I participate in 4 money leagues every year, so they are what I call my important leagues. But the most important to me is a 10 team, 5 x 5, NL-only redraft league, as it is the biggest money league I participate in. I have done very well in this league over the years, mainly due to my use of an all reliever pitching staff. But, due to my success, the league owners voted to add an innings limit rule to prevent me from drafting all closers and middle relievers. Since the rule was put in place a few years ago, I had trouble repeating my success in this league. Until this season.
I won the league championship by 22 points, the biggest margin of victory I have ever seen in this league. I landed in first place in week 3 of the regular season and never looked back. And, it was all due to my draft working out perfectly. Here is a look back at my draft results. I picked second in this draft, which is slightly different than most drafts as it is a snake draft, that goes 1-10 in the first round, 10-1 in the second and 10-1 again in the third, so many owners feel that drafting toward the back end of the first round is the smart move. Another difference in this league is you pick a number out of a hat to determine your draft slot. But, you get to pick where you want to draft. For example, if you selected "1", you could pick anywhere in the first round that you would like. You could take the 10th slot and draft 3 of the top 21 players in the draft, if you wanted.
I selected '2" out of the hat, and decided to keep the second pick in the draft, knowing I would draft either Matt Kemp or Ryan Braun. I selected Braun after Kemp went with the first pick. Here is how the rest of my draft went:
1. Ryan Braun
2. Ryan Zimmerman
3. Dee Gordon
4. Madison Bumgarner
5. Aramis Ramirez
6. Andre Ethier
7. Anibal Sanchez
8. Buster Posey
9. Jaime Garcia
10. Jason Bay
11. Javy Guerra
12. Jose Altuve
13. J.D. Martinez
14. Kenley Jansen
15. Chris Carpenter
16. Todd Helton
17. Chris Capuano
18. Ty Wigginton
19. Aroldis Chapman
20. Willie Bloomquist
21. Wilin Rosario
22. A.J. Burnett
23. Nate McLouth
Many say that you can't win a league with your first round pick, but you can lose if your first round pick puts up 10th round production, rather than 1st round production. Braun put up another MVP-like season in 2012, hitting .319-.393-.595 with 41 HRs, 108 runs, 112 RBI and 30 stolen bases. I think he should be the NL MVP again this season, but am sure many baseball writers will shy away from him due to his failing the PED test last season.
My second round pick, Ryan Zimmerman, didn't start hitting till early July, right after getting a cortisone shot in his shoulder. His first and second half splits tell the story:
First half: .243-.308-.386, 8 HRs, 40 RBI
Second half: .319-.381-.564, 17 HRs, 55 RBI
I drafted Dee Gordon in the third round after a run of speed guys. I liked Gordon heading into the season, but I obviously took him too early. I would have preferred taking him around the 6th or 7th round, but wanted his speed. It turns out he was not the player I had expected, as he hit just .228-.280-.281 with 32 stolen bases in just over 300 at bats.
A few guys who ended up outperforming their draft round were:
1. Aramis Ramirez, 5th round- .300-.360-.540 with 27 HRs, 92 runs, 105 RBI and 9 stolen bases
2. Buster Posey, 8th round - .336-.408-.549 with 24 HRs, 78 runs and 103 RBI
3. Jose Altuve, 12th round - .290-.340-.399, 7 HRs, 80 runs, 37 RBI and 33 stolen bases
4. Chris Capuano, 17th round - 12 wins, 3.72 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 162-54 strikeout to walk ratio
5. Aroldis Chapman, 19th round - 38 saves, 122-23 strikeout to walk ratio, 1.51 ERA
6. WIlin Rosario, 21st round - .270-.312-.530, 28 HRs, 67 runs, 71 RBI
7. A.J. Burnett, 22nd round - 16 wins, 3.51 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 180-62 K/BB ratio, 57% ground ball rate
When Jaime Garcia landed on the DL in June, I grabbed Braves reliever Kris Medlen as he was the best available pitcher on our waiver wire. There was talk that he could land in the Braves rotation at some point, so I felt he was worth the pick up, as every other starter left had high ERAs and WHIPs, so I didn't want to kill my pitching staff with one of them. Little did I know that Medlen would turn into the best starter in the NL in the second half.
Another prescient move was grabbing Todd Frazier when Andre Ethier was placed on the DL in early July. Frazier ended up playing everyday with the injuries to Scott Rolen and eventually Joey Votto. This move made up for me dropping Tyler Colvin for Bobby Abreu in early May. Frazier contributed 11 HRs, 37 runs, 40 RBI and a .275 BA after picking him up.
I ended up winning seven of the ten categories: BA, runs, HR, RBI, ERA, WHIP and saves. What I learned from this draft was it is important to draft an ace-level starter early in the draft, as I drafted Madison Bumgarner in the 4th round, and he ended up winning 16 wins with a 3.37 ERA and 1.11 WHIP. Also, when a player like Buster Posey drops in the draft, don't be afraid to grab him, as the risk-reward is generally in your favor. I certainly did not expect him to put up an MVP-like season, and thought his power would be slow to return.
As the title of my article states, my draft could not have gone more perfect, as it is almost unheard of for some many late round picks to outperform their draft round by so much. Grabbing Aroldis Chapman in the 19th round was huge. After his solid spring training, I thought he would end up in the Reds rotation, but after Sean Marshall struggled in a few closing opportunities, Chapman was called on to close and the rest is history.
Who would have thought Wilin Rosario would lead all catchers in home runs this season, his rookie season to boot? I expected maybe 15 home runs in around 300 at bats, but he almost doubled that projection by hitting 28.
I had a feeling Pirates starter A.J. Burnett would pitch better after moving to the National League, but did not expect 16 wins, 3.51 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP. He was dominant for a good part of the season, and put up a quality start in 20 of his 31 starts this season.
One other thing I learned from this draft and this season is t: there is no way in hell that this will happen again. It is very difficult to win a league running away. Nor did I expect to win the league, but a lot of things went my way, and sometimes it takes luck to win a league championship.