2022 LABR Mixed Draft Recap – BOOM or BUST

On Tuesday night, the competitors of the LABR Mixed draft virtually congregated for our annual mid-February 15-team draft. Drafts this early are challenging. On the one hand, the early timing benefits the prepared and the more highly skilled. On the other hand, there remains a great many unknowns that we need to make educated guesses for at best, and complete shots in the dark for at worst. In addition, and during a normal pre-season period, the extra time between the draft and opening day (versus leagues that draft a week to three before the seasons begins) means more opportunity for injuries to decimate your roster before the season even begins!

Unfortunately, this offseason is no normal one. We’re still in a lockout, which means that there could be a significant time gap between draft night and opening day, even more so than there usually is. The lockout has paused free agency, so there will be a massive domino effect once players are signed, as roles will change and playing time projections will shift. This situation was similar in ways to 2020 when we had a pandemic-delayed start. However, at the time of our draft in mid-February, the world didn’t shut down for another month and we had no idea at the time of the draft what was to come. There wasn’t a lockout then, so it will be very interesting to see which players (and fantasy owners) win and lose the playing time/role lottery as signings come flooding in.

With background out of the way, let’s get back to last night’s draft. The full draft results can be found here.

Before sharing my team, I’ll quickly remind you of my “strategy”. I put that word in quotes because even after 20 years of playing fantasy baseball, I’m still not sure I understand what it means to have a draft or auction strategy. Isn’t everyone trying to maximize the value of their team? The only way to do that is to buy as many players at a discount to their projected value, at as large a discount to that projected value, as possible, while keeping categorical balance in mind (you probably shouldn’t buy 300 steals and only 150 home runs, even if you think you can easily make trades). Of course, trying to maximize the projected value of your drafted roster wouldn’t work if everyone valued players exactly the same way. Good news, we don’t! It’s rare that everyone agrees on the value of a player, so those disagreements will allow you to buy the players you project as undervalued. Then you just need to be right and the championship is all yours!

So that’s how I approach snake drafts (and auctions too). Now let’s get to the results. I’ll present my roster two ways — in pick order and then by position.

2022 LABR Mixed Team – By Pick
1.9 9 Ronald Acuna Jr. OF
2.7 22 Jacob deGrom P
3.9 39 Salvador Perez C
4.7 52 Adalberto Mondesi 3B
5.9 69 Byron Buxton OF
6.7 82 Brandon Lowe 2B
7.9 99 Christian Yelich OF
8.7 112 Justin Verlander P
9.9 129 Willson Contreras C
10.7 142 Blake Treinen P
11.9 159 Clayton Kershaw P
12.7 172 Anthony Rizzo 1B
13.9 189 Dylan Floro P
14.7 202 Luis Severino P
15.9 219 Noah Syndergaard P
16.7 232 Frank Schwindel 1B
17.9 249 Carlos Carrasco P
18.7 262 Wil Myers OF
19.9 279 Austin Hays OF
20.7 292 Luke Voit 1B
21.9 309 Lou Trivino P
22.7 322 Andres Gimenez SS
23.9 339 Rowan Wick P
24.7 352 Jeremy Pena SS
25.9 369 Jesus Luzardo P
26.7 382 Gio Urshela 3B
27.9 399 Brandon Marsh OF
28.7 412 Dane Dunning P
29.9 429 Ha-Seong Kim 김하성 2B

2022 LABR Mixed Team – By Position
Player Position
Salvador Perez C
Willson Contreras C
Anthony Rizzo 1B
Adalberto Mondesi 3B
Luke Voit CI
Brandon Lowe 2B
Andres Gimenez SS
Gio Urshela MI
Ronald Acuna Jr. OF
Byron Buxton OF
Christian Yelich OF
Wil Myers OF
Austin Hays OF
Frank Schwindel Util
Jacob deGrom P
Justin Verlander P
Blake Treinen P
Clayton Kershaw P
Dylan Floro P
Luis Severino P
Noah Syndergaard P
Carlos Carrasco P
Lou Trivino P
Rowan Wick Bench
Jesus Luzardo Bench
Dane Dunning Bench
Jeremy Pena Bench
Brandon Marsh Bench
Ha-Seong Kim Bench

Let’s address the elephant in the room first.


Thanks for those questions and comments, but there’s no need to yell!

As shared in the intro, this was clearly not some sort of plan I devised heading into the draft. I surely didn’t intend to draft every single injury-prone player and injury-returnee and take on the most risk I ever have in the history of my fantasy baseball career. It just so happened early on and it didn’t take much additional effort to embrace the “strategy” through the majority of the rest of the draft.

The strong prospect of a delayed start to the season gives Ronald Acuna Jr. more time to recover from surgery on his torn ACL that ended his 2021 season prematurely. Obviously, his ADP of nine is due to the expected missed time and questions on how the injury and resultant surgery might impact his performance, especially his stolen bases. My projections already account for those factors, so he doesn’t deserve to get dinged again for those risks, as it’s already reflected in his forecast and ADP. A delayed season could result in him missing significantly fewer, or even 0, games of the regular season, so if he feels no ill effects from the injury and surgery, will end up being a bargain at nine.

