Some Fantasy Thoughts

A couple of thoughts on fantasy baseball as we head in to the final stretch before the regular season (really) gets underway. Hope this is helpful for anyone still waiting to draft…

Guys Who I Went All In For:

  • Joey Votto: I had the 10th pick in the draft and I took JV as my lineup cornerstone. The big debate here was Votto or Prince Fielder. I also the had option for going for a position pick (taking a Jose Reyes/SS) or a toolsy outfielder (Justin Upton and Carlos Gonzalez went shortly after my pick). JV had a “down” year last year and still had better numbers than say, Adrian Gonzalez, who went two picks ahead of Joey. I expect a huge year: A batting title, 35 home runs, and lots of runs and rbis on a team that competes for (and probably wins) its division.
  • Madison Bumgarner: I honestly think that Giants fans will have heated debates after this season about who is the best starter on the Giants. Madbum will have a huge year, push himself into the elite, and hopefully the offense will score enough runs to pump up the win total.
  • Brandon Morrow: He’s going to have great run support but he’s going to have to do battle with some tough lineups. That said, the kid is nasty and could see his strikeout total run upwards of 230. You can get him in the 10-12 round range and I think that is a bargain for a guy who is top 15 material.
  • Honorable Mention: I tried hard to get this guy and didn’t, but I really think Matt Wieters is going to have a great season in 2012.

Guys I Avoided

  • Buster Posey: I love Buster and I hope he has a huge year. But he went in the 5th round and that is way too much risk for me. Again, I hope he is great and I am rooting for him to lead the Giants back to the promised land, but I just don’t want him on my fantasy team.
  • Aging Infielders on the New York Yankees: Sorry A-Rod, Jeter, and Tex…you may still have decent seasons but I have low confidence in you guys and I don’t want to root for you to do well…don’t want you on my team.
  • Prince Fielder: Going back to first round dilemma, there are plenty of reason to like Fielder…lineup protection with Miguel Cabrera…better overall lineup in Detroit…expectations to live up to. But I am wary and here’s why: he was motivated last year, had the protection of Ryan Braun (NL MVP), and a pretty decent lineup. And he had a good year, don’t get me wrong. But he’s in a bigger ball park, with a LOT of expectations. We’ve seen some pretty spectacular big contract flops recently (see Carl Crawford/Jason Werth), and I don’t think Fielder will have that kind of downswing, but I’m hesistant and a lot more confident in JV.

The Market Inefficiency

When I first started playing fantasy, the late rounds were all about stockpiling prospects and young guys who might break out for the first time. But now, I’ve found that some of the best late round picks can be spent on proven commodities coming off down years or coming back from injuries. Last year, I was able to take James Shields in the 2oth round. He had an amazing season and went in the 6th round in my draft this year. There are plenty of similar gems this year:

  • Johan Santana: Don’t expect the Santana of old, but he’s had a great spring and seems on track to have a solid season. I’m hoping for 12-15 wins, 170 ks, 3.50 ERA, and 1.20 WHIP. I got him in the 18th round, which could be a huge bargain! Not bad for a 5th starter.
  • Adam Dunn: I have never been a Dunn fan, but even if he only hits .230 and produces 30 home runs, how can you not love that from a 20th round pick. He doesn’t even fit in my current starting lineup but has the potential to lead my team in home runs. I really do think he will bounce back…not all the way to his 40 home run/elite masher days, but more than good enough for how long he is available in the draft.
  • Honorable mentions: I didn’t draft these guys, but Clay Bucholz and Phil Hughes are both available pretty late. Phil Hughes didn’t even get drafted in my league. Both represent major bargains if they bounce back…lots of cheap wins and good ratios if they are on their game.

Good Luck in Fantasy this year!

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Spring Fantasy Pt. 3

No particular reason for this picture other than it is awesome.

With that out-of-the-way let’s turn our attention to the final installment of my fantasy draft strategy. So far we’ve looked at 5 guys I will go all out for in the first 5 rounds. Then we looked at the all important middle rounds and six guys to target there (remember: the middle rounds are where the game is won and lost, so do your research and choose well).

Today let’s look at the tricky final rounds. I do not think that rounds 18-23 (or whatever that looks like in your format) are make or break, but you can get a serious leg up here as well. Let’s be honest: most of the guys you grab here will be dropped by the time May rolls around, so don’t get too stressed. However, it is possible though to find some real gems here (and make the rest of your league look foolish). Last year I grabbed Clay Buchholz and Martin Prado in this stage of the draft and they turned in to gold. So, who will fill that role this year?

My approach to the final rounds is three-fold:

  1. Who will go undrafted, but cause owners to wish they had on their rosters three weeks in to the season (i.e. the bona fide sleeper pick)?
  2. What do I need to fill out my team (power, a steals guy, one more closer, etc)?
  3. Who is still the on the board that surprises me?

