Assessing My Mistakes

During this time of year, a lot of emphasis is placed on Average Draft Position (ADP). We want values (i.e. players we can take after their ADP) or else we want to know just how early we need to reach to ensure we get that incorrectly ranked stud. However, the shape of your draft has just as much influence on your ability to accrue value.

Case in point, in The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational (TGFBI), I missed out on two very long closer runs. When the dust cleared, I was left staring at a depressing void between the current pick and the next guy’s ADP. After playing the “we’ll get him next round” game one too many times, I eventually found myself forced to select Mychal Givens at pick 216 – the second highest he went in the 26-league contest. While I’m personally happy enough with this draft slot – he’s better than you think – it’s undeniable that it’s better to grab Givens closer to pick 275 (i.e. two full rounds later).

Today, let’s look at what I’ve observed in Tout Wars, TGFBI, and the TGFBI overall for opportunities to better-shape our rosters.

1. Bump Up Closers

If you want a good saves guy, you’re going to need to pay a steep opportunity cost. Selecting Josh Hader for example means you passed on DJ LeMahieu, Tommy Pham, Paul Goldschmidt, Ramon Laureano, Anthony Rizzo, and other offensive compilers. If we could bank Hader’s 2019 output, you’re probably thinking that doesn’t sound like a bad opportunity cost. However, relievers are massively more likely to hemorrhage value than hitters. Especially at this asset class.

Of course, you don’t need to reach for the number one closer. Aroldis Chapman goes about 15 picks later as part of the first true closer run. That’s an opportunity cost of roughly Josh Donaldson or Marcell Ozuna. Liam Hendriks is at the sweet spot of the first blitz – you’re taking him instead of Andrew Benintendi, Michael Conforto, or Lance Lynn. Willing to accept a small risk of zeroing out on a pick? Sean Doolittle, Hector Neris, Brandon Workman, Hansel Robles, Nick Anderson, and others cost the relatively tame price of warty hitters like Kyle Tucker, David Dahl, Gavin Lux, Mallex Smith, or Khris Davis.

Your willingness to reach for closers might be affected by your league type. Since TGFBI has a 26-league overall, I desperately need to scrape saves off the waiver wire to compete. In a single league format like Tout Wars (where I got Givens and Workman), I’m less concerned about a high saves total. An eight-point performance shouldn’t overly hurt my chances to win.

2. Outfielders Are Deeper Than Normal

Opportunity cost runs two ways. Around pick 300, you can reach for guys like Kevin Ginkel and Diego Castillo. They might save a couple handfuls of games. Or… there’s a tasty Mike Tauchman just sitting there. Tauchman the Starter projects to perform similarly to Ramon Laureano whom you’ll recall is priced right around Hader. If my choice is Laureano and Ginkel or Hader and Tauchman, I know which one I’d take 10 times out of 10.

Tauchman’s potential tandem, Aaron Hicks, is available even later in most drafts due to a nagging injury. So why not pair them up? Some other extremely late outfielders I’ve personally invested in include Austin Riley (swing change), Jake Bauers (swing change), Josh Rojas (5-cat utility), Roman Quinn (SBs), and Michael Taylor (SBs). All but Riley (and sometimes Rojas) are available well after pick 500.

Sam Hilliard often lingers too, although I have some doubts which have prevented me from pulling the trigger in time. He can be picked right around Tauchman.

In other words, if you find yourself considering an outfielder or a closer in the early-mid rounds, you can be confident of finding playable outfield patches in the late game. The reliever equivalents are more of a stab in the dark. They’re also easier to chase during the season.

3. Shortstop Dries Up Fast

There are a lot of shortstops in the draft pool. However, in 15-team leagues with MI and UT, the better names get snatched up quickly. As with relievers, if you find yourself pondering shortstop or outfielder in the earlier rounds, give a small bump to the shortstop.

In Tout Wars, the shortstops put in front of me were all substantially worse than my alternatives. As such, I didn’t fill the position until pick 295 with Carter Kieboom. And that’s not exactly “filling the position.” I did execute a plan to select J.P. Crawford later (pick 396), a choice I’m extremely pleased with in an OBP draft and hold setting. He’ll play a lot, and volume matters.

To avoid similar pain in TGFBI (which uses batting average and thus invalidates JPC), I reached for Paul DeJong (145th) and later got Didi Gregorius (186th) at a discount. Those selections were made when I might have otherwise taken a reasonably decent closer. It might have been better to select Tim Anderson or Marcus Semien instead of Jorge Soler then grab Raisel Iglesias instead of DeJong.

4. Catcher Stuff

Personally, I’m ecstatic about my catcher tandems, so I don’t consider this a mistake. But I do think this position merits mentioning. I was handed a discount on J.T. Realmuto in TGFBI and Will Smith in Tout. In both cases, I also took a stab at a Danny Jansen rebound as my second guy. This was by design as I don’t personally perceive a difference between the much-earlier selected Sean Murphy and Jansen. That might just be a mistake of analysis on my part.

Whether it’s 15-team, 12-team, two-catchers, or one-catcher, I strongly recommend pulling the trigger on at least one of the premium catchers this draft season. Many people drew the wrong lesson from the 2019 campaign. Last year, skimping on catcher led managers straight into the arms of Mitch Garver, Christian Vazquez, Tom Murphy, and other massive values. It would be a mistake to count on a repeat of 2019. In fact, I anticipate a reversal – several of our 2019 value-sources will dry up without many replacements coming out of the woodwork.





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gawd_damn catapult
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gawd_damn catapult

“Tauchman’s potential tandem, Aaron Hicks, is available even later in most drafts due to a nagging injury.”

Oh yes, that nagging UCL.