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.