Matt’s Blog Wars Snake Draft

Here we go again, a chance for me to talk about me. The Blog Wars Snake Draft (hosted by RotoExperts.com’s own Dave Gawron) was last night, and along with it, I came to the end of my league drafts for this 2012 season. Being new to the writing world, this league marks my first expert league and didn’t disappoint as I was challenged from round 1 until I made my last pick 26 rounds later. 15 teams, all managed by some of the brightest baseball minds on the interwebs. If you are interested, you can check out the league and participants here.

This league being as deep as it is, I strayed away from my conventional drafting practices. Normally I don’t take a pitcher in the first 6 rounds of a draft… here I took two in the first four. I normally try and win saves, this time,  I nearly punted it altogether, instead choosing to get high quality setup men or middle relief. I usually try to focus much more on power/speed across the board contributors. Here I mainly just drafted stats. 

R1. Adrian Gonzalez - I had the 7th pick overall…hoping to grab Joey Votto, who was taken with the 6th pick, I was left with a difficult choice… Tulo, Cano, or Adrian Gonzalez. I didn’t imagine Tulo falling to me here. My initial strategy going in was to get either Votto or A-Gone with my first pick. The power bats at first drop quickly, and in a league this deep I thought having a power bat at 1B would be more beneficial than having one at SS (the talent drop at SS is steep, but the pool is basically the same thing… no power, OK averages and speed. 1B is: Get an amazing power/avg/run producer, or get an average player much much later in the draft.) I decided to stick to my guns and not change strategy at the first pick. Adrian Gonzalez it is.

R2. Justin Verlander - As stated before, I don’t get pitchers in the first 6 rounds of a draft. I had 3 players in my queue I was hoping would fall to me. Stanton, McCutchen, Kershaw. I figured I would be taking a best player available approach for most of this draft… at least early. When those guys went and Verlander was hanging around there, it just felt like the obvious place to go.

R3. Brett Lawrie - My love for the Canadian Law-man is well documented. He was there, I was picking… grabbed him 37th overall. People may say getting him at that cost there is no chance for a return or profit. I say, “Who cares?” I’m getting 20/20 from my 3B slot. Lawrie is one of 3 guys who have a chance to do that this year.

R4. Cole Hamels – Another instance of best player available. The good news now is I can hold off on pitching for a long time…

R5. Adam Jones – Round 5? Adam Jones? Well, in a 15 team league with the 67 pick overall, and my team lacking an OF’r from the first 4 rounds.. yes… Adam Jones. I’ll take the .280ish avg, with 25 HR, 80+RBI and a potential for 20 steals.

R6. Matt Wieters – Channeled my inner Charlie and got my first of two catchers before the pickings got slim. How many catchers last year scored at least 70 runs, hit at least 20 HR’s and batted at least .260? Two. Weiters and some chump named Mike Napoli. 

R7. Jayson Werth - I think it was a fluke that Werth batted in the .230′s. I’m banking on that average coming back to at least .260 and close to 20/20 production from him. The Nats are a team on the rise and Werth should get chances to score runs in addition to driving them in.

R8. Raphael Betancourt - Whoa… closer before round 10? Another draft rule of mine I broke. Rules are going out the window here. The only true closer I got, and with no imminent threat behind him I’ll take the saves and the boost to my WHIP. 

R9. Jesus Montero – He isn’t a catcher… yet…I really only got him here cause the three guys I had queued up to pick were all taken. Kipnis went which caught me off guard. Then Maybin and Beachy went. I had a feeling if I wanted Montero, I needed to get him now. Seeing Kipnis taken there showed me that I could throw ADP and results of other industry mocks out the window. If I wanted someone, I had to take them. Potential room ridicule be damned.

R10. Neil Walker – 2B was really thin at this point. If I wasn’t going to get him, I would be looking at Ryan Roberts or Jermile Weeks, which I wasn’t willing to do. Between Lawrie, Werth and Jones, I was OK with the steals I had up to this point, so getting speed wasn’t at the top of my list.

