Mar 31, 2009

Fantasy Baseball Draft Results

I completed my first draft tonight (postponed from Sunday). It's a head to head standard 5x5 league...with 14 teams. This definitely made for a rapid-fire draft where many names were crossed off my list between my duo of picks. I had the 13th pick in the odd rounds and 2nd pick in even rounds. There were 24 rounds in total. Here's my team. I think I followed my strategies, but didn't necessarily pick the right players. Potential and talent may outweigh actual fantasy contributions; we will see. The thrill of the opening of baseball season is nigh. Feel free to comment on the roster or let me know if you want to see more of the draft flow.

C-Jarrad Saltalamacchia
1B-Chris Davis
2B-Chase Utley
SS-Alexei Ramirez
3B-Alex Gordon
OF-Carlos Beltran
OF-Jacoby Ellsbury
OF-Justin Upton
OF-Travis Snider
Util-Stephen Drew
Util-Jim Thome
BN-Fred Lewis
BN-Chris Dickerson
BN-Elvis Andrus
BN-Skip Schumaker

SP-James Shields
SP-Jon Lester
RP-Mike Gonzalez
RP-Jason Motte
P-Scott Baker
P-John Danks
BN-Manny Parra
BN-Carlos Villanueva
BN-Mark Buehrle

Mar 30, 2009

The Junior High Countdown: 117. 1995 Bazooka

In this edition of this monster retrospective, let's examine, Topps's latest attempt to appeal to kids and beginner collectors. Topps Attax and MLB Showdown were not the first cards where games were supposed to be the selling point. Technically, you can go back to 1951 Topps Red and Blue Backs for such a concept.

Design: It's a simple white-bordered card with mostly in-game close-up shots. The name is in red and the team name is in white letters against a blue background along the bottom. The position is highlighted in green within a bar that has ghosts of the other positions. The back is a wheel with possible different results for the game spelled out in spaces in accordance with the probability of landing on it during the game execution. Previous year stats are at the bottom of the back.

Details: Bazooka was launched in the summer of 1995 (I remember August for some reason) with an SRP of 50 cents per pack with 5 cards a pack and 36 packs per box. There was one insert set called Red Hots that were inserted 1:6 packs and 5 per factory set. These were the same design as the base set except completely red. The wheel was also slightly altered to have more positive outcomes. The base set was 132 cards including all the big stars of the day (Griffey, Thomas, etc) with the last 10 cards being dedicated to young up and comers (like my personal favorite Rico Brogna).

Impact: Since the baseball strike in 1994, card companies have been trying to snag the elusive beginner card collector market with so-called cheap alternatives. This has led to such non-memorable offerings as Topps Opening Day, Upper Deck Victory, and Upper Deck First Pitch.

Summary: The bottom line is that simpler does not a fun card set make. There was nothing to chase and nothing to get excited for. The checklist for a beginner's set was small and incomplete, depriving beginning collectors of learning about the basic construction of a team and statistics beyond what was shown during a baseball broadcast. It was also supposed to be cheap at 50 cents a pack to entice people to buy it. The problem was this was still 10 cents per card. The 1995 Topps base set, with a more interesting design and comprehensive checklist, had an SRP of $1.29 for 15 cards, 8.6 cents per card. So it did not fulfill its niche as a cheaper collectible alternative.

Furthermore, the game was kind of terrible. It was almost impossible to succeed to score runs in the game since the hits are such small pieces of the wheel. Also, to play the game, you had to stick a pencil in the middle to spin the spinner. This kind of defeats the dual purpose for which the cards were made. This wasn't the 1950s or 1960s anymore. People like their cards in good condition and like to play games; there should be a way to provide both.

On the plus side, providing a piece of Bazooka gum in the pack was very welcome.

I tried this set when it first came out, and I think I gave most of the cards away, but I did try to collect all 50 Bazooka Joe comics that came in the gum. I'll add those to my wantlist if anyone has any spare ones lying around. Yes, the gum comics were more fun to collect for me than the cards, what a sad state of affairs.

Mar 28, 2009

Fantasy Baseball Rankings VIII: Wrap-up and Summary

It hope this series of rankings has given you some insight into what I'm thinking when rating players at various positions. The key then during a draft is to maximize your production and value at each spot on your roster. You can end up with some great players, but if you draft them at the supposed wrong spot (for example, taking Santana overall #1), you hurt your team through the loss of opportunity cost for players with supposed higher value. This even applies in the middle of drafts (especially with regard to closers and one category players such as Willy Taveras).

One of the important aspects to consider is whether the player you target will be available during your next pick. You will know this by keeping track of other teams' positional and categorical needs. This is also where tiers come into play. For example, if you are targeting a shortstop within the next couple of picks, and Rafael Furcal is your only remaining shortstop in the highest remaining tier, pick him if the teams picking after you already have their shortstops. This is not 100% foolproof because some people (myself included) will take a pick deemed to be a "great value" even if the position is already filled. The UTIL spot is also a consideration in this regard.
If you want to discuss any fantasy baseball strategy, please leave a comment or e-mail me at I like to hear other peoples's insights and differences of opinion. Because at the end, this is what this all is, educated guesses and opinions. I am just an experienced amateur, like everyone else with a set goal in mind for each draft.

My first draft is Sunday. Wish me luck!

Check the "rankings" label on the sidebar to see all comments together and the "draft" label for other drafting comments.

Mar 27, 2009

Fantasy Baseball Rankings VII: Quick Hits- Third Basemen and DHs

This is the last installment of rankings for this season. I ran out of time to make the detailed charts since my first draft is this Sunday.

Third base is a surprisingly shallow position at the top end. There are not many 4-5 category contributors compared to outfield or first base. It also a position where there are many players with multiple-position eligibility (i.e. Miguel Cabrera, Jorge Cantu listed in other rankings). After each player's name is their "strength" categories and where I expect them to be drafted.

Tier 1

David Wright (HR, RBI, R, AVG, SB) (1st round)

Tier 2

Alex Rodriguez (HR, RBI, R, AVG, SB) (3rd-4th round because of injury)

Chipper Jones (AVG, RBI, R) (4th-6th round)

Aramis Ramirez (R, HR, RBI) (4th-6th round)

Evan Longoria (R, HR, RBI (3rd-5th round)

Tier 3

Ryan Zimmerman (R, HR, RBI) (6th-10th round)

Chone Figgins (R, SB) (6th-8th round)

Adrian Beltre (HR) (8th-12th round)

Michael Young (R, AVG) (4th- 6th round) (SS eligibility)

Mike Lowell (HR, RBI) (6th-10th round)

Edwin Encarnacion (HR) (8th-12th round)

Garrett Atkins (HR, RBI) (4th-8th round)

Alex Gordon (R, HR, RBI) (8th round-12th round)

Tier 4

Scott Rolen (injury risk)

Troy Glaus (injured)

Mark Reynolds (200 K, low AVG)

Casey Blake (20 HR power)

Pablo Sandoval (doesn't walk, C eligibility)

Mark DeRosa (career best at age 33, 2B eligibility)

Melvin Mora (RBI)

DHs are players I might have forgotten about previously because they slot into UTIL only (in most cases). Here's the quick list of relevant DHs to consider drafting. All of their main contributions are in power categories.

