Sunday, March 23, 2008

National Fantasy Baseball Championship Draft Results – Part 4 of 4

21) Wandy Rodriguez, SP – Love is K rate and he is a fully mature pitcher who should be up for a peak season this year, should be a solid #5 starter in our rotation

22) John Patterson, SP – Opening Day starter for the Nats is out of work, we’re still hanging onto him, if he can build up arm strength he has a solid chance to return to form, if that happens his upside would be top 12 round value, I’d be very happy with 100+ innings of league average stuff

23) Andy Sonnanstine, SP – Poor man’s Slowey just got named #3 starter for the Rays, should help ERA and WHIP and can get a decent win total, low K total dropped him this far but that shouldn’t be a problem for us

24) Jair Jurrjens, SP – Looks like he’ll win the 5th spot in Atlanta, more of a power sinker pitcher he won’t K a ton but we’re hoping for 200 innings of league average stuff, he is having a great spring so there’s real upside here – this ends our run of 5 straight pitchers

25) David Ross, C – Has 25 home run power at an incredibly thin position but would be lucky to bat .220, yet another reason that we grabbed Young and Helton early, in a perfect world he rides the pine all year but in a league that mandates 2 starting catchers he’ll probably need to fill in from time to time and we’ll take the power, great value in round 25 for a #3 catcher

26) Jeff Keppinger, SS – Should have the starting gig for the first couple of weeks of the season while Alex Gonzalez works his way back, has super high 330+ BA but does little else, he’s basically a bridge until Iwamura qualifies at 2B and we’ll soak up as much batting average goodness as we can

27) Gio Gonzalez, SP – My #1 pre-season rookie pitcher, he got sent back down but is blocked by a slew of injury riddled starters with the big club, I expect him by mid-May and think he’ll give us some great Ks as a spot starter

28) John Danks, SP – Pitched well at times last year and has a nice K rate, ERA and WHIP are a little high but he’s having a nice spring and should start day 1, he might ultimately only be a spot starter but has nice upside as well

29) Wladimir Balentien, OF – My #1 rookie outfielder this year, doesn’t have the long-term ceiling of Maybin or Rasmus but at 24 he’s filled out and ready to go right now, he’s blocked directly or indirectly by Brad Wilkerson (hasn’t manage 400 at bats or a 240+ batting average since 2004), Jose Vidro (the softest bat perhaps ever at DH) and Ritchie Sexson (who looks like he no longer possesses major league skills), I expect Wladimir to have a full time gig by early May, projected over a full season I expect an immediate rate of production of 275-285 BA, 25-30 HRs, 12-18 SBs, we need outfield depth and I think he’s a real key for us

30) Alejandro De Aza (shown in his Allen and Ginter 2007 rookie baseball card), OF – this may prove to be my greatest fantasy pick either, contrary to the hype Maybin is headed down to the farm and may stay there most of the season, De Aza is also leading the Marlins in slugging % this spring which is the one pre-season stat that can carry over, he’s got 40-50 SB potential which is exactly where we needed a little help, there’s a shot that our 30th round pick is a wire to wire starter for us

Saturday, March 22, 2008

National Fantasy Baseball Championship Draft Results – Part 3 of 4

11) Hank Blalock, 3B – Persistent injuries have robbed him of his production in recent years, the latest surgery was believed to be a permanent fix, he came back last year to absolutely crush the ball and will bat in the heart of the order

12) Oliver Perez, SP – Incredible #3 for our rotation, 170+ Ks, 15 Wins, contract year, should have good ERA and WHiP, really nice value for the production

13) J.R. Towels (featured in the Bowman Heritage baseball card), C – This is the time of the draft to start taking some calculated risks, I don’t like young bats but Towels speed mitigates a lot of risk, a downside of 260, 8 HRs and 7 SBs is actually OK in this slot, remember we have to start 2 catchers, his upside is Russell Martin

14) Brian Wilson, RP – a risky pick at closer? please… we had Brian Fuentes last year, he was an All Star closer and wasn’t even his team’s closer, Wilson pitched well in the role last year and the San Fran opportunities should be plentiful, that’s right – tons of save chances, most people think they’ll stink and therefore wont get save chances, KC led the league in save opportunities on 2006 and they were putrid, SF has great pitching and although they may struggle to win 70 games they’ll all be close

15) Josh Fields, 3B/OF – We needed home runs in our outfield and he fell a full round below is lowest pick in the latest round of ADP reports, he always showed 25 SB skills in the minors so despite only stealing one base last year I think he could bounce back, I think 25-35 HRs and 8-15 SBs are realistic, Crede may push Fields to the minors for a few weeks but he’ll be back

16) Akinori Iwamura, 2B/3B – This is one of my favorite picks in the whole draft, doesn’t qualify at 2B yet but give him 2 weeks and he’s our middle infielder, I think 285 BA, 15/15 is doable and he’s leading off for a pretty solid offense so 100+ runs is in reach, nice steady 4 category contribution from MI this late in the draft is great, Phillips/Young/Iwamura should be the best middle infield in the league

17) Jack Cust, OF – “poor man’s Adam Dunn” is another Matthew Berry special, exactly why we invested in Helton and Young in the first 10 rounds, Cust may only hit 240 but 30-35 HRs is possible

18) Mike Jacobs, 1B – We had 2 needs over the past several picks – 1) HRs, 2) a 1B to backup Helton – witness the Fields/Cust/Jacobs run, Jacobs could still live up to his 290 BA, 30+ HR potential

19) Kevin Slowey, SP – The only real knock on Slowey is his lack of Ks, personally I think he’ll be good for 6-7/9 and with Santana/Webb/Perez we frankly don’t need them, I expect very good ERA and WHIP and a reasonable win total, 12-15, great complimentary mid-rotation piece for us

