We’re at the end of July and heading into crunch time in Fantasy Baseball no matter which type of league we are playing in. I thought it might be a good time to look back at some draft day strategies of mine, namely the risky picks that I targeted for later on in the draft after the first 10-12 rounds had gone by the board. I think you’d agree that to win a fantasy league quite a few things have to fall in place for you over the course of a six month season. One of those things that has to come through for you is your draft day strategy. Yes, your first few picks need to stay healthy and produce as expected, and if you are in contention this late in the season chances are they have. But how did you do in the later rounds?
You’ve heard me say before that you cannot get a top 10 player at each position, so as the draft wears on you have to play fill in the blanks with the best player available at some spots. Some play it safe and settle in on the number 12 (name position of choice here) Some, like me, will reach a bit further and take a chance on something different. Perhaps a young player that I think will come into his own, or maybe it will be a veteran returning from injury or thought to be all finished. I tend to take risks late in the draft. I’d rather have someone’s untapped upside fail for me then to watch Alberto Callaspo hit .259 with 10 HR and 59 RBI. I have trouble doing safe.
So, I took a look back at my draft recaps and pulled out my cheat sheets (yeah, I save them until….well, nevermind) and looked at some of the late round players that I had on my short list. I found a few that didn’t work out, but i also found a few that have me thinking I have a shot at taking my league. Let’s take a look shall we?
Daniel Murphy, NYM – (Average pick in round 16) – I don’t get it. Murph was 2nd to Matt Carpenter in hits in the NL in 2013 with 188. Murph has averaged close to 40 doubles for 5 years in a row. Murph is on pace to match 2013’s totals of 92 runs, 188 hits, 38 doubles, 13 HR 78 RBI. 23 SB and a slightly higher BA at .293. But I was able to wait until the 16th round to pick him. Those numbers are actually better than what Ian Kinsler has put up for the last two years, and that is not a knock on Kinsler, but he is drafted 10 rounds earlier. Hopefully this secret never gets out.
Melky Cabrera, Tor – (Average pick in round 24) – It is amazing to me how many people thought that Melky’s break out season of 2011 was a result of PEDS. He went 102, 18, 87, 20, .305 that season and followed up in 2012 with a .346 average until he got hurt. He did his 50 game ped suspension in a lost 2013 and I was able to get him in the 24th round in 2014 meaning he had become an afterthought. He’s hitting .310 and will come close to matching most of those counting stats from 2011-2012. He’ll be expensive again in 2015 and he won’t win you a league title, but as a 5th OF that hits .300 and adds to all the counting stats, sign me up.
Jose Quintana, Chi – (Average pick in round 25 or not drafted) Did I ever tell you that I love this guy? If you have read any of my articles on pitchers this season you would say, “Well, yes, you have mentioned that.” It bears repeating. I love this guy. He’s only 5-7, but his skill numbers have gotten incrementally better all three seasons he has been in the MLB. Right now he is pitching to an ERA of 3.15 and a WHIP of 1.195. In 21 2014 starts he has given up more than 3 runs only 3 times. 3 times. Yes, we can all name a guy we found as a spot starter who never left our team going forward,. But, I can honestly say I targeted this guy in all my leagues in 2014.
Tim Hudson, SF – (Average pick in round 22) This guy just keeps finding a way to do it. Written off after losing half of 2013 to injury, Huddy went nearly undrafted in 2014 drafts. I managed to grab him in the 22nd round and I don’t regret it. You can’t find 6 SP who all get 200 K’s and a 2.50 ERA, but it is sure nice to have a guy at the back-end of your staff who is good for ratios and some W’s and seldom gets blown away.He’s given up more than 4 runs twice in 20 starts so far in 2014. His overall ERA is 2.65 on the season. I will admit that I traded him for Quintana in a couple of leagues.
