Archive for ‘Mock Drafts’

Tuesday: 06.7.2011

ESPN Franchise Draft: Just Missed

Last week, I revealed my top 30 picks if I were building an MLB Franchise from scratch.  The hardest ones for me were Harper and Trout.  As minor leaguers, there is just so much risk tied to them and to start a franchise with them is really tough thing to do, but having seen Harper and having read so much about Trout, I feel like they are as close to sure things as prospects can get.

I want to do this exercise again in the offseason and see how things shift & change.  I also wanted to share those who hit the cutting room floor as it were.  I did a lot of shifting up and down throughout the process to the point that I even did some while I was doing the write ups.  It’s a tough exercise, but tons of fun for sure.

Here are 10 guys who just missed:

Matt Kemp (CF) – This one was really hard for me as I’ve been a Kemp fan for years.  If he continues to have a great season, it will be almost impossible to leave him off when I run through this again.

Cole Hamels (SP) – He doesn’t get the love he deserves as far as I am concerned.  Even though he didn’t make my top 30, I still have him as the 6th-best starting pitcher in baseball with this ranking.  He’s great and continues to improve.  I get that Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee overshadow him a bit this year, but I still don’t get how Eric Karabell doesn’t see him as an ace.  Teams can have more than one ace.  Philly just happens to have three and maybe four depending on your definition.

Brian McCann (C) – A remarkably consistent backstop with a great bat.  If the two young catchers, Posey & Santana, hadn’t emerged in the last year, McCann was a shoo-in for this list.

Brandon Phillips (2B) – At 30, he’s a bit older for a franchise starter, but a middle of the order bat and brilliant glove at second base make this late bloomer someone to consider.

Clayton Kershaw (SP) – I had him in, took him out, put him back in and eventually ended up with him just out.  It is more the depth of high quality arms in the big leagues than it is anything against Kershaw.  There’s a good chance we haven’t seen anywhere near his best work yet which is scary… for the rest of the NL West.

Drew Stubbs (CF) – What he lacks in his bat right now, he makes up for it with dynamic defense and stellar base-running. Still, that’s not enough to earn him the nod over the likes of Andrew McCutchen and Carlos Gonzalez, my top two CFs.

Dustin Pedroia (2B) – Not quite himself yet this year, but I’m not forgetting him because of 57 mediocre games.  He didn’t make the cut because of better options ahead of him, not necessarily anything within his profile.

David Wright (3B) – If I’m not going to bury Pedroia over 57 games, there’s no way I can ditch Wright after 39.  I will reserve judgment for when he’s fully healthy.  For now, I’m betting on the track record and that says he’s a top 40 player at a very thin position.

Matt Holliday (LF) – Scoff at the age of 31 for a franchise foundation, but how do you ignore this bat?  He is simply one of the best middle-of-the-order bats in baseball.  If you started a franchise with him, you’d lean toward winning right away instead of youth and prospects, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Especially since there would still be plenty of talent to balance your approach if the entire pool of baseball was re-drafted.

Joe Mauer  (C) – Despite being the cornerstone for my favorite team’s rival, I love Mauer, but I also realize that this isn’t fantasy baseball.  There is no certainty that he remains a catcher going forward given this spate of injuries that has limited him to nine games.  Beyond that, I love the batting average, but I’m not starting my franchise with someone who hits nine home runs a year despite being a middle-of-the-order hitter.  Still, I don’t want to be clouded by these past two months so I still considered him right down to the end.

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Thursday: 01.27.2011

Three Questions – San Francisco Giants

With the 2011 Starting Pitcher Guide slated for next month, I have a jam packed volume covering all the ins and outs of starting pitching in the 2011 season for your viewing pleasure.  Of course that doesn’t do much to address the offensive side of things so I decided to start this “Three Questions” where I will cover some key offensive issues for each of the 30 teams.  There will be more content here dealing with offense, but this is the beginning.

I paid a lot for Pablo Sandoval last spring, WTF?

Yeah that was a tough one to swallow.  He certainly didn’t come close to expectations, but at the same time he wasn’t the season killer he is made out to be, either.  Season killers are multiple month injuries on April 12th.  You can overcome guys who underperform expectations, but still play 152 games.  Plus it isn’t like his season was a complete & utter disaster, he had streaks of excellence mixed in, namely his April and August where he posted 1.008 and .907 OPS marks, respectively.

In many leagues, Sandoval’s down season (.268/.323/.409 w/13 HRs) will actually create a buying opportunity as owners overreact to what essentially amounts to a sophomore slump at age 23.  Most guys aren’t even in the big leagues at 23 and Sandoval has 1400+ plate appearances under his belt.   We have seen the best of Sandoval and we have seen the worst of Sandoval and with his price being driven by the latter, now is the time to invest.  In the SiriusXM/FSTA Draft during their conference out in Las Vegas on Monday, he was taken in the 8th round (101st overall) of a 13-team mixed league.  Last year he was a 3rd-4th round pick.

Third base is still pretty thin so his value won’t completely plummet, but I would consider that 8th round value to be the high end of where he will go in drafts so you might be able to get him a few rounds later depending on your league.  Once you get past the top 10 of Evan Longoria, Ryan Zimmerman, David Wright, Alex Rodriguez, Adrian Beltre, Aramis Ramirez, Pedro Alvarez, Martin Prado, Michael Young and Casey McGehee then I think Sandoval is just as good of a pick as the other guy.

He won’t offer nearly as much power as Mark Reynolds, but his overall profile is much more stable.  He doesn’t carry the age/injury risk of Scott Rolen & Chipper Jones and factoring in reasonable improvement regression, he should be better than them even if they manage to stay healthy.  Bottom line is you should pay for a guy hitting .300 with 18 home runs and 75+ runs scored and driven in, but be willing to go the extra buck or two for the potential he has as a 24-year old still coming into his own.

