Fantasy Baseball Expert Draft Strategy: Rounds Eight-14

Todd Farino@truegurufarinoCorrespondent IMarch 13, 2009

We continue our pick-by-pick coverage for the KFFL, K-FAD Expert League Draft.

To recap, the league is your standard roster (two catchers, five outfielders), 5x5 rotisserie, 12-team league. I get the chance to represent Fantasy Baseball Search to play against some of the toughest competitors and expert minds in the industry. After the first seven rounds, I felt very happy with the results of my draft.

I made great picks every round and everything had gone to plan. I felt secure in the thought I had the best team up to that point. My outfield was absolutely dominating, with Grady Sizemore, B.J. Upton, and Manny Ramirez.

I had an ace starting pitcher in Jake Peavy and one of the best stoppers in fantasy baseball with Russell Martin. Add in Stephen Drew at shortstop to cap the first seven rounds.

The next seven rounds were completely different, with each pick more intense than the previous one. I learned a few things in the first seven rounds that assisted me in the following rounds.

First, these experts do not draft anywhere near according to the ADP. They draft according to where they value the player and where they want to take the player. There is no safety for leaving a player hanging out there one more round.

You cannot even guess who will go next, so the strategy I continued to deploy was directly after my pick, I carried down the remaining selections. I still wanted and added more players to that list until I had 13. That way, I knew I'd get one of them.

I did change part of my strategy for rounds eight-14, at least for the players I selected before my pick. Instead of trying to plan out each pick and trying to assume who was picked, I started taking the best available player that I critically needed.

I narrowed each draft pick even more by choosing the three positions I wanted to draft that round. The only strategy I kept from the first seven rounds was to pre-select 13 players for my next pick as mentioned above.

Not only am I prepared to make my pick right way, but I'm guaranteed a player I want. In between most picks I was lucky, and by the time my pick came around I had several players to choose from my list of 13.

Here are my picks for rounds 8-14. Lets see how it turned out:

Round Eight—Joakim Soria, Kansas City Royals, RP

42 SV, 5 W, 1.85 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 70 K

Planned Strategic Pick: As the eighth round approached, I knew I needed to get my first closer. I still needed everything else, but the best players at their positions that were left were the closers. So I went with a value pick. It was the right time in the draft with four closers already drafted.

I narrowed my choices down to Mariano Rivera and Joakin Soria. I decided to go with Soria for a few reasons.

First, Soria is younger and has more upside. He is absolutely nasty on the mound and commands a microscopic WHIP and ERA. Also, he will save 40+ games for the Royals. There is the threat of him being traded, but he is not in a contract year. I believe Soria can be a top three closer in the American League by the end of the year.

Other Considerations: Mariano Rivera.

Strategic Plan: Get the best closer available.

Round Nine—Chad Billingsley, Los Angeles Dodgers, SP

17 W, 2.99 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 200 K

Planned Strategic Pick: Round nine was a special round. It was only the second round of the draft where I felt I can take anything I want (the other was the seventh). With so many players already off the board that should have gone much later, it was anybody's guess who would be drafted next.

By examining the previous rounds, I noticed only four pitchers had been drafted in the last two-and-a-half rounds, and Lackey was drafted the pick before mine.

I had a feeling pitchers would start to go fast, and I found a starting pitcher I felt was valued as at least an eighth round draft pick. Billingsley is a stud pitcher in the making. He is an overpowering strikeout pitcher and will one day compete for a Cy Young.

By drafting him, I increased my hold on strikeouts and improved wins. Billingsley was the third pitcher I've taken in the last four rounds, so my pitching staff is strong, and I can focus elsewhere.

Other Considerations: Jonathan Broxton.

Strategic Plan: Get a dominating pitcher.

Round 10—Chris Young, Arizona Diamondbacks, OF

27 HR, 95 RBI, 93 R, .270 BA, 19 SB

Planned Strategic Pick:This pick was a complete surprise. As the pick approached, I was hoping to get James Loney, Torii Hunter, or Jonathan Broxton. I got burned badly with Loney and Hunter going in the first two picks of the round.

When my pick came, I was shocked to see Chris Young still on the board. I had to make a tough choice between Young and Broxton as both were targets for my team.

