Fantasy Baseball Today

Explaining a draft strategy gone awry

By Chris Towers | CBSSports.com

On Thursday's Fantasy Baseball Today Head-to-Head Mock Draft review, Scott and Al weren't particularly enamored of my team. And I can't really blame them for that reaction, though I will try to explain the thought process that led me to spend just three of my first 10 picks on pitchers. This is the story of how the best-laid plans of mice and men -- and Fantasy basketball writers -- go awry.

When you go into a draft with a set plan, you still need to be flexible in the face of a changing league landscape. I entered our mock draft intending to go hitter heavy early, before loading up on the second tier of pitchers and trying to find guys with breakout potential. And for a while there, I succeeded. I came away with arguably the top catcher and first baseman in the league, as well as a top-three second baseman and two of the league's 15-best outfielders with my first five picks.

I might have taken a pitcher earlier, in either rounds four or five, but none of the options really stood out, given the depth of the position. I could have taken Matt Cain in the fifth round instead of Jay Bruce, for example, but Mat Latos was ranked just a few spots below him. This despite finishing last season nearly 13 percent more productive on a per-start basis. Once you get past that first tier of pitchers, there are enough guys bunched together that you can still get good value if you are patient and prepared.

Unfortunately, after nabbing Latos and Anibal Sanchez -- both top-20 pitchers in the format a year ago -- things went off the rails. As Scott rightly noted, the back-to-back selections of Curtis Granderson and Starlin Castro are where my team went wrong, as I deviated from my plan. Though I like both players' potential for bounce back seasons, I probably could have waited five rounds on each, or received similar value from their peers in those spots.

What happened? A few players in my queue -- pitchers I like, such as Masahiro Tanaka, Jered Weaver, Alex Cobb -- went off the board in rapid succession and I panicked. With the clock ticking and my coworkers glaring at me, I fell back on familiar names to fill open spots on my roster, rather than the going with my plan or taking the best player available.

I still ended up with what projects to be the best offense in the league on a per-player basis, but it might not be enough to make up for what is likely to be just a middle of the road pitching staff. My team didn't end up being a disaster, but I probably cost myself a chance at a championship-worthy team by making the wrong move just once or twice. Let me be a cautionary tale.

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