Andres Torres was a prototypical fantasy All-Star last year, what about 2011?

At 33, we’re not dealing with a growth profile here.  Torres’s 570 plate appearances last year eclipsed his career total by 115 spread across parts of five seasons.  That said, he gave us a taste of 2010 in 170 plate appearances in 2009 when he had six home runs and six stolen bases along with eight(!) triples.  After an amazing July, he sputtered down the stretch no doubt suffering some fatigue from his first whole season.  For 2011, it is going to be all about cost.

I’m confident he can put together another solid power/speed season as a “glue guy” for any fantasy team, but is the price tag going to be that of a glue guy or second tier fantasy star?  Early returns are mixed.  His ADP (average draft position) at one popular mock draft sites is off the charts ridiculous.  He is checking in as the 35th outfielder off the board (116th overall) ahead of guys like Curtis Granderson, Adam Jones, Carlos Lee, Vernon Wells and Nick Markakis.  While I said I don’t doubt he can repeat 2010, drafting him ahead of those guys means he has to repeat for me to get proper returns on my investment.

In the industry draft I mentioned earlier, he went in the 20th round (250th overall) which actually hits the other end of the spectrum as a great value.  I doubt he will go that late in most drafts, but anything before 15th-16th round is really ramping up the risk on your end.  He is a great story who has overcome his ADHD to have success in the big leagues, but you still have to remember he is a 33-year old strikeout machine with solid speed in a lineup that is still only decent at best.

Look for a .260-76-12-55-22 line which has value, but let your team construction dictate if he is a fit or not.  If you have a lot of high risk/high reward youth on the team, then Torres is a great stabilizing vet who’s downside isn’t  going to kill you.  But if you have a veteran-laden team on offense, then bet on the upside of a Travis Snider or Logan Morrison before taking a low ceiling Torres.

Is there anyone off the radar who could make an impact for the reigning Champions?

Yes there is and it is someone who has already been covered in depth here, first baseman/left fielder Brandon Belt, who was my favorite player to watch that Arizona Fall League back in November.  As presently constructed, the Giants lineup is essentially Posey, Sandy and Six Old Dudes.  Now those old dudes came through huge last year, especially in the playoffs and helped bring home a title, but older players aren’t bastions of health.  Injuries create opportunities which is where someone who is just about ready for the big leagues, like Belt, comes into play.

The reason Belt now has left fielder attached to his defensive description is because first base, his normal position, is pretty well sealed up for the time being.  Aubrey Huff parlayed his excellent 2010 season into a deserved contract and though he is 34, he has averaged 152 games per season since his age 26 season.  In that time, he has played fewer than 150 just once.  That said, age is fickle.  But the real opportunity could come in left field where Pat Burrell was something of a savior for that lineup in 96 games last year but is neither young (34), agile (-39.7 career UZR) or super healthy of late (122 & 120 GP the last 2 years).

Belt was a breakout prospect last year crossing three levels before heading to Arizona where he continued to stay hot.  Only 13 of his 136 games came at AAA-Fresno so he will start the 2011 season down there to get some more seasoning so he isn’t someone who should be drafted as anything other than a minor leaguer right now, but don’t be surprised if he earns an early summer call-up to spark that offense.

Make no mistake that the Giants won the World Series because of their pitching and that remains their overwhelming strength for 2011.  The offense is far from perfect and the veterans will have to produce with Posey if the team expects to contend out west and if not, GM Brian Sabean will have to find guys who can with Belt being the best minor league option for the Giants.

Monday: 01.3.2011

Comparing My Top 24 w/a Mock Draft, Part 2

Yesterday, I began looking at the players drafted in the first two rounds of a mock draft I’m hosting over at CouchManagers.com against my Top 24 list from earlier this Fall. I highlighted those players who didn’t make top my 24 yet found their way into the first two rounds of our draft while today I will look at the draft positions of my group of players.

I’ll start with the group that “hit” with a hit being someone who was either dead even in my list and draft position or +/- two spots. There were eight direct hits, seven of which came within the top 10 suggesting that the first round might not bring much surprise in your draft. A lot can and almost certainly will change from now until draft day, though. There were three others who were within the two pick margin. All three were favored the two spots by me as opposed to the drafters. Here is the list of 11 players:

PLAYER My List Draft Diff.
Pujols, A 1 1 0
Ramirez, H 2 2 0
Cabrera, M 3 3 0
Longoria, E 6 6 0
Votto, J 7 7 0
Cano, R 8 8 0
Rodriguez, A 9 9 0
Utley, C 19 19 0
Wright, D 11 13 2
Hamilton, J 15 17 2
Youkilis, K 20 22 2

Next is the group that drafters “overrated” in my eyes. That is they took them three or more picks higher than I had them rated. The most egregious example is a bit skewed because it’s Adrian Gonzalez and when I rated him 21st, he was with the San Diego Padres. He has since gone to the Boston Red Sox which will certainly constitute a bump in value, but I still don’t think I will have him 10th, which is where he ended up in our draft.

PLAYER My List Draft Diff.
Gonzalez, A 21 10 -11
Tulowitzki, T 12 4 -8
Gonzalez, C 10 5 -5
Teixeira, M 18 14 -4
Halladay, R 14 11 -3

I knew I was lower than most on Troy Tulowitzki, but I was still a bit surprised when he went 4th overall. My concerns with him are as follows:

…though he has three good seasons out of the four he has been in the league, he still hasn’t cracked 100 RBIs, he has only topped 11 stolen bases once and though his .290 career average is damn good, 2010 was his only season above .300 (he hit .315). Mix in significant injury risk as he has missed 40 and 51 games in two of the last three seasons and there is reason for concern with Tulowitzki.

I just think you are inheriting too much risk taking him that high. I understand that if you want him and you have the 4th pick, that is going to be your only shot so you have to take your guy, but I would play it safer. He is a dynamic talent, but he could be this year’s Matt Kemp/Joe Mauer first round flameout.

Similarly, I come in a bit lower on Carlos Gonzalez because despite his huge 2010 season, I think he is rife with risk like his teammate, albeit different risk tied mostly to the fact that this is the first season he has actually paid dividends on his prodigious minor league talent. Tread cautiously.

And finally, there was an 8-player group that could be tabbed as “underrated” as they were three or more picks away from my top 24 ranking. Of course, they are only underrated to me and those who agree with my rankings.

PLAYER My List Draft Diff.
McCutchen, A 16 45 29
Braun, R 5 18 13
Rios, A 24 35 11
Crawford, C 4 12 8
Holliday, M 13 21 8
Hernandez, F 22 28 6
Zimmerman, R 17 20 3
Kemp, M 23 26 3

Soooo let’s just say I like Andrew McCutchen a smidge more than the general populous at this point in the draft season. He went almost two and a half rounds after where I had him slotted. Now the first question would obviously be “why didn’t I take him?”. Well, I only had one real shot where I really could have gotten him and I decided to take Jose Reyes with the first pick in the 3rd round. Shortstop remains a wasteland again in 2011 and I felt like Reyes was a nice value at that point. When McCutchen fell throughout the remainder of the 3rd and deep into the 4th, I thought I was going to get him at the end of the round, but he went three picks before mine. I settled for Ichiro Suzuki.

My jaw about hit the floor with Ryan Braun’s descent into the mid-2nd round. As you are probably tired of hearing by now, I put a lot of consideration into how high a player’s floor is with my early picks and I think Braun has one of the higher floors while still maintaining an appealing ceiling making him one of the best early round picks. He was a steal at 18 by Jason Collette.

I would have much rather taken Matt Holliday than the first base run from the early 2nd round I discussed yesterday, but it wasn’t an egregious fall for Holliday as the players taken from my ranking of Holliday to his draft position are clustered pretty tightly together.

I promised news soon about my 2011 Starting Pitcher Guide and I wanted to get it out today, but it didn’t happen, so stay tuned. I should have some details out at some point this week. I think those of you who have read it the last three years are really going to enjoy this year’s version.

Sunday: 01.2.2011

Comparing My Top 24 w/a Mock Draft, The Misses

As I’m wont to do around this time each year, I started a mock draft up over at CouchManagers.com with a group of diehards if for no other reason than to forget about the luck-ridden awfulness that is fantasy football. While I do have severe issues with fantasy football, that isn’t really why I fire up baseball mocks so quickly after the season. A couple reasons are that I like to see how much the previous seasons figures in on 2011 expectations, especially in the early rounds and I am just a baseball junkie so I like to keep it on the brain year-round.

We started the 27 round (1 ea. of 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, COR, MID, UT, 2 C, 5 OF, 9 P, 4 BENCH) draft back on December 14th and surprisingly (given the holidays) we’re at the end of round 21 as of 11pm Sunday night. I’ll be sharing different aspects of the draft with you in this very space in the coming days, but today I wanted to look at how our first two rounds coincided with my top 24 from back in November.

What I wanted to see was who would come out as the biggest “values” in that they went much later than where I rated them in my top two dozen. Of course, I also wanted to see who came out the most overrated by the same measure. There was a subset of guys who I didn’t have on my top 24 that were drafted in the first two rounds of our mock. Let’s look at them first before we delve into how my top 24 fared against the draft.

Prince Fielder (15th overall) – The entire first round fell within my top 24 which isn’t terribly surprising, but I knew things would start to come off the tracks eventually as I only rated two additional first basemen after the Power Three (Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera and Joey Votto) and our first two rounds saw four other 1Bs leave the board after the power three. Fielder was the first. I don’t hate the pick, mind you, even after a down 2010. He’s just 27 and I think he’s more likely to top 40 HR again in 2011 than he is to be just over 30 as he was in 2010. On the whole, I think a second round pick is better spent elsewhere especially when Adam Dunn was available 26 picks later.

Ryan Howard (16th overall) – I can get behind Fielder on some level (although his owner had just taken Adrian Gonzalez), but I won’t support Howard in the top 24 let alone 16th. At 31, you can’t bank on the gaudy HR and RBI totals that he needs to set himself apart from that middle tier of first basemen. The offense in Philly struggled last year, is a year older and now missing Jayson Werth. I’m avoiding Howard at his current cost.

Joe Mauer (23rd overall) – I fell hard for Mauer last year up until around March when I was swayed by the contingent screaming that he wasn’t a first round (or even second round, really) pick. I remain in that camp after his 2010 season. He’s a great player and I wouldn’t be totally surprised if he went 2009 on us again this year or sometime soon, but I’m not taking that high-priced risk in my draft.

Dustin Pedroia (24th overall) – This one is essentially semantics since I cut off my list at 24 because it’s two rounds of a standard draft and happens to be my favorite number, but Pedroia is 25th on my “official” list. I don’t think he will have any lingering issues with the foot in 2011 and thus he will be back to his All-Star form. Oh yeah, I also don’t have any issue with this pick because I am the one who made it.

None of the four names are particular surprisingly as they have all been early round staples the last couple of years, but I can’t envision any scenarios where I would take either Howard or Mauer. Maybe I got Carl Crawford or Troy Tulowitzki in the first round, I would come back around with Fielder, but by and large, he is a pass for me too. Pedroia, as I already mentioned, was my second round pick so obviously I can envision a scenario where I would bump him up (that scenario was getting Pujols and not wanting an outfielder in the second round).

Next up, I’ll look my 24 and how they fared in the draft.

Thursday: 11.4.2010

Top 24 for 2011 – Part 1

With the MLB season officially completed on Monday night, we can start looking ahead to the 2011 season and how the top players line up. This season was as interesting as any in recent history because the movement among the top players was heavy. A lot of young players had excellent seasons while some of the old guard faltered just a bit creating openings within the top 24.

How much stock can you put into any one season for better or worse? Obviously a lot of players will make many of their decisions off of the 2010 season which is dangerous game. I fell into that trap last year when overrating both Matt Kemp & Joe Mauer, who both fell flat on their faces in 2010. Though I will consider 2010 a lot in making my decisions about who belongs in the top 24, I will also strongly consider a player’s track record & career trajectory based on age and health.

Make no mistake that my process has always combined the previous season with the track record & career trajectory analysis of a player when deciding where they should go in the following season, but I fell in love with Mauer’s excellent season leading me to put him in the first round in the initial iteration of this article last year. As spring approached and drafts/auctions began, I tempered my Mauer love realizing the error of my ways with respect to him as a first rounder.

With Kemp, I expected improvement on his stellar 2009 season, but instead he regressed back to a slightly lesser version his 2008 line which is still pretty good, but most certainly a face plant considering where he went in most drafts. Neither he nor Mauer truly tanked the teams of fantasy owners who drafted them, though they did severely disappoint given the cost to said owners. Kemp will actually just be entering his prime in 2011 so if the .249 average and 19 stolen bases (after back-to-back years with 30+) tank his value then he could be something of a sleeper of the early rounds a la Josh Hamilton in 2010.

The uncertainty at the top given the surging results of the new guard combined with the lagging results of the old guard create the potential for Kemp/Mauer situations in a list looking at next year’s top 24, but I will be cognizant of that and you will see it with the ranking of a few such players. With all of that said, let’s get to the double dozen.

24. Alex Rios, OF, CWS/Shin-Soo Choo, OF, CLE – There just isn’t much difference between these two so I decided to slot both of them in at the 24th spot, but I could have just as easily expanding the list to 25 players. Looking at their 2010 lines shows Rios with a stolen base edge and Choo with a batting average edge. Personally, I’d take the former, but in terms of overall value it’s splitting hairs. Choo is also a little younger, though, so there may be a shred more upside with him. On the whole, there isn’t much separating these two AL Central outfielders so I’ve got them tied for the end of the 2nd round.

23. Matt Kemp, OF, LAD – No, Kemp did not live up to his draft slot this year and yes, he did hit a dismal .249, but he wasn’t waiver wire fodder. He ripped a career high 28 home runs. His runs scored, driven in and stolen bases all fell precipitously, but his totals of 82, 89 and 19 in those categories didn’t kill anyone’s team. And he has been as reliable as any player in recent memory in terms of playing time logging 155, 159 and 162 games the last three years. To top it all off, he will be 26 this year and could finally put up the monster 30-30 year everyone was looking for this year.

22. Felix Hernandez, SP, SEA – Let’s get one thing straight: I don’t take starting pitchers in the first two rounds. However, just because I personally avoid the risk associated with them doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen and I will cover them in this list because there are a few who deserve to be mentioned. King Felix is a workhorse superstar with five straight seasons of 30+ starts including back-to-back Cy Young worthy seasons. Now here’s the jaw-dropper: he will be 25 years old next year. With a 2.25 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in 250 innings, Hernandez likely won’t improve his numbers next year, but taking a pitcher this early is in an investment in stability in a ridiculously unstable market.

21. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, SDP – I realize first base is deep, everyone realizes it, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be taken early. A handful of first basemen made this list starting with Gonzalez. A lot of his presence on this list has to do with consistency. He’s .280-30-100 in the bank with ceiling for more, as evidenced by his 40-home run season back in 2009. The lineup around him stifles the runs scored and even the runs driven in to a point given his incredible power should probably be yielding closer to 110 RBIs or more. The fact that San Diego was in contention right down to the wire last year could compel them to go out and make stark improvements to their lineup which would only help A-Gonz and of course if their fortunes go the other way, he could be dealt.

20. Kevin Youkilis, 3B/1B, BOS – He managed just 102 games in 2010 thanks to a thumb injury that eventually required surgery, but the injury should have no lasting effects in 2011 and thus he makes the list with ease. He might not quite make it with 1B-only on his resume, but the 3B eligibility for Youk is a prime asset. High 20s power and a .300 average go well together and they go even better with 90+ runs scored and driven in on a potent team like the Red Sox. Youkilis is going to miss games at various points in the season which hurts his value in a head-to-head formats, but as long as he keeps putting up a full season’s line in his 140-145 games, then he has at least another year or two among the elite.

Next: 19-13

Monday: 01.25.2010

Is Markakis Overrated? Not So Fast.

There was a piece yesterday at AOL Fanhouse by an RJ White suggesting that Nick Markakis is overrated based on his average draft position (ADP) of 49th overall and 12th amongst outfielders. He’s surrounded by Adam Lind (43rd) ahead of him and a group including Josh Hamilton (51st), Curtis Granderson (53rd), Adam Dunn (54th) and BJ Upton (58th) shortly after him. His career highs are .306, 106 R, 23 HR, 112 RBI and 18 SB. All but the runs and average came in 2007 while the other two were in 2008. Last year was his worst in the last three, but he still managed a .293-94-18-101-6 line.

I used to be driving the bandwagon that this guy was overvalued and I’d tell anyone who would listen. My biggest issue was that I didn’t see him (and still don’t) getting back to that 18-stolen base level anytime soon and yet many of his profiles on websites and in magazines kept hearkening back to that 2007 total implying it was bound to come back that season. I came around on him when I noticed something this fall. I plugged Markakis’ lows from AVG-R-HR-RBI into Baseball-Reference.com’s Play Index looking for occurrences of players reaching each of those thresholds in the last three years. The line, by the way, is .293-94-18-87. A line I don’t think many would consider AMAZING by any stretch but recognize as solid.