I felt Broxton would hang around one more round, so I went with the value pick of Chris Young. Young is a 20-20 caliber outfielder. I only had three outfielders at the time, so getting Chris Young as a FOURTH OUTFIELDER was too good to be true. The thing I love about Young, besides the 20-20 status, is he has the ability to have a special season.

You can see it in him; he just has to put it all together. I'm willing to take that risk in the 10th round and at the least get a possible 20-20 with a .250 average.

Other Considerations: Jonathan Broxton, Zack Greinke.

Strategic Plan: Get the value player for the outfield or get the sleeper closer.

Round 11—Scott Kazmir, Tampa Bay, SP

14 W, 220 K, 3.31 ERA, 1.26 WHIP

Planned Strategic Pick: This draft has been crazy thus far, with several picks I did not expect.

In the 11th round, I got more surprises.

First off, I lost the other two players I was considering. I would have taken Jonathan Broxton, but he was gone. I was considering Howie Kendrick for certain reasons, but he was taken two picks before mine.

So the only pick left of my three picks was Kazmir, and, frankly, I had no idea why he was still there. I had to check the news to see if he broke his leg that day I was so shocked! Between all the drafts I've been in, real or mock, I've seen Kazmir go as high as the sixth round and as low as the 10th.

Grabbing him in the 11th was a steal. I scooped up my third starting pitcher who is a strikeout master, making me the most dominating team for the strikeout category so far in the draft (in my opinion, of course). Adding Kazmir gave me three potential stud starting pitchers.

Other Considerations: Pablo Sandoval, Yovani Gallardo.

Strategic Plan: Get a closer or the best value pick. In reality, all the offensive players left were not worth an 11th round pick.

Round 12 - Edwin Encarnacion, Cinncinati Reds, 3B, CI

26 HR, 89 RBI, 84 R, .281 BA, 11 SB

Planned Strategic Pick: I am very high on Encarnacion going into the 2009 season. He is setup for a career year at his age. However, I felt this was my worst pick in the draft. I really needed a first basemen, and I considered Mike Jacobs with this pick. I probably should have gone with that pick because he didn't make it back to me.

Encarnacion does fill the CI position. He has great upside, but not taking a first basemen here was a mistake.

On the bright side, Encarnacion has 30 home run potential and should get his batting average up to .280. Another plus, the Cincinnati offense is vastly improved, and his RBI total should go up as a result.

Other Considerations: Mike Jacobs, Jose Lopez, Chris Ianetta

Strategic Plan: Fill an infield position. I badly needed MI or CI players.

Round 13 - B.J. Ryan, Toronto Blue Jays, RP

42 SV, 2.21 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 74 K, 4 W

Planned Strategic Pick: This round I loved. The entire time I waited for a closer with two premium closers left out there in Bobby Jenks and BJ Ryan. When both of them fell to me, I decided on BJ Ryan. Ryan might be 34 years old, but he is still a premiere closer and a steal in the 13th round.

Coming off Tommy John surgery, Ryan came back faster than most pitchers and still accumulated 32 saves in a shortened season. He is now completely healthy and should have no problem getting 40 saves. I felt I got a ninth or 10th round value for my 13th round pick.

Other Considerations: Bobby Jenks, Matt Weiters.

Strategic Plan: I wanted to get my second closer. I felt I waited much too long, though, and was lucky to get the caliber of closer I ended up with.

Round 14 - Mike Aviles, Kansas City, 2B/SS

16 HR, 70 RBI, 81 R, .288 BA, 18 SB

Planned Strategic Pick: This round, I knew I had to get one of two middle infielders I still needed. After watching Kelly Johnson fall off the board, I was happy to see the exact guy I wanted still there in Mike Aviles.

Aviles is one of the top young middle infielders going late in drafts. I've seen him go as high as the 11th round and as low as the 20th.

Getting him in the 14th round was a great value, especially because I had no second baseman to this point. I believe he is capable of a 20-20 season. The best part was I filled a position I badly needed to fill, which took some pressure off me in the draft.

That is a critical part of drafting: making sure you narrow your needs as much as possible.

Other Considerations: Heath Bell, Erik Bedard.

Strategic Plan: Fill a position need. I badly needed middle infield, starting pitcher, first base, and right-handed pitcher. Rounds 15-21 coming next!


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