Fantasy Baseball 2014: B/R Experts' Final 25-Round Mock Draft, Version 3.0
The title indicates that this article features another mock draft—but this time, it counts. That's because your friendly, neighborhood Bleacher Report MLB writers and editors gathered to pick players for a fantasy league that actually will be carried out going forward.
By now, many of you have presumably had your draft already, but some are still hearing that internal countdown tick-tocking in your head, keeping time so you know exactly how many hours it is until you and your leaguemates start making picks.
Either way, this round-by-round review of the Bleacher Report experts' league will give you a little extra insight into how those of us who cover baseball—both the real and fake kind—are evaluating players and making selections from a fantasy perspective.
To that end, in addition to the usual analysis from yours truly, each of the participating owners has submitted two bonus elements—the "pick I wound up stealing" and the "pick that left me reeling"—that will run as part of the breakdown. Those super-clever rhyming components should be pretty self-explanatory, no?
If you followed along with the 15-team, 23-round mock draft back in February and then the 12-team, 25-round mock earlier this month, you know by now that the point of mock drafting is to learn something while having fun.
That said, nothing beats making selections when that internal tick-tocking eventually transforms into a very real countdown, when the picks actually matter. That's what happened when 10 Bleacher Report baseball writers and editors gathered over cyberspace to embark on a virtual journey to try and out-draft, outwit and generally outdo each other.
What follows is a look at how everything shook out.
Scoring and Settings
Before we get to the picks, here's some background.
This draft was held on March 22 via Yahoo Fantasy Baseball and is set up for a league with a weekly head-to-head, two-division format that uses 6x6 category scoring: BA, R, HR, RBI, SB and OPS for hitters; W, ERA, WHIP, K, SV and K/BB for pitchers. Because Yahoo is the host site, all positions will be listed based on their database.
There were 25 rounds, and the lineup positions are as follows: one each for catcher, first base, second base, third base, shortstop, middle infield, corner infield and utility; three outfielders; three starting pitchers; two relief pitchers; four pitcher spots (starters or relievers); and five bench spots.
Got all that?
Here's a list of the 10 Bleacher Report MLBers who are involved in the league, listed in alphabetical order by division, along with their site bios, Twitter handles and team names:
"Nuke" LaLoosh Division
- Karl Buscheck (@KarlBuscheck): Karl's Team
- Jason Catania (@JayCat11): Trout Wars
- Joe Giglio (@JoeGiglioSports): Team Giglio
- Stephen Meyer (@StephenMeyer_BR): Betances with Wolves
- Mike Rosenbaum (@GoldenSombrero): The Mighty Sombrero
"Squints" Palledorous Division
- Andrew Gould (@AndrewGould4): Ya Heard with Perd
- Joel Reuter (@JoelReuterBR): New York Knights
- Zachary D. Rymer (@zachrymer): Allan Travers 4ever
- Jason Soukup: Paul Assenmacher
- Rick Weiner (@RickWeinerBR): Upton No Good
Oh, and yours truly scored the No. 9 overall pick, which allowed me to fill out a certain portion of my starting lineup right quick.
Let's get to the picks already, shall we?
|Allan Travers 4ever||1||Mike Trout||OF|
|New York Knights||2||Miguel Cabrera||3B|
|Paul Assenmacher||3||Paul Goldschmidt||1B|
|Upton No Good||4||Clayton Kershaw||SP|
|Karl's Team||5||Andrew McCutchen||OF|
|Betances with Wolves||6||Hanley Ramirez||SS|
|Team Giglio||7||Bryce Harper||OF|
|The Mighty Sombrero||8||Carlos Gonzalez||OF|
|Trout Wars||9||Robinson Cano||2B|
|Ya Heard with Perd||10||Adrian Beltre||3B|
My Pick: Robinson Cano, 2B, Seattle Mariners
Some have soured on Cano a bit—not only because he is no longer a Yankee but also because he is now a Mariner.
There's likely to be a little dip in his counting categories (namely runs and RBI), but he's still the top second baseman—a position with few other high-end options and little depth—and a first-rounder in my eyes, so getting him at No. 9 overall is about right. Plus, Cano's yearly consistency, as well as the fact that he's basically a lock for 150-plus games, carries a little extra weight in head-to-head leagues (H2H), where every week counts.
Upon finding out the draft order—and seeing Zachary D. Rymer, unabashed lover of Mike Trout, atop the picking order—the question of which player would go first overall was answered before the draft even began. Then again, given that most everyone in B/R's MLB crew is a Trout-a-holic, it probably wouldn't have mattered who pulled the top spot, even when the extra offensive category—OPS—should favor Miguel Cabrera.
Taking a pitcher in Round 1, let alone fourth overall, is always tricky when there are arms aplenty available later on and with hitters being so valuable up front. But in H2H play, Rick Weiner can now say that Clayton Kershaw is his pitching-statistics anchor each week.
Hanley Ramirez, Bryce Harper and Carlos Gonzalez are all first-rounders based on talent, but each is also a serious injury risk, which can tank a team in this format; losing a star player for multiple weeks means your team might lose for multiple weeks. Hope Stephen Meyer, Joe Giglio and Mike Rosenbaum have contingency plans.
|Ya Heard with Perd||11||Chris Davis||1B|
|Trout Wars||12||Prince Fielder||1B|
|The Mighty Sombrero||13||Ryan Braun||OF|
|Team Giglio||14||Joey Votto||1B|
|Betances with Wolves||15||Yu Darvish||SP|
|Karl's Team||16||Evan Longoria||3B|
|Upton No Good||17||Troy Tulowitzki||SS|
|Paul Assenmacher||18||Adam Jones||OF|
|New York Knights||19||Carlos Gomez||OF|
|Allan Travers 4ever||20||Edwin Encarnacion||1B/3B|
My Pick: Prince Fielder, 1B, Texas Rangers
If you've followed me throughout this fantasy rankings season, you know full well that I'm buying Fielder bouncing back in 2014, especially now that he's in one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the game and hitting in the heart of what could be the highest-scoring lineup around.
Ryan Braun, who went with the very next pick, was my second choice—I'm buying a bounce-back season there, too.
There's plenty of risk with Chris Davis, but man, for Andrew Gould to to land that kind of potential power production (40-50 homers and 120-plus RBI) with his second selection is pretty crazy.
Joey Votto in the middle of Round 2 in a league that uses OPS? Nicely done, Giglio. Nicely done.
The Yu Darvish choice was made prior to the news that he will miss his Opening Day start due to a neck injury, per T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com, so don't get too worked up if you were questioning that one. If Meyer is right, Darvish's ability to whiff 10-plus hitters in any given start will give his team an arm up in strikeouts most weeks.
Adam Jones' inability to take a walk (25 walks in 2013) hurts him in this format, because his OPS tops out around .830 (.839 in 2012, .811 last year). However, he also plays every day, hits in a very deep lineup and comes up big (or at least chips in) in every other category. Ultimately, if that continues, he's a strong value for Jason Soukup at No. 18.
