After eleven weeks and fifteen fantasy games played, it is now time for the second edition of the 2011 Power Rankings for the Old Bridge Fantasy Baseball League (“OBFBL”). The OBFBL is an 18-team, non-keeper, head to head, points, mixed NL/AL fantasy baseball league that has existed since 1999 and is currently in its 13th season. We will rank each team in the league based on their overall record, points scored, roster trends, significant transactions, and other general criteria. Without further adieu, here is the second edition of the power rankings through the middle of May 2011.
1. Mets in 2011 (12-3, 1st place AL East, Previous Rank – #5)
Jordan has been on fire since the last rankings winning seven in a row and bludgeoning opponents with lopsided scores. Joey Votto, Matt Kemp and Justin Upton continue to produce big numbers. Free agent acquisition Eric Hosmer has been steady and consistent asJordan’s utility player. His pitching staff has also been dominant with Josh Beckett throwing multiple shutouts, Tim Hudson and Jaime Garcia consistently winning, and the closer duo of Brian Wilson and Ryan Madson racking up saves. Jordanhas already won three weekly money prizes for having the highest scores in the league. That should help him stockpile diapers which he will need.
2. The Ewok Rebellion (12-3, 1st place AL Central, Previous Rank – #1)
Abe has backed up his words by maintaining a torrid pace. He has gone 5-2 since the last rankings and is only bumped from the top spot due to the amount of points the Mets in 2011 have produced. His pitching staff has been surprisingly good despite losing Bartolo Colon. Dan Haren is a lock, but recent acquisitions Bud Norris and Ryan Vogelsong have stepped in and produced. David Ortiz regained his old form and has carried Abe’s offense, which is still waiting for Ryan Howard to go on a hot streak. First round pick Robinson Cano hasn’t hit his stride yet either. The loss of Derek Jeter has made no impact on Abe because Jeter sucks at this point. HA!
3. Benny Enjoys the Moment Being My Bee-otch (12-3, 1st place NL East, Previous Rank – #2)
Marc has opened up an impressive six game lead in the division and looks to be running away with things. He has also gone 5-2 since the last rankings and recently acquired Alex Rodriguez in a trade. This could be huge for Marc as the health of outfielder Hunter Pence is now in question. Marc’s dynamic pitching duo of Jon Lester and Clayton Kershaw has justified their positions as his first two draft picks. The multiple closer theory has been up and down as Joakim Soria has been very inconsistent. Jacoby Ellsbury and Brennan Boesch have provided solid numbers all year.
4. Fellowship of the Orange Veal Cutlets (10-5, 1st place NL West, Previous Rank – #3)
Maury has been able to hang onto first place in the league’s most competitive division. He has Justin Verlander to thank for that as the Tigers’ ace put up 94 points in the most recent double-header week giving the Veal Cutlets a sweep. The OBFBL veteran has little patience for non-production as youngsters Ian Kennedy and Jonathan Sanchez have been relegated to the bench. His managerial style has worked thus far as he relies on waiver wire pickups to piece together a pitching staff around Verlander. Ryan Braun and Brian McCann continue to be studs on offense. The return of Adam Lind also gives Maury another potent bat to rely on.
5. Madoff’s Marauders (9-6, 1st place NL Central, Previous Rank – #4)
Joey I. has only gone 3-4 since the last rankings yet still remains tied for first place in the division. The great Roy Halladay has been his usual dominant self. Combine that with Yovani Gallardo and Craig Kimbrel, the Marauders have one of the more formidable pitching staffs in the league. Credit Joey I. for his scouting team as he landed highly touted prospects Mike Moustakas and Danny Duffy who were recently called up by the Royals. Despite being without Ike Davis since April, free agent Mike Morse has filled in nicely at first base. Ryan Zimmerman recently returned from injury which is a huge boost. He also has pitching depth with closers Jordan Walden and Sergio Santos sitting on his bench. .
6. Blue Horseshoe Loves Giant Douche (9-6, 2nd place NL West, Previous Rank – #13)
The Commish has gone 6-1 since the last rankings and jumped up seven spots on this hot streak. Several of his big bats got hot at the same time, including Jay Bruce, Jose Reyes and Miguel Cabrera. Josh Hamilton returned from injury to provide even more offensive output. The Commish also made another trade acquiring Dustin Pedroia and Logan Morrison who have produced nicely. Plus, the Phillies called up rookie Domonic Brown who was plugged into the Commish’s lineup as well. Mark Reynolds finally started hitting some homeruns and even went a few at bats in a row without striking out. The Commish’s pitching staff is still a work in progress, but the return of Wandy Rodriguez and acquisition of John Danks will help complement Cliff Lee.
7. Pap Smears (9-6, 1st place AL West, Previous Rank – #9)
Jared has gone 5-2 since the last rankings and has created some distance between him and the other teams in his division. Now owning a three game lead, the Pap Smears have been on a hot streak despite being without ace pitcher Josh Johnson who has been sidelined with an arm injury and isn’t expected back until after the All-Star break. Other pitching woes have forced Jared to rely on his offense as Jair Jurrjens has cooled off slightly and Shaun Marcum is injured again. First round pick and pending free agent Prince Fielder has been dominant in terms of his power and run production. Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre have also been consistent run producers when they are healthy. The issue will be whether Jared can maintain his lead while waiting for Johnson to return.
8. Jewish Mafia (9-6, 2nd place NL Central, Previous Rank – #7)
If you look at Randy’s roster and see who has been injured or a complete bust, you would be amazed that he is 9-6 and tied for the NL Wild Card. First round pick Carlos Gonzalez has picked it up lately, but overall he has not lived up to the expectations created from his monstrous 2010 season. Rockies’ pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez has arguably been the biggest fantasy bust in terms of pitchers. He has battled injuries and ineffectiveness all season, and only just recently won his first game of the season. He has not been the same since the second half of 2010 began. Brandon Phillips and Mat Latos have put up very pedestrian numbers compared to what was expected of them. And Jason Heyward has been ineffective and injured most of the season. Yet somehow, the Mafia has continued winning. Maybe Randy drinks a lot of tiger’s blood.
9. Len Tuckwilla’s Nuts Over My Chin (7-8, 3rd place NL West, Previous Rank – #6)
The final sentence in the analysis of Craig’s team in the first edition of the Power Rankings was: “Craig is known for fading in the second half, so hopefully he has built up some OBFBL endurance.” Sure enough, he has gone 2-5 since those rankings and now finds himself in last place in his division. Granted there is still plenty of time left in the season, but Craig must adjust to the trends that present themselves. Troy Tulowitzki has cooled off considerably, and no one else has stepped up to be a constant offensive threat with the exception of Gaby Sanchez (until the Marlins’ recent slide). Carlos Beltran and Todd Helton do not provide the same type of offensive dominance they once did, and Carlos Santana may be too young to be counted on for such a thing now. Craig’s pitching will keep him competitive and in the race as he relies on Jered Weaver, Max Scherzer, Michael Pineda, and Gio Gonzalez.
10. RAD (7-8, 2nd place AL Central, Previous Rank – #8)
Amazingly, Matt has scored the fourth most points in the league yet is 7-8 and five games behind in the division. During the weeks he has won, he has won big. Other weeks, not so much. Adrian Gonzalez has been outstanding and Andrew McCutcheon is blossoming into a star. From a pitching perspective, James Shields, Jordan Zimmerman and Carlos Carrasco have all overachieved and provided superb numbers in all respects. Unfortunately, Matt has not been able to consistently put it all together week after week. Matt lacks a big power bat, so perhaps he should look into making a deal with someone as we get closer to the All-Star break. He proved last year that he can come on strong down the stretch, so this is one team to definitely keep your eyes on. The points scored thus far demonstrate what Matt can do.
11. Cole Hamels Adopted Charlie Sheen’s Kids (6-9, 3rd place AL Central, Previous Rank – #15)
In an interesting twist, the Philadelphia boys actually starter producing better after Buster Posey sustained his season-ending injury in a horrific collision at home plate with Scott Cousins. While they cooled off in the most recent double-header week, Jeff and Mike exploded right after Posey went down partially due to the fact Chase Utley is back. Mark Teixeira got hot again as April became a distant memory, and some of their pitchers had huge weeks including Cole Hamels, Alexi Ogando, Mike Leake and Huston Street. They are still waiting for Jayson Werth to actually do something other than wash dishes with the excess cash he has sitting around from his ridiculous contract. Andre Ethier has cooled off considerably since his hitting streak ended. They should take advantage of having Utley, Rickie Weeks and Danny Espinosa at second base and trade one of them.
12. It’s Gotta Be Mooses…or Meese (6-9, 2nd place AL West, Previous Rank – #10)
The strength of Cory’s team, on paper, is his pitching staff. However, C.C. Sabathia has won nine games but hasn’t put up dominant numbers such as strikeouts and complete games. Chris Carpenter has pitched better lately but is still 1-7 with a 4.40 ERA. Chad Billingsley is only 6-6 with a 4.49 ERA and questions from his manager and team about his heart and desire (and Cory moved him to the bench this week). And Ricky Romero has pitched better than anyone but is only 6-7 because the Blue Jays do not provide run support. These pitching woes, along with more injuries to Matt Holliday, have caused Cory much grief and angst as he has gone 2-5 since the last rankings and fallen three games out of first place.