R11. Lucas Duda –  Reach of the draft? Maybe… Lucky Crumpler of Advanced Fantasy Baseball took Kimbrel in the 4th round…so maybe this tied for reach of the draft. I don’t care. It’s no secret I’m a big supporter of the Camptown Races Kid and I now own him in every league I’m playing in.

R12. Marco Scutaro - I sorted all the remaining players by projected runs scored and Scutaro was at the top of the list. I didn’t have a SS yet. I love it when a plan comes together.

R13. Mike Minor – It was time to come back to starting pitching. I knew that I was going to be getting relief pitching to lower my WHIP, so I was really only looking for SP with high K upside. Mike Minor fits the bill with 77K’s in 84 IP last year. I feel OK about the Braves track record with home grown pitching.

R14. Francisco Liriano - Someone was going to do it at some point. I’m a hypocrite. I’ve commented that Liriano was garbage… too inconsistent…didn’t want the head ache…but man… that K:BB ratio in the spring is impressive. His pitches have great movement…everyone is saying that he looks like the ace we thought he would be. I’m a believer…this year.

R15. Josh Willingham - Can you name another player who is a lock for 20 HR’s that you can get with the 217th pick in a draft?

R16. Kenley Jansen – At this point it was him or Frank Francisco. I’ll take the K’s. I’m convinced he’ll be closing at some point.

R17. Austin Jackson – Here I wanted an OF that will steal and score runs. Even with the liability that is his average, Jackson could be scoring a lot of runs this year. Speaking of AVG, his BABIP was .340, while his AVG was .249? That doesn’t pass the smell test. His line drive rate nose dived from ’10 to ’11. I’m not buying it…

R18. Alex Presley – Alex will be leading off or batting 2nd for the Pirates. That means he’ll be getting a lot of at bats. He has a little bit of power and the speed to swipe 20-25 bags. Bill James thinks he can bat .300. In the 18th round of a 15 team league, I’ll take that chance.

R19. Cliff Pennington – I needed to fill my MI spot, and Pennington can steal 25 bags… moving on.

R20. Andrew Cashner – I said before I wasn’t going to chase saves. Not only does it allow me to avoid the closer runs, but I can safely draft guys that may be “under the radar” or focus on getting the “next in line” types. Cashner playing in a spacious park, throwing triple digit heat, setting up the NL version of Andrew Bailey not only will give me quality numbers but could be a valuable trade chip when Street gets hurt.

R21. Tyler Clippard – No, he isn’t closing, but he pitches a ton of innings, vultures wins, strikes out a ton of guys and produced a 0.84 WHIP last year. In a league where we are using weekly lineups, Clippard is a safe bet to get the ball 3 times a week.

R22. Chris Heisey – Remember that thing I mentioned about Josh Willingham? Heisey may be splitting playing time with Ryan Ludwick now, but he is clearly the supperior play for me. For his career he is hitting a HR every 18.5 AB’s.

R23. Chris Capuano – The humid LA air makes Dodger Stadium a pitcher friendly park. Capuano made it through 186 IP last year with the Mets to prove his health and provided 8 K/9 along with it. He’s never been a great ERA contributor, but I mentioned before I wanted high K upside guys, and in the 23rd round of a draft, this qualifies.

R24. Yorvit Torrealba – Keeping the 2nd Catcher spot warm til Montero can slot in… Would have preferred Hannigan here, but he was sniped.

R25. Carlos Zambrano - Late round lotto ticket? Check. Look at the stats, despite the hot head, 2011 is his only ineffective year pitching in his career. Miami and Ozzie are just crazy enough for him to feel at home.

R26. David Hernandez – Just another quality middle relief arm. Lets not kid ourselves, J.J. Putz has some injury history too…

R27. Shelby Miller – With Trout and Harper off the board, I wanted my own hot impact prospect to stash on my bench. 

There we have it. I’m not used to the format being this deep, and there were deffinitely times that I was scrambling, but overall, I’m pretty satisfied. I have some wildcards here and if they come through, I could have a very good year… if they bust… I wasted about 6 picks in the draft and will be feeding at the bottom. 

What do you all think?