THE GOOD AND BAD:
Phils n Yanks – I know, I know. No one was drafting Phils or Yanks hitters this season. They are all old, washed up, declining, injured, injury prone, brittle, crappy lineup, etc, etc, etc. Those who drafted Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury probably got their money’s worth. Some people got burned on Domonic Brown thinking it was his year or Brian McCann thinking a 30 something catcher was going to reverse the aging process. While it is true that I drafted far too heavily, albeit very late, on Mark Teixiera (round 16 on average) and Ryan Howard (round 18 on average), it is also true that I’m getting a ton of mileage out of Chase Utley (Round 10-12) and Jimmy Rollins (Round 9-11) so far in 2014 considering how long I was able to wait to draft them. I realize this is not the Chase Utley who hit over.300 with 30 HR, 100 RBI and 100 runs from 2006-2009, but he was a 1st or 2nd rounder then. He’s on pace now to go about 75, 12, 75, .295 and i think that is pretty good for that late of a pick. Ditto Rollins. He is not the SS who routinely scored 100 runs and went 30/40 (30 HR and 40 SB) in that same time period. But, he is on pace to go 75, 20, 75, 30. How many SS will come in at those numbers in 2014, and of those that do, how many could have been drafted in the 11th round? I just have to hope neither gets hurt the rest of the way. ssssshhhhh.
Tim Lincecum, SF – (Average pick in round 20) Until a couple of nights ago he had gone 7 of 8 starts giving up less than 4 runs including a no-hitter on June 24th. In fact he has only given up more than 4 runs 3 times this season including the 6 the other night. However, even 3 games of giving up 6-8 runs will keep Lincecum from being 100% rostered. I admit that I feel good saying I drafted him in the 20th round, but i am also one of the people who dropped him in several leagues before he pitched his no-no. Once the no-no happened, he was no longer on the wire. Ok, this is not the Tim Lincecum who routinely struck out 200-260 batters just a few years ago when he was dubbed the “freak” and could zip a 100 mph heater past the best hitters. He has had to learn how to pitch and therefore is still a work in progress, but one worthy of a 20th round pick.
Nolan Arenado, COL – (Average pick in round 11) – This guy was my break out pick for 2014 and I waited on picking a 3bman until the 11th round in most of my leagues. He was doing his best to make me glad I did until he slid head first into a base and gave me the finger, er injured his finger. He has since recovered and is manning 3b in the Mountains, but has been slow to get his timing back. He hit an HR last night, so maybe I’ll get a good 3rd of a season from him as he is well on pace to beat all his rookie numbers in far fewer games played. Hopefully he’ll be inexpensive again in 2015 because of his depressed stats.
Masahiro Tanaka, NYY – Yeah, Yeah, I’m a Yankee Fan, but this injury was depressing on a lot of fronts. I can’t complain any more than the Fernandez owners this Spring nor the Harvey owners from last season, but I was drafting Tanaka as my 2nd or 3rd SP in the 8th to 10th round. When he was injured he was 12-4 2.51 ERA, 1.005 WHIP and 135 K’s in 129 IP and showed all the poise of the next Yankee post season star. Maybe next year. Of course he’ll be more expensive than i want to pay by then as well.
Matt Kemp, LAD – I suppose getting a .273 average, 8 HR 40 RBI and 5 SB is not a catastrophic 10th round pick when all is considered, but I am disappointed. When I drafted him in round 10 I looked around and said, “Why am I the only one who knows this guy is better than this?” I mean it was only a few years ago that he went .324 115 39 126 40 as the greatest fantasy asset on the planet. Perhaps the other 11 guys at that table would have gone a few more rounds. Now they are even talking about trading him to the AL to DH.
Carlos Beltran, NYY – Speaking of AL DH’s, I knew I was not going to get vintage Beltran here, but I was counting on reliable Torii Hunter esque numbers again from my 3rd OF, not to mention some Yankee October moments. I got him fairly late (12th round on average) but his injuries and age have finally reduced him to a shell of himself. It is not even worth posting his numbers.
Matt Wieters, BAL – I can’t claim to have drafted him late, in fact I may have reached a bit because I thought that this, his age 27 season (He turned 28 since opening day) was going to be his big breakout year. He was well on his way to proving me right. He had 5 HR and a .308 average after the first month when BAM, Torn UCL. What happens to a player’s career trajectory when he has such a major injury right in the midst of breaking out? I guess he and Tanaka will both find out in 2015.
I wonder what round I can get them in next season……………………………………..