I have to say, Rymer's take of Edwin Encarnacion to round out this batch looks even better in hindsight for one very underrated reason: he's eligible at third base! Yowza.
|Allan Travers 4ever||21||Adam Wainwright||SP|
|New York Knights||22||Felix Hernandez||SP|
|Paul Assenmacher||23||Jason Kipnis||2B|
|Upton No Good||24||Max Scherzer||SP|
|Karl's Team||25||Stephen Strasburg||SP|
|Betances with Wolves||26||Dustin Pedroia||2B|
|Team Giglio||27||Giancarlo Stanton||OF|
|The Mighty Sombrero||28||David Wright||3B|
|Trout Wars||29||Justin Verlander||SP|
|Ya Heard with Perd||30||Cliff Lee||SP|
My Pick: Justin Verlander, SP, Detroit Tigers
I wasn't expecting to take a starter when this round began, but after Adam Wainwright, Felix Hernandez, Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg went off the board within five selections, it was clear there was a run going on.
I don't normally recommend joining in on a run if you're not getting a guy you absolutely love, but in this case, that's how I felt about Verlander. He looks healthy and back to normal this spring, following offseason surgery on his core that should help him fix his mechanics that were all discombobulated in 2013. I'm choosing to trust the talent, and I think it's within the range of outcomes that he could return to being the game's top fantasy pitcher by season's end.
I can also justify this take because, in H2H play, having at least one starter capable of domination is a little more important than it is in rotisserie-style scoring, where it's easier to load up on quantity and still get the job done. H2H is more about efficiency, especially if you want to keep those ratios (ERA, WHIP, K/BB) looking spiffy over a seven-day period.
Apparently, my league mates felt the same way I did, as six of the 10 choices in this round were starting pitchers, none of whom were selected out of line with expectations. The same goes for the four hitters. In other words, there were not many nits to pick here.
Pick I Wound Up Stealing: Joe Giglio (Team Giglio)
Stephen Strasburg, SP, Washington Nationals (Round 3, No. 25 overall)
Years ago, I stopped participating in multiple fantasy leagues. Between the time, effort and (sometimes) league fees involved, the fun was weighed down by the work.
This year, I jumped back into two leagues: the one longtime league that I've been a part of and this B/R MLB bonanza. When draft prep rolled around for both, I wanted one pitcher: Stephen Strasburg. Not only could this be the breakout season for the 25-year-old star, but the idea of him having a legitimate NL Cy Young battle with Clayton Kershaw isn't out of the question.
To be fair, I passed up on him twice (in both leagues) and banked on nabbing the Nationals ace in the third round. For the second time in as many drafts, I was thwarted by a forward-thinking owner—in this case, Mr. Buscheck—who must have had a premonition of Strasburg's name being called quickly.
Pick That Left Me Reeling: Stephen Meyer (Betances with Wolves)
Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Boston Red Sox (Round 3, No. 26 overall)
I let the name woo me when there was much better value at second base later on. Matt Carpenter went in the fifth round, and a motivated Ian Kinsler went in the seventh.
Jumping early at Pedroia made me lose out on my starting-pitching targets before my fourth-round pick came up, as both Justin Verlander and Jose Fernandez were off the board. This created a domino effect that had me take a risk on Jose Bautista at No. 35 overall, with my original plan for the pick now lost.
|Ya Heard with Perd||31||Jacoby Ellsbury||OF|
|Trout Wars||32||Shin-Soo Choo||OF|
|The Mighty Sombrero||33||Freddie Freeman||1B|
|Team Giglio||34||Jose Fernandez||SP|
|Betances with Wolves||35||Jose Bautista||OF|
|Karl's Team||36||Madison Bumgarner||SP|
|Upton No Good||37||Chris Sale||SP|
|Paul Assenmacher||38||Yasiel Puig||OF|
|New York Knights||39||David Price||SP|
|Allan Travers 4ever||40||Buster Posey||C/1B|
My Pick: Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Texas Rangers
Just to make it crystal clear how much I like the Rangers offense this year, I went ahead and doubled down by snatching up Choo. As an on-base machine (.389 career OBP, .423 in 2013), he'll have a robust OPS. And hitting atop Texas' one-through-nine, he could come close to matching the 107 runs he scored while leading off for the Reds last season.
Oh, and another 20-20 campaign is possible, considering he's done that three times in the past five years.
Jacoby Ellsbury dropped about a round below where he usually goes, which was due in part to his built-in OPS ceiling (.781 in 2013) as well as the calf injury that cropped up right around the time we drafted.
Every other selection in this round was more or less chalk, meaning B/R's MLB folks weren't yet doing anything out of the ordinary or inadvisable. If there was one pick to call out, it would be Buster Posey, simply because taking a catcher in the first four rounds is risky—their counting stats can be limited by not playing every day.
Posey, though, will see time at first base, so he could play 140-150 games in total, and he unquestionably has the highest upside at the position, especially in regards to his power. If Rymer was targeting him specifically for those reasons, he almost certainly would have had to take Posey with one of his book-end picks, as it's unlikely Posey still would have been available 19 turns later.
|Allan Travers 4ever||41||Ian Desmond||SS|
|New York Knights||42||David Ortiz||1B|
|Paul Assenmacher||43||Zack Greinke||SP|
|Upton No Good||44||Albert Pujols||1B|
|Karl's Team||45||Justin Upton||OF|
|Betances with Wolves||46||Kenley Jansen||RP|
|Team Giglio||47||Jose Reyes||SS|
|The Mighty Sombrero||48||Allen Craig||1B/OF|
|Trout Wars||49||Jay Bruce||OF|
|Ya Heard with Perd||50||Matt Carpenter||2B/3B|
My Pick: Jay Bruce, OF, Cincinnati Reds
Because he's still only 26 (OK, 27 in April), it seems as though there's another level of production that Bruce reaches with his bat each year. That may or may not be the case in 2014, but I'm willing to find out if he's better than or "merely" .260-30-90 in Round 5, especially since I actually was debating Bruce or Choo with my previous choice.
With only three outfield spots to fill, I wanted to stock as much talent there as I could squeeze in. Again, this is another durable, reliable, power-oriented hitter to add to my growing stable of such players.
David Ortiz at No. 42 overall might be a bit steep...in a standard 5x5 league that doesn't tilt the edge to sluggers like ours does with OPS added in. Further adding to his value is that we are playing in a format where he is at first base. This was a sneaky smart take by Joel Reuter, methinks.
