Sunday, March 9, 2008

They're All Part of My Baseball Fantasy

My fantasy draft is complete. I got 20 of the 23 players I wanted for my team, the Sabrmetrosexuals. The three I didn't get (all pitchers, all taken at least 2 rounds earlier than expected by my astute friend, Kenneth) were Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and Huston Street. Instead, I got JJ Putz, Phil Hughes, and Trevor Hoffman. Not a problem, really. Here is the team I designed to succeed in a league that scores OBP, SLB%, HR, RBI, E, IP, ERA, K, WHIP, and Saves:

C - Joe Mauer
1B - Travis Hafner
2B - Jose Vidro
SS - Carlos Guillen
3B - Ryan Braun
OF - Gary Sheffield, Hideki Matsui, Garrett Anderson
Utility - Jason Kubel
Bench - Kevin Youkilis, Placido Polanco, Evan Longoria, Jack Cust, Jason Varitek
SP - Johan Santana, Erik Bedard, Tim Lincecum, Javier Vazquez
RP - JJ Putz, Trevor Hoffman, Bobby Jenks
P - Phil Hughes, Rich Harden

Because this is a head-to-head league, the idea is to field a roster that is going to win at least 6 categories, no matter who I face. With only 8 teams in the league, everybody should be able to field a reasonably competitive team - if they're paying attention. Everybody's got a bunch of guys capable of hitting homers, driving in runs, racking up innings. Any given week, it's a crapshoot as to which guys will score - especially in the saves department. The trick is to find a category where you beat the other guy every time. Then, if you only get 4 other categories to break your way, you come out even. If 5 break your way, you're winning.

The category I decided to dominate is errors. The guy with the fewest total errors each week wins. The way to ensure that my team won't make errors, while still putting middle-of-the-order, HR/RBI/SLG% people out there, is to keep them away from high error positions, or, even better, keep them off the field entirely. Because Yahoo's fantasy baseball doesn't distinguish between DHs and regular position players, I could draft a DH and play him as whatever his "natural" position would be. Because Yahoo's positions and rankings were based on last year, I could draft someone to play last year's position, knowing he was much less likely to make errors in his new position.

I looked at the projected DHs for the 14 AL teams. There were 6 1Bs (Aubrey Huff, David Ortiz, Jim Thome, Hafner, Billy Butler and Frank Thomas), 7 OFs (Kubel, Sheffield, Matsui, Anderson, Cust, Cliff Floyd and Frank Catalonotto) and a 2B (Vidro). Because none of them steal a lot of bases, and a lot of them don't have impressive batting averages (2 factors Yahoo uses for its default rankings), the highest ranked was Ortiz at #17. Hafner was next, down at #41 or so thanks to his off year in 2007. Sheffield was #64. Only 3 of these players likely to go in the first 8 rounds!

The positions I couldn't fill with DHs were C, SS, and 3B. The left side of the infield is a great place to rack up errors. Luckily, Carlos Guillen is eligible to play fantasy shortstop, and Yahoo didn't even acknowledge that Ryan Braun is now projected to play LF for the Brewers. Mauer plays much better defense than Russell Martin or Victor Martinez.

My starting lineup consists of 6 DHs, a shortstop who will be making errors at the rate of a first baseman, a third baseman who will be making errors at the rate of an outfielder, and the best fielder of the high OBP catchers. I'll be very surprised if that lineup averages more than 1 error per week. It is loaded with heart-of-the-order guys. I should be able to hang with just about anybody in the HR/RBI/SLG% categories, while winning in errors week in and week out.

Meanwhile, I've got the 2 best strikeout pitchers in the majors in Santana and Bedard, both of whom have just moved to pitcher's parks. Vazquez, Lincecum, Hughes, and Harden all have the stuff to be the aces of their staffs. Any week Santana or Bedard happens to pitch 2 times, I've got a real strong shot at the K/IP/WHIP categories.

When I realized that I was going to draft DHs to fill 7 of my 14 position player slots, I thought, "Kenneth will surely be horrified!" After all, he's a National League guy. But by swapping the default fantasy categories of BA, Runs, and SBs for OBP, SLG%, and errors, he unwittingly made DHs the most valuable people in the draft. And I wanted no part of people like Jose Reyes or Chone Figgins - those guys don't hit many homers, don't drive in many runs, and they make errors.

We'll see how the season plays out - but I like my chances.

1 comment:

Kenneth said...

Its true that I set up a league in which a DH is a good thing, and in doing so I have betrayed The NL Cause. Any way you score it opens it up to different strategies, and yours sounds solid. You've put a good team together and I expect it to be in the top few at the end of the season. Assuming everyone stays healthy of course, but we've all got those concerns.

You realize you drafted Carlos Guillen, not Jose right?

And I may have stolen Liriano and Nathan, but you stole Braun, who could end up being a monster offensively.