Head to Head League Strategy In Action

This past Tuesday night some friends and I had our snake draft for the 12 Team Mixed keeper league we play each year. This is only my 2nd season in this league. The team I was lucky to inherit in the 2010/11 off season was fairly strong. We get to keep 10 players each season, at no cost. No $$ or round penalty. I suppose it’s a major league “dynasty” type setup. No CI or MI, and we have 2 UTIL. In any case, since I had no say in how the 2010 season went my team was pretty much devoid of the power/speed combo I covet. My 10 players heading into 2011 were:

Josh Hamilton, Alex Rios, David Ortiz, Joe Mauer, Adam Wainwright, CC Sabathia, Jon Lester, Carlos Marmol, Yovanni Gallardo, Mariano Rivera.

Before the season started, my first move was to get rid of Mauer. Keep in mind, this was before anyone knew he was hurt. I ended up trading Mauer and my 5th round pick away for Kelly Johnson (power/speed) and the 1st overall pick in the draft (technically, after the keepers are assigned, it’s the 1st pick in the 11th round) which I used on… Drew Stubbs. Power/Speed and people were projecting him for another big year.

Through a plethora of add/drops, streaming pitchers and capitalizing on a hot streak that Alex Rios had (traded him along with CC for Adrian Gonzalez), and the great first halves of Berkman and Pineda (trading them for Jose Bautista) I made it to the league Championship and lost. Time to look ahead to 2012. The good thing? I have a roster that I can call my own now, and almost start from scratch with a power/speed heavy lineup and a few ace pitchers heading into my draft. My keepers going into the draft:

 1B – Adrian Gonzalez
3B- Jose Bautista
SS – Starlin Castro
OF – Josh Hamilton
UTIL – Brett Lawrie
UTIL – Jesus Montero
SP – Yvanni Gallardo
SP – Jon Lester
RP – Mariano Rivera
P – Adam Wainwright

Now it’s draft time. The strategy? Fill the rest of my lineup early heavy on power/speed. Get as much quality relief pitching as possible to corner the saves market, and keep my ERA and WHIP low and pile up K’s with high K/9 rates. Get another starting pitcher or two that will be quality, and then guys that can start hot that I’m not afraid to drop to pick up a 2 start pitcher week to week. Can I stick to my plan? I’ll start with Round 11, since each team already had 10 players each. Since I was 2nd last year, I had the 11th pick in the odd rounds, 2nd in the even ones.

R11. Drew Stubbs – I know he whiffed at an alarming rate and that is bad for the real game, but in fantasy I’m not worried about him killing a rally with a swing and miss. I do care about his 20/20 potential. If he bats 6th again, I’m hoping his power comes back and he is still fast enough to pile up steals.

R12. Adam Jones – Surprised he was still on the board here. He’s 26, has 25 HR power, reaches double digit steals and bats in the .280′s? He’s the best hitter on the O’s and young enough to get better. Keeper league gold. Starting OF is complete.

R13. Ryan Madson – Top closer available on my board. Should be a lock for a 9 K/9.

R14. Kenley Jansen – The first mistake of my draft. This is perhaps a bit early to go for Jansen seeing as how he doesn’t have the closer job in LA…yet. I do value him, and I want his K’s. But I should have waited and gotten Betancourt here. Oh well… he’ll still be around in the next round. He’s sorta under the radar…

R15. Jason Kipnis – Filled my 2B position here with another power/speed threat. Funny thing how I got him. I have an adorable 2 year old son, and a laptop that has a horrible battery, so it needs to be plugged in or it will die in 5 min without warning. He pulled the cable out ever so slightly during my draft and I hadn’t noticed. My laptop died before this pick and I was kicked from the draft. Kipnis was in my queue, so at least I got someone I liked. 

R16. Kelly Johnson – Laptop is finished booting up at this point, but my browser wasn’t loading the draft room for me. Kelly Johnson was also in my queue. However, this is a wasted pick since I already had my 2B in Kipnis. I finally get in, and see that Betancourt, Marmol, Motte, Santos and League were all drafted while I was trying to get back in. I planned on not having any position players on my bench, so this is a lost spot for my pitching staff now. Sigh…

R17. Frank Francisco – A save is a save, and I still wanted RP to corner the saves market. RP on my team at this point: Mo, Madson, Jansen, now Frankie. He may not keep the job, but he’ll have it for a while anyway.

R18. Scott Baker – A truly underrated pitcher. He has an amazingly hitter friendly park behind him, K’s 8 per 9, walks 2 per nine and had peripherals that supported his 3.14 ERA. Even if that goes up some, he’s a good source of K’s and his WHIP can be on the good side of 1.20.

R19. Lucas Duda – Did I break my own no position players on the bench rule? Yes. But there is a reason for this. I don’t technically have a catcher yet since Montero isn’t eligible to start the season. Late in the draft I’ll get one to cover for him, but once Montero has eligibility I’ll drop who I drafted, move Montero to the “C” and put Duda in at UTIL. The Camptown Races Kid is going to blow up in a big way this year, and I want to benefit.

R20. Vinnie Pestano – Another RP who isn’t the closer, yet. I don’t feel as strongly about him as I do Jansen, but I think both will be closing games and whiffing batters at obscene rates before the season is over. I now have 5 RP’s on my team, and 2 RP spots on my starting roster to go along with 3 more “P” postions. All the relievers go there, then my “limited” starting pitching will be used in the 2 “SP” designations on my active roster.

R21. Ramon Hernandez – Time to address that catcher position I ignored up until now. Moving to Colorado I’m hoping he can capitalize on some long balls while I have him rostered. After he is dropped and I preform the above described position shuffling this roster spot will go to a pitcher.

R.22 Daniel Bard – The last pick of my draft. I only had 4 starters on my team at this point, which is fine. Bard isn’t someone I’m married to and I can drop freely for a two start pitcher.

The only thing I’m worried about is the two second baseman I have on my team. I may have to drop one at some point if I can’t make a trade. For now I’ll sit tight and see how the season unfolds. I’m not going to force myself to make a decision if I don’t have to.

Overall, I’m happy with my final roster. I have a lot of power, I have a lot of speed, I only have 1 player that is a threat to bring down my team average. I should win saves every week, and should take WHIP and ERA most weeks. K’s will be competitive and W’s will fall into my lap. Is this a squad you would feel comfortable going into battle with?