David Ortiz (4th-8th round)
Jim Thome (10th-14th round)
Jason Giambi (10th-14th round)
Travis Hafner (10th-14th round)
Billy Butler (14th-18th round)
Gary Sheffield (14th-18th round)

Mar 26, 2009

Fantasy Baseball Rankings VI: Quick Hits-Starting Pitchers

Below is my fantasy rankings for starting pitchers. The tiers refer to similar groupings of players. I haven't specified rankings within the tiers...that I leave up to the individual drafter. Starting pitching has a lot of similarly projected players within their midsts. Also, there is a much higher risk of injury compared with other positions. There are three schools of thought when drafting starting pitchers:

1) Hoard the aces: Draft two or more guys who you consider an ace by choosing two starting pitchers in your first 4 picks. It is risky in that pitching has more depth than other positions and when you choose pitchers so early, you sacrifice for the chance to draft real stars at other, less deep positions. I've used this in a head-to-head league before.

2) Apply the anchor: Get one "ace" and then draft a lot of pitchers in the middle to late rounds. I tend to use this strategy most often. I like the comfort of having a guy who gives you consistent stats from year to year (or at least should without an unanticipated falling apart or injury).

3) Skip the pitching until round 8 or later. This is the preferred strategy for head-to-head leagues especially because pitching stats, in general, have more fluctuation from week to week. This can also be used to advantage in rotisserie leagues because you can have 3-4 solid starters drafted in rounds 8-14, while filling in the rest of the staff with closers and middle relievers.

Typically, the only pitchers to draft as aces are those listed in tier 1. Tier 2 guys have talent and can be an anchor if the all the tier 1 players are gone, but they may have some question marks . Tier 3 pitchers are middle round finds with some potential to perform just as well as tier 2 pitchers, but have other questions. Tier 4 pitchers I consider unreliable because of inconsistency or uncertainty of repeating positive performances. Tier 5 pitchers are intriguing young guys with potential who easily can be drafted at the same level as Tier 3 and 4 pitchers. I separate them out so I know who to target post-round 15. I tend to draft younger pitchers who haven't yet reached their peak near the end of drafts because if they work out, they are really good and if they dont work out, they are easily expendable. I only ranked those whom I considered to be "draftable" in a 12 team 5x5 draft. Concerns are listed in parentheses after the pitcher's name.

Tier 1 (rounds 1-4)

Roy Halladay

Brandon Webb

Tim Lincecum

Johan Santana

Jake Peavy

Cole Hamels

CC Sabathia

Tier 2 (rounds 4-8)

John Lackey (HR allowed)

Roy Oswalt (team is terrible)

Carlos Zambrano (inconsistency)

Rich Harden (injury risk)

Dan Haren (home ballpark)

Cliff Lee (regression?)

Felix Hernandez (BB/9)

James Shields

Josh Beckett (injury risk)

Daisuke Matsuzaka (BB/9)

Francisco Liriano (previous injury)

AJ Burnett (injury risk)

Tier 3 (rounds 8-14)

Ervin Santana (injured)

Justin Duchscherer (injured)

Javier Vazquez (HR allowed)

Derek Lowe (age)

Yovoni Gallardo (previous injury)

Adam Wainwright (inexperience)

Ryan Dempster (regression?)

Chad Billingsley (innings overload)

Matt Cain (HR allowed)

Erik Bedard (injury risk)

Ricky Nolasco (previous injury)

John Maine (K/BB ratio)

Brett Myers (headcase)

Scott Kazmir (BB/9 and P/IP)

Matt Garza (innings overload)

Jon Lester(innings overload)

Edison Volquez (regression?)

Zack Greinke (team)

Scott Baker (run support)

John Danks (HR/FB ratio)

Joba Chamberlain (injury risk)

Tier 4 (round 10 and above)

Joe Saunders

Jered Weaver

Jesse Litsch

Manny Parra

Chris Carpenter

Ted Lilly

Randy Johnson

Fausto Carmona

Brandon Morrow

Josh Johnson

Anibal Sanchez

Oliver Perez

Chris Young

Jaimie Moyer

Joe Blanton

Aaron Harang

Aaron Cook

Justin Verlander

Kevin Slowey

Mark Buehrle

Gavin Floyd

Chien Ming Wang

Tier 5 (round 10 and above)

Gio Gonzalez

Sean Gallagher

david Purcey

Jair Jurrjens

Todd Wellemeyer

Sean Marshall

Max Scherzer

Clayton Kershaw

Chris Volstad

Andrew Miller

Mike Pelfrey

John Lannan

Jeremy Guthrie

David Price

Johnny Cueto

Mar 25, 2009

The Junior High Countdown: 118. 1995 Topps DIII

Topps got creative in an expensive way with 1995 Topps DIII. I liked this set, really....I just can't get over some details which prevent it from being higher on this list.

Design: It looks like the ball is coming right at you! No, it really is... 3D photos coming at you! The cards were thick, made of multiple photolaminar layers to create an illusion of depth. On some cards it worked. Check out the Jeff Montgomery card from the set. On others, it didn't...look at the Will Clark card (the glove is the only thing that pops). The backs were a bright orange with some interesting stats and a headshot of the player in the middle.

Details: There were 59 cards for series 1 distributed in 5 card packs for $4.00 per pack. Now you're probably wondering why I said series 1? Well, there was going to be a series 2, but due to lack of sales and interest, it was subsequently cancelled. The checklist, therefore, lacked a certain cache, only including a few stars of the day (no Thomas, no Bagwell, no Puckett, no Maddux) and with the most known young player being the immortal Bob Hamelin (1994 AL ROY). It is essentially an incomplete set The only insert set was D3 Zone, a 6 card set inserted once every 6 packs, that really only had baseballs showcased at different depths with the player floating in it.

Impact: It was innovative, but failed to deliver, limiting its overall impact. It did nothing to decrease the trend of paying nearly $1.00 per card in a pack, even with its abject market failure.

Summary: Essentially, if it was an action photo, it was a well-executed concept. But with such a small set size, every card should have been to take full advantage of the technology. I'm not ashamed to admit I have every card of this set after purchasing a box for cheap in 2001. I'm currently trying to acquire a 2nd set since the box yielded almost two sets for me. It's pretty fun to look at the cards in a binder, but you do get dizzy after awhile.

