Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
2015 Draft Prep Guide
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

2012 Draft Prep: When reaching is warranted

  •  

You don't get many early round picks. Maybe five or six. Depends where you draw the line, really.

Follow us, Like us, Join us
Want more? Join the discussion on our Facebook page and Google+ and follow us on Twitter for additional insight while interacting with a community geared toward Fantasy Baseball.

But no matter how you define it, within that small window, you form the foundation of your team. Its identity rests with those few players and whatever misfortunes come their way.

What about the fortunes? Hey, those are implied. What makes an early-rounder an early-rounder is the expectation he'll perform like one of the top players in the game.

If you accept that premise, then you should also accept this one: Early-rounders will more often lose it for you than win it for you. It's the reason I was down on Matt Kemp entering last season. I saw some things I didn't like about him -- the high strikeout rate, the low batting average, the diminished playing time, the diminished steals -- and, therefore, stayed away. Dumb move? Well, I obviously missed out on a great player. But the players I drafted instead still gave me competitive teams -- and in some leagues, championships.

Granted, that's an extreme example, but you get the idea: I like to play it safe with my early-round picks. If they're all supposed to be good anyway, I want the ones least likely to sucker punch me into last place.

In the past, I could sum up the approach this way: Avoid the pitchers. Considering the amount of torque needed to throw a ball 90 miles per hour, they're all just ticking time bombs counting down to their next injury -- or perhaps even surgery. Hitters are inherently safer and, thus, more deserving of early-round picks.

But then came this year.

Perplexing would be the best way to describe my first few mock drafts. Since I adopted the tier approach however many years ago, the draft process, while still challenging, was never too much of a head-scratcher. But when I first start drafting for the 2012 season, I came across so many hitters I just plain didn't want that I found myself drafting pitchers instead. And in the end, I wasn't satisfied with my teams.

Had I lost the touch? No good explanation for that. Had my philosophy changed? Obviously not if I wasn't happy with my teams. Had I gotten too picky? Shoot, if anything, the Kemps of the world had made me more open-minded.

So if the problem wasn't me, it had to be the draft pool. What about this one distinguished it from all the others in recent memory?

Was 2011 simply a bad year for injuries? Have we hit some kind of lull between the last wave of talent and the next one? Are we at a point in the post-steroids era when we no longer expect players on the wrong side of 30 to continue doing what they've been doing all along? I'm guessing all of the above. But whatever the reason, so many of the early-round hitters are either past their prime or at less than full strength that, between them and the pitchers, the part of the draft when you can least afford a misstep has become a virtual minefield.

Lance Berkman, Paul Konerko, Alex Rodriguez, Michael Young and Ichiro Suzuki are all on the wrong side of 35, which means they could fall off a cliff at moment's notice. Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins aren't quite as old, but they're showing clear signs of decline. Josh Hamilton, Matt Holliday, Shane Victorino, Adrian Beltre, Kevin Youkilis and Aramis Ramirez are all on the wrong side of 30 and have shown enough propensity for injury that a DL stint or two is the expectation for each. They'll probably join Nelson Cruz there. It's his home away from home during the season. Hanley Ramirez, David Wright, Carl Crawford and Buster Posey are all coming back -- or attempting to come back -- from specific injuries that could impact their numbers in the short term, and Jose Reyes, Ryan Zimmerman, Rickie Weeks, Joe Mauer and Shin-Soo Choo just can't seem to stay on the field.

I'd rather ...
Wait on Reach for (same position) Reach for (different position)
Joe Mauer Alex Avila Alex Gordon
Buster Posey Matt Wieters Alex Gordon
Paul Konerko Eric Hosmer Brett Lawrie
Lance Berkman Eric Hosmer Desmond Jennings
Rickie Weeks N/A Alex Gordon
Chase Utley Dan Uggla Billy Butler
Adrian Beltre N/A Ben Zobrist
David Wright Brett Lawrie Ben Zobrist
Ryan Zimmerman Brett Lawrie Eric Hosmer
Kevin Youkilis Brett Lawrie Eric Hosmer
Michael Young Pablo Sandoval Michael Morse
Alex Rodriguez Pablo Sandoval Michael Morse
Aramis Ramirez Emilio Bonifacio Jesus Montero
Hanley Ramirez N/A Ian Kinsler
Jose Reyes N/A Carlos Santana
Jimmy Rollins Emilio Bonifacio Billy Butler
Josh Hamilton Giancarlo Stanton N/A
Matt Holliday Giancarlo Stanton N/A
Shane Victorino N/A Ben Zobrist
Nelson Cruz Desmond Jennings Eric Hosmer
Shin-Soo Choo Desmond Jennings N/A
Carl Crawford Alex Gordon Emilio Bonifacio
Ichiro Suzuki Andre Ethier Jesus Montero
*N/A - no player ranked lower is worth the reach

Basically, of the 66 hitters drafted among the top 100 players in Rotisserie leagues, 23 of them -- or more than one-third -- I absolutely do not want.

