Shawn Wood
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March 9 - Dominate Your Baseball Draft

So, I was driving along today, listening to the Reds and Yankees on XM Radio, when Edwin
Encarnacion hit his third dinger in 2 games — this one off Randy Johnson.

“Sweet relief, baseball is back, and not a moment too soon,” I thought. “This is going to be an
interesting year.” Of course, it is just Spring Training and we do have to take that with a grain of salt.
Or do we? Hmm, we’ll discuss that in a future MOTY Talk very, very soon.

Actually, we’ll talk about A LOT in future
MOTY Talks. Very, very soon. Rookies, sleepers, ballpark
affects – in MOTY terms (you’re going to love this one), comeback candidates, potential busts, a more
realistic view of base stealers’ values … . The list of developments and topics for the 2006 season is
virtually endless. But trust me, we tackle them all — in ways no one but MOTY can.

We’re also going to analyze several, actual drafts, beginning with the first annual Writers Radio
Invitational League, started by Brian Wilmer and Ed Barnes of
The Writers Radio. We’ll break down
the 12 managers’ draft picks – which players, what round – to help you recognize similar approaches
as they unfold in your draft. We’ll also highlight the surprise picks, the sleepers, the “flyers” and the
players who “fell” in the draft.

As for this MOTY Talk, the first of 2006, let’s start where every fantasy team starts — draft prep.

“With the first pick (insert your name here) selects …”
Draft day is easily the most fun of the fantasy baseball season. And, frankly, the most critical. So don’t
expect the same old “how to draft” litany here that you can read in any fantasy magazine. No, the
MOTY System looks at the fantasy game and players from a new perspective. And the tools in the
MOTY Draft War Room – MOTY’s 2006 player projections, ComboCats, Talent Tiers and
Untouchables – use that perspective to give you the edge you need to make the smart picks and
dominate your draft.

With that, here are some “Draft Thoughts” — things to remember and consider (in a 5x5 league) as
you prepare for your draft:

--
Every home run = 3 fantasy points (run, hr, rbi). Every stolen base = 1 fantasy point (stolen base).
That’s not to say you should punt stolen bases. Far from it. sb’s are very valuable … just not as
valuable as hr’s.

--In the entire history of baseball, no player has ever stolen a base or scored a run without first getting
on base. Translation:
“Beware the low obp guys!”

--You’re not drafting your “final” team, you’re drafting the “foundation” of your team, a strong mix of
players fitting your strategy, a solid core that will give you flexibility to maneuver in trade talks and free
agency moves once the season starts.

--
Injuries WILL happen (Bonds, Gagne ’05). Studs WILL bust (Lowell, B. Boone ’05). Happens every
season, it’ll happen this season. Draft with this in mind — no matter what strategy you take, try to
have more than one solid guy eligible at each position, because predicting injuries is tricky at best.

--Equally,
sleepers and rookies WILL emerge (F. Lopez, Duke ’05). And players WILL bounce back
(Pettitte, T. Clark ’05). Snatching these guys up early in the season is almost like having extra rounds
in your draft — using the
MOTY rankings and MOTY Scope™, you’ll find them before other managers
even know their names.

--Like it or not,
luck plays a major role throughout the fantasy season. In 2005, Roy Halladay owners
suffered bad luck, Todd Jones owners enjoyed good luck. Maybe it was “Ye Olde Magic 8-Ball” factor.
But there’s an adage that essentially says you make good fortune shine on you by being in the right
place. In fantasy baseball, nothing puts you in the right place like the
MOTY System, the weekly MOTY
rankings and the MOTY Scope. You’ll hear other managers say how lucky you are to pick up all the
right guys at the right time. It’ll be less luck and more MOTY than they’ll ever know.

--In ESPN and Yahoo! leagues,
pay NO attention to post-draft league standings — more often than
not, they’re based on last year’s final stats. Of course, if you really think Aaron Small will go 10-0
again, and Barry Bonds will only get 42 at bats in ’06, by all means, put credence in your post-draft,
pre-season league standings … then panic, thinking you have to make dramatic changes to your
roster and make stupid pre-season trades.

