Drafting Pitchers: A Risky Business!
While you’re spending time over the next few weeks drooling over previous year’s statistics, meticulously planning out your draft strategy and asking yourself ‘what went wrong last season?’ I want you to mull over the following draft advice.
There are 30 teams in the MLB and each team carries about 12-13 pitchers. In a standard 5×5 Roto league or an h2h league, about 6 or 7 of those pitchers have a realistic possibility of earning a spot on a fantasy roster. That’s 180 pitchers, right? If even a quarter of these pitchers have fantasy value then there are 60 plus pitchers who are available to you in the draft. Conversely, there are only a few SS who have a chance to produce in 4 or more of your offensive categories. The same issue exists at 3B. Only a handful of players can guarantee you the stats you need to compete year in and year out in your coveted Fantasy Baseball Pool. So, ask yourself: ‘Why am I drafting a pitcher in the first 5 rounds?’
I know, I know… Roy Halladay isn’t human and you’ve enjoyed watching him even when he was dominating in a Blue Jays uniform. Bla bla bla, nice story, I get it. Yes, Halladay is arguably one of the best pitchers the game has ever seen, but when you drafted him Dustin Pedroia, Evan Longoria and Jose Reyes were still on the board; rookie mistake.
Nibble on this for a moment. In what round did these pitchers go last year? James Shields, Ian Kennedy, Justin Verlander and Ivan Nova: not in the top 5 rounds! You don’t need to take pitchers early in the draft to end up with some all-star pitching studs. Or maybe even a Cy Young winner.
Pitchers are usually unpredictable. The win category for instance has as much to do with the team a pitcher plays for as it does the pitchers skill level. Not to mention pitchers have a much higher chance of succumbing to season (sometimes career) ending injuries. For example how many people picked Adam Wainrwight or Josh Johnson in the first 5 rounds in last year’s draft? Meanwhile, back in ‘Sure-Thing-Land’ I added Ian Kinsler and Adrian Gonzalez to my team. There’s no other position in baseball that demands as much unnatural mechanical exertion as the pitching position. No wonder they get injured more often. On the other hand, position players are less likely to suffer injuries that cause them to have to hang up the cleats for an entire season, in fact you can usually count them on 1 hand.
So don’t take the chance early in the draft when instead, you can attempt to wrap up the likes of Miggie, Joey Bats and Jacoby ( I don’t have nickname ) Ellsbury.
If you heed this advice you will begin your draft on a solid foundation and still be rewarded with a slew of pitchers that will be good enough to help you compete for pitching categories. Here are a few pitchers that you will likely be able to add after the first 5 rounds of your draft. Keep in mind at this point you already have a 5 tool OF and a drool-worthy infield. Tres bien!
Name/Team/Projected Draft Round
Brief Synopsis: Last year Haren posted a WHIP of 1.02 and an E.R.A under 3.20. Not bad for a guy whose name doesn’t rhyme with Shalladay or Fershaw. This year Haren is playing for a team that is built for a championship. His value increases as he could chalk up even more than the 16 w’s he earned last season.
Brief Synopsis: For the past 3 years Matt Cain has been as consistent as they come. He’s pitched in 217 + innings in each season, had a whip under 1.20 in each season and struck out over 170 batters in each season. If you’re first SP is Cain, that’s a pretty good start.
Brief Synopsis: Gio could go even later than the 10th round if you have 10 or fewer teams in your league. His stuff is good, however he isn’t as hyped as other ‘elite’ pitchers because he hasn’t mastered his control on the mound, yet. He is now pitching in the N.L., and will likely k over 200 batters this season. And finally, he’s young. He will be more than adequate compensation for the pitchers you lost in the first 4 rounds while you were busy adding Tulo, Justin Upton and Adrian Beltre.
Brief Synopsis: If this guy is one of your top 3 SP’s this season you’re in trouble. However, he provides a solid stat line later in the draft. Sanchez is pitching for a ‘new look’ Marlins team who have a legitimate chance this year to shake some things up in the NL East. Sanchez’s k/9inn rate is more than 9 and I bet he wins more than 12 games this season, especially considering he won’t be facing the menacing Albert Pujols, or the dominating Prince Fielder as much as he has in the past; if at all. He is someone I don’t mind having at the back end of my rotation.
These are just a few of the pitchers who should be available later than the 4th round. Other names to consider would be Ian Kennedy, Yovani Gallardo, Matt Garza and Jon Lester. Do yourself a solid and grab the ‘great’ players in positions of scarcity first and then start adding quality pitchers later in the draft.
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