Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fantasy Baseball Dossier 3.0

"Showing you the way, leaving no doubt."

I'm more excited for fantasy baseball than I was for fantasy football...there's something you don't hear every day. However, I feel like the pool of players and the overall depth of really good young players has me giddy for Opening Day. Let's not waste any time and get into the theories I'm tossing around:

The Pay For Saves Theory:

Fantasy pundits have long shot down the whole notion of drafting closers in the early rounds because closers will be available once the season starts, and there are injury concerns, and blah blah blah. The fact is this: Right now, there are five legit closers who not only will help you with saves, but also ERA, WHIP, and Ks...
  1. Joakim Soria, KC- By far the best closer in baseball right now. He's young, lights out, and has no competition whatsoever...even Jonathan Papelbon will be pushed on by Daniel Bard. Speaking of which...
  2. Jonathan Papelbon, BOS- Ended '09 on probably the most negative note of his you honestly think he is going to let his reputation be completely besmirched due to one bad outing? I think he pitches with a giant chip on his shoulder (that, and wanting a long-term contract)
  3. Mariano Rivera, NYY- Wasn't he supposed to fade like five years ago...right after the '04 debacle? Well, here we are, and if you have a lead, you gotta go to Mo.
  4. Jonathan Broxton, LAD- Despite playing for LA, I'm not hearing a lot of "Broxton is a shut-down guy" like I thought I would be. He hasn't even come close to hitting his ceiling, and while LA may have somewhat of a down year (lack of starting pitching, but more so playing in probably the toughest division in baseball), Broxton will get at least 40 saves...and speaking of the NL West...
  5. Brian Wilson, SF- With Joe Nathan on the shelf, it leaves the door wide open for another closer to slip into the top 5. Enter Wilson. He's playing on a team that could make huge noise down the stretch, and more than likely will win 90 games. However, they don't have a ton of pop in their lineup, so the pitching will have a lot to do with their success. Wilson is as solid as they come, and due to his, and the Giants' still collective "under the radar" status, he will be able to continue to produce under somewhat anonymity.
My thinking is this: Why chance waiting for a closer to crop up when you can get a sure thing now? Drafting any one of these guys in the first six to seven rounds is a sound investment. After those five, you're looking at Brian Fuentes and, surprisingly, Andrew Bailey from Oakland being the only other "reliable" guys left. So this year, with question marks abound at the closer position, it may be wise to pick up a couple of the elite ones to assure some production there.

The Evan Longoria/Justin Upton Corollary:

In 2008, Evan Longoria barely played any time in the majors, and yet once he was about to be arbitration-ready, the Rays signed him to a six-year deal, with an option that could push it to nine years and $45 million. Justin Upton had a breakout year last year, and just received a six year deal worth a little over $50 million. Now while Longoria received his deal after just a couple of games, and Upton received his deal after almost a full season, I'm still thinking that Upton will be on the Longoria track of being really young, talented, rich, and having long-term stability. I'm not sure if we've seen the best of Upton yet, and he almost went for 25/25 in 138 games last year. He's a .300 hitter with everything...if you take him or Longoria at the end of the first round, rest assured that you will be seeing monster production that would justify a first round selection.

The Stockpiling of Young Arms Theory:

Here is something you can do once you start hitting the double-digit numbered rounds (or even before with guys like Lincecum, Grienke, Johnson, and Hanson). Let's use some #'s here to drive home how easy it actually is to build the second half of your pitching staff. Here are the pitchers you really need to keep an eye on come the 10th-11th rounds (average draft position in parentheses)
  1. Clayton Kershaw (111.1)
  2. Chad Billingsley (133.6)
  3. Jair Jurrjens (134.9)
  4. David Price (170.4)
  5. Clay Buchholz (170.9)
  6. Rick Porcello (186.0)
  7. Stephen Strasburg (200.5)
  8. Jonathan Sanchez (202.6)
  9. Aroldis Chapman (210.9)
  10. Brian Matusz (219.1)
A few things to note. First, Strasburg and Chapman have perhaps the biggest upside of anyone on this list, but they most likely will start off in the minors. Still, if you have space on your bench, those are two guys you absolutely want to keep around. Besides those two, you're almost guaranteed 15 wins, and in some cases (Kershaw and Sanchez most notably), close to 200 Ks. The reason I bring this up is that there is going to be options in the middle-to-late rounds that could really be beneficial to your staff, and that you don't necessarily have to break the bank to get an effective pitching group.

