Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Weekly Windup's SportsJudge Fantasy League Analysis

A month ago, twelve members of the SportsJudge staff got together to have the “expert” draft (having problems with the link to the draft, but expect it soon). I use the term expert lightly because in actuality, the twelve of us are all at various skill levels ranging from novice to expert. But these levels of expertise combined create such a broad knowledge of fantasy sports, which can only provide the best insight as to how your own fantasy draft might go. Mock Drafts and Expert Leagues do not incorporate the risks that people will take in your draft, like considering prospects and other potential picks that are “out of the norm.” In mock drafts participants avoid drafting the players they are targeting to see where others are taking them. They also do not cover the rest of the season after the draft. That is why SportsJudge is playing out this league for the entire season, and bringing in a mix of players from all fantasy skill levels in order to provide you with the best draft and baseball coverage throughout the year. Here is short recap of the SportsJudge Draft.

Everyone brings a different style to their draft. Some pick the hometown boys, (which works out better when you’re from Boston than Pittsburgh), some put in the thorough research that they feel will lead them to the top, and some grab that magazine at the last minute to check out the mock draft as they run through their own. My personal strategy has always been one of research. I do not look into things as much as some other fantasy players do, but I do put in plenty of time. I think I have more notes on fantasy baseball than I do for any of my college courses.

There are some high points and low points to each draft. There are the picks that make the rest of the draft room pound their fists in disappointment and the picks that cause laughter from the opposition, (Jack Wilson in the second round is my personal favorite). Let’s take a look at my top 5 picks of the draft:

5- SP KC Brian Bannister (Round 24 Pick 6- Matt Cohen) – Bannister had a very solid first season with the Kansas City Royals posting a 3.87 ERA, and you have to love a guy who uses Sabermetrics to pitch. He still has some control issues to work on, but he is a great add late in the draft or off of the waiver wire – (3-0, 0.86 ERA so far this year). The Royals have an improved lineup this year and Bannister should be even more comfortable at the major league level. Matt made a smart decision to go for this right hander late in the draft.

4- C HOU J. R. Towles (Round 19 Pick 10- Jeremy Mittler) – The young rookie has the opportunity to put up some big numbers in what should be a very strong lineup. He hit .375 in 40 AB’s last year. With the two-catcher format, this was a great pick considering his potential and the weak position he would fill. He should be a top 10 fantasy catcher by year’s end. Jeremy made a very smart risk/reward pick with Towles. Very low risk and very high reward for this young fantasy stud.

3- OF ARI Justin Upton (Round 14 Pick 5- Parker Gold) – Chalk one up for the win column for Parker Gold. The usual saying is “Diamond in the Rough,” but since Parker made this draft pick I am going to refer to it as the uncovering of a goldmine. The former #1 overall pick is just 20 years old but already has 140 major league at bats and has a full time starting job in the “BabyBacks’” outfield. I also had him targeted for about the same round (and have been reaping the benefits in all my other leagues). Upton already has 5 home runs and I feel that this is the start of one the best young careers in the majors.

2- SP MIL Ben Sheets (Round 12 Pick 7- Kevin Fenstermacher) – I didn’t want to include any of my own players on this list, (actually I wanted it to be my top 5 picks, but I didn’t think that would go over well with the rest of the SJ Staff), but I have to give myself some credit for Sheets. The ace is an injury risk, but when healthy, he is one of the most dominant pitchers in the majors. His ADP (Average Draft Position) is around the 11th round. Sheets has a career 3.78 ERA and has the capability of striking out close to a batter per inning. Look for him to stay healthy and help lead the Brew Crew to the NL Central Title.

1- 1B CHC Derek Lee (Round 6 Pick 10- Marc Edelman) – I feel like I have more knocks than props on most of Marc Edelman’s picks, but the star of the site made himself a terrific pick with Lee in this round. Lee is expected to be completely healthy from his wrist injury and should return to his Triple Crown form of a few seasons ago. Don’t overlook the veteran in your drafts, and, if possible, make a deal for him before his stock rises.

