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Toby's 6,000 Word Fantasy Baseball Draft Analysis - Part II

If you missed Part 1, click here to catch up on the first picks, and see my overall strategy going into the draft.

Brandon phillips 10 1 2009 swing 7889Round 7, #79 Overall: Brandon Phillips

With Kipnis and Altuve off the board, the pool of solid second basemen was starting to get thin. Looking over what was left for both second base and shortstop, I felt the latter had more options, and decided to take Phillips to cover second base. The idea was to feel better about having one of my three middle infield spots filled with someone reliable, then address the remaining roster spots later on in the draft.

I'm not thrilled about this pick, but looking back on the guys who were taken after, it certainly wasn't terrible. Howie Kendrick did end up going in Round 21 though, so if I had really stuck to my guns as far as ignoring position scarcity, I could have had a stronger overall team and a better rotation, with un-superstar like guys in my three middle infield spots. Taking Phillips was sort of a safety pick.

Relevant players taken after: James Shields, Jonathan Papelbon, Wilin Rosario, Jordan Zimmerman, Josh Rutledge, Carlos Santana

AChapmanRound 8, #90 Overall: Aroldis Chapman

I've got two good outfielders, I've got the one middle infielder I'll take for a while, and even though I have two solid SPs, pitching got very thin very quickly. I'm feeling like I need another good starter to bring me back up to par, but they're just not out there at that level at this point. For reference, Josh Johnson, Matt Harvey, Dylan Bundy and Jeff Samardzija were the next four pitchers off the board.

My reasoning was: there is no ace level pitcher left, but Chapman has ace-level stuff. Even though the innings he'll give me will be limited, they'll hopefully be quality in his first year as a starter. Heck, even if his arm snaps after 100 IP, as long as they're high-quality innings with the strikeout rate that comes with them I'm okay with that.

It's also worth noting that if he has a limit of say 150 IP, hopefully they skip his start a few times during the year rather than shutting him down at the end of the season. If they do frequent rest, then I can stream in two-start pitchers or good matchups on his skipped days, and it doesn't affect me nearly as much. If starting doesn't work out and he can adjust back into the closer role, I have the best closer this side of Craig Kimbrel (who went in Round 3).

Looking at this pick in retrospect, I should have considered taking Harvey over Chapman; I had no idea he'd go this early. I am a Mets fan, and watching how he pitches and goes about his business (not to mention what he did in 2012), there's substantial potential and upside for Harvey in 2013. But I'm happy with Chapman, too: he's a risk, but given where pitching was at this stage in the draft, I think the pick made sense.

Again, I do find it so strange that for many managers (myself included), it used to be a common strategy to start taking pitching in this round, the eighth. Given what's left here in 2013, the old LIMA strategy (Low Investment Mound Aces) is likely done, unless you're really going outside the box with your strategy.

Relevant players taken after: Joe Mauer, Josh Johnson, Shin-Soo Choo, Jason Motte, Ian Kennedy, Michael Bourn, Jimmy Rollins

DSC00794 Yadier MolinaRound 9, #103 Overall: Yadier Molina

This is a very questionable pick. If you've done solid prep work for your draft this year, you know how deep catcher is. In a 12-team league like mine where there's one catcher per team, you could wait until the last picks and still get a playable, totally respectable catcher who will not be a black hole on your team. Case in point: A.J. Pierzynski is ranked somewhere around #14 on the catcher list, and he hit 27 HR last year. Plus he's moving to Arlington! If you wait on catcher, you're able to use valuable earlier picks to pick up other assets. And while there are differences in the quality of each catcher, after Posey (who I wouldn't take at all for this reason), everyone else is fairly homogeneous.

Now that I've set up every argument to show why this pick may have been bad, I'll give you the case for Molina. You can practically pencil him in for somewhere around a .300 BA, with 12-20 HR and 8-10 SB. Truly, it was the .300 BA that swayed me, and here's why: I have no SB at this point. A bunch of players who will give me steals may not have a great batting average-- I'm looking at you, Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura. And heck, the LaRoches and Swishers I'm targeting later are power specialists who also have poor averages. So this pick is a bit of a hedge against those future picks.

In retrospect, though, the following players were still available: Jimmy Rollins, Asdrubal Cabrera, Martin Prado and Matt Harvey. If I could trade Molina for one of these guys and have Salvador Perez or Jesus Montero as my catcher instead, I'd probably take that (and it would have made future picks for my team much better). The issue here is that Molina on his own, in the ninth round provides respectable value. It's the domino effect of taking a catcher too early in 2013 that can reverberate through the rest of your draft.

Relevant players taken after: Jimmy Rollins, Adam Eaton, Dylan Bundy, Martin Prado

Alex Ríos 2009Round 10, #114 Overall: Alex Rios

Alex Rios has a terrible Jekyll-and-Hyde act where he's either awesome or terrible in any given season, so this pick comes with a measure of risk. I'm feeling pretty good that he can be a contributor, though. The fact that he played right field all last season instead of center field must have helped a bit with preventing wear and tear through 162 games, keeping his bat productive. I didn't come into the draft thinking "Man, I really hope I get Alex Rios," but with outfield thin in 2013 and this being Round 10, I'll take him and hope for another great year.

Let's put it this way: remember my reasoning for passing on Carlos Gonzalez in Round 2? In 2012, Rios went .304 with 25 HR and 23 SB. If you got that out of CarGo without him getting hurt, you would feel great about your first- or second-round investment. For that kind of potential, I'll gladly take Rios in the 10th.

