Drew Silva

Draft Strategy

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Drafting With The Stars

Saturday, March 16, 2013

I participated in a 14-team snake-style fantasy draft this week for the Yahoo! Friends & Family League. The league is a collection of fantasy experts with ties to Yahoo! or one of its affiliates and I figured it would serve as an accurate indication of how the industry is viewing this year’s crop of players. I break down all 25 rounds below, explaining the thinking behind each one of my picks and making some observations about my opponents’ selections. It should help you get ready for draft day.

The managers of this league, in draft order:

1. Ryan Boyer, Rotoworld
2. Scott Pianowski, Yahoo!
3. Derek Carty, Baseball Prospectus
4. Drew Silva, Rotoworld (That’s me)
5. Chris Liss, Rotowire
6. Brandon Funston, Yahoo!
7. Brad Evans, Yahoo!
8. Dalton Del Don, Yahoo!
9. Michael Salfino, Wall Street Journal
10. D.J. Short, Rotoworld
11. Andy Behrens, Yahoo!
12. Paul Singman, Baseball Prospectus
13. Grey Albright & Rudy Gamble, Razzball
14. Jeff Erickson, Rotowire

If you’re looking to set up a custom league or want to join a public one, you can do no better than the free platform Yahoo! provides. And if you're seeking even more in-depth fantasy analysis, check out our award-winning 2013 Rotoworld Online Draft Guide. It's loaded with tools and updated constantly to help you dominate your league.

This is a standard 5x5 league with these active roster spots: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, CI, MI, OF, OF, OF, OF, UTIL, UTIL. There are nine interchangeable pitcher spots and a three-man bench. My picks in this draft will be highlighted.

Round One

1.1 Mike Trout, OF, LAA
1.2 Miguel Cabrera, 3B, DET
1.3 Ryan Braun, OF, MIL
1.4 Robinson Cano, 2B, NYY
1.5 Giancarlo Stanton, OF, MIA
1.6 Matt Kemp, OF, LAD
1.7 Andrew McCutchen, OF, PIT
1.8 Joey Votto, 1B, CIN
1.9 Albert Pujols, 1B, STL
1.10 Carlos Gonzalez, OF, COL
1.11 Prince Fielder, 1B, DET
1.12 Justin Upton, OF, ATL
1.13 Bryce Harper, OF, WAS
1.14 Jose Bautista, OF, TOR

MY PICK: Fourth overall is an interesting spot this year. Trout, Cabrera and Braun are the clear top three, but I don’t think there’s an obvious fourth or fifth or even sixth pick. I went with Cano because shoring up second base early is nice and because I can count on him being a strong AVG, HR and RBI source. He should also score a ton of runs.

OBSERVATIONS: Stanton at fifth overall is not something I would recommend. He probably boasts the best raw power in the sport, but Marlins Park has massive dimensions and the lineup around him is trash. … This is the highest I’ve seen Harper taken this spring, and I’ve done several different drafts. But I don’t hate it. Bryce has National League MVP upside in 2013. … No pitchers came off the board in the first round. That’s a pretty common thing in industry drafts. I can’t say whether it’s right or wrong.

Round Two

2.15 Clayton Kershaw, SP, LAD
2.16 Justin Verlander, SP, DET
2.17 Jose Reyes, SS, TOR
2.18 Troy Tulowitzki, SS, COL
2.19 Evan Longoria, 3B, TB
2.20 Stephen Strasburg, SP, WAS
2.21 Hanley Ramirez, SS, LAD
2.22 Adrian Beltre, 3B. TEX
2.23 Josh Hamilton, OF, LAA
2.24 Jason Heyward, OF, ATL
2.25 David Wright, 3B, NYM
2.26 Dustin Pedroia, 2B, BOS
2.27 Ian Kinsler, 2B, TEX
2.28 Buster Posey, C, SF

MY PICK: A reminder that this draft happened Tuesday, before Wright was pulled off Team USA’s World Baseball Classic roster with a moderate intercostal strain. Not that it would have changed my pick here. Wright should be ready at some point in early-to-mid April and is another excellent source of runs, homers, RBI and average. I have 2B and 3B covered two picks in. That's a refreshing thing.

