R HR RBI SB avg
1015 274 1119 116 .273
W Sv SO ERA WHIP
80 123 1107 3.78 1.284541

Take a look at those numbers. How many wins do you think that’s worth in an average 12 team 5×5 roto league? I’d guess that team would place between 3rd and 5th if it can finish in the top 2 in R, HR, RBI and SO. There are obvious areas to improve but it’s not a bad place to start.

Now imagine your offense looks like this:

Brandon Belt 1B
Ben Zobrist 2B
David Wright 3B
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Asdrubal Cabrera SS
Jed Lowrie SS
Buster Posey C
Mike Napoli C
Matt Holliday LF
Carlos Beltran RF
Josh Willingham LF
Andre Ethier RF
Adam Eaton CF

Think that team can put up the numbers you see above? I don’t. You probably don’t. CAIRO does.

As part of my ongoing Mock Draft series I am reviewing various mock draft strategies and results to see what this can teach us about planning for a draft, learning from mistakes, and judging various methods of ranking and selecting players. I’ve outlined best practices for mock drafts and established my method and guidelines for testing. Here is the first in a series of results of testing

Mock Draft I

  • Date: January 29, 2013
  • Site used: Mock Draft Central (see draft results here– teamname Bushleague Avocados)
  • Scoring/Roster: 12 team 5×5 roto; 23 team rosters (2x c, 1b, 2b, 3b, ss, 5x of, ci, mi, util; 9x p)
  • Draft position: 6th
  • Strategy/Ranking System Used: CAIRO
  • Strategy notes:  I used CAIRO v 0.3 projections, sorted by oWAR for batters and WAR by pitchers. When in doubt I picked best available for a position I had not yet filled. Note also that officially my last pick was supposed to be Joe Nathan, and ended up being Nathan Jones. This is what happens when you are hungry and search by RP named “nathan”.
  • Projected end of season rank: 12th (ouch)
  • Gut reaction, hitters: CAIRO has 8 3b and 4 catchers in their top 30 by 0WAR, compared to 1 2b (Cano) and 1 SS (Reyes). It seemed to me at least that CAIRO is optimistic on older players or undervalues younger; either way it frustrated me to have Josh Willingham as my next top player (ranked 39 by oWAR) in the 9th round when it seemed like a lot of potentially more valuable guys were ranked as worse by CAIRO.
  • Gut reaction, pitchers: CAIRO’s top 20 pitchers by WAR is a decent list ranked indecently. That it predicts Fister to be approximately as good as Kershaw is good news for Fister, who is being drafted fairly late. Matt Harrison also had an impressive projection that placed him as a top 15 pitcher.

Parting Thoughts

  • This draft was purposefully rigid in sticking with the results of the ranked CAIRO list against a very specific metric of oWAR/WAR. These are not ideal fantasy ranking systems and to arrive a better ranked list I would have put more effort into isolating the fantasy-specific projections. This list was also compiled using v0.3 of CAIRO, which is still under the works. I chose it because at the time of the draft it was the most up-to-date complete projection publicly available
  • A simple lesson from this, one that most of us probably already know: regardless of the list you are using in the draft, don’t be too rigid. Rigidity will find you overvaluing or undervaluing players you may be targeting, resulting in Mike Napoli in the third round (even if I do intend to use him as my 1b, that’s early for a guy whose hip is about as healthy as my grandmothers’).
  • Another, equally simple lesson– while not without fault, projection systems such as CAIRO are a smart place to look for sleepers and breakout candidates. I will trust a projection system that utilizes a few years of data more than I will trust my gut when evaluating a player I don’t know much about.  A great or horrid 2012 does not necessarily mean a repeat in 2013.
  • In my real live draft prep I will use a few projection systems to compare and supplement my personal targets. The benefit of even a faulty projection system is that it projects all players using the same metric. Looking at 2 or 3 systems and finding players that are ranked highly across all of them could give you an indication of that player’s projected skill.
  • In the end this mock draft was a success not because I love the team I ended up with, but because I tested a strategy and identified areas to improve upon it. I won’t be drafting from an unedited projection ranking much in the future, and no one would ever recommend that be the end-all of your draft prep, but it does give a healthy baseline to test against for future draft practice.

I’ll discuss some of the available projection systems’ pros and cons in a later post. For my next mock draft post I’ll discuss a Yahoo! mock draft, and the problems that face drafting in low stakes situations with a bunch of strangers.

 

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