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2009 Fantasy Baseball Expert Mock Draft: A Pitching Heavy Strategy

Last week, I participated in Mock Draft Central's 2nd 2009 Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft.  I live-blogged many of the picks I made, and you can review those here.  By taking three of the best starting pitchers in the first six rounds, one needn't be an expert to conclude I executed a strategy heavy on pitching.

What I have not mentioned is I had not intended to do so.  With the 8th pick, I was taking two hitters with my first two selections no matter what.  In the third round, I had every intention to take another hitter unless Johan Santana or Tim Lincecum was available.  Essentially, I was looking fastball and adjusting curve. 

When C.C. Sabathia was taken with the 24th pick, I expected the mini-run on the Big Three Aces to commence.  Santana went three picks after that, and I fully expected Tim Lincecum to follow in one of the four picks preceding my own.  After all, one can argue Lincecum is the best of the three right now - youngest, least amount of mileage, 260 Ks and pitches in the weakest division in baseball.

To my shock, Lincecum wasn't selected.  I grabbed him and intended to draft Alex Rios, Matt Kemp of Adrian Gonzalez when my turn came pick nine selections later.  To a surprise greater than the one I experienced in the prior round, all three players were taken.  At this point, I made the 9 second decision to employ a pitching heavy strategy and took Brandon Webb and passed on OF Curtis Granderson.  Adjust curve.

Knowing there are plenty of starting pitchers available in the 7th round and later i.e. Cliff Lee, John Lackey, Roy Oswalt, etc, my intention was to go on a hitter run knowing there would be good starters around to flesh out my Lincecum/Webb-led staff.  Just plain thrilled to get Tigers' CF Curtis Granderson in the 5th round,  I saw Toronto Blue Jays' ace Roy Halladay still sitting on the board.  With him being the last of the elite SPs available, I figured there would be no way he'd get past any of the teams picking at the turn.

Again, I was wrong.  I'd like to say it was Pat DiCaprio's selections of Adam Dunn and Chipper Jones turn that surprised me most, but it wasn't.  It was the following selections of Scott Kazmir, Joey Votto and Chone Figgins that shocked me.  Halladay increased his strikeouts into the 200 range without losing any control.  No way I'd have taken any of those player ahead of him at the beginning of the sixth round.

With a better top three than I could ever imagine, I knew I had to begin grabbing the best hitters available to begin filling out an offense led by OF Ryan Braun, 2B Chase Utley and OF Curtis Granderson.  So I grabbed four hitters - three an round or two earlier than I normally would (Jay Bruce in the 8th and Jayson Werth in the 10th standout most).

So with my big three hitters augmented by the selections of AVG-worry Carlos Pena, Bruce, Jhonny Peralta and Jayson Werth, I knew I still had to take good starting pitchers to make sure my three aces were not negated by a bunch of Oliver Perez types later.  Plus I knew punting saves was not an option if one were to properly execute a heavy pitching strategy.

To this end I then went on a four round pitching binge by taking Jon Lester, Yovanni Gallardo, and closers Kerry Wood and Brian Wilson.  After fourteen rounds, I considered my strategy successfully executed.  The issue now was to fill out my offense.  I had selected 7th pitchers with my first 14 picks.

My choice was to grab hitters who I thought had considerable upside.  This led me towards either the vastly under-experienced, disappointing or injury-prone.  In the first category, I grabbed 1B Pablo Sandoval and C Taylor Teagarden.  In the next was Braves' OF Jeff Francouer and Twins OF Carlos Gomez, and in the last category, Jorge Posada, Hank Blalock and Aaron Hill filled out my roster.

While I like the risk/reward profile for every single one of those players, I also know that the first month or so of the season will see players out perform expectations.  So if my players don't demonstrate a reward profile, I had the luxury of being able to jettison them without concern.  Additionally, there were no bench spots in this draft so there will be good players in the pool regardless.

Did I execute a heavy pitching strategy correctly?  If not, where did my thinking go astray?

Final Roster

Pos Name   Team Pick
C Jorge Posada   NYY R15 P8 Comment  
C Taylor Teagarden   TEX R20 P5 Comment  
1B Carlos Pena   TB R7 P8 Comment  
1B Hank Blalock   TEX R17 P8 Comment  
1B Pablo Sandoval   SF R18 P5 Comment  
2B Chase Utley   PHI R2 P5 Comment  
2B Aaron Hill   TOR R23 P8 Comment  
SS Jhonny Peralta   CLE R9 P8 Comment  
OF Ryan Braun   MIL R1 P8 Comment  
OF Curtis Granderson   DET R5 P8 Comment  
OF Jay Bruce   CIN R8 P5 Comment  
OF Jayson Werth   PHI R10 P5 Comment  
OF Jeff Francoeur   ATL R21 P8 Comment  
OF Carlos Gomez   MIN R22 P5 Comment  
SP Tim Lincecum   SF R3 P8 Comment  
SP Brandon Webb   ARI R4 P5 Comment  
SP Roy Halladay   TOR R6 P5 Comment  
SP Jon Lester   BOS R11 P8 Comment  
SP Yovani Gallardo   MIL R12 P5 Comment  
SP Fausto Carmona   CLE R19 P8 Comment  
RP Kerry Wood   CLE R13 P8 Comment  
RP Brian Wilson   SF R14 P5 Comment  
RP Matt Lindstrom   FLA R16 P5 Comment  

FWIW, Hill in MM, Sandoval is CR, Blalock is 3B and Gomez is DH.