Monday, April 4, 2011

2011 Draft Results: Middle Infielders Targeted

Second base and shortstop continue to be shallow positions in fantasy baseball, with the upper tiers separating themselves from the middle and (God forbid) lower tiers pretty drastically. Only 16 positionally eligible players (9 2B; 7 SS) rank in the top 100, according to So if you miss out on some of the upper-to-middle tier players, you could find yourself in a whole mess of trouble filling those roster slots all season long with whatever player is available on waivers and providing some level of fantasy value in return.

All five leagues I participated in this offseason utilized an extra roster spot for either middle infielders (MI) or infielder (IF), forcing team owners to go even deeper into this pool of players and hoping the ones they picked do more good than damage to their teams.

First, here are the results of my SLOW, online auction at the 2B, SS and MI positions over at
I was aggressively involved in the bidding for both Hanley Ramirez and Tulowitzki until Ramirez went over the $40 mark and Tulo's other suitors seemed reluctant to take him into the $40 stratosphere. Honestly, if I was willing to go to $41 on a player it wouldn't have been Tulo. I was ready to jump back in on HanRam or change my focus towards Pujols and take it all the way up to $50. With Tulo on my roster to start the season, I'm a very happy camper.

Neil Walker was a definite target of mine and I was happily surprised he flew under the radar for just $5. But more on him in a bit. Freddy Sanchez was simply filler at the MI position that will hopefully hit near his .298 career average and give me 7-10 home runs.

Let's take a look at the players I was able to draft in each of my online snake draft leagues (draft pick in parenthesis):
The Second Basemen: Dustin Pedroia was the guy I wanted in every league but was only able to pull off owning him in one. I'm very anxious to see the kind of numbers he can put up in that revamped, powerful Red Sox lineup. Brandon Phillips was a pick that I didn't want to make but his ADP on is currently 36.82 and getting his projected .270/90/20/80/20 at a +14 draft difference was too hard to pass up. Aaron Hill should give me 20 HR/70 RBI but with what batting average? Greater or less than .250? Neil Walker was my backup plan to missing out on Pedroia and that worked out for me in three of five leagues. A full season in the bigs could produce a .280/80/15/90/10.

The Shortstops: Somehow I wound up drafting Elvis Andrus twice without even trying. He was on my radar for runs and stolen bases and was too hard to pass up. I'm hoping his average stays near .280, though. Andrus was not my primary target as shortstop, though. I really wanted Jose Reyes in as many leagues as possible because I was banking on a return to fantasy dominance in this, the ever so important "contract year". Derek Jeter was another target of mine, despite the lack of confidence the fantasy baseball community seems to have in his abilities. We're talking about a player in a "down year" (in 2010) batting .270 and scoring 111 runs and just one season removed from batting .334 (in 2009). He may not be an MVP candidate but there's nothing stopping him from being a top 5 shortstop. Stephen Drew was a panic pick for me because there was a run on shortstops and I got caught up in the action. I'm already regretting it because he's yet to make an appearance this season due to injury and I'm stuck scrounging through waivers for a body to plug in.

The Backups: Omar Infante (2B/3B/OF) and Ty Wigginton (1B/2B/3B) were both targeted for their position eligibilities. If your league has a max games limit, having players on your roster that can fill in a game here and there for your stars will maximize your scoring opportunities. Yunel Escobar played better in 2010 after his trade to the Blue Jays and could be in line for a nice bounce-back season. Miguel Tejada (3B/SS) could benefit offensively from playing on a team that is expected to win a lot of games and, at pick 289, there's very little risk. I don't expect to keep both Escobar and Tejada on the same roster for very long. I'll keep whichever starts off hottest.

Going into a draft with a plan is great, especially for the more shallow roster positions like the middle infielders, but things can change very quickly and knowing when to hold steady, reach for a player or hit the panic button can make a huge difference to overall look of your roster.

What strategies did you use when it came to drafting players that qualified at the middle infielder positions? What unique settings does your league have in place that made some players more favorable than others? Do you change strategies based on a classic rotisserie league versus a head-to-head scoring league? Please feel free to comment on my players or share your personal experiences when looking back on your draft(s) outcomes.

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