20) Kurt Suzuki, C – I don’t think Suzuki is anything special but we need 2 catchers and he should have little competition for ABs, he could reach double digit home runs and a BA of 255-265 is reasonable for a #2 catcher in this format

Friday, March 21, 2008

National Fantasy Baseball Championship Draft Results – Part 2 of 4

1) Johan Santana, SP – My first choice at this pick, I had him 3 overall as did Corey Schwartz’s projections on the Fantasy 411, great value

2) Brandon Phillips, 2B – I’m not sure why he’s not a top 10 player right now, David Wright numbers at a vastly thinner position, lock for top 10 next year and maybe top 5 – bottom line is I fell like we have 2 top 10 players out of the 14 hole, Phillips’ home run spray chart in Graphical Player sold me that he’s for real

3) Adam Dunn, OF – The last train to 40homerunville is the Adam Dunn express, punch my ticket I love it, chips in 6-9 stolen bases for style points

4) Brandon Webb, SP – In my mind the #2 pitcher in fantasy baseball, improved on ERA, WHIP and Ks 3 (or maybe 4) straight years, arguably a better season last year after his Cy Young in 2006 – we might have the 2 best pitchers in fantasy baseball

5) Michael Young, SS – I don’t love Michael Young because his counting stats are light but he’s a lock to hit over 300 and we need some BA to cover for Dunn, plus pair him with Phillips and that’s an awesome middle infield in NFBC format

6) Jeff Francoeur, OF – HRs dropped last year and doubles jumped, a workout program in the off season spells rebound, Matthew Berry of ESPN Fantasy Focus Baseball broke that news and on further investigation I drank the Kool-Aide

7) Juan Pierre, OF – His ADP was 90, we got him at 104, I think anytime in the 5th round (60-75) you could make a great case for locking in 50+ SBs, a 290 BA in the OF, I think he was massively undervalued at 90 and at 104 it’s like having 2 5th round picks, we dug a hole with grabbing starting pitching and this makes up for the Webb pick in one move – the league let us up off the mat on this one and we’re going to make them pay

8) Todd Helton, 1B – The only pick in the first 10 that was out of need more than love, we pictured pitchers here but the miracle of Santana/Webb means we need more bats, Helton isn’t what he was but he is what he is, 320 BA, 20 HR, 90/90 – really nice counting stats and high BA – we’ll use that later in the end game with some mashers, plus we needed a corner infielder

9) Edwin Encarnacion, 3B – I’ve always liked this kid but as his ADP crept up I got less interested, the Fantasy 411 sold him big time on their preview show so I jumped back on the bandwagon, at worse he has power with some steals so it works

10) Brad Lidge, RP – Based on everything I read his knee injury is nothing to worry about – just dropped him a round, cover up the name and look at last year’s stats and this guy is money on a contending team, he essentially has no competition at closer (Gordon? please) this was another one from Schwartz at the 411

National Fantasy Baseball Championship Draft Results – Part 1 of 4

My partner and I drafted out of New York last Saturday for the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. Finally month of preparation, strategizing and mock drafts get put to use as we chase the $100,000 prize for the Main Event.

Our overall fantasy baseball strategy was to defer closers. All closers have risk so why not assume a little more to pick up 3 and 4 category players in the mid-first 10 rounds. This also means we’ll need to ear mark a significant amount of FAAB (auction money for free agents) to pick up at least one more off the waiver wire in season. The handicap of more potential volatility and less FAAB money seemed like a sensible trade off. It’s also a way to indirectly use FAAB before the season even starts. The sooner you use it the sooner you can get a return – better to spend $400 on someone in April than $100 in August.

We also wanted to target some higher batting average bats so that we could grab some late round power and speed guys with garbage batting averages.

Our goal was to pick out of the 14th slot and that’s exactly what we got. The National Fantasy Baseball Championship uses a KDS (Kentucky Derby Style) drat order. You basically rank your preference and when your name gets pulled out of the hat you get the best spot available. We wanted 14 to exploit something very specific that I saw in the mock draft. Of the 7 that I did either Ryan Howard, Carl Crawford or Johan Santana fell to 14 – every time! Everyone of these guys is a top 10 player and I was fairly indiscriminant as to which one we got. This also yields the 17th pick which would give us a great chance to grab second baseman Brandon Philips (featured in the baseball card at the top). It’s beyond me why a 30/30 second baseman isn’t top 10 right now but he will be next year. In other words, the 14th pick could allow us to grab 2 top 10 players – in my opinion.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Heater Magazine – Spring Training Statistics for Fantasy Baseball

Heater Magazine is really coming through this year for fantasy baseball players by offering updates of spring training statistics. Subscribe today and get updates on Alexei Ramirez, Wladimir Balentien, Steve Pearce, Gio Gonzalez, Joey Gaithright and more. If you’re not familiar with these baseball players and you’re in one of my leagues – you’re dead.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Upper Deck Wladimir Balentien Rookie Card

I bought my first packs of Topps and Upper Deck 2008 baseball cards the other day and scored a Wladimir Balentien rookie card from Upper Deck. I think he’s going to make a big splash with the Mariners so I’m glad I got the card. He’s a 5 category killer in fantasy baseball and only has to beat out Brad Wilkerson and Jose Vidro for at bats – both of these guys are hanging by a thread as it is – look for Balentien to be a full time starter by June. Overall I like Upper Deck’s cards better than Topps simply because of the full bleed photos. The heavy borders and graphics from Topps are a little distracting, full color, full bleed action shots are what do it for me in modern baseball cards.

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