Tuesday - Jan 22, 2019

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Rounds 2-4: The Foundation

Andrew
McCutchen and Giancarlo Stanton are going to be on a lot of my teams this year
and are a big reason why I advocate against Matt Kemp and Ryan Braun before the
seven first-round corner infielders are off the board. If you leave Round 3
with three outfielders you’ve really limited yourself for the rest of the
draft. On the flip side, if you leave the first three rounds without any outfielders
you still have lots of options as the draft plays out. Maintaining flexibility
while building your foundation is what you want to do, so that’s why passing on
the outfielders in Round 1 is the way to go.

Why
McCutchen and Stanton? Because they’re going to be Round 1 picks next year. McCutchen
is due for a bump in average, he still has 30 home run/30 steal potential (and
a high floor to go with it), and as the Pittsburgh Pirates lineup strengthens
around him, his counting stats will only go up. Stanton is going to hit 40-plus
home runs this year. He hit 34 home runs as a 21-year-old in a season in which
he was banged up early on and the Florida Marlins moved the fence in 10 feet in
right and knocked out the high wall in left. It’d take a minor miracle for my
two picks in Rounds 2 and 3 to not be either of those guys. In fact, I can’t
think of a scenario in which I don’t take these two guys at Picks 2 and 3 if
they’re available. You do need to develop backup plans in case they’re not
available, though. After all, while their average draft positions indicate they
should be (McCutchen’s is 19, Stanton’s is 34), in the draft there are no
guarantees. You will want to look for some combination of the below pairings

(If you got a first
baseman in Round 1)

Evan
Longoria – He is the one exception to the McCutchen rule. If he falls you take
him.

Josh
Hamilton/Curtis Granderson/Jay Bruce

or

Jose
Reyes/Hanley Ramirez/Ian Kinsler

Hamilton/Granderson/Bruce
– If Kinsler, do not draft Granderson or Bruce due to average issues).

or

Stanton
– If all of McCutchen and the middle infielders leave the board. just reach for
Stanton now.

Hamilton
– This team cannot handle Granderson’s or Bruce’s average.

 

(If you got a third
baseman in Round 1)

Reyes/Ramirez/Kinsler

Hamilton/Granderson/Bruce

or 

Stanton

Hamilton

The
benefit to the combination of players above? In almost every scenario you are
going to get a great pick in Round 4 as the value lies in starting pitching and
corner infield. Most leagues won’t have an elite starting pitcher (Roy
Halladay, Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw or Cliff Lee) available, but
assuming that’s the case then you will have some quality corner infielders left
in the pool. If you went third base in Round 1, I’d bet on Paul Konerko being
there. Take him. He may slip another round, but you can’t risk that as the
bottom falls out on first base after he goes. If you went first base in Round 1,
you’re going to have some combination of David Wright, Pablo Sandoval, Ryan
Zimmerman and Brett Lawrie available. Take one of them. In the unlikely event
that all of them are gone, Starlin Castro will be there. His profit potential
is a bit limited, which is why I prefer the other options, but selecting him
offers you the most options later and his floor is very high.

At
this point you likely have first base, third base, and two outfield positions
filled up. You probably have the best power numbers in the league while
maintaining an average in the top half and enough speed so you’re not reaching
to get caught up later. In the post steroid era this is crucial as speed is the
cheapest offensive asset to acquire. I’m not a big fan of speed-only guys and
try to avoid them, but you haven’t married yourselves to these types yet. We’ll
discuss later how to avoid going down that route but also being prepared to
adjust if you have to. In any event, you’re in a great position to take a
number of different routes with your draft beginning next round. The owners
that went with middle infielders, catchers and pitchers in the first four
rounds are going to be settling for significantly worse options than your
starters at first base and third base while you’re sweeping through and
cleaning house on outfielders and starting pitchers that much more closely resemble
the guys that went in the Top 50.

I
haven’t forgotten about you poor souls stuck on the back elbow either! You’re
banking on one of those third basemen (David Wright, Pablo Sandoval, Ryan
Zimmerman or Brett Lawrie) being available and will pair that guy with either
an elite starting pitcher, Paul Konerko, or worst case scenario Starlin Castro.
Obviously if Giancarlo Stanton falls then you take him instead, but don’t plan
for it; just adjust if the opportunity presents itself. There is going to be
some pitching and outfielders that will look good when you’re picking again in
23 picks. As tempting as a Jay Bruce or a Tim Lincecum may look at the 3-4
elbow, let them slide. You’ll see why at your next set of picks. By making the
selections that you have, assuming you didn’t get Stanton, you’re going to be
in the Top 4 or 5 in every offensive category. Balance is key to drafting on elbows
because you can’t pigeonhole your picks 23 in advance. You have to be able to
go in several directions once you pick because you don’t know what will happen
over the next two rounds.

Auction
drafters – you have a relatively simple job again. Go to those same websites
you did to get Joey Votto and Evan Longoria prices, add $5 to Andrew McCutchen
and Giancarlo Stanton, then do the same with the fourth-round corner
infielders. Get them. Then adjust your budget accordingly afterwards if you got
any of them for less than you had documented. If I had to isolate one third baseman
it’d be Pablo Sandoval. He has already shown both the pop and the ability to hit
for average; definitely the safest among those four and may be the cheapest. Some
may argue that I’m advocating overpaying and that’s not a winning strategy, and
my counter is that there is always cheap speed, pitching, middle infielders and
catchers available. There is no such thing as cheap power (no, there really isn’t)
and five category players. Unlike the regular drafters, you can assure yourself
of two outfielders and two opposite corner infielders, so do it.

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