Chronicle of a Draft that is Too Big To Fail

Postby knuckleheads » Sat Mar 26, 2016 11:43 pm

With three co-owners, this ownership group is clearly Too Big To Fail.

Preparation was the word this year. Drafting the Main Event online, there was incentive to set an exacting queue. Four slow drafts helped the process, especially Doughboy’s 3-day “slow draft” that had the feel of a ME draft.
A last-minute KDS adjustment proved critical as we were awarded the 5th pick in the draft instead of the 8th. The whole reason for the change was for the possibility of drafting Josh Donaldson. Clayton Kershaw was not a candidate for the 5th pick in the first round because the risk was too great that no top hitter would remain at pick 11 in the 2nd round, which could be a fatal flaw in this year’s ME.

Pre-Draft Expectations:

1. Plenty of desirable pitching would be available throughout the draft.
2. Needed two Aces because of the depth of quality starters.
3. Closers fall off a cliff after the first 10.
4. The top-20 hitters greatly outdistance then next 50.

Draft Strategy: Take the best player available as frequently as possible, and disregard position eligibility for as long as possible.

Round 1 Pick #5 – Josh Donaldson – The KDS gamble paid off. Missing on Donaldson would have left us with Manny Machado, who would likely have been available at picks 8 or 9. The risk in this year’s draft at picking 5th is that we might miss out on a second Ace if we draft a hitter in rounds 2 or 3. Our favorite stat about Donaldson is not his .299 vs. .296 batting averages against lefties and righties, respectively. It’s that if he subtracted all of his ABs against lefties last year, Donaldson would still have been a top-5 hitter (.296 32 HR, 98 RBI, 99 R, 6 SB).

Round 2 (#26) – George Springer – We were eyeballing Starling Marte or Jake Arietta in round 2, but when they went at picks 24 & 25, Springer was surprisingly available. The choice was to risk missing out on a second sure Ace to roll the dice on a 26-year-old with 5-category potential. Knowing we were guaranteed to get one of our Top-10 starters at pick 3.5, we rolled with Springer.

Round 3 (35) – David Price – Despite 6 pitchers being select in the 8 picks on the 2/3 turn, we felt fortunate that our 5th-ranked pitcher was available. The move to Fenway should only help this proven “winner.” Price has eclipsed 15 wins 4 times in the last 6 seasons, often for mediocre teams. As the pick approached, Charlie Blackmon was considered, but we refused to be shutout on Aces.

Round 4 (#56) – Lorenzo Cain – After a 3rd-round starting pitching run in which 7 pitchers were drafted in 8 picks, 18 hitters would be selected in the next 19 picks. Four players we liked (Cain, Adam Jones, Craig Kimbrel, and Felix Hernandez) made it to the 11th pick of the fourth round. The closer seal had not yet been broken, and it was hard to pass on Felix, but Cain’s 5-category production was unmatched in the remaining field.

Round 5 (#65) – Felix Hernandez – A. Jones and Kimbrel were taken in the 8 picks through the turn, as was Xander Bogaerts. Teams 2, 3, & 4 each took a closer in front us, so we continued to paint by numbers and selected our top-rated remaining player for the 5th consecutive round. You would think taking your top player each selection would be an easy thing to do, but it proves difficult when thoughts of being shutout of aspects of the draft creep into your mind. “There are 10 top closers and three are gone” kept pecking at my brain. But a quick look at our spreadsheet told us not to pass again on Felix.

Round 6 (#86) – Tyson Ross – Unintentionally, I may be Tyson Ross’ biggest fan. Drafted over-and-over again this year, it appears I at least like him better than most. Only 2 closers were selected in the 20 picks since Felix in round 5, and with 3 of the 4 teams on the rounds 6/7 turn already rostering closers, we made the decision to take another potential 200-strikeout starter with the expectation that Trevor Rosenthal or Cody Allen would be available in 8 picks. The decision was also made to gamble that coveted Ian Desmond would slip 2 more rounds.

