Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

My 2014 Fantasy Baseball Team

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Adam Jones; my #1 fantasy draft pick in 2014.  Photo unk.

Adam Jones; my #1 fantasy draft pick in 2014. Photo unk.

As with years past … feel free to skip this post if you don’t care about fantasy.  I know for certain that reading about someone elses’s fantasy sports team can be a bit grating.  But, if you do play fantasy i’m sure you’ll at least appreciate reading the selections and then looking at the team’s strength analysis at the end.

I’ll include a jump line so your RSS feeds aren’t blown out either.

We had our fantasy baseball draft this week; here’s how my team turned out.

League overview for context: 12 team 6×6 head to head.  I had the 10th of 12 picks.  Our league categories are:

  • Hitting: Runs, HRs, RBIs, SBs, Batting Average and OPS.
  • Pitching: Wins, Saves, K’s, ERA, WHIP and Losses.

Most leagues are simple 5×5; we added Losses to combat someone who streamed starters one year and just outlasted everyone else in Wins and Ks.  When we added losses, we needed a 6th offensive category so we added OPS, even though in some measure OPS is driven by individual measures HRs and BA.

Positions are conventional Fantasy: C,1B,2B,3B,SS, 3 OFs and a util guy.  2 SP, 2 RP, 3 other Ps, 5 bench guys and a DL spot for a 21-man roster/21-round draft.

Another note: to prevent pitcher “churn and burn” there is a transaction limit of 65 moves for the season.  I’ve been the only one to hit this limit the last two years thanks to frantic moves to improve crummy teams.

My 2014 draft strategy:

  • Do NOT draft starters too high; this was a mistake made in 2013.  Attempt to get value SPs in later rounds
  • Focus on hitters first; AL hitters in good hitting parks for good offensive teams.
  • Reach for positional scarcity at 2b, SS, 3B.
  • Wait on first base if you don’t get the right fit.
  • Wait on outfielders too; there’s always OF depth
  • Do not chase Catchers
  • Get at least 4 closers; more if possible. Do not punt on closers.

This strategy was tested quickly by interesting strategies by other players in the league.  One guy focused on two major things: high end starting pitching and high OBP/high steals guys.  His team was staggering by the end of the draft; he held basically the 3 best starters on the board and may get 20 steals a week.   We also had two guys in the league who were either completely unprepared or very unconventional … meaning there were really odd names coming off the boards very early.

Here’s my team, round by round:

  • 1st round (#10 overall): Adam Jones-OF
  • 2nd round (#15): Adrian Beltre-3B
  • 3rd round (#34): Alex Rios-OF
  • 4th round (#39): Giancarlo Stanton-OF
  • 5th round (#58): Kenly Janssen-RP
  • 6th round (#63): Greg Holland-RP
  • 7th round (#82): Mark Trumbo-1B/OF
  • 8th round (#87): Carlos Santana-C/1B/3B eventually
  • 9th round (#106): Shelby Miller-SP
  • 10th round (#111): Hyung-Jin Ru-SP
  • 11th round (#130): Aaron Hill-2B
  • 12th round (#135): Danny Salazar-SP
  • 13th round (#154): Tony Cingrani-SP
  • 14th round (#159): Jim Henderson-RP
  • 15th round (#178): Shane Victorino-OF
  • 16th round (#183): Chris Archer-SP
  • 17th round (#202): Asdrubal Cabrera-SS
  • 18th round (#207): J.J. Hoover-RP
  • 19th round (#226): Tim Hudson-SP
  • 20th round (#231): Brandon Belt-1B
  • 21st round (#250): Jake Odorizzi-SP

 


Below are my round-by-round picks with discussion about thougth processes and players considered at each spot.

Yahoo O-Ranks are given; this is Yahoo’s rank for the player for the 2014 season.  I’ll also list Yahoo’s actual 2013 rank.  Lastly I’ll put the Average Draft Rank (ADP) is listed as per FantasyPros.com, which pulls ADP from 5 major sites for a meta-ADP ranking and lists each player by their rank and then their ADP across the systems (so a player can be the 3rd best ADP but have his actual average be like 4.2 … so we’ll list both numbers).    I use the abbreviation “BPA” to indicate “Best Player Available” at the time of the pick … this comes up often when considering draft value.

  • 1st round (#10 overall): Adam Jones-OF.  (Yahoo o-rank #11, 2013 #7, ADP 10th/11.4).  So, I hated this pick.  I was targeting Ryan Braun and then Hanley Ramirez at this pick; they were the two names that went just before my pick.  Hanley especially irked me; the guy picking just before me was MIA on the call so we just went Yahoo’s BPA for his pick and he got Hanley.  Suddenly I was looking at Jones versus Robinson Cano (who I don’t like this year b/c I think his team will be awful and he’ll regress offensively in a bigger ballpark) and Jacoby Ellsbury (who I also hate in fantasy; he’s always hurt, he’s already dinged up this spring and I think he’s over-rated).  You can’t reach 5 picks in the first round without really looking awful … so I took the only name on the board that I didn’t have warning signs about.  33 homers, 108 RBIs, 100 runs scored last year can’t be all bad, right?  He’s still protected by Chris Davis (who went a few picks earlier).  He still plays in a hitters paradise in Baltimore.   For what its worth, it looks like I got good value on Jones based on his 2013 stats (7th in my league, drafted 10th overall), and I got him right in line with his ADP ranking (11.4 but 10th overall, tied with Hanley).  Maybe this isn’t the disaster I think it is.
  • 2nd round (#15 overall): Adrian Beltre-3B.   (Yahoo o-rank #13, 2013 #15, ADP 13th/13.2).  On the way back around, the way the draft worked out this was an either/or pick: Beltre versus homer-pick Bryce Harper.  As much as I like Harper in fantasy this year …. I had to go with positional scarcity and not pick a second outfielder back-to back with a gap of 20 picks coming.  That would have been disaster.  So we went with Beltre, who put up solid numbers last year in a hitters park.  Beltre represents some slight draft value: I got him two picks after he should have been going.  Fair enough.  I had so much issues with 3B last year that Beltre’s 30 homer capability should help.  I know he’s dealt with some ST injury issues … but he also just inherited major lineup protection in Prince Fielder.
  • 3rd round (#34): Alex Rios-OF  (Yahoo o-rank #44, 2013 #25, ADP 34th/35).    So, sitting here at pick #34 … the BPA was Evan Longoria … except that I already have a 3B, and I hate Longoria’s injury issues in fantasy.  I really wanted Freddie Freeman here and he went 1-2 picks beforehand.  Giancarlo Stanton was also sitting there.  I could have dropped down a couple slots from Rios and taken a pitcher … but the two SPs just after Rios in Yahoo’s rankings both have warts of their own (Felix Hernandez … is he 2013 version or 2011 version?  And Cliff Lee: do you want the best pitcher on a 90 loss team?).  So I said to heck with it and got Rios.  This was a reach by 2014 Yahoo rankings but not by his 2013 production … and was exactly in line with his ADP.   He gets some steals, he gets some homers.  I guess there’s worse players out there.  Plus he’s moved into a hitter’s park and joins a pretty fearsome lineup.  His numbers all ticked up after the trade last season, and if he’s hitting ahead of these big boppers his runs and OBP should only go up.  I dunno, we’ll see.
  • 4th round (#39): Giancarlo Stanton-OF (Yahoo o-rank #23, 2013 #222, ADP 24th/27.8).  One problem with the 3rd and 4th rounds is that its filled with outfielders.  People reach for the skill and pitchers (especially the pitchers, thanks to the weird strategy described above by one player).  So all that was here were Stanton and a couple of lesser outfielders in Jay Bruce and Jose Bautista.  Stanton s hould have gone at the end of the second round by ADP; why was he still available?  I audiby stated, “I have to take him” and drafted my third outfielder in four rounds.  But Stanton represents a pretty significant draft value here; ADP of 24th, drafted more than a round later.  My reservations about Stanton are simple: he plays for a sh*tty team with little lineup protection and he’s constantly hurt.  Buuut he can frigging hit.  He averages a homer every 16 ABs for his career.  One of these seasons he has to stay healthy right?  Either that or get traded to a contender in a major block-buster.  Nonetheless; this was too good a value to pass up, being the BPA by nearly a round an a half.  Had to take him.

However, taking three OFs presented me with a little bit of a problem.  I was now into the “gap” between the high-end middle infielders and the lower-end ones.  I had no problem waiting for a 2B and SS … but now I’d waited too long and was had to adjust some strategies on the fly.  However another issue arose that we’ll soon see: there’s still a TON of outfielders on the board who are of high quality … but I just can’t take a fourth outfielder this early.  So now I’m in jeopardy of overdrafting a bit for other positional players.

  • 5th round (#58): Kenly Janssen-RP (Yahoo o-rank #58, 2013 #52, ADP 49th/53.2).   One of my strategies this year was to get high-end closers … and I had my chance here and took it.  #1 closer Craig Kimbrel had just gone off the board two picks earlier.  Instead of looking at the likes of  Hunter Pence or Matt Kemp with this pick (I thought I could sneak out Pence and i’m not about to let Kemp torpedo a third successive fantasy season), I grabbed the 2nd best closer out there in Janssen.  This pick was exactly in line with Yahoo’s ranks but looks great when looking at ADP.  I’m happy with this: I’ll take a dominant healthy closer on a certain playoff team.
  • 6th round (#63): Greg Holland-RP (Yahoo o-rank #73, 2013 #36, ADP 62nd/62).  At this point I wrote down “Hosmer or Pence” as BPA.  But the a-formentioned OF issues made me hold off on Pence (as much as I wanted him; I think he is vastly underrated in fantasy this year),  Meanwhile I felt like there was still value on the board for 1B so I didn’t want to lock up the position just quite yet.  So I did a bit of an over-draft and grabbed Holland, the #3 closer on the market.  I like that; his numbers in 2013 indicate he performed better than his 2014 ranking, so perhaps I’ve got even better value here.

I now have two of the best closers out there.  Aroldis Chapman is hurt, Kimbrel went early and I’ve got the two next best guys.  They say never chase saves … and that the closer position is fraught with danger.  But these guys are solidly in hold of their jobs and shouldn’t be chased out of saves.  They both play for winning teams and should help me really get some saves this year.  I’m now in a position that I need to fill out the fielders so I can start finally focusing on pitchers.  I’ve got my eye on a couple of 2B and SS candidates … the trick is going to be to see how far I can wait to grab them.  There’s no need to grab them in the 7th/8th if I know they’re going to be there in the 12th…. that’s the game I will now play with 1B, C, 2B and SS.  Lets see how it plays out.

  • 7th round (#82): Mark Trumbo-1B/OF  (Yahoo o-rank #80, 2013 #66, ADP 53rd/56.0).  Nearly 20 picks roll past and when it comes back around to me Trumbo is by far and away the BPA by value.  Trumbo was 10 spots BEFORE Holland, who I got in the previous round.  I had to take him here.  This pick represents 30 picks of value by ADP.   34 homers, 100 rbi last year but middling .230 BA.  So far, I’m loaded up on power bats.  I’m happy enough with this pick frankly; i’ve got him as the 11th best 1B and he was probably the 15th such player taken.
  • 8th round (#87): Carlos Santana-C/1B  (Yahoo o-rank #94, 2013 #134, ADP 69th/74.0).  I’m not entirely happy with this pick: i had Santana last year and he hurt me.  It wasn’t that his numbers were bad; he just was constantly dinged up and missing time.   But when looking at the middle infielders I wanted, combined with the players who were in the BPA discussion right around this pick (Josh Hamilton, Elvis Andrus and Aroldis Chapman … all three of them hurt or major injury concerns), I grabbed Santana.  Catcher eligible but playing more 1B, 20 homers last year, still pretty good value when looking at ADP but a slight over-draft when looking at Yahoo’s rankings.  Sometimes you just have to grab who you can.  After-the-draft update: news came out today that Santana will be playing THIRD for the Indians, giving him a ton more positional flexibility.  Gotta like that.

Twenty more picks rolled by, and my decision to wait on middle infielders was still in play.  I had my eyes on two players in particular: Aaron Hill and J.J. Hardy.  I will admit that I waited too long on Hardy and he got snapped up, but as you’ll see I eventually grabbed Hill.  Instead of over-spending on middle infield at this point, I started grabbing pitchers that I liked.

