Drafting MI: Duck Duck Goose

Just like the game you played as a  kid, when it comes to fantasy baseball drafting, there are some fellas you wanna pick, some you don’t.  There are the safe picks that will get you the win and the wild geese that will have you ending up on your rear.  So here we are at DotP, ready to help guide you through the rougher waters of your draft.  We’re not talking about top 50 guys, that part’s supposed to be easy.  We’ll inspect some of the higher ranked players (as in have later ADP’s) that could yield you substantial return on your relative investment.  Greed is good.  Knowledge is better.  When you can use your knowledge to greedily stockpile over achievers, well, that makes you management genius…

Middle Infield is a tricky spot in fantasy baseball as you trickle down in drafts.  Sure Utley’s great and Tulo is a stud, but what happens when you’re entering the 100’s pick and you realize you don’t have a 2B or SS?  Do you abandon all hope of valued production out of those spots? No.  You listen up.  And you listen good.  There is value to be had past the 6th round.  It’s just a matter of knowing which guys are worth the grab.

One guy we’ve always like is Stephen Drew, largely because of his triple-hitting prowess (46 career).  Drew had an ADP of 124 at the time of this writing, with a reach for him at 81 and dropping to 153 at his lowest pick.  Based on his numbers, this seems silly.  Compare him to Martin Prado (ADP: 74   High:48   Low:94) and you’ll find that Drew is really not that much less of a fantasy commodity, at least not that far a stretch (50 picks???).  So let’s look at the numbers.  Though he’d seem capable of a .300 average, Prado has Drew beat in the BA department, as Drew figures to be in the .260-.270 range while Prado looks good for another .300 season.  What about homers?  Prado hit 15 HR in 2010 and Drew did as well.  Doubles and Triples, my favorite?  Drew had a whopping 12 triples and 33 doubles, overall hitting an extra-base hit every 10.55 times he stepped into the box.  Prado was a doubles machine hitting 40 two-baggers to go along with 3 triples, and hit for extra bases every 11.22 plate appearances.  The two have similar RBI stats.  Does Prado really figure to be 50 spots more valuable than Drew?  I say not.  So don’t fret, friends, when your buddies are snatching up the mid-tier second basemen and shortstops, there’s a quiet producer in your midst.  There’s no shame in holding out for a Drew.  Just make sure it’s the right one… wouldn’t want to be struck with friggin’ JD Drew.

 

But say you’ve slipped even farther into the draft and are searching for options to fill your middle infield.  Fear not, there’s more.  Aaron Hill’s dismal 2010 season had him plummeting down fantasy ranking boards (ADP: 168      High:   88     Low:  not drafted) but let’s look at some facts.  Despite hitting .205, the dude still managed to slug 26 homers – pretty damn good output from second base.  So let’s look at that ugly .205 average.  Some question the use of BABIP as a meaningful statistic but it is hard to argue against in this case.  Aaron Hill, and this number sort of baffles me, had a .196 BABIP.  On balls he put in play, he couldn’t even crack .200.  This is an absurdly low number and a sure signifier of bad luck.  I’m not saying he’s going to replicate his 2009 campaign, but for where he’s slotted (ADP 168), there’s no harm in letting a .270, 30 homer season slide down to you in a draft.

But Will, what if some other clever person has read this piece faster than I and has already snagged these two and I’m still in need of a middle infielder?!?!?!?

Calm down! Get a hold of yourself!

 

Now that we’ve got things under control and a much needed Airplane! reference, I’ll tell you why you need’t worry.  The name says it all: Starlin Castro.  What better than invoking a star and a dictator in your name?  Castro is falling just after Hill in drafts (ADP 169) and is a very intriguing player to target.  He looks more than capable of hitting in the .290-.315 range with a solid number (i.e. around 40) of doubles and a handful of triples, as he has an elegant stride.  Grabbing him in what figures to be the teens rounds seems like a steal in a position where you can either wait or reach for someone like Andrus (who I like) or Alexi Ramirez (who I do not) much earlier.  I’m targeting Castro in my drafts because shortstop is such a funny position with a substantial drop off.  I’ll wait and see what I can get.

 

 

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