OBSERVATIONS: Kershaw was the top pick in this round and Verlander went right after. Then Strasburg was drafted a few slots later. It’s a general consensus this season that the top fantasy aces are Kershaw, Verlander, Strasburg, Price and Hamels, and they’ll all be taken in this draft within the first 38 picks. … Tulowitzki is a risk in the second round -- he played only 47 games in 2012 -- but he’s a first-round talent at a premium position and enters the 2013 campaign with a clean bill of health. Somebody had to bite before it got too late.

Round Three

3.29 David Price, SP, TB
3.30 Adam Jones, OF, BAL
3.31 Edwin Encarnacion, 1B, TOR
3.32 Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, BOS
3.33 Starlin Castro, SS, CHC
3.34 Yoenis Cespedes, OF, OAK
3.35 Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, ARI
3.36 Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, WAS
3.37 Jay Bruce, OF, CIN
3.38 Cole Hamels, SP, PHI
3.39 Felix Hernandez, SP, SEA
3.40 Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, LAD
3.41 Matt Holliday, OF, STL
3.42 Craig Kimbrel, RP, ATL

MY PICK: I was weighing whether to draft my first starting pitcher or acquire some speed here in the third round and decided on the latter. Ellsbury probably won’t come close to his 32-homer total from 2011, but he will steal me over 40 bases if he’s healthy and should score runs in bunches. I now have elite power in Cano and Wright, and elite speed in Ellsbury.

OBSERVATIONS: I’m always surprised by how early Castro is taken in fantasy leagues. It’s been that same way for the past two seasons. He hit .283 with 14 home runs and 78 RBI in 162 games last year. He stole 25 bases but was caught 13 times, which has me thinking regression looms in that department. Don’t reach for Castro just because he’s a shortstop. … Goldschmidt in the third round is unique, but the 25-year-old is a huge power threat and he plays his home games at one of the more power-friendly parks in the majors. … I have no problem with Kimbrel going 42nd overall. He gives you a huge leg up on a whole category and he racks up strikeouts.

Round Four

4.43 Jason Kipnis, 2B, CLE
4.44 B.J. Upton, OF, ATL
4.45 Chase Headley, 3B, SD
4.46 Ben Zobrist, SS, TB
4.47 Billy Butler, 1B, KC
4.48 Ian Desmond, SS, WAS
4.49 Cliff Lee, SP, PHI
4.50 Allen Craig, 1B, STL
4.51 Brett Lawrie, 3B, TOR
4.52 Aramis Ramirez, 3B, MIL
4.53 Adam Wainwright, SP, STL
4.54 Jered Weaver, SP, LAA
4.55 Matt Cain, SP, SF
4.56 Pablo Sandoval, 3B, SF

MY PICK: Wainwright posted an underwhelming 3.94 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in 32 starts last season, but he was only 13 months removed from Tommy John surgery on Opening Day and spent much of the summer rebuilding the strength of his right arm. I think we’ll see him back in his old form in 2013 -- which means a sub-3.00 ERA and over 200 strikeouts. On a good Cardinals team, Wainwright will have a shot at 20 wins.

OBSERVATIONS: Headley will go higher than 45th overall in most standard snake drafts this year. I think he fell a bit in this one because we’re all expecting some amount of regression from his monstrous 2012. But none of us can predict that type of thing with any level of certainty. … Zobrist is a fantastic player to have in fantasy formats that allow daily lineup changes -- like this one -- because of his position flexibility. He’s eligible at shortstop, second base and outfield in Yahoo! leagues and carries 20-homer, 20-steal capability.

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Drew Silva is a baseball editor for Rotoworld and also contributes on NBC Sports' Hardball Talk. He can be found on Twitter.
Email :Drew Silva

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