Fantasy Baseball: Tumbling Dice

by Lawr Michaels, on January 25, 2011 @ 11:00:00 PDT


First Real Draft of 2011

Since the end of the 2010 baseball season, I have participated in a good half dozen mock drafts, and one actual auction--the XFL as part of the BBHQ First Pitch festivities, but that auction is on the heels of the previous year. Not that I am dismissing the auction, or the process, but, last night, in Las Vegas, as part of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Winter Conference, well, I completed my first "real" draft of 2011.

Coordinated by Charlie Wiegert, including Ron Shandler (last year's winner), Tim Heaney (the 2009 winner), Rick Wolfe, and Scott Engel, among others, the league is a pretty competitive assemblage of players.

The draft - which was broadcast on Sirius - kicked itself off last week when during a call-in to Jeff Erickson's show, our names were pulled from a hat, and we selected our draft positions. My name was called third, and that was a quandary. Third pick meant I would likely get Troy Tulowitzki or Hanley Ramirez, while picking seventh, in the middle of the 13-team league, meant never being too far from a pick. Of course, taking the No. 13 slot also is a good place, as the back-to-back picks can influence the draft.

For example, in that spot I like to take a pair of closers, or third sackers at certain times, and try to force a position run, something that is difficult to do from a middle selection spot.

Colorado Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki
Going shortstop early

I settled for that No. 3 spot, clinging to the Hanley/Troy path, for a couple of reasons. First, they are the best two at the spot, with power and speed, and building a team around a 30-homer shortstop presents more options than building a team around a 40-homer first sacker or outfielder.

Second, there will be 150 outfielders and 250-plus pitchers available so that is where I can get the best of the dregs, ideally. That is, the No. 50 outfielder will likely be better than the No. 10 shortstop (assuming 150 outfield starters, and thirty starting shortstops in the majors). Same with pitchers: since there are more, the chances to grab value late in the draft than at catcher or short or second.

Why? Because, the majors have 30 teams, and for the most part, each of the FSTA teams needs a pair of first sackers, or catchers, or even closers. So, if each FSTA team culls two closers, there are still ideally four stoppers left over. Furthermore, if Dan Johnson finally wins the first base slot in Tampa, and I have a shortstop/first base combo of Johnson and Tulowitzki, that will likely be more productive than the combination of Albert Pujols and Cliff Pennington (assuming Pennington and Johnson are at the bottom of their respective position ratings).

So, this time - and I write this before the draft by almost three hours - I am going to write about who I am targeting for each round, and think I can grab.

In thinking about this, do remember a couple of draft caveats of mine. First, I am really drafting numbers, not the player. That is, I don't care if I take Hanley or Tulo or Marco Scutaro first, but I do care that I expect that slot to give me .280-25-80-20 numbers at a minimum (I am very conservative with my projections). Second, I have secondary and tertiary plans for adjusting should I be totally wrong about the path.

So, below is my projected draft list.  Next week, we can look at the fallout and see how close to the bone I got. Then, as the season progresses, we can take a look and see what, if anything, worked (Note that my KFFL mate, Tim Heaney, is also drafting, and he will attest that I completed this piece before we began drafting).

So, here goes:

  1. Troy Tulowitzki (or Hanley, if available)
  2. Ryan Zimmerman (or Kevin Youkilis, but want to cover the hot corner)
  3. Tim Lincecum (or CC Sabathia, but want a serious starter here)
  4. CC Sabathia (or Clayton Kershaw, or someone like)
  5. Brandon Phillips (or Ian Kinsler, but a second sacker with some pop, means my tough infield spots are covered)
  6. Brian Wilson (or Heath Bell, or a dominant closer)
  7. Nick Swisher (nice pop. Nick Markakis would suffice as well)
  8. Gordon Beckham (takes care of the corner. If gone, Mark Ellis or Erick Aybar, later, and I can take either a closer or third big pitcher)
  9. Denard Span (power speed combo will hopefully drop)
  10. Jonathan Sanchez (third/fourth potentially dominant starter)
  11. Matt Garza (pitcher No. 4 or No. 5, with whiffs, and if I get Garza, watch his numbers improve in the NL)
  12. Matt Wieters (if he is still there, otherwise will look to Ike Davis/Gaby Sanchez)
  13. Jason Kubel (more pop)
  14. John Lackey (No. 5 starter)
  15. Andrew Bailey (No. 2 closer, and if not Bailey, someone)
  16. Coco Crisp (again, power/speed outfielder I think will slide)
  17. A.J. Pierzynski (No. 2 catcher, anyway, as don't want to wait too long)
  18. Dallas Braden (No. 6 starter)
  19. Kevin Kouzmanoff (corner with 15 homers)
  20. Cody Ross (late power. Pat Burrell or Magglio Ordonez will suffice)
  21. Michael Cuddyer (late first base grab)
  22. Manny Ramirez (or Johnny Damon or Vladimir Guerrero or Jack Cust, all viable DH's)
  23. Michael Wuertz (or Jason Motte, or third closer if out there)

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About Lawr Michaels,

Lawr Michaels has been a player in the fantasy baseball industry since he began writing for John Benson in 1993. He has written for STATS, Inc, was the first fantasy columnist for CBS Sportsline, and has appeared in numerous journals and on websites. In 1996, he founded CREATiVESPORTS, a staple for serious fantasy players, which he merged into Mastersball in 2010.

Over the years, Lawr has participated in a wide variety of playing formats and won numerous titles, including AL Tout Wars crowns in 2001 and 2009. Along with his Mastersball duties, Lawr works for as a statistician. Fantasy Baseball

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