Alphabet Soup League Draft 2011

March 9, 2011

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My fantasy baseball draft is underway.  You may remember that it’s a bit of an oddball league.  The main rule is that you can only play one guy for each letter of the alphabet.  The draft consists of ten rounds, with each owner being assigned a group of letters for each round (no duplicates, everyone has a unique group).

This does tend to turn normal strategy on its head, as you may be forced to wait on certain positions.  For example, the good catchers bunch up in the Ms.  I don’t have M until the eighth round.

How has the draft unfolded for me so far?

1st round (B and V) – Justin Verlander has won a total of 37 games the past two seasons, with 488 strikeouts and an ERA around 3.40 during that stretch.  He’s the clear choice.  I could chase reigning MVP Joey Votto, but first basemen with good bats aren’t hard to find.

B was a bit different.  Lots of good players within this letter.  Ryan Braun and Jay Bruce are some big bats, and Beckett, Buchholz, and Bumgarner are guys who could rack up a lot of wins.  In the end, it came down to a choice between one hitter and one pitcher.  The pitcher was Padres closer Heath Bell, and the hitter was … Florida catcher John Buck.  Why Buck?  Because the good catcher letters are very late for me.  A bird in the hand, perhaps?  In the end, I go with Bell.

2nd round (L, O/I) – Evan “Gabby” Longoria was already off the board, so this came down to a choice between Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee.  Very comparable players from a statisticts perspective, but Lincecum gets more strikeouts, and he’s my pick.

I is a really shallow letter, and thus gets combined with O to make a decent letter grouping.  Lurking in this group was Rockies catch Chris Iannetta.  Iannetta has 25 homers in his last 477 at bats.  The only bad thing is that those at bats are split over two years.  If the Rockies stick with him for the whole year, he can produce.  He also walks enough to partially offset a bad batting average (we count OBP rather than BA).  Iannetta is the reason I passed on John Buck – I was confident that the person who had O/I in the first round would go after Roy Oswalt.

3rd round (H, A) – Roy Halladay and Felix Hernandex are off the board at this point.  Guys like Haren, Harden, Hamels, Hudson, and Hughes are available … but with two aces on the staff already, this is a good time to go for a bat.  I look around to see if anyone makes sense from the perspective of positional scarcity.  Bill Hall (2B) or J.J Hardy (SS)?  Nah, not enough value to pass up the thunder bats.  I’m looking for a guy who can help me in all the categories, across the board.  My guy is Matt Holliday.

There are some solid pitching candidates in the As, but nobody who is really elite.  At the opening of the draft, the two guys I had coveted in the As were Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus and Pirates 3B Pedro Alvarez.  Of the two, I much preferred Andrus due to positional scarcity at shortstop.  Alvarez his 16 homers in 347 at bats as a rookie, and knocked in 64 RBI in that time.  Extrapolate to 500 at bats, and this would be 23 homers and 92 RBI … assuming no improvement.

Where we stand – I definitely need to grab a shortstop and second baseman before the good ones are gone.  Outfielders and first basemen are a dime a dozen and I can pick some up later.  I’d also like to grab another catcher, just in case Iannetta struggles.  On the pitching side, I’ll likely end up with 2-3 closers and the rest starters.  We have nine pitchers active each week, and I can tweak the lineup to have all the closer active when I’m facing a team with multiple closers, and just one active when I face a team that doesn’t have a closer (which should enable me to win the saves category while still having 8 pitchers racking up wins for me as starters).

I still need a team name.  I go with something different every year.  Last year was the Youra Peeins.

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