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Reflections on last night's LEEG draft

Last night, I participated in LEEG’s second annual draft. It was my first time participating in any type of expert league, and I hope to represent Fake Teams well. Here are the 15 owners that make up LEEG in 2015 and the draft order:

Pick 1: Ron Vackar of and @VicariousSports
Pick 2: Chris McBrien of and @cmcbrien
Pick 3: Kyle Soppe of and @unSOPable23
Pick 4: Jon Williams of and @bigjonwilliams
Pick 5: Chris Garosi/Scott Barzilla of and @chrisgarosi/@SBarzilla
Pick 6: Kyle Braver of and @kbraver
Pick 7: Greg Jewett of and @gjewett9
Pick 8: Doug Anderson of and @rotodaddy
Pick 9: Robert Burghardt of and @RBurghardt
Pick 10: Tommy Landseadel of and @tlandseadel
Pick 11: Robert Langevin of and @Smokey_Loogy
Pick 12: Ray Kuhn of and @Ray_Kuhn_28
Pick 13: Timothy Kolar Previously of and @Thelastpoint2
Pick 14: Tim Finnegan of and @TimFinn521
Pick 15: Devin Jordan of and @devinjjordan

The league rules are 5x5 roto. We start:

C, C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 2B/SS, 1B/3B, 5 OFs, Util, 9 Ps, 7 Bench slots, No DL. Lineups lock Monday.

I have played in leagues as deep as 20 teams before, but never in a deep league that starts 2 catchers, and never against the type of sophisticated competition that I will face in this league. All of the opposing owners are really smart, and everyone has more experience in this type of setting than I do, so I was facing an uphill battle.

We start a lot of outfielders, so I had to take that into consideration when trying to figure out how I would approach the draft. Outfield suddenly isn’t so deep when you have to fill 5 starting OF spots. But there were a few outfielders going very late that I am higher on than most, so I decided to wait on outfielders because I felt I could get some value late that wouldn't be there with most other positions.

One general strategy that I like in my leagues is investing in lockdown, #shove closers. Some argue that you shouldn’t pay for saves because most relievers are volatile and often times you can get productive closers late in drafts. I take the opposite stance; since most relievers are so volatile, I want to make sure I experience none of that volatility by taking studs at the position, plugging them in and not having to worry about them losing their jobs. I took Aroldis Chapman with the 44th overall pick. It was about 10 picks before he was projected to go, but he wouldn’t have made it back to me if I waited until pick 74. I also took Dellin Betances with the 77th overall pick. Chapman’s 0.89 FIP in 2014 was absurd, and Betances has arguably the nastiest fastball/curve combo in baseball. He’s so tall and long and releases the ball so close to the plate that his 96-98 mph fastball looks like it’s over 100 mph, and he drops in that knee buckling knuckle curve to finish hitters off. Both of these guys are monsters, and I wanted them on my team.

This is how my draft went:

14. Jose Altuve, 2B

17. Troy Tulowitzki, SS

44. Aroldis Chapman, RP

47. Chris Davis, 1B/3B

74. Jon Lester, SP

77. Dellin Betances, RP

104. David Wright, 3B

107. Salvador Perez, C

134. Trevor Rosenthal

137. Jacob deGrom

164. Travis d’Arnaud

167. Xander Bogaerts

194. Denard Span

197. Wil Myers

224. Carlos Beltran

227. Adam Lind

254. Dallas Keuchel

257. Desmond Jennings

284. Dustin Ackley

287. Jon Niese

314. Jason Hammel

317. AJ Burnett

344. Seth Smith

347. Allen Craig

374. Jarred Cosart

377. Garret Jones

404. Didi Gregorius

407. Ryan Vogelsong

434. Tim Hudson

437. Dan Straily

450 total players were drafted.

Some thoughts:

I was shocked that Jon Lester fell to pick 74, and felt very fortunate to have drafted him there.

Fake Team’s Daniel Kelley wrote a great article on Chris Davis here. That sold me on him and his power returning.

We start two catchers, and it’s a 15 team league, so catcher was going to dry up real quick. I made sure to strike before it was too late and took Salvador Perez at pick 107. I didn’t like the pick much, but I really wanted to make sure I didn’t end up starting a black hole at C, and my first two choices (Mesoraco and Gattis) were gone. I thought there was a good shot Gattis would make it to this pick, so I was bummed when he went off the board. I took my next catcher, Travis d’Arnaud, at pick 164. It seems like a reach, but I’m a huge fan. He was a stud after his change of approach at the plate after his demotion to AAA last year. George Greer and Wally Backman moved him closer to the plate to help him cover the outside, and his fast hands still allowed him to punish inside pitches. A .270 AVG with 20+ HR is not unreasonable.

I recommended avoiding David Wright in our Fake Teams players to avoid series based on his general ADP, but the value at 104 seemed appropriate. I wouldn’t have taken him 20 picks earlier like his Yahoo ADP of 84 would require, but I was OK with it at 104. I am also David Wright’s biggest fan, so that bias probably swayed me a little, too.

I love the value I got with Span just before pick 200. Span should be the leadoff hitter all year for the Nationals, he will score runs, steal bases and hit for a good average, and was a top 60 player last season. I liked Myers at that spot, too. His talent upside was worth the selection.

Carlos Beltran played most of last season with a painful elbow injury that significantly impacted his swing. He had the injury fixed, and I’m hopeful that he bounces back to some degree. He’s old, but he hits in a great run scoring environment and he has the DH available to him. At 224 overall, I liked the value.

I was thrilled to get Dallas Keuchel at pick 254. Keuchel’s sinker is one of the nastiest pitches in the game and generates tons of weak contact, and he has a swing and miss slurve that gets a lot of whiffs. He isn’t a huge K guy on paper, but he’s really good and has the stuff to miss bats. He’s much better than the 254th player, IMO.

Jon Niese's velocity is back up this year after healing his shoulder injury. I think he will have a bounce back year.

Dustin Ackley changed his swing in July of last year and looked like a different hitter, both video wise and contact wise. His hard and medium hit rates skyrocketed from July-September. I wrote about it, set to be published Friday. I love his new swing, and think he can be a top 150 player this year. I was happy to get him at pick 284.

The back end of my rotation is weak, but I don’t expect all of these guys to be on my roster for too long. I like to filter out back end starting pitchers throughout the year based on matchups. Streaming is tougher in a deep weekly roto league than a daily regular H2H league, but I can still do it.

I took a flier on Dan Straily’s swing and miss upside. He misses a lot of bats, and the Astros have had success building pitchers like Colin McHugh and Dallas Keuchel. Straily could be this year’s McHugh.

I took four platoon split hitters: Adam Lind, Garrett Jones, Didi Gregorius and Seth Smith. I can rotate them based on how many LHP each guy sees during that week.

I also took Allen Craig very late, who is looking healthy this spring and may have some value as the season goes along if he can find himself in some team’s lineup, either via injury or trade.

I don't love the team I drafted. I really wanted Devin Mesoraco or Evan Gattis instead of Sal. Perez, but I prioritized Betances over them and hoped they would fall, which they did not. I also wanted a stronger backup SS than Xander Bogaerts to back up the frail Tulo. I do think my team has a chance to compete, but I think pretty much everybody thinks that during the spring.