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January 20, 2012

Resident Fantasy Genius

Notes from Vegas

by Derek Carty

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I spent this past Monday and Tuesday in Las Vegas for the Fantasy Sports Trade Association winter conference. (Well, to be more accurate, I spent the entirety of Monday in multiple airports after delays, cancellations, and lost bags, but that's beside the point.) During the FSTA conference, there was an experts draft held and broadcast live on SiriusXM's fantasy channel. I'm not sure where the official draft results can be found online, but there was a huge draft board that was displayed throughout the conference, and a few selections stuck out to me, so I wanted to discuss them today. Keep in mind that we're dealing with a standard 5x5 mixed league with 23-man active rosters and 13 teams.

  • Troy Tulowitzki was drafted first overall. This seemed like a slight reach to me with guys like Matt Kemp and Albert Pujols on the board. Don't get me wrong: I like Tulo, but his raw stats don't compare to the other guys, and I don't think position scarcity makes up for the gap.
  • Young players went very early. I'm not sure if they were statement picks or if drafters felt they could take more risks in a league of this depth, but there were a lot of sophomores going really early: Brett Lawrie (third round), Desmond Jennings (third round), Eric Hosmer (fourth round), Matt Moore (ninth round), Dustin Ackley (tenth round), etc. Taking the cake, though, is Stephen Strasburg, who was taken as the ninth pitcher off the board, ahead of guys like Cole Hamels, Dan Haren, Matt Cain, Jon Lester, and David Price. Don't get me wrong, Strasburg is a tremendous talent, but there are enough question marks with his health alone to make him a questionable choice over proven studs like those I listed.
  • Ryan Braun fell to round four, which seems late in a league this shallow. I was asked about Braun in a recent live chat with BP readers:
    Andrew (Las Vegas): Ryan Braun is still going in the 3rd round in NFBC drafts despite the likely 50 game suspension. Too early? Or worth it if you plug in a capable replacement-level player while he's out?

    Derek Carty:
    You nailed it right on the head. That replacement-level player is the lynchpin of his value…

In a mixed league of just 13 teams, guys like Michael Brantley, Mike Carp, John Mayberry, Franklin Gutierrez, and Andres Torres went in the late rounds, and plenty more quality full-timers went undrafted entirely. You know exactly how long Braun is going to be out for, and as long as you have a bench spot to spare, he should have plenty of value as a fourth rounder.

  • Victor Martinez was selected as the first catcher off the board, less than 24 hours before the news about his potential season-ending injury came out. Ouch.
  • There were some curious closer choices. John Axford as the second closer off the board was one. While Axford is very good, he has just a year and a half of closing experience, so guys like Mariano Rivera and Jonathan Papelbon—those with similar skills and more experience—are a better bet. Drew Storen was selected as the fifth closer off the board, which perplexed me even more. Axford is a great pitcher; Storen is a pretty good one. He'd probably be in my top 10-15, not top five.
  • Continuing with closers, there were a couple of guys without definite ninth-inning gigs who went quite early: Kenley Jansen (round 14, between Rafael Betancourt and Huston Street) and Jordan Walden (round 13, between Jason Motte and Carlos Marmol). Role trumps all when it comes to closers, as the guy who starts with the job is at least even money to save 25-30 games. It's easy to be seduced by the skills of a guy like Jansen, but if Javy Guerra starts with the job, he's not a good bet for saves—at least not that early. In contrast, Guerra went in round 26, which could prove to be a steal, even if his skills are nowhere near those of Jansen.
Related Content:  John Axford

16 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

CongoHammer

Looks like you had a little copypasta fail... looks like you double pasted somewhere.

Also, where did Darvish fall?

Jan 20, 2012 01:36 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Derek Carty
BP staff

Darvish was an 11th rounder, sandwiched between Ian Kennedy and Dan Hudson on one side and Wandy Rodriguez and Jeremy Hellickson on the other.

Jan 20, 2012 08:08 AM
 
BP staff member Joe Hamrahi
BP staff

Thank you for the heads up. I've asked one of the editors to look into this technical difficulty.

Jan 20, 2012 05:11 AM
 
BP staff member Ben Lindbergh
BP staff

Fixed.

Jan 20, 2012 06:30 AM
 
jbangers

Check out the draft results here:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0ArmGKrK0BcyidHdfeTJDdE5QNFRTWW5oQVYzQ1JOQ1E&hl=en_US#gid=0

Jan 20, 2012 09:51 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Derek Carty
BP staff

Thanks for the link. I was looking around for something like that last night but came up blank. Where'd you find it?

Jan 20, 2012 09:52 AM
 
jbangers

SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio's Facebook page.
Everything's on Facebook, ha.

Jan 20, 2012 10:12 AM
rating: 0
 
jbangers

Where you part of any of these teams?

Jan 20, 2012 10:13 AM
rating: 0
 
jbangers

*Were

Jan 20, 2012 10:22 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Derek Carty
BP staff

No. I didn't even sign up for the conference until participants had been announced and draft order set, so I was an alternate. That didn't matter, though, since I didn't arrive in Vegas until after it was all over anyway.

Jan 20, 2012 10:38 AM
 
lesmash

If you are a strong believer in positional scarcity, I think Troy Tulowitzki is a defensible 1st overall selection. Not saying I would do that, but it does not bother me at all.

My concern with taking Matt Kemp at that spot is, after all is said and done, I will be astonished if 2011 is not his career year. We have to expect a regression towards the mean, right?

Jan 22, 2012 05:22 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

Even a regression puts Kemp as the best overall offensive contributor.

Jan 22, 2012 15:02 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Derek Carty
BP staff

Yes, even with regression, Kemp is still a legitimate option for #1 overall.

Jan 22, 2012 15:04 PM
 
lesmash

Just checked out the draft results - thanks for posting.

My $0.02 on a few players that went too early:

David Wright at pick 2.6
Mike Stanton at 2.8
Elvis Andrus at 3.3
Carl Crawford at 3.4

All of the above players went before Roy Halladay at pick 3.5. I'm not the expert, but I don't get that valuation.

A few that went too late:

Tim Lincecum at 4.11
CC Sabathia at 5.8
Madison Bumgarner at 9.4
Jason Heyward at 11.6

Plus, maybe the head-scratcher of the draft, Vernon Wells at pick 9.1. Yikes. Jose Tabata went at pick 17.13 and Lorenzo Cain went at pick 23.8. Trust me, you can afford to wait on Vernon Wells.

Jan 22, 2012 05:37 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Derek Carty
BP staff

I definitely agree on Stanton and Wells, but in expert leagues, pitching generally tends to go late. Especially in a shallower league like this, most experts feel they can get solid pitching in the later rounds without having to waste their top picks.

Jan 22, 2012 15:05 PM
 
Richard Bergstrom

In a 5x5, I've generally used the strategy of getting multiple mid tier pitchers with good K/9 and WHIP (ignoring W/L and ERA) starting round 5 or 6 or so. The idea is that if I have multiple solid pitchers, I'm less susceptible to injury. I think that's more important these days when you don't have people like Pedro/Randy really lighting up K/9.

By midseason, I'm usually in a position to trade for an ace anyway.

Jan 23, 2012 16:19 PM
rating: 0
 
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