Chronicles Of Steve Horgan’s Fists: ‘The Draft’

I won’t write about my fantasy baseball team very often because, frankly, I don’t particularly enjoy hearing about other people’s fantasy teams.

I’ve played in the same standard 5×5 fantasy Rotisserie league with a number of other Northern Nevada media types for roughly the last 15 or 16 years. There was a break in the middle, when I moved from Reno to Gardnerville, Nevada, where I joined a buddy’s league, and then a season or two before catching on with a league run by a player in my former Reno league and containing many of the same players from the Reno league.

There is no money on the line this current league, and involvement runs the gamut from passionate to  indifferent. Live draft is done via computer on Yahoo (a departure from the live in-person auction league we’d competed in previously).

In this current iteration of the league, I’ve finished anywhere from last to third (last season). As a rule, I generally draft decently and then muck my roster up with bad decisions in the free agent and trade markets (Sound familiar, Boston fans?).

This year was unique, though, in that the live draft was scheduled right in the middle of the family vacation. So I had to defer to the computer.

I love the strategy of the draft — seeing a guy floating around ranked way too low and scooping him up at the lowest possible availability. The thrill of watching other teams miss on guys you’re waiting on or the frustration of another team scooping up a potential sleeper just one pick before yours.

Leaving the draft to the automated computer selection takes all of that out of the equation.

There is still strategy to be had, however. Last year, my most successful thus far, I incorporated a strategy of largely holding off on pitchers until the eighth round. I grabbed Max Scherzer late in the second round and then held off on pitchers until scooping up Jake Arrieta late in the eighth. I got  Trevor Rosenthal late in the ninth and Drew Storen in the 10th.

I’ve come to believe championships are won in the 11th-20th rounds, and that’s where my draft fell apart — I grabbed guys like Andrew Cashner, Elvis Andrus and Rusney Castillo while letting much better players sit out there for the taking.

This year, with the computer doing the on-the-spot thinking, I decided to remove all of the league’s elite pitchers from my selection rankings. The risk of missing on an arm while leaving a potentially big bat for someone else, I’m betting, is too great when compared with pitchers that would be readily available after the 10th round.

I also removed players already out for the year, or extended periods of time.

The result, at least on paper, was serviceable.

As you might suspect, the roster was loaded with outfielders and corner infielders. Bryce Harper, Mookie Betts, Starling Marte, Ryan Braun and Jacoby Ellsbury make up a promising five-man rotation with Brett Gardner, Odubel Herrera and Alex Gordon available as well.

I wound up with Eric Hosmer, Todd Frazier and Lucas Duda to man the corners, and added Travis Shaw in place of Nick Markakis post-draft.

Pitching wise, I wound up with San Diego’s Tyson Ross as the best proven commodity. Raisel Iglesias for Cincinnati and Taijuan Walker are two potential sleepers and I have Justin Verlander, Mike Fiers, Clay Buchholz and Hisashi Iwakuma as well. For closers, I landed Zach Britton and Jake McGee in the draft, but I hate drafting closers as a rule.

I added Darren O’Day, Brett Cecil and Joaquin Benoit because I see setup men as inherently more valuable due to the lower leverage of their innings, the potential that the actual closer will get injured or lose their jobs and the always-decent strikeout-to-walk ratio.

I also stashed Carson Smith on the disabled list (along with Eduardo Rodriguez).

We’ll see how the season goes. It’s a gamble, obviously, but I’m betting that starting pitchers will reveal themselves later in the year and some of the high-level aces that I passed on will either get hurt or not pan out.

I’ll update infrequently and only briefly as the year goes on.






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