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Rounding Third: My Surprise LABR Team

Jeff Erickson

Jeff Erickson

Jeff Erickson is a co-founder of RotoWire.com and the only two-time winner of Baseball Writer of the Year from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He roots for the Reds, Bengals, Red Wings, Pacers and Northwestern University (the real NU).



My Surprise LABR Team

For the last few years, Chris Liss and Dalton Del Don have represented RotoWire in the AL and NL LABR drafts respectively - it's been awhile since I've been an active participant in the league. However, last year Sirius/XM's fantasy channel broadcasted both auctions live, and I was part of that broadcasting team. The difference this year was that we were going to have a three-man booth for both auctions.

However, on Saturday morning industry stalwart Lenny Melnick came down with something that would prevent him from being at the draft that night. USA Today and LABR head honcho Steve Gardner sent out the e-mail asking for a replacement, and given that both Kyle Elfrink and Ray Flowers were available to handle the broadcast duties, I was able to step in for Lenny. I'm going to run the team during the season, too, and hand back the reigns to Lenny next season.

Coming in at the last minute, I didn't have a concrete draft plan, but that was fine. There's something liberating about not being tied to any particular draft strategy, especially if you already know the player pool. And because of the time I've put in producing the magazine and projections for the site, the countless shows talking about the players and the mocks that I've done, I felt pretty comfortable in that respect. Moreover, I've played with all of the participants in LABR in one league or another, perhaps not exactly in this format, but there were fewer chances that I'd be surprised by anything that was done them. It gave me a chance to be almost entirely agnostic. If I liked the going rate on a particular player, I jumped in. I didn't purposely punt any category or position, and I didn't particularly seek out a category or player. I tried to be cognizant of batting average early on, hence paying essentially full price on Dustin Pedroia - locking up a couple of high-average, high-at-bats guys gave me the freedom to bargain shop where I deemed appropriate.

This team ended up looking a little different than many of my AL Tout Wars teams look. I spent more on starting pitching than I typically do, and I didn't spend nearly as much on catchers as I typically do. But I'm happy with the overall result and think this team has a chance to contend. I relied heavily on the RotoWire Draft Software to track the players, which helped a lot in identifying how much inventory was left at a given point. I spent a significant chunk of my budget early, because that's where the bargains were. Three owners seemed to be playing the "wait out the bargains" plan, and when that happens, usually those bargains never really come. There were some, but very rarely did I feel any sort of regret for not being able to jump in - perhaps once, when Larry Schecter was able to nab Grant Balfour, who I think will close for the A's, for $7.

Here's my squad:

POS PLAYER $
C Hank Conger 3
C Ryan Lavarnway 2
1B Carlos Pena 13
3B Michael Young 23
CI Brandon Allen 2
2B Dustin Pedroia 33
SS Yunel Escobar 14
MI Jemile Weeks 17
OF Shin Soo Choo 23
OF Alex Gordon 23
OF Vernon Wells 16
OF Casper Wells 3
OF Grady Sizemore 2
DH Chris Parmelee 1
SP Michael Pineda 16
SP Ricky Romero 19
SP Josh Beckett 16
CL Andrew Bailey 15
SP Max Scherzer 13
P Jerome Williams 1
P Hisashi Iwakuma 2
P Jason Vargas 2
P Joel Peralta 1
R Ben Francisco
R Wil Myers
R Travis D'Arnaud
R Blake Beavan
R Derrek Lee
R Jake Odorizzi



I'll go ahead and preempt everyone now - yes, I meant to purchase Vernon Wells. At that point in the draft, I needed power and the only supply available came in the form of low batting average risks. Wells had a dumpster-fire season in 2011, but even with such a disaster, he still managed to hit 25 homers in 131 games. His performance has fluctuated wildly in the past, and while at age 33 he isn't young, that age is usually not at the point of no return either.

One other note - even though I've played in countless leagues with Chris Liss, this is the first time we've faced each other in one of these expert leagues, in this "only" format. Because we've spent so much time talking about the players on the show, there are some players clearly that we've reached a consensus about, and moreover, we know at least a handful of the players that each other liked. He may have thought that I was price-enforcing him on some of his guys, but it's more of a case that I liked the same player at the rate he was going. You can see more about Chris' team here.

The full results of the auction are also up here.