Fantasy Baseball Round Table: Shadow Drafting AL LABR

by Todd Zola, MastersBall.com on March 5, 2014 @ 16:56:48 PDT

 


I know, you miss the Knights but I promise they'll be back next week. I've been on the road the past two weeks and my schedule was a bit goofy. But I'm home (for a couple of days anyway) and will be sure to get the band back together next week.

New York Yankees RP David Robertson
Robertson: next elite closer?

In the meantime, the final leg of my travels brought me to Phoenix for the League of Alternative Baseball Realty, more commonly known as LABR auctions. Along with KFFL's Tim Heaney, I play in the LABR Mixed Draft so I wasn't drafting. Instead, USA TODAY Senior Fantasy Editor and LABR commissioner extraordinaire Steve Gardner put me to work and I was the official draft tracker bitch. You know that cool draft board that updated the draft in (mostly) real time? That was my handiwork. You're welcome.

What we'll do today is take a look at the American League auction using the shadow drafting procedure -- but with a twist. Shadow drafting involves choosing a legal lineup from the actual prices after adding $1 to the final price. The extra buck represents raising the winning bid, and then the player is sold without any more raises. Chances are someone would have chimed back in on a few players but on the other hand, I would have beaten the winning team to some players so it all evens out. But that's not the twist. What I'm going to do is pick two players from each team even if there are buys I like more elsewhere. That means one team will be contributing only a single player so I'll choose my first reserve from that team.

Here's what I came up with.

CATCHER

$8 -- Dioner Navarro (purchased by Perry Van Hook, Mastersball, for $7)

$5 -- John Jaso (purchased by Brandon Funston, Yahoo, for $4)

The prices for the top catchers are all more than what I want to pay. When you go basement shopping you're going to have a wart somewhere. I'm going to eschew counting stats and choose a couple of backstops that can help buffer batting average so that I can pick up some batting average deficient players with high counters later.

CORNER INFIELD

$11 -- Mitch Moreland (purchased by Tristan Cockcroft, ESPN, for $10)

$30 -- Adrian Beltre (purchased by Larry Schechter, Winning Fantasy Baseball, for $29)

$2 -- Lonnie Chisenhall (purchased by Greg Ambrosius and Shawn Childs, STATS/NFBC, for $1)

All the stars went for several dollars over value. For reasons I will disclose later, I'm going to be a little conservative here, but I will make one rather significant purchase with Beltre. I'm a little worried about Beltre's advancing age but he has been durable lately and the park is an absolutely perfect fit. Add in Shin-Soo Choo and Prince Fielder and the lineup is more than solid. The Chisenhall play is a hunch that the Carlos Santana experiment doesn't turn out well.

MIDDLE INFIELD

$24 -- Jose Altuve (purchased by Dave Adler, Baseball HQ, for $23)

$27 -- Jose Reyes (purchased by Chris Liss, Rotowire, for $26)

$2 -- Pedro Florimon (purchased by Nicholas Minnix, KFFL, for $1)

Speed from second base is scarce so choosing Altuve forces others to chase steals elsewhere. Reyes is a go big or go home play. If healthy, he's worth mid-30s. A full-time shortstop for the minimum is a no-brainer and I should have the average to buffer Florimon.

OUTFIELD

$16 -- Kole Calhoun (purchased by Eno Sarris, Fangraphs, for $15)

$9 -- Matt Joyce (purchased by Liss for $8)

$6 -- Daniel Nava (purchased by Ray Flowers, SiriusXM, for $5)

$4 -- Robbie Grossman (purchased by Sarris for $3)

$3 -- Raul Ibanez (purchased by Ambrosius and Childs for $2)

Not the sexiest group but as usual, this is the spot where the good buys are found and AL LABR was no exception. Calhoun is a personal favorite and even the news that he's slated for leadoff hasn't driven up his price too much. The rest are simply decent buys that occurred when the inflation flipped to deflation. This is my normal ploy so filling in the outfield like this is along the lines of what I normally do.

UTILITY

$25 -- David Ortiz (purchased by Cockcroft for $24)

This would have been an interesting call as it isn't a direction I normally go in but the price for Papi is right. But the real reason is even though I work with Tristan on ESPN's projections, other than Ian Kinsler, nothing on his squad tickled my fancy. I'd say there is a 50/50 chance I would have actually been in on Ortiz.

STARTING PITCHING

$26 -- Chris Sale (purchased by Steve Gardner, USA TODAY, for $25)

$13 -- Drew Smyly (purchased by Adler for $12)

$8 -- Phil Hughes (purchased by Minnix for $7)

$4 -- Jason Vargas (purchased by Schechter for $3)

$3 -- Scott Baker (purchased by Glenn Colton and Rick Wolf, SiriusXM, for $2)

$2 -- Brad Peacock (purchased by Colton and Wolf for $1)

I decided to go with Sale since I have him as a $30 pitcher. Whether I would have taken him is not a sure thing as even $26 is a lot to spend on a staff ace. But I did it in part to see what the rest of the squad looks like. Smyly is a leap of faith that his skills as a reliever carry over to the rotation and he works 170-180 innings. When you go with an ace, you have to skimp somewhere hence the lower-end starters. I'll likely be short on wins but I should hang in with strikeouts and ratios.

RELIEF PITCHING

$20 -- David Robertson (purchased by Van Hook for $19)

$10 -- Nate Jones (purchased by Flowers for $9)

$2 -- Junichi Tazawa (purchased by Funston for $1)

I believe in buying saves, especially if you can get a high-strikeout guy at a discount. I fully expect Robertson to be in the Craig Kimbrel/Kenley Jansen/Aroldis Chapman class next year. I'll pay $10 for a second closer and Jones has the gig (at least for now). Tazawa was mostly just the best available from Funston's team. I likely would have taken a chance on a seventh starter if this was my squad to this point.

For reserve, I'll take Felipe Paulino (Flowers) since I very well may have made him my seventh starter.

This was a draft that would have forced me to play the middle if I was in it for real. The turning point would have been whether I bit on Sale. I do know that if he went any higher I would have passed.

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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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