TDGx2 From My Point Of View
The Dynasty Guru has now been my home for writing for exactly six months now. Upon being recruited to post my many data-driven thoughts about fantasy baseball I was also invited to join in the second coming of the TDG writers’ fantasy baseball league. The league was set up to be a 20 team deep dynasty league with 25 man rosters accompanied by a 15 player minor league extended roster. This league would give me a chance to experience many firsts: it was my first 20 team league, my first “keep forever” dynasty league and the first time I’d play in a league completely filled with people unfamiliar to me. Though the newness of each of these features would soon fade, some quicker than others, I wanted to share my perspective on joining my first dynasty start-up league in my 20-year fantasy baseball career.
Starting A Dynasty League From Scratch
Before I jump into the TDGx2 draft, or my impressions of the setup, I want to give a brief background of my previous leagues so you have some context. I’ve been playing in mostly 12-team mixed leagues for the past 20 years. My longest tenured league is the league I commish with my longest-tenured friends, of which some of us have been playing in fantasy leagues together since the early 90s. That league is a salary/contract league where the average team will keep anywhere between 12 and 18 players on a 25-man roster. Our minor league system is modest, just 10 players each. That’s due to the fact that our contracts originate from low starting points ($1-$4) against a ~$200 cap. I have a couple versions of this league I play in that have been started by other friends who grew up playing in my format. These leagues are all 5×5 or 6×6 roto category leagues. This is the format I most enjoy. I’m also invested in one redraft league that is my only other head-to-head roto categories league – there are approximately 14 categories.
Needless to say, TDGx2 was going to be a drastic change for me. The player depth was going to be chief among hurdles. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t was randomly googling names for the last 10 rounds of the draft. My approach to the draft was to let the chips fall where they may. I didn’t invest keepers into the invisible hand process because I didn’t much care where I drafted. I had decided early on that I would reach for whatever players I wanted, whenever I wanted them. My only rule was that my first five picks each had to: 1) have an immense ceiling, 2) be major league ready, and 3) be in their prime for the next five years.
Step One: Five Picks With A Five-Year Window In Mind
I approached this with a five-year plan mentality. I ended up picking last in the first round, which was fine by me and meant I would always have two picks simultaneously with long gaps in between. My first pick was a slam dunk for me, Ronald Acuña. I didn’t own him in my other two keeper leagues and he fit the requirements for building my team. My second pick was really a coin flip for me. I was either going to take Yoan Moncada or Vladimir Guerrero Jr. In the end, I opted for Yoan Moncada, mostly due to the fact that he has 20SB potential and already had a year of seasoning under his belt. Both had sizable ceilings, but this was my tie-breaker. When it finally got back to me for my third and fourth picks, I found myself pivoting slightly. Originally I didn’t plan to select pitcher or catcher prior to Round 6, but I was looking at the draft board and already dreaming about moving my competition window up to 2018. I snagged Buster Posey because I feel he’s a safe OBP player over the next three years and Robbie Ray because I really believe he has the potential to become a capital “A” Ace with a pile of Ks, despite his peripherals (like Chris Archer). I didn’t mind the idea of his blow ups in a weekly head-to-head format.
A very nice thing happened between my 4th and 5th picks: no player I was considering went off the board (though I’d have considered Nola had I not already taken Ray, I just wasn’t going to take two SPs this early). With my fifth pick, I selected Greg Bird and his immense upside in an OBP/HR league. For my sixth pick, I took the very close to the majors Brendan Rodgers. This completed step one of my two-step plan.
Step Two: Add Sneaky Good Players & More High-End Value Pitching
Now that I knew I was sliding my contention window to 2018, I decided to pick up OBP/HR heavy players that other people were likely avoiding up to this point. Eric Thames, Justin Smoak, Marwin Gonzalez and Adrian Beltre were the high OBP sneaky-good players I had on my radar. I was totally buying into the Marwin and Smoak swing changes and I wasn’t worried about Thames running out of gas again in Milwaukee this year. He’s an overachiever who’s very driven for success. Sandwiched around these three were my favorite value “aces” in Blake Snell and Chase Anderson. These five players personify my valuation system and validate the research I maintain during the season. I also made one other sneaky good pick at #740 taking Kyle Gibson, who would become the subject of my bold prediction for this year.
Where’s The Holds?