--
“Drafting While Drinking” can be disastrous, unless everyone in the draft is DWD. Might be fun (if
you’re of age). But probably gonna make for an ugggggly team — the next morning. And then you have
to live with “her” for 162 games. Not pretty. And, come to think of it, in the end, not much fun either.

--
Pay attention to other managers' draft picks. “Really? You think?” Hey, it’s easy to get caught up
and not notice if someone is trying to corner a position or scoring category. If another manager is
trying to corner, say saves, and you haven’t drafted any closers, or maybe only one at that point,
consider going deep in a position you’re already strong at, like shortstop or 3b (which the “closer”
team is also weak at), to set yourself up to make a deal with that other team after the draft for – you
guessed it – a closer.

--After you rank guys for your draft,
draw up some shortlists at each position, including “backup
picks,” so that if someone takes the guy you really want just before you pull the trigger, you have one
or two guys you can immediately fall back to. Trying to find a “replacement” pick can be very distracting
and throw off the flow of your entire draft. (In more harsh terms, this is known as “panicking.”)

--
EVERY SINGLE DRAFT IS DIFFERENT. Expect the unexpected. For example, prevailing trends have
either ARod or Pujols going #1 overall this year. But I’ve already seen a draft in which the first pick
was … Randy Johnson. Still a good starter, but #1 overall? Which leads us to …

--In a 10-team league,
you only directly control your picks — or 10% of the draft. Similarly, in an 8-
team league, only
12.5% of the draft. And a mere 8.25% of the draft in a 12-team league.

Ten percent of the draft. Hmmm. Not the sort of odds you want strolling into the OK Corral. But then
again, in a 10-team league, every owner only controls 10% of the draft. Either way you look at it, what
you’re left with is a compelling argument for preparation.

Player rankings are the most obvious, and necessary, place to start for a successful draft — both a
master list and lists by position (and/or category). And every fantasy baseball magazine offers
rankings and draft lists. But have you ever tried to sort those things by stat categories? What a pain.

First you have to meticulously slice each player stat line out with a surgical-grade razor, reorder them
(hundreds of slivers of newsprint!), then scotch-tape them back together in your order. Praying all the
while that a strong gust of wind doesn’t whip through the house before you’re done, because, “Oh,
@#$%! There goes your draft — out the window!” Literally.

Of course, there’s an alternative approach — typing the list into your favorite spreadsheet program,
going goo-goo eyed staring at cells and developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Mind you, C.T.S. has
ruined many a fantasy career, especially since it takes a full season to recover from Tammy John
surgery, made famous by the executive assistant who resurrected her secretarial career at a big ad
agency.

Actually, there’s a much better, and more fun way to create your draft rankings — the
MOTY Scope™.
Generating focused lists, and ranking them, for your draft is exactly what the MOTY Scope does, in a
fraction of the time. You define all the player pools – position, team, league – and stat parameters,
any combination of up to 3 stats, click the “Apply Filter” button, and ba-da-bing, MOTY delivers a short
list of all the players you’re looking for. Or were looking for and didn’t know you were looking for, as in
“sleepers.”

Once you’ve got your rankings together, you can print them – Voilá! Your own custom cheat sheets –
with
MOTY’s printer-friendly function. Or continue sorting the resulting tables by any category header,
cherry pick the guys you really want to focus on and print those as a “specialized” lists, including
those “backup picks” discussed in
Part 1.

Even better, you can save those players to a
My Rosters page, a personal watch list to save for a rainy
draft day. Of course, you can also print any My Roster watchlist anytime in the future, a “ccsiw” if you
will — “custom cheat sheet in waiting.”

Mr. Nitty, Meet Mr. Gritty — In-Depth Draft Research
Another great draft prep technique is to draw up “forecast” lists, highlighting guys you think might be
overvalued, or sleepers, or “
Untouchables.” Now, you can and should define these players anyway
you like. Hey, when all other methods are exhausted, sentimentality is as good a reason as any to
draft a player — “I’m a Phillies fan and I’m taking Bobby Abreu!” Frankly, if following Abreu throughout
the season is going to be more fun for you than following Sizemore or Bay, pick Abreu. This game is,
after all, suppose to be fun.

But what if you want to go on more than “heart strings” to decide between Abreu, Beltran, Bay,
Sizemore and Crawford — all 5-tool outfielders?

