March 2012

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RotoAuthority Draft & ADP Analysis

The RotoAuthority draft was recently held, and you can find the draft results and reader votes for best draft here (my team is Men With Wood). My final pre-season ADP article will look at the RotoAuthority draft results and compare to ADP (courtesy of fantasypros.com):

Round One

  • Miguel Cabrera - His status was up in the air due to facial injuries when the draft was held, so he slipped to the third pick compared to his place at the top of the ADP board at 2.1. All indications are that he will be ready for Opening Day and is safe to draft with the top pick. "Ill Tempered SeaBass" had a nice third pick in the draft.
  • Carlos Gonzalez - The player with the lowest ADP at 16.8 (No. 19 highest ADP) taken in the first round at No. 10 overall. "Up" selected Gonzalez over Justin Upton, who went two slots later at No. 12 overall.  Although ADP favors Justin Upton (ADP of 14.5, which is the No. 14 highest ADP), Carlos Gonzalez has a higher batting average ceiling and may have more RBI opportunities hitting in Coors Field; Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster lists Upton at $27 and Gonzalez at $35.

Round Two

  • Carlos Santana - "Jeter's Gift Baskets" selected Santana at No. 20 compared to his ADP of 39.8. Although this may appear to be a massive reach, in two-catcher leagues catchers are drafted significantly higher than their ADP positions. Even in a deep catcher year, punting the position in two-catcher leagues is not a viable strategy. The run of starting pitchers began right after Santana was selected, but "Jeter's Gift Baskets" was able to round out his rotation late with Brandon McCarthy at No. 260 overall and Jeremy Hellickson at No. 197 overall.

Round Three

  • Felix Hernandez - As I discussed here, drafting an elite starter in the top rounds is an excellent idea because a 200-inning starter will have about 13% of your total innings (assuming 1500 inning limit) and a 600 at-bat hitter will have about 7% of your at-bats. I want to lock in 13% of my innings with quality stats since I have flexibility to find cumulative hitting statistics elsewhere, including by streaming at-bats. "Brewsterville Bruins" was in a perfect slot at No. 35 overall to grab whatever top-tier starting pitcher fell to the end of the third round.  In this case, that starter was King Felix (ADP of 28.6).

Round Four

  • David Wright - "Up" selected Wright at No. 39 overall compared to his 32.6 ADP, and this selection may pay significant dividends now that Wright has played in a Spring game and appears ready for Opening Day.
  • Ryan Zimmerman - "Francisco Scaramanga" drafted Zimmerman at No. 43 overall, a slight value compared to his 39.9 ADP. Given the sudden drop-off in quality at third base after the first few tiers, grabbing any third baseman at value in the first six rounds is advisable.
  • Michael Young - Although Young's selection by "Gramma Nutt Crushers" at No. 48 overall compared to 61.0 ADP may appear to be a reach, Young qualifies in Yahoo at first base, second base and third base, and he meets the multi-position eligibility target discussed here for streaming hitters in daily leagues with short benches.

Round Five

  • Zack Greinke - Although taking a second starter in Round 5 was not my plan entering the draft, when Greinke was available at No. 50 overall (46.9 ADP) after starters such as Jered Weaver and David Price had already been selected, I could not pass him up. He had the lowest SIERA in MLB among qualifying starters last year and, as I discussed here, is my pick to end up as a top-five starter.  He is also blowing away hitters in the Spring with an insane 28/2 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
  • Shin-Soo Choo - Tim Dierkes' "RobertCop" was concerned Choo would not fall to him in the sixth round and selected Choo No. 56 overall compared to 82.2 ADP. Choo is falling under many radar screens with owners forgetting he had back to back 20/20 with .300 batting average seasons in 2009 and 2010. Hopefully you are able to snag him a round or two later in drafts with owners that have forgotten how good a healthy Choo may be this year in his age-29 season.

