Baseball draft season is upon us. Perry Van Hook, for instance, has written about a few drafts and the first notable experts draft was held this past weekend at the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Conference in Las Vegas. Things will ramp up slowly from here before snowballing through February and into the bulk of the NFBC drafts in March.
Many fantasy baseball sites are getting their projections and dollar values out this month (MB published ours last month) as the public is getting over football and switching to baseball mode. For those who like to use Average Draft Position, there are enough mock draft results to provide a good sample size and this will be getting larger daily.
I don’t really use ADPs but I am preparing for my own auctions and straight drafts. As I mentioned in a previous piece, in most leagues pitching makes up 50 percent of the available points but in most cases is only allotted 30-35 percent of the available funds or relatively few of the top ten draft rounds. One thing I like to do is look at each team and, avoiding the obvious top-tier pitchers, identify one hurler who I wouldn’t mind having on my teams. While I would certainly welcome a Roy Halladay or Clayton Kershaw on any of my teams, 99.99% of the time I wouldn’t be willing to invest the dollars or upper draft picks to actually roster either of them or a comparable pitcher.
I have taken a look at every National League team and here is my list of pitching candidates I wouldn’t mind owning – one from each team.
Arizona Diamondbacks – Ian Kennedy – Many people will look to 2011 as a fluke or one-time deal. While I don’t think he’ll repeat last year’s numbers, I do believe he will be more than useful and will be undervalued to a certain extent.
Atlanta Braves – Brandon Beachy – He is buried deeply enough in the target list by Tommy Hanson, Craig Kimbrel, and possibly Tim Hudson to be able to scoop up. Can strike out a bunch but still has somewhat limited name recognition.
Chicago Cubs – Matt Garza – Not many to choose from, frankly, on this team. Garza is the best the Cubs have but certainly not in the upper tier of starters, so he’ll be available in many of my leagues when I’m looking for a pitcher like him.
Cincinnati Reds – Ryan Madson – As much as I liked Mat Latos in Petco, that’s how much I dislike him in Great American Ballpark. While there are at least half a dozen closers with a higher value than Madson, I’ll gladly wait a bit and add him to my teams.
Colorado Rockies – Rafael Betancourt – See Madson, Ryan. I don’t like spending top dollar on closers and prefer those in the second or third tiers. Betancourt certainly qualifies there, so welcome aboard.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Ted Lilly – Still useful enough for a later round addition and I’m not going to pay what it will take to roster Clayton Kershaw. Lilly may even be available later than Chad Billingsley in some leagues since people might still be waiting for Chad to blossom.
Miami Marlins – Anibal Sanchez – Some might be buying into Carlos Zambrano and a change of scenery but I’m not. Not before Sanchez anyway. I like Josh Johnson but he will not go low enough for me to mitigate the injury concern.
New York Mets – Frank Francisco – He fits the bill as a cheap closer and I did say I’d pick one pitcher from each team.
Philadelphia Phillies – Cole Hamels – There will obviously be two pitchers from Philadelphia taken before Cole and I’ll wait the extra two or three rounds for Hamels.
Pittsburgh Pirates – Joel Hanrahan – Again, he fits the definition of a cheap closer as many will pass him by for more established finishers, downplaying 2011. I won’t be one of those and will gladly take him later than some of the top-tier closers.
San Diego Padres – Cory Luebke – Had a solid 2011 and while some will take him because he plays for the Padres and pitches in Petco, many others will avoid him because he plays for the Padres and won’t get much run support. Not to take anything away from Aaron Harang but look what he was able to do for San Diego in 2011.
San Francisco Giants – Madison Bumgarner – Will go after Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, maybe even Brian Wilson if there’s a run on closers early. I’ll wait for Bumgarner and be happy about it. While we’re on the topic of the Giants, it’s amazing they still have to pay Barry Zito a big chunk of money for two more years.
St. Louis Cardinals – Jason Motte – Another closer I wouldn’t mind waiting the necessary rounds for instead of picking one higher. Adam Wainwright will go much too early for my taste as will Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia.