I know it is way too early, but participating in a 2010 draft at Fantasyballjunkie.com (also viewable at Hardball Times) was actually a good time. Tommy Bennett (his take is at the end of the article) helped me out and using the format of the draft we thought we did pretty well. It was a standard 5 x 5 draft with the normal categories of runs, home runs, RBI's, stolen bases and average for hitters and wins, saves, WHIP, strikeouts and ERA for pitchers. The biggest change was that we were only allowed 9 position players (each position and a DH) and 4 starting pitchers and 1 relief pitcher with no bench.
The first thing that stuck out to us was the total lack of pitching slots. We figured we needed to pick up a top pitcher to be competitive and end up with Tim Lincecum in the first round.
The second issue was that we had to provide a list of 20 players and the top one would be picked we it came to our turn in the draft. This format led to not being able to control the second pick. With us drafting 7th, we were pretty unsure who would drop to us even in the 1st round. With this format, I would have preferred a higher pick so I would have a better idea of who I would be getting initially a just play the second round draft pick roulette.
A third unique aspect, at lest for me, is that it was only a 10 team draft. Of the four fantasy leagues I am currently in, the smallest one is 12 with the largest being 20. With only ten teams we would be able to get at least someone in the top 1/3 at their position.
Finally, we decided we needed a top reliever. With only one slot and available and saves being an entire category, we wanted to pick one early. Who to pick got Tommy and I into a debate and that led to this article by me and his response. We ended up being the 3rd team to get a reliever and got our #2 pick, Joe Nathan.
After it was all said and done, here is the team we ended up with:
C: Ryan Doumit
1B: Carlos Pena
2B: Ben Zobrist
SS: Jhonny Peralta
3B: Chipper Jones
OF: Matt Kemp
OF: Jacoby Ellsbury
OF: Nate McLouth
U: Andrew McCutchen
SP1: Tim Lincecum
SP2: Dan Haren
SP3: Zach Greinke
SP4: Ricky Nolasco
CL: Joe Nathan
Here is the place I think we will do in each categories (1 best, 10 worst)
Runs: 2 to 6
Homeruns: 5 to 10
RBIs: 5 to 10
Stolen Bases: 1 to 6
Average: 1 to 8
We don't have great power (RBIs and HRs), compared to other teams, but should do well in lead off type hitters with speed (SB), average and runs scored
Wins: 1 to 5
We went for the win here and feel if everything goes right, we could sweep all 5 categories. I see no way short of injury that we don't end up #1 in strikeouts. If things don't go well, we could end up with maybe the 3rd best staff.
Favorite Pick: Chipper Jones – Tommy said 3rd base was deep and it was true when we end up with Chipper with the 107th pick
Least Favorite: Carlos Pena – We were close to picking of 1B many times, but they seemed to go right before us.
Greatest Upside: Andrew McCutchen – This guy could be the real deal and by 2011 end up being a top 20 pick.
Greatest Downside: Ben Zobrist – Hoping 2009 is not a fluke.
What we did seemed to work: Going after pitching made us the easy favorite in the categories.
What strategy would we have done differently: Picked up all our pitching a round later. We still would have ended up with great pitching, but the offense might have been better.
Other teams that drafted I liked:
Unruhlies - He seems to have the 2nd best pitching staff and he waited a little more than we did. He will end up in the top 3 in all pitching categories and his higher offensive picks could make a difference.
Hamboners – Nice mix of offense and pitching. I would feel good going into the season with this team.
The Sports Banter – This team is on the opposite spectrum of our team in that the lineup is murders row, but the pitching is very much lacking.
Let me explain the reasoning for taking pitching so early. Conventional wisdom says to wait to draft pitching, especially relief pitching. I’m a big fan of auction leagues, so since I started doing auctions I have thought of drafts in terms of auctions.
Traditionally, at auction you want to set aside much more money for offense than defense; the typical split of a $260 budget is $180 for hitting and $80 for pitching. That breaks down to a 9:4 ratio of hitting to pitching, which is pretty close to the ratio of 9:5 ratio of hitter slots to pitcher slots in this highly unusual league setup.
Since pitching categories are worth the same number of points as hitting categories, pitchers were roughly on par with hitters in this draft. This is extremely rare, and I can’t say I’ve ever participated in a draft where I took that to be the case.
As such, we picked pitchers with our 1st, 3rd, and 4th round picks (Matt Kemp, whose upside I love, was the lone hitter we drafted in the first four rounds). Jeff may be right that we played our gambit a bit early, but I still think it was exactly the right thing to do.
Of course, our offense suffered, but not so much that we won’t have a fighting chance. I like the bounceback potential of Carlos Pena and Jhonny Peralta in home runs, and a full season of Ryan Doumit could chip in a dozen home runs. I think we’ve got runs and steals in pretty good shape, and our high average hitters outnumber our low average hitters.