OK, that's an overstatement. Some -- such as Konerko, Hamilton, Holliday, Victorino, Beltre, Weeks and Choo -- are less risky than others, given their track records, and if the draft unfolded in such a way that I felt like I had to draft one of them, I would. But I wouldn't do it with a smile on my face.

Perhaps that sounds self-defeating to you. If I really can't get excited about those hitters, why not just give in and take a stud pitcher instead? In years past, I might have defaulted to that Plan B. But since the Year of the Pitcher in 2010, starting pitcher has become such an amazingly deep position, with just about any of the top 30 options capable of putting up top-10 numbers, that drafting an ace seems like a misuse of resources. On the one hand, yeah, the shortage of enticing early-round hitters is an excuse to reel in a Jered Weaver in Round 3, but on the other hand, if I can have a Madison Bumgarner or Mat Latos four, five or even six rounds later, what's the point?

Besides, I tried going that route in those early drafts, and in the end, my hitting just wasn't up to snuff. The truth is, in this pitching-heavy era, the need for elite hitting is greater than ever.

But if that's true and the idea that early-rounders are more likely to lose it than win it for you is true, what do you do when your pick comes up and one of those treacherous 23 is the highest-rated hitter on the board?

After a few more mock drafts and a few more disappointing rosters, I finally arrived at what I consider to be the best solution: Skip him. If you don't like the next-best hitter but feel like you should take a hitter, go ahead and take the next one you do like even if, objectively speaking, it's something of a reach.

Like Eric Hosmer better than Youkilis? Hey, me too. No need to shy away from him in Round 5. Want an outfielder but can't bring yourself to draft Cruz? No one says you can't take Desmond Jennings or Michael Morse instead. Need a shortstop and trying to talk yourself into Jimmy Rollins in Round 7? Man, just take Billy Butler instead. You can always fall back on an Emilio Bonifacio or Erick Aybar later.

Obviously, how much you like a guy can't be the determining factor for each and every one of your draft picks. You still have to pay attention to your tiers, after all. You wouldn't want to deprive yourself at a position for a player you could have potentially had two rounds later. But at the same time, if you've been reading any draft prep content this spring, you know how hot names like Brett Lawrie, Hosmer and Jennings are right now. If you like them more than Zimmerman, Berkman and Choo, you're not alone, which means the only way you can ensure you get to them first is by drafting them ahead of Zimmerman, Berkman and Choo.

Check out our Fantasy Baseball podcast!
Stay a step ahead of your competition in 2014 by checking out our popular Fantasy Baseball Today podcasts. Adam Aizer, Scott White and Al Melchior will entertain you and help you dominate all season.
Latest episode | Subscribe!

And that's OK. Sometimes we -- and by "we" I legitimately mean both you and me -- get so caught up in the analyst role, assessing how "good" and "bad" every pick is, that we forget to build a team we actually like. Granted, if you reach on every pick, you forfeit the advantage of having players fall to you and defeat the purpose of tiers altogether. But then again, if you end up with a roster full of players you don't like, the approach didn't do you much good, did it?

In our most recent Head-to-Head mock draft, I made a decision that would qualify a healthy marriage between the tier approach and this little sidebar. I could have selected Josh Hamilton or Matt Holliday in the third round, but aiming for what I consider to be a safer pick and realizing I needed a second baseman anyway, I went with Ben Zobrist instead. It wasn't the textbook pick by any means, and the naysayers are sure to say nay over it. But whatever. Ultimately, I'm the one who has to live with my team, and I think the pieces fit together better with Zobrist in there.

The downside is I'm forgoing a potential MVP candidate in Hamilton, who at his best is far better than Zobrist, but at that point in a draft where I have only three outfield spots to fill, the risk of the Rangers slugger playing only 120 games again -- if not fewer -- wasn't worth the reward to me.

Risk-reward picks have their time and place. In the late rounds, I'll take Alejandro De Aza over Alfonso Soriano any day of the week. But if I'm handing over my Fantasy life to a player, as is the case with every early-round pick, I want to make sure he's the kind I can trust with it.

In a year like this one, those types are well worth the reach.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott White at @CBSScottWhite . You can also send our staff an e-mail at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
A's unable to cash in on seven scoreless innings from Scott Kazmir
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:15 am ET) Athletics starting pitcher Scott Kazmir tossed seven scoreless innings Friday against the Astros. However, he did not factor into the decision, as the game went to extra innings.