Other Selections

  • Craig Kimbrel - The first closer -- Kimbrel -- was not selected until the first pick of the eighth round to "Depressed Fan" at No. 85 overall compared to 57.2 ADP. As I discussed here, do not start a closer run in your draft even if a closer is ranked as the highest remaining player on your draft sheet. Closers taken in Rounds 12 and 13 are just as likely to match Krimbrel's saves total given the random nature of the stat (Jason Motte at No. 144 overall; Brian Wilson at No. 149 overall; Jordan Walden at No. 151 overall; Sergio Santos at No. 152 overall). Having said that, if you are going to select Kimbrel, then No. 85 overall is the place to do it.
  • Sean Marshall - Tim Dierkes' "RobertCop" had one of the best picks of the draft with Marshall at No. 248 (compared to 247.0 ADP) after Ryan Madson was lost for the season. Taken in the 21st round, Marshall is a good example of the late-round flyer with big upside that owners should target. Rather than selecting a boring hitter in rounds 20+, take a high-upside hitter or starter or a setup man that is an injury away from shooting up in value but can still be easily released for a hot hitter during the season or kept to provide strong strikeout rates, and/or healthy ratio contributions.


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RotoAuthority Live Chat

Click below to read a transcript of tonight's live chat with RotoAuthority's Steve Adams.



Andrelton Simmons: The Surprise Shortstop

Everyone knew the Braves were going to go young at shortstop this season. Alex Gonzalez was allowed to walk as a free agent and although Jack Wilson was retained as veteran insurance, Atlanta was going to turn the most important position on the diamond over to a kid. Up until a few weeks ago, it was all but guaranteed that the job would go to 22-year-old Tyler Pastornicky. Instead, he's struggled badly in Spring Training - .220/.230/.237 in 59 at-bats - and is "obviously pressing" according to at least one observer. March stats don't mean much, but when you're a young kid trying to win a job, it helps to make a good impression.

While Pastornicky has been busy squeezing sap out of the bat, 22-year-old Andrelton Simmons has wowed the Braves coaching staff with his stellar glovework. He's barely outhitting Pastornicky ironically enough, putting together a .186/.271/.233 batting line in 43 exhibition at-bats. It hasn't mattered though, as there remains a strong sentiment around the team that Simmons should break camp as the starting shortstop despite never playing above High Class-A ball. He was a second round pick in 2010 and hit .311/.351/.408 during his pro debut with their Carolina League affiliate last season.

Baseball America ranked Simmons as the team's fourth best prospect earlier this offseason, saying he's an "aggressive hitter" who "knows the strike zone but doesn't walk much" in the subscriber-only scouting report. "He has bat speed and can turn on fastballs, but he won't have more than gap power," they added. "An average runner, he needs to improve his reads and jumps after getting thrown out 18 times in 44 basestealing attempts." Much like Freddy Galvis of the Phillies, Simmons doesn't have a typical fantasy profile but he can be a useful piece under the right circumstances.

Simmons has two things really going for him. One, he can steal bases. He swiped 26 bags last year and 18 (in 62 games) the year before. His reads need work as the Baseball America write-up said, meaning his stolen base total won't be much help if you're in a league that counts net steals (SB minus CS). Secondly, Simmons makes a ton of contact. He struck out in just 7.5% of his plate appearances in High-A last year, a ridiculously low percentage that's well below the league average even when considering his age relative to competition. The ability to make contact (or, inversely, not make contact) translates well across minor league levels and into the big leagues, and good things tend to happen when the ball is in play. Some BABIP love could have his batting average up around .280-.290, which is valuable when combined with 20+ steals.

The ZiPS projection system is quite a fan of Simmons. They estimate his current talent level at .274/.309/.348 with 21 steals given regular playing time, putting him on par with fellow middle infielders like Alcides Escobar (.270 AVG and 25 SB), Cliff Pennington (.252 and 23), and Jemile Weeks (.262 and 21). Again, not fantasy stars but rather useful pieces to fill out a roster or help you cope during an injury. Simmons doesn't even have the job yet and frankly is an inferior fantasy option to Pastornicky, who has produced at the higher levels and has a much longer track record, but he offers some sleeper potential for late-round batting average and stolen bases, particularly in deep mixed leagues or NL-only setups.



5 White Sox Horses Fell in the Mud

Esteemed colleague Dan Manella wrote briefly of the Chicago White Sox closer situation a week ago. It seems since to have muddied. After Sunday's 5-2 victory against the Giants, closed out by rookie Hector Santiago, the following quote surfaced (per the Chicago Sun-Times):

“He’s a possibility like all the others because he throws strikes and has all the stuff you like,’’ manager Robin Ventura said after the game. “Matt, Jesse and Addison have the same thing. And Will.’’

