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Starting an early run on starters (long)

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Starting an early run on starters (long)

Postby IrishSox » Tue Mar 11, 2008 4:00 pm

I had a very interesting draft this past weekend. 14 team H2H money league, diverse mix of owners. About four or so highly competitive teams that are in it every year, about three teams that are never good, owners just do it for fun really, and the rest are guys who try, but are of very average skill.

Over the past couple years the league has really trended towards hitting early, as a result of the success of those teams (such as myself) who went hitting for the first several rounds and then took value pitchers later. Last year, only 6 SP went in the first 4 rounds/56 picks. Two years ago, only 8 SP went in the first 4 rounds/first 56 picks.

So we had the draft this past weekend, is going like last year. After the first 41 picks, only Santana, Peavy and Bedard had gone. It gets to the last pick of round three, which is one of the very competitive teams. This guy didn't take a pitcher last year until round 8 (he finished 2nd in regular season, lost in playoffs, had won the year before though).

He had taken Fielder and Texiera at 14/15. Got called out for the duel 1B early, but I can see it, no different than going Ortiz/hitter. So his pick 42 rolls around, and he announces Webb. Moments later, he announes Haren. Everyone was shocked. He chuckled, made some jokes about being bored with hitters, etc.

So the next team announces Verlander. Then Beckett. Then Sabathia. Then Hamels. By the end of the fourth round, Harang, Oswalt, Kazmir, Lackey and King Felix had gone. At the end of round 4, 14 pitchers had gone, with one manager taking two, and only one manager sticking to the offense early mantra. Even I got sucked in, as I had pick 5, wound up taking Kazmir.

He had single handedly changed the makeup of the draft. If the manager after him had stood his ground and gone hitting, the run may have been killed, but we will never know. You could literally sense the "oh my God I need a starter before they are all gone" thoughts of everyone in the room.

Round 5 went back to normal. Papelbon and Putz went, along with Lincecum ( a def reach), but the other 11 players were hitters. The manager in question wound up taking Corey Hart and Chris Young. Which was very interesting, as if you go back to his rounds 3/4 picks when he took pitchers, the first 41 picks before he went were so hitter-centric that few big consistent bats were left (The first 5 bats taken after his pitchers went were Rios, Hunter, Russel Martin, Magglio and Markakis). I think Young and Hart as a tandem compare favorably to any pair of those five, and now he has Webb/Haren to anchor his rotation. And he clearly had this strategy in mind, thus his picks of the two biggest masher on the board in his first two picks, to hedge against his weakened offense due to taking Webb/Haren.

A lot of detail I know, but having done dozens and dozens of snake drafts over the past several years, it was fascinating to see something so different go down. I have been a "hitters for my first 6 picks at least" guy for a couple years now, I wouldn't even consider a pitcher unless someone REALLY fell. I have pick 14 in my work league in a week, made up of similar owners. I am considering this strategy. The obvious risk is that if no one bites on the run, you will face your round 5/6 picks with a very thin crop of hitters, perhaps forcing value picks of more pitchers, and putting you a large offensive hole.

The upside is getting two anchors for your rotation, then being able to go hitters for the next several rounds before going back to pitchers (he wound up with Snell, Cain, Wainright to round out his rotation, with Unit on his bench).

Anyone else seen anything like this? It did make things more fun I have to say. One of the owners uses Rotolab, and he is projected for 98 roto points, 5 more than the second highest projectsion, 9 more than third. Obviously just projections, but preliminarily looks like he has a great team.
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Re: Starting an early run on starters (long)

Postby AcidRock23 » Tue Mar 11, 2008 5:14 pm

Perhaps it is more a defensive type of reflex? "It's ok for me to waste a pick on a starter b/c he just didn't pick a hitter' than a recognition of 'value' in the starters chosen?
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Re: Starting an early run on starters (long)

Postby BronXBombers51 » Tue Mar 11, 2008 5:17 pm

Interesting story. If I were in the draft, I would have tried to take advantage of the hitters that were dropping. And I wouldn't intentionally try to start a run, because you'll only end up screwing your own team. If you make a value pick and it happens to start a run, so be it. But I wouldn't ever TRY to start one. And I always try to find the valuable player who is dropping during a run.
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Re: Starting an early run on starters (long)

Postby chipper » Tue Mar 11, 2008 8:18 pm

I started a thread a while ago about rounds 3 and 4 when you have one of the later picks (it was on a 12 team league though).
The basic premise, was that the available bats in rounds 3 and 4 (when you have that late pick) seemed kinda rough, and many times I would just end up reaching a little anyways and grabbing another OF.

So it's interesting to hear this strategy and how it worked out. Seems to me like he got pretty much the same bats in round 5 & 6 as he would have in rounds 3 & 4, had he gone offense only. (This strategy may bank on being ok with taking OF with your 5 & 6 picks, since that's what seems to be the best value there.)