13. This is the Business We’ve Chosen (6-9, 2nd place NL East, Previous Rank – #11)
It has been an ongoing struggle for Mr. Tuvel as he agonizes over selecting Hanley Ramirez in the first round. It may be Monday morning quarterbacking, but Hanley has been a complete bust thus far and has also missed significant time due to injury. Newly hired interim manager Jack McKeon put Hanley in the cleanup spot. It is unknown whether he will remain there, but something needed to be done to kick start some production from the fantasy stud. Evan Longoria looks to be back in his old form as he missed significant time with an injury. Now after getting Hanley back, Jason has lost Clay Buchholz to injury. At six games back in the division, it is getting close to the time where Jason will have to start focusing on the Wild Card where he is only three games out.
14. Admiral Ackbar (6-9, 2nd place AL East, Previous Rank – #18)
After starting the season 1-7 and ranking dead last in the previous rankings, OBFBL sophomoreMario Portillahas stormed back to respectability by going 5-2 over the last five weeks. Even after trading away Cliff Lee, he is still getting strong pitching contributions from Francisco Liriano, Anibal Sanchez and Jason Vargas. He now gets Joe Mauer back in his lineup after missing most of the season, so look for a continued upward trend in the standings as Mario digs himself out of a hole. However, he must overcome the injury bug as players such as Rafael Furcal, Brian Roberts, Aaron Harang and Phil Hughes remain on the DL.
15. Montreal Espos (5-10, 3rd place AL West, Previous Rank – #12)
The first edition of the Power Rankings were done the week David Wright was placed on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his back. Instead of panicking and make a desperate trade for another third baseman, Pat kept his cool and simply added someone off the waiver wire. That someone is Greg Dobbs on the Marlins. While he has not exactly torn it up for Espo, it demonstrates the type of fantasy baseball player Espo is. Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked out very well as Espo has gone 2-5 since then. He does have some solid pitching with Felix Hernandez, Zack Greinke, Carlos Zambrano and Dillon Gee (until this week’s game against Oakland). Curtis Granderson has been one of the top players in both real and fantasy baseball thus far, but Espo doesn’t have too much on offense beyond that. Shin Soo Choo has been a major disappointment and Billy Butler hasn’t developed the kind of power I thought he would.
16. Dawg Eat Dawg (5-10, 3rd place NL Central, Previous Rank – #14)
Things are not looking good at the moment for the defending OBFBL champion to become the first ever repeat champion in league history. Injuries to Travis Hafner, Grady Sizemore and Justin Morneau, coupled with the horrendous numbers put up by Vladmir Guerrero and Jason Bay, have rendered Benny a low point machine. He also became so disenchanted with A-Rod’s lack of power that he dealt him away in exchange for Alex Gordon and two mediocre pitchers. David Price has been a solid ace and Erik Bedard has been a pleasant surprise, but Roy Oswalt has been a disappointment as his projected #2 starter. Benny has always been a creative and intense league member, so expect maximum effort in his attempts to climb back into the race. He better do it soon as he has a lot of ground to make up chasing two teams ahead of him that are 9-6.
17. It Byrnes When I Peavy (3-12, 3rd place NL East, Previous Rank – #16)
Did you ever just have one of those years where nothing goes right for your team at all? That pretty much sums up the Co-Commish’s season thus far. Besides having the second worst record in the league and going 1-6 since the last rankings, now Ari has lost Albert Pujols for 4-6 weeks with a fractured wrist. On top of that, he has to replace Pujols with Adam Dunn at first base. Few hitters have struggled as bad as Dunn has in his first year in the American League. In addition, Ari’s ace pitcher Tommy Hanson missed a start but should be back next week. Ari should be commended though because no matter what the status of his team was, it has not affected his ability to be a leader and sounding board during various league issues that have arisen.
18. Sharks With Frickin’ Laser Beams (2-13, 3rd place AL East, Previous Rank – #17)
For proof that the number of points you score is not nearly as important as when you score them, just take a look at this: Jim has scored 3,477 points and is 2-13. Compare that to the Jewish Mafia who has scored a total of 11 more points (3,488) but has a record of 9-6. The Sharks are on life support as they currently have the worst record in the league and sit 10 games behind in the division. However, the light at the end of the tunnel is the fact they are only five games out of the wild card, and Jim does have a history of going on lengthy winning streaks. The acquisition of Jhoulys Chacin has given Jim a solid #2 pitcher behind Tim Lincecum, but it hasn’t proven to be enough to overcome some large point totals accumulated by his opponents.
Greetings and salutations to the fantasy baseball universe. It is everybody’s favorite day of the week (and by everybody I mean nobody), so that means it is time for the Tuesday Night Top Ten list of newsworthy fantasy baseball happenings. We are now in Week 11 of the season which is hard to believe because it feels like just last week was Week 10. So without further adieu, here are your headlines for this Tuesday night.
10. Captain Crunch – For Yankees fans, the news that Derek Jeter was placed on the disabled list just six hits shy of 3,000 was akin to telling Ashton Kutcher that Twitter has been destroyed by Skynet. For everyone else, no one really cares unless Jeter was your starting shortstop on your fantasy team. Nonetheless, it is newsworthy that Jeter will be out for at least two weeks as he closes in on 3,000 hits for his career. He has regressed in terms of offensive production, which is not surprising given his age and the position he plays. However, Jeter is still a valuable fantasy player at a weak position so his injury could be significant in your league. His replacement, Eduardo Nunez, is only worth a pickup if you get points for at bats or throwing errors.
9. Happy Holliday – The Cardinals are expected to activate Matt Holliday in time for Thursday’s game this week. Holliday has been sidelined since the end of May with a left quadriceps tear, which came only six weeks after he returned from an emergency appendectomy. It has been a frustrating season for fantasy owners of Holliday who has put up huge numbers in the limited time he has played. With Albert Pujols finally heating up and Lance Berkman still producing, Holliday should fit right in the middle of that and continue to maintain a batting average well above .300 along with impressive power numbers and run production. He is an elite outfield option in any fantasy format, but he is an injury risk this year so be cautious and keep Allen Craig and Jon Jay close by in case Holliday suffers a relapse.
8. No More Morneau – As if it can’t get any worse for the Minnesota Twins, now Justin Morneau has landed back on the disabled list with a left wrist injury. The former MVP has not been the same player since he sustained a concussion in July 2010 that ended his season and clearly still affects him today. The Twins are hopeful that this will resolve itself within the 15 days that Morneau is out. However, even if Morneau does come back quickly, what exactly are you getting from him in fantasy baseball at a premium power position. Morneau is only batting .225 with 4 homeruns and 22 RBI, so his value has already plummeted. Stash him on the disabled list if you have the room, but look for other options at first base under the assumption you won’t start Morneau even when he comes back. The guy is too talented to struggle this bad, so once he is able to heal from all of his injuries, then Morneau will be More-Yes.
7. Yo Adrian! – When the Red Sox acquired Adrian Gonzalez from San Diego this past winter, the general consensus was that we would finally get to see how truly great A-Gone is when hitting in a potent lineup and a hitter-friendly ballpark. What we have seen thus far from Gonzalez goes beyond any of those expectations. Gonzalez currently leads the American League in batting at .347 as well as RBI with 60. He has anchored Boston’s lineup and thrived hitting behind Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia who both always seem to be on base for him. Gonzalez hasn’t homered as much as one would have predicted, but that shouldn’t matter because as hot as he has been, some of those flyballs and laser beams will start finding their way over the fence. Right now, Gonzalez is the best first base option in fantasy baseball.
6. Niese to Meet You – In a shocking turn of events, there is actually a reason to covet a Mets starting pitcher on your fantasy team. Jonathon Niese has quietly put together a very solid season thus far in earning the right to be owned in mixed fantasy leagues. Niese won his sixth game of the year tonight against the Braves making this the sixth straight start where he has allowed two earned runs or less. He is commanding his deadly curveball which has led to an increase in strikeouts and a decrease in walks. If he is available, you should add him immediately and ride the wave of his success.
5. Sitting on the Dock of the Bay - Jason Bay has been one of the most disappointing players in all of baseball for the last year and a half. After signing with the Mets for huge dollars prior to the 2010 season, Bay has produced as much offense as a backup middle infielder. He has essentially become an automatic out at the plate with his poor pitch selection, lack of discipline, and inability to have a good at bat. Mets manager Terry Collins has finally seen enough to make the decision that Bay was hurting the team by being in the lineup. As a result, he has ridden the bench several times over the past 10 days. This does not appear to be a permanent thing, or even a strict platoon. However, it is apparent that Bay will not be playing every day unless and until he starts hitting the ball like a $16 million/year player should. If Bay is in your fantasy team’s starting lineup, then you might as well start Henry Blanco too.
4. Philling Better – Amidst all of the Yankees injury problems lately, they actually have received some good news. Phil Hughes, on the disabled list since early April, threw 49 pitches during an intrasquad game where he consistently hit 92 mph with his fastball. The plan going forward is to have Hughes slowly extend himself and build back his endurance before he inevitably returns to the rotation sometime in July. Fantasy owners who have stashed him on the disabled list will be rewarded when he returns and likely assumes the #2 spot in the Yankees rotation. If for some reason Hughes is floating around your league’s waiver wire, grab him…but not in THAT way, sicko.
