Chronicle of a Primetime Plan
Posted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 7:19 am
Between the two, the 12-team format is the greater test of skill than the 15-team. The Online Championship is like a blitz. It takes landing 5 or 6 of the season’s top players to win the overall. For instance, last year’s winner had both Cy Young winners AND Yu Darvish. He drafted Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura, AND Jacoby Ellsbury. It is a fun, less-expensive competition, but winning the overall has as much to do with fortune as skill.
The Primetime is the polar opposite. It takes all skill (and perhaps a bit of fortune) to take down this competition. It may be for this reason the entries remain lower in the Primetime than the Main Event each year. Every league seems stacked with talented drafters. Last year’s Overall #1, #2 & #6 teams were all in the same league with each other. The league I joined this year has 3 top-15 teams from last year’s Primetime, and several other talented owners, as well.
It is for this reason, that the Knuckleheads submitted their flagship team to this contest. This draft is undertaken to compete with the best, in the toughest competition.
The Structure: I would probably draft as many teams as the Upon Further Review boys would like. But each year, it seems I go one competition further than they care to participate. The results so far have been mediocre at best, but it does give me a chance to indulge in drafting a team with my sole discretion and strategies.
Pre-Draft Planning: Each year, ADP has played a slightly different role in draft preparation for me. This year, the plan was to avoid looking at ADP until my draft board was complete. I did not want to be influenced in my rankings by the masses. Once the board was complete, I listed the ADPs of each player next to their name for quick reference in determining how long a player is likely last in the draft. For the players who I thought would be drafted significantly higher than their ADP, I also listed the highest draft position at which the player had been drafted.
My participation was to be in the March 30, Las Vegas/Online teleconference draft. For those who haven’t participated in a mixed draft like this before, the guys on phone get to see the draft board, but have no access to an online draft room. This becomes quite annoying by round 15 when minimizing the zoom on your monitor no longer results in seeing the full draft board. By-phone drafters are left continuously scrolling up on the draft board to see who is being taken. It literally is drafting live, but by phone. I actually prefer the format despite the logistical challenges.
Draft Strategies: Star players are far more valuable in the 12-team format as there is always decent talent available by FAAB to replace average players who don’t pan out. I was awarded the #8 draft position. I felt this spot gave me a good chance at choosing between 1 or 2 of the likely dropping 5-category hitters in round 1. Drafting 8th and 5th in alternating rounds makes it much easier to withstand runs, and take “best available players” with less care given to “needs” than when drafting on the bookends of a draft.
- Come out of rounds 1&2 with a 5-category hitter and either a top Ace or top MI.
- Mid-round pitchers will be targeted from the same wish list as the UFR draft:
- Be willing to wait late for outfielders as they should be plentiful at the end of the draft.
- Catch the falling Stopper at Closer. Get at least one big strike-out closer.
- Be willing to take the plunge on players starting the year on DL with positive outlooks for return (Chapman, Hamels, Iwakuma, and Minor). The reserve roster should have talent to replace them in the short run.
- Doggedly pursue big-strikeout pitchers.
- Consider drafting 3 Aces in first 6 rounds.
Re: Chronicle of a Primetime Plan
Posted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 7:23 am
The Draft: With no draft room comes no queue to load. I decided to create “short lists” leading to each pick during the draft the same as I would load the queue, to hopefully avoid getting caught off-guard for the inevitable scoops. It’s from those short lists that I will review my thought process throughout the draft.
Round 1 Pick #8 – Robinson Cano – Not sure what the historical record is for earliest betrayal of draft strategy, but my new record is pick #8 in round 1. I was hoping that one of Braun, Cargo, or maybe even McCutchen might fall to #8. As a fall-back, I planned to take A. Jones. Well, Trout went 2nd, Goldschmidt lasted to #6, but all of my top-5 ranked OFs went in the first 7 picks. I can imagine that the guys in the draft room must have wondered what was wrong with the guy on the phone who seemed locked up by the eighth pick, but I was left trying to decide between Cano and C. Davis. I just didn’t want either as my first pick. With recent news of Kershaw’s (minor) injury, I was eye-balling him to last until round 2, and went with Cano’s better average and bit of speed over Davis’ power potential. Ugh. I felt Ugh.
Round 2 (#17) – Stephen Strasburg – Kershaw went immediately after Cano at pick #9. Four picks going out to #12 and 3 picks back I am considering Tulo, Kipnis, and Strasburg. Never having planned it, I am now looking at a Cano/Tulo start to the draft and I was comfortable with that plan until Tulo is drafted the pick before mine. I have Kipnis ranked right ahead of Strasburg, and I consider a 2B/2B start, but I can’t make the plan coagulate in my brain and I choose the Strikeouts. I feel exhausted 17 picks into the draft, but I am glad to have a staff anchor.
Round 3 (32) – Ian Desmond – M. Bumgarner, F. Hernandez, C. Lee, and J. Fernandez are all there for the taking, but so is my #2 ranked SS. With four of my favorite pitchers still available, and only eight picks until my round-4 selection, I’m confident (hopeful) one will slip back to me. I go with the 5-category-light SS.
