Monday, February 15, 2010

2009 Wankdorf Draft Retrospective

The old saw is that you can't judge a draft until 2-4 years after the fact. This is true in professional sports leagues, because you need the time to see how players develop, mesh with their teammates, and whether or not they bring a gun to the arena. For example, it's only been the last year or so that we can definitively say that if we redid the 2006 NBA Draft, Brandon Roy would go first (#6 originally), picks 2-4 would be, in some order, LaMarcus Aldridge (#2), Rudy Gay (#8) and Rajon Rondo (#21) and Adam Morrison (#3) would be undrafted. At the time, many of the picks seemed logical and defensible, but in hindsight, should Patrick O'Bryant really have been the #9 pick?

This is not true in fantasy baseball, however, because the players you draft contribute immediately. This is a boon to us at the GRBG because it allows us to do draft retrospectives a season later. So let's take a look at the 2009 draft and replay the first round. In doing so, we'll bear in mind a few things:

(1) How well the players did last year;
(2) What the teams needed going into 2009;
(3) A player's future projected productivity; and
(4) An owner's peculiar quirks, which we pretty much know at this point for everyone except Andrew, who didn't have a first round pick.

1. Mission Accomplished (Angelo): Albert Pujols, 1B, St. Louis.

Was the best player in baseball coming into 2009, was the best player in baseball last year, and projects to be the best player going forward. Nothing to change here.

Hindsight pick: Pujols.

2. wormcheese mousebird (Ironhead): Jose Reyes, SS, New York (NL).

As we noted last year, there was nothing debatable about this pick. However, Reyes was healthy for about a month last year, and he's still on the Mets, whose team doctors couldn't properly preside over a death panel. While we're tempted to say that this team should have picked Reyes anyway because they were unlikely to be competitive in 2009 with a healthy Jose, we do note that the AL MVP was available in last year's draft, plays a position where there's a scarcity issue, and projects to be a stud until 2017. It may not have won them the league last year, but it would have been an asset to have then and now.

Hindsight pick: Joe Mauer, C, Minnesota.

3. Flaccid Funiculi (Will): Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Detroit.
4. Recalcitrant Cobblers (Jake): Prince Fielder, 1B, Milwaukee.

Going forward, these players are pretty much a coin flip--they're fat 1B's that hit a lot of homers, get on base a lot, and don't steal many bases. But counting last year's stats, Will should have gone with Prince and left Jake to take Miggy C. What would have happened if the picks were swapped? We did the math. Jake would have lost 4.5 points in HRs that Will would have received, Jake would have lost 2 points in RBI that would have gone to Will, while Will would have lost 1.5 points in steals while Jake would have picked up 2 points. Throw in the collateral changes that would have been made to Tucker's, Angelo's and Corey's scores, and here would have been the final standings in 2009:

1st: Tucker............................102.5 points
2nd: Corey............................93 points
T3rd: Angelo, Will, Jake......85.5 points

Hindsight pick (#3) Fielder.
Hindsight pick (#4): Cabrera.

5. The Spam Avengers (Alex): Jimmy Rollins, SS, Philadelphia.

We can say with certainty that after his putrid '09, Rollins would not have gone #5. (Don't worry, it's not the worst first round pick.) So let's look at this team's squad going into '09. It was pretty set in the outfield (Ichiro!, Markakis, Justin Upon, McLouth), so it's unlikely they go OF here. They already had a shortstop that wasn't horrible (Stephen Drew), so Reyes as a long-term pick doesn't make a lot of sense here. And we can't see Alex going pitching with a top 5 pick. However, the first baseman slot is still open, and there's a former MVP who mans the position and hits quite well that's available and would fit in well here. Two Twins in the top 5 it is.

Hindsight pick: Justin Morneau, 1B, Minnesota.

6. Unenviable Position (Teddy): Alfonso Soriano, OF, Chicago (NL).

With an empty shortstop spot and a team that wasn't likely to compete in '09 under any circumstances, we think it's pretty safe to assume that Teddy jumps on Reyes here, even just to pocket him for next year.

Hindsight pick: Reyes.

7. Wu Tang Financial (Jon): Josh Beckett, SP, Boston.

We liked this pick last year, but have to wonder whether a team that already had Greinke, Vazquez and Kazmir really should be taking another starter at this point when its position players are lacking. Given the insane year that Carl Crawford had in 2009 and the fact that this team didn't have a very strong outfield, we like Crawford as the new pick here.

Hindsight pick: Carl Crawford, OF, Tampa Bay.

8. Aroids Anonymous (Corey): Crawford.

The man he targeted (and the key pick of last year's draft) off the board, this pick becomes tough to read. The two players that would have been available (Rollins & Soriano) are not good picks here. Adam Lind is sensible given the owner's love for Toronto Blue Jays, but even he would admit that Lind at #8 is laughable. Instead, we'll play a little musical chairs, and have Corey move keeper Kevin Yoook to first base to make room for the team's new stud at the hot corner, Ryan Zimmerman.

Hindsight pick: Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Washington.

9. Mission Accomplished: Shane Victorino, OF, Phiadelphia.

Although the team didn't "need" a starter, with the benefit of hindsight, Chris Carpenter would have been the pick here (he ended up going in the sixth round--yikes). That would have given the team a staff of Felix--Verlander--Lester--Carpenter--Cain, which at a minimum, would have meant a lot of good trade chits.

Hindsight pick: Chris Carpenter, SP, St. Louis.

10. Evil League of Evil (Scot): Rafael Furcal, SS, Los Angeles.

We can say with 100% certainty this would have been a different pick. Instead of reaching for a shortstop, one of two position holes this team had, we feel they would have gone for the other hole (catcher) and taken everyone's favorite new Red Sock, Victor Martinez.

Hindsight pick: Victor Martinez, C, Boston/Cleveland.

11. Recalcitrant Cobbler: Morneau.

With Morneau gone, we feel confident that this team would have gone starting pitcher over trying to shoehorn in an outfielder like Lind or Jayson Werth. While there's a strong argument to be made on behalf of Clayton Kershaw as the long-term play, the fact that this team was competitive in 2009 means that Beckett would have been the likely play.

Hindsight pick: Beckett.

12. Le Dupont Torkies (Tucker): David Ortiz, Corpse, Boston.

Another pick we're certain would have been different, the question is what direction they would have taken. Tucker kept enough pitching that Kershaw, John Lackey and the closers would not have been taken. There's an argument to be made for Chone Figgins to lock up the 3B slot and a lot of steals, but we're going instead with someone Tucker picked a round and a half later: Carlos Pena, the slugging infielder.

Hindsight pick: Carlos Pena, 1B, Tampa Bay.


In the end, we keep 1 pick with their original team...the #1 pick overall. However, we note that with the benefit of hindsight, 8 of the 12 players taken in the first round would have gone there anyway. Not a horrible batting average for the league; we may take the opportunity later this month to see how the 2008 draft should have gone too.


Corey said...

Since you brought Lind up, who else did the entire league strike out on by not drafting at all?

El Angelo said...

Fun question. Just looking at the yahoo top 100, I know that Lind, Aaron Hill, Ben Zobrist, Jason Kubel, Andrew Bailey, David Aardsma and Wandy Rodriguez all went undrafted. Of those, you can only really kill the league on Lind and maybe Kubel; the relievers fell into closers slots, Hill and Rodriguez had seasons nobody quite expected and Ben Zobrist is an alien.