I'm currently 30 rounds in to my 50 round MLB/MiLB dynasty league draft. I made some bold decisions early on, was proactive in acquiring players I felt were best at their position, and made some daring choices hoping lady luck would be kind to me. As the case in most drafts, I had to adjust to trends deviating from the original plan, which may have caused me to reach for a player or two but I didn't veer too far off course what my blueprint. Since the draft was combined I knew prospects were going to go too early for my tastes. My goal as anyone's should be, was to acquire players who were not only age appropriate for dynasty play, but also came with some experience, as well as a good amount of upside. As it stands, I feel I was pretty successful in implementing this strategy. To make the piece easier to read, I'm splitting it up into 5 posts containing 10 rounds at a time, including a brief synopsis of the reasoning and other players that were considered.
Scoring: 6 x 6 HR/BA/R/RBI/SB/OPS x W/WHIP/K/ERA/S/H
Clayton Kershaw- This is the first time in my fantasy baseball history that I've drafted a pitcher in the first round. I typically wait until round 4 to select a pitcher so to take the very first pick in the draft and spend it on a pitcher shows how I exactly feel about Kershaw. He's a 23 year old ace who is coming off a remarkable season, one that I can see being repeated for years to come. It's no secret that he has the stuff to dominate any lineup, but what was most impressive this year was his ability to pitch deeper into games. He improved on his 2010 total, pitching 7+ innings in 18 of his 33 starts which includes two shutouts, two complete game wins, and one 9 inning no decision. Projected innings totals also played a factor in my selection of him. He has far greater value than Stephen Strasburg heading into 2012, and based on current team make-up and farm system, I feel there is less of a concern about extra post-season innings being tacked on in the near future.
Other Players Considered: Justin Upton, Troy Tulowitzki, Evan Longoria, and Robinson Cano.
Evan Longoria- My plan all along when selecting Kershaw, was to then trade back into the middle of the first round to select an impact bat. I dealt my 2nd round, 4th round, and 13th round selection for another first round and a 6th round pick. I feel third base is rather thin right now, maybe the shallowest position in dynasty, so I took Longoria, who I feel is the clear cut number one. He had an off year at the dish, suffering from an early oblique injury and never looked fully healthy. He also was a victim of a rather unlucky .239 babip. While there were players on the board who offer more upside, such as Mike Stanton, I placed greater value on position and decided to shore up my corner infield spot instead. Stanton is an amazing talent but I had a plan, and that was to draft a more balanced impact outfielder within the next two rounds, luck permitting of course.
Other Players Considered: Mike Stanton, Stephen Strasburg, Robinson Cano, Jose Reyes
Mike Trout- So the ball didn't bounce completely in my favor, the plan was to select Bryce Harper here which would have cancelled out my decision to pass on Stanton. Unfortunately an Expos/Nationals fan took him three selections ahead of me, total bummer. Since outfielders had flown off the board, and Harper was no longer available I decided to take the next best thing, Mike Trout. The phenom for Jersey was high on my list, and while he doesn't offer Harper's power potential I believe he'll swipe a considerably greater amount of bags at their respective peaks, thus making the gap in overall value a little closer. There was some debate on my part whether or not to take Matt Moore, which would've given me an amazing 1,2 punch at the top of my fantasy rotation but since the plan was to get a young outfielder who would impact my team for years, Trout got the nod.
Other Players Considered: Matt Moore, Desmond Jennings, Jason Heyward, Carlos Santana, Freddie Freeman
Ian Kennedy- I was surprised he was still on board, especially since the previous round saw pitchers such as Josh Johnson and Yovani Gallardo go off the board. Maybe I'm more of a believer in Kennedy or less skeptic, but I value a far greater amount than those two and since that is the case I decided to jump at the chance to draft him. Mat Latos went immediately after, a player with health concerns, so I was confident in my choosing of Kennedy.
Other Players Considered: Michael Pineda, Jesus Montero, Dustin Ackley
Pick 6. 9
Wilson Ramos- As I stated Montero was under consideration for the previous pick, so I had really hoped he would slide to me here, unfortunately that was not the case. Jeremy Hellickson also was picked right before my turn which was somewhat disappointing. If he had been available I most likely would have used that pick on him, which is quite ironic for an owner that doesn't love drafting pitchers, it would've mean that 3 out of my first 5 picks were SP's. Since Montero was gone, and Matt Wieters went earlier, I felt Ramos offered the most potential at an often unrewarding position. He impressed me last year with not only his power, but with his discipline, drawing 38 walks to 76 strikeouts. Not bad for a player that walked once per every four strikeouts in 2010. I must admit I felt a little pressured to take him here, knowing that that Nat fan was lurking, I didn't want to run the risk of Ramos not being available with my second 6th round pick.