That's five candidates for the White Sox closer job. Here's pitching coach Don Cooper, from the same Sun-Times report:

“We’re looking at everybody,’’ Cooper said. “But nothing has been discussed about the finality of it all. Heck, I don’t know what we’re going to do. We haven’t spoken about it. Everybody is gathering information, watching games, watching guys pitch.’’

If Ventura and Cooper are to be believed, the competition, at this point, is wide open. Many have thought that Thornton is the favorite, and he may very well be, but Ventura and Cooper have yet to name him. Is all of this an elaborate smoke screen to obscure the preeminent Thornton? Unlikely. The White Sox don't yet know who will begin 2012 in the ninth, and fantasy owners should draft accordingly. So, dear readers, how best should we speculate?

According to an mlb.com report Monday, the rookies (Addison Reed and Hector Santiago) are legitimate possibilities:

"If we put someone out there in the ninth, a rookie, we believe in them," White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said. "That's enough for us."

On Sunday, GM Ken Williams said the following about Reed and Santiago (per the Chicago Tribune):

"You see Addison Reed locating his pitches and throwing stuff that's dropping off the table," Williams said. "You see Hector Santiago with guys walking back or seeing the first pitch he throws and saying, 'Holy cow, what was that?' And then he's backing it up with a 95-mph fastball on the (hitter's) hands. You see that.

"You see them locating (their pitches), and that's why I'm not worried about those guys."

Will Ohman doesn't seem like a legitimate candidate. Hector Santiago just entered the mix. Jesse Crain has been hurt. Addison Reed occurred first in the mind of Ken Williams, and he did again in the mind of Don Cooper on Sunday (Chicago Sun-Times):

“Addison, Santiago, Thornton, Crain, those are the guys we’re talking about, right?’’ Cooper said. “And, hey, you know what? Will Ohman got a [two-inning] save [Saturday], so don’t be surprised. Right now, they’re all still going. Ohman just made it a five-horse race.’’

Addison Reed is at the forefront of the GM and pitching coach's consideration. Ventura mentioned Thornton first. In my mind, it isn't a "five-horse race." It's between Reed and Thornton, and the smokescreen is to diffuse outright competition between the two. On March 22nd, Thornton relieved Reed. On the 25th, Reed relieved Thornton. The safer play is Thornton, as the White Sox could hope to move him at the deadline and insert Reed. But Williams won't concede the season, and the White Sox may decide to begin the Reed era in April. Reed, with his insane minor league statistics, is the upside play. Ideally, draft both and monitor the situation for the remainder of spring training.  

UPDATE: Another article yesterday from the Chicago Sun-Times giving Chris Sale's take on the White Sox closer situation. 


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RotoAuthority Silver League Draft Overview

The RotoAuthority Silver League held its draft on Friday night, and I came away convinced we're in for a long, competitive season. Now that I've patted myself and my leaguemates on the back, here are some of the highlights and lowlights of the night.

Round 1 
The first round opened with a chorus of boos when Albert Pujols went off the board. No, we weren't jealous, we've just got a lot of Cardinal spirit. Overall, the first round was as predictable as they come; the 12 players taken look like the consensus top players, and nobody did anything weird like take Cliff Lee third overall. Aren't public leagues great? ...

Round 2
The shock of the second round was that Roy Halladay lasted all the way back to King Fish 2.0 at the number one pick. Curtis Granderson lasted longer than expected, but there were no real head-scratchers. Where was that one guy that takes a prospect you've never heard of in the second round?

Round 3
The starters flew off the board in the third: seven were taken and three teams doubled up on top starters, a strategy which can pay off big but leave you with major holes too. All three teams are paying for their aces at one position or another. The first true reaches were made here, too. Pablo Sandoval and Brett Lawrie are good, but are they third-round good? The first three rounds still have the superstars and sure things (or close to it), that you should resist the urge to take someone just for their position.