Round 4 (#41) – Billy Hamilton - I am starting to feel the effects of a talented league. Not one of the targeted pitchers even pretends to make it back to me. The Low Talkers go 2-for-2 in helping me make my decision in even-numbered rounds by taking Albert Pujols the pick before mine. B. Hamilton stands alone on my short list. I have ranked S. Marte higher than Hamilton, but Cano catches my eye as I look back over my roster. Cano and Davis are the round-1 picks that I thought Hamilton could balance nicely. I think about the late-round, OF power thugs I’d like to take if I could only disregard the need for incremental speed late in the draft. Time is running out and I take the Billy Hamilton plunge. As I write down the pick I start to consider S. Marte making it back to me in round 5 and I realize, when you take Billy Hamilton in round 4, you’ve cast your lot with him. Marte won’t make sense for this team now. This is a Billy Hamilton or bust team for SB. I turn my eye to Greinke, Tanaka, Y. Molina and W. Rosario.
Round 5 (#56) – Masahiro Tanaka – Three catchers are drafted after Hamilton, including Rosario. Greinke is gone as well. Marte is still available, and I feel he is an absolute steal at this point. I try to make that plan work in my mind, but it won’t. I check my pitcher rankings and Tanaka stands alone. His 92 ADP tempts me once again. I’ve tried to let Tanaka “slip” in two previous drafts and he never made it back to me. I believe Tanaka’s the real deal. I can forget a 3-Ace strategy at this point. If I let Tanaka slip, then I may have to forget the 2-Ace strategy. I shamefully pass on Marte.
Round 6 (#65) – Yadier Molina – 3 closers have been drafted and Uehara (my #2) is still available. J. Donaldson is my favorite remaining 3B, and W. Myers is also available. I’ve made a habit of drafting Myers this year. Jose Abreu is my top-ranked 1B, but I really give him no consideration. While I think he might be productive, I find I don’t believe it, yet. Molina is the sole remaining catcher that I feel warrants a single-digit draft round and I take what I feel is a safe pick.
The draft has been intense for me to this point. I have four hitters who combined may not out-homer Chris Davis. As a pang of anxiety starts to creep in, I remember that I plan to get power late. Incidentally, I’ve marked B. Hamilton down for 70 steals, but I am greedily hoping for some gaudy number north of 70. I’ll be a fan moving forward, but in reality, it’s now Hamilton or bust for me in the steals category. I say a little prayer that he will be able to hit.
Round 7 (#80) – Josh Donaldson – 14 players are drafted including 5 SPs. James Shields had edged ahead of Donaldson on my short list, but Shields is scooped by Brew Crew the pick before mine. I’ve added Nathan behind Uehara as a closer to consider. It’s hard to say why a guy like Donaldson instills confidence while a guy like Abreu leaves me doubting. Abreu is gone, but I think Donaldson might be a third-round pick next year. Those are the numbers I am envisioning.
Round 8 (#89) – Julio Teheran - My short list reads Uehara – Teheran – Gyorko. Closers haven’t been touched in 2 rounds and Uehara’s ADP (95) is approaching. The selection of Alex Cobb 2 picks before mine to Money calls my attention back to my SP rankings where only Teheran, S. Miller, and G. Gonzalez remain in the current top tier.
Round 9 (#104) – Koji Uehara – I first considered Uehara 3 rounds earlier. ADP (95) tells me I like him better than most, but at this point I feel fortunate to get my guy. S. Miller is also still available, but I don’t dare risk losing Uehara at this point.
Round 10 (#113) – Jedd Gyorko – 8 picks are taken quickly. By the time it comes back to me, Gyorko remains the only player on my short list. Hamels and Iwakuma pop into my mind, but ADP gives me hope they may last another round or two. I take Gyorko and take a short break, then begin preparing for the round 11 restart.
Round 11 (#128) – Brandon Moss – Statistical analysis during the break showed that by my projections I wasn’t even close to being on-pace for “overall” numbers in HR, RBI or Runs. I also had a distance to go on Saves and Strikeouts. Moss, Hamels, and B. Butler made the short list coming out of the break as the three best players available. Butler was draft three spots ahead of me and Brew Crew scooped me on the 2nd pitcher in 3 rounds by taking Hamels. Moss was the need here and the league made the choice easy for me. Moss goes to first base, but has the added benefit of also qualifying in the OF.
Intending to correct what I felt was a mistake from the Upon Further Review Main Event draft, A. Chapman went to the top of the short list with S. Romo and H. Iwakuma. Round 12 would be a closer/starter pick with upside in strikeouts.
Round 12 (#137) – Aroldis Chapman – Five closers are drafted in the eight picks between Moss and #137 making Chapman the easy choice. This is the first time in the draft I am really grateful for a middle draft position. A. Soriano and M. Adams are targeted for round 13.
Round 13 (#152) – Fernando Rodney - Matt Adams is there for the taking, but four more closer are drafted in the 8 picks since Chapman. Rodney is the only remaining closer in which I have any confidence. I take Rodney and intend to forget about closers. I rebuild the short list with B. Miller, Buchholtz and Iwakuma.
