Drafting using the Baseball Prospectus PFM (long)
(PFM = Player Forecast Manager, a spreadsheet based on their PECOTA projections that can be tweaked to create dollar values based on league particulars.)
After taking a break for a few years -- I'd been playing roto/fantasy since the late 1980s, i.e. the weekly stats hand-compiled from USA Today era -- I got back into a league with some friends. Nothing too difficult, not like the previous league, which was a keeper league with some good players in it (one of them is one of ESPN's fantasy experts now). In this league, there are just eight teams using both NL and AL, so we didn't go that deep into the talent pool. We used the standard 5x5 categories.
Even so, BP's projections are sufficiently different from the others (fantasy mags, Sports Weekly, Yahoo, etc.) that I either did great or royally messed up. I didn't follow their recommendations to the letter but I think I picked up on some value others missed. I generally followed my strategy, which was:
* Hitting early, trying to get at least one premier MI
* Go heavy on relief pitching and basically punt wins
* Unless Soriano dropped in my lap in Round 2, go for second base late, as the dropoff there is huge
* Go for catching late, too
* Get speed in the aggregate and don't worry about any one SB king
In the draft, I went 180 degrees away from my pitching plan because of how hard the others pursued closers, making starting pitching the better value. I did grab Foulke and Dotel before the pack descended but if I'm not hanging mid-pack in saves down the road I'll move them. Otherwise, things went about as I'd figured.
I didn't blindly follow PFM, but in most instances I took its advice, especially when there was a clear difference in projected value. Areas where the PFM led me to make decisions that I might have made differently otherwise:
1. The gap in second-sackers between Soriano and everyone else was huge. There was also a difference of opinion between PFM and other rankings. As a result, I grabbed Ray Durham, the second-rated 2B in PFM, almost at the end of the active rounds.
2. Lower-rated catchers per PFM were going off the board, so I snagged Jason Kendall a little earlier than I'd planned to take a catcher, because he had become by far the best player remaining there.
3. Taking Dave Roberts for a utility role. I usually avoid one-dimensional players (or those I perceive to be) but it gave Roberts a higher overall mark than I'd have predicted.
4. Troy Glaus' health must have scared people, because he was by far the highest-rated hitter on PFM's board when I took him. I took David Wright shortly thereafter for insurance.
Areas where I overrode PFM:
1. He wasn't in the top half-dozen OFs left according to PFM, but when I was looking for that last outfielder? Austin Kearns, baby. I'm a believer.
2. I also took J.D. Drew over a couple of higher-rated hitters. I have enough depth to cover his DL stints, I hope, and PECOTA's downgrade of Drew was strictly based on projected ABs.
3. When I reached that large floating pool of $4-7 starting pitchers, I went down the list a little to get Zack Greinke.
4. For the last bench pick, I took Michael Cuddyer, even though he wasn't ranked as highly in that infield-utility universe as Mark Bellhorn. And I'm not even sure now why I thought either necessary, as I have backups for both 2B and 3B already. First time I need something, he's probably gone.
So here's the team:
C Kendall, 1B Helton, 2B Durham, SS Jeter, 3B Glaus, IF Dunn, OF Beltran, OF Damon, OF Drew, OF Kearns, UT Roberts, BN Wright, BN Jiminez, BN Cuddyer;
SP Sheets, SP Clement, SP Greinke, SP Odalis Perez, RP Foulke, RP Dotel, RP Smoltz, P Livan Hernandez, P Willis, P Hawkins, P Otsuka, BN Aquino, BN Lowe, BN Piniero.
According to PFM, I got 5 of the top 18 hitters, and none ranked lower than 61. In our league, with 88 starting position players (11 x 8), that bodes well. Pitching-wise, I have 3 of the top 10 and all of mine are rated 74 or higher (even the reserves).