In short, the premium cost for what was essentially a technology gimmick limited its overall and long-term appeal. The checklist was weak and too small and the insert set was uninteresting and easy to acquire. There was no perceived value except for the possible aesthetic appeal which was limited to about half the checklist. This is the first set that I pursued that is on this list. It could have been executed much better than it was.

Mar 24, 2009

The 5th Blog Bat Around: Baseball Joy

Joy and baseball cards are not always synonymous for me. When opening packs and searching through boxes upon boxes of commons and stars, apprehension, desperation, longing, and hope all percolate through the consciousness as one by one, images fade into memory as they are forgotten and set aside for someone else to scan.

For me, joy has been derived from the acquisition of a few types of cards and memorabilia.

1. My first vintage card (and I'm not talking about the 1983 Topps Traded Larry Bittner that came in one of those baseball card starter kits). Like many of us, my father lamented that his mother threw out all his cards. He was an avid collector of 1961-1963 Topps, especially the wood grain 1962 version. For one of my birthdays (somewhere between 10-12), we went to the nearest hobby shop, which was called Neshaminy Stamps and Coins. It had everything, literally, but it's long gone now. We went to the vintage card section together and rifled through the boxes. Two cards stuck out, a 1961 Topps Curt Simmons and a 1962 Topps Orlando Cepeda. I was able to choose one (in addition to the other gifts that day). I chose the Cepeda (for the low price of $3.00), and it was and is the first vintage card I have ever owned. Check out the grin on this guy's face.

Alas, this image is from ebay and not mine (it's in PA, I'm in CA).

2. Is that Mickey Mantle? By the time I was a teenager, I was a veteran of packs and card shows and hobby boxes. In 1996, I received a Topps Series 1 box for Hannukah (well, this was the tradition: my brother and I would go to a card store, either Baseball Connection or Toy Trains and Sports Cards and pick a box for each of us; I miss traditions). Of course, Mickey Mantle reprints were inserted in the packs. I opened the box pack by pack, and when I came upon a reprint, I literally jumped off the living room floor and showed everyone in the house. I mean, it was Mickey Mantle! in my hand. The one that was on the August 1995 issue of Beckett. The one with the 1952 Topps card that I saw sell with my own eyes for $30,000. This proceeded to happen 3 more times during the next 2 hours. I had a lot of energy then.

3. The set's complete!: This joy is all about the quest. I still feel great when it occurs. The last two sets I've completed by hand were 2007 UD Masterpieces (thanks I am Joe Collector) and 2007 Allen and Ginter base set, flag set, box topper set, etc. These had a slightly different joy since I can anticipate the cards coming through the mail. For sheer "This is the last card I need for the set and I found it in THIS BOX!" feeling, I have to go back to 1996 when I completed the 1996 Upper Deck set.

4. The autograph to end all autographs: Now I'm an adult (at least functionally), and I live far away from home (nearly 93 million miles away). My mother came out to visit during the summer for a 5 day retreat with her oldest son. We both love to go to baseball games, and she wanted to see the San Francisco stadium for the first time. So I got tickets for a game there, but then I found something extraordinary (h/t Awesomely Bad Wax for his weekly postings), Mike Schmidt, the Phillie to end all Phillies, was going to be in Sacramento at a Sacramento RiverCats game for free autographs. I asked if she minded going to another game in the same weekend. When I mentioned who was going to be there, she also seemed very excited. So, we drove the nearly two hours (with typical Bay Area traffic) to Sacramento, arrived at the stadium....and waited in the shortest line ever for a living legend. We introduced ourselves, took a picture with him, and received the large card he was signing. It was a few seconds of pure joy. The game itself was also fun (it was amateur singer night, applause for all). (I am still looking for the photo of the "event")

The joy, for me, is all about the thrill and knowledge of what you can get along with sharing the experience with those close to you. Enjoy!

Mar 23, 2009

Fantasy Baseball Rankings V: Quick Hits-Catchers and Closers

For me, normally, these are positions I wait on.

For catchers, if you're not willing to sacrfice a 4-6 round pick on McCann, Martin, or Mauer(barring continuing injury), then you might as well wait. There is serious reaching for Matt Wieters in experts' drafts. Will he be worth it? He might not even start the season with the MLB club. His talent though is undeniable. There are other catchers (Soto, Doumit) who can offer the same production, and also have a track record. Just don't hurt yourself in all the categories when you pick one. Be ready to cut them if they're not working out since a good starting catcher normally starts only 115-130 games per season, depressing their overall numbers compared to other positions. If someone emerges during the season, don't hesitate to replace a mediocrity at the position. The same type of tiering system applies as previous rankings; these are similar groupings of players based on projected stats.

Tier 1
Brian McCann
Russell Martin
Joe Mauer

Tier 2
Geovany Soto
Victor Martinez
Ryan Doumit
Tier 3
Matt Wieters
Kelly Shoppach

Tier 4
Mike Napoli
Bengie Molina
Chris Ianetta
AJ Pierzynski
Jorge Posada

Tier 5
Chris Snyder
Jarod Saltalamacchia
Dioner Navarro

For closers, I've mentioned not to draft one too early, but this doesn't mean to overlook them. Try to draft 3-4 during the draft, and maybe also a middle reliever with a high K/9 and K/BB rate (i.e. Carlos Marmol, J.J. Putz). The only considerations with closers are opportunities, effectiveness at converting opportunities, situation stability, and injury. The rest is not as important because most only pitch 60-80 innings per year, which have a miniscule effect on ERA and WHIP. Although grabbing one with a high K/9 can help in maximizing Ks (assuming you have an inning limit in your league; for head to head leagues, it doesn't matter at all).
Tier 1 (Stable Situation and Effective)
Brad Lidge
Francisco Rodriguez
Jose Valverde
Mariano Rivera
Jonathan Papelbon
Joakim Soria
Joe Nathan

Tier 2 (Stable Situation with Concerns about Effectiveness)
Matt Capps
Francisco Cordero
Jonathan Broxton
Bobby Jenks

Tier 3 (Threatened Situation but Effective with Opportunity)
Matt Lindstrom
Mike Gonzalez
Brian Wilson
Heath Bell
Huston Street
BJ Ryan
George Sherrill
Brad Ziegler
Brian Fuentes
Kerry Wood
Chad Qualls

Tier 4 (Threatened Situation with Effectiveness (including injury) Concerns)
Joel Hanrahan
Kevin Gregg
Troy Percival
Brandon Lyon
Frank Francisco
Trevor Hoffmann

Tier 5 (Unsettled Situations)
Cardinals (frontrunner: Jason Motte)
Mariners (frontrunner:???)
Middle relivers to consider
JJ Putz
Hong-Chi Kuo
Justin Masterson
Takashi Saito
Rafael Soriano
Carlos Marmol
Manny Corpas
Scott Downs
Brandon League
Chris Ray
Joey Devine
Jose Arredondo
Carlos Villanueva

Mar 22, 2009

Fantasy Baseball Rankings IV: Shortstops

Below is my fantasy rankings for shortstops. All stats are from Baseball The tiers refer to similar groupings of players. I haven't specified rankings within the tiers...that I leave up to the individual drafter. Please let me know your thoughts...whether you agree, disagree, think I've lost a couple of marbles while working in the lab, etc. As you can see, shortstop is deeper than expected with some combination of speed and power guys. The position also has 3 potential first round picks. I only ranked those whom I considered to be "draftable" in a 12 team 5x5 draft.