If you know me, you know I’m a “buy starting pitchers late” kinda guy. I have never and will never draft a starting pitcher in the first round and it’s rare to even go for one in the second. And yet, somehow, some way, Jacob deGrom found his way onto my roster in round two at 22 overall. We know what he is capable of during a full and healthy season. With no standout alternative at that pick, I went for the profit potential instead of the safe route, and begrudgingly passed on a hitter.

On the same “if you know me” theme, you should not be surprised to find Salvador Perez taken with my third round pick. Actually, I was surprised. I figured for sure he would be overvalued, but I forgot to take into account that I believe all catchers are annually undervalued, which is why I never leave the draft with two bottom tier catchers who are technically projected to produce negative value. When you believe an entire position is undervalued, the top tier are the best buys, so I usually have a pretty good catching tandem in this league. I just didn’t expect to bite first and roster Perez, but at the time, I didn’t see any other options screaming my name near the top of my valuation spreadsheet.

Then in round four, I simply had to do it. I have early rostered a potentially major source of steals possibly every single season in this league and it’s usually a noteworthy pick (to be clear, I don’t make any picks solely to create buzz — I’m actually trying to win). Remember when I drafted Billy Hamilton in the second round of the 2015 draft? He definitely failed to earn that value, but he did steal 57 bases. Too bad he sucked value from every other category! So I drafted Adalberto Mondesi for the second third season in a row. Last year it required the 27th overall pick, so his injury-riddled 2021 dropped him 25 spots (and I drafted him 33rd overall in 2020). Sure, he simply can’t stay healthy, but what if he does? I dream big. If he amasses even 500 at-bats, he’ll earn first round value. Remember, he owns some serious power to go along with that speed.

Rather than continue on reviewing my selections player by player, it’s important to reiterate that I did not purposely pass on higher projected value just to see this themed roster through to the end. Given my years in this league, I think it’s fair to say that my leaguemates are a risk averse group. They are not risk averse when it comes to prospects and youngsters though! I would argue that those players are always overvalued and therefore need to perform at like their 90th percentile projections just to break even for their owners. Instead, it’s the players recovering from injury or aging veterans coming off disappointing seasons that I find are consistently undervalued based on any reasonable projection. It just so happens that there were many of those types of players this year who have performed highly in the past, but injuries or poor recent performance have ravaged their perceived values and costs. So the stars aligned and I ended up the one who scooped most (all?) of them up.

Along with the upside from the formerly high performing class returning from injury, I did manage to sprinkle in some “regular” buys that hopefully won’t also end up hanging out in the IL Lounge. There’s young upside from the likes of Austin Hays (whose cost likely plummeted due to the changes at Camden Yards), Andres Gimenez, and Brandon Marsh, all of whom have starting jobs, or at least strong side platoon roles.

Both Jeremy Pena and Ha-Seong Kim could find themselves with far more playing time than assumed at this point. If the Astros don’t resign Carlos Correa, the thinking is that the shortstop job is Pena’s to lose. He’s our 30th overall ranked prospect and although it came over a tiny sample size of 122 ABs at Triple-A last year, his ISO exploded to .311 and HR/FB rate skyrocketed to 37%. He could contribute both speed and power and be scooped up cheaply now while we are still unsure of his playing time. Kim’s value rises with the return of the NL DH, but he’ll have to prove he’s capable of translating his strong KBO offense to MLB first. The power/speed upside if he wins a big DH role is tantalizing.

Finally, since I typically draft my starting pitchers later than the majority of my leaguemates, I make it a priority to fill most or all of my bench with young pitchers with high strikeouts rates that have reasonable breakout potential. Sadly, I failed to do that this time as my draft went in a completely different direction than ever imagined and I found far fewer starting pitchers late that I had any desire to roster. Both Jesus Luzardo and Dane Dunning are my speculations, but I usually prefer a third or fourth lottery ticket.

Sticking with pitching, closers get drafted insanely early and always far before my valuation spreadsheet finds them at the top. So my choices are to reach with everyone else and pass on a much more valuable player, or zag and hope I get a reasonable closer in the mid-rounds, followed by a bunch of possible closers later on. I chose the latter, grabbing Blake Treinen in the 10th, who should be a solid closer, unless the Dodgers resign Kenley Jansen or another reliever to serve in the role. I then followed up with Dylan Floro, Lou Trivino, and Rowan Wick to give me four potential sources of saves. I don’t particularly like any of the three, but the first two are at least likely to open the season in the role and pitch decently enough to hold it for a couple of months. I don’t see the rebuilding Cubs signing a closer, so Wick has as good a chance as any in that bullpen to close out games.

If nothing else, this team easily rates a 10 on the “fun to watch” scale. I’ve typically been ravaged by terrible injury luck in LABR in the past, so if half my team ends up on the IL at the same time, it won’t be any different than what has happened in previous years anyway. This time, it won’t be unexpected, which will make it far less frustrating if/when that happens!

P.S. Yes, we have unlimited IL spots

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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2 years ago

Could you ask managing editor that NEW articles should be sequenced FIRST on main page. Thx

2 years ago
Reply to  Robert

Yes, I don’t like the new main page at all.