  • 9th round (#106): Shelby Miller-SP (Yahoo o-rank #105, 2013 #76, ADP 110th/113.0).  So, the first starter I got is St. Louis’ #3 starter Shelby Miller.   I like this guy and cannot for the life of me understand why he’s Yahoo ranked 30 spots lower than his actual performance last year.  He’s only going to be better this year; the innings limits are off, he’s got a full year under his belt, and his 2013 peripherals were already great.  15 wins, nearly a K/inning.  Is it because he’s overshadowed in his own rotation by the specatular performance of Michael Wacha in the playoffs last year?  Maybe so; i’m happy with this pick.
  • 10th round (#111): Hyung-Jin Ru-SP (Yahoo o-rank #103, 2013 #85, ADP 124th/127.2).  Another under-valued guy, in my opinion.  Yahoo performer #85 last year; why does anyone think he’s regressing?  Plays for a near certain-playoff contender, plays in a huge home NL ball-park, has great stats.  I like these two starters.

I grabbed these two starters knowing I’d have another 20 picks to go … Hill and Hardy (my targets) still was available.   From here on out I needed merely a 2B/SS, one-two extra bats and the rest were filling up on starters and closers when I could get them.

  • 11th round (#130): Aaron Hill-2B (Yahoo o-rank #119, 2013 #402, ADP 124th/115.8).   Hill is one of the few guys who I targeted ahead of time as a guy to get.  He was hurt most of last year and thus his value has been depressed.  I think I got good value for him in the 11th round and feel he could be a contributor.  I wrote his name down as my target about 10 picks before hand and I got him.  SI.com’s fantasty team, it should be noted, *really* likes this guy and ranked him in as a 5th round talent.
  • 12th round (#135): Danny Salazar-SP (Yahoo o-rank #125, 2013 #336, ADP 154th/150.4).  Perhaps a bit of an overdraft here.  Yahoo had him ranked 25 spots higher than his ADP elsewhere.

I decided to wait, again, on Hardy b/c he was yahoo ranked #169 and I gambled he would get back to me.   I was also really targeting cuban slugger Jose Abreu (Yahoo #155).  I lost out on both just prior to my 13th rounder.  Damn.  Now I have no short stop solution and I missed out on a big slugger who I think may be a 30-homer guy.

  • 13th round (#154): Tony Cingrani-SP (Yahoo o-rank #141, 2013 #152, ADP 156th/156.8).  Another guy whose lower ranking I don’t get: Cingrani had a sub 3.00 ERA with 120 K’s in 104 innings last year.  All he does is wipe out hitters.  One of the guys in the room asked me if Cingrani was going to be “allowed” to throw enough innings in 2014 … the only reason he didn’t throw more was because the Reds kept sending him back down or to the bullpen when Jhonny Cueto returned from his D/L trips each time.   In 2014 Cingrani is in the rotation to stay and I fully expect a 200k season for a playoff-calibre team.  Works for me.
    14th round (#159): Jim Henderson-RP (Yahoo o-rank #157, 2013 #130, ADP 170th/175.0).  My strategy here was BPA for closers at the time.  Henderson was the 19th ranked closer on my sheet at this point and has good numbers.  His 2014 rank discounts his good 2013 performance.

I now have three established closers and there’s still some out there.  But, I’m still short a middle infielder and a couple of hitters.    From here out we’ll do some bargain shopping.