3. Return of the Zimm – Nationals star third baseman Ryan Zimmerman finally made his return to the lineup after missing over two months due to surgery repairing an abdominal tear. Zimmerman was thought to be the second or third best option at third base heading into this fantasy baseball season, so owners have been anxious to receive a return on their investment. Zimmerman’s return should also help the production of Jayson Werth who has struggled mightily to anchor Washington’s lineup in his absence. When healthy, Zimmerman is a solid candidate for .290, 25 HR, and 90 RBI. He will need some time to readjust, but your patience will be rewarded.
2. Good News for the Steals Category – Those of you who drafted Hanley Ramirez have been sorely disappointed by his .210 batting average, 4 homeruns, 17 RBI and multiple week stint on the disabled list. Now not only is he back in the lineup, but he is back in his old leadoff spot in the Marlins lineup. This is good news for Hanley owners who have been craving that deadly combination of power and speed. Not that Hanley was doing much when he was healthy, but batting third in the order severely limited his stolen base attempts. Now that he is leading off again, look for him to start doing a Mike Leake impression and stealing quite a bit. There is still time to justify why you drafted him second overall.
1. The Justin Verlander School for Pitchers Who Aren’t Good – Justin Verlander was already in the upper echelon of pitchers in both real and fantasy baseball. With two no-hitters already on his resume, Verlander nearly tossed his third tonight against the Indians. He would have been the first pitcher since Nolan Ryan in 1973 to throw two no-hitters in the same regular season, but it wasn’t meant to be. Instead, Verlander had to settle for a two-hit, complete game shutout compiling 12 strikeouts on his way to his eighth win of the season. Verlander has firmly entrenched his position as one of the elite pitchers in the game and can be relied on as the anchor of your fantasy team’s pitching staff.
It is hard to believe, but Tuesday has once again come and gone which means it is time for the Top Ten list of newsworthy fantasy baseball happenings. The calendar has turned to June and the fantasy baseball season has entered its tenth week. Time seems to fly by when you are having fun or checking the waiver wire to fill the void left by an injured player. That being said, let’s dive right into the June 7, 2011 edition of the Tuesday Top Ten list and see what is crack-a-lacking.
10. On the Mark – The Yankees and Red Sox have one of the most storied and dramatic rivalries in all of sports. The two AL East powerhouses are at it once again as they battle for first place in a mid-week series at Yankee Stadium. Sure enough, it didn’t take very long for the drama to rear its ugly head again as Jon Lester hit Mark Teixeira in the knee with a pitch in the first inning. Teixeira would ultimately leave the game and will undergo x-rays and tests during the night. This could be devastating for Teixeira owners if he has to miss any significant time. After an uncharacteristic hot start to the season, Teixeira has been pedestrian at best through most of May but started showing signs of hearing up on the Yankees’ recent west coast road trip. The Yankees will be cautious with Teixeira no matter what, so carefully monitor the situation and have some backup plans in place.
9. It Burns When I Peavy – Ok I will admit that I did not come up with that slogan. It is actually my friend’s team name in one of my fantasy baseball leagues, and arguably one of the funniest ones I have seen over the years. Speaking of funny, it is hilarious to think that Jake Peavy could last more than five games in the major leagues without a stint on the disabled list. Well, after missing the beginning of the season recovering from an arm injury, Peavy returned to Chicago which then employed a six-man starting rotation. Peavy went 2-1 with a 4.66 ERA in five starts since coming back. Sure enough, he injured his groin which will likely land him on the disabled list. If you want to send a “Get Well Soon” card to him, please send it to Jake Peavy c/o The Disabled List since that seems to be his primary residence. If you are looking for a headline about this, it can read “Peavy lands on DL with another injury. In other news, man invented fire.”
8. Future Jackass of the Year – This doesn’t necessarily affect much in terms of current fantasy baseball, but it has to be included in today’s update. Nationals’ prospect Bryce Harper, the #1 overall pick in the 2010 draft, continues to prove why he has a reputation of being an assclown. In a game against the Greensboro Grasshoppers, Harper hit a homerun off Zachary Neal who glared at him as he rounded the bases. Cameras caught on film Harper blowing a kiss at Neal before he crossed home plate. While some may interpret this as a harmless romantic gesture, others are probably insulted. Harper may be a very talented player and will likely end up a successful major league hitter. But his reputation and antics are going to attract a lot of fastballs heading between the numbers on his back.
7. Wright is Still Not Alright – Mets third baseman David Wright got some bad news from doctors saying that the stress fracture in his lower back hasn’t healed as quickly as they thought and have prescribed another three weeks of doing nothing. This means that the earliest Wright could start resuming some form of baseball activity is the end of June, which puts him in line for a return around the All-Star break. Wright was having an abysmal year before the injury anyway, but historically he was going to end up with his standard numbers (.285, 25 HR, 90 RBI). There are not many great options on the waiver wire for third base. You will need a stop-gap option that is dispensable once Wright comes back later on.
6. Paying for Failure – There are no guarantees in the game of baseball or fantasy baseball. Players commonly sign ludacris free agent contracts with teams desperately looking to rebuild and contend for the playoffs with high priced talent. However, things don’t always work out that way. Some glaring examples are Jason Bay, Adam Dunn and Jayson Werth. In terms of fantasy baseball, these players probably cost a middle round draft pick or a decent amount of auction dollars. And all you have gotten in return is absolute crap. At some point, you will have to consider benching these players because they are essentially a waste of a roster spot. Of course these veterans may turn things around, but for over two months these three players have been guilty of stealing a salary for pretending to be a baseball player.
5. Know Your Role, Jabroni – Brad Lidge, who is still waiting for Albert Pujols homerun from six years ago to land, is currently rehabbing and working his way back to the Phillies. The former closer had graciously indicated that he has no expectations to close games when he does make his return. The success that Ryan Madson has had since being anointed the closer in April is no longer considered a fluke. Lidge’s addition to the bullpen should provide added depth and insurance should Madson falter at some point. But kudos must be given to Lidge who understands the nature of the business. Not such great news for those of you who drafted Lidge on the cheap and have stashed him away. But great news for those of you who have Madson (and a special kudos to those of you who have Madson as a result of my closer profile on him from two weeks ago).
4.Uh oh for Brett Anderson – Not that many people have a burning desire to go to Birmingham, Alabama, but there is especially one reason why Major League Baseball pitchers do not enjoy going there. Of course, that would be Dr. James Andrews, the noted surgeon who specializes in performing Tommy John surgery. A’s young pitcher Brett Anderson will be visiting with Dr. Andrews to get an opinion on his elbow, which has currently landed him on the disabled list. If you can stash him on the DL, do it in case he doesn’t need surgery. If he does have to go under the knife, he will be gone the rest of this year and likely most of next season as well.
3. Edinson’s Light Bulb Went On – Reds starting pitcher Edinson Volquez made his return from the minor leagues to defeat the Cubs 8-2. He threw seven innings and allowed only one run on seven hits while walking two and striking out seven. This is a step in the right direction for the former ace of the staff who was sent to the minors to work on the command of his pitches. He may be available in some leagues, so grab him if he is. Rumor has it that Tigers’ legend Billy Chapel taught Volquez how to “clear the mechanism.” Get the reference???
2. Summer Lovin’ in San Diego – Padres prospect Anthony Rizzo is expected to be recalled very shortly once he receives a clean bill of health on this thumb. Rizzo is a strong first baseman who will be immediately be relied upon to inject some power in the middle of San Diego’s lineup. He is one of the top prospects in baseball and should be added if he is available.
1. Flash 2.0 – Dee Gordon, the son of former major league pitcher Tom “Flash” Gordon, made his big league debut on Monday night as a pinch runner. On Tuesday, he made his first start and proceeded to go 3-5 with a run scored and a stolen base. With Rafael Furcal back on the DL and likely out a month, Gordon should get plenty of playing time to show off his skills. He could be a big boost to your roto team if you need stolen bases from the weak middle infield position. If he plays especially well and doesn’t seem overmatched, it would not be surprising to see Gordon supplant Furcal as the starter when he comes back. For now, keep an eye on his playing time and definitely add him if available.
After six weeks and eight fantasy games played, it is now time for the first edition of the 2011 Power Rankings for the Old Bridge Fantasy Baseball League (“OBFBL”). The OBFBL is an 18-team, non-keeper, head to head, points, mixed NL/AL fantasy baseball league that has existed since 1999 and is currently in its 13th season. We will rank each team in the league based on their overall record, points scored, roster trends, significant transactions, and other general criteria. Without further adieu, here are the first official power rankings through the middle of May 2011.
1. The Ewok Rebellion (7-1, 1st place AL Central)
Abe, the brash-talking tech guru of the league who always has a Star Wars theme for his team name, is sitting in first place in the AL Central and is currently tied for the best record in the league. He suffered his first defeat of the year this past week and conveniently he had a lot less to say. The Ewok’s early success can be attributed to several hot starts to the season by 1st round pick Robinson Cano, pitcher Dan Haren, and Ryan Howard. Russell Martin has provided an unforeseen amount of offense at the weak catcher position, and veterans Derek Jeter, David Ortiz and Aramis Ramirez still have yet to catch fire.
