Lord Zola's Fantasy Baseball Mailbag

by Todd Zola, MastersBall.com on January 31, 2011 @ 10:00:00 PDT


We are going to do something a little different this week, sort of. I get multiple requests to discuss some of the teams I draft in mock drafts and since I was in a mock recently with KFFLís own Tim Heaney, I thought I would use this space to discuss that team. But do not fret, we will return to answering your questions next week. Remember, you can send us your questions via e-mail to lordzola@kffl.com, post on the KFFL Baseball Facebook page or via Twitter by following @KFFL_baseball.

The following is my team drafted for our friends at RotoExperts.com. The format was 12 team mixed, standard 5x5 scoring categories with the usual 14 hitters but with 10 pitchers, 6 starters, 2 relievers and 2 that could be either. My strategy in all drafts is not to reach for scarcity but use it as a tie breaker. I get balance early so I am never forced to take someone of lesser value just to fill a statistical need. With respect to pitching, while I will not dip into the top tier, I feel waiting on pitching is no longer the smart play so I will invest some top-10 picks on arms. Closers, however, in a 12 team mixed format, can wait.

1.04 Troy Tulowitzki, SS, COL: Followers of Mastersball know we are big Tulowitzki backers, but I actually decided to take Carl Crawford as a change, but plum forgot. I usually prefer more power from my first pick than Crawford, but wanted to see what kind of attack I could build with the new guarder of the Green Monster. And besides, as we have discussed in earlier mailbags, I am still of the mindset that Crawford will hit leadoff and may have a monster season. But alas, I am stuck with a shortstop whose sole wart is health. But since none of the injuries are chronic, one of these seasons Tulowitzki is going to play 155 games and make a lot of owners giddy.

2.09 Matt Holliday, OF, STL: Like I said, scarcity is a tiebreaker so I am not afraid to take an outfielder early, especially if he was far and away the best player available.

3.04 Shin-Soo Choo, OF, CLE: While I would have preferred taking a third baseman in the first three picks as I am not a fan of the hot corner inventory this season, I am not going to reach and for the second pick in a row, the best player on the board was a 5 category outfielder. Truth be told, the best players left were a couple of starting pitchers, but I am targeting pitchers in a lower tier (a strategy I will talk about ad nauseum) so I passed and stuck with the sticks.

4.09 Ian Kinsler, 2B, TEX: Something people forget when dealing with injury prone players is that when (if) they are hurt, you get to backfill that roster spot. So when someone's projection like Kinslerís is run through the little black box that spews out values and rankings, it ignores the fact that his roster spot will still be accruing stats. So while Kinslerís value in a vacuum may be 4th round level, factor in the replacements stats and Kinsler is a steal.

Colorado Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki
Whoa is me: I drafted Tulo!

5.04 Adam Wainwright, SP, STL: Sometimes you are good and sometimes you are lucky. Other pitchers from my tier were starting to be drafted, but lo and behold, someone from my top tier was still on the board. Granted, the reason might be there is some residual concern over the fact Wainwright experienced elbow stiffness to end last season and there has been little word about his current condition, assuming health, his skill set is solid.

6.09 Paul Konerko, 1B, CHW: Every round that slips by without adding a third baseman I throw up in my mouth a little, but there is still no one I am willing to take so I went with a guy in Konerko that will no doubt regress from last seasonís outstanding production, but should still be quite solid.

7.04 Jered Weaver, SP, LAA: Some discount Weaver due to a lots of fly balls leading to lots of homers, but if you also strike out a bunch of guys and limit walks, the fly balls that donít clear the fence usually nestle in leather. Last season, Weaver improved both is strikeout and walk rate and I foresee more of the same.

8.09 Jorge Posada, C, NYY: I got a little greedy here, hoping Mike Napoli would fall, but he didnít so I took Posada who can still swing the lumber and since he wonít be squatting nearly as much in between at bats, he should see more at bats.

9.04 Max Scherzer, SP, DET: Usually, I do not buy into things like ďcame back from the minors and seemed to find himself," and that is really not the primary impetus for this pick. But 200 strikeouts and a favorable pitcherís park, albeit of the American League variety, is certainly enticing.

10.09 Mariano Rivera, CL, NYY: Similarly to how Wainwright fell to me when I would have taken someone from the next tier down, I wanted saves here and Rivera was still left even though guys I have ranked lower were starting to be drafted. I know he is an injury risk, but if I can, I will handcuff Rivera with Rafael Soriano, and if I cannot, trust me, I will have saves covered.