Other Players Considered: Jordan Zimmerman, Michael Bourn,
Michael Bourn- I was ecstatic that Bourn was still here. I mentioned before that outfielders flew off the board so the opportunity to select a player who can steal as many bases and score as many runs as he can was big to me. I expect great things from him hitting atop the Braves order in 2012 and I wanted to get the player that offered the best combination of SB's and Runs, Bourn was it.
Other Players Considered: Michael Morse, Jason Kipnis, Trevor Bauer
Paul Konerko- At this point I wasn't too thrilled with the power and run producing part of my team. Evan Longoria was the best impact bat I had, making the decision to pass up Stanton and gamble for Harper look not so brilliant. I heavily considered Morse with this pick, I even tried to acquire Eric Hosmer but no such luck there. My decision to take Konerko over Morse really came down to one thing, consistency. I know what Konerko is capable of, he's produced solid numbers time and time again, and while Morse is younger, he'll be 30 by opening day so the likelihood of him building upon his 2011 campaign and producing greater numbers seems rather slim to me. I also decided that I could take Konerko here simply as a place holder. I felt I could stretch another 1-2 years out of him and then replace him with a prospect that is currently close to the end of his development phase and should be in the majors by then, more to come on that later. While there was risk at me taking Konerko here, it seemed lessened by his track record.
Other Players Considered: Michael Morse, Trevor Bauer
Jason Kipnis- I really, really, wanted Trevor Bauer here. He would've been the perfect compliment to Kershaw and Kennedy, and I figured if need be at the end I could trade Kennedy and say Konerko for a better first baseman. Bauer went early in the round, which sort of crushed me but it wasn't at the end of the world. With him off the board I turned to what I believed the best second baseman left. I don't love Kipnis but since Ackley was taken three rounds prior I felt I was getting extremely good value here. I don't believe there is a lot separating the two when it comes to peak performance, maybe Ackley will steal more bases and hit for a higher average but Kipnis offers more power.
Other Players Considered: None
Cory Luebke- This was one of my better picks. I love Luebke as my #3 entering the season, in fact I believe he could be more productive than Kennedy by season's end. There were players who were very intriguing such as Drew Pomeranz, but if the difference is 3 years and some months, I'll take the player without the learning curve who will contribute to this team from day one. With this selection I managed to get three young starting pitchers who will contribute positively in their 4 categories, all of which I believe have the room to grow and improve.
Other Players Considered: Jon Axford, Drew Pomeranz, Derek Holland, Matt Garza
Justin Masterson- The league format for pitchers is 4 starters, 3 relievers, 3 either/or so it was important that I shore up my starters early and concentrate on the rest of the draft from there on out. I see Masterson in the same vain that I see Luebke. He's a pitcher who is just coming into his own and should be a value pick at this stage not only next year but for years to come. There's a lot to like about his 2011 season and I believe the results are only going to get better from here on out. His BB% has dropped over the last 4 seasons and I expect his K% to rise going forward. Brad Peacock and Gerrit Cole just went off the board before him and as I said, I want someone who will contribute now and into the future. If he was available Cameron Maybin would've been my selection here but he went earlier, changing my strategy from offense to pitching.
Other Players Considered: Shaun Marcum, Max Scherzer
At this point in the draft I like my pitching. I've ignored the holds and saves categories, focusing solely on starters but the plan here is to select three players who could start or pitch at the back end of the bullpen and find cheap sources of holds much later. I wrote down several names and decided to start targeting those players as early as the next round. My offense may be light in the home run category, I'm going to need to find some power bats later on in the draft. There's still plenty of available run producers out there and since I don't have a crush on prospects I'm sure some valuable veterans will fall to me. My intention with prospects is to draft the best available at the appropriate time. Up until now there's been several guys I wouldn't consider until the mid teens-twenties that have been drafted, and I find the premise of selecting a player who is no where close to contributing this early, to be a very odd and rather flawed strategy. While everyone is selecting prospects I'm focusing on filing out my roster and I'm sure I'll find some studs later when people are selecting guys like Jake Arrieta or Dallas Braden.