2. Benny Enjoys the Moment Being My Bee-otch (7-1, 1st place NL East)
Marc, an OBFBL original and two-time champion, is off to a fast start tied for the best record in the league. His draft strategy based around pitching has paid off thus far as Clayton Kershaw and Jon Lester have anchored his staff. Closers Neftali Feliz and Joakim Soria haven’t provided the results he anticipated yet as Feliz was injured and Soria hasn’t had many save opportunities. Marc intuitively drafted an injured Brandon Morrow and is now reaping those benefits. Much of his early success can be attributed to good waiver wire pickups like Alex Avila, Jed Lawrie, Kyle Farnsworth, and Darwin Barney.
3. Fellowship of the Orange Veal Cutlets (6-2, 1st place NL West)
After having the worst record in the league in 2010, Maury has stormed back with a vengeance to begin 2011. His top draft picks have performed well, including Justin Verlander and his no-hitter. First round pick Ryan Braun has been a stud as expected, and Brian McCann is one of the best fantasy catchers in the league. Young pitchers Jonathan Sanchez and Ian Kennedy have provided depth to Maury’s pitching staff, and Jason Kubel’s resurgence has given him another potent bat. Maury is scoring more points per game this year than he has in his previous 8 seasons. Someone ought to test his urine for HGH or steroids…or viagara.
4. Madoff’s Marauders (6-2, 1st place NL Central)
Joey I. finds himself in first place in the NL Central despite suffering from injuries to crucial players such as Ryan Zimmerman and Ike Davis. His pitching trio of Roy Halladay, Yovanni Gallardo and Brett Anderson is as good as anyone in the league. Closers Craig Kimbrel and Jose Valverde round out one of the top pitching staffs in the OBFBL. He also has Jordan Walden and Sergio Santos on his bench, so Joey I. can likely leverage some of his excess pitching for infield help. With gaping holes at first base and third base due to injury, Joey I. has the Braves’ middle infield duo of Dan Uggla and Alex Gonzalez, both of whom are struggling.
5. Mets in 2011 (5-3, 1st place AL East)
Jordan got off to the best start to a season in terms of points scored in league history. The 2004 champion scored the 3rd highest point total in one scoring period ever during the Week 1 double-header. He has already won two $20 weekly awards for most points scored as he sits in first place in the AL East. Powered by Joey Votto, Matt Kemp and Justin Upton, Jordan has amassed all of these points despite getting nothing from Carl Crawford. Jordan’s pitching staff is deep and productive with Josh Beckett regaining his old form and looking dominating again. Jaime Garcia, Tim Hudson and Brian Wilson have also been very effective, and he has Jake Peavy stashed on his bench and ready to be activated (despite not being in his lineup this week when he threw a shutout). Oh, and he has Johan Santana stashed away too.
6. Len Tuckwilla’s Nuts Over My Chin (5-3, 2nd place NL West)
It has been an all or nothing season thus far for Craig. Everything he has touched has either turned to gold or sent to the disabled list. Taking Troy Tulowitzki in the first round was a no brainer, but drafting Jered Weaver so soon in the second round caused a couple heads to turn. Well those heads were wrong. Weaver had arguably the most dominant April in recent history, and then he missed a start due to an illness and has been brought back down to earth. But for the first time in his OBFBL tenure, Craig has a deep and talented pitching staff that is also comprised of Max Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez, Matt Garza, Michael Pineda and Kyle McClellan. On offense, Gaby Sanchez, Martin Prado and Carlos Beltran have all gotten off to quick and powerful starts. Craig is known for fading in the second half, so hopefully he has built up some OBFBL endurance.
7. Jewish Mafia (5-3, 2nd place NL Central)
The OBFBL’s resident Hebrew gangster is following up on his deep playoff run from 2010 with another fast start. Randy has benefited from some production from unlikely sources such as Alfonso Soriano, Leo Nunez and Francisco Rodriguez. His top picks, such as Carlos Gonzalez, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Mat Latos have all struggled getting out of the gate, but each have shown signs of breaking out. Brandon Phillips, Jason Heyward and Casey McGehee round out a solid offense. Randy’s weakness may be at first base where Freddie Freeman is the only option he has. His other weakness is Leonardo DiCaprio movies…he gets emotional.
8. RAD (4-4, 2nd place AL Central)
After another slow start, Matt has been on a roll lately putting up some big time points and proving that his success in his rookie year was no fluke. Adrian Gonzalez and Andrew McCutcheon are the most dangerous hitters he has, with veterans like Bobby Abreu and Johnny Damon contributing to the cause despite their advanced age. On the contrary, Matt has solified his reputation as someone who values and recognizes young pitching talent. Daniel Hudson was the first pitcher he drafted, and he has rebounded to justify such a selection. James Shields has also rebounded from a poor 2010 to have one of the highest point totals in the league. Homer Bailey, John Axford, Zach Britton and Jordan Zimmermann round out Matt’s impressive young staff. I think Ian Kinsler just injured himself reading this.
9. Pap Smears (4-4, 1st place AL West)
Jared has brought back the team name of Pap Smears for the first time since 2000. And with the return of the vaginal swabs has come a return to glory as Jared currently resides in 1st place despite a .500 record. Injuries have been a major theme for Jared starting with the draft as he selected players like Jair Jurrjens, Corey Hart, and Shaun Marcum who all had injuries prior to the season beginning. Since then, he has withstood DL stints for Victor Martinez, Aaron Hill, and a scare with Josh Johnson getting hit by a ball on his right forearm. For the record, Jared selected Corey Hart only because he himself wears his sunglasses at night,
10. It’s Gotta Be Mooses…or Meese (4-4, 2nd place AL West)
When everyone is healthy, Cory has one of the deepest and most talented pitching staffs in the league. His staff includes C.C. Sabathia, Chris Carpenter, Chad Billingsley, Ricky Romero and Francisco Cordero. With all of that pitching, something had to give…and it gave in deep positions. Derrek Lee has been on the downturn for a few years, and his recent oblique strain won’t help matters at all. Additionally, Aubrey Huff and Carlos Lee do not look like they once did (and yes, I admit, I predicted big things for El Caballo coming into the season). Matt Holliday has been terrific despite missing the first couple weeks of the season. The biggest surprises on Cory’s team have been Asdrubal Cabrera and Erick Aybar both hitting for more power than anticipated.
11. This is the Business We’ve Chosen (4-4, 2nd place NL East)
Despite being the first and only team to suffer from the illegal lineup penalty, Jason still has a .500 record and is in 2nd place behind Bee-otch. Even more surprising that he has won four games is the fact that Hanley Ramirez has been horrendous and Evan Longoria missed several weeks with an injury. In keeping with his tradition, Jason is relying on young stud pitchers to carry him through, such as Clay Buchholz, Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain and Drew Storen. A trade for another hitter could be in order since his current utility player is Melky Cabrera.
12. Montreal Espos (3-5, 3rd place AL West)
The Espos were dealt a serious blow this week as David Wright was placed on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his lower back. This type of injury and the recovery necessary could keep the Espos’ second overall pick on the shelf for quite some time. Not that Wright was doing much when he was playing, but Pat will have to rely on other hitters like Shin Soo Choo and Curtis Granderson to pick up the slack. One thing that Pat does have going for him is the formidable pitching duo of former Cy Young award winners Felix Hernandez and Zack Greinke. Greinke is still a bit of a wild card, but if he can revert back to his 2009 form, then Pat should be able to compete for the division title with this closely grouped bunch.
13. Blue Horseshoe Loves Giant Douche (3-5, 3rd place NL West)
The Commish is off to another slow start and has been dominated in double-header weeks, just as he was in 2010. Mike has been bitten by injuries thus far with Josh Hamilton missing almost the whole season thus far. His strategy of taking two top closers as his first pitchers drafted hasn’t worked out well so far because Heath Bell and Carlos Marmol haven’t had many save opportunities yet. Mike did draft Lance Berkman in the late rounds which turned out to be a steal. He then parlayed Berkman’s torrid start into a trade to acquire Cliff Lee, the stud starting pitcher he needed. First round pick Miguel Cabrera is still sobering up from his off-season DUI.
14. Dawg Eat Dawg (3-5, 3rd place NL Central)
The defending OBFBL champion is off to a slow start in his quest to become the first ever repeat champion in league history. In typical fashion, Benny drafted aging hitters like they were going out of style. He was immediately burned when Manny Ramirez tested positive for performance enhancing drugs and subsequently retired. A-Rod started off strong but then suffered an oblique injury and has struggled since returning. Jason Bay, Hideki Matsui and Vladimir Guerrero look like shells of their former selves. And Grady Sizemore is on the DL again with an injury to his other knee. However, Benny does have David Price and Roy Oswalt to match up against anyone else’s top pitchers.
15. Cole Hamels Adopted Charlie Sheen’s Kids (2-6, 3rd place AL Central)
The Philadelphia Boys and their fetish with Cole Hamels bastard children are off to a slow start in the basement in the AL Central. Jeff and Mike drafted a team of players who are known for their hot and cold streaks. Mark Teixeira had an uncharacteristically hot start to the season but then cooled off considerably. Rickie Weeks, Stephen Drew and Jayson Werth have had their production limited to a confined period of time. The eponymous Cole Hamels and Andre Ethier have been consistently productive. A turning point in Jeff and Mike’s season could be the pending return of all-star second baseman Chase Utley. Jeff and Mike can either plug Utley into the lineup along with Weeks, or they can entertain a trade offer to upgrade somewhere else.