Round 7 (#95) – Trevor Rosenthal – Only Zach Britton was selected on the turn, leaving us to select the Cardinals’ closer. Although we had been prepared to miss out on a top closer, it was a big relief to have one in hand. We were a bit surprised to draft 4 pitchers vs. 3 hitters in our first 7 rounds, but hitting was all the rage in the early going of this draft. One team drafted only 1 pitcher in the first 7 rounds. Another team did not draft a pitcher until round 9, and a third team did not draft it's first pitcher until round 11.

Round 8 (#116) – Kole Calhoun -
The consequences of three teams forsaking pitching was a thinning hitting pool, especially OFs. Five more closers were selected which effectively meant TBTF was going to be out of the closer market for several rounds. The choice came to Calhoun, Billy Burns, or Salvador Perez.

Round 9 (#125) – Billy Burns – 6 pitchers and 2 catchers go on the turn, including Perez. We heard Ricky Henderson was working with Burns in Spring Training…we moved Burns up 10 spots in our rankings. Guys with speed were getting drafted left and right. This was an easy decision.

Round 10 (#146) – Addison Russell –
If Joe Madden were not the Cubs' manager, this pick would not have been made. A 22-year-old who strikes out a ton is a mess waiting to happen. Madden’s handling of Russell, and Russell’s improvement late in the season is enough to give TBTF hope that his progression will be a steady climb.

Round 11 (#155) – Jose Quintana – The Vinny Castilla of pitcher consistency, Quintana turns in nearly identical stats each season. Each season we draft him in the 11th round. He’s still at an age that improvement is more likely than decline. We drafted him because he is one of two remaining starters we ranked in the 2nd tier.

Round 12 (#176) – Julio Teheran – So often the lament is how many players are drafted in the 20 selections on the long-turn, but this pick turned out to be the opposite. Not one player was taken who we had ranked higher than our four queued players. This pick would prove a seismic shift in our draft. It was a great opportunity to strengthen the depth at the top of our pitching staff, but it would cause us to be too late on several hitters we liked later in the draft. In the second half last year, Teheran was the same as he ever was. He was even better the last two months.

Round 13 (#185) – Brett Lawrie – Brett Lawrie and Josh Riddick sat atop our queue. It was a very difficult choice, and one we will watch all season as Riddick ended up being draft one spot before our next pick. It was the spot in the draft where we wished we could trade up from our next pick so we could take both players.

Round 14 (#206) – Yan Gomes – The hope was we would land Riddick in round 14, and then Gomes on the round 14-15 short turn. Team #6 broke our hearts, but the consolation was not sweating Gomes making it back to us in 8 picks.

Round 15 (#215) – Marcus Semien – Three closers were drafted between our picks. Brad Ziegler was our highest rated player, with about six other pitchers ranked higher than Semien. However, Semien along with Jedd Gyorko were the last shortstops we had ranked before a very steep cliff. For the second time in the draft, we chose to select a player who wasn’t our clear next player. Missing out on Ian Desmond in rounds 6 & 7 continues to have repercussions on our draft. We hoped a decent closer would make it back to us 20 picks later.

Round 16 (#236) – JJ Hoover – As if to rub our noses in our decision to abandon our “take the best player available” strategy, Ziegler was taken the pick immediately following Semien. Three other closers were drafted and we took Hoover. Hoover/Ziegler will be another comparison for us to agonize over this season.

Round 17 (#245) – Derek Norris –
6 catchers had come off the board since we selected Gomes in round 14, and there were only 4 remaining who we wanted any part of. Trevor Plouffe was our highest ranked player, but it seemed more likely he would make it back to us a round later than Norris. The call on catchers was correct as the catchers were all gone by our next pick. Rounds 13-18 proved to be the power rounds of the draft. We were able to draft 4 hitters in those 6 rounds who we projected would provide 55-75 HR at premium positions. But many more sluggers were scooped by others.

Round 18 (#266) – Erasmo Ramirez –
The league focus on power hitting left a tier of about 10 starting pitchers we liked very much in the later rounds. Although we ranked Marco Estrada higher, we drafted Erasmo Ramirez as our 6th starter. We thought Ramirez had a higher ceiling, and no lingering injury to derail him as Estrada did.