Round 4
We had a head-scratcher in the fourth, when Ryan Zimmerman went. Nothing against Zimmerman, but he went to McRuder, the team who already had Lawrie. I always try to fill my CI spot with a first baseman--Eric Hosmer or Paul Konerko will probably hit better than Zim at a lower price. David Wright finally went, too; I think he's slipped all the way from overrated to underrated. Michael Bourn disappeared here, as well. Someone commented that he's not that different from Coco Crisp, and I tend to agree. That is a lot of steals, though, and The Playmakers could get the last laugh.

Round 5
I'm proud of us: we managed to hold on to our Starlin Castro-related enthusiasm until the fifth, which is lower than he'll be had in most leagues. There were shouts of, "Reach!" when Desmond Jennings went off the board, but in a five-outfielder league I see nothing wrong with McRuder's pick here. Craig Kimbrel kicked off closers for us, as in just about every league. Nothing wrong with him, but I've always believed in late quantity over early quality for closers. I also spend a lot of time scrambling for saves ...

Round 6-7
The Rally Beers made up for a panic-pick of Kevin Youkilis by getting great value for Alex Rodriguez in the sixth. A-Rod being the one player I allow myself to avoid for personal feelings (Mariners fan, I admit it), my team was a little worse for not having him. Sprit of St. Louis raised some eyebrows by taking Yu Darvish a little early -- five picks too early, to be precise, as he would have been my next pick. It was my turn for the heckling when I took Mark Reynolds. I probably could have had him later, but, as with Darvish, you feel a lot better getting the pick you want than waiting, only to see him land on someone else's team. Besides, batting average is a stupid category anyway ...

Rounds 8-10
The beginning of round eight saw two Monteros taken in a row and the next few closers go off the board. We somehow avoided a big closer run, though. Nobody stood out as an awesome value or major reach as the real grind of the draft began.

Rounds 11-13
Coco Crisp was good value in round 13, especially when compared to Brett Gardner and Bourn, taken four and nine rounds earlier. Carlos MarmolHuston Street and Rafael Betancourt seemed like good value in these rounds, partly because of their good numbers, but also because of how their teams went out of their way to make them closers or deal away their setup men All three probably have more job security than a lot of people think.

Rounds 14-16
JamesRiverTrout disappointed everyone else by pulling the trigger on Ryan Doumit. Apparently I wasn't the only one counting on him for my second catcher slot. Yoenis Cespedes could be the best or worst pick of the 14th. Mr. Perfect 56 went from getting a great deal on Ryan Madson to having to release him -- doubly bad because Sean Marshall was drafted onto another team. Saved me from suffering the same fate in the next round ...

Rounds 17-20
Adam Dunn is proving more popular than I'd expected, leaving the board in the 17th. The more I think about it, the more I like his chances to bounce back. Mark Trumbo went too, but I think he'll disappoint a lot of owners in a super-sub role for the Halos. If Johan Santana's spring is any indication, he might have been the steal of the draft here. In the 19th, I took a chance on Chase Utley. When I looked at the pick later I wondered--was that still too early? The final real closers went here, too, and there was no taking advantage of people that don't know who Jim Johnson is or that Kyle Farnsworth is good now.

Rounds 21-25
The end of the draft was full of setup men and second catchers. Three of us are fighting over Kansas City's saves; I grabbed Greg Holland but couldn't hedge my bet with Jonathan Broxton or Aaron Crow. Judging by the pitchers being taken relative to the hitters, I'd say the best thing you can do is to leave your last two or three starters for the final rounds. I'd much rather choose between Gavin Floyd and Edinson Volquez than Vernon Wells and Alex Presley.

Afterward
Normally, when I look through everybody else's teams after a draft there's one or two that I write off as not to worry about. (It's really embarrassing when one of those teams wins, I'll tell you.) I didn't see anything like that here. Maybe everybody else thinks that about my team. I

I'd wish everyone else luck, but.... 

 

 

 

 

 


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Ryan Madson Out For Season

Prior to last season, Ryan Madson teased fantasy owners as one of those relievers. He was clearly good enough to close, yet a couple ill-timed flareups in his limited save opps over the preceeding few years left him regrettably labled as incapable of "handling" the ninth, relegating him to seventh- and eighth-inning duties.

Though he was actually the Phils' third choice to close last season, Mad Dog got his chance to earn some saves when both Brad Lidge and Jose Contreras were injured, and he handled the gig with aplomb, setting himself up nicely for a foray into free agency.