16. It Byrnes When I Peavy (2-6, 3rd place NL East)
While Ari has the best team name in the league, his actual team is not the best at anything except underachieving. After drafting Albert Pujols with the first overall pick, you could have etched in stone that Pujols would have his typical season, or even better due to this being a contract year. However, it has been anything but typical for the game’s best hitter. Pujols has struggled mightily through the first 6+ weeks of the season, and this has been problematic for the OBFBL Co-Commissioner. Mix in the struggles of Kevin Youkilis, plus injuries to Adam Dunn, Vernon Wells and Nelson Cruz and you have the recipe for a 2-6 record. Ari has a proven track record of winning, so don’t be surprised to see him make a second half run.
17. Sharks With Frickin’ Laser Beams (1-7, 2nd place AL East)
Now entering his 3rd season in the league, Jim has finally learned that drafting Jimmy Rollins in the first round is not a good idea. Despite taking Tim Lincecum with his first pick, the Sharks are being hunted by Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss. Jose Bautista has easily been Jim’s best player by establishing himself as a true dominant fantasy stud. However, Dustin Pedroia and James Loney have been major disappointments. Delmon Young was producing but missed some time due to injury. Jim has never shied away from making trades in the past. He may need to shake things up before the Sharks jump themselves (if you don’t understand this, then Google or Wikipedia the term “jump the shark.”
18. Admiral Ackbar (1-7, 3rd place AL East)
In only his second season in the OBFBL, Mario has clearly established himself as one of the streakiest teams in league history. In 2010, he began the season 8-0. In 2011, he began 0-5 and is now 1-7. The problem has been Mario’s lack of offense because his deep pitching staff has consistently been carrying him. In fact, his offense has been so bad that he still lost one of the double-header games during the week that Francisco Liriano threw a no-hitter. Mario recognized his problem and dealt away Cliff Lee in exchange for Lance Berkman (the top point scorer in the league at the time) and Aaron Harang. The good news is that Mario can only move up…there isn’t anyone below him.
I normally don’t like to say “I told you so,” but in this case I am going to. I told you so. Once Lance Berkman signed a free agent contract with the St. Louis Cardinals this past off-season, I immediately predicted that he would have a bounceback year and thrive in the St. Louis lineup hitting behind Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday. It can’t be that surprising that Berkman has performed this well so far given he is still only 35 years old and is not that far removed from his typically impressive statistics. The last two seasons have seen Berkman’s numbers slip due to injuries and lack of playing time. It was apparent his power had been sapped due to nagging injuries in 2009 and 2010, and he seemed to be overcompensating by becoming less patient at the plate. His shortcomings were even more magnified after he was traded to the Yankees in 2010 and struggled mightily down the stretch as the Bronx Bombers’ primary designated hitter. But he did hit well in the 2010 playoffs, which would turn out to be a precursor to his complete resurgence in 2o11.
Berkman was one of the most prolific homerun hitters of the 2000′s coupled with great plate discipline and a high OPS. But he looked like an old 33 when his numbers dwindled in 2009, and then eventually he was sent packing from Houston where he had spent his entire professional career. The Cardinals intelligently signed Berkman to a relatively pedestrian contract which has turned out to be a bargain. Through May 5, 2011, Berkman is hitting an impressive .392 with 10 homeruns and 32 RBI. His .775 slugging percentage and 1.237 OPS are staggeringly good. While he will likely tail off at some point because this is an incredible pace to maintain, he has re-established himself as one of baseball’s premiere hitters and one of fantasy baseball’s elite players. The concern for him will be staying healthy. At 35, he is transitioning back into the outfield on a full-time basis which could be rough on his legs. But Tony LaRussa is smart enough to give Berkman enough rest to keep him fresh. Berkman can also play first base to spell Albert Pujols on the rare occasion he is given a day off or suffering from an injury.
In 2011 fantasy baseball drafts, Berkman was likely off everyone’s radar, and deservingly so. But I targeted him between rounds 8-14 in snake drafts and made sure I got him because I knew what he was capable of in his new environment. In my 18-team head to head points league, Berkman has the most fantasy points of any offensive player. His dual eligibility at 1B and OF also makes him extremely valuable. That begs the question whether you should look to deal him now while his value is so high. A good argument can be made that he has peaked and the only direction he can go is down. But I would argue against that and recommend that you ride his coattails as long as possible because as long as he is healthy, you can expect normal Berkman-esque production throughout the season.
SUPREME COURT OF FANTASY JUDGMENT
4 Ponies v. Carson City Cocks
ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM
THE INCONTINENT LEAGUE
Decided May 4, 2011
Cite as 3 F.J. 13 (May 2011)
A rotisserie fantasy baseball league (hereinafter referred to as “Roto league” or “The Incontinent League”) utilizing an auction-style draft and transaction platform seeks an evaluation of a trade made between two teams within the Roto league. This is an NL-only keeper league where each team is permitted to maintain up to ten (10) players during each off-season with each individual player allowed to be kept for a maximum of three (3) years. Each team is also permitted to keep two minor league players which are in addition to the ten players kept. This Roto league also has a $36.00 in-season salary cap that is applicable for all teams.
As with many rotisserie leagues, the subject Roto league uses the standard 5×5 scoring categories to determine the standings and prize money. For offensive players, the five categories are: (1) batting average; (2) homeruns; (3) runs batted in; (4) runs scored; and (5) stolen bases. For pitchers, the five categories are: (1) wins; (2) earned run average; (3) WHIP (walks+hits/innings pitched); (4) strikeouts; and (5) saves. Statistics are cumulative throughout the course of the season and there are no head to head games contained within the Roto league.
The 4 Ponies have made a trade with the Carson City Cocks. The 4 Ponies traded Albert Pujols (1B-STL) and Geovany Soto (C-CHC) to the Carson City Cocks in exchange for Joey Votto (1B-CIN) and John Buck (C-FLA).
(1) Should the trade between the 4 Ponies and the Carson City Cocks be upheld and approved?
The Supreme Court of Fantasy Judgment typically favors individual fantasy sports participants and teams’ ability to make moves, transactions, and trades. The standard of review has been that people pay money to purchase a team in a league, draft their team, and manage it accordingly. Whether success is bred from that individual’s decision-making is purely left to some skill, luck, dedication, and savviness. The Court also acknowledges that the analysis for evaluating trades is much different in a keeper league than a non-keeper league. A trade that may look uneven or lopsided on its face may receive a different opinion when it is involved in a keeper league. The reasons for this are obvious, but must be restated. In a keeper league, teams that are having unsuccessful seasons are more likely to continue to pay attention and make moves that will set themselves up for better success in the following season. They can do this by acquiring young talent that is not under contract within the league, or by dumping salary (assuming it is an auction league) and allowing greater financial flexibility to sign key players in the next season’s draft. In non-keeper leagues, there is no rationale for thinking ahead, nor is there any need to stockpile young, inexpensive talent.
Another factor that the Court must always consider is whether there is any collusion or under-the-table dealings going on between teams. The Court has not been presented with any evidence of such malfeasance, so assumptions will be made that this is not an issue.
At first glance, the trade of Albert Pujols and Geovany Soto in exchange for Joey Votto and John Buck looks fair and even. This trade involves arguably the two best first baseman in both real and fantasy baseball. Pujols and Votto have multiple National League MVP awards amongst them combined and have put up crooked statistics on an annual basis. While Pujols generally has better numbers and has been producing them over a longer period of time, Votto has reached elite status with his production in a loaded lineup and a hitter’s ballpark in Cincinnati. Buck and Soto have many similarities between them as well. Soto has never come close to the production he had several years ago when he won National League Rookie of the Year. However, he is still a solid second tier option at catcher in an NL-only league. The same can be said for Buck, who has become known as a relatively prolific homerun-hitting catcher. Neither will provide much in terms of batting average, runs scored, or stolen bases.
When analyzing the fairness and equity of a trade, the Court will consider each team’s individual needs to assess whether the trade subjectively made sense from each team’s perspective. See Cajon Crawdads vs. Carson City Cocks, 1 F.J. 41, 42 (June 2010) (upholding a trade for Jason Bay because of the Carson City Cocks’ desperate need for a starting outfielder due to the demotion of Cameron Maybin). Here, both teams have swapped players at the same position with relatively similar offensive production. There is nothing out of the ordinary to indicate either team has any ulterior motives behind the trade to question its sincerity.
In terms of keeper league status and salary cap value, this trade is almost equivocal. All four players involved are in their first year under contract with their respective teams. Pujols is worth $4.70 while Votto is worth $4.60. Additionally, Soto is worth $1.20 and Buck is worth $0.90. The 4 Ponies, currently in second place, will gain $0.40 in salary cap space which is not significant enough to factor into the evaluation given the equality of the players involved. See Smittydogs v. Stud Muffins, 3 F.J. 10, 11 (April 2011) (holding that a $0.10 differential amongst the players salaries was not enough to factor into the Court’s evaluation).
