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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Belated Look At ProFSL Auction

I'm excited to be participating in an "experts league" sponsored by the guys a ProfFSL which uses rather unconventional scoring. The key things to know are that OBP, total bases, and strikeouts are heavily rewarded, RBI and pitcher Wins are basically meaningless, while steals and saves are at less of a premium compared to conventional leagues. Lineups include only one catcher, three outfielders, and no corner or middle infield spot, while the pitching staff, like a real MLB team, has five starters and six relievers.  The auction was a couple weeks back, but it's never too late to post a few thoughts. First off, here's my team:

OF Carlos Gonzalez $46
2B Ian Kinsler $30
SP Stephen Strasburg $25
3B Pablo Sandoval $20
SP Zack Greinke $19
SP Madison Bumgarner $18
OF Carl Crawford $16
OF Jason Heyward $14
C Buster Posey $12
RP Neftali Feliz $11
1B Ryan Howard $7
RP Ryan Madson $5
C Wilson Ramos $4
RP Aroldis Chapman $3
SP Derek Holland $3
SP Jeremy Hellickson $3
RP Brandon League $3
RP David Robertson $3
RP Aaron Crow $1
SS Jed Lowrie $1
OF Adam Jones $1
1B James Loney $1

The scoring protocol heavily favors hitters. In 2011, the 30 highest scorers were all everyday players. But, with limited flexibility on the pitching side, I wanted to make sure I had a strong representation of high-strikeout guys. I opted to spend most of my pitching budget on Stephen Strasburg ($25), Zack Greinke ($19), and Madison Bumgarner ($18), breakout candidates who already have decent track records, but who came at a discount compared to premier Aces like Verlander ($41), Kershaw ($36), and Lincecum ($36). The announcement of Strasburg's innings limit was a bummer. But, assuming the Nats hold fast to it, I should be able to find a cheap waiver wire addition for the final month, which, combined with Strasburg's dominance, more than returns my $25 investment.

Relief pitching is very different in this league, compared to standard roto. While Craig Kimbrel did lead all relievers in points in 2011, only two other closers made the top ten (John Axford & Jonathan Papelbon), which also featured hard-throwing set-up men (David Robertson, Jonny Venters, etc.) and swingmen (Felipe Paulino, Cory Luebke, etc.). When the draft happened their was still a chance Neftali Feliz ($11), Aroldis Chapman ($3), and Aaron Crow ($1) would all end up in a major-league rotation. Only Feliz succeeded, but both Chapman and Crow pitched well and should be featured in major bullpen roles with an outside chance they join rotations midseason.

Many of the hitters I went for are among my favorites for 2012 in general. CarGo ($46) is my preseason pick for NL MVP. He's generally a slow starter, but I think his combination of high extra-base power, high percentage stealing, and improving K/BB rate makes him a decent fit for this league. I've always been a huge Panda ($20) fan and if he stays healthy I have no doubt he'll outperform Ryan Zimmerman ($29 and Brett Lawrie ($24) in this format. Kinsler ($30) was an unexpected investment. Second base is one of the most top-heavy positions in fantasy this year. Because of the value of power, runs, K/BB, and SB% in this league, Kinsler actually outscored Robinson Cano ($45) in 2011 and was second only to Dustin Pedroia ($40) at his position. Considering Kinsler's ballpark and lineup, he may still have a little upside, so I felt like $30 was a steal, perhaps my best pick-up of the auction.

Obviously, paying $18 for Carl Crawford and Ryan Howard, who both begin the season on the DL, is a calculated risk. After the auction I grabbed Justin Smoak and Austin Jackson off the waiver wire. Using them (and perhaps others) I will try to scrap together decent production at two positions while I wait for Crawford and Howard to come back healthy. If the make it back by May and are fairly productive, they could be the keys to a championship. If not, I'll have to be creative. If Wilson Ramos has the breakout season many are expecting, he could be my trade bait to upgrade elsewhere (or my insurance for Buster Posey).

In the first week of the season, I laid the smackdown and was the league's second-highest scorer. Austin Jackson got off to a hot starts, as did Panda and Kinsler, while Greinke, Strasburg, Holland, and Hellickson all logged quality starts. Probably can't expect that every week.

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