I also think this only really works well when you have bookend or close to bookend picks. That way you can lock up the 2 bats you want, and then the 2 pitchers you want. It's also a little more dramatic when the pitchers go that close together, seems like it would make more of an impact and possibly start a run.
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Re: Starting an early run on starters (long)

Postby duckbillgates » Tue Mar 11, 2008 9:13 pm

I've pulled off sparking a closer run to great success, but I think it does hinge on you having those bookend picks.

Basically, if you hit an area where no top bats have fallen through the cracks and you're looking at bunch of hitters of a similar tier, you can go back-to-back pitching. It works. Hearing two pitchers called out in a row puts the fear into people that they better address their own pitching.

Typically, enough will bite that you can get comparable bats by the time things get back to you ... and you've got a nice anchor for your staff.

It's risky, but mind games are part of what makes live drafts so much fun!
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Re: Starting an early run on starters (long)

Postby IrishSox » Tue Mar 11, 2008 9:23 pm

People make good points. Definately a high risk strategy, as if a run hadn't started he would have been in a very tough situation in the next rounds.

At that point in the draft though it wasn't like people were bypassing utter studs. Of the first 41 picks, 38 were hitters.

Here are the hitters picked in the midst of the SP run, and those that went in round 5, the round after the run (note: this is an OBP league, so BA studs are devalued)

Ichiro
Jeter
Tulo
Rios
Hunter
Martin
Figgins
Cano
Mags
Wells
Swisher
Byrnes
Pence
Mauer


If two stud hitters had been there at his swing picks, I would say 100% it was a bad move. But pick any two from that list, and I think his picks (Hart and Chris Young) compare favorably, with the combo of Webb and Haren making up for any deficiency.

The risk, as stated above, is what if a run hadn't started. If less SPs had gone between his 4th and 5th round picks, Hart and Young may have been gone. Too many variables to guess who he would have wound up with, but his offense would be in trouble regardless.

I think to have enough of a chance of success to warrant attempting, this "strategy" would need several things:

-14 teams minimum (putting the pressure on all teams to fill out a full staft of SPs)
-have the 14th picks so you have the back to back picks. if, for example, 13 tried this strategy, it could be ruined by team 14 taking hitters. Team 14, by going ace/ace, puts a lot of pressure on team 13 to take a pitcher. Seeing two straight top pitchers gone, if he goes w/ a bat he will face the prospect of 26 picks before he goes again. he already has 3 bats at this point, he'd have to be dedicated to the hitter focus not to buckle;
-VERY hitter-centric rounds 1-3. If 6+ pitchers go in those rounds, half the rosters will have SPs, so they would likely go bat no matter what in round 4, killing the run;

The psychology is fascinating. Team 13 took a lot of time on his picks. He already had Soriano, Sizemore, Atkins, so you know he was thinking over what to do. Then, if he bites, team 12 faces even more pressure.

Just something else to consider. I am going to wait and see where my draft goes, but if round 3/4 rolls around and my best offensive options are Rios, Hunter, Ichiro (again, OBP league, his value is deflated), I may give this some thought.
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Re: Starting an early run on starters (long)

Postby duckbillgates » Tue Mar 11, 2008 9:29 pm

IrishSox wrote:I am going to wait and see where my draft goes, but if round 3/4 rolls around and my best offensive options are Rios, Hunter, Ichiro (again, OBP league, his value is deflated), I may give this some thought.


This is the right mentality. You cannot go into the draft planning to do this in the third round or fourth round or whatever. You just have to recognize it if the opportunity presents itself. And you have to realize it can backfire, which is part of what makes it fun when it works.
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Re: Starting an early run on starters (long)

Postby bleach168 » Tue Mar 11, 2008 9:41 pm

After Santana and Peavy are off the board, the next tier of pitching gets really cloudy. You have 5-8 pitchers who are seemingly interchangeable. I can definately see how someone taking 2 of those pitchers would cause the others to go in a panic over the 3-5 remaining aces.

As long as you snag a guy you feel is in the same tier as Webb and Haren, you're fine. That's why it helps to be situated with the middle picks. If you're on the ends, you're pretty much relagated to missing runs entirely or starting runs (which as bronx stated isn't very worthwhile).
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Re: Starting an early run on starters (long)

Postby AKhomebrewer » Wed Mar 12, 2008 2:34 am

Irish;
As Chipper noted, and as you analyzed in your own follow-up post, this league-mate of yours ran into the perfect combination of circumstances to pull this off.
-Most of the true 'stud' hitters were gone;
-Nearly every team was still without an ace;
-He had the bookend picks to force the issue by taking not one, but two, aces off the board.

If you somehow find yourself with this combination of factors, a run-starting ploy becomes relatively high-percentage (though risk always remains in any draft).

Still, while I may have inadvertently started a couple runs during my years of drafting, I generally hold to BronxBomber's view:
If you make a value pick and it happens to start a run, so be it. ... I always try to find the valuable player who is dropping during a run.
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