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Draft Strategy: Hitting Analysis

Ok, so my protected list has been submitted, now starts the official analysis. Before our February 1st protected list deadline, I had already done some calculations of who was expected to be protected by others, and who should be available. This led me to protecting Chipper Jones at $23, as I reasoned he may be the best available (with Garrett Atkins) and that he would go for at least $26 with all of the money in the auction.

Positional Needs:

  • 1 Catcher
  • 1 Corner Man
  • 3 Outfielders
  • 1 Utility

Protected Statistical Strengths:

  • Steals
  • Runs

Hitting Analysis:

So the good news is that I don’t have to go worrying about drafting steals. My protected list alone projects for 176 steals – from just 5 players! This is where it pays to have Jose Reyes, Brandon Phillips, Ryan Theriot, Corey Hart, and Shane Victorino. 176 steals last year would have led the league – by 14 steals. So let’s not even bother consider it. Really. Moving on.

With speedy lead-off types come runs, and plenty of them. I finished in 3rd place in runs last season, 11 runs out of 2nd, 39 out of first. While I could always use some run-scorers, let’s try to make those self-scored on home runs. I finished tied for 8th in HR with 200, while first place had 272. Had I gotten those extra 39 runs scored on homers, my team would have finished 5th in HR. A modest goal, but 3 points nonetheless.

A real need, however, is power. Both HR, and the RBI that usually are associated with them. As mentioned above, I was awful in power last season (the flip-side of Jose Reyes), but also lagged in RBI – finishing 8th. The 2007 Atomic Roadrunners managed only 856 RBI, while 1072 led the league. Adding 180 RBI would have netted me 2nd place, so that’s at least two premium sluggers’ worth.

Lastly, my batting average was 9th last season, with a .270 average. While I don’t believe it pays to focus on average exclusively (at the detriment of other counting stats), it does pay to be cognizant of average, especially when comparing two otherwise similar players. We’ll look at average as a secondary identifier in player ranking and tiers.

Needs, Meet Positions:

Given the six positions that I have to fill, and the paltry $105 (overall – don’t forget the four pitchers needed!) available, the Roadrunners’ needs might be filled by the following:

Catcher – there is only one catcher available this season that can really impact the HR, RBI and AVG categories, and that’s Brian McCann. However, looking at his composite projections (custom-cobbled by yours truly from 17 different projection sources), I’m estimating a .290 average, but only 21 HR and 88 RBI. While he’s the top catcher, those types of stats can be compiled by mid-tier OF’s, who won’t be commanding McCann’s positional scarcity price. No, the catcher position won’t be attracting my dollars this season. Best bet is to target someone with decent average (.260 or higher) with the potential to add up to 10 HR and 50 RBI under-the-radar.

Corner Man – There is a decent crop of corner guys available this year, but is this a need? Since I already have Prince Fielder and Chipper Jones, perhaps I should focus on getting good outfielders instead? Right? Wrong. Right now I estimate the CM market to be superior with top-level talent and impact stats, while, in comparison, the OF market doesn’t have the same extent of high-quality consistency. While it will likely come down to tiers, I think that at least one two high-impact sluggers we need will come from this pool, rather than the OF pool.

Outfield – Ideally, a three-tiered approach. Nab a top guy, or an almost-top-guy with top-guy upside, a consistent mid-level contributor, possibly overlooked on a non-contender or on a different team than last year, and a young up-and-comer. Big contributor. Solid contributor. Plus “One to grow on.”

Utility – Whatever’s left, probably for $1. We don’t have the funds to chase after pet-projects.

Putting it All Together:

Figuring $70-ish dollars (two-thirds of our $105) for hitting, I’ve come up with the following allocations:

$34 for Impact Bat No. 1 (Corner or Outfield)

$24 for Impact Bat No. 2 (Corner of Outfield)

$8 for an overlooked yet steadily-contributing Outfielder

$3 for an up-and-coming Outfielder

$2 for a “Don’t kill me in AVG, surprise me with a little power” Catcher

$1 for a utility player – best remaining guy, or more likely a late-round prospect I can stash (like Joey Votto last year).

This scenario is a rose-colored, glass-is-three-quarters full approach. Only in a Stage 1 league would this be possible to pull off, but at least I know it. Our league is a Stage 4 league – everyone’s on the same page.

Fortunately, $34 for a top-flight CM or OF isn’t unreasonable. With so much money available on other teams, my concern is that I will get my last choice, rather than my first choice. When we tier this up, the top range should be $28-$34, but I’m concerned that it’ll be more like $33-$38, pricing me out slightly. That I’m in this arena in the first place might bother some of my competitors. I’m hoping to catch some of them off-guard with a “What’s he bidding on a CM for? He’s got Prince and Chipper.” I’m not sure if there will be an actual benefit to this surprise, but I’m hoping to at least thwart the typecasting by others.

What’s less realistic is $24 for a top-flight OF. There aren’t many available in the first place (the NL is weak in OF, the AL is at 1B), and they’ll probably go for low $30s. One of the top available OF’s is Carlos Beltran, who fortunately doesn’t interest me that much. I don’t think his power is going to be as big as some project, and as I’ve noted above, I’m impervious to the charms of his steals, which will drive his price higher.

Also slightly fantastic is the thought of $8 acquiring a “solid” OF contributor. Even the most under-the-radar guy batting a nondescript .275/80/20/80 will go for at least $12. No, this is the realm of the fragile, the platooned, and the injury-prone. Not sure if this spot will be helpful, or if it should be reduced to $2-3 and add $5 to get the (now) $29 OF.

Fortunately, $2 for a catcher is definitely within the realm or reason, as are the other single-digit estimates. That’s where superior preparation and detailed pre-draft lists make finding end-game bargains a snap.