I had everything mapped out. Every position was set and my team would be the greatest team in the league. No one else would have a shot to come close to me. I would dominate every week. I could virtually taste the championship.
Then came the draft and that's where it all went terribly wrong.
Mistake #1: My Keepers
These are the deepest positions in fantasy baseball, and those are the positions I chose to keep. The worst part about it is that Granderson was a mistake. I should have kept at least one infielder. I could have kept Aramis Ramirez or Ben Zobrist and had one of the shallower positions shored up. I figured, however, that I could just pick one of those guys up in the second round of the draft, lock that spot down and be good to go. Hell, I could have kept Andre Ethier or Adam Lind and had more of a sure thing in the outfield. Instead I fell in to the Yankees hype and kept Granderson and in the process went against every piece of advice I've ever given out or held to be true. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
Mistake #2: My Picks
Not necessarily the players I picked but my position and number of picks. I thought i picked fifth but I picked sixth instead. Stupid. I forgot I traded away my second round pick. Even more stupid. That means that I have no shot to pick Zobrist or Ramirez in the second round. There was so much talent available in the first round, with only 4 players being kept, there's no way I could take one of those guys with that first pick. All my draft plans were crumbling around me. Thinking I had the fifth pick, I had five guys I was looking at in the first round: David Wright, Ryan Zimmerman, Victor Martinez, Jon Lester, and Justin Verlander, in that order. Guess who the first 5 guys off the board were. OK, well, someone actually took Mark Reynolds in front of me so I actually got "stuck" with Lester. CC and Lester give me a great 1-2 punch, but it put my offense in a bind, especially since I had no pick until the 3rd round.
Mistake #3: My Draft
After Lester, I didn't have a pick until the 3rd round of the draft. So who did I select? Another outfielder. Stupid. That's right, underachieving Nick Markakis was my second pick of the draft. Now, I like Markakis. In a H2H league, Markakis puts up decent points per week but he's another pick at one of the deepest positions in baseball. 4th round rolls around and I do it again. Jason Bay. Seriously, is this seriously what I'm doing here. Jason Bay... To be fair, though, the top infielders on the board were Brandon Phillips, Dan Uggla, Michael Young, and that's about it. Now I don't really know why, but I hate Brandon Phillips, Dan Uggla is too inconistent for a H2H league, and I'm expecting regression from Michael Young who got hurt last year but was on pace for career highs in most categories and that was at age 32. Those were the only guys available that would probably be gone before my next pick and they are all guys that I'm expecting to hit the toilet this year, so I took Bay. Another outfielder.
Then comes the turnaround. After Jason Bay, I got it together. I used all my fantasy expertise, vast as it is, to build a championship team. As I began to make my corrections, other owners began to laugh at me. Let them laugh now. I'll be laughing in October. That's right, whereas the first few picks of my draft killed me the next few picks were going to be the building blocks of a champion. How did I do it? I drafted players primed for a breakout and, more importantly, I drafted more outfielders. What?? That makes no sense. If outfielders are one of the deepest positions in baseball, how can you possibly help yourself by drafting more of them? The answer: build a surplus. If I have a surplus of players at a position, I can afford to overpay for talent where I'm hurting.
Correction #1: Surplus
My next two picks were Jake Peavy and Adam Dunn. Smart. Peavy, I think, gives me the best 1-2-3 in the league and I'm content to start those three SPs every week and let the chips fall where they may. You can pretty much pencil Adam Dunn in for 40 home runs and 100+ RBI, and Dunn is where I began my surplus. After that, I took guys that were solid players at the positions I need, Chone Figgins in the 9th and Placido Polanco in the 13th. Now I'm not happy with either of those guys starting for me. Figgins had a career year last year and no one not named Pujols ever follows up a career year with a similar year. Polanco could be a top second baseman hitting from the second spot of a monster Phillies lineup but he's old and last year was the first time he has ever played in 150 games, I don't trust him enough to do it again. Peavy, I think, gives me the best 1-2-3 in the league and I'm content to start those three SPs every week and let the chips fall where they may. I also picked up Alfonso Soriano and Nate McLouth in the late rounds. If Soriano plays in just 145 games and increases his BABIP to .300 (pretty big ifs) there's no reason he can't be a very good #3 OF and hopefully corrective lenses can help McLouth return to his 2008 form. After looking at the other teams in the league, I figured that any of these guys should be starting on many of those teams. My plan is taking shape.
Correction # 2: Breakouts
I ended up with Stephen Drew starting at short and Miguel Montero at catcher. I think Drew could end up being this year's Troy Tulowitzki but with a better average and if Montero's second half numbers hold up, that translates to 22HR-82RBI-80R-.300ish AVG, firmly putting him in the top 5 at the position. Smart, I hope. I also ended up with Colby Rasmus and Jeff Clement, both of whom could be big contributers. Rasmus because he'll be hitting second in the Cardinals lineup, in front of Pujols, and Clement because he will have catcher eligibility but get everyday at bats playing first base for the Pirates (Pablo Sandoval anyone, well probably not that good, but could be Brandon Inge).
Correction #3: Trades
The day after the draft, after looking over some teams, I started throwing offers out and making phone calls. The team who had Aramis Ramirez ended up biting on one of my offers after a little haggling. Remember all the outfielders I had, well this particular team was starting Carlos Beltran (out at least a month), and David Ortiz at DH (good second half but can he do it for a full year at his age?). The trade ended up being Figgins and Markakis for A-Ram. Smart. Did I overpay for him? Of course, but that was the plan. I couldn't be happier. A-Ram is a perennial 25-30HR and 100+ RBI guy and top 5 third baseman. A freak injury cost him most of last season, but had he been healthy, he would have easily reached those numbers again. With the extra roster spot, I picked up Howie Kendrick who had a great second half last year and is ripping the cover off the ball in spring training. I still have a surplus in the outfield and think i can still throw a few guys out there and may be able to pull off a few more trades but even if i can't, I'm in pretty good shape going into the season.
The moral of the story? I am the Albert freaking Einstein of fantasy baseball. Well that's not actual a moral, and it's probably not even true, but if you find youself short on talent at a position during your draft, don't dig yourself a deeper hole and reach for players that are clearly not worth the price you'd have to pay and don't settle for someone you think will perform below their draft position. Build a surplus at another position and work the trade wire and don't be afraid to overpay for players that will surely be better than what you have already.