Let the presentation begin!

NameAgeStrength StatsKey Stats from 2008Projected Draft PositionCommentsTier
Hanley Ramirez25AVG, HR, R, SB, RBI125 R, 33 HR, 35 SB, .400 OBP, .540 SLG 1Consensus top 2 pick in the draft. 5 category stud because will not hit 3rd in Florida lineup1
Jose Reyes26R, SB, AVG113 R, 56 SB1Consensus top 4 pick in the draft. Steals are his biggest asset, but can contribute across all categories.1
Jimmy Rollins30R, HR, SB47 SB, .349 OBP, .437 SLG1Great asset at speed. Scores a lot of runs with Utley and Howard hitting behind him. Stats last year depressed because of ankle injury 1
Rafael Furcal31R, SB36 G , 8 SB, 34 R 4-7 roundHe may be overrated because he's over 30 and had injury problems last year. But with potent Dodger lineup can score 100-120 runs and steal 25-35 bases with respectable AVG and HR2
Alexei Ramirez 27HR, RBI 22 HR, 77 RBI, 13 SB, .475 SLG, .313 OBP 3-6 roundFree swinger with great power. Will be overdrafted based on potential. Also eligible at 2nd base2
Stephen Drew 26R, HR, RBI.502 SLG, 21 HR 5-8 roundSimilar in fantasy profile to Hardy and Ramirez, but his skills can portend a greater improvement for 3rd full season2
JJ Hardy26HR, RBI 24 HR, .478 SLG7-10 round Streaky power hitter in the prime of his career who will contribute 25 HR and a decent AVG3
Troy Tulowitzki24R, RBI.332 OBP, .401 SLG 7-10 roundExtemely disappointing '08 with injury and performance. This ranking is more of a bounceback hope. Still only 24.3
Derek Jeter35R, AVG .363 OBP, .408 SLG5-8 roundStill useful, but not for the value most people give him. Declining trend in power and speed is real.3
Jhonny Peralta27R, HR, RBI104 R, 23 HR, 89 RBI, .473 SLG 6-12 round Power is there consistently. Place in Indians lineup will matter for other categories3
Miguel Tejada35R.314 OBP, .415 SLG, 13 HR, 66 RBI6-12 round Will not approach power of years past. Also, extremely slow (32 GIDP). Has lost batting eye as well4
Orlando Cabrera34 R, SB93 R, 19 SB, .334 OBP 12-15 round Solid contributor in all categories, however, has less than .400 SLG previous 2 years.4
Brandon Wood 24HRnot enough info18-21 roundAmazing power numbers in the minors. Hasn't figured out major league pitching yet.4
Yunel Escobar 26R, AVG .366 OBP12-15 roundAbove average hitter with developing skills and good strike zone control who will give you a solid contribution.4
Ryan Theriot 29R, SB, AVG22 SB, .387 OBP15-18 roundNo power, but good speed, great plate discipline. Expect .300 AVG with 20 SB and 90 R4
Edgar Renteria33 AVG.317 OBP, .382 SLG15-18 roundHas clearly lost a step, but has moved to NL, where he seems to play better. Strictly a backup in this stage of his career4
Christian Guzman31AVG.316 AVG, 23 BB18-21 round Had one of career best year last year with surprising doubles power and high average. Has poor pitch recognition, but makes contact. Might maintain AVG, but offers nothing else4
Elvis Andrus20 SBNo MLB stats18-21 roundTake a chance, get some steals. Very high talent ceiling, but probably too young to approach it this year4
Mike Aviles 28 AVG.325 AVG/ .480 SLG15-18 roundHigh contact hitter who surprised last year. Might get double digit HR again. Also eligible at 2B. 4

Mar 19, 2009

Mail Day from Old School Box Breaks!

These were cards sent from John at Old School Breaks for answering correctly a trivia contest he held. When these cards, graced my presence, I was very happy with the enjoyable variety he sent along.

1978 Topps Bob Boone and 1977 Topps Terry Harmon: Some classic Phillies (especially the Boone) for a non-classic personality

1998 Flair Showcase Curt Schilling (#d to 2000) and 2009 Topps Toppstown Ryan Howard: I loved Schilling when he was on the Phillies, he talked a lot less back then, and the only thing he did say was to disparage Mitch Williams. Who doesn't disagree with that?

Three 2009 Topps Black (Walmart-style) Phillies: These are great because there are no Walmarts within any reasonable distance to my home, and I would never see these otherwise.

2009 Topps Turkey Red Shane Victorino, 2009 Upper Deck Phillies Team Leaders, and 2009 Upper Deck Rivals Rollins/Reyes: A celebration of the best the Phillies having to offer, including topping the Mets the past two seasons. Though Rollins true rivals might be New York sportstalk radio or Johan Santana rather than Reyes. Do opposing shortstops ever converse during the course of a game? They don't seem to be as chatty as first basemen.

And the biggest surprise of all....a Frozen Artifacts jersey (clearly a Flyers jersey!) #d 55/125 of one of my top 3 favorite Flyers ever, Mark Rechhi!

John, your generosity knows no bounds. I'll keep my eyes open for Yankees for you.

