AL-Only LABR Experts Draft Recap
By Tom Trudeau
fantasy experts and one over-confident Bloomberg Sports analyst met in Phoenix
Saturday for the 18th draft of the League of Alternative Baseball
Reality (LABR). The AL-only, 12-team league uses standard 5×5 scoring, with
$260 to spend on 14 offensive positions and nine pitcher slots.
My own confidence stemmed two
distinct advantages. First, I was using Bloomberg Sports’ Front Office tool to
get custom rankings based on the league settings. Second, at just 24 years old,
I can spend more time thinking about fantasy baseball. Sure, these guys work at
Rotowire and ESPN, but they have families and real world obligations.
Meanwhile, I live with my parents and it’s considered a rough day if I have to
walk the dog or unload the dishwasher, which leaves plenty of time for
course sometimes there can be too much information out there, causing you to
second-guess yourself after every bad two-inning spring outing or report of a
stiff neck. That’s why it’s so valuable to have a projection tool such as Front
Office to remove all of the noise and ill-advised impulses that occur this time
of year. Sure, it’s nice to have read that Koji Uehara had a cortisone
injection in his elbow, but without the emotionless suggestions that Front
Office provides, it can be hard to remain disciplined and bid with confidence
in the heat of a draft.
Having participated in hundreds of
fantasy drafts, I fully expected the biggest difference between LABR and any
other would be the skill level. Instead, it was the presence of Sirius XM’s
Fantasy Sports Radio. Located feet from the draft table, the Sirius guys broke
down each pick with colorful commentary (“Chris Liss getting involved with Josh
Hamilton,”) and sometimes clouds of doubt (“Lawr Michaels picking up proposed Oakland closer, Andrew Bailey”).
As for the draft itself, I was
tempted to go all-in for two Front Office darlings: Adrian Gonzalez ($35) and Dan
Haren ($23), but I opted for a more conservative approach early on. The result
was a flurry of pick-ups in the middle of the draft (“Trudeau strikes again!”),
allowing me to pick up several B-level players at good value such as J.P.
Arencibia ($10), Alcides Escobar ($13) and Ryan Raburn ($16). I was the only
team without a $20-plus player, but I will get meaningful production from
almost all of my starting offensive spots. I had a league-high eighteen players
won for double-digit dollars (Jason Gray was second with fifteen).
The headline of my draft may have been my dynasty of closers.
It was not my intention to finish with five guys who could get saves (Matt Thornton,
Joe Nathan, Chris Perez, Brandon League and Fernando Rodney), but I kept getting them for less than I felt
they were worth. The fantasy adage “don’t pay for saves” really means, “don’t
overpay” for saves. With the exception of Rodney ($7), I drafted guys that will
help me in rate stats, in addition to the saves category, all for reasonable
prices. I’ll have to be active in trades, but the strategy paid off right away
as the inevitable search for saves resulted in significant dollars spent on
Scott Downs ($6), Rafael Soriano ($8), Jake McGee ($12), Uehara ($6), Chris
Sale ($7), and Kevin Gregg ($10) among others.
By the end of the draft I had wasted
about $5 (I spent my last $6 on Corey Patterson, who I could have had for a
buck). It was slightly less efficient than I would liked to have been, but it
still looked to be a below average figure in terms of waste. Other owners were
throwing their remaining dollars at whoever was left, such as J.J. Hardy ($18).
To see Bloomberg’s Front Office tool
in action, go to www.bloombergsports.com. Check out the complete results of the AL LABR
draft at: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/fantasywindup/post/2011/02/labr-fantasy-draft-al/1
Follow Tom Trudeau on twitter @Tom_Trudeau and Bloomberg Sports @BloombergSports