Fantasy baseball draft: The FSWA experience

      March 20, 2012 @ 15:53:13 PDT


It was November. After the closing of Baseball HQ's Arizona rawhide romp, the illustrious First Pitch Forums, I partook in a few fermented beverages with my colleague Nicholas Minnix and two longtime friends of KFFL Baseball: Buck Davidson, a former KFFL name-taker now at RotoExperts and RotoRob, and Tim McLeod, Buck's partner in crime at RotoRob. A pleasant pair, for sure.

Toronto Blue Jays SP Brandon Morrow
Fortunes tied to Morrow

Of course, they were until the inevitable subject came up. See, Nick won the 2010 overall championship in the 60-team Fantasy Sports Writers Association Industry Insiders League, deftly put together every year by secretary Perry Missner and the rest of the diligent staff.

My first-name companion won the whole shebang last year; I had to stare up at him from the middle of our individual league and watch his run to glory.

Naturally, they said, it's my turn to take home the crown. I needed admission into the club. (When they said it, Nick and the name traitor were standing next to each other across from me behind the proverbial velvet rope. Elitists.)

No pressure.

Monday was D Day, and I had to deal with 11 strong competitors in the first of the league's five pick 'em parties; KFFL has four reps across the various divisions. The fun of this setup: On-base percentage and slugging percentage replace batting average and home runs as categories. It evens the playing field between ratios and counting stats for both hitters and pitchers, which often leads to overvaluation of the latter, not unjustifiably.

Furthermore, your pitching staff is only allowed 180 starts for the entire season. This leads to divergent strategies - use them up early and run RPs out there the rest of the way, or run mainly RPs out there early on. Problem with the latter: you could fall behind in the pitching counting categories early if you start slow out of the gate.

For my staff, I chose a hybrid approach: Net two high-K SP that can also eat IP; go with two high-K closers; and let the other pitching chips fall while accumulating the highest K/9s possible.

Pertaining to the bats, I stuck with my usual infield-first motif but was more urgent in filling out the hitting slots. A strong offense in this league is more important, in my view, because pitching can be substituted so easily thanks to the swelled importance of RPs.

The useful player pool for offense doesn't expand in the same manner.

Here goes. Time to make our Arizona circle - and my first name - proud.

Bats
RD
POS
Player
Tm
Notes
C
14
C
Geovany Soto
CHC
Format fitter. Undervalued. Has power to stand out among middle- and lower-tier C
C
15
C
Carlos Ruiz
PHI
PT in this lineup worth a slight reach for a safe No. 2
1B
1
1B
Adrian Gonzalez
BOS
Imagine what he'll do with a healthy shoulder.
2B
2
2B
Ian Kinsler
TEX
2B deep, but he was the best 5-category value not an OF or named Hanley Ramirez.
3B
3
3B
Kevin Youkilis
BOS
Even with injury history, he's a stud in an OBP league.
SS
4
SS
Elvis Andrus
TEX
Slight boost here, as well. No stranger to XBH. Add 40ish SB, and he's golden.
CI
9
1B
Paul Goldschmidt
ARI
It's liberating when BA isn't a category.
MI
11
2B
Jason Kipnis
CLE
I'm not worried about that 11 K, 1 BB spring. Too much ability here.
OF
5
OF
Shin-Soo Choo
CLE
His basic training will make 2011 a distant memory.
OF
8
OF
Jayson Werth
WSH
Under this format, a 4.5-category player in Round 8?
OF
12
OF
Nick Swisher
NYY
Swish's optimal format. A Bleacher Creature salute to his OBP.
OF
15
OF
Dexter Fowler
COL
Finally landed a 2012 fave - and his SLG complements his speed/OB skills.
OF
19
OF
Jason Bay
NYM
Slim OF pickings a this point, but he was atop my list.
UT
23
UT
Dayan Viciedo
CWS
Consistently slides under radars. Late-round pop with improving plate skills
Arms
RD
POS
Player
Tm
Notes
P
6
SP
Cole Hamels
PHI
K's, stud.
P
7
SP
Yovani Gallardo
MIL
K's, stud.
P
10
RP
Drew Storen
WSH
K's, CL stud.
P
13
SP
Brandon Morrow
TOR
K's, on the precipice of being a top-20 mixed SP a la Gallardo.
P
16
RP
Rafael Betancourt
COL
K's, CL. Rex Brothers is on my watch-and-grab list.
P
18
SP
Chris Sale
CWS
K's, budding stud beyond his years.
P
20
SP
John Danks
CWS
Undervalued
P
21
SP
Bud Norris
HOU
K's, sneaky stud if he improves BB/9. Too bad W are hard to come by. But who cares about W?
P
22
RP
Kenley Jansen
LAD
Notice a theme here?
Bench
RD
POS
Player
Tm
Notes
BN
24
RP
Greg Holland
KC
I lobbied for Jonathan Broxton yesterday. He was taken not long before I covered my analytical bases.
BN
25
INF
Mike Aviles
BOS
His versatility keeps finding its way onto my teams. I'm not all that upset, either.
BN
26
SP
Erik Bedard
PIT
K's - imagine how many there'd be in a near-full season in the NL Central.
BN
27
SP
Jonathon Niese
NYM
Sleeper
BN
28
1B
Todd Helton
COL
The only mixed format in which I'd ever consider him. A 75 percent repeat of 2011 would do.

Debriefing:

  • At 173 projected SB, my starting lot would probably sit somewhere in the middle among the 12-teamer, and I'd probably need a lift to break into the top portion of the 60-team picture. But all it takes is one rabbit to pluck off the wire for PT, and I'm closer to that picture.
    The 173 won't directly translate, obviously, because of injuries and benchings, etc. But given the diversity of where my swipes should come from, I'm in decent shape.
  • K's aplenty. Check.
  • If KC ignores my assertion of Broxton being the saves guy and tabs Holland, it's a win-win for me. He's just as skilled. And, of course, Jansen still has a solid track to eventually log 10-plus closures.
  • RBIs and runs fluctuate so much that they were secondary considerations; I still focused on the innate skills of each hitter, even if they were now represented by ratios. Remember to maintain the same skills analysis principles, even when your league's universe is flipped on its axis.
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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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