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Fantasy Baseball Draft: 2010...

My strategy going into this year's draft has 3 simple steps: 1) get the first pick, 2) get Albert Pujols, 3) get a bunch of other guys. Now, should step one of that plan go awry--all bets are off, and I'll have a built-in excuse when I don't win the league this year.

I have played fantasy baseball every year for almost 20 years. I believe I was 12 the first year I played, but I could have been 11, which would make this the 20th year. Even though fantasy football is much more popular in general in America (and I've played that nearly as long, if not as long), fantasy baseball is by far my favorite. I usually play in a league or two with my dad and brothers, and/or with friends. For about 10 years, however, I've also joined a public league on Yahoo, and played with strangers. I usually consider this my "main" team, and devote most of my fantasy-sports-related energy toward managing this team. And this is the team I'll be drafting for tonight.

I do have a few ideas of what I want to do in the draft. Some are based on personal preference, and some are based on things I've learned over the years or advice I've gained from fantasy baseball experts. (Yes, amazingly, there are fantasy baseball "experts," and even more amazingly, I seek out their advice.) Depending on where my slot in the draft order is (there are 12 teams in the league) I can usually get two frontline offensive players before I draft my first starting pitcher. Offensive players play nearly every day, whereas a starting pitcher pitches (at most) every five days. So offensive players are far more valuable. You really can't afford to miss on your first pick--picking a guy who has a bad year or gets injured can really screw up your season (I've had both happen).

One thing that I usually struggle with is getting enough guys who can steal bases. So I'm trying to keep that in mind in order to address that this year. I'm also learning that I usually pick a closer (a pitcher who finishes games and earns "saves") too early. Closers fluctuate for teams so regularly throughout the year that even if I don't get one of the big name closers, I'll probably be able to pick one up later as a free agent. And finally, even though I know it could potentially be problematic, I always give some preference to Giants and Cardinals players. The Giants are my favorite team, and I watch a lot of Cardinals games (either on TV or at the stadium), so it's fun to be able to follow those players.

Well, I'm going to log in on the site now and see where I'm picking. Wish me luck...

(8:43pm) I've got the 5th pick in the draft--not bad, but I won't get Pujols. Evan Longoria (3B, Tampa Bay Rays), is the 5th rated player on my list. My top 10, in order, are: Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Hanley Ramirez, Chase Utley, Longoria, Ryan Braun, Matt Kemp, Ryan Howard, Joe Mauer, Mark Teixeira. Hopefully someone ahead of me will do something dumb and I'll get to take one of my top 4 players.

(8:56) Almost time... By the way, my team name is "Bugeaters".

(9:01) First pick: Ryan Braun (OF, Milwaukee Brewers). Changed my mind at the last second, and switched Braun and Longoria. I think I downgraded him because I hate the Brewers and he's as bad as any of them. But this is fantasy baseball--no room for feelings and stuff.

(9:06) Second pick: Pablo Sandoval (1B, San Francisco Giants). One of my favorite players--"Kung Fu Panda". My bias for the Giants may have played a factor, but not a bad pick.

(9:08) Third pick: Chris Carpenter (SP, St. Louis, Cardinals). I just really really hope this isn't the year he gets old.

(9:12) Fourth pick: Ben Zobrist (2B, Tampa Bay Rays). Should get me some steals. I thought about taking Brandon Phillips (who would probably get a few more steals), but Zobrist plays for a better team so hopefully his numbers will be better.

(9:16) Fifth pick: Cliff Lee (SP, Seattle Mariners). I probably should have taken an offensive player, but I wasn't happy with my choices at this point.

(9:20) Sixth pick: Chone Figgins (3B, Seattle Mariners). Lots of stolen bases--very happy with the value at this pick.

(9:24) Seventh pick: Torii Hunter (OF, Los Angeles Angels). More stolen bases--not real happy with this pick. This very well could be the year he gets old.

(9:29) Eighth pick: Asdrubal Cabrera (SS, Cleveland Indians). No comment.

(9:31) Ninth pick: Alex Rios (OF, Chicago White Sox). Hopefully this is the year he lives up to his potential.

(9:37) Tenth pick: Jason Kubel (OF, Minnesota Twins). I have no idea what I'm doing.

(9:42) Eleventh pick: Jair Jurrjens (SP, Atlanta Braves). I like this pick here. I'm also on track for the team with the craziest names.

(9:47) Twelfth pick: Rick Porcello (SP, Detroit Tigers). Big upside. How long can I go without drafting a catcher?

(9:49) Thirteenth pick: Mike Napoli (C, Los Angeles Angels). Two minutes; that's how long.

(9:55) Fourteenth pick: Chad Qualls (RP, Arizona Diamondbacks). This is the problem with closers: he may be the closer all year for Arizona, but how many games are they gonna win?

(10:00) Fifteenth pick: Jorge De La Rosa (SP, Colorado Rockies). This is a murky area of the draft.

(10:05) Sixteenth pick: Franklin Gutierrez (OF, Seattle Mariners). How did this guy last so long? He was pre-ranked really low by Yahoo, and I think that everyone else, like me, just didn't notice him. This was a great pick.

(10:10) Seventeenth pick: Bobby Jenks (RP, Chicago White Sox). If he stays healthy, he'll produce.

(10:14) Eighteenth pick: Erick Aybar (SS, Los Angeles Angels). It was time to start filling in my bench.

(10:20) Nineteenth pick: Tim Hudson (SP, Atlanta Braves). I heard a report that he is pitching really well this Spring after coming off of Tommy John surgery. I was hoping I could take him with my last pitching slot.

(10:24) Crud...someone just took the guy I was going to draft next--Ryan Doumit (C, Pittsburgh Pirates).

(10:26) Twentieth pick: Colby Rasmus (OF, St. Louis Cardinals). Hopefully he breaks out this year.

(10:30) Twenty-first pick: Cristian Guzman (SS, Washington Nationals). Meh.

(10:35) Twenty-second pick: A.J. Pierzynski (C, Chicago White Sox). It's helpful to have a backup catcher, I guess.

(10:40) Twenty-third pick: Magglio Ordonez (OF, Detroit Tigers). He used to be good.

(10:49) Well, I think I'm happy with my team. Hopefully nobody will stink unexpectedly (except for players on other teams). But if they do, there's always next year...

(next day) I didn't feel like writing out my lineup last night. But since I'm at work now, and I've got nothing better to do, here it is:

C Mike Napoli (Angels)
1B Pablo Sandoval (Giants)
2B Ben Zobrist (Rays)
3B Chone Figgins (Mariners)
SS Asdrubal Cabrera (Indians)
OF Ryan Braun (Brewers)
OF Torii Hunter (Angels)
OF Alex Rios (White Sox)
UTIL Jason Kubel (Twins)
UTIL Franklin Gutierez (Mariners)

SP Chris Carpenter (Cardinals)
SP Clif Lee (Mariners)
RP Chad Qualls (Diamondbacks)
RP Bobby Jenks (White Sox)
P Jair Jurrjens (Braves)
P Rick Porcello (Tigers)
P Jorge De La Rosa (Rockies)
P Tim Hudson (Braves)

BN Erick Aybar (Angels)
BN Colby Rasmus (Cardinals)
BN Cristian Guzman (Nationals)
BN A.J. Pierzynski (White Sox)
BN Magglio Ordonez (Tigers)

G.K. Chesterton...

"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people."