Sunday, March 14, 2010

Life is Just a Fantasy: Draft Anxiety

As I stated last month, I’m going to be documenting (pretty much step by step) an entire draft for one of my fantasy baseball teams. The team I’ll be cronicaling will be The New York Geckos in one of the Yahoo Baseball leagues I’m in (the one I’m Commissioner of actually).

Tonight is the draft for this league. We have ten teams and everyone involved is fairly well versed in baseball knowledge. I’m not quite as well prepared for this draft as I have been in past years. Usually by draft day I have read about six or seven draft strategy guides, done a few mock drafts and complied a draft bible. My preperations have served me well in the past… I have finished within the top three of the majority of leagues I have participated in over the last ten years, including at least seven championships. I usually play in anywhere from two to four leagues every year (and did as many as six one year and will NEVER do that again). This year I have settled on three.

So not being quite as prepared has me a little nervous. Things have been a little too busy to have gone through my normal routine and I’m way behind schedule. I will be going into tonight partly blind… armed with only a basic prep, s few sleepers and the injury history of some key players who I will look to steal on the cheap and gamble they will recover early enough to be worth the risk.

My regular draft strategy is simple. I go after a five tool player first. A Hanley Ramierez or a David Wright type that will give me average, some power, some speed and good on base percentage. I go after the weaker positions early, but not TOO early as to over-rate the value of a mid rounder just because he’s in a weak position. For example, if I don’t get one of the top catchers early… I’ll wait until the later rounds since the position is fairly even after the top three or four guys are off the board.

I tend to value starting pitching very high and will often have two starting pitchers drafted by the 4th round and usually three pitchers by the 7th. On the other hand I do not draft closers early and I have a very strict rule about drafting closers. I refuse to draft one before the 12th round and usually wait until the 14th or so before picking my first. Too many closers get hurt or lose their job every year to waste higher end picks on them . In fact, After Mariano Rivera and Jonathan Paplebon, I won’t touch a closer in the draft before the 15th round most likely. Even if there is a huge run on closers (in this leagues draft last year six closers were gone by the 7th round) I stick to my guns. I will not overpay for saves.

So going into tonight brings a few nervous ticks to the surface. One of my friends, Chris, posted on the league boards that he was getting a little “Draft Anxiety” (a term which I think is brilliant). You have to beware of this feeling since it will often cause you to panic when you see an early run on short stops and you wind up drafting a Jason Bartlett in the 5th round because you are concerned about getting a good SS, While you will get a good player, he would NOT be worth a 5th rounder and you will wind up overpaying for him. Better to wait another few rounds and wind up with a Yunel Escobar who would be a decent value in the 10th or 11th round.

In any case, the best thingto do is come up with your draft strategy and stick to it. Don’t let the bizarre drafting styles of your fellow managers change your plans. You need to look to draft a balanced team with a slant towards a particular stat. For me, I look to do well in the pitching catagories and I tend to draft low ERA, good WHIP high STRIKEOUT pitchers. I tend to try and lean towards hitters with good batting averages and lower strikeout totals which will help their on base percentage and runs scored totals.

One thing I can almost predict… odds are I will wind up with Adam Dunn. His HUGE strike out totals and (usually) low batting average goes against my normal draft plan, but people ALWAYS seem to let him drop to the lower rounds and If I get him in the 10th round, that is a STEAL. you know he’s good for 40 HRs and 100RBI. I’ll handle the lousy other areas to get those numbers to help those particular stat catagories. I wouldn’t draft him too high, but if he’s there in the 9th round? I’m grabbing him. I’ve had him on almost every team over the last five years and he rarely hurts me.

I’ll be back on tonight to let you know how the draft went. I’ll be keeping a live journal that I’ll post later as each round goes and my thoughts on how it’s going.

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