The Sneak In Jason Heyward Early In An Auction Draft Theory:

I, along with a great many I'm feeling, are intrigued with auction drafts. People have been doing these for years, but not since like two years ago has a platform, like ESPN (yeah I want to write for them, big woop, wanna fight about it?), brought it to the masses in a somewhat controlled environment. I love them actually. If you want to shoot the moon and get Pujols, Han-Ram, and A-Rod, you can absolutely make that happen. I think snake drafts create parity, while auction drafts create "chaotic parity." It's like "hey, so and so is in 5th place...but he has the top 5 guys in all of baseball, so I'm kind of concerned he'll sneak up on me via a trade or just them dominating." Very interesting indeed. So, getting to my original point. I've done a few of these, and what I'm noticing is that once you go through spring training, and the younger guys are just killing it, there's only so long when they will be "unknown" to the vast majority. Heyward is my prime example because I wanted him really bad back when the drafts were just kicking off...and now I'm feeling like a lot more people are sharing my enthusiasm about him. Anyway, the reason I'm thinking this might work is that in the beginning of these drafts, everyone starts off with the same amount of money. Obviously, as the picks progress, the financial disparity will become a lot clearer, and once you really get down to the nitty gritty, I've noticed there's always one or two guys who have "out-foxed" us all by waiting until everyone had no money, then dominating the sleepers towards the end of the draft. I do not like these people because, quite frankly, they're much more cleaver than I am...and I'll be damned if I'm out-cleavered. When you nominate a guy like Heyward early, you make people think a lot more about their long term answers than their immediates. The first few picks are not meant to be the sleepers, they are reserved for the stars. So, people will think stars...yet sneak Heyward in early, get him for five bucks, and it's a done deal. You wait too long, he'll go $10 easy. So, Heyward, or any major sleeper (outside of Strasburg, because he will start a bidding war regardless of where he goes) you want, throw them out super early...I feel like this is a winner, and hopefully this one is too (and...


The After You Get Your Major Sleeper, Nominate Everyone You Hate Or Think Is Wildly Overpriced Theory:

This is just human nature to me...that's what I tell them. Anyway, have everyone fill their spots and spend their money on guys you don't want whatsoever. Sure, in the later rounds, once everyone's money gets low, and they only have to fill two positions, this won't work, and you'll end up with a guy you don't want. However, in the first round of every draft, it's always Derek Jeter. I was going to call this "The Derek Jeter Theory," but I want to include everyone in this...even those despicable Yankee fans (gotcha!). So, even though Jeter is a fantastic player (miraculously by the way, simple physics point to him also declining five years ago), it is against ever fiber of my being to have him on my team. I can't...I won't. Think about it like this...if you're a giant Imperial Force backer, despite Boba Fett being everything that represents everything in the Star Wars Universe, you can't have him on your team...but you can have a figurine of him, or a '95 Jeter rookie card...signed (and authenticated!). So, get all those guys you can't stand out there right away, eat into other budgets, and, hopefully, you get street value on your guys and not new Natick Mall prices (whoooaaaa I so did!).

The Down On Philly Theory:

I'm not down on the team's production as a whole, but I'm down on everyone's individual stats. There is a chance that almost everyone in that lineup and coming off the mound had peak years in the last year or two. It's almost like there is no room for any up-kick in their numbers. Think about it...Utley, Howard, Rollins, Ibanez, long can they keep this up for? Same goes on the mound. Halladay, Hamels, and Lidge...I'm pretty sure we've seen the best from them as well. While I'm not saying that these guys will not have good numbers, it is completely unreasonable to expect that they all come through like they have been doing. If two guys could possibly make a rise, it will be Werth and Victorino...we may not have seen the best from them. Again, all of these guys are pretty solid, but for the most part, I can't see any of them hitting their lofty projections.

