2000 AL LABR Draft

By John Coleman

Thursday, March 9, 2000

The Sandlot Shrink came away from the USA Today Baseball Weekly AL-LABRdraft this year with a strong, balanced team with a starter at every position,a rare feat in any 12-team league.

Here is how John Coleman did it…

Friday, March 3, 2000 at the Grenelefe Resort, Orlando FL

My first player was Miguel Tejada, which elicited a round of applause. I hadbecome a matter of concern after 4
rounds with an empty roster. I waited until the 54th pick to make a selectionbecause I was determined to stay away from the big money, choosing to fill myroster with players in the 10- 20 dollar range.

What I learned from last year's expert drafts

This is only the second time I have tried the wait-it-out approach. It'saudacious. I did it last year for the NL-Tout Wars expert league. It wasactually kind of accidental, but I won the league going away by 20 points! Iwas quite lost in Long Island heading to the draft, and very upset. I wasafraid I would be late but sheer luck led me to the draft site (Long Island islarge).

When the draft started, I was hungry and very nervous. I was stillembarrassed by my '98 LABR draft (all those defections and retirements). Icouldn't pull the trigger on the star sluggers... and then they were gone. Boom!Mostly under market price, too. On the fly, I chose the players who were mostlikely, in my opinion, to exceed their draft values. I just guessed, actually.And then I simply overpaid for all of them. I had no choice, because draftinflation was going to catch up soon. I felt, if nothing else, a"theme" team would save face for me.

The "theme" was this: Young hitters without established ceilings,but with a very good shot at a job. Fernando Tatis was the ultimate"theme" player. I grabbed anyone under 27 years of age I could find.Youth was having its day, and Sandlot Shrink was the chaperone. I had almostall of them, you know. I missed out on Dimitri Young, which explained theinclusion of Ellis Burks. Upside potential…

Did you read that?
do you get it?
Reggie Sanders. Get it?

Most drafters, including the experts, are conservative and a guy like Sandersscares them. And Michael Barrett was someone they felt they could get in thereserve rounds. They just wouldn't take a chance on anyone who coulddisappoint. And here I was, paying more than "par" for those guys. Sodid I just get lucky? Can't be. Luck can allow for a close victory, not arun-away. I also got lucky with my in-season free agent pickups. For what it'sworth, it was an outstanding crop of rookies. Best in 20 years. And I had them.

So all winter long I analyzed why I won, and by so much. I know that I turnedthe conservative style against itself. I was the only "feel" drafterin this group. (Except for Steve Moyer, who drafts without a cheat sheet!)

It's in the bid values

Everyone projects about the same values for the players, (I don't care who isdoing it), and NO ONE will go past their values (in a non-keeper league). Why?Because EVERYONE knows that "bargains" are the way you win.(Bargains: Players purchased under market value. Draft the guys that are cheapas a result of the dynamics of the draft. End up with more quality as a result.Only idiots pay more than market price, right?) So I overpaid for everyone andwon in a laugher. I had my share of disappointments, too! Curt Schilling, GregOlson, J.D. Drew, Kevin Tapani, Steve Trachsel, Craig Counsel, Mitch Meluskey.Plus, I cut Phil Nevin right before he broke out. Just couldn't stand one moreweek of those O-fers.

Here's my conclusion: Pre-season projections are constantly, unavoidablyconservative. And everyone sticks to them like glue. Bargains don't win. Youneed the right players. Does it really matter if you overpay by $2? Who coulddeny that Edgardo Alfonzo was right? Sean Casey? Tatis?

Strategy for this year's LABR draft

So… AL-LABR finally rolled around. My goal, of course, was winning in a bigway. I had my projections, and I made sure I looked at several others, too. Itwas pretty close. But instead of playing the bargain game, I was picking myplayers for keeps.

Do you know how that Baseball Challenge game works? Everyone has a set salaryat the beginning of the year. Your job is to decide who's underpaid and grabthem. That's basically what I did. I simply used the par values that I hadarrived at from looking at many, many ratings as my salary figures. Then Imarked the guys I liked most. About 30 hitters. And I got half of them forslightly under or slightly over my price. I had no fear of overpaying. And nobodywould go past the "par" values. Now I have a roster full of unproventalent. Just like Long Island.


Technically, the method requires a 70% minimum expenditure on hitters. Youneed starters at every spot, or at least probable starters. You need to average13 bucks a slot for hitters. If you don't get 14 starters, you might have toomany flops from your youngsters (you have to pay for steals, of course). That'swhy I ignored the stars. You can't have stars unless you have scrubs, too. Theygo hand in hand, like Yin and Yang. I WANT NO SCRUBS. The players I like arethe players that everyone likes. No established ceiling. Mark Quinn, anyone?Gabe Kapler? Why should I let someone else get these guys cheap?


Mine is a larger budget than Ron Shandler's LIMA strategy (one stud starterand many "safe" middle relievers) allows for pitching, so I get onestud starter and one stud reliever or two really great prospects. Then I mix itup with sleepers who are always available among pitchers. Experts HATE payingfor pitchers. Also: I won't draft young starters at all. Young closers canwork, but not starters. Why? They just aren't smart enough. It really takesbrains to win starts. Bartolo Colon is the exception that proves the rule, buthe's too expensive now. Young guys are dumb. Would this method work in a keeperleague? Maybe not. Values are significantly adjusted when the future is anissue (draft day inflation). The salaries would be too high; at least in mykeeper league.

Anyway, that's what I did. And I snagged a few bargains late in the draft.Every one of my hitters is an upside pick, except for Lee Stevens ($6). Ioverpaid for half of them, at least. I went with my gut. And I saved at least$2 for every spot in my end game.

Is this an original strategy? No, because it is called the "ViaMedia" method in the 1984 Rotisserie Baseball handbook. My upside picksand pitcher budget are a slight deviation, though.

End game strategy is very important

Check out teams who bid on players to make sure that they have that positionopen. Lots of illegal bids occur, and that can cost you dollars. The DH slot isvery important. Anyone who has filled their DH slot before the end game will bejealous of the bargains. Watch those teams! Positional eligibility is extremelyimportant now. Allocating budget in the end game is an art. The wealthy teamshave specific needs, and everyone else is a $1-2 player. The thing is topinpoint the best players that the rich teams don't need. These are bargains.Constant monitoring of high bid is helpful.

So there's the inside story. I think that I have the winning strategy, as longas conservatism reigns. Next year it might be different. What do you guysthink? Let's get the mojo working.

Official AL-LABR roster for the Sandlot Shrink -


















Jorge Posada



Derek Lowe



Nick Johnson


Ramon Hernandez



Jamie Moyer



Justin Baughman


Mike Sweeney



Juan Guzman



Eric Munson


Corey Koskie



Eddie Guardado



Jose Mercedes


Lee Stevens



John Burkett



Luis Vizcaino


Delino DeShields



Steve Trachsel



Terrance Long


Miguel Tejada



James Baldwin





Alex Gonzalez



Wilson Alvarez





Carlos Beltran



Chad Harville





Ben Grieve








Mark Quinn








Gabe Kapler








Jacque Jones








David Ortiz
































JohnColeman is the statistical expert at the Sandlot Shrink and also therepresentative in all of the expert leagues including LABR and Tout Wars.



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