Mar 17, 2009

Fantasy Baseball Rankings III: Quick Hits-Oufield

Baseball season is creeping closer and closer. The WBC is a worthwhile distraction, but it's short and isn't part of the marathonic charm that each season possesses. The spring air and adjustment to daylight savings time has really given an extra jump in my step (which is good because soccer season also started this past weekend).
Therefore, here's the quick hits of my rankings for outfielders. They are also ranked in tiers and after each name is that player's strength categories in a standard 5x5 league. The first five tiers are the targets to fill out the starting lineup. Tiers six and seven are players that I feel have some risk, but are still worth pursuing, assuming the draft position is right. Notice that each tier has an increasing number of players. This is because there is more and more similarity in value as you go down the list. The key is to identify the players that will surpass last year's (and career average) totals. I'm still working on the other positions...stay tuned for them this week.
Tier 1
Manny Ramirez-AVG, HR, RBI
Ryan Braun-AVG, HR, RBI, R
Grady Sizemore-R, HR, SB
Carlos Beltran-R, HR, RBI, SB
Josh Hamilton-AVG, HR, RBI
Tier 2
Vladimir Guerrero-AVG, HR, RBI
Alfonso Soriano-R, HR, SB
Carlos Lee-HR, RBI, SB
Ichiro Suzuki-R, AVG, SB
Carl Crawford-R, SB
Matt Holliday-R, HR, AVG,RBI
Tier 3
Vernon Wells- R, RBI
Alex Rios-R, SB
Matt Kemp-AVG, R, SB, RBI
Nick Markakis-R, HR, RBI
BJ Upton-R, RBI, SB
Jason Bay-R, HR, RBI
Carlos Quentin-R, HR, RBI
Tier 4
Curtis Granderson-R, HR
Bobby Abreu-R, RBI, SB
Corey Hart-HR, SB
Adam Dunn-HR, RBI
Nate McLouth-R, SB
Jacoby Ellsbury-R, SB
Jay Bruce-HR, RBI
Magglio Ordonez-HR, RBI, AVG
Hunter Pence-AVG, RBI
Ryan Ludwick-HR, RBI
Milton Bradley-AVG, RBI
Justin Upton-HR, RBI
Andre Ethier-R, AVG, HR
Tier 5
Brad Hawpe-HR, RBI
Carlos Guillen-AVG, RBI
Jermaine Dye-HR, RBI
Johnny Damon-R, SB
Willy Taveras-SB
Michael Bourn-SB
Raul Ibanez-RBI
Pat Burrell-HR, RBI
Torii Hunter-R, RBI
Travis Snider-HR, RBI
JD Drew-R, HR, RBI
Elijah Dukes-HR, RBI
Chris Young-HR, SB
Shane Victorino-R, SB
Jayson Werth-HR, SB
Tier 6
Jack Cust-HR, RBI
Adam Lind-R, RBI
Jeff Franceour-RBI
Mike Cameron-HR, SB
Rick Ankiel-HR
Conor Jackson-AVG
Randy Winn-AVG, SB
Fred Lewis-SB
Aaron Rowand-RBI
Cody Ross-HR
Jeremy Hermida-R, RBI
Brian Giles-AVG,RBI
Xavier Nady-HR, RBI
Lastings Milledge-SB, HR
Tier 7 (young guys to take a chance on)
Colby Rasmus
Shin-Soo Choo
Cameron Maybin
Adam Jones
Chris Dickerson
Carlos Gomez
Denard Span
Felix Pie

Mar 16, 2009

Speaking of Panini....

With Panini buying Donruss, chronicled in way too many places to link, let me show off my newest addition to my increasingly nostalgic collection. This really got me involved in collecting more than anything else. The original sticker book filled with stickers (maybe 3/4 full) is long gone. By the age of 10, both covers were missing along with the top half of the first two pages. This seems to happen to a lot of books I own; I tend to read books multiple times. You should see my copy of Fellowship of the Ring.

So I decided to purchase a new sticker book with one box of 100 packs of stickers (retail price only 25 cents per pack!). I don't expect to get the whole set, but I will open them and stick them to my heart's content. You can see some of the results posted right here.

Mar 13, 2009

The Junior High Countdown: 119. 1994 Fleer Extra Bases

I'm not sure what Fleer was thinking with this set. Actually, that's not entirely true. I bet they were thinking, "How do we include more of the photo on a card?" Unfortunately, the result is Fleer Extra Bases.

Design: The design itself is very clean. It's a full bleed photograph with the player name at the bottom in team related colors along with a new "Extra Bases" logo. On the back, is a second photo of the player with full career stats. Sounds great to me so far....The problem that I can't overlook is this...the size! Each card measures 2 1/2" x 4 3/4". This is not a proportional configuration and what ends up happening is that you get a squashed image of the player. Also, not fun to store. I completely mangled all the 89 Bowman cards I had as a kid. Imagine what I would have done with these...if I ever had any. It was long...and it wasn't strong.

Details: This had a 400 card base set with each box containing 36 packs with 10 cards per pack for a SRP of $1.99 released during mid-summer. It wasn't quite premium or a base set, kind of a quasi-premium release. I only remember seeing these at retail outlets like Woolworths. Also, continuing the theme of other Fleer products that year, one insert was inserted in every pack. These were 2nd year Standouts, Game Breakers, Major League Hopeful, and Rookie Standout. A set called Pitchers' Duel was available through a wrapper redemption. Rookies of note were Chan Ho Park and Ray Durham.

Impact: It should have stopped card manufacturers from releasing full oversized card sets for a long time, but instead we were later blessed with Topps Super Chrome, also not on my favorites list.

Summary: This was a very poor seller according to my memory. Even a card-obsessed 12 year old like me did not touch any of this stuff. As such, I have none in my collection. I really soured on oversize cards after 1989 Bowman, but I really loved the Allen and Ginter boxtoppers the last couple years. I guess the lesson is an oversized full set is not collectible, but a few cards is alright. Also, the large set size did not distinguish it from the base set that year and the insert sets were not interesting enough in design or concept to pursue. Really, I never had any interest in that set in any point of my time in the collecting zone.

Mar 12, 2009

Fantasy Baseball Rankings II: 2nd Base

Below is my fantasy rankings for 2nd basemen. All stats are from Baseball The tiers refer to similar groupings of players. I haven't specified rankings within the tiers...that I leave up to the individual drafter. Please let me know your thoughts...whether you agree, disagree, think I've lost a couple of marbles while working in the lab, etc. As you can see, 2nd base, is a shallow position. I only ranked those whom I considered to be "draftable" in a 12 team 5x5 draft.

Let the presentation begin!