Did you notice what happened in this round? I bet you did. The top reliever taken was not, in fact, Craig Kimbrel but rather Kenley Jansen. Meyer took the Dodgers closer and 100-strikeout stud around where the first RP usually goes—No. 46 overall—but it raised at least my eyebrows that he went against everybody's No. 1 closer. Then again, how likely is it that the same guy winds up leading the most volatile position in the sport yet again at season's end? Eventually, Kimbrel's reign at the top will end.
|Ya Heard with Perd||51||Matt Holliday||OF|
|Trout Wars||52||Eric Hosmer||1B|
|The Mighty Sombrero||53||Jordan Zimmermann||SP|
|Team Giglio||54||Joe Mauer||C/1B|
|Betances with Wolves||55||Adrian Gonzalez||1B|
|Karl's Team||56||Craig Kimbrel||RP|
|Upton No Good||57||Wil Myers||OF|
|Paul Assenmacher||58||Gerrit Cole||SP|
|New York Knights||59||Hunter Pence||OF|
|Allan Travers 4ever||60||Jason Heyward||OF|
My Pick: Eric Hosmer, 1B, Kansas City Royals
As I said in the chat room right after drafting Hosmer, I could see him entering the MVP discussion this season, the 24-year-old's fourth in the majors. Hosmer is the heart of the Royals young, ever-improving order, and following a slow first two months, he went bonkers from June on: .318 BA, 68 R, 16 HR, 63 RBI, 8 SB and .862 OPS in just over 100 games.
I can hope on that level of production throughout the entire season in 2014, rather than across only four months. If that happens, Hosmer will be a fantasy force. Even if it doesn't and Hosmer is merely good to very good again, I love him as my corner infielder.
After the surprising Jansen-over-Kimbrel preference last round, there were a couple other pitcher picks that stood out from their typical average draft positions (ADPs): Jordan Zimmermann and Gerrit Cole.
The former will provide a boffo ERA and WHIP—and a boost in the additional K/BB category (4.03 in 2013)—but his strikeout total (161 last year) is less than average. That could leave Rosenbaum wanting more from what is his first pitcher.
The latter, meanwhile, offers all kinds of K-related upside. But at No. 58 overall, there's almost no room for Cole to turn a profit for Soukup, unless he actually becomes a top-15 fantasy SP in his first full year. Cole has the goods to do that, but maybe not just yet.
Pick That Left Me Reeling: Zachary D. Rymer (Allan Travers 4ever)
Jason Heyward, OF, Atlanta Braves (Round 6, No. 60 overall)
Um, let's just say I may or may not have gotten my nerd interests crossed here.
I'm of the mind that Heyward is Atlanta's best player and one of the National League's elites when he's healthy, but that's because I love his defense and baserunning ability. I'm going to need him to be a 20-20 guy with an OPS of at least .800 for this pick to pay off. I like his odds of doing so, but I don't love them.
|Allan Travers 4ever||61||Homer Bailey||SP|
|New York Knights||62||Anibal Sanchez||SP|
|Paul Assenmacher||63||Alex Rios||OF|
|Upton No Good||64||Ian Kinsler||2B|
|Karl's Team||65||Matt Cain||SP|
|Betances with Wolves||66||Starling Marte||OF|
|Team Giglio||67||Carlos Santana||C/1B|
|The Mighty Sombrero||68||Jose Abreu||1B|
|Trout Wars||69||Gio Gonzalez||SP|
|Ya Heard with Perd||70||Mat Latos||SP|
My Pick: Gio Gonzalez, SP, Washington Nationals
I had one eye on Carlos Santana and one on the idea of finding my second starting pitcher in Round 7. Had the OPS-friendly catcher-eligible Santana dropped merely two more spots, I would have gone for him. Alas, Giglio got there first.
Far from discouraged, I turned both eyes to the top available SPs and focused my gaze upon Gonzalez with the second-to-last pick of a round in which half the players selected were pitchers. His value is nicked a tad in our league, because he walks enough batters to keep his K/BB down—even if he whiffs 190-plus, like he has the past three seasons. Still, Gonzalez is one of the arms I like more than most, so I went with my gut.
The front half of this round was littered with players that I'm not a big fan of. In fact, Anibal Sanchez, Alex Rios and Ian Kinsler went in succession and at reasonable prices. While the last of that trio now has to deal with a less hitter-friendly park and is a constant injury concern, I see the former two as regression candidates—even after Sanchez led the AL with a 2.57 ERA in 2013 and Rios swiped a career-high 42 bases at age 32.
No matter how hard I try, I just can't get behind Starling Marte, who is too much of a free-swinger (25 walks in 2013) to provide OPS help or for owners to expect an outstanding level of production in anything but stolen bases. He's not a bad take in Round 7, by any means, but I just don't expect to own him on any of my teams this year.
On the contrary, I do like Jose Abreu—and I do own him on a few teams—but this is the earliest I've seen him go. In my opinion, he's one of a handful of extreme wild cards in fantasy in 2014, and Rosenbaum obviously sees him as an ace rather than a joker.
|Ya Heard with Perd||71||Jean Segura||SS|
|Trout Wars||72||Ryan Zimmerman||3B|
|The Mighty Sombrero||73||Xander Bogaerts||3B/SS|
|Team Giglio||74||James Shields||SP|
|Betances with Wolves||75||Yadier Molina||C|
|Karl's Team||76||Pablo Sandoval||3B|
|Upton No Good||77||Manny Machado||3B|
|Paul Assenmacher||78||Koji Uehara||RP|
|New York Knights||79||Trevor Rosenthal||RP|
|Allan Travers 4ever||80||Billy Hamilton||OF|
My Pick: Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Washington Nationals
A second straight National shows my faith in them on both sides of the ball, with Zimmerman's 25-homer bat following Gonzalez's 200-strikeout arm.
With no third baseman having been picked since David Wright in Round 3—Matt Carpenter went in Round 5, but he's a fantasy 2B—I like the value of getting a guy who could match Wright's production in every category except for stolen bases 44 picks later.
I like even more that my take kicked off a bit of a run on hot cornermen, with Xander Bogaerts, Pablo Sandoval and Manny Machado leaving the board before the end of the round.
Speaking of those other third basemen, I didn't quite get the appeal of Sandoval and Machado this early. I do like them, but both are injury concerns—especially Machado now that he's starting the season on the DL. Plus, there were still other 3B options to pick and choose from—remember that whole gap from Wright to Zimmerman I just mentioned?—meaning a choice didn't have to be made just yet, unless those were the two names Karl Buscheck and Weiner were targeting all along. And if so, they might have been able to wait another round, or maybe even two, to select them.
On the plus side of value, I thought Jean Segura in Round 8 was a nice move by Gould (see below). I know Segura's second half in 2013 was flat-out frightening (.241 BA, 1 HR, 13 RBI), but, as I noted on Twitter, he has the skill set to approach the level of Rafael Furcal in his prime—a 15-homer, 30-steal shortstop with a batting average in the .270-.290 range.
Similarly, James Shields might be Mr. Underrated in fantasy. He always throws 200 innings and always strikes out close to (or more than) 200. And in this K/BB format, his 3.54 ratio should have gotten more love from us. Frankly, I'm not sure I shouldn't have picked him over Gonzalez.
Koji Uehara and Trevor Rosenthal were also strong takes at this point by Soukup and Reuter, respectively. They have super K/BB numbers that will pump up that category for those owners.
The jury's out: Billy Hamilton could win the SB category for Rymer half a dozen times—or more—all by himself. Alas, he could be dead roster weight, especially with our scoring system, if he can't hit or get on base enough to have an OPS that is at least in the .650-.700 range.
