If you’re even an occasional reader of this space, you know that the Old Duck is a 35+ year veteran of Rotisserie Style (Fantasy Baseball) 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 Racing 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 Gerrit Cole 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 Yelich, Trout, Bellinger or Acuna.
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 nine year history of the league. In 2019, the Long Island Ducks finished a disappointing 7th with 91 points, as injuries to Trea Turner, Brandon Nimmo, Gary Sanchez & Brandon Woodruff had the team treading water all season.
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 four picks, maybe a spot near the end of the 1st round would be more advantageous, as there were 15-20 players worth at least $30 in this format and you would be guaranteed to roster two of them. Naturally, the random order one hour prior to the Draft gave the Ducks the 12th pick. As we work our way through the results, you’ll see both the ADP and the Roto$ projection for each player as a point of reference. The ADP and dollar projections rankings are as of the date of the Draft (3/15).
Fantasy players are always interested in the first round, so here’s how this league shook out…1) Ronald Acuna…2) Mike Trout…3) Christian Yelich…4) Mookie Betts…5) Cody Bellinger…6) Gerrit Cole…7) Juan Soto…8) Francisco Lindor…9) Trea Turner…10) Jacob deGrom…11) Nolan Arenado…12) Trevor Story…13) Alex Bregman…14) Freddie Freeman…15) Bryce Harper
Here’s the Ducks’ roster for 2020…
* Round 1, Pick 12 – Trevor Story, SS (ADP 10, $28)
Was hoping that Turner or Lindor would drop slightly, but this power/speed MI is a nice pick.
* Round 2, Pick 19 – Walker Buehler, P (ADP 16, $27)
In addition to Cole & deGrom in Round 1, Scherzer & Verlander (right in front of me) were gone in Round 2. Couldn’t wait on an elite SP.
* Round 3, Pick 42 – Yordan Alvarez, DH (ADP 39, $19)
Had to focus on power in this spot and he’s a bopper in a great line-up.
* Round 4, Pick 49 – Whit Merrifield, OF/2B (ADP 52, $25)
Good speed and multi-position eligibility.
* Round 5, Pick 72 – Jose Abreu, 1B (ADP 74, $23)
There’s something to be said for consistency and the Pale Hose line-up looks awesome.
* Round 6, Pick 79 – Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B (ADP 55, $18)
Seems like a good buy in this spot…mucho upside.
* Round 7, Pick 102 – Brandon Woodruff , P (ADP 85, $18)
His injury last season was not arm-related…could be a #1 SP.
* Round 8, Pick 109 – Willson Contreras, C (ADP 114, $11)
The 2nd best Catcher in this format.
* Round 9, Pick 132 – Hector Neris, P (ADP 138, $12)
There was a run on Closers in this round and I had Iglesias queued up, but he went just ahead of my spot.
* Round 10, Pick 139 – Brian Anderson, 3B/OF (ADP 224, $10)
Seems like a significant reach, but the OF pool was getting thin.
At this point, the original strategy was almost in place…the Ducks had a 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, C, OF, DH, 2 SP & 1 Closer.
* Round 11, Pick 162 – Evan White, 1B (ADP 333, $13)
Even a bigger reach here, but the Mariners have invested in his future and he should be in the line-up from day one.
* Round 12, Pick 169 – Wil Myers, OF (ADP 277, $8)
Another reach for good measure, but he’s still only 29 with 20/20 potential.
* Round 13, Pick 192 – Giovanny Gallegos, P (ADP 204, $12)
Has the stuff to be the Redbirds Closer.
* Round 14, Pick 199 – David Peralta, OF (ADP 246, $6)
Healthy this Spring, he’s an underappreciated player.
* Round 15, Pick 222 – Joe Musgrove (ADP 207, $6)
Health is the question, but I like his stuff.
* Round 16, Pick 229 – Brandon Nimmo, OF (ADP 325, $1)
Leading off in front of good hitters, Runs & SB’s could be his ticket to value.
* Round 17, Pick 252 – Mitch Keller, P (ADP 226, $4)
Still a top-rated prospect.
* Round 18, Pick 259 – Nico Goodrum, 2B/SS/OF (ADP 279, $8)
Double-digit HR’s & SB’s in this spot with multi-positional flexibility.
* Round 19, Pick 282 – Steven Matz, P (ADP 287, $3)
In the rotation of a good offensive team.
* Round 20, Pick 289 – Freddy Peralta, P (ADP 365, $1)
The Brewers gave him a nice extension, so he’s in their plans.
* Round 21, Pick 312 – Domingo Santana, OF (ADP 303, $8)
Don’t see anyone on the Tribe bench stealing his playing time.
* Round 22, Pick 319 – Zach Eflin, P (ADP 400, $0)
Hoping for 5 innings and lots of run support.
* Round 23, Pick 342 – Jo Adell, OF (ADP 215, $2)
Not sure how he dropped to me here…who’s blocking him in Anaheim?
* Round 24, Pick 349 – Carter Kieboom (ADP 288, $0)
A top-twenty prospect and the 3B job is his to lose.
* Round 25, Pick 372 – Nate Eovaldi, P (ADP 342, $0)
Still has great stuff but durability is a question…with that contract, the BoSox will give him opportunities.
The ESPN site prognosticators think the Ducks are a last-pace team, so there’s nowhere to go but up once we get to play baseball. Best of luck in your Draft.