Round 19 (#275) – Ryan Zimmerman –
Hitters continued to be gobbled up, so we drafted a player who was never really on our radar. Feeling potentially short in the power categories, we pinched our noses and took the oft-injured Zimmerman. The talent has always been there, which is why we took him, but this pick has a chance to blow up on us.

Round 20 (#296) – Marco Estrada –
Getting a third shot at Estrada, we hesitantly chose him over post-hype sleeper candidate Jackie Bradley. Bradley could sneak 15-20 HR this year, but Estrado’s usual ratios were a great addition this late in the draft.

Round 21 (#305) – Jackie Bradley – Bradley made it back to us and we pounced. He’s not Riddick, but he could be a nice substitute.

Round 22 (#326) – Mark Canha – The draft went in a direction favoring power for several rounds that we didn’t anticipate. For the third time in four rounds we selected one of our top hitters who was ranked dozens of spots lower than available starting pitchers we liked. The round 6 selection of Tyson Ross still looms large. A hitter selected in that spot would have kept us from missing out on desirable starters late in the draft.

Round 23 (#335) – Hector Santiago – Before even completing our starting roster, we refused to risk missing out on Santiago when on our third opportunity to draft him arrived. So we drafted our 10th pitcher before our utility starter. Incidentally, Santiago may be this year’s Dallas Keuchel.

Round 24 (#356) – Cameron Maybin –
And again we drafted a bench player before filling our starting lineup. Fast guys in Detroit will get to score a lot of runs this year.

Round 25 (#365) – Jedd Gyorko – Ten rounds after drafting Semien because he and Gyorko were the last decent shortstops, we added Gyorko to man the utility position to start the year.

Round 26 (#386) – Hyun-jin Ryu – Feeling as good as we did about our starting pitchers, we felt free to take a high-reward pitcher who is scheduled to miss the first month or two of the season with injury.

Round 27 (#395) – Robbie Ray – Either TBTF ownership was wrong, or our league was wrong, but we’d have been happy to start the year with Ray in our rotation.

Round 28 (#416) – Tony Cingrani – If anybody takes the closer's job away from Hoover, we think it will be Cingrani. This selection is an attempt to avoid early-season closer FAAB madness.

Round 29 (#425) – Kevin Quackenbush – Fernando Rodney is one of the five least reliable closers in baseball. I’ll be surprised if he’s closing by July.

Round 30 (#446) – Logan Morrison – We are hoping for a late-20s resurgence from this one-time prospect.
Last edited by knuckleheads on Sun Mar 27, 2016 8:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Chronicle of a Draft that is Too Big To Fail

Postby Gekko » Sun Mar 27, 2016 5:15 am

Excellent write-up and I really like where you got a couple of your players. Good luck
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Re: Chronicle of a Draft that is Too Big To Fail

Postby knuckleheads » Sun Mar 27, 2016 7:45 am

Gekko wrote:Excellent write-up and I really like where you got a couple of your players. Good luck


Thanks, Gekko. I considered redacting a couple of players' names so as to not give away any secrets. But in remembering your ***Promotional Posts*** I decided I wanted our players to be drafted as-high-as-possible in other ME Leagues.

I'm not sure the NFBC is listening, but make sure you don't let Erasmo Ramirez get out of the 13th round.
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Re: Chronicle of a Draft that is Too Big To Fail

Postby Sebadiah23 » Wed Mar 30, 2016 2:40 am

Nice team- if I had to sum up your strategy as an outside observer, whether you meant to or not, you picked a lot of boring players who are plenty worthy of where you took them (with a couple non-boring exceptions). In general they have lower ceilings but higher floors, and you scooped them up as they fell. Its a legit strategy that some have milked for years to great success.

The whole Canha vs. Tyson Ross thing is interesting - I would have liked to know who you passed on in each instance, but its definitely something I ponder all the time, in trying to "draft backwards" - i.e. drafting position X early on with the hope/anticipation of position Y being more plentiful later on. With the caveat of not knowing the pitchers you were pondering in round 22, I would have taken another pitcher there anyway,instead of compounding a mistake, and worried about fixing the offensive hole later in the draft or in faab. But that is nitpicking - good job, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

-Craig
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Re: Chronicle of a Draft that is Too Big To Fail

Postby knuckleheads » Wed Mar 30, 2016 10:36 pm

Thanks, Craig. The boring players comment was astute. I don't know that it was so much a strategy as just the players I value more. Or at least more than others.