NameAgeStrength StatsKey Stats from 2008Projected Draft PositionCommentsTier
Chase Utley30R, HR, RBI, AVG 33 HR, 100+ R and RBI, .380 OBP, .535 SLG1-2 roundEven with hip injury recovery, should put up similar numbers to last couple of years. The power should return after 2nd half drop. Can contribute in all 5categories1
Ian Kinsler27R, HR, SB, AVG.319/.375/.517, 18 HR, 26 SB1-2 roundLegitimate 25-30 and 5 category threat, might be 1st 2nd baseman drafted in some drafts1
Dustin Pedroia 25R, HR, AVG .326/.376/.493, 17 HR, 20 SB2-3 roundLess power than Kinsler, but better AVG. Should hit .300 with similar numbers. Be wary of SB decreasing1
Brandon Phillips 28HR, SB21 HR, 23 SB, .312 OBP3-6 round Doesn’t have great batting eye, but 20/20 almost assured.2
Dan Uggla29HR, RBI, R32 HR, .515 SLG, 171 K5-9 roundHigh power with low AVG, should be a lock for 25 HRs 2
Brian Roberts 31 R, SB.378 OBP, .450 SLG, 51 2B, 40 SB3-6 round Good batting eye with some power and speed to burn. On wrong side of 30, but should have 30-35 SB with .290 AVG and possibly 15 HR2
Howie Kendrick 25 AVG .306 AVG, .333 OBP, 92 G10-15 roundGreat hitter for average with some 2B power that might translate to increased HR. However, very injury prone. 3
Kelly Johnson27R, HR .446 SLG15-18 round Solid all-around contributor3
Rickie Weeks26R,HR,SB.234/.342/.39812-15 round Real 20/20 potential…if he can get it together (saying that for 3 years now3
Felipe Lopez29HR, SBonly .234 Avg in Washington12-15 roundintriguing pick because of 2005/2006 and production when traded to St. Louis. Now in AZ, a majr hitter's park. 15/25 possibility 3
Jose Lopez25 HR, RBI17 HR, 89 RBI, .443 SLG12-17 round Free swinger who gets RBIs even when not hitting well. Low .OBP means when not hitting HRs is much less valuable.3
Robinson Cano 26 AVG. HR .271 AVG, .305 OBP15-18 round Has contact ability, but if career continues on this path, then useless as a fantasy player. Don't expect 2006 again.3
Kazuo Matsui33SB 20 SB, .293 AVG, .354 OBP18-21 roundHad career best season at age 32, 2nd baseman don't age well, injuries also a factor 4
Mark Ellis 32 HR12 HR in 442 AB 18-21 roundOakland lineup much improved, should help RBI numbers, on the wrong side of 30. 4
Aaron Hill27HR 17 HR in 2007 18-21 round Is he recovered from the concussion?4
Skip Schumaker29AVG .302/.359/.406 18-21 round high avg with decent batting eye, absolutely no power. 4
Orlando Hudson 31 AVG .305 AVG, .450 SLG 15-18 roundAbove average hitter with below average fantasy stats 4
Freddy Sanchez31AVG.298 OBP18-21 round High contact hitter with little plate discipline. If AVG does not hover around .300 has no value since won't score runs and doesn't have SB4
Clint Barmes 30AVG, HR.468 SLG 16-21 round "Deermeat" Barmes has some useful skills and position versatility and plays in CO, but don't expect star numbers4
Placido Polanco 33 R, AVG.307 AVG, .350 OBP 16-21 roundGreat contact hitter who will help your AVG with 6-10 HR, strictly a backup4

Mar 11, 2009

Fantasy Baseball Rankings I: First Base

Below is my fantasy rankings for 1st baseman. All stats are from Baseball The tiers refer to similar groupings of players. I haven't specified rankings within the tiers...that I leave up to the individual drafter. Please let me know your thoughts...whether you agree, disagree, think I've lost a couple of marbles while working in the lab, etc.

Let the presentation begin!


NameAgeStrength StatsKey Stats from 2008Projected Draft PositionCommentsTier
Albert Pujols29R, HR, RBI, AVG.357/.462/.6531 roundMight be best hitter in game, I would not hesitate to pick him in top two picks of draft1*
Lance Berkman33R, HR, RBI, AVG.420 OBP, .567 SLG, 100+ Runs and RBIs2-4 roundGreat batting eye with 30 HR power and .300 avg possibility. Don't count on 18 SB again1
Prince Fielder25HR, RBI34 HR, 102 RBI, .507 SLG,/td> 2-4 roundIn the breakout zone with huge power potential. Needs lineup support to score more runs. 40 HR season likely1
Ryan Howard29HR, RBI48 HR, 146 RBI1-2 roundDeclining power to human levels since 2006 MVP year. Can hurt you with AVG, amazing power to all fields in all parks.1
Miguel Cabrera26HR, RBI, AVG.537 SLG, 37 HR, 127 RBI2-4 round Adjustment to Detroit led to slow 1st half last year, still led AL in HR. His AVG should increase this year.1
Justin Morneau28 HR, RBI.499 SLG, 129 RBI 2-4 round Has lots of RBI with low .SLG percentage (thanks Joe Mauer), capable of 30 HR. Plate discipline should allow for maintained success. 1
Mark Teixeira29R, HR, RBI, AVG.410 OBP, .527 SLG, 100+ R and RBI, .300 AVG2-3 round A great player with a good batting eye and approach, sufficient power and in a good lineup. Will hit .300 with 30 HR and 100 RBI 1
Derrek Lee33 R, RBIonly 20 HR, but 41 2B, .462 SLG 5-9 round Power has fallen dramatically since great 2005, still a solid overall player, normally a bit overdrafted2
Adrian Gonzalez27R, HR, RBI100+ R and RBI, 36 HR, .510 SLG6-10 roundVery talented player with terrible home park, 22 HR and .578 SLG on the road 2
Chris Davis23 HR, RBI.549 SLG, 22 HR in 294 AB6-10 roundHas serious pop, but needs better strike zone control to realize full power potential. Young and full of possibilities +eligible at 3rd base.2
Carlos Pena 31 HR, RBI .494 SLG, 31 HR, .377 OBP6-10 roundDon't expect 2007 again; 30 HR and a lot of strikeouts are what to expect. Has a good batting eye, so higher run total could come about.2
Kevin Youkilis30RBI, AVG .315 AVG/.390 OBP, .569 SLG 4-7 round Had career year in 2008, but is still an above average first baseman. I would expect a .300 AVG with 20 HR and possibly 100 RBI2
James Loney 25 AVG, RBI 90 RBI, 35 2B 13-16 round 2nd full season, has breakout possibility, line drive hitter, good value pick 3
Jorge Cantu 27R, HR, RBI29 HR, .484 SLG, .327 OBP7-10 round Draft as a third baseman. Free swinger who can hit the ball a mile. Hopefully, resurgence continues in FLA 3
Carlos Delgado37HR, RBI 38 HR, 115 RBI, .518 SLG 7-10 round Which is the real Delgado…1st half or 2nd half? Still has pull power and can hit 30 HR3
Aubrey Huff32 HR, RBI32 HR, .552 SLG 9-12 round Draft as a 3rd baseman. Won't likely hit 30 HR again, but a useful player even if he matches career averages3
Joey Votto25 HR, RBI 24 HR and .502 SLG 6-10 roundCan break out in a mojor way hitting in the middle of the lineup. Has decent plate discipline and a lot of power without piling up 150+ Ks.3
Adam LaRoche29HR, RBI 25 HR, .500 SLG 13-16 round Has 30 HR power, would make a fine backup first baseman.4
Todd Helton35 RBI, AVG 83 G, .391 OBP, .388 SLG16-20 roundHad career worst season in 2008. Still has great batting eye, but back has sapped him of power. Can be useful, but don't depend on him4
Mike Jacobs 28 HR .299 OBP with 32 HR16-20 round His low OBP offsets the power because he won't score runs or have a high average, strictly a backup 4
Paul Konerko33HR.438 SLG16-20 roundClearly has lost power since 2007 and is not a reliable pick (see 2003 season).4
Kendry Morales26AVGNot enough info post 20th roundFirst opportunity to play full time, high contact hitter with 15 HR potential.5
Daric Barton23nonenone post 20th roundStill young, but potential doesn't exist for fantasy categories. Has decent batting eye with 10-15 HR power.5
Lyle Overbay32 AVG .358 OBPpost 20th round Above average MLB hitter, but below average fantasy hitter. At 32, will not match career high 2006. 5
Casey Kotchman 26AVG none post 20th roundYounger version of Overbay, still young enough to break out with a 20 HR season.5
Chad Tracy 29 none 88 G playedpost 20th round Has become injury prone of late, still no better than a steady hitter; think Sean Casey5
Travis Ishikawa25noneNot enough infopost 20th roundFirst full season in MLB. Dominated AAA last year in half season. Does not have the plate discipline to break out 5
Ryan Garko28 RBI90 RBI, 14 HR, .404 SLG post 20th roundMajor disappointment last year, now threatened to split time with Victor Martinez. Avoid.5
Russell Branyan 33HR12 HR in 132 AB post 20th round Wow. He's not a starting first baseman,5
Nick Johson30nonenone Don'tINJURY PRONE5

