.J. Ellis and Matt Carson while Yasiel Puig, missing from Wednesday’s lineup, started in right field.

The Dodgers scored a run in the first on a single by Joc Pederson, a double by Darwin Barney and a ground out by Yasiel Puig. Kershaw was, well Kershaw – six up, six down with three strikeouts, two called.

And not much changed. The Dodgers added five more runs, including a two-run homer by Kyle Jensen, and the White Sox got off the schneid in the ninth on a round tripper by Courtney Hawkins.

Now the two teams will see some new opponents.

Last Updated on Friday, 06 March 2015 10:02
Camelback Cactus Opener: White Sox 6, Dodgers 4 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Lawr Michaels   
Thursday, 05 March 2015 10:35

jocpDust and cobwebs were wiped clean Wednesday, as the Dodgers and the White Sox kicked off their Cactus League tours with a contest that found the White Sox the victors in the end, 6-4.

An auspicious first pair of innnings by Jose Quintana, who whiffed a pair, surrendered nothing, and threw 20 of 26 pitches for strikes, the game was similarly highlighted by the spring debuts of vaunted L.A. rookies Joc Pederson and Corey Seager.

Pederson comported himself as well as Quintana, singling his first at-bat, scoring the first spring run, then doubling before Seager came on to DH. Seager's single in the ninth scored Darrell Sweeney and brought on a save chance, but the Dodgers fell short off journeyman Logan Kensing and that was that.

Other highlights included O'Koyea Dickson, subbing for Adrian Gonzalez, clubbing his--and the team's--first dinger of the season.

On the Pale Hose side, Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton, Avisail Garcia and Alexei Ramirez each bagged a couple of hits to provide the team's offense.

Both Carlos Sanchez and Micah Johnson each manned second, with Sanchez starting (0-for-3) and Johnson spelling. The team's hope is Sanchez--or Johnson--can cull the keystone spot during the spring, leaving Gordon Beckham (0-for-3) relegated to the utility gig he pretty much deserves.

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 March 2015 21:22
Mock Draft: Experiment #4 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Pasko Varnica   
Saturday, 28 February 2015 12:45

Rules: Snake, 12 teams, NL-only, standard 5x5 Roto, 23 players

After several dozen mixed league mock drafts, Fantasy Alarm’s Mock Draft Army held National League and American League only mocks this week. See the nearby article by Lawr on the same topic. Single league drafts are tough, especially NL ones. NL does not have a sufficient number of hitters with a full-time job to fill a team roster. At least AL has the DH. Not so in NL.

In my opinion, the issue of playing time is an important one. No at-bats, no points. It’s as a simple as that. You must avoid being stuck with the reserves in the last rounds. But that’s easier said than done. Sure, you could pounce on those free agents who pop up along the season. There is plenty of pitching turn-over to draft with that in mind, but getting home runs is much harder.

What’s one to do? One solution is to have your real draft as close as possible to the beginning of the season when position battles are mostly resolved. That still does not solve the main problem. With 12 teams, each with 23 players, a lineup requiring two catchers and, if you choose so, three closers, problems abound.

It turns out that the key preparation for an NL-only league is the end game. I know, it is much less fun than dreaming about the top tier players. Experts keep reminding us that we lose with an injury to the first pick and that we win with the bottom portion of the draft. NL-only leagues help you prepare for the later rounds. You ought to know, say, who is going to have more at-bats, Chris Coghlan or Chris Denorfia? Is there a fourth outfielder lurking in the dugout ready to take over a full-time job? Where will injuries strike? How to do that?

I suggest starting with MLB team’s active rosters. Follow by consulting Mastersball’s Color Coded Tiers spreadsheet. This spreadsheet, ideally intended for auctions, distinguishes players with a positive dollar value from the players who are marked as reserves. End by prioritizing the players based on the AB at-bats ( column F) and NL 5x5 (column AA) of the Hitters and Pitchers Projections spreadsheets even if your draft uses the snake method.

Here are a few additional items to consider:

  • Catchers: Will you pick two primary catchers, one primary and one backup, or refuse to pay for the catchers and select two back-ups at the end of the draft? I go with a primary/back-up strategy meaning that I must be prepared to know who the potentially valid secondary catchers are.
  • Closers: Same considerations. I like to anchor my team with one top tier closer and draft the remaining two at the very end, that is, in Rounds 22 and 23. I figured that by doing so I have solved the dilemma of the last rounds when others pick from the bottom of the pile.

It did not work in this particular mock draft. By Round 17, it was already slim pickings. See the draft result HERE. I had the first pick. Is Travis Ishikawa going to help my team? I doubt it.

I must say that this mock draft was an excellent preparation tool for the CBS Analyst NL-only auction league. My goal was; a) do not exceed Color Coded Tiers by more than $1, b) get one top tier closer and c) have enough money to avoid being stuck with $1 part-time players at the end of the draft. My highest paid player is Craig Kimbrel at $25. It worked as far as we can tell this early in the season. What do you think? Check out the league HERE.

Last Updated on Sunday, 01 March 2015 14:01
Mock Draft: Experiment #3 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Pasko Varnica   
Tuesday, 10 February 2015 18:48

Mock Draft held on 2/9

Rules: Auction, 12 teams, mixed league, standard 5x5 Roto, 23 players

I prefer auction to snake draft. When this opportunity from Rotoworld came, I accepted the invitation immediately. Auction mock drafts are few and far between, probably because they are time consuming and the auction software is complex. If you have never drafted via auction, a mock would be a great way to start. Do not worry about running out of money. Auction draft software will not let you; $1 is dedicated to each undrafted slot.

Strategy: Never pay more than $30 for any one player; have a 75%/25% ratio hitters/pitchers budget.

   That said, I was willing to go up to $45 for Mike Trout; he went for $50. Never mind Trout. However, while $50 may seem too much to me, getting a star like Trout at any price may be a valid strategy. In a league with 12 teams and a full complement of players to draw from, the end of the draft is going to have bargains, that is, players who could be picked up for $1 or $2.

Objective: verify conclusions reached by participating in other mock drafts. That is, spend maximum money on a top C, SS, 1B and 3B and one or two OFs. The lack of top tier CI guys was confirmed by Todd and Lawr when they picked Anthony Rizzo at FSTA (see their article on the topic). Spending 25% of the budget on pitching may seem excessive in a 12-team league, but you do not want to be left picking up from the bottom of the pile and end up ruining your team’s ERA and WHIP.

My team:

C - Buster Posey - $30

C - Carlos Ruiz - $1

1B - Adrian Gonzalez - $20

2B - Aaron Hill - $1

3B - Adrian Beltre - $30

SS - Ian Desmond - $26

CI - Mark Teixeira - $2

MI - Erick Aybar - $5

OF - Jacoby Ellsbury - $24

OF - George Springer - $26

OF - Nelson Cruz - $15

OF - Coco Crisp - $4

OF – Khris Davis - $5

U - Chris Carter - $4

P - Jeff Samardzija - $14

P - Carlos Carrasco - $9

P - Trevor Rosenthal - $6

P - Cody Allen - $7

P - Cliff Lee  - $8

P - Anibal Sanchez - $7

P - Jacob deGrom - $7

P - Tyler Clippard - $3

P - Hyun-jin Ryu - $6

    Objectives were met, with $67 total spent on pitching and the planned maximum $30 on Posey and Beltre. The apparent bargains of Coco Crisp ($4), Khris Davis ($5) and Chris Carter ($4) told me that one could wait on respectable outfielders in a 12-team league. At that price, these three players are going to return a profit.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 February 2015 22:26
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