Anatomy of a Keeper League: Preparing to Draft

With this league, one of the main things I look forward to is drafting. Keeper Leagues bring the best players, so it’s hard for you to get some surprise players. Last year, I was thinking that Pablo Sandoval was going to be the prefect late round pick; unfortunately, so did another team that picked him 2 rounds earlier than I pegged him for.

I started with the sure things; I was promoting Lou Marson, Daniel Bard, Brett Wallace, and Brian Matusz with my last four picks. I’m left with 11 picks in the draft. I also traded my 5th round pick and received an extra 15th rounder to even the draft out.

The next step is something I do every year: I analyze all of the players that aren’t on teams before keepers are announced. This may seem worthless, as the players worth owning are already owned. This really isn’t the case. I targeted Billy Wagner early in the draft; he wasn’t on a roster because of his Tommy John surgery and the fact that he wasn’t closing when he was traded to Boston.

My plan was to project my draft picks based off these guys. Early on, I had Troy Glaus, Wagner, Jaime Garcia, Daniel Schlereth, Chris Young (the D’Back hitter), Radhimes Liz, and Jess Todd as potential picks. They all had down year or just barely had MLB service time; they also had things going for them. Glaus was named the first baseman for the Braves, which should help his durability. Garcia was proving that he was healthy and ready to start for the Cardinals. Schlereth’s move to Detroit should help his numbers. Young has potential and finished last season strong. Liz was moving to San Diego, which helps any pitcher. Todd was a solid pitcher in the Cardinals system, and the ball park in Cleveland should be favorable.

(This is a lot of info to remember, but I have an in depth spreadsheet where I keep names of potential players, names to remember, rosters, and pretty much anything else I need. I recommend this to anyone doing any type of league; I have spreadsheets going into every baseball draft)

I also find listings of major league rosters and create a list of available players. I bold any name that could be a potential fit for my team.

Once keepers were announced, I re-analyzed my projected draft. Chris Perez, Asdrubal Cabrera, Francisco Rodriguez, and Erik Bedard were a few names that became available. I add all of the non-keepers to the available player list.

Since I’ve done this league for a few years, I have a good feeling for what certain teams look for in drafting; Chuckles, for instance, is guaranteed to take a few Twins players. I try to see what other teams could do and either arrange my picks around them or find gems that others may not think of.

Another thing I look for is solid guys that play multiple positions. With limited bench spots, a guy that can cover 2-3 positions has a lot of value. I was close to trading for Ben Zobrist because he would cover the infield and outfield well. This year, I was thinking about A Cabrera again, along with Mark DeRosa, Alberto Callaspo, and Maicer Izturis. There are also a few good corner IF/OF guys, like Conor Jackson, Luke Scott, and Nick Swisher. I always try to draft at least 1 in each league I do; it works well for injuries, off days, and slumps.

My goal for my roster is to have at least 2 players for each position player and to have 3 closers, 3 set up men, and 1 additional reliever to cover some of the off days.

Next, I look at all available minor leaguers. I don’t pay attention to guys that aren’t kept; there was a reason the other owners didn’t keep them (a la Scott Elbert from my roster). With the first pick of the minor league draft, I knew I was getting Stephen Strasburg. I analyze which guys I want and which guys from my major league want list to see which guys could be minor league picks; I figured Schlereth and Todd would be potential minor league picks.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a list of my original draft plan; I do know that I got Wagner, Bedard, Cabrera, Perez, Garcia, and Young from that list.

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