Mar 10, 2009

A note on fantasy baseball rankings

I'm currently developing my rankings by position, including every team. I hope you can appreciate some of the detail I go into. The player's name, age, team, other position eligibility, and category strengths will be described.

I've also grouped the players into tiers or levels based on where I feel or mostly where I expect them to be drafted in a 5 x5 snake-style draft. Tiers are important to me because they differentiate players of similar skill levels and expectations at a given position. This, of course, do not draft a first tier closer before a first tier outfielder or first baseman. Gauge the flow of the draft to determine when the talent drop-off at a position is too severe to let go anymore.

Next up is first baseman (this is the most comprehensive list since I did it first. In future lists, I'm omitting players I wouldn't draft at all in a 12 team mixed league to save some time. If you see any omissions, please let me know.)

Can you smell the springtime?

Mar 8, 2009

The Junior High Countdown: 120. 1995 Pacific Prisms

Up first, is my first villified set with arguably the most villified player of this era.

Look to the left. Now adjust your sight for any purple spots. This was Pacific's first foray into the premium market in 1995. I believe, according to their license at the time with MLB, they could release two bilingual baseball sets per year.

Design: The design was a "prismatic" foil backfround with the player image superimposed onto it; it's practically epilectic when you move the card around. The Pacific crown logo was in the upper left corner. The name was in foil inside a team-specific colored box. The back was bilingual (cool).... with no stats ( very not cool) on a rainbow background with a player headshot in the corner.

Details: 1995 Pacific Prisms was distributed in 36 pack boxes with 2 cards per pack (one Prism and one team logo) for a SRP of $1.79. The base set was 144 cards with the major stars and semistars of the day. There were no rookies of note.

Impact: None, except on the wallet. Even though this did spawn other shiny, no substance sets in the future. There were no insert sets worth chasing with the only one being a one per pack team logo, which is not even desirable in 2009.

Summary: Just by looking at this set, you could tell it's trying to say, "Don't leave me behind; I can be a worthwhile card too. Check out this rainbow effect." But in reality, this set was not for high-end (or so-called premmium) collectors of the day (or now) because it was likely you were not going to receive a star card in a pack. In fact, the odds were against you getting one. In addition, there was no scarcity component involved at all in any aspect of the set.

For set collectors, it would require a minimum of 4 boxes without duplicates to amass this miasma-inducing set because of the one card per pack configuration. On the plus side there weren't one thousand parallels. However, the design and value held it back then as it does now. I have two cards from this set, both from 10 cent boxes at card 1995. Why buy a pack at all?

Mar 6, 2009

Phillies Pholklore: Ricky Jordan

(Image from ebay)
Phillies Pholklore (notice the clever use of the Ph in place of the F, it's like it's never happened before.... ever) will recount fond (and not so fond) memories I have had of players or events from Phillies' teams past.

Paul Scott "Ricky" Jordan is one of the first ballplayes I tried to emulate in Little League. I copied his batting stance when I was 8 years old and copied the pre-stance underhanded swing motion that he did before each pitch. My dad definitely did not like that and altered my swing. I felt like Willie Mays Hayes when he would say to me, "With your speed and tiny size, you should be hitting balls on the ground." I eventually developed into a decent line drive hitter.

All that aside, Ricky Jordan burst onto the baseball scene in 1988 with a home run in his first official major-league at-bat. With the team languishing in last (6th!) place in the NL East practically the entire season, it was exciting for my young mind to have someone to root for. I mean, I was excited when they were within 5 games of the 5th place Cardinals. He hit over .300 (actually .308) for his half season of work with good power (11 HR and .491 SLG) and a slick glove.

He was an above average player in 1989, but the power potential did not develop as hoped, only hitting 12 home runs for the full season with a drop in BA and .OBP from the previous year. On May 6, 1990, on the Phanatic's birthday, he hit the first grand slam I ever saw in person. It was very exciting. It's still the only one I've ever seen by a Phillie in person. My mother couldn't go that day for some reason, so a friend came instead to take the 5th of my family's 5 tickets. She still is upset because she's always wanted to see a grand slam, but STILL never has. She more than made up for it in my eyes by witnessing Kevin Millwood's no-hitter in 2003.

With the arrival of John Kruk, he became a contributing part-time player and pinch hitter through 1994. He led the team in pinch-hits in 1993 as the Phillies won the NL pennant, and he started the first two games in Toronto during the World Series as the DH. Shoulder injuries soon made him retire in 1996.

He finished with a line of .281 BA/.308 OBP/.424 SLG with 55 HR and 301 RBI for his career. He was a memorable player during the impressionable times of my life.

Mar 4, 2009

Fantasy Baseball: A Draft Thought Exercise Part II

Here's part 2 with some more of my overall opinion and evaluation of drafting strategies and tips:

7. Speed cuts both ways. Steals are great. I love to lead the league in steals and runs. If I had my way, I would draft all leadoff hitters. Although, you shoudl try and distribute steals across the roster. Two 20-20 (HR-SB) guys are almost always better than a 10-50 guy(this was not true for Jose Cruz Jr in 2002). The key is to see how many categories they contribute in. I made that mistake and have drafted Juan Pierre and Scott Posednik too early. It's ok to take those guys late (Taveras and Bourn last year) after the 12th round. Don't consider speed and power as two sides of a coin; all categories are equal to the fantasy gods.