Here are my five late round targets:

1) John Buck/J. P. Arencibia/John Jaso C: These guys fall squarely under criteria number 2. A vital aspect of my fantasy strategy is to always carry two catchers. Even the best catchers play only about 130 games, so getting max volume out of the position is a big advantage. In my mocks, I’ve been taking Posey or McCann and all three of these guys are available late and sometimes even undrafted. Jaso should hit lead off a lot for the Rays so expect good average, runs, and even a few steals. Arencibia is all potential and should provide great power out of this spot. Buck probably won’t be as good this year as last, but is another good power source late in the draft at a tough position.

2) Jed Lowrie SS: Jed is a category one pick. No one else has drafted him in my mocks and I end up taking him with the last pick every time. He had a great August and September, and it is my opinion that he will work his way into significant playing time either via injury or Scutaro sucking. The second half of the season he should be the Red Sox starting SS (also eligible at 2B in Yahoo!). He is my 2011 version of Martin Prado.

3) Brandon League CL: this is a little bit of a gamble, but that is often what the late rounds are all about. I think there is a very good chance Aardsma will not be ready for the start of the season and League will take the closer position and not let it go. Just a hunch, but a hunch that could pay off in 30+ saves. Worth it in rounds 20-23.

4) James Shields SP: I have never been a huge fan of Shields in real baseball or fantasy. But his value has dropped a ton and he can be had with a 20th round pick. I smell value. The guy had some terrible luck last year (almost a .350 BABIP) and he missed bats (187 Ks). He’s not an ace, but could be a solid number 3 fantasy starter, and he’s nearly free going in rounds 19-22. If you need another SP late, think hard about this guy.

5) Magglio Ordonez OF: There is an eternal soft spot in my heart for Mags. He’s been a part of almost every championship squad I’ve put together. Gone are the days of being taken in the first 10 rounds as a solid everyday lineup kind of guy. However, he is supposed to bat 3rd for the Tigers, which is not a bad spot to be in (after Austin Jackson and the underrated Ryan Raburn, and before Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez). If he stays healthy 100 runs, 100 RBI, and .300 AVG are attainable. Big IF, but again he’s not going until very late if he gets drafted at all (a classic category 3 pick).

There you go. Fantasy preview complete. Thoughts?

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Spring Fantasy

Pitchers and catchers report today, which means Spring Training is officially upon us. The monks will have plenty to say during the lead up to the season, but I have to get this off my chest: I don’t really like ST. I like going to ST. I’ve really enjoyed it both times I’ve gone. But for the most part ST news is a bunch of optimistic nonsense, ridiculous catastrophizing, and meaningless box scores. I find it to be mildly tortuous as we wait for the real thing to get started.

That being said, now that I live on the East Coast ST signals a change in seasons and the potential for warmer weather and that is most welcome. It also means that it’s time to get ready for fantasy baseball!!! I have some titles to defend this year, so the next couple of weeks will involve settling in to a strategy for late March drafts.

I haven’t spent too much time thinking about this, but I did sign up for my “winners” league today so here are my initial thoughts…5 guys I wouldn’t mind getting in the first 5 rounds:

1) Troy Tulowitski: The Giants fan in me hopes for two things…one, that I get the first pick in the draft so I can just pick Pujols and be done with it. Two, that Tulo pulls a hammy and plays the season at 60%, effectively ending the Rockies chances of winning the division. However, if I have picks 2-8 I almost certainly will take him first. If you’ve played against me you know I don’t put a lot of stock in the first round (I think if I win it’s because I choose well in rounds 6-14, not 1-5), so I often take guys that don’t make a ton of sense. (For example, I won last year taking Hanley with a 2nd over all and Prince Fielder with a 10th overall and neither of them really performed to the pick). All of that to say, I think Tulo will have a monster year, be worthy of a number 2 pick, and make an error on the last day of the season to give the Giants the division. To have him at SS (a REALLY thin position) would be huge.

2) Ryan Zimmerman: Ok, the days of grabbing Zim with a late second round (or later) pick are likely over, but he will be 2011’s Joey Votto (a guy picked in the 15-30 range who provides a top 5 season). If I got Tulo at, say, 4, I’ll be praying I can get Zim at 20 (might be a pipe dream).

3) Dustin Pedroia: I think Pedroia will be a great pick this year for two reasons: one, his stock will be slightly depressed (4th round hopefully) with the injury/recovery questions, and, two, I think he will have a monster year in Boston’s loaded lineup.

4) Jon Lester: Another potential pipe dream. Lester has been the backbone of my rotations the last two seasons, but I never had to draft him earlier than the 6th round. Those days are over. I refuse to draft pitchers until round 5 but I may have to bend that rule this year to get him.

5) Buster Posey: Round five still feels like a stretch for Buster, as much as I love him (I think he should go later to be honest). However, if I can pull off Posey/Tulo/Pedroia up the middle that will be huge!!!

I’ll weigh in later with my 5 guys I want in the mid-rounds, but that’s where I’m starting from this season (likely to change about 30 times in the next 3 days). Who are you willing to go all out for in the early rounds?

Baseball is here my friends!

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