First, look at their
MOTY#s, their overall fantasy value. In the 2006 rankings these guys own projected
MOTY#s between 72.81 and 52.71. A 20-point range, but all still strong.

Next, check out the
ComboCats , where all five players qualify. What’ll you learn, though, is only one
made the 65 Club, this year’s highest ComboCat group. Another made the 50 Club, two the 45 Club
and the last got into the 40 Club. All of which helps to start refining how these players rank.

The
Talent Tiers help separate the pack further — interestingly, none qualify as “elite” outfielders in
2006, but two make the “All-Star” list. Both, very interesting facts.

After zipping between all these draft tools, you can cross reference these players’ Talent Tier status
with their ComboCat Clubs and projected MOTY#s, and rank them with the utmost confidence.

Then again, being a life-long Phillies fan might trump all the research in the world.

Position Scarcity in 2006
Finally, let’s wrap these first two, and admittedly long MOTY Talks – hey, Spring Training’s here!
Edwin Encarncion hit his 5th homer yesterday! I’m excited! – with a quick review of position scarcity for
2006.

As it should, position scarcity commands a lot of attention in pre-draft discussions. The top tier
shortstops, traditionally a “thin” position in which valuable fantasy players are “scarce,” should be
drafted before second and third tier players at “fatter”  positions — even if those guys boast higher
MOTY#s. Unfortunately, few fantasy pundits quantify how scarce or “thin” positions are when ranking
them.

Wouldn’t you know it, MOTY can and does in this table:

2006 MLB Position Scarcity
Based on projected, average MOTY#

















Position scarcity is determined by the average, projected MOTY# for all players at each particular
position. Then ranked 1-8, most-to-least scarce or “thin.” We’re leaving middle relievers out of the
rankings since they truly are a dime a dozen and rarely contribute to a fantasy team’s production.
Now, a couple of things may immediately jump out at you. Namely that closers rate as the least
scarce position and starting pitchers rank as the 3rd most thin. But there are very good reasons for
both.

The pool of closers (and “closers-in-waiting”) is very small, 30-40 guys or so. We know who they are
and we know they are going to produce valuable stats, saves. In short, there are very few closers and
they all produce valuable numbers, so their average MOTY# is naturally high. There aren’t dozens of
guys watering down the elite closers’ value.

On the flip side, there are an awful lot of pitchers who will start games in the bigs. Many producing
mediocre to terrible stat lines — and thus very low MOTY#s. In fact, pitchers can produce negative
MOTY#s, like Jose Lima who finished 2005 as MOTY’s lowest ranked fantasy player with a –33.11
MOTY#. The great takeaway from sp’s being the 3rd thinnest position is the validation that the elite
starters really are as valuable as some people argue.

After that, if you favor the “strength up the middle” draft strategy, our 2006 scarcity rankings should put
a smile on your face. Catchers rank as the thinnest position, followed by 2b, with ss coming in at 4th.
Interestingly, you’ll also notice that 3b is projected to be thinner than both the 1b and outfield slots in
2006. You might want to adjust accordingly.

“This is all good and fine,” you might be thinking. “But what do I do with these scarcity rankings?”
Nothing — if you have a MOTY Subscription. Position scarcity is already incorporated into the MOTY
Rankings. They help determine the Adjusted MOTY#s for draft rankings in mixed position pools,
including your batter and pitcher combined list, the granddaddy of all fantasy baseball draft lists.

So, all you have to do is click the Projections tab in the Draft War Room and start preparing for your
draft. Just remember two things: 1) 3b is thinner than 1b and outfield. 2) Edwin Encarnacion — 5 hrs
in 7 games.

With that, good luck with your draft. Rather, “Good MOTY” instead.


MOTY Talk is the regular blog of Fantasy Baseball Manager of the Year.
Copyright © 2005–2006 Fantasy Baseball Manager of the Year, LLC
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Pos.
AvgMOTY#
Scarcity Rank

C
10.9607
1
1B
23.5537
7
2B
16.2434
2
3B
19.5743
5
SS
17.0011
4
OF
20.1808
6
SP
16.5448
3
CL/CIW
31.2345
8
MR
8.4923
--