Based on this, for me, the most overrated person to draft is Ichiro in the 2nd round. Afterwards, he is an acceptable pick. He only contributes in runs, average, and steals, and if he has a down year like last year (<.330 BA), then he is overrated.

8. Draft for your team only. This is a little harder to explain. When choosing a player, think of how he fits in your team's lineup and most importantly, how he contributes in the given categories. Have a rough projection of how each player should do as the draft progresses and don't overpopulate power or saves categories. It's good to establish categories of strength, but depending on your league, sometimes it's difficult to find willing takers in trades. In 2004, I took David Ortiz and Jim Thome, figuring it would give me all the power I needed. The downside is that it limits daily lineup flexibility. Of course, if you could take Alex Rodriguez and David Wright in the same draft to play 3B and Util, you would (though, it's not going to happen).

9. Keep in mind the waiver wire. I always draft someone who has a high upside (like the moon, baby), but also has a lot of risk involved. This is usually the first or second person to drop, especially if they don't get playing time. Examples were Alex Gordon in 2007, Hank Blalock in 2002, Max Scherzer in 2008. This only works if your league is 12 teams or less.

10. Don't overlook veterans older than 33. Do you know who was a great draft pick last year? Mike Mussina. On average, he went in the 19th round. On the hitter side, Jermaine Dye was also great. Ken Griffey, Jr, on the other hand, was not so great. They're always there at the end of drafts. Fill in your team with some guaranteed stats if you tend to draft a lot of young kids like I sometimes do. I think I drafted Greg Maddux every year from 2003-2007; average helps your team.

11. Factors for pitchers that I look at and recommend are K/9, K/BB, WHIP, IP/start, GB/FB ratio, .OPS against, HR allowed, and their home park. Because strikeouts (K) are a category, I gravitate towards high strikeout pitchers (preferably with a low WHIP). These, of course, are the top pitchers in the league: Santana, Lincecum, Hamels, and Sabathia. Wins is a category you can't really draft for, unfortunately, but a good rule of thumb is a good team+ a good closer=an acceptable number of wins.

I also like low WHIP pitchers from the year before whose ERA was a little higher than average. These pitchers are usually later round picks and are more risky because there's not a direct correlation between a low WHIP the year before and lower ERA the next year. (A good pick was Jason Schmidt in 2004, a bad pick based on this was David Bush in 2008). The hope is that the previous year's low ERA was based on some bad luck (examine batting average on balls in play and line drive % to be sure).

Ground ball pitchers with a lower strikeout percentage are also decent plays. Think Chien Ming Wang and Fausto Carmona from the past couple years; these also have some risk because a lot of their success is based on team defense and not allowing a ton of home runs. Brandon Webb and Roy Halladay are a hybrid of the above two categories, and this is why they are top 10 fantasy pitchers.

12. Factors for hitters that I look at and recommend are .OBP, .SLG, OPS+, K/BB Ratio, Line Drive%, HR/FB %, and their home park. I like multi-skilled position players; good eye, some power, some speed. They might not always be top fantasy players, but you can build a fun, competitive lineup. My favorite players last year were B.J. Upton and Matt Kemp; you never knew what they were going to do on a given day.

Power and high contact % with a high line drive % is the perfect fantasy player since it translates to high average, home runs, RBI and runs(depending on lineup position). This is Albert Pujols in brief. He is unique, but you can find up and comers with similar skill sets if you look deeply enough. On the flip side, a high strikeout% is not a deal killer to draft (Ryan Howard, Jim Thome, Alfonso Soriano, etc). The key is to factor in the player's overall skill set, their position, and how they help you in each category.

I hope this gives some insight on what to look at and how to approach a fantasy baseball snake-style draft. I'll try a rankings exercise next time.

Mar 3, 2009

Fantasy Baseball: A Draft Thought Exercise: Part I

There are a few things to consider when preparing for the drafting experience.

1. Have your personal rankings ready. Most draft services have automated rankings. More detail on how to make the rankings will come in later posts.

2. Form a plan for the first two rounds based on your draft position. This is an underrated and, I believe, not oft-talked about strategy. You should have three players targeted for each of your first two picks (and even three). These picks are the least susceptible to runs and also can really dictate what direction you take the draft in the subsequent 6-7 rounds.

Let's break this down; if you draw,

picks 1-5 first round: 1st pick: rated as 4-5 category stud, 2nd/3rd pick: best 5 category player available, high average, high power outfielder, or top 5 pitcher

picks 6-12 first round: 1st pick: best 5 category player available, high average/high power guy, or Johan Santana, 2nd/3rd pick: should not choose a 2nd pitcher

In these picks, you want cornerstone players; players to build (based on their stats) your team around.

3. Do not overvalue starting pitching. Pitching is important; after all, it is half the stats you have to keep track of. Drafting too many pitchers early really does put you at a disadvantage for filling in the rest of the positions. Depending on the draft itself, I usually end up with 2-3 starting pitchers in the first 8 rounds. You woud be surprised who drops to the 8th round in a given draft. (examples include Mark Prior: 2003, Jason Schmidt: 2004, Josh Beckett: 2007)

4. Don't jump on the closer train first. All that matters with closers is saves and job security (including injury possibility). Draft accordingly. I typically draft one closer in the first 10 rounds. (Mariano Rivera in round 9 last year). Then, I target 2-3 more during the draft. If that doesn't work, target a high innings/high strikeout middle reliever approximately round 16-19.

5. Know your sleepers. What is a sleeper? A sleeper is someone who is drafted lower than their perceived value. Target the rounds in which you want your sleepers. You may have to overreach by 1-3 rounds because other people may target the same ones. For example, I wanted Josh Hamilton in the 15th round (worked in one draft, he was drafted in the 11th round in the other).

6. Catchers....meh. I'm not a big catcher fan. Only Mauer, McCann, and Martin are top guys, but their perceived value is too high (4th round) for what they ultimately give you. Take the hit at the position and draft someone who won't hurt your batting average or better yet, is eligible to play at another position.

Next time, is some more of my thoughts on drafting.....

Mar 2, 2009

Baseball trivia! Challenge #1

I've recently discovered a comprehensive trivia website that has multiple baseball trivia challenges (as well as many others). Here's the link: Trivia! Some are very difficult....some not so much.

Let's start with a middling one.

Here's this week challenge: Name all 27 members of the 3000 hit club.

Vent your frustrations in the comments sections about how you missed that obvious one that was on the tip of your me it happens a lot. Good luck!