Hello again everybody! It’s good to see you. I’ve been somewhere a lot of people don’t usually go, well adults any way. I’ve been lost in the mental vacuum that happens every year right before my fantasy baseball draft. It’s a lonely place. One inhabited by nerds, geeks and the mentally unstable, but, fortunately, no vampires! The beauty of baseball to the connoisseur (We may be geeks, but that doesn’t mean we’re not refined!!) is in the numbers, and when you study for a six-by-six draft the numbers can be mind-numbing. Those of you that have read me here for a while might be stunned to discover that I can over-think things once in a while. LOL! My thought process here is that I’m going to be married to these players for the next 26 weeks, so I might as well have players that don’t make me want to throw things. And that might have a chance of occurring since, as the great philosopher Charlie Sheen once said, “The only thing I’m addicted to right now, is WINNING!”
Not unlike what the players are about to face, the next 6 months are going to be an everyday mental grind. I need players I like to watch, since I will be watching them a lot. It would help if they have a great year too. I know that isn’t always going to happen, but if I can pick the guys I want, I can live with it.
It is a labor of love, (for baseball and cash!) so I can’t wait for the season to start.
In our new format, (WARNING- further reading could cause nausea, dizziness or indifference!!)
6x6 rotisserie (aka roto)
Runs, HR’s, RBI’s, Steals, on-base%, Slugging%
Innings pitched, Quality starts, Saves, ERA, WHIP, K’s per nine innings
I felt the draft was even more important since none of us has used this format before. Not that it is rocket science, but in roto it can get difficult to make up ground once you get behind in a category. Add to this our rosters were different. For the first time, we drafted from both leagues. You would think this would make for an ample talent base, but that would be wrong when you draft 30 players for each of the 11 teams. I was amazed. That’s only 330 of the current 750 major leaguers but the wall we hit in around round 17 was more like a cliff. That’s because you’re weighing plusses and minuses that are very exaggerated. A batter might be good for steals, but he kills your slugging %. A pitcher may get you innings and quality starts, but doesn’t strike out enough people. From the beginning on this is the process. Hopefully your first couple of guys can help in 6 categories, but from then on it’s a process of finding whose weaknesses are less glaring.
Our rosters are imbalanced with 17 batters and 10 pitchers going live every day. (Each roster has a three-man bench) Therefore, I felt compelled to go for a lot of offense early. This is as much tactical as it is to keep my interest. Who wants a team with a bad offense? Not this Guy! I want a team that hits and I’ll figure out the pitching later. Kind of like how the Cubs are growing their minor league system. Pow! You can’t massage on-base and slugging percentages. But with the right relievers, you can move your ERA, WHIP, K/9 numbers in the right direction.
Most will tell you power rules, but I want more balanced hitters. I think if you draft good all-around hitters, you will have very good offensive numbers across the board. My focus was on guys with very good OBP’s. And guess what I found? These guys have very good numbers in the other five categories as well. How cool is that? The problem was that everyone else could see this too. So there comes a time when you have to make a choice on what you want to prioritize. I just kept taking hitters with high OBP’s. Pitching comes later.
Two things here.
- I think guys who get on base all the time, for most of their careers, will have less variance to their career numbers. Sluggers can be all over the road. Now this might work out, but it’s more luck. And this is something I don’t know if everyone always grasps. This is a futures market. It’s about this year. The past can be a good barometer, but it isn’t a guarantee. Look at the back of some baseball cards for proof. Who besides Stan Musial and Albert Pujols has the same exact numbers every year?
- There are always pitchers that come out of nowhere every year. Starters and relievers. How good was Paul Maholm for the Cubs last year? Lance Lynn for the Cardinals? Jarrod Parker for the A’s? Fernando Rodney for the Rays? R.A. Dickey for the Mets? There will be a new group this year. Some will be names you know, and some not. Those are the guys I want to use my waiver moves on.
And speaking of waivers, that’s where the true sickness of this adventure comes in. Anyone knows the names they see in the paper every day or on the highlight shows. And you need a bunch of those guys. That’s how you win. But much like the real thing, everyone on the roster must contribute to claim the big prize. For me, this is where the time-suck happens. It’s a thing that causes me to question my sanity at times.
Take for instance, and this is only one example out of a sample size that is far too large to quantify, immediately after our nearly three hour draft Monday night (Much to my surprise and amazement, my internet never went down the whole time. First thing Tuesday when I tried to turn it on, it was down; thank you fantasy baseball gods!!) I went through the list of available players on the waiver wire and came up with about 10 that I could live with on my roster, after about two hours of research. The question then becomes, which of these players do I need on my roster before someone else can take them?
