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The Perfect 2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft
Nate Springfield | Wednesday July 13th, 2011
The Home Run Derby champ and best first round value. (Icon SMI)
The Home Run Derby champ and best first round value. (Icon SMI)
Around this time every baseball season, one sees a variety of articles on any given year's first half fantasy all-stars.  This article is one of them, but with a slight twist:  instead of naming players that gave owners the best "bang for their buck" or all of the "sleeper picks" that have already vanished from waiver wires everywhere, this fantasy team will be selected with a few more guidelines.

Using Mock Draft Central's 2011 average draft position (ADP) list, we've picked a player from each round to assemble a Yahoo! standard fantasy league roster.  No rounds were skipped (even though there were a couple of really weak rounds) and any player with an ADP above 216 was not eligible to be included.  Conceivably, if you drafted "perfectly", this could have been your roster for a standard 5x5 Yahoo! league, and it is a very good one.

Pos Player
Team
Round ADP
C
Miguel Montero
ARI
11 123
1B Paul Konerko
CHW
6
66
2B Robinson Cano
NYY
1 8
3B Jose Bautista
TOR
4
37
SS Jose Reyes
NYM
3
33
OF Matt Kemp
LAD
2
21
OF
Curtis Granderson
NYY
7
73
OF
Chris Young
ARI
8 95
UTIL
Gaby Sanchez
FLA
14 164
UTIL
Jeff Francoeur
KC
17 204
SP Justin Verlander
DET
5
59
SP Shaun Marcum
MIL
9 108
RP Francisco Rodriguez
NYM
10 120
RP Huston Street
COL
12 144
P Gio Gonzalez
OAK
13 145
P James Shields
TB
15 177
P Jaime Garcia
STL
16 185
P Jordan Walden
LAA
18 216
.
Below is a comparison of this "perfect draft" team's 5-by-5 rotisserie stats and the stats of the number top-ranked Yahoo! public fantasy league team, Jump Off The Lidge.  Our perfect draft team clearly leads in all five offensive categories but trails in the quantitative pitcher stats, though it's worth noting that Jump Off The Lidge has pitched 892.2 innings and the perfect draft team has only hurled 755.2 innings this season.  Keep in mind that this is a Yahoo! standard roster.

Team Runs
HR
RBI
SB AVG W S
K
ERA WHIP
Jump Off The Lidge 502
124
491
100 .286 65 93
754
2.97 1.15
Perfect Draft Team 557
169
552
113 .298 48 69
721
2.74 1.13

As mentioned above, some draft rounds contained difficult choices.  Robinson Cano's selection in the first round was made because there were other great first base options in later rounds, but few great second basemen.  The selections in rounds eight (Chris Young) and nine (Shaun Marcum) were also difficult because there was a lack of talent to choose from.

Ideally, I would have selected different closers, but top-tier options like Mariano Rivera and Brian Wilson would have required very high draft picks.  Adversely, cheaper options who have well outperformed their ADP like Joel Hanrahan and Craig Kimbrel did not have a high enough ADP to be selected.

Without a doubt, the selected players' biggest key to success in 2011 has been lack of injury.  Injuries have affected player performance more this season than in most, and the players listed above have stayed largely healthy, allowing them to perform up to (and probably beyond) their draft day value.
Nate SpringfieldNate Springfield joined the Baseball Press crew for the 2010 season and hosts the site's podcast. His love for the game has grown thanks to fantasy baseball, with a specialty in NL-only auction leagues. You can contact him at nate@baseballpress.com or follow him on Twitter @NateSpringfield.