After signing with the Reds this offseason, Madson was supposed to have been Cincinnati's undisputed full-time closer, but both parties have been dealt a cruel blow, as the right-hander will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery. It's unclear whether his $11MM mutual option for 2013 will be exercised, so Madson could find himself in a new uniform by the time he's ready to return, potentially concluding his Reds tenure without having thrown a pitch.

Left-hander Sean Marshall, also imported to Cincy's bullpen in the offseason, should now assume closing duties, and there's a lot to like about him from a fantasy perspective. Marshall is coming off two consecutive years of excellent work out of the Cubs' bullpen as a primary setup man to Carlos Marmol, posting sub-2.50 SIERAs in both. He boasts strong strikeout rates, induces lots of grounders and has solid control, a perfect cocktail for success.

Aroldis Chapman is nearly impossible to hit when he's not issuing free passes, so he can't be entirely ruled out as a closing candidate until the Reds confirm their plans, but considering he put up an ugly 7.38 BB/9 rate in 2011, I think it's safe to say he still has some work to do, and it's only fair to assume the Reds will afford him that opportunity somewhere other than the ninth inning. As well, the Reds had been tinkering with the idea of making Chapmania a starter this season, and although that now appears to be off, they might prefer to keep him in a role where he can more easily be stretched out for more than one inning if the situation calls for it.

So, if your league has already conducted its draft, nab Marshall from the wire yesterday if he's still there. He projects to be an excellent value as someone who could finish in the top half or even top third among closers by season's end. If you haven't yet drafted, stash Marshall away in the back end of your queue, and nab him toward the mid- or late-teen rounds. He'll likely go under the radar, as the default draft rankings will under rate him, and many of your leaguemates will either not know about his new promotion or will have forgotten during the drafting frenzy.

Whether you nab Marshall off your league's wire or buy him cheaply on draft day, he should be a relative bargain. It's a shame that it had to come at Madson's expense, but fantasy is a dirty business, and Mad Dog's injury has created a value opportunity for those who are hip on Marshall. Hopefully, Madson will be back in 2013, good as new.



Position/Role Battles: The Royals' Closer

Joakim Soria owners already suffered through a tough 2011 when the closer posted still-decent but disappointing numbers -- a 4.03 ERA, a 9.0 H/9 rate and a 1.27 WHIP, all career worsts.  Now, Soria owners have to go back to the drawing board for saves since Soria will undergo his second Tommy John surgery and miss the 2012 season.

If you're looking for a replacement for Soria or just want to find some cheap saves on the waiver wire, you may not need to look beyond the Royals' roster.  Here are the top candidates to take over as the stopper in Kansas City...

Jonathan Broxton: The former Dodgers closer was one of the game's top relievers from 2006 until July 2010, when his performance suddenly went off a cliff.  Broxton had a 2.11 ERA before the 2010 All-Star break and a 7.13 ERA after it, which cost him his closing job late in the season. Things didn't improve in 2011, as he only made 14 appearances before being shut down in May and undergoing arthroscopic elbow surgery in September. 

Broxton signed a one-year, $4MM contract with K.C. in November with the intention of proving that he was both healthy and once again effective, so as to earn a closer's job and a longer-term contract in the 2012-13 offseason. As it happens, Broxton could find his closing opportunity right now in the wake of Soria's injury. We sabermetric types may scoff at the idea of a "closer's mentality," but the fact that Broxton has experience finishing games (and excelled at the task as recently as two years ago) will surely factor into manager Ned Yost's decision. 

What could hurt Broxton's chances in the closing hunt, however, is that fact that the Royals were easing Broxton back into pitching, limiting his spring innings to make sure he was fully recovered from his elbow surgery.  The club might not want to risk taking Broxton from the kiddie pool right into the deep end of high-leverage closing situations until they're totally sure he's fit. 

Fantasy-wise, you should be thinking the same thing before picking Broxton for your roster.  He's worth a waiver pickup or a late draft pick now since the K.C. closer's job is still pending, but unless Yost comes out and declares Broxton is his man, you can safely leave him undrafted.  If he pitches well, however, pick him up in June or July; an in-form Broxton will draw heavy interest for closer-needy teams at the trade deadline, and you could be the early bird in getting an extra stopper for the second half of your season.

