Can You Wait On Pitching?
On Sunday night on Livin' the Fantasy on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio, we did a mock draft. Given that I've done so many mock drafts, an it gets old dominating every time (I'm so modest), I thought I would change things up an implement a crazy plan to see if I could do something highly unconventional (to say the least), and still put together a squad to be feared. Before I get to how my team turned out, here are the rules.
5x5 scoring Mixed League 12 teams Hitters: C, C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, MI, CI, OF, OF, OF, OF, OF, UT Pitcher: Any nine
Drafting out of the nine hole, I decided to see what would happen if I started out taking 5-straight outfielders. Check out the powerhouse outfield I was able to assemble in the first five rounds, it's as impressive a unit as you'll come across – Carlos Gonzalez, Andrew McCutchen, Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton and Shane Victorino. Down Crawford for his poor performance in 2011, and Upton for his poor batting average, but that's as dynamic a group of five outfielders you could possibly assemble. All five men are going 15/15 in 2012 if they are healthy, and it's possible, even if not probable, that all five could go 20/20.
You're saying to yourself – well that's great Ray but your team is going to stink since you took this tact at the draft table. My reply is hogwash. Let's take a look at my offensive squad.
C: Yadier Molina, Chris Iannetta 1B: Mark Reynolds 2B: Howie Kendrick 3B: Pablo Sandoval MI/CI: Daniel Murphy, Martin Prado OF: Carlos Gonzalez, Andrew McCutchen, Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton, Shane Victorino UT: Alex Rios
I have a couple of average killers in Upton, Reynolds an Iannetta, but I was able to add Prado who should bounce back to hit .300 (see his Player Profile) and Daniel Murphy (see his Player Profile) to help offset those guys (not to mention .300 types like Sandoval, Kendrick and CarGo that I also rostered). I've also got positional flexibility with the following guys qualifying in at least two spots: Reynolds, Kendrick, Murphy and Prado. I really like this unit, and if a guy like Alex Rios bounces back like I hope/expect (see his Player Profile) then this unit will be terrific.
OK, so my offense rocked, but what about my pitching? This is where PART II of my plan came into being. Not only did I take five outfielders with my first five picks, I waited until the 14th round to take my first pitcher (I took my last offensive player, my second catcher, in round 23, but from rounds 14-22 it was pitcher-rama). So my staff must be awful waiting that long to grab arms right? You be the judge.
Brandon Morrow Ryan Madson Cory Luebke Kenley Jansen Joe Nathan Ryan Dempster Frank Francisco Ricky Nolasco Bud Norris
OK my ratios may not be great, but I three closers (Madson, Nathan and Francisco) who could give me 90 saves. I also grabbed Jansen who might be one of the five most electric pitchers in baseball. If he closes 30 saves will happen. If he serves as a setup man in Los Angeles he might lead all relievers in baseball in strikeouts. Either way, this is an impressive foursome out of the bullpen (since I waited so long on starters I thought it would make sense to try and build a strong group of relievers to challenge for the lead in saves and to also help keep my ratios in check).
As for my starters, again, their ratios may not impress. But I ask you this – how many other teams in the league have five starters who appear to be well on their way to at least 150 strikeouts? Look at these strikeout totals from last year: Morrow (203), Dempster (191), Luebke (154 in 139.2 IP), Nolasco (148) and Norris (176). Remember that I didn't take a single hurler until the 14th round. I'll take a staff with power arms like this almost every day of the week.
Could a team like this, heck could this team, win a championship? I certainly think it could. I also hope that this little off kilter operation will help to point out that you don't have to, no matter what anyone says, jump into the pitcher hopper early in drafts (in this draft pitchers went way too early with seven taken in the first 28 picks). Remember, I would still, in an actual draft, have six or seven bench rounds to bolster my pitching staff, and that opportunity to build more depth would certainly provide me plenty of chances to grab some arms that could bring me solid performances in 2012. It may have not come about in a conventional manner, but I like the way this squad turned out. What about you?
By Ray Flowers
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The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Fri 7-10 PM EDT), Ray also hosts his own show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.
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