Despite the fact that Pujols has struggled to begin the 2011 season, the Court admits into evidence his entire body of work over the last decade which unanimously delineates him the best player in baseball. That being said, Pujols’ value must be considered in totality of his typical yearly output, along with the fact he is a free agent at the end of 2011 and will likely produce his usual numbers as motivation to justify the richest contract in all of baseball. Below is a comparison using the league’s roto categories to further demonstrate the equality amongst these players in terms of their statistics as of May 3, 2011:
Despite the disparity between Pujols and Votto’s batting average, everything else is equal in terms of current production. As was stated earlier, the Court is discounting Pujols’ current batting average on the premise that it will significantly increase over time based on his historical averages and the underlying motivation of impending free agency.
As referenced in Smittydogs v. Moneyball, 1 F.J. 32, 34 (June 2010), the dichotomy between the 4 Ponies and Carson City Cocks’ motivations is precisely why the Court must look at trades in keeper leagues differently than non-keeper leagues. However, had this trade been made in a non-keeper league, the Court would still likely approve it.
Based on the foregoing reasons, the Court hereby decides that the subject trade is fair, equal, and free of collusion. The trade should be approved as it comports with the best interests of the league.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
The 13th annual Old Bridge Fantasy Baseball League (“OBFBL”) draft is now officially in the books. The OBFBL is an 18-team, mixed, H2H points league with no keepers. The point scoring system is set up to balance the value of hitters and pitchers. Arguably, the upper eschalon of pitchers are more valuable than most hitters not named Pujols. The theory has always been that a good offense will get you into the playoffs, but a good pitching staff is what wins championships. This was proven last year when the 2010 OBFBL champion had a pitching staff the included Tim Lincecum, Zack Greinke, Roy Oswalt, Brett Myers and Billy Wagner.
To demonstrate why pitchers are so heavily revered, here some examples of point value for various pitching statistics: win (10), save (10), quality start (5), complete game (10), shutout (15), strikeout (2), no-hitter (50), perfect game (50), loss (-5), blown save (-5), earned run (-1), walk (-1).
This year, there were seven pitchers taken in the first round (Halladay, Lincecum, F. Hernandez, Sabathia, Lester, C. Lee, and J. Johnson) , which ties an all-time OBFBL record. I had the third overall pick in the first round and was tormeted for weeks on who to pick if Pujols and Halladay were both gone. I have never been a positional scarcity guy, so Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tuolowitski were not on my radar. Here is a breakdown of the team I drafted with some additional thoughts and commentary:
1. Miguel Cabrera-1B-DET. With Pujols and Halladay off the board, I decided to take the second best pure hitter in all of baseball. Despite Cabrera’s off-season alcohol problems, there is no reason to think he won’t be his awesome self again hitting in a better lineup with Victor Martinez providing some protection. Cabrera is a lock for .325, 35 HR, 120 RBI, and 100 runs, so I opted for him rather than go with a scarcer position like SS or 2B. Besides, I regretted not taking Cabrera last year so I didn’t want to make the same mistake again.
2. Josh Hamilton-OF-TEX. I was surprised the 2010 AL MVP made it all the way back up to me in the second round, so I grabbed him without hesitation. I soon realized I had a recovering alcoholic and drug abuser with my first two picks, so I’ll have to be very careful about the parties I throw in my team’s clubhouse. Hamilton’s health is the only question mark as he gets banged up quite easily. His shift from center field should help alleviate some of the danger. Assuming he plays 145-150 games, he should have no problems repeating his MVP performance.
3. Jose Reyes-SS-NYM. I debated taking Ryan Howard here and loading up on the homerun power, but then I would be locked into my Utility Position rather quickly. Plus, with Reyes still on the board, I had to get my Met and reap the benefits of him playing extra motivated as he approaches his first free agency. Reyes is a health risk as we have seen over the years, but he does seem far removed from the leg ailments that have plagued him since 2009. He will be playing for a $100 million contract next year, so look for him to be explosive. This pick truly vindicated me towards anyone who thought I should have taken Hanley or Tulowitzki in the first round.
4. Carlos Marmol-RP-CHC. The OBFBL amended its scoring system to make saves worth 10 points, which is equal to the points given for a win. This made closers very valuable commodities and justifies me taking one as my first pitcher. At this point, all of the top starting pitchers were off the board so I went for arguably one of the top closer options. Marmol just signed a big contract and is the official closer of the Cubs. His electric stuff is erratic at times, but he should have no problem saving 40 games and striking out at least a batter or two every time he is out there.
5. Heath Bell-RP-SD. Once I took Marmol, I decided to go with the multiple closer strategy. This is something I have rarely done in the previous 12 OBFBL seasons. But Bell is arguably one of the top closer options and pairing him with Marmol is akin to having two good starting pitchers. The Padres should have solid pitching and play in a lot of close games, so Bell should have plenty of opportunities to amass 40+ saves again. Just FYI, if we used the new current scoring system with last year’s statistics, Bell placed in the top five overall. And to think the Mets traded him away for nothing (sorry, sour grapes).
6. Jay Bruce-OF-CIN. This was the first pick of the guys I was targeting beforehand. I have been very high on Bruce all winter, trying to take him in the mock drafts I have done. Bruce is entering his third year in the big leagues already and could be on the cusp of breaking out into a star. He has already put up impressive power numbers since 2009, but he needed to work on his plate discipline and approach. Assuming he is batting in the middle of the order (please Dusty, don’t waste him leading off), Bruce should be good for .275, 30 HR, 100 RBI.
7. Brett Myers-SP-HOU. I also targeted Myers beforehand because he is a second or third tier pitcher with top tier talent and point potential. He proved he was healthy in 2010 and the Astros rewarded him with an extension. Now he looks to build on that and return to his 200+ strikeout days. He is essentially my third pitcher behind my closers.
8. Mark Reynolds-3B-BAL. Before I begin my analysis, let me alert you that in the OBFBL, batter strikeouts are -1 point. I was fully aware of the risk in taking Reynolds given that he is a lock for at least 175 strikeouts. But the move to Baltimore convinced me that this could turn out to be one of my better picks. Camden Yards is a hitters’ park and the Orioles have put together an impressive lineup. Reynolds should have no problems reaching 40 HR’s and 100 RBI, and he was one of only a couple other viable 3B options left at this time.
9. Ted Lilly-SP-LAD. I have never had Lilly on any of my teams over the years, but he has always been a thorn in my side. He doesn’t put up eye-popping numbers, but the guy is good for 12-15 wins and over 175 strikeouts every year it seems. He is pitching in the weak-hitting NL West for the entire season which is enticing. I was satisfied with this pick as my 4th pitcher.
10. Ryan Franklin-RP-STL. After taking two closers earlier in the draft, I decided to go all in and grab another one. Franklin is nowhere near the level of Marmol or Bell, but he can be relied on for 30-35 saves. The Cardinals should be involved in a lot of close games, and Tony LaRussa-led teams always rely on their closers heavily. The only thing that bothers me about this pick is Franklin’s goatee. Only Jim “The Anvil” Nedihart can pull that look off.
11. Jorge Posada-C-NYY. This pick elicited the biggest reaction amongst my fellow league members drafting live in the same room. In most of the mock drafts I have done this season, I ended up getting Posada with one of the last picks because people forgot about him since he will be a full-time DH. But there is a real “Yankee fan effect” in the OBFBL as most Yankees’ players are highly overvalued by the league’s resident Yankee fans. I decided this was the right time to take Posada since I didn’t think he would last another round…and it turns out I was right. Posada isn’t the hitter he used to be, but now playing everyday without the burden of catching might rejuvenate his bat. Regardless, he will be one of the more productive players at the catcher position in terms of fantasy value.
12. Javier Vazquez-SP-FLA. This was another one of my long-time fantasy baseball favorites. Coming off of his second failed stint with the Yankees, Vazquez is primed for a comeback season now that he has returned to the National League East where he had prior success on the Expos and Braves. Vazquez has been one of the most consistent fantasy performers due to his high strikeout potential and double-digit wins. He may not win 15 games due to the Marlins lack of offense and questionable bullpen, but I expect quality starts and 7-8 strikeouts per game.
13. Jhoulys Chacin-SP-COL. Besides having a cool first name, Chacin is one of the top young arms in the National League. He pitched very well down the stretch for the Rockies in 2010 and is now being relied upon from the beginning in 2011. Chacin has nasty stuff and high strikeout potential. He may suffer some sophomore slumps at times, but it looks like he has the tools and make-up to be a relevant fantasy pitcher.
14. Lance Berkman-1B-STL. Former perennial first round pick Lance Berkman has seen Father Time and nagging injuries sap him of his power and batting average the last couple years. 2010 was a lost season for Berkman as he struggled mightily in Houston before being traded to the Yankees and struggling there too until the playoffs. Now Berkman appears to be healthy and will be starting in the outfield for the Cardinals. I like his bounce-back potential hitting behind Pujols and Holliday. He may not put up his old school Berkman numbers, but 20 HR and 75 RBI is a reasonable expectation.
15. Nate McLouth-OF-ATL. I am excited about this pick because McLouth may have more bounce-back potential than anyone else in the league. The former All-Star had an atrocious season in 2010 and is poised to rebound. He has the ability to hit 25 HR, knock in 80 RBI, and also steal 30+ bases. He will be playing everyday, and unless he has a repeat of 2010, he will be a fixture in the Braves’ lineup with every opportunity to amass solid statistics across the board. There was very little risk in making this pick in the 15th round and as my third outfielder.
