...And I Need to Go On, On, on, on   (10/08/01)

The Sandox Mock Draft season has finally come to a close after a record setting year with plenty of drama.

League champions often are the beneficiary of surprisingly good seasons from unexpected sources.  This year, the list of super-sleepers is a historic one.  Given what they've done over the course of their careers, the seasons that Barry Bonds, Luis Gonzales, Paul LoDuca, Bret Boone and Rich Aurilia had this year have to be considered among the biggest fluke seasons ever.  What Bonds and Gonzales did is especially freakish, probably falling in the same category as that of Brady Anderson's 1996 season.

Unfortunately, ...Jumanji! had none of these guys and the SF Mock Woodmen had 3 of them.  But for the purposes of determining this year's champion, it didn't matter.

The Standings
                                    Starting P         Relief P        Hitters FP
Rank  Team                        FP    G   FP/G    FP    G  FP/G    FP    G   FP/G   Total
1     ...Jumanji!                2863  162  17.7   1149  140  8.2   5038  1568  3.2    9050
2     SF Mock Woodmen            2385  162  14.7   1132  140  8.1   5377  1577  3.4    8894
3     BaseballHQ Bombers         2726  162  16.8    998  139  7.2   4560  1551  2.9    8284
4     Sandbox Sports             2372  161  14.7   1188  140  8.5   4501  1559  2.9    8061
5     The Write Stuff            2576  156  16.5   1017  136  7.5   4400  1505  2.9    7993
6     Dr. Stats Juggernauts      2961  162  18.3   1035  135  7.7   3913  1490  2.6    7909
7     Fantasy Baseball HQ        2579  162  15.9   1136  140  8.1   4184  1558  2.7    7899
8     Press Room Pundits         2273  161  14.1    839  140  6.0   4166  1560  2.7    7278
9     WSS Hurlers                2562  162  15.8    773  140  5.5   3901  1495  2.6    7236
10    Desert Dwelling Scalawags  2035  162  12.6    632  132  4.8   4523  1553  2.9    7190

Note: (click on the team name for the owner's end of year comments)

... Jumanji!'s combination of the second most productive starting pitching, relief AND offense proved up to the task of overcoming the Nintendo-like production of the Woodmen's hitters.  In the process, they became the first team in memory to top 9000 points.

I've paid my dues, time after time...

Before the draft began, I made a compisite list of projections by cross referencing 2 different sources (if you're interested, I used the projections from Ron Shandler's Baseball HQ and John Mosey's site).  For certain players, I did modify the amount of playing time they were projected to get.  For example, given his offseason, I thought Cliff Floyd would stay relatively healthy this year.  For players coming off injury years, like Floyd, Matt Morris and Kerry Wood, I used their last healthy year as the basis for their projections.

Then I modified those results to reflect what I thought the effect of the higher strike would be.  Essentially, it was a multiplier based on strikeout and walk frequencies, but it gave added edge to hard throwing pitchers and high contact hitters.

Anyway, here are my projected fantasy point totals for players who began the season on ...Jumanji! and their actual end of season points.  I've also included some notes to explain disparities and roster changes.

Name             Projected    Actual    Notes                                            .
Ben Davis           235         248    :-).  Used 2nd catcher for roughly 30 games.
Ramon Hernandez     264         296     Toby Hall (135 FPs) and Ivan Rodriguez (351 FPs) contributed
Carlos Delgado      595         497     5-year low in doubles proved costly
Ryan Klesko         527         535     :-)
Jose Vidro          448         353    lost 20 games to beaning injury; 150-game projection: 427 FPs.
Alex Rodriguez      658         628     Injuries to teammates decreased his RBI and R opps
Phil Nevin          468         439    Made mistake of projecting for 155 games.
Vladimir Guerrero   603         558     2Bs and SBs helped offset a 3-year low in HRs
Bobby Abreu         552         563     Lance Berkman was used in this spot - projected/actual FPs :532/574.
Cliff Floyd         520         536     All he needed was decent health and no freak injuries.  :-)
Moises Alou         535         471     lost 18 games to leg injury; 150-game projection: 519 FPs
Kerry Wood          656         546    lost 6 starts to shoulder injury; 34-start projection: 659 FPs.  :-)
Matt Morris         577         666     Projected 17-10 record, finished 22-8 - FP difference of 60 points.
Hideo Nomo          475         569    replaced with Wade Miller - projected/actual FPs: 542/591
Javier Vazquez      544         707     much better than projected, largely due to wins and shutouts
AJ Burnett          456         418    Mark Mulder was used in this spot - projected/actual FPs :477/718
Billy Wagner        585         550     Got fewer save opps than expected
John Rocker         606         326    Mid-season meltdown and trade; replaced by Bob Wickman - 527 FPs  .
                   9304        8928