  • 15th round (#178): Shane Victorino-OF (Yahoo o-rank #111, 2013 #67, ADP 125th/129.0).  Victorino was sitting there as BPA with a 2013 ranking of #67 .. in the 15th round.  He’s next to Ryu in ADP, who I grabbed 5 rounds earlier.  20/20 capability, still healthy and happy in Boston.  I like this pick as a 4th outfielder.
  • 16th round (#183): Chris Archer-SP (Yahoo o-rank #175, 2013 #175, ADP 208th/209.0).  At this point I’m looking for the best SPs I can find, and I like Archer.  ADP however does not like Archer, at all.  I like this guy; yes its the AL east, but he’s on a strong Tampa team and he gets results.
  • 17th round (#202): Asdrubal Cabrera-SS (Yahoo o-rank #133, 2013 #267, ADP 171st/177.4).  Finally got my SS; BPA.  Actually getting yahoo #133 at pick #202 is pretty solid.  I don’t know anything about this guy; i see now that he was a 25 homer guy in 2011.  Interesting; lets hope he doe some rebounding.
  • 18th round (#207): J.J. Hoover-RP (Yahoo o-rank #340, 2013 #237, ADP 344th).  This is my speculative 4th closer for this league; instead of doing a crapshoot on Colorado or Houston’s closer-by-committee nonsense, I went with Hoover, who seems to be in line to cover for Chapman while he recovers.   We’ll see how it goes; if it turns out he’s not hte guy and Cincinnati is going with Sean Broxton or Sean Marshall I think they’re still available and I can be fast on the waiver wire.
  • 19th round (#226): Tim Hudson-SP (Yahoo o-rank #276, 2013 #299, ADP 311th).  Another speculative pick; I had Hudson marked down as a “late round flier” based on his moving to the cavernous ATT Park in San Francisco.  At this point in the draft i’m just looking for starters on either playoff-bound teams or worthwhile starters who are NL based and play in big parks … and that’s Hudson.  Remember, he’s a year removed from being the Ace of a division winning team.  I don’t think he’s done.
  • 20th round (#231): Brandon Belt-1B  (Yahoo o-rank #136, 2013 #106, ADP 142th).  I just happened to scan my master list and I couldn’t believe that Belt was still here.  He was Yahoo #106 performer last year and that was after a very slow start.  If he started slow and still finished nearly as a top 100 fantasy player, maybe he’s a top 50 player this year.  All that for a 20th round pick.  I got the #136 ranked yahoo guy at pick #231.  That’s some serious value.
  • 21st round (#250): Jake Odorizzi-SP (Yahoo o-rank #608, 2013 #548, ADP 445th).   With my last pick I went with best SP available and got Odorizzi, who is absolutely installed as the #5 starter in Tampa.  He’s young but he’s also well recommended and is the latest in a longer line of excellent pitching developed out of Tampa’s farm system.  My commissioner didn’t even know who Odorizzi was … which makes me wonder if he wasn’t a slight over-draft.  Nonetheless; my quick scan of the rest of the rotations didn’t leave much to be desired.

After the draft/Who is left:

I have a whole slew of names to monitor once the waiver wire hits.  There’s absolutely pitchers out there who I like and hitters who I think can contribute.   I sort of lost track towards the end of the draft, but think there’s still names out there on the waiver wire like Justin Morneau, Adam Lind, Anthony Rendon, Christian Yelich, John Lackey, Mike Leake, Wade Miley, Brett Oberholtzer, Jarred Coasrt, Jenrry Mejia and Nathan Eovaldi who I like and who I’ll be watching.  I also think I could be doing some quick waiver wire work to replace one of these lesser starters with the likes of Joe Kelly or Tanner Scheppers.  Or even Wade Miley, who amazingly didn’t get picked (unless my notes are failing me).

There’s also some higher-end prospects out there who may hot get callups for a bit but who could be impactful.  Javier Baez, George Springer, Avisail Garcia, Erik Johnson, and a few others who got dinged up in the spring.  These will be important names to monitor as we head into June and hit the Super-2 cutoff.

So, there’s some wiggle room.

 


So, here’s your team by position:

  • C: Santana (1B eligible, soon 3B eligible)
  • 1B: Trumbo (OF eligible), Belt
  • 2B: Hill
  • SS: Asdrubal Cabrera
  • 3B: Beltre
  • OF: Jones, Rios, Stanton, Victorino
  • SP: Miller, Ryu, Salazar, Cingrani, Archer, Hudson, Odorizzi
  • RP: Janssen, Holland, Henderson, Hoover

Team summary:  11 hitters, 8 starters, 4 relievers.  I have one extra hitter.  Looking at my team put together here’s where I think I’ll have strengths and weaknesses:

  • Hitting Strengths: I have a ton of power.  three 30+ homer guys to go with Stanton.  That will drive HR and RBI categories.  OPS to a certain extent will be good.
  • Hitting weaknesses: I don’t have much in the way of SB; Rios had 42, Victorino had 20.  Also, my average BA is only in the .275 range; that could be a weakness (Trumbo and Stanton really drag that down, as do my SS Cabrera).
  • Pitching Strengths: I don’t have a single pitcher with a whip above 1.2, and I have two premium and two decent closers, so Saves will be good.  I have good K/9 rates but not a ton of starters who have experience pitching a whole season; i’m definitely inexperienced there.  Also, my starters seem to be the kind of guys who go 15-9, not the kind of guys who go 18-6.  So I may struggles with lossses.  Most of my guys are also low ERA

A great week for me will see wins in HR, RBI, OPS and Runs on the hitting side, Wins, Saves, K’s and WHIP on the pitching side.  It may be tough for me to capture BA, Steals, Losses and ERA on a regular basis.

Draft Summary:

I got very few of the players that I really targeted ahead of time.  Lots of over-drafting in my league thanks to very specific strategies and very poor players.   Of course there were a ton of guys in the top 30 picks who I really wanted but I really got none of them.  Prince Fielder, Freddie Freeman, Strasburg/Kershaw/Darvish (I would have liked to at least get one of those three).  Further down I liked Matt Holliday, I really liked Matt Carpenter.  Once again David Ortiz seems vastly underrated and got snapped up too soon.  I really targeted Brian McCann as a catcher but got caught up with my Carlos Santana pick.  I’m not happy with myself over that one.

The big names that were deeper dives that I missed out on: Jose AbreuSonny Grey and especially David Murphy.  Someone snapped up newly minted KC #5 starter Yordano Ventura as I was contemplating getting him; that one hurt.

I did not pick up a D/L guy; I usually like to do that so that I can stash him immediately.

I look at my team and I guess i’m just kind of underwhelmed; I don’t have a superstar really to count on, I don’t have too many guys who I really wanted and think will overachieve.  In that respect I don’t like my team.  Maybe solid and boring will be a better recipe for success this year.

Did I follow my own pre-draft strategy?  For the most part yes.  I waited on SPs, reached for a 3B, waited on 1Bs, and got 4 closers.  I got a lot of NL-closers and AL-hitters.  I did not show much patience waiting for OFs and I feel like I reached for a catcher.

  • Best pick: you can’t argue with the value of Victorino and Belt.
  • Worst Pick: Maybe Salazar was too speculative at that point.
  • First guys dropped: Probably the lkes of Hudson and Hoover, maybe Odorizzi if he struggles out of the gate.
  • Best Upside/Chances of Overperforming:  Belt for sure; 20th round guy who might hit like a 4th rounder.
  • Worst Downside/Chances of Underperforming: Stanton is always an injury risk.   The rookie starters like Odorizzi and Salazar could be problematic.

 

2 Responses to 'My 2014 Fantasy Baseball Team'

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  1. From a Nat-centric perspective, it’s interesting that no one took Rendon, particularly in a draft in this area. If he clicks, he’s got a good shot at cracking the top 7-8 of 2B.

    We’ll try to be gentle on you for the Beltre pick after Harper goes off this year.

    It would seem that you’ve got a lot riding on your bargain-basement rotation. Good luck!

    KW

    27 Mar 14 at 12:36 pm

  2. Rendon: good point; I’m pretty sure he didn’t get picked. It was pushing midnight when we finished and the last couple rounds I didn’t track the picks as closely as I could have. But, he’s a sleeper for me and I liked him if it came to it.

    Beltre vs Harper; trust me, I would liked nothing else than to have grabbed a position OTHER than OF in the first round and then I would have happily gotten Harper there. But it just didn’t work out that way. I couldn’t take OF-OF first two rounds and then have a 20 pick gap.

    Rotation: some context; last year I went crazy for starters in the first 10 rounds. Like half my picks were starters. And they for the most part underperformed. Meanwhile the guy who waited and waited on starters got guys like Harvey, Miller, LIriano, etc. And he was a monster. So that’s what I shot for.

    Todd Boss

    27 Mar 14 at 2:36 pm

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