Directly related to this comment from Mike Podhorzer and his piece on the Cheapest Pitching Staff Possible, I often use a term to describe the process by which a manager reacts, in my estimation, incorrectly to the developments of his or her respective snake draft. As Mike pointed out, “zigging” when your fellow managers are “zagging” may allow you a degree of competitive advantage, and failure to do so is what I call ‘chasing the draft’, and while it’s hard to avoid sometimes, it frequently requires that you wad up your draft strategy and toss it in the rubbish bin.
You’ve seen people chase the draft, and perhaps you have yourself. It’s where you feel compelled to take a player at a position because so much quality has just come off the board, you don’t want to be left out to dry. It frequently happens with the ubiquitous closer run although it can certainly happen at any position.
I advocate two things to avoid chasing the draft:
1. Kill your babies
2. Pooch Kick
On ‘Killing your babies’ – please, no, do not bludgeon your offspring. This is a term I stole from an editor I know who uses it to describe getting rid of chapters in your book that you have fallen in love with if you really don’t need them. Relative to fantasy baseball, I use it to elucidate the unhealthy man-crush that we may have on a particular player that blinds us from the reality that you just don’t need to jump that early for such production.
On ‘Pooch Kick’ – there are some positions that it’s just not worth grabbing the next best thing because the next best thing just ain’t that much better than the 12th best thing, and you could better use that pick to grab the position that’s getting ignored. It’s kind of like a half-punt. Thus, the pooch.
Using third base as an example, when Evan Longoria, David Wright, Ryan Zimmerman, and Alex Rodriguez fly off the board in the first couple rounds, does that mean you should reach for Jose Bautista? Maybe, maybe not. But when that manager ahead of you grabs Bautista and you realize your third base plan just exploded in your face, here’s where you have to decide if you take Adrian Beltre two rounds early or if you just say no to chasing the draft and look to another position for relative value. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with Beltre, but it’s the panic that sets in which clouds our judgment.
Quick comparison for context:
Player A projection: .290, 23HR, 82 runs, 96 RBI
Player B projection: .285, 22HR, 84 runs, 91 RBI
Now, of course, you need to use your noodle on what projections you’re happy with and which ones you find, as grandpappy would say, full of hooey, but Player A is Adrian Beltre and Player B is Casey McGehee. Why this is important is in most systems, their average draft position is separated by about 60 to 70 picks, and I’m not sure that the difference in production is worth it.
Where you might be faced with the Beltre decision in this hypothetical situation, you could be snagging say, Justin Upton or Jason Heyward and while counting their stats might not lead you to believe they are independently worth that much more than an Adrian Beltre, that most systems demand at least three OF suggests they most certainly are, especially when you can get near the same production out of another 3B five to six rounds later.
Take Mike’s advice and “Zig” where they “Zag”. Kill your babies when you have to and pooch kick your way to a better team.
Michael was born in Massachusetts and grew up in the Seattle area but had nothing to do with the Heathcliff Slocumb trade although Boston fans are welcome to thank him. You can find him on twitter at @michaelcbarr.