Kazmir was involved in quite the pitcher's duel with Astros starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel. While Kazmir went seven scoreless innings, Keuchel threw nine scoreless innings. Kazmir allowed five hits and three walks, while striking out seven.

The veteran left-hander lowered his ERA from 1.33 to 0.99. His next scheduled start is for Thursday against the Angels.


Astros RP Chad Qualls closes out extra-inning win at Oakland
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:10 am ET) Astros reliever Chad Qualls earned his second save of the season during Friday's 5-4 win in 11 innings at Oakland, after closer Luke Gregerson and reliever Pat Neshek both struggled to close out the win.

Gregerson blew his first save of the season in the 10th inning, allowing Oakland to tie the game at 2. Neshek then came on to open the bottom of the 11th inning, but he was gone after allowing two runs on three hits in two-thirds inning. 

Astros manager A.J. Hinch brought on Tony Sipp to face Sam Fuld for the final out, but Sipp walked Fuld to put two runners on base. Hinch then called on Qualls, who retired Brett Lawrie on a fly out to deep center to end the rally.


Astros' Gregerson earns first win after suffering first blown save
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:57 am ET) Astros closer Luke Gregerson earned his first relief win of the season Friday against the A's.

The right-hander entered the game in the bottom of the 10th inning, with Houston ahead 2-0. Unfortunately, he could not hold the lead, as he allowed Oakland to tie the game on a two-out, two-RBI double by Josh Reddick.

He was charged with two runs on three hits and no walks, while striking out one in one inning of work. He suffered his first blown save Friday.

Gregerson (1-0) picked up the win as Houston won the game, 5-4, in the 11th inning. Friday was the first time all season Gregerson allowed a run. He had opened the season with seven scoreless innings.


Astros' Dallas Keuchel throws nine scoreless innings in no-decision
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:51 am ET) Astros starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel tossed nine scoreless innings Friday against the A's. Unfortunately, he did not get the win, as Friday's game was scoreless after nine innings and wasn't decided until the 11th inning.

Keuchel allowed just two hits -- both singles in the third inning. He also walked two and struck out four.

The left-hander, who is 2-0, has now allowed zero runs in three of four starts. He has a 0.62 ERA.

Keuchel will be back on the mound Wednesday at San Diego.


Dodgers reliever Yimi Garcia picks up first save of season
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(1:45 am ET) Dodgers reliever Yimi Garcia (S, 1) tossed a perfect ninth inning against the Padres on Friday to earn his first save of the season.

Garcia struck out two of the three batters he faced.

Garcia has now allowed just one run in 9 2/3 innings (0.93 ERA) this season.

Padres' Andrew Cashner tosses seven strong innings but takes loss
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(1:36 am ET) Padres starter Andrew Cashner (1-3) gave up two runs on six hits in seven innings on Friday but suffered the loss against the Dodgers.

Cashner gave up a home run to Carl Crawford, the left fielder's first of the season.

Cashner struck out six and walked one in the defeat.

Cashner's next start is scheduled for Wednesday against the Astros.

Dodgers SP Zack Greinke moves to 3-0 with seven shutout innings
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(1:32 am ET) Dodgers starting pitcher Zack Greinke (3-0) gave up four hits and struck out seven while not allowing a run in seven innings on Friday to defeat the Padres.

Greinke lowered his ERA to 1.35 following Friday's performance.

Greinke will look to stay perfect in his next start set for Wednesday against the Giants.

Indians' Nick Swisher totals three hits in first rehab game
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:31 am ET) Indians first baseman/outfielder Nick Swisher (knees) began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus on Friday. Swisher had a pretty good game, going 3 for 5 with two runs and one RBI. He also struck out twice.

Swisher is expected to stay with Columbus through the weekend before the Indians re-evaluated his status early next week.


Nationals' Rendon doubles as he begins rehab assignment Friday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:24 am ET) Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon (knee) began a rehab assignment with Double-A Harrisburg on Friday. He went 1 for 2 with one double before being lifted from the game.

Rendon is expected to play at least five days on a rehab assignment.


Angels closer Huston Street improves to 6 for 6 in save chances
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:13 am ET) Angels closer Huston Street ran into some trouble in the ninth inning Friday against the Rangers. However, he still successfully closed out the 3-2 win for his sixth save.

Street opened the inning with two quick outs. However, he then walked the next two batters. Luckily, both runners were stranded as Elvis Andrus grounded out to end the game.

Street had one strikeout. He has not allowed a run in six innings this season.


 
 
 
Rankings