And bad mistakes, I've made a few...

My starting roster went largely unchanged after the first month of the season which is a testament to the strength of my draft.  Given that I missed a number of excellent individual pitching performances, including 2 no-hitters, it looks very much like the season was won there rather than through anything I did in the season.

In fact, my roster manipulations may have cost me my chance at 9500 points as much as any of the injuries and sub-standard performances.  Neither of the trades I made did anything to help my cause.  Ichiro Suzuki, one of my early waiver pick-ups, ended up outperforming Berkman by a small margin.  Had Ashby not gotten injured, this could have been a lopsided deal and not in my favor.  The deal I made for Ivan Rodriguez went for naught as he got injured and was out for the season less than 2 weeks after I acquired him while Abreu and Cory Lidle continued to produce at a high level for the rest of the season.  The silver lining for me was Jim Edmonds' final month, which has worth about 45 extra points, a fortunate boon when Floyd slumped.

On the plus side, I acquired Mark Mulder and Wade Miller very early in the season.  I also picked up Bob Wickman before he regained favor in Cleveland.  Those 3 in-season acquisitions alone were worth around 500 extra points and probably offset any bad moves that I made, although I missed a few of their good performances also.

I've had my share of sand kicked in my face, but I've come through...

I caught a lot of grief for my Kerry Wood pick in the second round and for my high esteem of Matt Morris.

As I pointed out in the chart above, Wood's FP/G rate would have given him 659 points had he gotten 34 starts.  That would have been good for 10th overall, ahead of Tom Glavine and Tim Hudson who were selected ahead of him but, unlike Pedro Martinez and Kevin Brown - who were also selected ahead of Wood but finished also with fewer than 659 FPs - did not fall victim to injury.  As it stands, Wood finished the season 26th overall.  He also finished:
1st in the majors in opponents batting average
2nd in the majors in opponents slugging percentage - .006 points behind Randy Johnson
5th overall in strikeouts
13th overall in ERA
While his points total probably doesn't merit it, I still feel really good about picking him when I did.  I also think that he's gonna go in the 2nd round of a LOT of drafts next year.

As for Morris, David Srinivasan of the Sporting News wrote, " Anyone who drafted him and expected more than 10 wins and 140 innings was probably hopped up on goofballs during their draft."  Well, that or they knew he entered this season with the third best career ERA in the majors for pitchers with at least 350 innings pitched.  And they also probably knew that Andy Benes and Garrett Stephenson weren't good enough to keep him out of the Cardinal's rotation.  Talent and opportunity - Morris had it and while it may not have been obvious to some, no mind-expanding substances were needed to recognize it.

No time for losers...

While it wasn't a perfect season, it was still pretty good... good enough to beat some very good fantasy players at the top of their games and survive some historic performances.

It's been a great deal of fun, and I am disappointed that there won't be another Sandbox Mock Draft next year as they have decided not to offer any on-staff fantasy commentary in the future.  Perhaps what I've done here will be enough to get me a chance to participate in another experts league.  I certainly hope so, but who knows.

What I do know is this - at the beginning of the season, I outlined what I was going to do and why I thought it would work.  I described how I was going to assemble my team, and once the draft commenced, exactly why I favored each of the players I chose.  After the draft, I detailed my in-season strategy week by week where my competitors could see what I was thinking and doing.  While I am happy that ...Jumanji! is the 2001 Sandbox Mock Draft Expert's League Champion, what I'm proudest of is that I understood how to apply the knowledge I had to it's fullest potential.

I just hope that I was able to help you, the reader, do the same.