Round 14 (#161) – Brad Miller – Adams and pitching come off the board, and I jump on the guy I hope turns into Ian Desmond 2.0. Miller is my fourth MI so he goes straight to the utility spot. There are still several MIs I like, but I don’t know if I will be able to add more as I have no place to start another. My attention turns to SP and power bats. Short List: Buchholtz, Iwakuma, Granderson, D. Brown.
Round 15 (#176) – Clay Buchholtz – My favorite mid-round pitcher this year. Another guy UFR missed in the Main Event. Willing to take a half season from him if that’s all he can muster.
Round 16 (#185) – Yan Gomes – In what has become a recurring theme, four outfielders I like come off the board in eight picks, including Granderson and Brown. I had not targeted Gomes, but at this point with my preferred OFs gone, I thought a little power and average from my second catcher spot might prove useful. The short list includes is: Iwakuma (since round 12?), Chris Johnson, K. Davis and M. Machado.
Round 17 (#200) – Nick Swisher – Iwakuma and Davis go, but my stat projections leave me feeling thin in power. I choose Swisher, who like Moss qualifies at CI and OF.I add M.Minor to the short list.
Round 18 (#209) – BJ Upton – B. Revere and A. Eaton go back-to-back, and I suddenly realize I’ve not addressed speed in any meaningful way since Hamilton. I look at Dee Gordon who I drafted everywhere this year, but it seems irresponsible to take a MI I can’t start when I have 4 OF spots to fill. I like BJ to rebound this year in the counting stats and pretend that his average might be okay. I choose Upton over Victorino and Crawford. Victorino goes to the end of the short list and Crawford is dismissed. I just don’t want the headache. This is my first outfielder since round 4.
Round 19 (#224) – Chris Carter – With 1B/OF eligibility, I take the power-upside player in C. Carter. Garza is added to the short list behind C. Johnson.
Round 20 (#233) – Chris Johnson – It’s hard for me to believe anybody who can hit .300 and bats in the 4-hole won’t drive in 90 runs. I think I must believe that more than anyone else because this pick makes me 3-for-3 for drafting Johnson. This pick brings me to the draft’s 2nd break number 2 and I am fatigued.
Research during the break convinces me I’ve been an idiot not drafting Victorino the past four rounds. He leapfrogs Garza, who is the only other guy on the short list. These two are my hopes for the next two picks.
Round 21 (#248) – Matt Garza - Apparently the break helped others regroup as well, as Victorino is the first pick of round 21. Garza makes it to me and I am glad to get a big-Ks pitcher at this point in the draft. R. Brothers goes before L. Hawkins, so I add Hawkins, R. Howard and N. Castellanos to the list.
Round 22 (#257) – Nick Castellanos – Howard is drafted in the pick after mine, and Hawkins is selected the pick before my next pick. Castellanos fills my last OF spot, and he will gain multi-position eligibility early in the year. Positional flexibility was an unintended achievement so far in the draft.
Round 23 (#272) – Travis Wood – Still wounded (and I always shall be) from the lack of interest (mutiny) from my UFR mates in Wood for the Main Event, I didn’t want to risk missing him here. I love this guy, but it seems I am one of the few. The short list is M. Cabrera, T. Walker, and De Aza.
Round 24 (#281) – Melky Cabrera – Hoping he can recover his 20/20 potential of a few years back, I drafted Cabrera and add O. Arcia, J. Quintana and W. Miley to my list.
Round 25 (#296) – Jose Quintana - The A. Chapman selection means I was still in need of another pitcher for the rotation to start the season. I became enamored with Quintana mid-way through our Online Challenge draft, and the affinity grew from there. This selection was about 25 picks past his ADP so I felt the time was now or never.
Round 26 (#305) – Oswaldo Arcia – This is another guy I drafted in all leagues. UFR mate PD put me onto this guy in spring training and I really liked what I saw. I ranked him in the 180s for this draft with an ADP of 281. I guess I will root for him everywhere.
Round 27 (#320) – Michael Saunders – Three spots past having the starting roster set, my mode shifted to taking my favorites for big breakouts. The 20/20 potential could be useful to this mediocre outfield, should it materialize.
Round 28 (#329) – Jake Odorizzi – Once Saunders was drafted, the short was comprised mostly of rookies and hope-to-be rookies: Odorizzi, T. Roark, T. Jordan, J. Baez, B. Burns, and M. Choice. Odorizzi was the top of the list, and once he was taken, my focus would be on guys that just might…Baez went in round 26 and the two Nationals went in the turn between Saunders and Odorizzi.
Round 29 (#344) – Michael Choice – Choice had a big spring and had made the opening day roster. He doesn’t really have a position, but you never know how the first week or two will play out.
Round 30 (#353) – Billy Burns – This team’s projected numbers were tabulated, and funny enough for a team that drafted B. Hamilton, stolen bases is the one area that seems considerably short of “overall” numbers. Burns had a huge spring but was questionable to make the opening day roster. He didn’t, and was replaced with B. Arroyo hours later.