We've survived the Ides of March and, although your draft and auction season is probably just beginning, mine is already wrapping up. Most blogger and fantasy analyst leagues and mocks happen well in advance of the season, so that there is a chance for commentary. As such, I've already done 8 drafts/auction in a variety of different formats and I'm beginning to feel like I've got a pretty good sense of the trends this March and some of the questions you need to ask yourself during your draft prep, like...
How much are you willing to pay for Tommy Hanson?
Hanson's roto line last year was pretty impressive:
11 W, 2.89 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 116 K, 128 IP
Naturally, following those rookie numbers, he's high on a lot of draft boards and can no longer be considered a "sleeper" by anybody's standards. I've seen Hanson going for as much a $25 and even in BLOGZKRIEG!, a league filled with "experts" who are generally tentative about paying big buck for starting pitchers, he went for $19, which was the same price as Chris Carpenter.
Before you go reaching for Hanson in front of guys like Josh Beckett, Matt Cain, and Chad Billingsley, let me show you another couple of exceptional rookie lines:
2005 - 8 W, 1.81 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 58 K, 85 IP
2006 - 11 W, 2.56 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 105 K, 123 IP
Both of these pitchers, like Hanson, had incredible minor-league pedigrees and, like Hanson, they entered the majors before the turned 23. So, who are they? Tim Lincecum? Felix Hernandez? Cliff Lee?
Those numbers belong to Zack Duke and Jered Weaver. While both Duke and Weaver have matured into solid major-league pitchers and even fantasy-worthy targets, neither has yet posted a season worthy of a $20 bid or a pick in the top twelve rounds. In fact, both of them had their best seasons in 2009, which looked like this:
Weaver - 16 W, 3.75 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 174 K, 211 IP
Duke - 11 W, 4.06 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 106 K, 213 IP
I'm not saying that it isn't possible that Hanson immediately jumps into the top tier of National League pitchers. Certainly, there are guys like Lincecum and Dwight Gooden who have made that leap. However, there are many, many more pitchers who have gone in the other direction during their sophomore campaign. Very recent examples include David Price, Justin Verlander, and Edinson Volquez. Unless you're playing in a keeper league (and, even then, I'd be tentative) please consider letting somebody else have Hanson and instead take a long look at these pitchers, who have just as much upside, more big-league experience, and will probably be available for about half the price (or less).
Brett Anderson (Athletics)
Chad Billingsley (Dodgers)
Clay Buchholz (Red Sox)
Joba Chamberlain (Yankees)
Johnny Cueto (Reds)
John Danks (White Sox)
Jorge De La Rosa (Rockies)
Gavin Floyd (White Sox)
Matt Garza (Rays)
David Price (Rays)
Wandy Rodriguez (Astros)
Ervin Santana (Angels)
Jered Weaver (Angels)