16. Tsuyoshi Nishioka-2B-MIN. I love sushi. It is my favorite thing to eat…ever. But I didn’t always like sushi. In fact, I was adament against it until I was finally convinced to give it a chance before judging it. That was a good call because now I am obsessed with sushi. My point is that I don’t know much about Nishioka at all. But from everything I have read about him, he seems like a good risk to take. The Twins are one of the smartest organizations in all of baseball, so I trust their ability to scout talent and invest money. If Nishioka turns out to be a great pick, then I will go spend some money at Target as my thanks.
17. Ivan Nova-SP-NYY. His friends call him “Nova.” No, not as in “Casa-nova” but because that is his name. I have a history of taking young Yankees’ pitchers in these drafts, and this year is no different. Nova showed a lot of poise last year in his stint with the Yankees, and he earned the #4 spot in their rotation this year. With the Yankees great offense and solid bullpen, Nova should win 12-15 games. Plus, he is good trade bait for all of the Yankees fans in the league.
18. Matt LaPorta-1B-CLE. I am completely indifferent about this pick. LaPorta has been a big prospect for several years (not as many as Brandon Wood) and should be getting his first opportunity to play everyday this year. He has big time power potential, but there are many flaws in his swing and his mechanics. I wouldn’t be surprised if he fizzles out and doesn’t amount to much. That would be a shame because then the Indians really wouldn’t have anything to show for the C.C. Sabathia trade in 2008.
19. Aaron Harang-SP-SD. The former fantasy stud has fallen on hard times due to injuries and ineffectiveness. I like Harang’s upside in San Diego if he stays healthy. He has always been a good strikeout pitcher, and Petco Park is a great pitchers’ park to keep his ERA down. The Padres got tremendous starting pitching from everyone last year, so there is no reason to think it can’t happen again. Harang has a lot of experience on his side, and with Heath Bell closing games, he should return to double-digit wins.
20. Domonic Brown-OF-PHI. With my final pick of the draft, I took the Phillies’ rookie who will start the year on the disabled list. When Browns does come back, he should likely take over in right field unless Ben Francisco is lighting it up against both righties and lefties. Phillies’ manager Charlie Manuel worked on a lot of things with Brown’s swing and plate approach, so it will be interesting to see how he applies that knowledge on the field. If he gets 300+ at bats this year, he should reach double-digits in HR’s and SB’s.
So that is my team. Overall I am pretty happy with it. I like my offense led by Cabrera, Hamilton, Reyes, Bruce and Reynolds. My pitching staff lacks a dominant starter, but I made up for that with two elite closers. That is the key thing I will watch for this year is comparing the value of the closers versus the starters.
Let me know what you think of my team. If you want a copy of the draft board, just shoot me an email to email@example.com. You can also find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FantasyJudgment and Twitter at www.twitter.com/FantasyJudgment.
The third installment of the OBFBL Retrospective will focus on the twelve previous champions and what their draft positions were. Since the inception of the league, a random, fresh draft order is selected prior to each season. The standings from the prior year have no bearing on the next year’s draft. That being said, I will be taking a look back at each year’s champion and where they drafted to see if there is any distinct advantage that exists.
1999 – Rodillaté Muchacha (#7)
2000 – NAACP (#12)
2001 – Celebate Whores (#14)
2002 – Punch and Pie (#10)
2003 – Zimmer’s Revenge (#4)
2004 – Mets in 2004 (#8)
2005 – I Lost the Ketubah in Canada (#15)
2006 – Don Zimmer’s Boner Jams ’06 (#1)
2007 – Giant Douche on a Plane (#12)
2008 – Benny Smells Like a Bee-otch (#4)
2009 – A New Hope (#14)
2010 – Dawg Eat Dawg (#6)
Over the course of the first twelve seasons of the OBFBL, the average draft position of the championship team is 9 (ok it is really 8.9 but I rounded up because decimals suck). This is not surprising given the league has 18 teams, and the ninth pick of the draft obviously falls square in the middle. However, interestingly, no #9 team has ever won the league.
Only #’s 4, 12 and 14 have produced multiple champions. The #1 pick has only produced one champion and #’s 2 and 3 have not produced any. No team drafting beyond #15 has ever won the league.
So what can be taken from these statistics? Probably not much at all, but they are interesting to see. Logic would tell you that drafting in the middle of an 18-team league is best because you have an equidistant amount of time in between picks which allows you to avoid missing a run at a certain position. On the contrary, being near the top or bottom means you have potentially 35 picks in between which could prevent you from grabbing a player at a position that is going like hotcakes. But there are advantages to being near the top or bottom, such as having back-to-back picks.
The bottom line is that there is no clear advantage irrespective of where your draft position is. Just have a game plan, be creative, follow your instincts, and adapt to what is going on around you and all teams have an equal chance of winning the championship.
On February 21, 2011, I participated in another fantasy baseball expert mock draft hosted by Charlie Saponara of FantasyBaseball365.com. This was a standard 5 x 5 mixed Roto league format (you know, the format where Carl Crawford is revered as the next messiah). The other expert participants included Andrew Holm of MillionDollarSleeper.com, Matt Dewoskin of FantasyPros911.com, Tyler Becker of TheFantasyFix.com, Bryan Curley of BaseballProf.com, Ivar Anderson of FGD.net, Justin Occhionero of TheFantasyGeek.com, Josh Shepardson of HardballTimes.com, Eric Yeomans of mister52pickup.wordpress.com, Dave Gawron of RotoExperts.com, and a representative of FantasyBaseballHotStove.com. The results of this mock draft will be published in the FantasyBaseball365 draft guide, so be sure to look out for that.
The draft started with Andrew Holm selecting Hanley Ramirez as the first overall pick. This was the first mock draft I have seen in a couple years where Albert Pujols was not the first overall pick. I do understand the rationale behind this. If you are concerned about position scarcity, then this makes a lot of sense because shortstop is very thin and Ramirez produces significantly in all five categories. Plus, first base is extremely deep in talent so Andrew could easily find a suitable fit later on. Personally, I would take Pujols first under any circumstances. That being said, he was selected second overall. I had the third pick, and for a split second I thought Pujols might fall to me if Matt Dewoskin joined the shortstop bandwagon and selected Troy Tulowitzki. But it wasn’t to be as Pujols went off the board. I then selected Miguel Cabrera third overall. Despite his alcohol problems (I will not be hitching any rides home from him after my team meetings), Cabrera is arguably the second best hitter in baseball behind Pujols. He hits for a very high average, is reaching his peak years in terms of power, and is always a lock for 115-120 RBI’s. Assuming he is sober and not in rehab, I expect another big year from Cabrera. Next went Tulowitzki, Evan Longoria, and Carlos Gonzalez. None of these picks were surprising as Tulowitzki is clearly the next best available shortstop and the only other with elite status going into 2011 (meaning he is as good as a lock for a monster season, not that he is a member of Continental Airlines One Pass program). Longoria is a step above David Wright as the top third baseman, which is a position that uncharacteristically lacks depth and star power. CarGo is coming off a monster break-out season and fresh off of a new long-term contract extension. He is not even in his prime yet and is already established as one of the best fantasy options in the game. Next went Ryan Braun, David Wright and Adrian Gonzalez. Braun has officially commanded the respect of being considered a lock for achieving certain statistics every season. He is entering his prime years and should have no problems once again reaching .300, 30 HR, and 110 RBI. He also scores runs and can steal bases, so he is arguably one of the top two or three outfield options. Wright is just below Longoria at third base and is coming off a season that saw his power return. He should put up good numbers despite having problems hitting the ball out of Citi Field. Remember, he does play 81 games on the road. A-Gone was a little surprising here ahead of Joey Votto and Mark Teixeira. He put up great numbers in a pitchers’ park in San Diego and without any protection in the lineup. Now he is in the haven of Fenway Park and surrounded by stars, so it is logical to translate his historical numbers into a tremendous season. However, I think there are safer options with more upside that should have been considered before A-Gone. Finishing up the first round were Joey Votto, Robinson Cano, and Mark Teixeira. These three went pretty much where they should have gone. Votto is coming off an MVP season, and Cano has emerged as the prominent choice at second base in fantasy baseball. Teixeira is coming back from a relatively disappointing 2010 that saw his season end with an ugly hamstring injury in the playoffs. Despite his likely usual slow start, he should be back to where his career numbers are with a .290 batting average, 35 HR, and 120 RBI.
If anyone wants a copy of the whole draft board, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Rather than go through each pick of every round, I will now give a review and analysis of my picks. If you have questions about a specific player that was either drafted by me or not, you can email me about that as well.
1st Round: Miguel Cabrera-1B-DET. What is not to like about the Pujols-esque Cabrera? Assuming he works out his drinking problem and is healthy, he is a lock for his normal numbers, which seem to be increasing over the years as he enters his prime. Cabrera is one of those rare hitters, like Pujols, who can hit for tremendous power and also maintain a prolific batting average. He now has Victor Martinez hitting in the lineup, so hopefully he sees more pitches to hit. Regardless, I don’t think there is any pitch that Cabrera can’t find a way to hit.