Hector Santiago was in play when we drafted Canha. We took Santiago with our next pick, but we also had E. Santana, Nicasio, Snell, Conley, etc. queued up. Hitting was pretty thin by round 22 and Canha was right at the top of our hitters list. As it was, we didn't fill out our starting hitters until round 25 with Gyorko.

Our draft really was unique with three of the teams combining to draft 1 pitcher in the first 7 rounds.
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Re: Chronicle of a Draft that is Too Big To Fail

Postby knuckleheads » Wed Apr 06, 2016 4:10 pm

Draft Analysis

I like a leave-it-alone pitching staff. I don’t like playing catchup with ratios, and I can’t stand falling behind in wins or Ks. Too Big To Fail had plans this year to leave the draft with its pitching staff fully operational.

All that being said, if there was ever a year to go 4, 8, or even 10 rounds without drafting a pitcher, this would be the year to try it. There were plenty of quality pitchers available in rounds 11-25. In our main event draft, there were three teams that did just that, waiting 4, 8, and 10 rounds, respectively, to draft their first pitchers.

This collective shunning of pitching in the March 26 Online ME had a significant impact on the fates of the other 12 teams in the league, notably TBTF.

There was a big increase in 200K-pitchers in 2015, with 18 pitchers exceeding the mark, and a few others knocking on the door. This was a 50% jump from 2012-2014 seasons, when an average of only 12 pitchers-per-year struck out more than 200 batters.

TBTF’s version of the 75/75 (HR/SB) rule is we like to get 600 Ks out of our first three starters. After going 3 hitters in the first 4 rounds (Donaldson, Springer, and Cain), things were looking bad for 600 Ks. But, with 3 teams drafting no pitchers, and 4 others drafting only 1 pitcher by the 5th pick in the 5th round, we were able to select Felix Hernandez with the 65th pick. It was the latest he would be drafted in all Main Event drafts.

We pressed pitching hard in rounds 5-12 as we selected 5 pitchers and only 3 hitters, giving us a square roster with 6 hitters and these 6 pitchers through 12 rounds:

David Price
Felix Hernandez
Tyson Ross
Trevor Rosenthal
Jose Quintana
Julio Teheran

The relentless attack on hitting early by three out-of-the-box thinkers created as many cavities as opportunities. The two hitters I’ve drafted most often this year (Ian Desmond and Josh Reddick) were both missed in the Main Event.

Some coveted hitters were found in their usual spots, Billy Burns, Kole Calhourn, Addison Russell, Brett Lawrie and Jackie Bradley. Some coveted hitters we were fortunately available a little later than their usual spots, Yan Gomes, Derek Norris, and Jedd Gyorko.

Marcus Semien, Ryan Zimmerman, and Cameron Maybin were not targeted, but each was selected to fill a need at a spot in the draft where his value seemed high.

We continued to add pitchers leisurely throughout the draft to the point that we ended up having more pitchers than we can start on a weekly basis. It’s not a problem we are used to having at the end of a ME draft.

JJ Hoover
Erasmo Ramirez
Marco Estrada
Hector Santiago
Robbie Ray
Hyun-jin Ryu

Our hitting doesn’t concern us, but we have no depth beyond our starters. We might have to go searching for power bats sooner rather than later on the FAAB market.

The two teams that waited until rounds 9 and 11 for their first pitchers were able to pick up some supporting characters for their staffs, but the lack of aces will leave their teams fatally flawed for the overall prizes, particularly in Ks and Wins.

The team that drafted only 1 pitcher in the first seven rounds did a solid job of piecing together a viable staff:

Adam Wainwright
James Shields
Jake Odorizzi
Shelby Miller
Jaime Garcia
Matt Moore
Mike Leake
David Robertson
Closer to be named by FAAB $$$

After seeing it play out, TBTF might take a future shot at a hitter-heavy strategy, but I think we’ll limit it to a 6:1 ratio to begin the draft, rather than a 10:0.
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