Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Your first selection sets you up for the rest of your season and should be a franchise, super elite player who can only be stopped by unforeseen injury. He should be a slam dunk choice and a potential 3-4-5 player (.300BA/.400OBP/.500SLG%). A guy you can build your team around in your philosophy. The first rounds I am about to lay out are based on a cross section of information: RPV, age, health, situation and league type. Here are the first rounds from The Fantasy Baseball Black Book '14 based on these factors for 3 different formats in 2014:

(12 Team Mixed League with 5 OF/CINF/MINF/DH; based in ROTO RPV)
1. Mike Trout +65% ROTO RPV
2. Miguel Cavrera +57% RPV
3. Andrew McCutchen +40% 
4. Ryan Braun +37% 
5. Paul Goldschmidt 37%
6. Hanley Ramirez +52% 
7. Robinson Cano +33
8. Troy Tulowitzki +46%
9. Carlos Gonzalez +37%
10. Jacoby Ellsbury +33%
11. Adam Jones +33%
12. Joey Votto +27%

Ryan Braun is a viable #3 overall pick.
The 30/30 potential is still there.
Trout obviously takes the #1 spot in roto drafts based off his speed/power combination and the number of active outfielders in this format. Cabrera boasts a whopping +57% RPV in this league structure and is still incredibly valuable. One thing to keep in mind; it's easier nowadays to find 30 stolen bases than 40+ homeruns (only Chris Davis topped 40 besides Miggy last year). You can still make an argument based on your philosophy that Cabrera is the #1 guy; especially considering his new 1B eligibility gives you big draft flexibility as an added bonus. 

Guys who offer across the board production are what you want in roto and McCutchen, Braun and Goldschmidt fit the bill. “Cucth” gets the edge over Braun just because he is the "safer" option after a year of turmoil and PED suspensions. I will say this much, I believe Braun to be the better player and he has two 30/30 seasons to his name. McCuctchen has none. If I were in a league for pride and not cash, I would take my chance with Braun at #3 overall. Money on the line, I sway to the safe option. The 5x5 roto format normally fields 5 active outfielders, so the elite ones must be accounted for early and often. That is why as great as Goldschmidt is, I take the OF over him. He remains a great young power/speed combo at 1B and any speed is rare at that spot. Still, he has had one good season and one monstrous one. I am bidding on him settling in between.

Hanley Ramirez is an enigma, but considering shortstop's lack of punch you have to be willing to go all in. He is playing for a contract and that is always a good thing. If you want to play it safe then flip flop him and Cano. The downgrade of the top second baseman is grossly overrated in my opinion. Yes, he is going to a tougher ballpark and yes he has big contract pressure (which is something I typically would shy away from). However, the position is very poor from a power standpoint and even if he loses 3-5 homers he could still be at the top of the position. I also think getting out of New York may be more of a relief to Cano who never seemed to fit comfortably there. Seattle could be just what he needs to become that MVP the Yankees always envisioned.  He is still the best 2B on the list by a wide margin.

Now it’s time to start taking some serious risks. The first round is not what it used to be, so you may have to take a stand if you want to compete. Troy Tulowitzki is an elite talent at an awful position, but his lack of durability is a major concern. His teammate Cargo could be a top five player in this format, but his constant injuries also keep him in the middle of the first round. Here is why I would roll the dice here with these two: first, you are guaranteed a very strong, reliable player in the returning second round (Adrian Beltre/Prince Fielder type). Secondly, if you pass on Tulo and Cargo, there is no way they make it back to you. Better to reach first then settle later with “safer” players when you are picking in the mid-late portion of the draft.
Steadiness is not a commodity to undervalue
and Adam Jones is a rock.

To round out the roto draft I would go with the best bet to steal 50 bases and Ellsbury should offer that with 100+runs and a strong batting average. I also believe he can approach 15 homers. That would make him a viable first rounder in roto. If you are looking to start off strong and steady, Adam Jones and Joey Votto are about as rock solid as it gets. Jones has really blossomed into a star with his .280BA/100R/30HR/100RBI/15SB baseline. Joey Votto used to hold Goldschmidt’s slot in the first round, but his power and speed have declined in recent years. He is still a premier corner infielder, just not a top 10 player in roto.
As you can see, I have no pitchers in the first round. The pitching pool is very deep this year and in roto formats brilliant pitching performances don’t go as far as they do in points leagues.  When dealing with categories, a starter’s value can be capped despite being dominant. There are no bonuses for complete games or shutouts. It is more about a strong staff than being top-heavy.

I know Chris Davis is also not on this list despite his incredible power performance in 2013. He needs to do it again for me before I give him first round credence. Fielder and Encarnacion have shown more consistent production, so I have Davis behind them as well. I have seen way to many big year breakouts, followed by disappointments to get wrapped up in the hype.

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