The results are what brought me back to Markakis’ side. In addition to Markakis, only Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday have hit those numbers or better in each of the last three seasons. Only David Wright and Alex Rodriguez have done so twice while 21 others have done it once. It’s hard to put a price on that kind of consistency, especially in this game we play let alone on the field for the Orioles. In Mr. White’s article he touts the merits of Carlos Lee (68th) and Andre Ethier (71st), two fine outfielders, as markedly better picks than Markakis. How do they stack up to Markakis? For Lee, he discusses how he is just as capable of hitting .300 as Markakis while maintaining more power (though he recognizes the 4-year decline for Lee). What he misses is that Lee is 33 and likely to continue that decline or plateau for a year or two more while Markakis is 26 years old and entering his prime. It’s not at all unreasonable to believe that Markakis will return to the low 20s or even begin to set new career highs. Another miss from Mr. White is the runs scored column. In 2008, Lee scored just 61 runs but could be given a pass having played just 115 games, but in 160 games last year he managed just 65. I’ll grant that the category is more of a team-dependent one than individual, but it still counts and a 30-run split is significant. I’d bet on the Baltimore lineup before the Houston one if for no other reason than the growth of Matt Wieters thus giving the edge to Markakis in runs scored again.

Ethier is a different matter whereby he matches up better with Markakis statistically, but he also proves my point about Markakis’ power totals likely jumping up in the coming season. To wit, Ethier hit 11, 13, 20 in his first three seasons (spanning ages 24-26) before exploding for 31 last year. His AB/HR in that period was 31.1 and then 19.2 in 2009. Markakis has hit 16, 23, 20 and 18 in his first four seasons (spanning ages 22-25) with an AB/HR of 30.7. With Ethier’s power boost came a sizeable drop in batting average. He averaged .299 for three years before hitting .272, a total of 17 hits based on his 2009 at-bat total. Markakis has hit .298 the last four seasons, but it’s not out of the realm that a power boost would also come at the cost of some batting average. The two were neck-and-neck in runs and RBIs last year, but it was Ethier’s first season topping 90 in both. This is where Markakis’ consistency comes into play again as he’s scored 90+ each of the past three seasons and been below 100 RBIs just once with 87 in 2008.

I think Ethier stands up vs. Markakis, especially 22 picks later. But that brings up one of my least favorite things about ADP comparison articles: lack of context. Twenty-two picks seems like a lot, but Markakis at 49 is the beginning of the 5th round while Ethier at 71 is the end of the 6th. If you have that 49th pick, you drafted first overall giving you 1, 24, 25, 48, 49, 72, 73. Your only chance at Markakis, Ethier and even Lee is that 49th pick based on ADP so the ADPs of Lee and Ethier are irrelevant at that point. When judging the three on their statistical merit alone, I think Lee gets removed from contention based on age-induced decline. Now you’re comparing an ultra-consistent 26 year old entering his prime with an in-his-prime 27 year old who just showed the excellence he is capable of with a career year in 2009. It’s a pick ‘em at that point. The important thing to note is that draft trends suggest that a pick in the top of the 5th is likely your only chance at one of these guys. The other may fall to you with the last pick of the 6th, but it’s a risky bet.

Markakis definitely isn’t being overrated at this juncture in the mock draft season so much as he has been the preferential pick to a host of other comparable outfielders. I’d certainly recommend against Mr. White’s recommendation of taking Lee or Manny Ramirez (62nd) for age-related reasons while Ethier is a coinflip and a reasonable case can be made for either. Among the other in proximity not mentioned by Mr. White, I’d take Markakis over Hamilton and Michael Bourn (64th) without question, I’d take Granderson before Markakis and Dunn, Upton and Nelson Cruz (67th) would depend on my team makeup at that point in the draft. Markakis doesn’t have a standout category like Dunn’s power, Upton’s speed or Cruz’s healthy mix of both, but he also doesn’t have a gaping deficiency like Dunn’s average, Upton’s average and RBIs and Cruz’s runs scored and batted in totals. I think it is that lack of a standout category that causes some to believe Markakis is overrated as evidenced by the fact that Mr. White only looks at his power as compared to Lee and Ethier.

This game is about the balance between accumulating value and mitigating risk whenever possible making a guy like Markakis a strong, but unheralded and often underrated pickup on a team. Not only does his consistent track record alleviate risk, but there is also a viable upside that could come to fruition this season and increase the value of the pick thereby covering for some of the risk that will invariably reside on your roster. Not every pick, in fact not many picks will draw the oohs and ahhs from your leaguemates and make you feel like the smartest person in the room, but that doesn’t mean they’re bad picks or reaches.

Tuesday: 01.19.2010

Baseball by Paul Podcast: Episode 1

The podcast is back! I’ve started up the Baseball by Paul podcast over at BlogTalkRadio.com with the debut episode airing earlier this evening with Fanball.com’s Jason Collette. Jason is a colleague of mine from Owner’s Edge at Fanball and he also runs the blog Dock of the Rays about his Tampa Bay Rays.

He and I spoke for an hour about the mock draft season covering strategies, average draft positions (ADP) specifically focusing on a group of players we found overvalued and undervalued, a group of players that have landed on his teams often and finally we went rapid fire on a group of players I find interesting for the 2010 season. Jason was excellent and the show went really well as far as I’m concerned.

I’m looking to do episodes on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Tuesdays and Thursdays will be at 5 PM central while the Saturday will be an afternoon show without a set time just yet. On Thursday I will have injury guru, Will Carroll from Baseball Prospectus. We are going to hit on a bunch of players coming off of injuries, still laboring through injuries and possible red flagged to be injured in 2010.