Pick I Wound Up Stealing: Andrew Gould (Ya Heard with Perd)
Jean Segura, SS, Milwaukee Brewers (Round 8, No. 71 overall)
Like the rest of the draft room, I wouldn’t be surprised if the free-swinging Segura struggled to maintain a .294 batting average considering his second-half struggles last season. That’s fine, however, because I’ll gladly take a shortstop who hits .275-.280 with 10 homers and 35-40 steals. He showed pop in the minors and has always been known for his blazing speed, so I’m not too worried about those numbers dwindling.
Pick That Left Me Reeling: Jason Catania (Trout Wars)
Xander Bogaerts, 3B/SS, Boston Red Sox (Round 8, No. 73 overall)
This wasn't a particular pick so much as it was a particular owner: our resident prospect maven, Mr. Mike "I Like to Draft Rookies Way Earlier Than Their ADPs" Rosenbaum, who took three middle-infield options I was hoping would drop in Bogaerts, Jurickson Profar (Round 14) and Brad Miller (Round 17).
That left me with dwindling options to plug my vacant MI spot later in the draft, and while I was able to snag Anthony Rendon and Andrelton Simmons—both of whom I like to take steps forward in 2014—there was no way to know with any certainty when the next youngster was about to go with Rosenbaum constantly on the prowl for his prospect reaches.
|Allan Travers 4ever||81||Danny Salazar||SP|
|New York Knights||82||Michael Wacha||SP|
|Paul Assenmacher||83||Greg Holland||RP|
|Upton No Good||84||Alex Cobb||SP|
|Karl's Team||85||Masahiro Tanaka||SP|
|Betances with Wolves||86||Julio Teheran||SP|
|Team Giglio||87||Pedro Alvarez||3B|
|The Mighty Sombrero||88||Matt Moore||SP|
|Trout Wars||89||Yoenis Cespedes||OF|
|Ya Heard with Perd||90||Mark Trumbo||1B/OF|
My Pick: Yoenis Cespedes, OF, Oakland Athletics
Call it a hunch, but I think Cespedes could have a breakout season in his third year. He was pretty great as a rookie two years ago (.292 BA, 23 HR, 82 RBI, 16 SB), but I feel like he has more in his bat than what he's showed so far.
Maybe his monster performance in the Home Run Derby last season is swaying me, but 30 homers should be reachable—remember, he did hit 26 last season—and a little better luck in the BABIP department (.274 last year) should boost what was a yucky .240 average as well as his other numbers across the board.
Gee, pitchers much? The first six picks were arms, five of which were starters in the same boat—young, exciting and with unknown ceilings: Danny Salazar, Michael Wacha, Alex Cobb, Masahiro Tanaka, and Julio Teheran.
Of that group, it was a tad surprising to see Teheran come out last in the order given what he did as a rookie once he found his groove at the start of May. From that point on, the 23-year-old had a 2.86 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 8.6 K/9. I like the potential of the other four, but it's hard to pass up Teheran and go with more uncertainty in an arm like Salazar, Wacha or Tanaka entering their first full season. As you'll see below, Reuter—who took Wacha—actually agrees with me.
For what it's worth, Cobb actually came close to matching those Teheran numbers when healthy last year, and while he'll be good in 2014, I just don't buy a repeat performance.
Among the bats this round, I didn't mind either Pedro Alvarez or Mark Trumbo. Neither slugger is a sure thing to top .800 in OPS because they only dabble in free passes, but both have a chance to hit 40 homers. If you're scoring at home, that's a lot.
Pick That Left Me Reeling: Joel Reuter (New York Knights)
Michael Wacha, SP, St. Louis Cardinals (Round 9, No. 82 overall)
After taking three proven starters early (Felix Hernandez, David Price, Anibal Sanchez), I was ready to take a risk with my next pick.
I had my sights set on Danny Salazar, but Zachary Rymer swooped in and took him one spot before me, and I wound up settling for Michael Wacha. I certainly don't hate having him after the way he finished the 2013 season, and he has plenty of upside. In hindsight, though, guys like Alex Cobb, Masahiro Tanaka, Julio Teheran and Matt Moore were still on the board and may have been better options.
We shall see.
Pick I Wound Up Stealing: Karl Buscheck (Karl's Team)
Masahiro Tanaka, SP, New York Yankees (Round 9, No. 85 overall)
Last year, Masahiro Tanaka went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA while pitching in Japan. I appreciate that wins aren't exactly the best way to measure a pitcher's success. But 24-0? I'll take that in the ninth round.
Pick That Left Me Reeling: Mike Rosenbaum (The Mighty Sombrero)
Matt Moore, SP, Tampa Bay Rays (Round 9, No. 88 overall)
With only one starting pitcher (Jordan Zimmermann) on my team so far, I loaded up my queue with four quality young arms in anticipation of my ninth-round pick. Well, I should have added more, because each of those pitchers—Danny Salazar, Alex Cobb, Masahiro Tanaka and Julio Teheran—came off the board early in the round and led to my selection of Matt Moore.
While I admittedly love Moore, 24, for his pure stuff and ability to miss bats, his inconsistency between starts will be an ongoing concern until he proves otherwise. Also, I'm not entirely convinced his elbow injury last season was/will be a one-time occurrence.
|Ya Heard with Perd||91||Matt Kemp||OF|
|Trout Wars||92||Shelby Miller||SP|
|The Mighty Sombrero||93||Josh Donaldson||3B|
|Team Giglio||94||Andrew Cashner||SP|
|Betances with Wolves||95||Joe Nathan||RP|
|Karl's Team||96||Brian McCann||C|
|Upton No Good||97||Salvador Perez||C|
|Paul Assenmacher||98||Elvis Andrus||SS|
|New York Knights||99||Ben Zobrist||2B/SS/OF|
|Allan Travers 4ever||100||Brandon Belt||1B|
My Pick: Shelby Miller, SP, St. Louis Cardinals
That entire spiel last round about the young, talented but still mostly unproven pitchers, like Salazar, Wacha and Tanaka? That's the reason I really liked getting Miller, who is more proven and still has just as much potential, after all those others.
Without any restrictions in his second full season, Miller should come close to 200 innings at nearly a strikeout-per-inning rate. Throw in that he's on the powerhouse Cardinals and pitches in the DH-less NL, and I'm thrilled with the 23-year-old as my SP3.
I can't fault Gould for grabbing Matt Kemp—a former first-rounder!—in Round 10 as his third outfielder. I hold firm in my belief that if Kemp can get (and stay) healthy, he's going to win a lot of owners a lot of leagues. Still, I haven't drafted him once yet. He's that player in every draft that I look right through when I'm scouring the candidates for my next choice. I'll admit, however, that it could be a mistake that bites me in the end.
I liked what Buscheck did in landing Brian McCann at this stage. Just as you'll read from Weiner below, I was very strongly considering McCann here instead of Miller, but I chose the latter because there were fewer big-potential arms left than there were starter-worthy catchers. That said, McCann and his 20-homer, .800-OPS should play up at Yankee Stadium, which could make him a borderline top-three catcher in this style.
