If you’re even an occasional reader of this space, you know that the Old Duck is a 30+ year veteran of Rotisserie Style Auction Keeper Leagues. With over 30 championships in about 80 Drafts, it is what I relish and look forward to each year. However, once a year, the dreaded Snake Draft enters my life for one very good reason. The young man who hosts the league (on ESPN.com) is like a son to me and if he asked me to join a Camel Race Fantasy League hosted by Al Jazeera, I’d probably say yes.
Even though I know a beautiful girl who once had a pet Boa Constrictor named “Julius Squeezer”, I hate snakes…both in person and of the Fantasy variety. To me, having 10 or 15 or 20 players go off the board without the opportunity to bid, just penalizes me for doing solid research. And, if one of the Roto combatants forgets to show up on-line, you can bet the “auto-draft” spot will be right in front of me.
This time of year, if you follow Fantasy Baseball at all, it is impossible to avoid Snake Draft advice. It comes at you from everywhere…newspapers, websites, magazines, Satellite Radio and friends. The number of strategies are mind-boggling and include…
> Memorizing the average draft position (ADP) of every player in the universe.
> The “Don’t Take Pitchers early” philosophy.
> The “Take Max Scherzer now” philosophy.
> The “Don’t Take Closers Until Later” philosophy.
> Prioritizing position scarcity
> Getting 50 HR’s & 50 SB’s from your first two picks (50/50 Plan).
> Getting 75 HR’s & 75 SB’s from your first three picks (75/75 Plan).
> Picking two stud starting pitchers early, also known as the “Dual Aces” plan.
> Drafting players for their future instead of their past, also known as the “Upside” plan.
> And this year’s favorite, “Get One Of The Big Four”…meaning deGrom, Scherzer, Sale or Kluber.
In order to avoid having my brain explode, I’ve used none of those strategies and still managed a championship, two 2nd place finishes and one 3rd place finish in the eight year history of the league. In 2018, the Long Island Ducks finished a strong 2nd with 113 points, only 3 points behind the powerful Louisville Black Hats (we all incorporate the name of a minor league team). deGrom was the pitching anchor and a great rookie season from Acuna was vital.
Part of my occasional past success is from a fairly good knowledge of the player pool, as I’m boning up for NL & AL only Drafts that take place in late March and early April. Logically, however, it seems that the overall approach of the last 30 years still works and it is a mind-set of “balance”. So, while the Ducks do have a tendency to wait on pitching, it is more about balancing the roster to leave flexibility as the Draft progresses. I also pay little or no attention to ADP (Average Draft Position) because I’m more concerned about my opinion of players than that of the “crowd”. This will be quite obvious when you see how many of my choices seem to be a “reach” compared to ADP. Ideally, after ten rounds, the roster should include at least one player at each position (C, 1B, 3B, 2B, SS, OF, SP & Closer) along with a 2nd OF & 2nd SP. After that foundation is established, looking for value is the priority. If you’ve already read columns from multiple sources about the players they drafted, this might be a cure for insomnia. With that disclaimer, my hope is that the strategies and player choices will be of value to you in your upcoming draft.
This is a 15-team mixed league with 22-man rosters (1 Catcher) and three reserve picks. Most pundits have been saying that if you can’t get one the top three picks, maybe a spot near the end of the 1st round would be more advantageous, as there were 15-20 players worth at least $30 in this format and you would be guaranteed to roster two of them. Naturally, the random order one hour prior to the Draft gave the Ducks the 4th pick. As we work our way through the results, you’ll see the ADP for each player as a point of reference. The ADP rankings are as of the date of the Draft (3/17).
Fantasy players are always interested in the first round, so here’s how this league shook out…1) Mike Trout…2) Mookie Betts…3) J.D. Martinez…4) Trea Turner…5) Max Scherzer…6) Nolan Arenado…7) Jose Ramirez…8) Christian Yelich…9) Chris Sale…10) Francisco Lindor…11) Alex Bregman…12) Jose Altuve…13) Ronald Acuna…14) Javier Baez…15) Bryce Harper
Here’s the Ducks’ roster for 2019…
Round 1, Pick 4 – Trea Turner, SS (ADP 9)
Could have gone with Scherzer or Ramirez here but the SB’s were too tempting
Round 2, Pick 27 – Aaron Nola, P (ADP 25)
In addition to Scherzer & Sale in Round 1, Verlander, Kluber, deGrom & Cole (right in front of me) were gone in Round 2. Couldn’t wait on an elite SP.