Show Homepage
Episode 1 with Jason Collette

Wednesday: 01.6.2010

Mock Draft Season

If you’re like me, you’re insane. OK, maybe not insane, but a you’re definitely a rabid fantasy baseball fan. The day the season ended, I was scouting for members for a mock draft. It took a little while to materialize, but we got one going throughout October over at the BaseballHQ.com forums. I’ve posted a few of the rounds with commentary here. The Mock Draft Season really gets going during November and throughout the winter. Prior to last year, or I guess two years ago since I’m referring to 2008 (dang new year tripping me up), there was really only one reliable, worthwhile spot to hold your drafts. That was MockDraftCentral.com. They have a pretty solid set up and plenty of drafts.

During the 2008 Mock Draft Season I was invited to a draft at CouchManagers.com for the first time. The first thing I liked was the fact that it got through my work’s filter without issue. That allowed me to sign up for slow mocks that would take place primarily during normal business hours when your pick could come up at any time. Since that first draft I’ve become a big time advocate of the site. It’s the absolute best for running slow mocks that don’t need to be completed in a 2-hour space. I’m sure their fast ones that are all at once are great too, I just haven’t participated in any of that type.

The absolute best thing about CouchManagers that I’ve noticed is their responsiveness to any issue. If there’s a mispick, problem with the player pool, status issue with someone on auto-pick or whatever, you send out an email to them and the response time is very sharp. I’ve heard they are great at accommodating league drafts, too. So if you want your actual draft held their instead of just a mock, then CouchManagers is the place.

So head over to their front page and check out their list of available Auctions, Slow Mocks, Fast Mocks and Custom Mocks. Enjoy!

Tuesday: 12.1.2009

2010 Mock Draft: Round 3

Continuing my analysis of an on-going draft taking place in the BaseballHQ.com forums:

3.1 – Victor Martinez, C/1B – Boston Red Sox
Outside of 2008 in which he was hurt, this is another durable and consistent performer with a solid BB% for a catcher. I’m curious to see if you guys think I’m overvaluing positional scarcity with this pick, but I’m pretty high on V-Mart with a full year in a potent BOS lineup.

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Albert Pujols, 1B
Rd 2 – Kevin Youkilis, 3B

My thoughts: This is a powerful team so far with one very scarce (catcher) and another relatively scarce position (third base) locked up. Sometime you’ll hear gripes about picking first, but I think this drafter is off to a great start building around the best player.

3.2 – Dustin Pedroia, 2B – Boston Red Sox
This was a tough one; I think in an absolute sense, I’m passing on a few better players here. But Pedroia gets me a few things:

1. I need some steals after taking Dunn at 2.12.

2. There’s a dearth of OBP at 2B. Pedroia gets me that. And a ton of runs.

3. At just 26 this upcoming year, I get the hope of upside. But if he just does what he did in 08 and 09, I’m still pretty happy. I love the combo of consistency + upside.

Pedroia’s HR and SB splits by half were pretty weird in 2009, but I’ll chalk it up to noise.

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Hanley Ramirez, SS
Rd 2 – Adam Dunn, OF/1B

My thoughts: For the reasons the drafter mentioned, Pedroia is a very solid pick here. I really love the trio he has put together. It has dominant OBP, great power, great speed and great runs. Three picks in, I think I like this team the best.

3.5 – Jayson Werth, OF – Philadelphia Phillies
36 HR, including 21 in the second half of 2009, with 20 SB in 23 attempts, this guy is clearly the best power/speed combination still on the board. Strangely enough despite his obvious base-stealing skills, his SX rates under 100 due to the almost total absence of triples. I think the only reason to possibly avoid this guy would be his past injury history, but he has now shown what he can do when completely healthy.

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Ryan Braun, OF
Rd 2 – Joey Votto, 1B

My thoughts: Of course as I say I like one team the best, I move on to another that I really like. This team is also very well built with offensive production across the board. The only reason I’d give team 2 the edge is because they have more position scarcity covered.

3.6 – Jason Bay, OF – Boston Red Sox
I felt that I needed to add a run producer since I took Ellsbury with my second pick. In 4 of the last 5 years (2007 was the bad year) Bay has hit over 30 homers, driven in and scored over 100 runs and has not had a OBP below .374. I am a little concerned about his low contact rate but he seemed to make up for it with his 15% BB. I might not have taken him at this point if we were using BA; however his career OBP is very good.

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Mark Teixeira, 1B
Rd 2 – Jacoby Ellsbury, OF

My thoughts: Like team 3, this team is building from the deep positions, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If superstars last, you take them even if they are at the positions perceived to be the deepest. Tremendous power and speed here as well. There are a few others I’d have taken instead of Bay to go with Teix and Ellsbury, but it wasn’t a bad pick, either.

3.07 – Ryan Zimmerman, 3B – Washington
Third base is pretty thin for being a top power position with five very good ones already gone (ARod, Wright, Reynolds, Longoria and Youk). I actually have Zimm ahead of Youk for 3B so I’m getting the 5th-best by my list. His power really developed in 2009 and we might not have seen the peak as he is just 25 years old. With four full seasons under his belt, I’m sure that last piece about his age surprised some of you. His value is unchanged with the switch from AVG to OBP as he remains good, but not great. That said, I think his OBP will improve in the coming seasons by way of more walks. Even if it doesn’t happen in 2010, I’m happy with a big power source locked up at 3B.

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Matt Kemp, OF
Rd 2 – Grady Sizemore, OF

My thoughts: I really wanted to get a 3B before the talent cliff dove and I couldn’t be happier with a young emerging star like Zimmerman.

