Mastersball

Pitching Picks
NL Beat
Written by Christopher Kreush   
Wednesday, 25 January 2012 04:55

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.

Houston Astros – Bud Norris – The big name here is Wandy Rodriguez but I’ll take Bud four to five rounds later. Progressed nicely in 2011 and I expect further growth.

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.

Milwaukee Brewers – Zack Greinke – Should go a little lower than Yovani Gallardo and I’m fine with that. His 10.5 K/9 belied his 3.80 ERA, which should cause him to fall nicely to where I’d ante up.

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.

Washington Nationals – Jordan Zimmermann – While Stephen Strasburg will again get all the hype and Gio Gonzalez got all the off-season talk, I’ll sit back and wait for Zimmerman to fall into my lap.

While I probably won’t own everyone on this list, you can be sure I will own quite a few. I won’t have a problem taking an ace if the time and price is right but wouldn’t mind going to war with a staff made up of players like those I listed here.
 

More Articles by Christopher Kreush

Comments  

 
# TheRunner77 2012-01-26 09:11
Good points, even though drafters in the multiple NFBC leagues I am playing in, have already been on top of most of the recommendations outlined here. Madson was behind the other closers of the same caliber when he was still unsigned. Now, you'll be hard-pressed to get him late.

Also, would make additional allowances for format. If you're drafting in an environment that allows no trades, nor FAAB, you can't go through your season with closers like Frank Francisco.

As far as Hamels goes, I've done 5 NFBC 15-team drafts -- he's survived into the 4th round in only one of them. He was selected in the 3rd round in the other 4 drafts. There were no extra 2 or 3 rounds of waiting unfortunately.
 
 
# cwk1963 2012-01-27 04:09
I agree with you that formats like the NFBC are a different animal and require a different set of playing rules to live by,

As far as closers go, there are others besides Frank Francisco that you could get a little later - Hanrahan, Motte, Betancourt - the point is you don't have to spend what it would take in dollars or picks to get a Rivera, Wilson, Papelbon, etc.

In the ADP's I've seen Hamels went 2 rounds later than Halladay and 1 round later than Lee. But things will certainly be changing and these ADP lists will become more fluid as roles are becoming more defined, free agents are signed, and injury situations are updated. I agree that the names here are not a be-all nor an end-all for drafting, but the general premise of waiting for some of the pitching bargains that will be there a little later and actually have something to offer besides a cheap price is a prudent strategy.

But the old adage of know your league and its rules is the guiding light for your individual drafts.
 
 
# Todd Zola 2012-01-27 08:37
something else to keep in mind...

number of people that play fantasy baseball -- over 10 million

number of people participating in the NFBC slow drafts -- about 200
 

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