Round 3, Pick 34 – Rhys Hoskins, OF (ADP 40)
Had to focus on power in this spot and he’s a bopper in a great line-up. He’ll also have 1B eligibility early in the season.
Round 4, Pick 57 – Yasiel Puig, OF (ADP 78)
Wanted a power/speed combo guy and he should have a good year in Cincinnati.
Round 5, Pick 64 -Stephen Strasburg, P (ADP 61)
Looks healthy this Spring and even 25-30 starts brings value.
Round 6, Pick 87 – Gary Sanchez, C (ADP 55)
This is a one Catcher format and Realmuto went five picks earlier. Couldn’t pass up the power potential.
Round 7, Pick 94 – Edwin Encarnacion , 1B (ADP 128)
A definite reach but he’s hit 30+ HR’s for 7 consecutive seasons and all the top tier 1B were already gone.
Round 8, Pick 117 – Sean Doolittle, P (ADP 110)
The Closer run began in Rounds 5 & 6, so it was time and he was the best on the board at this point.
Round 9, Pick 124 – Yoan Moncada, 2B (ADP 155)
Another reach, but I like his upside…and he’ll add 3B eligibility.
Round 10, Pick 147 – Shane Bieber, P (ADP 149)
Decided to add a 3rd SP here instead of a 3B, as the pitching pool was getting thin
At this point, the original strategy was almost in place…the Ducks had a 1B, 2B, SS, C, 2 OF, 3 SP & 1 Closer.
Round 11, Pick 154 – Eduardo Escobar, 3B (ADP 173)
Needed to fill this position and he also qualifies at SS.
Round 12, Pick 177 – Marcus Semien, SS (ADP 220)
Seems significantly underrated at this ADP. Was a 4.3 WAR player in 2018 with 89 Runs, 15 HR’s, 70 RBI’s and 14 SB’s.
Round 13, Pick 184 – Brandon Nimmo, OF (ADP 173)
Seems like a steal in the spot, as he’ll bat lead-off for an improved Met offense.
Round 14, Pick 207 – Archie Bradley, P (ADP 209)
I’m not a believer in Greg Holland, so the Ducks are counting on Saves from the guy with the great beard.
Round 15, Pick 214 – Joe Musgrove (ADP 218)
Health is the question, but I like his stuff.
Round 16, Pick 237 – Steven Souza, OF (ADP 319)
In 2017, he had 30 HR’s & 16 SB’s…and he’s still under 30.
Round 17, Pick 244 – Michael Wacha, P (ADP 279)
Another hurler coming back from injury…rolling the dice.
Round 18, Pick 267 – Corbin Burnes, P (ADP 316)
Somebody has to be the Brewers 5th SP.
Round 19, Pick 274 – Brandon Belt, 1B (ADP 383)
Overlooked by everyone, he should produce 4th tier 1B value…maybe about $15 in Roto
Round 20, Pick 297 – Enrique “Kiki” Hernandez, SS (ADP 314)
Qualifies at three positions and hit 21 HR’s last season.
Round 21, Pick 304 – Kelvin Herrera, P (ADP 389)
It seems unlikely that the White Sox paid him $18 Million to set-up Alex Colome.
Round 22, Pick 327 – Brandon Woodruff, P (ADP 342)
Corbin Burnes insurance.
Round 23, Pick 334 – Steven Duggar, OF (ADP 558)
The first of three reserve spots, this is a total flier…could lead-off for the Giants or at AAA.
Round 24, Pick 357 – Alex Gordon (ADP 582)
No excuse…must have had a flashback to 2012.
Round 25, Pick 364 – Matt Strahm, 3B (ADP 376)
Can the Padres turn him into a SP?
Starting next week, our squads get to play on the field instead of on paper. The really good news is that I don’t have to do this for another year. Best of luck in your Draft.