So there are a few theories to start off with. Next, here are the top ten players at each position, along with their ADP so you can kind of tell when each will be coming off the board:

  1. Joe Mauer (C/DH), MIN (12.6)
  2. Victor Martinez (C/1B), BOS (47.4)
  3. Matt Wieters, BAL (89.4)
  4. Brian McCann, ATL (43.9)
  5. Miguel Montero, ARI (143.0)
  6. Russell Martin, LAD (211.8)
  7. Ryan Doumit, PIT (188.1)
  8. Mike Napoli, LAA (213.5)
  9. Jorge Posada, NYY (145.5)
  10. Yadier Molina, STL (182.6)
Sleepers: Buster Posey, SF (260.0); Carlos Santana, CLE (260.0)

First Basemen:
  1. Albert Pujols, STL (1.1)
  2. Prince Fielder, MIL (7.2)
  3. Mark Teixeira, NYY (10.6)
  4. Miguel Cabrera, DET (11.8)
  5. Ryan Howard, PHI (13.2)
  6. Joey Votto, CIN (41.4)
  7. Adrian Gonzalez, SD (27.9)
  8. Kendry Morales, LAA (59.8)
  9. Derrek Lee, CHC (80.7)
  10. Justin Morneau, MIN (47.7)
Sleepers: Chris Davis, TEX (145.5); Garrett Jones (1B/OF), PIT (207.1); Justin Smoak, TEX (260.0)

Second Basemen:
  1. Chase Utley, PHI (5.9)
  2. Brian Roberts, BAL (42.4)
  3. Ian Kinsler, TEX (24.2)
  4. Dustin Pedroia, BOS (32.4)
  5. Robinson Cano, NYY (32.3)
  6. Ben Zobrist (2B/RF), TB (64.2)
  7. Aaron Hill, TOR (73.2)
  8. Brandon Phillips, CIN (44.5)
  9. Dan Uggla, FLA (111.2)
  10. Placido Polanco, PHI (186.7)
Sleepers: Casey McGehee (2B/3B), MIL (216.1); Scott Sizemore, DET (221.5)

Third Basemen:
  1. Alex Rodriguez, NYY (3.2)
  2. Evan Longoria, TB (13.4)
  3. Pablo Sandoval (3B/1B), SF (34.9)
  4. Ryan Zimmerman, WSH (32.9)
  5. David Wright, NYM (15.1)
  6. Kevin Youkilis (3B/1B), BOS (38.6)
  7. Gordon Beckham (3B/2B), CWS (87.6)
  8. Mark Reynolds, ARI (45.5)
  9. Chone Figgins, SEA (72.5)
  10. Aramis Ramirez, CHC (56.0)
Sleepers: Jorge Cantu (3B/1B), FLA (159.8); Kevin Kouzmanoff, OAK (236.3); Pedro Alvarez, PIT (260.0)

  1. Hanley Ramirez, FLA (2.4)
  2. Troy Tulowitzki, COL (20.8)
  3. Derek Jeter, NYY (25.4)
  4. Elvis Andrus, TEX (94.8)
  5. Jimmy Rollins, PHI (28.6)
  6. Yunel Escobar, ATL (132.2)
  7. Stephen Drew, ARI (110.1)
  8. Alcides Escobar, MIL (175.7)
  9. Erick Aybar, LAA (155.1)
  10. Alexei Ramirez, CWS (130.4)
Sleepers: Everth Cabrera, SD (222.5); Ryan Theriot, CHC (207.7)

Outfielders (overall OF rank by name):

Left Field:
  1. Ryan Braun (1), MIL (4.6)
  2. Carl Crawford (5), TB (10.8)
  3. Matt Holliday (7), STL (21.3)
  4. Jason Bay (9), NYM (45.4)
  5. Adam Lind (LF/DH) (10), TOR (42.9)
  6. Johnny Damon (17), DET (96.1)
  7. Carlos Quentin (18), CWS (99.5)
  8. Manny Ramirez (22), LAD (85.1)
  9. Carlos Lee (24), HOU (56.9)
  10. Raul Ibanez (26), PHI (103.7)
Sleepers: Nolan Reimold, BAL (155.3); Matt LaPorta (LF/1B), CLE (225.5)

Center Field:
  1. Matt Kemp (3), LAD (8.8)
  2. Jacoby Ellsbury (CF/LF) (4), BOS (20.8)
  3. Grady Sizemore, (8) CLE (31.7)
  4. B.J. Upton (11), TB (48.6)
  5. Adam Jones (13), BAL (69.8)
  6. Shane Victorino (16), PHI (76.0)
  7. Curtis Granderson (19), NYY (57.0)
  8. Andrew McCutchen (23), PIT (87.1)
  9. Carlos Beltran (25), NYM (116.4)
  10. Franklin Guiterrez (27), SEA (158.4)
Sleepers: Cody Ross (CF/RF), FLA (200.9); Drew Stubbs, CIN (260.0)

Right Field:
  1. Juston Upton (2), ARI (18.3)
  2. Jayson Werth (6), PHI (42.4)
  3. Ichiro Suzuki (12), SEA (28.0)
  4. Nelson Cruz (14), TEX (65.4)
  5. Nick Markakis (15), BAL (62.3)
  6. Shin-Soo Choo (RF/LF) (20), CLE (75.8)
  7. Jason Heyward (21), ATL (164.9)
  8. Andre Ethier (28), LAD (59.0)
  9. Jay Bruce (29), CIN (105.6)
  10. Jason Kubel (LF/RF/DH) (30), MIN (134.2)
Sleepers: Kyle Blanks, SD (220.7), Elijah Dukes (260.0)


Starting Pitchers:
  1. Tim Lincecum (1), SF (9.7)
  2. Felix Hernandez (2), SEA (19.6)
  3. CC Sabathia (3), NYY (21.9)
  4. Zack Grienke (4), KC (25.5)
  5. Roy Halladay (5), PHI (12.7)
  6. Jon Lester (6), BOS (39.5)
  7. Johan Santana (8), NYM (51.1)
  8. Dan Haren (10), ARI (32.8)
  9. Josh Johnson (11), FLA (75.1)
  10. Cliff Lee (14), SEA (43.7)
  11. Yovani Gallardo (15), MIL (65.0)
  12. Chris Carpenter (16), STL (54.9)
  13. Adam Wainwright (17), STL (43.9)
  14. Justin Verlander (18), DET (44.3)
  15. Clayton Kershaw (21), LAD (111.2)
  16. Tommy Hanson (22), ATL (76.3)
  17. Brandon Webb (23), ARI (89.0)
  18. Josh Beckett (26), BOS (67.0)
  19. Jair Jurrjens (27), ATL (135.0)
  20. Jake Peavy (28), CWS (99.7)
  21. Wandy Rodriguez (29), HOU (108.5)
  22. Javier Vazquez (31), NYY (69.2)
  23. Chad Billingsley (32), LAD (133.6)
  24. Matt Cain (34), SF (91.9)
  25. Ubaldo Jimenez (35) (97.6)
  26. Ricky Nolasco (36), FLA (91.1)
  27. Clay Buchholz (37), BOS (171.1)
  28. Matt Garza (38), TB (138.8)
  29. David Price (39), TB (170.4)
  30. Cole Hamels (40), PHI (93.8)
Sleepers: Rick Porcello, DET (186.0); Jonathan Sanchez, SF (202.5); Aroldis Chapman, CIN (211.0); Brian Matusz, BAL (218.9)

Relief Pitchers:
  1. Joakim Soria (7), KC (86.0)
  2. Jonathan Papelbon (9), BOS (77.2)
  3. Mariano Rivera (12). NYY (56.9)
  4. Jonathan Broxton (13), LAD (59.9)
  5. Brian Wilson (19), SF (119.9)
  6. Brian Fuentes (20), LAA (158.5)
  7. Andrew Bailey (24), OAK (103.5)
  8. Francisco Rodriguez (25), NYM (86.4)
  9. Heath Bell (30), SD (105.8)
  10. Francisco Cordero (33) (109.8)
Sleepers: David Aardsma, SEA (179.2), Neftali Feliz, TEX (222.1)

Designated Hitters:
  1. David Ortiz, BOS (168.6)
  2. Hideki Matsui, LAA (173.6)
  3. Vladimir Guerrero, TEX (157.3)
  4. Jim Thome, MIN (260.0)
  5. Andruw Jones, CWS (260.0)
  6. Ken Griffey, Jr., SEA (260.0)
  7. Travis Hafner, CLE (260.0)
  8. Pat Burrell, TB (260.0)
  9. Mike Sweeney, SEA (260.0)
  10. Mike Jacobs, NYM (260.0)

So, we have the position ranks in place. Now, I'm going to show you what my ideal roster is looking like based on ADP, position eligibility, and the roster size based on ESPN's game (hypothetical round taken in parentheses)...