Greg Holland: The right-hander's first full Major League season saw him post a 1.80 ERA, a 44.9% ground ball rate, a 3.89 K/BB ratio and 74 strikeouts in 60 innings of work.  Holland may have flown under the radar of casual fans, but other teams certainly noticed, as the Blue Jays and other clubs showed trade interest in the 26-year-old.  It's safe to say that given Soria's injury situation, Holland isn't leaving Kansas City anytime soon. 

Holland was an unheralded draft pick (10th round selection in 2007) and while he's always racked up strikeouts in his pro career, 2011 was his only truly elite season at any level.  It may be too soon to anoint Holland as the next big thing amongst fantasy closers simply because we don't yet know if his 2011 self is his new norm, or if his true talent level is closer to his minor league career numbers --- a 3.48 ERA, a 2.35 K/BB, a 4.1 BB/9 and a 1.29 WHIP.  Holland certainly has a lot of upside and is worth a late draft pick regardless of Yost's decision, as if he replicates his 2011 numbers, he can help your staff ERA and strikeout totals even if he doesn't get saves. (And if your league tracks holds, he's a must-have.)

Aaron Crow: If Dan Quisenberry and Jeff Montgomery are the Washington and Lincoln of Kansas City bullpen lore, Crow is David Rice Atchison.  Technically, Crow is an ex-Royals closer.  He won the job last May after Soria was demoted, but Soria pitched well in his next couple of outings and regained the job before Crow had even gotten one save opportunity.

Taken ninth overall in the 2008 draft by the Nationals, Crow didn't sign and re-entered the draft pool the next year, this time going to the Royals with the 12th overall pick.  His first year in the Royals' system went poorly, as Crow posted a combined 5.73 ERA in 29 starts at high-A ball and Double-A.  The Royals' solution to the problem was to convert Crow to relief pitching and the results were impressive, as Crow posted a 2.76 ERA and a 2.10 K/BB rate and even made the AL All-Star team.

The Royals toyed with the idea of converting Crow back into a starter this winter, but it looks like he'll remain in the bullpen for the time being. Crow becoming the team's closer is, frankly, a long shot --- both Broxton and Holland would have to struggle badly, get injured or get traded for Crow to get a crack at the job, and even if he did actually get a save opportunity this time, there's no guaranteed as to whether he'd be effective. Crow has a good but not great 2011 season, and in fact faded badly down the stretch in August and September. Whereas with Broxton we'll see if he can regain greatness, or if Holland can sustain greatness, with Crow we're still wondering if he has greatness in him at all.

Fantasy outlook: If I had to guess what will happen in Kansas City, I would say that Holland will start the year as closer while the club makes sure Broxton is fully healthy.  If Holland is performing well in the role, then he'll keep the job, Broxton becomes the setup man and the Royals could be no worse for wear at the back of their bullpen in Soria's absence.  If Holland struggles, however, Broxton would get the nod to finish games. The Broxton trade scenario I mentioned earlier could become even likelier should Broxton already be earning saves by the trade deadline, which would then open the door for Holland or even Crow to get chance to close if Broxton is dealt.

What this means is, Holland is your best fantasy bet for the time being.  He has all the tools to be a closer or at least a closer-in-waiting.  Under almost any scenario, he will be in line for save opportunities at some point this season. 

Also, the Soria situation is another reminder that you should always try to schedule your draft as close as possible to Opening Day.  You never know what injuries may crop up during Spring Training.  If you held your draft in early March and felt pretty good about your closing corps of Soria and Reds stopper Ryan Madson, Chris Carpenter in your rotation, Salvador Perez as your catcher, Chase Utley as your second baseman and Carlos Quentin in your outfield, then you have my apologies.



Online Draft Sleepers in Yahoo & ESPN Leagues - Pitchers

Last week I looked at hitters from free fantasy baseball providers Yahoo & ESPN that are default ranked too low by these websites and could provide draft bargains since they will not appear near the top of the list of available players sorted by default ranking. This week I will look at pitchers who fall into these categories.