3.8 – Chone Figgins, 3B – Los Angeles Angels
I have to admit since this is a mock draft that I feel like I was forced into this pick. My top 6 guys for this slot were picked in the last 8 picks and I feel that the dropoff at 3rd base for the team I’m building is huge after Figgins. 42 steals last year would be a welcome addition to my team with the 30/30 chance with Kinsler. 114 runs and a .397 obp more than make up for the fact that he doesn’t hit for power and his RBI’s are low. I also feel that the other guy I had targeted will be picked next.

I may sound a little defensive with this pick, but I can be huge on tiers. I just see the dropoff at third being to big to not take Figgins since all of you guys took my other targets.

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Prince Fielder, 1B
Rd 2 – Ian Kinsler, 2B

My thoughts: It was between Zimmerman and Figgins for me. I would’ve been fine with either as I could’ve used a top base stealer just as much as a legit run producer. This team has an excellent infield.

3.9 – Jimmy Rollins, SS – Philadelphia Phillies
I have a feeling that this pick is going to come off as a “homer” pick as I am a Phils fan. His 1st half of 2009 was a complete disaster and that is masking a really nice 2nd half for Rollins. In the 2nd half of 2009 he hit .295 with 15 HRS, 50 RBIs and 21 SBs (can I just times that by 2 for 2010!). Jimmy hit the same amount of FBs in the 1st and 2nd halves but more of his GBs turned into LDs. Jimmy posted the 2nd lowest K% of his career combined with the lowest BABIP at .253 (career avg. is .295). I am assuming the sub .300 OBP is a thing of the past while locking up 25 HR/40 SB potential in RD 3 from SS is valuable.

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Joe Mauer, C
Rd 2 – Mark Reynolds, 3B

My thoughts: A lot of risk locked up in this team with three of the biggest question marks for 2010 in three rounds. Two are coming off of career years with everyone wondering how sustainable it is while the other has fallen from his MVP-caliber production leaving many wondering if he’ll get back to that previous level. It’s more risk that I’m comfortable with this early, but it could really pay off.

3.10 – Justin Morneau, 1B – Minnesota Twins
Nothing out of the ordinary here. Hoping for health but reports say he’ll be fine.

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Tim Lincecum, SP
Rd 2 – Evan Longoria, 3B

My thoughts: As long as he will be fine, this is an absolute steal in the third round.

3.11 – Pablo Sandoval, 3B – San Francisco Giants
After watching my 3B picks disappear before my eyes, I’ll not gamble on waiting for the 4th round. Kung Fu Panda for me. He may well move to 1B but for now he’s 3B eligible.

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Ryan Howard, 1B
Rd 2 – Jose Reyes, SS

My thoughts: When you look at what Sandoval did in 2009, this pick isn’t surprising especially given how 3Bs were going as the drafter noted.

3.12 – Brian Roberts, 2B – Baltimore Orioles
Sandoval was my pick. I was praying he’d fall that far. The last month of last season Roberts showed a good walk rate, an almost .400 OBP. He’s a 20/30 guy, and I pretty much have stolen bases wrapped up with a good amount of power left on the board.

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Carl Crawford, OF
Rd 2 – Matt Holliday, OF

My thoughts: Excellent consolation prize after losing out on Sandoval. Roberts is an unsung guy, but he’s a great addition to any team.

3.13 – Adam Lind, OF – Toronto Blue Jays
And Roberts was mine! I can’t believe you just snagged him.

Lind just kept staring at me and the more I looked, the more I liked. He’ll be 26 years old in 2010 and coming off of a 93/35/114/.370OBP season with an even better 2H power-wise. The reversion back to a normal G/F ratio in ’09 over ’08 also gives me comfort in his future, as do the doubles that came with the HR. I didn’t want to wait too long for my first OF, either.

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Rd 2 – Troy Tulowitzki, SS

My thoughts: One of the bigger surprises of 2009, but I think he’s for real giving this team three elite run producers with a little foundational speed from Tulow. Great group to start considering he’s picking 13th.

Thursday: 11.19.2009

2010 Mock Draft: Round 2

I promised part 2 of the NFL Week 10 Review and catcher rankings today, but I’m a big fat liar. I feel like the page on an NFL week is turned on Wednesday so I passed on part 2. With the revamp of the review, it shouldn’t be 9,000 words every week and it will be easy to digest in one sitting on Monday mornings. As for the catcher rankings, I also threw another changeup. First off, I’m going to start at third base and head around the diamond backwards, but I’m not quite done yet, so please be patient.

In the interim, I’d like to continue sharing the picks and analysis of a great mock draft I’m currently involved in at the BaseballHQ.com (subscription required, but well worth it) forums. I’ve been lurking over there for some time so I knew I was going to be involved in a real battle when I started up the mock draft. It has been a really interesting draft so far (through 4 1/2 rounds thus far) as the 13 of us draft a standard roster for a 5×5 league that uses OBP instead of AVG while keeping everything else the usual. The round 1 analysis in case you missed it yesterday can be found here.

2.1 Troy Tulowitzki, SS COL
Lots of options here, but I decided on Tulo because 1) he could repeat or even improve, 2) he’s a shortstop, and 3) I didn’t have enough time to talk myself out of it.

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Miguel Cabrera, 1B

My thoughts: This is a great pick at a frighteningly scarce position. Tulow’s 2008 was essentially lost to injury so you have to look at his 2007 season to determine how this 2009 fits in. When you look at the two, his 2009 isn’t a surprise at all. He’s showing legitimate growth for a budding superstar and he’s still just 25. The speed (20 SB after seven in ’07) might not stick, but he’s still a four-category ace even if fades back below double-digits.

2.2 Matt Holliday, OF FA
I’m running out of my house to go to work, but I wanted to get this in. Yes, two OF spots. But he’s the best of the last of the high OBP/big slugging types and there won’t be any when my turn comes around again.