Pick that Left Me Reeling: Rick Weiner (Upton No Good)
Salvador Perez, C, Kansas City Royals (Round 10, No. 97 overall)
While there was no shortage of owners that left me reeling by taking the player I had targeted a few picks before me, my biggest panic move came thanks to Karl Buscheck grabbing the guy I wanted—Brian McCann—with the pick before mine.
I'm not upset with getting Perez, who was near the top of my short list for backstops and someone I believe is going to join the small group of elite fantasy catching options this year, but there were a number of starting pitchers—Doug Fister, Sonny Gray and Hisashi Iwakuma—that went shortly thereafter whom I would have preferred with that selection.
|Allan Travers 4ever||101||Doug Fister||SP|
|New York Knights||102||Sonny Gray||SP|
|Paul Assenmacher||103||Alex Gordon||OF|
|Upton No Good||104||David Robertson||RP|
|Karl's Team||105||Jayson Werth||OF|
|Betances with Wolves||106||Cole Hamels||SP|
|Team Giglio||107||Carlos Beltran||OF|
|The Mighty Sombrero||108||Addison Reed||RP|
|Trout Wars||109||Glen Perkins||RP|
|Ya Heard with Perd||110||Hyun-Jin Ryu||SP|
My Pick: Glen Perkins, RP, Minnesota Twins
While I liked what Meyer did in gambling on a healthy five months (instead of all six) from Cole Hamels and would have gone for broke with a second straight SP if he'd fallen to me, I was feeling the pressure of having yet to score any saves and still sitting sans a shortstop. Because they were the last remaining options in their tiers at their respective position, I knew I wanted both Perkins and Everth Cabrera with this pick as well as the quick turnaround pick in Round 12.
The question was: whom do I take first? When you get two selections in a span of four picks, sometimes it doesn't matter. This time, however, it did.
I checked to see what positions Gould already had filled and saw that he had Segura locked in at SS but had nary an RP, so I figured I'd be safe to let Cabrera go but that I might miss out on Perkins if I didn't snatch him up. The lesson? Pay attention to what your fellow owners are doing on draft day.
That decided things for me, and well, I think it caused Gould to schedule an appointment with Dr. Richard Nygard, as he's about to tell you...
Pick That Left Me Reeling: Andrew Gould (Ya Heard with Perd)
Glen Perkins, RP, Minnesota Twins (Round 11, No. 109 overall)
After naming my team “Ya Heard with Perd” after Pawnee’s greatest, pithiest newsman, I was about to continue my Parks and Recreation tribute by exclaiming "Glen Perkins!" in my best Chris Traeger voice.
Also, I had no closer through 10 rounds and eyed the underrated Perkins due to his stellar 2.30 ERA and 5.13 K/BB rate in 2013. But no, Jason Catania had to ruin my plans by recognizing my need and grabbing him before I had the opportunity.
I settled for Sergio Romo, who is just fine, but he is not the same as the Minnesota Twins' beautiful, tropical fish.
|Ya Heard with Perd||111||Sergio Romo||RP|
|Trout Wars||112||Everth Cabrera||SS|
|The Mighty Sombrero||113||Steve Cishek||RP|
|Team Giglio||114||Jason Grilli||RP|
|Betances with Wolves||115||Aroldis Chapman||RP|
|Karl's Team||116||Jed Lowrie||2B/SS|
|Upton No Good||117||Nolan Arenado||3B|
|Paul Assenmacher||118||Mike Minor||SP|
|New York Knights||119||Corey Kluber||SP|
|Allan Travers 4ever||120||Jim Johnson||RP|
My Pick: Everth Cabrera, SS, San Diego Padres
As mentioned in the previous slide, I was targeting Cabrera as the last shortstop in his tier (at least in my opinion), and I nabbed him and his 80-run, 40-steal potential at very good value.
I realize that he might hurt me in an OPS league, but I also like the increased walk rate he displayed last year, which could keep him around .700 in that category while he also keeps my team competitive in steals each week.
Pick I Wound Up Stealing: Stephen Meyer (Betances with Wolves)
Aroldis Chapman, RP, Cincinnati Reds (Round 12, No. 115 overall)
Though still a huge risk after that horrifying injury he suffered on a comebacker to the face, I was able to snag a top-three fantasy reliever as the 13th overall RP taken.
Chapman and Kenley Jansen are strikeout machines, which will help cover some of my weakness in that area on the starting-pitching front behind Yu Darvish. The value and upside are there for Chapman; now, the question is whether or not he can shake off the jitters.
|Allan Travers 4ever||121||Aaron Hill||2B|
|New York Knights||122||Wilin Rosario||C|
|Paul Assenmacher||123||Brett Lawrie||2B/3B|
|Upton No Good||124||Javier Baez||SS|
|Karl's Team||125||Martin Prado||2B/3B/OF|
|Betances with Wolves||126||Jedd Gyorko||2B/3B|
|Team Giglio||127||Chase Utley||2B|
|The Mighty Sombrero||128||Jonathan Lucroy||C|
|Trout Wars||129||Anthony Rizzo||1B|
|Ya Heard with Perd||130||Hisashi Iwakuma||SP|
My Pick: Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs
Rizzo was disappointing pretty much across the board in 2013, with his .233 average and only a so-so 23 homers and 80 RBI.
What I do love about him, though, is his potential as a 30-homer, 100-RBI monster if it all clicks in his third year. Also, his patience (11 percent walk rate) will keep his OPS afloat—even if he goes through some cold streaks or struggles to hit north of .250, which shouldn't be a problem considering his .258 BABIP last year was in the bottom 10 in baseball. He hits a lot of fly balls, but that's still more than a little unlucky. As my utility hitter, I'm in on Rizzo.
|Ya Heard with Perd||131||J.J. Hardy||SS|
|Trout Wars||132||Jon Lester||SP|
|The Mighty Sombrero||133||Jurickson Profar||2B/3B/SS|
|Team Giglio||134||Grant Balfour||RP|
|Betances with Wolves||135||Jose Altuve||2B|
|Karl's Team||136||Jhonny Peralta||SS|
|Upton No Good||137||Casey Janssen||RP|
|Paul Assenmacher||138||Michael Cuddyer||1B/OF|
|New York Knights||139||Starlin Castro||SS|
|Allan Travers 4ever||140||Kyle Seager||3B|
My Pick: Jon Lester, SP, Boston Red Sox
It seems like, in the fantasy world, Lester never gets love. Perhaps folks are still carrying grudges or harboring fear over his 2012 performance, which was a fantasy disaster in every which way (9 W, 4.82 ERA, 1.38 WHIP).
