H2H Draft Strategy Discussion: Punting Power
A friend of mine is the commissioner of a 10-team H2H keeper league that had four teams leave the league this year. He asked me if I would take over one of the teams, so I said sure. All of the players on the four vacated teams were put into a pool for the new teams to draft their keepers from. The player pool was not that bad, probably slightly below average, and it did contain Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout. I, unfortunately, got the fourth pick in the draft and didn’t have a chance at either of the top two guys.
The six guys I ended up with:
I didn’t like my last two keepers, so I set out to make a couple of deals before the keeper deadline. I was able to make two trades, giving up slight draft pick compensation in two places, to replace my last two keepers with Jean Segura and Max Scherzer. I was pretty happy with the value I got and felt that I now had an above average first six for this year. I was not happy, however, with keeping three pitchers and two players who’s value is predicated heavily on speed. I decided that, since this is a H2H league, it is probably better to be strong or elite in 6-8 categories and weak in the others than to be just above average in all ten categories — A team elite in 6-8 categories will likely have the overall edge against the balanced teams and should clearly have an edge against the weaker teams. I decided to employ a strategy that I have never attempted before, to eschew the power categories (HR and RBI) to attempt to be really strong in the other eight categories. I have ran some calculations and it appears that, according to my projections, I should be able to draft a team that projects to be in the top-2 in at least seven categories and probably eight as long as my targets for runs scored don’t get sniped.
My draft strategy:
1. Continue to build an elite pitching staff.
2. Target hitters who are strong in both SB and AVG, and look for these types of players who hit towards the top of the lineup.
3. Take at least two really strong closers and shoot for three if possible.
4. Don’t be afraid to “reach”. Since I am drafting for different categories, it is very important that I get most of my targets.
How this strategy effects positional scarcity:
An owner can build a team that is dominant in stolen bases with five or six roster spots, but to be strong in runs and average, it is important that none of your players are too weak in these areas.
Catcher: Since no catchers add much value on the base paths, it is important to find a catcher that will score a good amount of runs and hit for a decent average.
Joe Mauer – Mauer is amazing for this strategy as he should be elite in R and AVG among catchers. Unfortunately Mauer was kept, so I had to look elsewhere.
Yadier Molina and Buster Posey were also kept, so my options were fairly thin at catcher. Salvador Perez might be a decent option to stabilize my batting average, but he won’t help too much in runs scored. There really isn’t a lot to like here, so did not prioritize any specific catcher very high on my list of needs.
First Base/Corner IF: Again, not a lot of speed here, so my targets are going to be guys like Eric Hosmer and Brandon Belt who should hit for solid averages and score a fair amount of runs.
Second Base: Almost all of Jose Altuve’s 5×5 value is tied to the three categories I am targeting, so he is a fantastic target — Altuve is actually valued as my number one second baseman for this strategy. Daniel Murphy and Omar Infante are also good contingency plans for this position or for my middle infield slot.
Third Base: Aside from some of the top names who were already kept, third base is a wasteland for this strategy. The only target on my list is Matt Carpenter. Carpenter doesn’t steal bases, but he should hit for a high average and get on base a lot, leading to a lot of runs scored hitting atop a strong Cardinals lineup. Chris Johnson was my contingency plan if I didn’t get Carpenter.
Middle Infield: In addition to Daniel Murphy and Omar Infante, Brad Miller was a big target of mine for this slot. Derek Jeter also has a lot of upside in R and AVG for what it will likely cost to get him.
Outfield: Here is where we make up ground. There are plenty of outfielders that hit near the top of a lineup, have speed and figure to hit for decent to plus batting averages. My values have both Ben Revere and Norichika Aoki as top-7 outfielders for this strategy, so obviously these are two of my must have players. Players like Billy Hamilton, Eric Young Jr. and Rajai Davis also grade out very high, but I think I can win SB nearly every week without these players and since they are more likely to hurt my batting average, procuring these players is more of an option than a necessity. A few other potential targets include Adam Eaton, Nick Markakis, Kole Calhoun, Carl Crawford and Denard Span.
*Note that Joey Votto, Dustin Pedroia and Shin-Soo Choo are all fantastic for this strategy, but were all kept.
Must have hitters for this strategy:
1. Ben Revere
2. Norichika Aoki
3. Matt Carpenter
R1(61): Eric Hosmer
R2(80): Matt Cain
R3(85): Jose Altuve
R5(100): Jordan Zimmermann
R6(112): Wilin Rosario – Most of the players I though would be here with this pick were gone, so I decided to take Rosario, who I think is a tremendous value here in 5×5 leagues. Rosario isn’t bad for this strategy, but my hope is that I will be able to trade him in a deal for Mauer, Posey or Molina at some point.
R6(120): Aroldis Chapman – Since this is a H2H league, it matters less that he is on the DL to start the year. I am hoping he will be a top-3 closer down the stretch and in the fantasy playoffs.
R8(136): Danny Salazar
R8(140): Glen Perkins
R9(141): Sonny Gray
R10(160): Norichika Aoki
R11(161): Johnny Cueto
R12(180): Steve Cishek
R13(181): Ben Revere
R14(200): Brad Miller
R15(201): Jim Henderson
R16(220): Nick Markakis
R17(221): Christian Yelich
R18(240): David Freese – I missed out on Carpenter and missed out on Chris Johnson, so I had so scramble here. He should be decent when healthy, but I clearly need to make a trade.
R19(241): Denard Span
I need to make a trade for a better third baseman, ideally Matt Carpenter. I should probably look to move Fielder as well for a player more suited for this strategy. Aside from that, I think my team looks pretty good. I felt that I got very good value on all of my starting pitchers, my relief pitching looks strong, I didn’t take on too much batting average risk, have plenty of speed and should be above average in runs scored right now.
R: 1073 (3rd)
HR: 166 (10th)
RBI: 852 (10th)
SB: 242 (1st)
AVG: .283 (1st)
Pitching (Using just my projections for my top-8 starters and top-3 closers because that last slot will be used as a streaming spot for most teams).
K: 1757 (1st)
W: 121 (1st)
SV: 116 (3rd)
ERA: 3.19 (1st)
WHIP: 1.14 (1st)
According to my projections, I should be the favorite to be the strongest in six different categories, while also remaining top-3 in runs and saves. And, to nobody’s surprise, I project to finish last in home runs and RBI.
I like my team quite a lot and think that it has a chance to be very dangerous, especially if I can make a couple of trades to translate my residual value in home runs and RBI into value in the other eight categories. There is always risk in building a team around strong pitching — luck and injuries tend to impact pitchers more than hitters — but, if my pitching staff can produce like I think it can, then I really like my chances.