My FB365 Roto League Draft

The FB365 Roto League draft was held last night. We have 12 teams and went 26 rounds in snake format. I drew the eighth pick.

In year’s past I have promoted a 7/10 strategy, which is means that I would target my first pitcher in the seventh round and first closer in the tenth round. However, this time I wanted to try something different. For this draft, my strategy was to load up with some power and speed in rounds 1-3 or 1-4 and then lock up at least one high-end starting pitcher followed a round or two later with another high-end starter. I accomplished that goal…

R1, Evan Longoria – I was hoping Tulo would fall, but he went 6th follwed by Cano at 7. While the thought of adding a big-time power 1B with Votto or A-Gone was on my mind, I decided to roll with Longo, who plays a more valuable position and should produce similar power numbers to those 1B sluggers. 1B is always a bit deep and I was happy landing Paul Konerko in the 5th.

R2, Ian Kinsler – Again, targeting a thinner fantasy position, I went with Kinsler in round two, locking in a deadly power/speed threat.

R3, Dan Uggla – I wasn’t quite ready to take a pitcher yet and since we have CI and MI roster spots to fill, I figured I’d go with another top-end power bat at a thin position. The only issue I have with my first three picks to this point is the risk of a low AVG from the three.

R4, Cole Hamels – Ever since the crackdown on PEDs in baseball, pitcher value and consistency has been on the rise. Hamels is one of the best in the game, contributing in all four starting pitcher categories.

R5, Paul Konerko – While his age does concern me a little, his power, plate discipline and high contact rates are all skills that age well.

R6, Madison Bumgarner – Bums was, aside from a few rough outings, a dominant pitcher in 2011 and is at the age where he can still take significant strides forward, which is scary considering he posted a 3.21 ERA, 2.67 FIP and 3.10 xFIP last season. He could very well take a step up and become a top-10 arm in 2012.

After taking my first two pitchers, my plan was to accomplish two things: Add a few bats and a couple of solid closers within the next five rounds.

R7, Buster Posey – I’m not one to invest too much in catchers early in the draft, but I simply could not pass up a chance to snag Posey in round seven. Not only should he once again be a middle-of-the-order force for the Giants, but he should also see more time at 1B, which will help to keep him healthy and fresh.

R8, Corey Hart – I had Hart ranked much higher than this in my initial rankings, but his spring injuries allowed him to slip to the eight round. He might miss opening day, but should be ready not long after that. Since transforming from a 20/20 type of player to more of a slugger, Hart has posted terrific AB/HR rates in back-to-back seasons (18 in 2010 and 18.9 in 2011).

R9, Andre Ethier – Ethier was on his way to another productive season in 2011 before injuries impeded his progress. With no issues to reports this spring, he should be a fine value in round nine.

R10, Joel Hanrahan – I believe that this is the perfect spot to start drafting closers, unless dictated as otherwise by the draft market. I’ve been a fan of Hanrahan for years and last season he finally improved his control enough to take a huge step forward. Look for a higher strikeout rate in 2012.

R11, Rafael Betancourt – For the majority of his career, Betancourt has been a dominant reliever, just one without a closer’s job title. Now, the title is his and there is no reason to think he will have a drastic change in dominance…other than the fact that he’s a reliever and such things happen to relievers.

Having accomplished my first two goals, I now start to open the range of my objectives a bit. I still want to grab at least two more upside closers. One of my overall changes in approach for this draft was that I would rather take late flyers on starters rather than bottom-shelf relievers. Not only are there more starters to choose from, and thus more available on the free agent list, but there were some very high upside closers thought to be available late in the draft this year.

R12, Ike Davis – Needing to fill my CI position, I take a chance on this young slugger, who was on his way to a big season before a gruesome ankle injury shut him down. While I don’t see Ike as a .300 hitter, I do think he should produce and AVG in the .275-.285 range with 25-plus homers.

R13, Peter Bourgos – My teams’ biggest need at this point is stolen bases and Bourgos helps to fill that need. I could see more stolen base opportunities for him this season, giving him a chance to reach the 15/30 or better mark.

R14, Grant Balfour – Speaking of upside closers…over the last two seasons, Balfour has learned to harness his control/command while maintaining an excellent strikeout rate. If he continues to do so in 2012, he’ll be a top-end closer.

R15, Francisco Liriano – Well documented on FB365 as being one of my major man crushes. He wasn’t healthy last spring, but he is now.

R16, Eric Aybar – Needs: Stolen bases and SS. Eric Aybar. Done.

R17, Matt Thornton – Take away a horrible April last season and Thornton was just about as dominant as ever. If (when) he’s officially named the White Sox closer, he’ll become a possible top-10 closer.

R18, Hiroki Kuroda – For the past two seasons, Kuroda has been vastly undervalued on draft day. He has the skills to succeed, AL East or not, and the offensive force behind him now might help add a few wins to his numbers.

R19, Edwin Encarnacion – I just can’t help myself at this point in the draft. If he produces like he did in the second half of last season, he’ll be money with 3B eligibility, hitting from the DH position (i.e. no error zone).

R20, Alejandro De Aza – Stolen bases, though I’m concerned he won’t hit much more than .280.

R21, Jonathon Niese – Solid K/BB rate, solid GB% and new nose. How can it go wrong?

R22, Dayan Viciedo – This Cuban slugger in not the type of player I typically like (poor plate discipline), but I’ll take a flyer on 25-plus home run potential in the 22nd round.

R23, Henderson Alvarez – Great command and GB% gives this young arm plenty of potential to succeed in his first full big league season.

R24, Ryan Raburn – Having a big spring, which might not mean anything, but a hot start would go along way to endearing him to Jim Leyland. He may not hit for much AVG, but has 20-plus HR pop.

R25, Ricky Nolasco – I just can’t help myself.

R26, Luke Hochevar – Great K/BB rates in August and September. At this point, I’ll take a flier and hope that he can put everything together over a full season.