Except, that season is clearly an aberration—in every other year since 2008, Lester's ERA has been between 3.21 and 3.75, while his WHIP has ranged from 1.20 to 1.29. He'll continue to pitch deep into games in 2014, which will help him pile up strikeouts and earn wins as the No. 1 starter for the defending champion Red Sox. For my team, he's merely the SP4.
|Allan Travers 4ever||141||Francisco Liriano||SP|
|New York Knights||142||Joakim Soria||RP|
|Paul Assenmacher||143||Tony Cingrani||SP/RP|
|Upton No Good||144||Norichika Aoki||OF|
|Karl's Team||145||Zack Wheeler||SP|
|Betances with Wolves||146||Clay Buchholz||SP|
|Team Giglio||147||Jeff Samardzija||SP|
|The Mighty Sombrero||148||Austin Jackson||OF|
|Trout Wars||149||Matt Wieters||C|
|Ya Heard with Perd||150||Ernesto Frieri||RP|
My Pick: Matt Wieters, C, Baltimore Orioles
Remember how I kept eyeing slugging catchers, like Carlos Santana and Brian McCann, several rounds ago? Well I never got one then, so I figured I would wait and wait—and wait some more—to fill my backstop spot until I could wait no longer.
I'm pretty sure Wieters will never turn into the behemoth he was supposed to become, but if he simply has his average season (.249 BA, 22 HR, 77 RBI, .749 OPS), he'll be just fine as a fantasy starter in Round 15.
And if he happens to figure something out while hitting in one of baseball's deepest lineups, I won't mind.
Pick I Wound Up Stealing: Mike Rosenbaum (The Mighty Sombrero)
Austin Jackson, OF, Detroit Tigers (Round 15, No. 148 overall)
Granted, the league only rosters three outfielders, but there's no way AJax should have reached me at the back-end of the 15th round.
Jackson enjoyed a outstanding season in 2012, posting an .856 OPS with 103 runs and 55 extra-base hits in 137 games while trimming his strikeout rate by nearly five percent. Last season, though, his OPS dropped by over .100 points (.754), and he failed to reach double-digit stolen bases for the first time in his four-year career.
This year should be a make-or-break one for the 27-year-old, and I think he bounces back in a big way.
|Ya Heard with Perd||151||A.J. Burnett||SP|
|Trout Wars||152||Billy Butler||1B|
|The Mighty Sombrero||153||Yordano Ventura||SP|
|Team Giglio||154||Brandon Phillips||2B|
|Betances with Wolves||155||Taijuan Walker||SP|
|Karl's Team||156||Oscar Taveras||OF|
|Upton No Good||157||Adam Eaton||OF|
|Paul Assenmacher||158||Rafael Soriano||RP|
|New York Knights||159||Justin Masterson||SP|
|Allan Travers 4ever||160||Fernando Rodney||RP|
My Pick: Billy Butler, 1B, Kansas City Royals
My pick is explained further below, but allow me to add a little context here.
While everyone else was getting all prospect crazy—Yordano Ventura, Taijuan Walker and Oscar Taveras all went in a four-pick stretch in the middle of this round—I was more than happy to let others take players who have little-to-no big league experience while I filled up on a hearty helping of Country Breakfast.
I like prospects as much as the next guy, but not at the expense of proven players who are still in their prime.
Pick I Wound Up Stealing: Jason Catania (Trout Wars)
Billy Butler, 1B, Kansas City Royals (Round 16, No. 152 overall)
I get that 2013 wasn't a good season for Butler, who went backward in every single fantasy category, with a .289 average, 62 runs, 15 homers, 82 RBI and a .787 OPS. (Heck, he even went sans a stolen base after swiping a whopping two in 2012!)
But c'mon, the guy was a fifth-round pick this time last year, and as long as he's still eligible at first base (like he is in this league), it's hard not to love the potential pay off with the 152nd overall pick. This is especially true if the Royals lineup continues to improve and Butler gets back to his .300-20-90 ways.
With Hosmer, Rizzo, Butler and Mike Napoli (Round 22), I am lock, stocked and two smoking barreled up with 1B/CI types who should excel in home runs, RBI and OPS.
Pick That Left Me Reeling: Karl Buscheck (Karl's Team)
Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals (Round 16, No. 156 overall)
Oscar Taveras is widely regarded as one of the top prospects in all of baseball, as the left-handed batter owns a .320/.377/.518 in five minor league seasons.
The problem, of course, is that the minor leagues is where Taveras will be starting the 2014 season, and there's no clear timeline for when he'll arrive in St. Louis.
Pick That Left Me Reeling: Jason Soukup (Paul Assenmacher)
Rafael Soriano, RP, Washington Nationals (Round 16, No. 158 Overall)
This one is less about Rafael Soriano than it is the guy who Joel "stole" with the next pick.
I wanted Justin Masterson; I was going to take him five spots later, when my turn snaked back around. I think he's primed for a monster contract year. He would have stabilized my shaky starting pitching staff with much needed wins and strikeouts. I didn't want to let my Indians allegiance coerce me into taking their players too early, though.
As a result, I'm sitting here with Soriano, against whom I now hold an unfair fantasy grudge.
Pick I Wound Up Stealing: Joel Reuter (New York Knights)
Justin Masterson, SP, Cleveland Indians (Round 16, No. 159 overall)
There were a handful of pitchers I was happy to grab where I did, including Sonny Gray (Round 11, No. 102) and Corey Kluber (Round 12, No. 119), whom I took back-to-back in the middle rounds. But taking Masterson as the last of my active pitchers in the 16th round was by far my favorite selection.
He’s more than capable of duplicating the numbers he put up last year, when he went 14-10 with a 3.45 ERA, and you have to love his 195 strikeouts in 193 innings. Throw in the fact that he’s in a contract year and looking to position himself for a big payday (as Jason Soukop just pointed out), and I was thrilled to get Masterson where I did.
|Allan Travers 4ever||161||Shane Victorino||OF|
|New York Knights||162||Victor Martinez||1B|
|Paul Assenmacher||163||Josh Hamilton||OF|
|Upton No Good||164||CC Sabathia||SP|
|Karl's Team||165||Brandon Moss||1B/OF|
|Betances with Wolves||166||Nelson Cruz||OF|
|Team Giglio||167||Chase Headley||3B|
|The Mighty Sombrero||168||Brad Miller||2B/SS|
|Trout Wars||169||Desmond Jennings||OF|
|Ya Heard with Perd||170||Alfonso Soriano||OF|
My Pick: Desmond Jennings, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
Whatever prospect bug that was going around with the last batch of picks, it was gone this time, as all sorts of veteran bounce-back candidates started flying off the shelves at very strong value, including Josh Hamilton, CC Sabathia, Nelson Cruz and Chase Headley.
I sort of split the difference by investing in the still young, still enticing but still unproven Jennings, who has been good-but-not-great since that impressive 2011 campaign (10 HR and 20 SB in 63 games!).
While he's yet to put it all together, I think Jennings could pull off something like .275 with 15 homers, 25 steals and 90 runs in his age-27 campaign.
Pick I Wound Up Stealing: Joe Giglio (Team Giglio)
Chase Headley, 3B, San Diego Padres (Round 17, No. 167 overall)
When Headley is healthy, he hits. In 2014, the Padres slugger will be hitting for a lucrative trip into free agency next winter.