Three years ago, I took David Hernandez after one of these late night sessions. Do you know who he is? He’s a setup reliever for Arizona. He also had starter eligibility. I was able to keep him in a starter slot all year, giving me an advantage over other bullpens. I’m convinced this was the move that enabled me to win that year. It also cursed me into thinking that a diamond in the rough exists every year. I just have to find him.
So this year I wrestled for two days, before our first waiver period the merits of Michael Cuddyer, who I drafted, versus Jon Jay, whom no one drafted. Cuddyer had a down year last year, but hitting in Coors field, in the five-hole he has plenty of power and RBI potential. Jon Jay is going to hit leadoff for one of the best offenses in baseball. He has a pretty good OPB and should score a ton of runs. But Cuddyer has 1B and RF eligibility. I can move him all over the roster. Jay has only CF eligibility. Cuddyer is being dropped by a lot of people using the same website as I do. Why is that? Will he lose time to Tyler Colvin in right? Everything I can read says he’s the starter, including the Rockies website. So why are all these people dropping him?
So yeah, maybe, he might lose some time to Colvin but they have a 40-year-old Todd Helton at 1B and he’s an injury waiting to happen, Cuddyer would be the starter there then. Infielders that can hit are valuable when I have to have so many hitting every day. And did I mention he hits in Coors Field? Jay is a really nice hitter, and should play more often this year. And at 28 he should be hitting his prime. He had a career high 19 steals last year. Could he have more now that he has the leadoff spot all to himself from the beginning of the year? Do I need more steals or power? What flexibility would I have if I lose an infielder? Would it be easier to find another outfielder or 1B on the waiver wire?
I could go on and on. (I heard that!) And I did. That was until I found out that my starting third baseman, David Freese, was going on the disabled list. We are allowed to put one player on the DL and add another player in his spot for as long as he is out. Problem solved; sort of. What if someone takes him before the Freese DL move can happen. And why if Freese’s DL stint is all over the news, is he not designated that way yet on my website? I can’t move him to the DL until he has the freaking DL next to his name! That was my dilemma after work Tuesday night after work and I debated it for a while.
When I looked up at the clock it had been two hours. Two hours!! Finally I decided I couldn’t decide between the two players and by the time I woke up hopefully I could move Freese and Jay would still be available. It was very late and time to go to bed. My fantasy fate, like Derrick Rose’s return date, was in god’s hands! (I know some of you were wondering how and when I could reference the Rose situation in a fantasy baseball blog. Now you know. BOO-YA!!)
As fate would have it, the big man was on my side and I was able to make my move. Nice. Then I turned on a Grapefruit League game featuring my Phillies playing the Tigers. I wonder if the Tigers will use their new closer, rookie Bruce Rondon, on consecutive days to see how he handles it? He’s had an up and down spring, but he’s supposed to be their closer. On a team that will win a lot of games. That’ why I drafted him. That and the fact that he can throw it 100 mph. I love guys who can throw 100! Hey wait. He’s in. He looks clueless. Uh oh. He doesn’t look comfortable at all. He’s got no command. Jim Leyland doesn’t look happy. This can’t be good. And it wasn’t. For him or me, as he got sent down yesterday. Yikes. Who’s going to close now? Any of 4 guys? Which one of them do I take? They’re all available. I need to choose right. In spite of what I can see everyone else doing, Benoit, I’m going to take Phil Coke.
Big man? You still there?
And so it goes.
At least the beginning of my draft worked out a little better. I drafted Mike Trout with the first pick and when it came time to pick again with #’s 22 and 23, Jayson Heyward and Bryce Harper will still on the board so I immediately took them. I thought I had a good chance at Heyward. I figured he, or the guy who will hit right behind him, Justin Upton would fall to me, and I would be happy with either one. I had to choose between them. Tough choice. But at the time I didn’t care because I never thought Harper would ever get to me. Being at the end of a snake draft takes a long time. For me it was 20 picks. You see a lot of names you like go off the board during that 20. When the time comes to make your two picks make them count, because you won’t be picking for a while.
In all of my research, I saw Harper go anywhere from 12 to the mid-thirties. Mid-thirties? And this was from people who get paid to give fantasy advice. Whatever!
I think Harper is going to be a monster this year. And better yet. He’s going to be right in the middle the best offense in baseball this year. Well that’s if Trout and the Angels aren’t better.
I can’t believe how nervous I was as the picks wound down and my turn approached. I know my luck and I was convinced someone would take him before me. In fact, I was sure it would happen in the pick right before mine, #21.
It was a rush when it didn’t happen. He was mine. Did I just type that sentence? Am I an adult?
Anyway, everything that happened after that, I was fine with. Well, my distorted mental state fine.
I’m ready for baseball. I’m done with winter. I’m back with my obsession.
And for what will more than likely be the only time, I’ll have a summer of Harper and Trout.
Two five-tool guys, playing for my team.
Schneiders Tool Belt.