Honorable Mentions: Daisuke Matsuzaka (Round 8 Pick 12); Cole Hamels (Round 4 Pick 4); Yunel Escobar (Round 20 Pick 11); Yovani Gallardo (Round 10 Pick 7)

Up next are my 5 “What Were You Thinking?” picks. Some of these picks were reaches and were drafted way too early. The other picks are on this list because they are overvalued by the general public. Here are the bottom 5:

5- Everywhere But Relief Pitcher? Chone Figgins (Round 4 Pick 6- Matt Cohen) – Figgins is a one-dimensional player. He gets you stolen bases. He should get you a decent amount of runs as well, but he is not a fourth-round pick. Wait on a speedster and draft someone like Michael Bourn, (see the Round Table: Sleepers section), or Willy Taveras. The only benefit to Figgins is his multiple position eligibility. The problem is that he is drafted way too high for what he will actually give you. Stay away from him and grab another speedster later in the draft. Matt should have held off and went elsewhere with this pick.

4- OF BOS Jacoby Ellsbury (Round 9 Pick 4- Liz Rathbun) – I think I know what happened here. Liz played the hometown card with this stretch. Ellsbury went entirely too early. I think Liz may have been more distracted by his charm and good looks, (thankfully something I don’t deal with during my draft), and made a mistake with this pick. I think Ellsbury will have a solid year and be a good leadoff hitter, but he could have been drafted many rounds later. There are a ton of outfield prospects to choose from and to reach for Ellsbury this early doesn’t make much sense. There is also a problem with an overcrowded outfield with Crisp taking at bats away until he is traded.

3- 2B BOS Dustin Pedroia (Round 9 Pick 8- Parker Gold) – I don’t think Dustin is going to turn out to be a “Gold” nugget (get it?) for Parker. Pedroia is a good player that will do well for the Red Sox. That doesn’t always translate over into good fantasy numbers. Do not expect much outside of the occasional RBI and run from Pedroia. His ADP is around the 16th / 17th round. He doesn’t provide much value at all in most fantasy categories and I expect his average to drop from his surprise rookie season. I feel that this was probably the worst pick of the draft, but Pedroia isn’t an important enough player to warrant the number 1 spot.

2- OF LAD Andruw Jones (Round 7 Pick 9- John O’Malley) – Andruw’s ADP is the late 9th to early 10th round. I feel like even that is a bad pick for him. Having picked him two rounds earlier makes me think that John might have thrown a few Budweisers back in drafting the portly center fielder. He is an average killer and just signed an undeserved contract which means the likely scenario will be more Dodger Dogs and fewer Home Runs. I feel like you should stay away from Jones at all costs. There isn’t much left in the tank even though he is just 31 years old. Expect about what you got last year, maybe even less since it is a crowded outfield in LA.

1- OF DET Magglio Ordonez (Round 3 Pick 3- Marc Edelman) – I want to congratulate Marc for owning the top spot for best and worst pick of the SportsJudge Draft. I feel that this is the player that will bring about the most controversy for being on this list. Magglio’s numbers last year were insane, but it isn’t going to translate over into this season. Expect him to decline across the board and his batting average number from last year be more like what his OBP will be this year. Magglio is in a powerful lineup, (as shown by Kansas City and others repeatedly shutting them down) and will still produce, but there were better options at this spot in the draft (Vlad Guerrero). This is a common trend for Magglio as he is a late 2nd or 3rd round pick. I feel like there is going to be disappointment all across the fantasy world with Magglio this season, so stay away from him at this point in the draft.

Dishonorable Mentions: Clay Buchholz (Round 9 Pick 11); Josh Fields (Round 13 Pick 9): Francisco Liriano (Round 8 Pick 4); Troy Percival (Round 12 Pick 5)

For the remainder of the season I will be reporting on the league happenings (pick-ups, standings) and providing you with some insight on what you should do in your own fantasy league. As with all SportsJudge articles, please feel free to leave some comments. Keep an eye out for future installments of the SportsJudge Fantasy League Reports.

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