Relevant players taken after: Brett Anderson, Kendrys Morales, Ike Davis, Brett Gardner, Paul Konerko

Martín Prado on August 3, 2009Side Note: On the Value of Martin Prado

Martin Prado was taken right before Rios. I probably still would have taken Rios first, but man did I want Prado in Round 11. I talked at length at the intro to this series about developing the skill of drafting: thinking on your feet, adjusting to your opponents, and shifting your strategy. Similarly, Martin Prado's value is not just in his projected .300/10/10 line: it's that his versatility (in my league, he is eligible for 2B, 3B, SS and OF) gives you "outs" for later rounds in your draft. In other words, you're not drafting Martin Prado for his own value alone, you're drafting him for options and coverage within the game of winning the draft. He's protection against other mistakes you might make during the draft.

Let's look at where I am at this stage of things: I have no SS or MI, or CI spot. I still have OF spots to fill. If I have Martin Prado, I can take the risk of waiting too long on any of these spots, and still be okay; I can slot Prado in where there are no other good players, and be happy with his bat in that spot.

Drafting Prado earlier than his ADP is sort of like raising from late position in Texas Hold 'Em Poker for the sake of checking the next round to get a free card. You're making a bigger investment now to prevent yourself from making a bigger mathematical mistake in future rounds when you'll have more information (and flexibility with your own decisions based on seeing how your opponents act next). This makes him a unique, valuable player to draft, and I'd endorse taking him a round or two earlier than projected for this reason, especially if you feel your draft isn't going well or that you may not be able to fill a position with what's left.

Erick Aybar on July 22, 2011Round 11, #127 Overall: Erick Aybar


Really, this is the end result of the Molina pick earlier; if had taken a shortstop there, Aybar wouldn't have been necessary here. Even still, it probably wasn't necessary, and a bad decision earlier doesn't justify a worse decision later. This was a pick based on the fear of not having a shortstop, rather than maintaining the plan of picking up value regardless of position.

That said, at this stage of things I know I need speed, and I need some help with average. Aybar fits both needs, albeit unspectacularly, so I stretched to take him earlier than I cared for. Looking at the next picks and the upcoming wheel, there were lots of empty SS and MI spots on opponent rosters, so I had no guarantees I could bounce a shortstop I was comfortable with back on the following round. It was all for nothing, as middle infielders were still available for many more rounds.

Relevant players taken after: Rafael Soriano, Shelby Miller, Chris Davis, Joel Hanrahan, Fernando Rodney

J J Putz1Round 12, #138 Overall: J.J. Putz

The run on closers had officially started, and I made sure to get one. Now, I know what you're thinking, fellow self-professed fantasy baseball expert: "Never pay for saves! There's so much turnover during the season!" While that's all well and good as a theory, and I'm sure you can pick up closers off the wire . . . when is that going to happen? May? June? July? How many closers can you pick up to keep yourself competitive in that category?

Unless you're making a conscious decision to punt saves as a part of your strategy (or you're comfortable finishing towards the bottom), this just doesn't work in my experience. For the sake of keeping pace, I like to have at least two closers that have the job for the start of the season, and possibly a third guy who is shaky in the role, or may be able to grab it. Also, given that solid starting pitching is really, truly thinning out at this stage (I think I've said this a few times now!) and I still have six spots to fill, going for two closers now means I'm in a much better position to have a respectable staff when all is said and done. I also know that my position players are almost all going to be filled in with stolen base guys, and there are plenty left.

Relevant players taken after: Dan Haren, C.J. Wilson, Carlos Gomez, Sergio Romo, Anibal Sanchez, Doug Fister

Norichika Aoki in 2010.04.03Round 13, #151 Overall: Norichika Aoki

Being in an extended draft, I had plenty of time to input the league's picks and track how I was doing in each category. I was third from the bottom in stolen bases at this point, and thanks to my power grab in the first few rounds, I knew I could focus almost completely on picking up stolen base guys here, and look for only one more power bat for my CI spot.

Aoki was a natural pick: leading off for a great offensive team means he'll collect runs (which I also need), steal 20-30 bags and hit close to .300.

Relevant players taken after: Shane Victorino, Pedro Alvarez, Chris Perez, Angel Pagan, Corey Hart

Round 14, #162 Overall: Joe Nathan

Relevant players taken after: Greg Holland, Jesus Montero, John Axford, Dan Uggla, Jake Peavy, Carlos Beltran

00112696 Justin MorneauRound 15, #175 Overall: Justin Morneau

Round 14 stung a bit; I'd really had my eyes on either Peavy or Beltran for a few rounds. At this stage, I felt the playable corner infielders were going to go soon. Swisher and LaRoche were still available, and would have been decent safe picks for 20-25 HR and a .BA in the .250 range. But after some thought, I decided to take a gamble on Morneau. I like that he's back to full health or so it would seem), still relatively young at 31 years old, and heading into a contract year. Another part of the reasoning was that I figured those other corner infield options would hopefully be around a few rounds latter. For example, I'm a fan of Berkman this season playing in Arlington, and I thought I could get one of those guys to slot in at UTIL and fill in for Morneau in case of disaster.

As it turned out, I had to use my later picks to fill other spots, and didn't get a true "caddy" for Morneau: putting myself into a poor position of relying on him not defecating in his sleeping space this season. I was able to pick up Brandon Moss in the last rounds and Garrett Jones off the waiver, so I am feeling a bit more comfortable about this gamble; those guys will likely produce the same mid-20s HR and .250-range BA as Swisher and LaRoche. There's also a strong argument that I should have taken Hellickson here, but I wasn't giving the level of my starting pitchers enough attention at this stage. In the end, I'd bet Morneau would have still been there a round later.

Relevant players taken after: Michael Morse, Huston Street, Jeremy Hellickson, Hiroki Kuroda

Up next: the third and final part of the Draft Review, including my big lessons learned.