For the record, I’m the worst at reliever valuation. Part of this is my background. I’ve been championing the “all holds should be rewarded the same” movement and got rid of saves years ago in my primary league. For that reason, I also know that there are a ton of relievers out there that have value. The other thing I know is that I tend to undervalue saves and holds, even moreso than homer runs – I play in a lot of total bases leagues so I have a blind spot here and TDGx2 was no different for me. At this point I was determined to add two of my favorite relievers who were still on the board: Addison Reed and Chris Devenski. I felt like Reed was a poor man’s Andrew Miller and Devenski has nasty stuff. I wasn’t worried about his drop-off in the second half of 2017 because the Astros has worked him overtime in the first half, and coming into 2018 the Astros had added a lot of depth to their bullpen and I felt Devenski would put him elite numbers with proper usage. I continued the Astros theme by adding Brad Peacock, who I thought would both the beneficiary of the innings vacated by Devenski and would also likely see some starts over the course of the next few years with an aging Astros staff. As my pitching binge came to an end, I added my favorite value pick, another undervalued ace, Charlie Morton (and wow he hasn’t disappointed a bit).
Time To Add the Home Runs
Remember that home run blind spot I talked about? It was totally true. So I started bingeing on players who I thought could contribute in this category regardless of their OBP talent. Welcome aboard Josh Reddick (OBP was a bonus!), Scott Schebler, Tim Beckham and David Peralta. Thank goodness that was over quickly. That was pretty much the stunning conclusion to my 2018 plan right there. All that was left was to start adding prospect talent from which I could trade in the coming years to support my title hopes.
Once we meandered into the season I was able to form more impressions on both the positive and negative side, from my perspective. I’ll begin by stating my biases:
- I hate head-to-head leagues. They are the bane of my existence. In a sport dominated by the need for a large sample size, I hate having my team judged on six or seven games at a time. This became even more evident to me the week I lost all the pitching categories for not hitting the 25 IP minimum (one of my starters was scratched late on a Monday after lineups were locked and 2 relievers were used for a single inning that week, if you’re curious).
- I don’t like home run leagues. I find it caps my creativity in finding SLG/TB breakouts from non-over-the-wall power hitters
- I don’t like “keep forever” dynasty leagues. I feel they lack the essential pressure necessary to keep leagues moving and alive
There, I did it, hopefully without sounding too negative. So what I have learned from my first two months on the job in my first dynasty league?
- I knew, but didn’t know, or realize, how much you’d need to rely on trading to fill roster gaps
- Surprised to be able to add a couple decent pieces off the waiver wire (Caleb Smith, Jeremey Jeffress)
- Keep forever tends to force the in-or-out mentality rather quickly, making it a league of haves and have-nots (well have-for-the-futures maybe).
- I’m still way beyond my knowledge depth. I’m not bidding on the new prospects that are creating value and I’m likely rostering dead-weight prospects because I don’t have the time to invest into learning with whom I should replace them
- I’m still very willing to trade uncertain future (e.g.- Brendan Rodgers) for controllable above-average-production now (e.g. – Didi Gregorious)
- I’m still willing to trade injury risk (e.g.- Greg Bird) for production where I have negative value players (e.g. – Jed Lowrie to plug my UT hole, hey-o)
All in all, I’m satisfied with my experience. It’s meeting my expectations for what I had hoped to get out of TDGx2, which was mainly to grow my prospect depth knowledge to dominate my 12-team mixed leagues. If I were to make one change, it would be to make it a yearly roto categories league rather than head-to-head. A couple other owners lamented that this wasn’t a daily transaction league, but at this depth, I can’t imagine it’s worth my time to manage the couple extra innings, starts or games played I’d get from the bench depth we roster at this level. I don’t really consider that advanced strategy at the 20-team level, just luck in both roster depth and health and such.
I still consider 12-team leagues my bread and butter and they produce my highest enjoyment level. I enjoy roster churn and finding value in “what can I trade, but still replace on the waiver wire”. Maybe it’s just what I grew up with. I also fulfill a lot of needs for “super deep leagues” by playing OOTP leagues for full management simulation. That’s where I stand for now!
Appendix: My Trades
|Tue May 8, 2018, 4:40PM||Jim Melichar||Ryne||Rodgers, Brendan SS – COL||Executed||6|
|Jim Melichar||Ryne||Ray, Robbie SP – ARI||6|
|Ryne||Jim Melichar||Keller, Mitch SP – PIT||6|
|Ryne||Jim Melichar||Gregorius, Didi SS – NYY||6|
|Sun May 6, 2018, 10:41PM||Jim Melichar||Ryne||Bird, Greg 1B – NYY||Executed||6|
|Ryne||Jim Melichar||Nicasio, Juan RP – SEA||6|
|Ryne||Jim Melichar||Lowrie, Jed 2B – OAK||6|
|Ryne||Jim Melichar||Roark, Tanner SP – WAS||6|
|Tue Mar 13, 2018, 11:44AM||Jim Melichar||Merkel||Thames, Eric 1B – MIL||Executed||1|
|Merkel||Jim Melichar||Burnes, Corbin (R) SP – MIL||1|