Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tales from the Goatpen: Introducing the Katy Kiwis

I thought that I would bang up a quick post on how the Katy Kiwis got into the horrible, horrible player personnel mess that they are in.  And whose fault it is.  Actually, I can answer the fault-question right now... everybody else's.  I mean, who had the temerity to choose Jeff Bagwell 1994 at first base.  If he had been there in the third round, I would have totally drafted him!

I am not sure whether the other "team owners" plan to post articles about their team - I am guessing that you may see an article or two, but I would certainly not expect 8 wordy accounts of "what the heck was I thinking?"

For those who are interested, the original link outlining the concept is here.  The teams are on this google spreadsheet here.  And a hilarious conversation that resulted in the drafting of Brandon Duckworth is here.  But essentially, the plan is to draft any Astros player, choose a year, and sim them all against each other on OOTP 15.

Finally, a quick disclaimer.  I have not participated in a draft of any form, ever.  This was totally a new experience for me, so I had no feel for how to draft, what to look for, and so forth.  My tactic was to look for guys on baseball-reference, and try and predict when the other owners would whisk them off the table.  I missed on a few guys because they were more valuable than I thought they would be, including some starting pitchers, and the odd other player like Luke Scott or Sean Berry.

I was thinking... that I wanted a lineup with few weak spots, and some up-the-middle strength - a least relative to the other options at each position.  My general impression of really good teams is that every spot in the order is a challenge for the opposing pitcher.  I think I mostly got that, but at the expense of a really top starting rotation.  When it was apparent that I was in trouble with my rotation, I tried to create a solid bullpen, which I also think I mostly did.  But sadly, I missed out on Brandon Duckworth.

My first pick was... Lance Berkman, and I was keen to put him in CF for up the middle strength.  If I were managing in real life, Big Puma would spend most of the later innings in LF or RF after starting in CF, and some speedster would come in to man the expansive CF acreage at MMP for defensive reasons.  Hoping he keeps it together in CF - I am not sure how the sim is going to approach that one.

What isn't apparent from looking at my lineup is... the fact that I have platoons at C and 1B.  Geoff Blum, who was pretty darn good against righties in '02, forms the fat part of the 1B platoon (as well as backing up short) and Downs can mash lefties - or could in 2011 - as well as backing up second.  Jason Castro needs to sit on the odd day, and I plan to achieve that by having him sit against lefties.  John Bateman has his only good offensive year in 1966, and this was driven mostly by lefty mashing (although he hit everyone well that year), so I grabbed him to platoon with Castro.

The hardest position to draft... was definitely first base.  I guess I could shove the Puma in there, but not in 2001, which was probably his best year offensively.  But what is interesting is that once Berkman and Bagwell were off the table (i.e. the first two picks) there are not too many other standout seasons - at least from an offensive perspective.  If there were, they were often shared with other positions - guys that played left field as well, for example.  I guess that is what you get when Berkman and Bagwell dominate the position for much of the last 25 years.

The easiest position to draft... was third base.  It felt like there were a bunch of candidates who had the odd good season there.  I didn't choose 3B until after most of the other positions, the 'pen and the starting rotation was mostly set.  In fact, Chris Johnson was among my last five or so choices, and I still had time to draft Chris Donnels after him.  Both of those guys had good years with the Astros, and didn't demonstrate much of a platoon split.  Unlike first base, there seemed to be a few more choices at the hot corner.

I like... my bullpen.  I missed on Billy Wags, but the Constable took him with... like... his third pick of the draft.  I have a confession to make, however.  I was looking for good lefties out of the 'pen, pulled up Xavier Hernandez's b-r page, saw Left at the top, and thought "that's my guy!".  Only the L was for batting.  Sigh.  I remembered him from my very early days of baseball fandom - playing for the Rangers - so I had an inkling that he was a righty, but I didn't check until after he was drafted.  But he was still pretty decent, and I am trying to organise it so that he and Mike Magnante to throw some high-leverage at-bats in the 6th and 7th, as well as do the middle reliever grunt work.

Finally... Rusty Staub (aka Le Grand Orange) had a nice career.  I didn't know too much about him until I started research for this draft - his career predates the ability to get baseball on TV in this country.  Overall, he hit .279/.362/.431, with 2716 hits, 499 2B, 292 HR, and a career OPS+ of 124, playing until he was 41.  Very decent.

If someone has a story to tell about Rusty being deprived of a double, please share it in the comments below.  One more, and he gets to 500.

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