11.04 Mark Reynolds, 3B, BAL: OK, now I just threw up in my mouth a lot. But there comes a time when you have to say what the, um, heck and hence, the only player that can challenge Felix Hernandez in the American League for most strikeouts has a home. There is little doubt the power will be there and I am not concerned about steals. It is obviously the potential torpedoing of the batting average that induced some regurgitation. But of all the hitting categories, batting average is the one that you have the least control over so sometimes you just pound up the counting stats and hope for a little lady luck.

12.09 Adam L. Jones, OF, BAL: This time last season, I was expending a 6th or 7th round pick on Jones and in my mind, he is still the same player he was last season. Sometimes, there is bias against a player that does not live up to the expected potential and he is not given credit for the still valuable production he provides. Jones very much resembles that remark.

13.04 Angel Pagan, OF, NYM: I have a deficiency in speed that needs to be addressed and it is always nice to do that and still pick up a little pop along the way, and I donít mean of the soda variety.

14.09 Rafael Furcal, SS, LAD: Remember what I said about Kinsler and being able to backfill in the event of an injury? The same applies here with Furcal. Plus, he further addresses the speed issue while providing a buffer for Reynolds and his low average.

15.04 Ted Lilly, SP, LAD: You know, I donít think I want to live in a world where Lilly is considered the 39th best starting pitcher in the Major Leagues, unless of course, I do so with him on my roster.

16.09 Gaby Sanchez, CI, FLA: Some are predicting some more growth for Sanchez, Iíll settle for more of the same.

17.04 Andres Torres, OF, SF: I know his track record is short, but we are approaching the fungible portion of the draft, and if Torres is more flash in the pan than a potential 15HR/25SB guy, Iíll drop him and pick up ďthis yearís Torres.Ē

18.09 Ryan Franklin, CL, STL: Franklin will always drop in a draft where 12 guys are all trying to be the smartest man in the room as his peripherals are mediocre. But all he does is get saves and if we were drafting reserves, you would have no doubt seen Jason Motte amongst them.

19.04 James Shields, SP, TAM: Last season was actually quite odd for Shields as he actually halted a several year decline in skills with a big spike in K/9, but he was so unlucky in the hits allowed department that it was wasted.

20.09 Ervin Santana, SP, LAA: While my pitching staff is shaping up to be more American League oriented than I usually desire, strikeouts are strikeouts and if I pound them up, there are avenues to massage WHIP and ERA later. (Hint: Ask me how and I will answer in a future mailbag.)

21.04 A.J. Pierzynski, C, CHW: While I did say earlier that it is hard to control the batting average category and sometimes you just have to let things play out and see what happens, I am satisfied with my counting stats at this point and will take advantage of the ability to actually aid the average with my second catcher.

22.09 Raul Ibanez, UT, PHI: While others are trying to show off the fact they are up on the hot prospects, I will take the boring route of Ibanez. Yes, he is in decline and is not the guy that was an All-Star a couple of years ago. But as my utility in a league where there will be ample replacements, I will take his production as the worst hitter on my roster.

23.04 Hong-Chih Kuo, RP, LAD: Okay, so I missed out on the likes of Rafael Soriano and Brandon League. And while I am anticipating a bounceback for Jonathan Broxton, Kuo comes in handy in a league of this nature, especially since there are 10 pitching spots as he helps keep the ratios in check and will pick up some slop saves if not more.

24.09 Jake McGee, RP, TAM: If the chat room groans and cursing were any indication, some of my fellow drafters forgot about McGee and the likelihood he will close in Tampa. I didnít.

So there you have it. Feel free to mock my mock. I will be happy to answer any questions on the players or strategy in next weekís mailbag. And to save you the trouble, yes, I kicked Timís butt. But, jokes aside, he represented KFFL quite well in the recent FSTA Experts draft in Las Vegas.

When Todd Zola is not mocking Tim Heaney, you can usually find him hanging out on the forum at Mastersball.

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About Todd Zola, MastersBall.com

Focusing primarily on the science of player valuation and game theory starting in 1997, Todd Zola and Mastersball carved out an important niche in the fantasy industry. In 2006, Todd became the Research Director for fantasybaseball.com, and in 2009, he relaunched Mastersball and is now a managing partner.

Todd competes in Tout Wars and the XFL, and has been a multiple-time league champion in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has been a contributor to the fantasy content at MLB.com and SI.com, is a frequent guest on Sirius/XM and Blog Talk Radio and is an annual speaker at the spring and fall First Pitch Forum symposiums.

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