In your live online draft, you may panic when you realize your time is down to 30 seconds ... 20 seconds ... 10 seconds to make your pick, and you are frantically searching for a player to draft before you get stuck with the dreaded autopick. Rather than fall into the trap of taking the highest default-ranked player remaining, have some hidden jems stored in your "queue" to take late in a draft instead of relying on the website's default rankings.

The hidden jems provide an advantage compared to owners that after the first 15 rounds get lazy and take one of the top default ranked remaining players rather than searching throughout the website's default rankings. A good strategy is to identify players that are buried in the default rankings that may slip through the cracks of online drafts. You should then place these players in your "queue" to avoid forgetting about them. In the recent RotoAuthority draft (my team is Men With Wood), I loaded up my "queue" with hidden jems buried in Yahoo's default rankings immediately after entering the live draft.

Starting Pitchers

  • ESPN -
    • Yu Darvish (123, compared to 87 on Yahoo and 84th selection in RotoAuthority draft ... Potential to start strong as hitters are not familiar with him and name recognition provides excellent trading opportunities.
    • Jhoulys Chacin (230, compared to 201 on Yahoo ... Taken at 235 in the RotoAuthority draft)
    • Derek Holland (242, compared to 204 on Yahoo)
    • Trevor Cahill (268)
    • Johan Santana (309 ... Drafted at 214 in RotoAuthority draft)
    • Ryan Vogelsong (311)
    • Juan Nicasio (365 ... Drafted at 304 in RotoAuthority draft)
    • Chris Capuano (386)

Relief Pitchers


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RotoAuthority Live Chat

Click below to read a transcript of tonight's fantasy baseball chat with Steve Adams.

 



Utley's Injury Opens The Door For Freddy Galvis

Middle infielders are prone to sharp declines, particularly second baseman after years of turning the blind double play pivot at the bag. Roberto Alomar and countless others fell off a cliff without warning, and now injuries are taking a toll on Chase Utley. The 33-year-old missed 43 games with a thumb issue in 2010 and 45 games with a knee issue in 2011, and chances are he'll open this season on the DL with knee problems as well. Here's what GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhiladelphia. com...

“He hasn’t been felling all that great,” Amaro said. “He hasn’t gotten to the point where he feels confident enough to get on the field without making it worse.”
 
“I would think it’s doubtful that [Utley] would be prepared to play second base for us opening day,” Amaro said. “We’re trying to hit it with a couple of different things to get him over the hump."

Assuming Utley has to start the season on the shelf, 22-year-old Freddy Galvis is almost certain to open 2012 as the club's everyday second baseman. Utility man Michael Martinez recently broke a bone in his foot as well, giving Galvis a little more security. The Phillies are reportedly looking for some infield depth, but the job appears to be his for now.

Baseball America ranked Galvis as Philadelphia's sixth best prospect in their 2012 Prospect Handbook, but unfortunately for fantasy owners, it wasn't because of his offense. "Galvis is arguably the best defensive shortstop in the minors," wrote the publication. "He has plus range despite fringy pure speed, and he also has excellent hands, an above-average arm and incredible instincts ... A switch-hitter who sprays the line drives, Galvis makes consistent contact but will never hit for much power."

Defense and injuries will keep Galvis in the lineup, but he does have something to offer fantasy owners: stolen bases. He stolen 23 bags in 137 games split between Double- and Triple-A last season, a year after swiping 15 in 138 Double-A games. The Phillies didn't emphasize the running game as much last year after losing first base coach and baserunning guru Davey Lopes to the Dodgers, but with Utley and Ryan Howard hurt to start the season, speed figures to become a bigger part of their offense. Batting eighth ahead of the pitcher will boost Galvis' on-base percentage just a bit (via intentional walks), which should then boost his stolen base total.

Dan Syzmborski's ZiPS projection system expects a .261 average with 19 steals out of Galvis given regular playing time, putting him in a class with guys like Jemile Weeks (.267 and 21), Dexter Fowler (.264 and 18), and Lorenzo Cain (.259 and 17). Not a star player, but a decent fantasy option to fill out your roster in case of injury or in a particularly deep mixed league/NL-only setup. Galvis figures to pick up both second base and shortstop eligibility, and the extra bit of flexibility is appreciated. Utley's injury is going to hurt the Phillies and fantasy owners alike, but Galvis is a useful piece that could contribute more than expected with just a little BABIP love.





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