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The Early-Mid Rounds: Separating from the Pack

Four
rounds deep and you have both of your corner infield spots manned (Joey Votto
and Pablo Sandoval) as well as two outfield spots (Andrew McCutchen and
Giancarlo Stanton). You’re way ahead in four offensive categories and not falling
too far behind in the fifth (stolen bases). Over the next half-dozen rounds it
is critical that you create as much balance as possible with both bats and pitchers.
You don’t want to fill up your entire outfield, nor do you want to fill up your
entire infield, nor do you want to fall further behind in stolen bases. You’re
looking for as many guys that both hit for power and run as possible. Don’t
worry, there’s plenty of them – they’re below.

Rounds
4 and 5 – Pablo Sandoval, Ryan Zimmerman, Jay Bruce, Starlin Castro, Hunter
Pence, Nelson Cruz.

Rounds
6 and 7 – Howie Kendrick, Brandon Phillips, Shane Victorino, Adam Jones,
Shin-Soo Choo, Desmond Jennings, Michael Young, (two catcher leagues only) any
of the Top 5 that slip.

Rounds
8, 9 and 10 – B.J. Upton, Jason Heyward, Chris Young.

I
didn’t forget about pitching either, that’s why the list of players is so light
above. If your tier runs out before your pick, get a starting arm.  It’s
important that you do not leave the first 10 rounds with more than two pitchers
though (and absolutely no closers). You’ll see why later on as you’ll be
chasing offensive categories. It is much easier to find cheap pitching than it
is cheap hitting. If you have two starters before you leave Round 10 and
the above list is exhausted, I would look at Paul Goldschmidt, Brett Gardner,
Erick Aybar, Dee Gordon and Jason Kipnis. Who you take depends on your
team needs. As far as pitching, see below. Get one arm from Tier 1
and another from Tier 2. There is no need to get two pitchers from Tier 1;
again, you’ll see why later. You don’t get bonus points for getting 50 more
strikeouts than second place than you would with just five more.

Tier 1

Justin
Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee (all are worth fourth-round
picks).

Tim
Lincecum, Felix Hernandez, C.C. Sabathia, Cole Hamels (all are worth fifth-round
picks).

Zach
Greinke, Madison Bumgarner, Jon Lester, and David Price (all are worth sixth-round
picks).

Tier 2

Yovani
Gallardo, Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, C.J. Wilson, Matt Cain, James Shields (all
are worth seventh-round picks).

Stephen
Strasburg, Matt Moore, Mat Latos (all are worth eighth-round picks).

Josh
Johnson, Adam Wainwright, Jordan Zimmermann, Matt Garza, Brandon Beachy, Gio
Gonzalez, Daniel Hudson (all are worth ninth-round picks).

Ian
Kennedy, Anibal Sanchez, Ricky Romero, Max Scherzer, Tommy Hanson, Cory Luebke,
and Yu Darvish (all are worth 10th-round picks).

Note:
If you get Lester from Tier 1, you will want to target pitchers with lower
expected

walks

plus

hits per inning pitched

(WHIP).

Lester is the only
pitcher in tier one that probably won’t break a 1.2 WHIP) Those guys would be Weaver,
Haren, Cain, Strasburg, Johnson, Zimmermann, Hudson, Luebke and Darvish. It’s
difficult to get lower WHIP pitchers later, so you want to be careful early on
to not be in a WHIP deficit while building your core.

Remember
the key words when it comes to building your pitching staff – balance and
patience. You may not get your favorite pitchers, but follow the above
guidelines and you will have a good start to your staff.

If
all goes to plan, below is your perfect team:

1
– Joey Votto

2
– Andrew McCutchen

3
– Giancarlo Stanton

4
– Pablo Sandoval

5
– Starlin Castro

6
– David Price

7
– Howie Kendrick

8
– Adam Jones

9
– Jason Heyward

10
– Jordan Zimmermann

This
team has their entire infield covered (sans catcher, middle infielder and corner
infielder), four outfield spots and two starting pitchers. I’m sure you’re
apprehensive about your pitchers right now, but don’t fret – at least half of
your next 10 picks will be pitchers. The deficit you had at stolen base was
decreased with Castro, Kendrick, Jones and Heyward, as all should be good for a
minimum of 10 stolen bases a piece. But more importantly, they are not empty
category producers at other positions as you’re still well ahead at every other
offensive category. If you’re going to be playing from behind in any
offensive category you want it to be steals because there’s plenty of cheap
ones available. As far as your pitching, history shows you need roughly a
3.50 earned run average, 1.23

walks

plus

hits per inning pitched

, and about 7.5 strikeouts per inning
pitched to finish in the Top 3 in each category. With Price and Zimmermann in
tow you’re looking at a 3.20 earned run average, 1.17

walks

plus

hits per inning pitched

, and more than 8

 strikeouts per inning pitched. This, as well
as what you will see in the next part of the series, is why you don’t focus on
pitching early.

Remember
– balance and patience.

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