If he were drafted earlier, this pick might have left me reeling. However, in the 17th round, Headley could be the biggest bargain on my roster. Since 2011, he's ranked in the top 10 at the position in home runs (ninth), RBI (eighth), OPS (10th) and walks (second).
Yes, the oft-injured star dealt with a calf injury during the spring, but he looks to be ready for Opening Day. If he provides 130-plus games, offense will follow.
|Ya Heard with Perd||171||Khris Davis||OF|
|Trout Wars||172||Jonathan Papelbon||RP|
|The Mighty Sombrero||173||Ervin Santana||SP|
|Team Giglio||174||Jered Weaver||SP|
|Betances with Wolves||175||Bobby Parnell||RP|
|Karl's Team||176||Johnny Cueto||SP|
|Upton No Good||177||Curtis Granderson||OF|
|Paul Assenmacher||178||Wilson Ramos||C|
|New York Knights||179||Archie Bradley||SP|
|Allan Travers 4ever||180||Hiroki Kuroda||SP|
My Pick: Jonathon Papelbon, RP, Philadelphia Phillies
I'll keep this one short and sweet. While everyone was busy going with starters, I wanted to lock up some more saves in the form of the declining-but-still-good Papelbon, who has no competition for the gig in Philly and is more or less untradeable because of his ridiculous contract. In fantasy, that actually helps his value.
Pick I Wound Up Stealing: Zachary D. Rymer (Allan Travers 4ever)
Hiroki Kuroda, SP, New York Yankees (Round 18, No. 180 overall)
Maybe I'm wrong, but getting a guy who should help me in the innings, wins, ERA, WHIP and K/BB departments with the 180th overall pick sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me.
As much I tried to target high-strikeout guys in the draft, Kuroda's probably going to be my second-most dependable starter after Adam Wainwright, who I picked 21st overall. End back-pattery transmission.
|Allan Travers 4ever||181||Howie Kendrick||2B|
|New York Knights||182||Michael Brantley||OF|
|Paul Assenmacher||183||John Axford||RP|
|Upton No Good||184||Lance Lynn||SP|
|Karl's Team||185||Chris Carter||1B/OF|
|Betances with Wolves||186||Chris Archer||SP|
|Team Giglio||187||Josh Johnson||SP|
|The Mighty Sombrero||188||Nate Jones||RP|
|Trout Wars||189||Jim Henderson||RP|
|Ya Heard with Perd||190||R.A. Dickey||SP|
My Pick: Jim Henderson, RP, Milwaukee Brewers
My second stopper in a row, and third RP overall, Henderson should give me a good chance to nail down the saves category during most weeks when teamed with Perkins and Papelbon.
Of course, he's only got about one half-season of closing experience, so there's some risk here. But the fall-back options in Milwaukee aren't the greatest, either, so that might play to my favor if Henderson falters at all.
|Ya Heard with Perd||191||Huston Street||RP|
|Trout Wars||192||Anthony Rendon||2B/3B|
|The Mighty Sombrero||193||Christian Yelich||OF|
|Team Giglio||194||Ivan Nova||SP|
|Betances with Wolves||195||Nick Castellanos||OF|
|Karl's Team||196||Carlos Martinez||RP|
|Upton No Good||197||Mike Moustakas||3B|
|Paul Assenmacher||198||Asdrubal Cabrera||SS|
|New York Knights||199||Brian Dozier||2B|
|Allan Travers 4ever||200||Tim Lincecum||SP|
My Pick: Anthony Rendon, 2B/3B, Washington Nationals
Compared to that whole Ventura-Walker-Taveras fiasco from four rounds ago, I like these young-player picks much, much more for their price of acquisition. In particular, I liked my pick of Rendon, as well as Rosenbaum's pick of Christian Yelich, Meyer's selection of Nick Castellanos and even Weiner's choice of Carlos Martinez, who will be a dynamite setup man and could still see some starts this season if something goes wrong in St. Louis.
There have been whispers that Rendon is battling Danny Espinosa this spring, but I'm not hearing that. Rendon is a former high first-round selection who rocketed to the majors on the strength of his ability to barrel baseballs as well as his mature approach. He'll start for me at middle infield, and he also has 3B eligibility, which could look savvy if he takes a step forward in his first full season as a 23-year-old.
|Allan Travers 4ever||201||Nick Swisher||1B/OF|
|New York Knights||202||Yan Gomes||C|
|Paul Assenmacher||203||Tommy Hunter||RP|
|Upton No Good||204||Derek Jeter||SS|
|Karl's Team||205||Matt Adams||1B|
|Betances with Wolves||206||Rex Brothers||RP|
|Team Giglio||207||Kelly Johnson||2B/3B/OF|
|The Mighty Sombrero||208||Daniel Murphy||1B/2B|
|Trout Wars||209||Andrelton Simmons||SS|
|Ya Heard with Perd||210||Jason Castro||C|
My Pick: Andrelton Simmons, SS, Atlanta Braves
That bill of goods I just sold you about Rendon? Yeah, well, I'm not entirely sold on it myself, so I doubled up on MI help by taking Simmons with my very next pick.
Simmons has his flaws, namely that .692 OPS in 2013, but he showed a lot of growth in the second half of his first full season; his OPS jumped from .630 to .789, as he hit more doubles, triples and homers in almost 150 fewer plate appearances after the break.
If Simmons can come anywhere close to that in 2014, he—and not Rendon—might be the better bet at middle infield.
|Ya Heard with Perd||211||Marco Estrada||SP|
|Trout Wars||212||Mike Napoli||1B|
|The Mighty Sombrero||213||Michael Pineda||SP|
|Team Giglio||214||Rick Porcello||SP|
|Betances with Wolves||215||Kole Calhoun||OF|
|Karl's Team||216||Chris Owings||SS|
|Upton No Good||217||Mark Teixeira||1B|
|Paul Assenmacher||218||Evan Gattis||C/OF|
|New York Knights||219||Drew Smyly||RP|
|Allan Travers 4ever||220||Miguel Montero||C|
My Pick: Mike Napoli, 1B, Boston Red Sox
Gould got me back a bit—albeit 11 rounds later—for snaking Perkins by seizing strikeout-to-walk specialist Marco Estrada with the choice right before mine.
Still, I was able to recover by continuing to build my OPS army, which happily enlisted Napoli for his 20-25 homers, .350-plus OBP and high-.400s SLG. He's no longer catcher eligible, but he had been in my queue for the past handful of rounds, and he gives me good trade bait for owners in need of some pop at 1B or CI.
Pick I Wound Up Stealing: Rick Weiner (Upton No Good)
Mark Teixeira, 1B, New York Yankees (Round 22, No. 217 overall)
Sure, there's plenty of risk associated with a 34-year-old first baseman coming off of major wrist surgery, but it's hard not to like a guy expected to hit fourth—between Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann—in a lineup that went through a massive upgrade this winter.