The "Dream Team"

C- Matt Wieters (9th)
1B- Prince Fielder (1st)
2B- Dan Uggla (14th)
3B- Evan Longoria (2nd)
SS- Elvis Andrus (11th)
1B/3B- Joey Votto (5th)
2B/SS- Alcides Escobar (19th)
OF- Jacoby Ellsbury (3rd)
OF- Jayson Werth (4th)
OF- Shane Victorino (8th)
OF- Jason Heyward (15th)
OF- Kyle Blanks (23rd)
UTIL- Gordon Beckham (10th)
BN- Matt LaPorta (25th)

P- Joakim Soria (6th)
P- Josh Johnson (7th)
P- Clayton Kershaw (12th)
P- Brian Wilson (13th)
P- Brian Fuentes (16th)
P- Clay Buchholz (17th)
P- David Price (18th)
P- Rick Porcello (20th)
P- Brian Matusz (22nd)
BN- Stephen Strasburg (21st)
BN- Aroldis Chapman (24th)

Sure, there are some stretches here, but all and all, very realistic...and very potent as well. You have to center your offense around a "bopper" in my opinion. Having a guy you know will go for 40/100 is a must, which is why Prince Fielder is pretty much my first round pick in every single draft (this is of course assuming that Pujols, Hanley, and Braun are off the board). The power continues with Longoria, Werth, Votto, and Uggla. From those four, I'm relying on three of them going for at least 30 homers. I then go to the next extreme and go for the real, real fast guys. Jacoby, Victorino, Andrus, and Escobar will all hover around 35 steals, with Jacoby and Andrus going for 50 or more. I'm feeling like all the speed and power that I've collected will hedge my bet on future production (Wieters, Heyward, Beckham, Blanks, and LaPorta). The reason I continue to be so huge on Heyward is that the Braves will have to score runs somehow, and outside of McCann and McClouth, there really isn't a whole lot going on there. He's going to start on Opening Day as well, so you won't have to worry about whether or not he'll play this year...oh, he'll play. In regards to Wieters and Beckham, they have already made impacts in the majors, so expecting both to have breakout years seems to make sense. Beckham is an extremely attractive option once we get about two weeks into the season. Right now, he's only eligible at third, but he is slated to be the White Sox' starting second baseman, meaning he will gain eligibility at both third and second, a very rare combo.

Next, the pitching staff. You need an "ace," and what happens is that you have four guys that fit that mold this year (Lincecum, Hernandez, Sabathia, Grienke), but you also have a few guys down the line that fill a similar need (Johnson, Carpenter, Verlander, Gallardo), so as long as you're able to get in on either an ace or a pseudo-ace, you have a nice jump off point. As I mentioned in my "pay for saves" theory, there are five closers you have to have. Ideally, you want two, which is what I came up with here. It's breaking down in a snake draft that Soria and Wilson are the two I'm ending up with. The rest of the staff rounds out something like this: really, really young starting pitchers. There are, in my opinion, the "Super Seven" young starters, and if I have the team go this way, I'll get them all, which is nuts. Kershaw is fifteen W's and 200 Ks in the bank. He's by far the biggest non-risk of the bunch. Then, there is the middle ground with Clay, Price, and Porcello. These are guys who will get 12-14 Ws and 150 Ks, totally solid, no questions asked. Then, there's the big risk, big reward guys. Matusz is the #2 behind Millwood in Baltimore. With the O's poised to finish around .500, I'm thinking Matusz going for 14-16 wins is not out of the question. The two on my bench, Strasburg and Chapman, are even bigger risks because both likely will not be in the majors at the start of the season. However, upon entry, they may come with Valenzuela-like numbers once they are in their respective rotations...that's how good both of them are right now. The first time through each team's lineups they will face, they're probably going to be super-dominant, and if the other teams do get wiser on either of them, it will be at the tail-end of the season, meaning the damage would have been done long before that point. You absolutely need a second pitch in the majors, but for young pitchers in their first go-around, speed kills.

So, there are a few of my thoughts on the world of fantasy baseball. Thanks for getting all the way through it, and if you decided to skip down through all of it just to see how I would wrap things up, you are also to be thanked. Take care everyone. Peace.


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