A LABR Draft Is A Lot Of Work!
The LABR Mixed League draft is appropriately named, but I felt like I was laboring hard on Tuesday night! My wife would say that I have no idea hard labor is, but then again she has never had to draft a fantasy baseball team against some of the toughest competition in the business.
There is no chance that an owner will leave a draft like the one for LABR feeling completely happy with their team. The competition is simply too good. And true to form, I’m not completely satisfied with my team. I accomplished most of my goals, but there is plenty more work to do. I’m not going to break down every pick, because I don’t think anyone would want to read it, but here is my roster!
C – Rosario, Lucroy
CI – Encarnacion, Castellanos, I.Davis
MI – Prado, Hardy, Infante
OF/U – Pence, Crisp, Pagan, Calhoun, Hart, M. Cabrera
Bench – Kubel, Parra
SP – Darvish, Salazar, Ross, Kazmir, Quintana, Peralta
RP – Kimbrel, G. Holland, Cishek
Bench – W. Chen, W. Rodriguez, Putz, Z. McAllister
In the big picture, I followed almost all of my usual patterns:
1. I was willing to draft catchers early. I know they are risky, but I believe that they represent good values at the draft table because many owners avoid them in early rounds. Rosario and Lucroy will allow my team to potentially have 14 productive hitters, rather than being limited with a player like John Jaso or Geovany Soto.
2. I was willing to draft pitchers early, especially closers. I had a goal of leaving the draft with three closers, but they didn’t necessarily have to be of such a high quality. That being said, I seem to end up with Kimbrel often, since many owners don’t want to be the first owner to pay for saves. I know that Holland and Kimbrel will have an extremely positive effect on my ERA and WHIP. By offsetting the three-closer plan with high-strikeout starters like Darvish, Salazar and Kazmir, I should be able to stay near the top of the league in strikeouts, saves, ERA and WHIP.
3. I’m boring! Most of my early-round picks are pretty safe. Barring injury, it’s hard to see players like Darvish, Encarnacion, Kimbrel, Pence and Holland being busts. And some of my middle-round selections were also yawners, such as Lucroy, Prado, Hardy, Crisp, Pagan, Cishek and Infante. I’m not usually the guy who makes the flashy pick early in a draft, or uses an unusual-but-potentially-genius strategy. I like to have depth, and productive veteran are the best way to build depth. I will likely miss out of this year’s big breakout players, just like every year. But that’s ok – you don’t need those players to win a league, because for every breakout, there are five busts. I dabbled with some uncertain values late in the draft such as Castellanos, Calhoun, I. Davis and Kazmir, but that’s as risky as I get!
I missed one of my targets, and that was with stolen bases. It has been well documented that steals declined across the Majors last season. And in hindsight, I should have been more aggressive in my pursuit of speed early on in the draft. My mistake was filling my middle infield with players who run about as fast as I do! Martin Prado, J.J. Hardy and Omar Infante will likely combine for 10-15 swipes this season. Since it’s rare to get steals from catchers or corner infielders, my strong recommendation is that all fantasy owners get at least one 25-steal middle infielder this season. Without speed from the middle infield position, it puts on too much pressure to get two or three speedy outfielders.
There’s only one way to address my lack of speed at this point – make trades! I may be able to hear the collective groans of my 14 league mates all the way up here in Canada when they read the previous sentence! If I have one dominant quality as a fantasy owner, it’s that I make a lot (too many) trades. I make some of the best trades and some of the worst trades that you’ll ever see. Last season, many of my trades worked out well and I won the league. In 2012 I traded Miguel Cabrera for four fairly useless bums and watched my team plummet down the standings. I’m not afraid to pull the trigger on deals, and I will open my store for business right away. Some fantasy owners don’t understand why someone would want to trade right after a draft, but let’s be honest – from a different draft position my team would have been comprised of many different players. Had I picked third overall, I would have had 7-10 different players after 10 rounds of the draft. And, there are likely other owners who would have targeted some of my players if they had the chance. There is also likely an owner who came out of the draft with too many steals, and is looking for power or pitching. I hope to make a trade prior to Opening Day, or at least to touch base with many of my league mates. That’s really the best part of fantasy baseball – the back and forth, and the conversations that surround trade talks. Any owner who closes himself off to trade talks is really missing out, in my opinion! And it will be really hard for the 2014 LABR Mixed League owners to miss out with me around!