Even if Tex only gives me what he produced in 2012—hitting about .250 with 20-plus home runs, 80-plus RBI and an OPS around .800—he's a major steal with the 217th overall pick. But I fully expect him to exceed those numbers in 2014, making this even more of a steal than it looks to be right now.
|Allan Travers 4ever||221||Joaquin Benoit||RP|
|New York Knights||222||Domonic Brown||OF|
|Paul Assenmacher||223||Jose Veras||RP|
|Upton No Good||224||Kevin Gausman||SP/RP|
|Karl's Team||225||Dan Straily||SP|
|Betances with Wolves||226||C.J. Wilson||SP|
|Team Giglio||227||Mark Melancon||RP|
|The Mighty Sombrero||228||J.J. Hoover||RP|
|Trout Wars||229||Chris Tillman||SP|
|Ya Heard with Perd||230||Aramis Ramirez||3B|
My Pick: Chris Tillman, SP, Baltimore Orioles
As you can see from my Tillman take—as well as the selections of Domonic Brown, C.J. Wilson and Aramis Ramirez—there's still plenty of talent out there to be plucked in Round 23. Part of the reason is because this is a 10-team league, but part of it is that owners definitely went a little overboard on snatching up prospects after Rosenbaum showed early on that he was ready to go that route at any time.
Tillman might have some trouble repeating his All-Star performance in 2013 (16 W, 3.71 ERA, 1.22 WHIP), but the former top prospect has undeniably figured himself out after a few years being lost in the woods and now makes for a capable SP5.
See, sometimes elite youngsters take some time to marinate, which is something that's bound to come into play for an owner—or three—here.
|Ya Heard with Perd||231||Dan Haren||SP|
|Trout Wars||232||Rajai Davis||OF|
|The Mighty Sombrero||233||George Springer||OF|
|Team Giglio||234||Coco Crisp||OF|
|Betances with Wolves||235||Kendrys Morales||1B|
|Karl's Team||236||Sean Doolittle||RP|
|Upton No Good||237||Edward Mujica||RP|
|Paul Assenmacher||238||LaTroy Hawkins||RP|
|New York Knights||239||Kolten Wong||2B|
|Allan Travers 4ever||240||Danny Farquhar||RP|
My Pick: Rajai Davis, OF, Detroit Tigers
After all of my slugging-infused selections up to this point, I figured it was about time to go after a guy like Davis, who is as big a lock for 30-40 steals as there is. Now that he has the Tigers left field job mostly to himself with Andy Dirks' back injury, he could be a good one to plug in when I'm up against an opponent who lacks power but whose strength is SBs.
And if Davis gets off to a nice start, he could become trade bait before he potentially starts losing some playing time once Dirks returns or Detroit targets some other option via trade.
Pick I Wound Up Stealing: Jason Soukup (Paul Assenmacher)
LaTroy Hawkins, RP, Colorado Rockies (Round 24, No. 238 Overall)
I realize celebrating the acquisition of a 41-year-old reliever who's been kicking around since the grunge era is not exactly a heist of Danny Ocean-like proportions, but hear me out for a minute.
I love to hoard closers in head-to-head fantasy baseball—always have. Saves have a bit of a non-renewable resource quality in that there's only so many possible saves to be had in a given season—by my quick count, there are roughly 2,430.
Since snagging Hawkins gives me seven of the 30-ish closers in baseball, I currently control 23 percent of all possible save production among the 10 teams in this league. Of course, this is subject to job loss and injury. The end story, though, is that I've positioned myself to have an overwhelming advantage in this scoring category on a week-to-week basis against most teams. Also, I have an over-abundance of a necessary something of value to deal should I need to fill holes later in the season. It's not a bad spot to be in.
|Allan Travers 4ever||241||Will Middlebrooks||3B|
|New York Knights||242||Eddie Butler||SP|
|Paul Assenmacher||243||Brett Gardner||OF|
|Upton No Good||244||B.J. Upton||OF|
|Karl's Team||245||Tim Hudson||SP|
|Betances with Wolves||246||Todd Frazier||3B|
|Team Giglio||247||Alexei Ramirez||SS|
|The Mighty Sombrero||248||Alex Wood||SP/RP|
|Trout Wars||249||Matt Garza||SP|
|Ya Heard with Perd||250||Tyson Ross||SP/RP|
My Pick: Matt Garza, SP, Milwaukee Brewers
Immediately after taking Davis, I came down with a small case of buyer's remorse when I saw Brett Gardner go. I know Davis will steal more bases, but I like Gardner's overall game better, and he's locked into a starting gig, which might not be the case for my guy.
As for my actual pick this round, Garza has become a bit of a fantasy tease in recent years, as he's been good often but hurt almost just as much. I like him in the NL, though, where his strikeout-to-walk ratio has been 3.0 or better every year.
If he can give me 20-25 healthy starts, that's all I'm looking for to round out my rotation.
To put it simply: power. If I'm not in the top three in this league in home runs, RBI and OPS, then something went very, very wrong for several of my players. Aside from Cabrera and Rendon, every one of my starting hitters—and even a couple on my bench—is capable of approaching, if not outright surpassing, 25 home runs.
Between my infield and outfield, I like the former a bit more, which should be the case considering I spent my first two selections on Cano and Fielder and then got great value on Zimmerman and Cabrera. That's not to say I dislike my non-dirt guys; while none of them are elite, I backed up the trio of Choo, Bruce and Cespedes with the intriguing Jennings and the useful Davis.
On the pitching front, thanks to 200-strikeout SPs like Verlander and Gonzalez, as well as 170-strikeout arms in Miller, Lester and Tillman, I should be a tough beat in the strikeouts category, except against the very elite staffs in the league.
Lastly, with a trio of legitimate ninth-inning men, I'm one of the few who can make that claim after Soukup went closer crazy with his pickings, I'll have a fighting chance in saves against everybody but him.
The most glaring problem? Because I'm so power-heavy, there is a lack of speed among my starting lineup, as only Cabrera is guaranteed to swipe more than 20 bags. Still, Choo, Hosmer and Cespedes are capable of pilfering a bag here and there, and I do have Davis and Jennings to insert if I want to go that way.
The other offensive aspect of this team that might give me fits is the middle infield position, where I'm sort of hoping one of Rendon or Simmons can prove to be a solid starter. If one of them pans out, I'll have a great lineup, but it's possible that both fail to impress in 2014.
While I wouldn't call my starting pitching a weakness, I do see how holes could be poked in that rotation if, say, Verlander doesn't return to his usual self, or Gonzalez can't regain a bit of his 2013 luster, or Lester and Tillman fall back a bit. Also? I wouldn't mind having at least one SP alternative, but that can be addressed in free agency and waivers.
If I were to consider potential trades in the near future, I'd likely be looking to address that pesky MI spot, swap some pop for speed or add another mid-rotation starter. Perhaps the best initial plan of attack to that end would be to find an owner who could use an upgrade in power—preferably at 1B or CI—and come up with a match. That way, I can unload, say, Rizzo, Butler or Napoli and still enjoy my monster offense.
Which of my draft picks do you like/dislike the most? Where would you have made a different choice along the way? Which of the Bleacher Report MLB staffers has the best squad? The worst? Swing away in the comments section.
To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11