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Carl Crawford

My thoughts: I’m a firm believer in building a great outfield (more on that soon), so I love pairing Holliday’s power with Crawford’s speed. And the great thing is that each offers something (Holliday 14 SB, Crawford 15 HR) in the other’s strength. Two very good picks to address all five categories early on.

2.3 Jose Reyes, SS NYM
I’m going out on a limb here. I believe he’ll recuperate 100% for 2010 and if so, he’d be a 1st round pick. Course I could wind up with substantial amounts of egg on my face too.

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Ryan Howard

My thoughts: A more extreme set of complementary players, but if Reyes is healthy enough to notch 50+ SBs, it’s a great combo. There is definitely some risk here, but he isn’t getting back to this draft in the late 3rd round so if he believes in a recovery, he has to take him here.

2.4 Evan Longoria 3B
Happy he lasted this long.

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Tim Lincecum

My thoughts: I’d have like at least some analysis behind this pick, but it’s clear this drafter was concerned that Longoria might not make it to pick 17, so he’s happy to pair him with Lincecum. Third base is rough this year so getting a stud is important.

2.5 Mark Reynolds 3B
I need to power/speed combo and willing to take the OBP hit.

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Joe Mauer

My thoughts: See what I mean re: 3B? Taking Reynolds here is really nice because Mauer makes up for any potential hit in OBP. That said, Reynolds does take some walks and I could see him drawing even more in 2010 if he tears the league as he did in 2009.

2.6 Ian Kinsler 2B Texas Rangers
Proven 30/30 talent in the middle of the 2nd rd? A 24% hit rate last year stunted his obp to .323 even though he went 31/31 with 86 rbis and 101 runs. Even a 28% hit rate should jump that obp up to 340 or .350 and with Prince Fielder anchoring that category I’m not to worried. This guy definently has a chance for a 35/35 season and could end up returning top 5 numbers in 2010.

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Prince Fielder

My thoughts: There is a distinct reason that a 30-30 2B lasts this long: injuries. Kinsler just can’t get through a season. He lasted his longest yet in 2009, but still missed 18 games. Imagine what he can do if ever puts everything together: 2008’s batting average with 2009’s power and speed for 650 ABs. It could be an all-time fantasy baseball season.

2.7 – Grady Sizemore, OF – Cleveland
Here at pick 20, he’s probably 3-5 picks sooner than anyone was looking, but I don’t pick again until 32 so if I want him, I have to get him now. Last year was a washout, without question, but I’m not ready to drop him off the map because of it. His down category, AVG, is erased and turned into a strength with an OBP league as he draws a great deal of walks.

I like a nice bounceback season of .380-112-31-94-27

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Matt Kemp

My thoughts: Thrilled to get two all-around outfielders with my first two picks.

2.8 Jacoby Ellsbury, OF – Red Sox
Needless to say I am taking him for the speed (50 or more steals the last 2 years). He doesn’t hurt you in OBP and should score a ton of runs. I think there are will still be a number of good run producers left when I make my next pick.

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Mark Teixeira

My thoughts: Ellsbury was a consideration for me when I took Sizemore. He’s not an empty base stealer. He can set you up to win that category, but also score a ton of runs and offer a good AVG and useful OBP depending on your league. He definitely earns you enough in SBs to take the virtual zero in the power categories.

2.9 – Joey Votto 1B – Cincinnati
I am sure some will regard this pick as a reach, but the elite OBP here helps balance the possibility of a mediocre OBP from my first-rounder Ryan Braun, and while the 25 HR are rather modest, the 166 PX indicates excellent power skills, so growth in production appears likely as he approaches his prime.

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Ryan Braun

My thoughts: This was the point where I truly realized I had entered a shark tank. I love this pick and don’t see it as a reach at all, especially in an OBP league as the drafter notes. He’s got a run of .400-100-30-100 seasons coming up, starting in 2010.

2.10 – Adrian Gonzalez 1B San Diego.
Power, OBP, age 27, ascending Px trend = [an easy pick]

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Alex Rodriguez

My thoughts: This team’s power and OBP after two picks is insane. Gonzalez gets a healthy boost in OBP leagues because his 119 walks in 2009 weren’t a fluke.

2.11 David Wright 3B NYM
Previous 4 years: 381 to 415 OBA, 26-33 HR, 15-34 SBs – rated #16 after Tulo and Longoria.
Given Wright his consistent power prior to this season, it is almost certain to improve in 2010. I was expecting to have to take another (more) risky player here (Reyes or Sizemore), but couldn’t pass up DW.

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Chase Utley

My thoughts: I still have Wright in my first round so you know I like this pick in the late second round.

2.12 Adam Dunn 1B/OF WAS
A very healthy consistent player, he’s awesome in OBP leagues. Just 30 this season, there’s no reason to expect him to deviate much from his 3 year average of roughly 90 R, 40 HR, 100RBI and a .380+ OBP. The dual-position elegibility is nice, too. I’m going to slot him in at OF for now, but that could change.

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Hanley Ramirez

My thoughts: 100+ walks for six straight seasons and seven of eight make him an OBP-league treasure. Oh and five of six seasons with 40+ home runs helps, too. He fell two short last year, but .398-38-105 is still a studly offering.

2.13 Kevin Youkilis 1B/3B BOS
Safe Tier One player. OBP machine. The 3B eligibility put him over the top for me compared to other players I was considering.

Previous Picks:
Rd 1 – Albert Pujols

My thoughts: Position scarcity, upgrade with league format including OBP – seems like a great pick to me.

I’ll probably have round 3 up over the weekend.

Also, check out the interview I did with Jesse Spector of the NY Daily News found here. I’ve become friends with Jesse via Twitter and it was an honor to be a part of the series.