2nd Round: Jose Reyes-SS-NYM. Being a Mets’ fan, I have mixed emotions about this. Reyes is clearly loaded with talent and natural ability that could make him a top 3 pick like he was a couple years ago. But a myriad of injuries have kept him off the field for significant time since 2009. Now he is entering a contract year and appears to be fully recovered from his leg maladies and thyroid issues. But there is something about Reyes that seems to hold him back from being elevated to the next level of greatness. He is worth a second round pick here, especially with the lack of depth at the position and his potential for significant contribution in batting average, runs and stolen bases.
3rd Round: Tim Lincecum-SP-SF. When an ace pitcher of this caliber falls in my lap in the third round, I will jump at the opportunity to grab him. Lincecum had a sub-par year in comparison to his previous Cy Young seasons, but he clearly became a better pitcher as he helped lead the Giants to the World Series championship. He has thrown a lot of innings in his short career, so there is some risk involved with taking a pitcher of his slight build and all of that mileage. But he has proven to be a durable workhorse and there is no reason to think he won’t put up 18 wins with a 3.00 ERA and 200+ strikeouts.
4th Round: Brandon Phillips-2B-CIN. I really like Phillips this year as a top candidate to bounce back after a mediocre 2010 season. He has 30-30 capabilities in a high octane Cincinnati offense and plays a premium position where the drop-off after him is significant. He has shown some maturity and will be looked upon to help lead the Reds and their young offensive stars. Phillips will likely bat cleanup or somewhere in the middle of the order to break up Votto and Bruce, so look for lots of run scoring and RBI chances this season. He also plays in a bandbox so returning to 30+ homeruns is realistic.
5th Round: Justin Morneau-1B-MIN. The former AL MVP is coming back after a concussion ended his season last July. His slow recovery which lingered into February has caused many people to question his ability to return to his old self. I am a believer because Morneau possesses all of the tools necessary to ascend into the elite category at first base. While I already have Cabrera, it was too hard to pass on Morneau to fill my utility spot and offer significant production in batting average, homeruns and RBI’s.
6th Round: Jayson Werth-OF-WAS. While the Washington Nationals were the laughingstock of baseball for giving Werth a ridiculous contract (see my article about this at http://fantasyjudgment.wordpress.com/2010/12/06/nationals-will-not-get-their-moneys-werth/), he should still provide good value as a sixth round pick here and as my first outfielder. Werth will be the focal point of the Nationals’ lineup, and barring injury, he should still be good for .275, 25 HR, and 85 RBI. His impact will seem minimized because he is on a terrible team, but those are essentially his career averages over the last three years when he has stayed healthy.
7th Round: Cole Hamels-SP-PHI. Despite my hatred for the Phillies, there is no denying the ridiculous starting rotation they have which includes Hamels as their #4. He has grown into a very good pitcher after maturing from his 2009 World Series debacle. Coming into a contract year, Hamels will have the benefit of pitching against other teams’ back end of the rotation starters which should increase his win total. He should easily keep his ERA in the low 3.00′s and reaching 200 strikeouts is not beyond the realm of possibility. I like him a lot as my #2 pitcher behind Lincecum.
8th Round: Heath Bell-RP-SD. While Bell doesn’t have as a cool a beard as Brian Wilson, he is arguably the best closer in baseball right now. All indications are that the Padres want to lock him up to a contract extension, so he is pitching with extra motivation to justify that. Because the Padres have surprisingly good pitching and no offense, they are in close games all the time which bodes well for Bell getting save opportunities. He strikes out batters at a tremendous rate and should keep his WHIP at or below 1.00.
9th Round: Curtis Granderson-OF-NYY. The Grandy Man is entering his second season in the Bronx and is set to take his game to another level. You could see at the end of 2010 and in the playoffs that he finally figured it out. He will likely hit down at the bottom of the Yankees’ potent batting lineup which means he could see lots of RBI chances. But with the deep order they have, he will also score a fair share of runs, especially if they let him steal bases like he used to. He won’t hit for a high average, but he will produce in every other category.
10th Round: Tim Hudson-SP-ATL. I have always been a Tim Hudson fan, so I didn’t hesitate to take the ace of the Braves staff. He proved last year that he is fully recovered from Tommy John surgery as he won 17 games and had an ERA well under 3.00. I would look for much of the same this season from Hudson, who doesn’t have the ability to strike many hitters out, but knows how to win games and not give up runs.
11th Round: Carlos Lee-OF-HOU. I was accused of taking El Caballo too early in another mock draft, so I tested out that theory and it paid off here. Lee is coming off of a very poor 2010 season that saw his batting average and power numbers decrease significantly. However, I think he is a prime candidate to have a huge bounceback season. He is only 34 and has always hovered around .300 with 30+ homeruns and close to 100 RBI. The Astros don’t have a great offense so he will have to carry the load, which I think he will be able to do.
12th Round: Scott Rolen-3B-CIN. As I said before, third base is not a very deep position in terms of fantasy options. That being said, I decided to hold off on drafting a third baseman until later because none of the available options warranted such a pick at the time. I felt the time was right to take Rolen here despite his injury risks. He had one of his best and healthiest seasons last year, so maybe he can replicate that again this year. He is the other right-handed bat in the middle of the Reds’ order, so hopefully his pairing with Brandon Phillips could lead to some magic for me.
13th Round: Carlos Beltran-OF-NYM. Keep in mind, this is my fourth outfielder before making any judgments. Beltran is in the last year of his contract with the Mets, and is also trying to prove he is completely healthy so he can secure another long-term contract next winter. The rumor is that Terry Collins may move Beltran to right field to decrease the running he would have to do. This bodes well for Beltran who is no longer much of a contributor in terms of stolen bases, but he can still hit a ton when healthy. He is playing for dollars, and we all remember how he did the last time he was playing for a contract in 2004.
14th Round: Brett Myers-SP-HOU. Myers was a pleasant surprise for Houston in 2010 as he led the Astros rotation all year. His performance earned him a contract extension and now he is out to prove last year was no fluke. Myers has always been a talented pitcher who could never put it all together. Now he seems like a pitcher who can win 15 games and strike out 200+ people every year. Plus he can play mind games with opponents, much like he did when he stuck his tongue out at Jayson Werth leading off second base and then Werth got picked off during an intentional walk.
15th Round: Brad Lidge-RP-PHI. In sticking with my Phillies and ex-Phillies players, I grabbed Lidge as my second closer. I am a believer in Lidge that he is more of the second half of 2010 version as opposed to the first half. Lidge was lights out at the end of 2010 and should be in great position to save 40 games this year with the quality of Philadelphia’s starting rotation and the propensity for the offense to keep them in close games.
16th Round: Jorge Posada-C-NYY. My strategy with catchers has always been to wait until the end to take one, except for Mike Piazza in his prime. Here, Posada fell off of everyone’s radar because he is going to be a full-time DH this season. Without the rigors of catching, Posada will be able to stay healthy and in the lineup everyday with his still productive bat. Barring injuries, Posada can still be counted on for .275, 15 homeruns and 70 RBI. Those are fine numbers for a catcher, especially one taken in the 16th round.
17th Round: Javier Vazquez-SP-FLA. After proving for a second time that he cannot pitch for the Yankees, Vazquez signed as a free agent with the Marlins to provide a solid duo with Josh Johnson. Vazquez has always been a better National League pitcher, and now back in the NL East, he will get to face some lineups that swing at everything. He may not win 15 games because the Marlins’ offense looks anemic and the bullpen is questionable. But he should have no problem striking out 200 batters and keeping his ERA under 4.00.
18th Round: Lance Berkman-1B-STL. In keeping with the 2003 All-Stars, I took Berkman with the same belief that he was a big bounceback candidate as well. He was marred with injuries last year until Houston traded him to the Yankees before the trade deadline. While he struggled mightily down the stretch as the Yankees’ primary DH, he picked it up in the playoffs and was arguably the Yankees most consistent hitter in the postseason. Now he is in St. Louis with a starting job in the outfield and hitting behind Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday. If he can stay healthy and regain his power stroke, Berkman could be a steal at this point in the draft.
19th Round: Angel Pagan-OF-NYM. With the rumors of Carlos Beltran moving to right field, that means that Angel Pagan would be shifting to center field. Pagan had a very solid 2010 season which marked the first time he has had an extended period of time playing everyday. Pagan showed he can hit any type of pitching and had some great extra base hit power using the caverous gaps at Citi Field to become Mr. Triple. He is also a big time stolen base threat and should continue running as he hits in between Jose Reyes and David Wright.
20th Round: Johnny Cueto-SP-CIN. I was surprised to see him down here so late, so I grabbed him while I could. Cueto is a solid pitcher who has loads of potential. He just needs to learn how to pitch first and the rest will fall into place. He has increased his win total and decreased his ERA in each of his first three seasons. I look for continued progress, especially with the Reds being able to provide consistent run support and having a solid back end of the bullpen with Francisco Cordero and Aroldis Chapman.
21st Round: John Lackey-SP-BOS. After shedding twenty pounds, Lackey enters camp this year in better shape with the hopes of living up to the enormous contract he signed last year. Lackey’s debut with Boston was underwhelming at best as he battled injuries and ineffectiveness. But Lackey is a proven workhorse who knows how to win games and strike people out. He should receive ample run support and will also have the benefit of facing opposing teams’ number 3 or 4 starter. I expect 15 wins with a 3.50 ERA and 175 strikeouts in Lackey’s sophomore season in Boston.
22nd Round: Reid Brignac-SS-TB. These next two picks were hunches and gambles on young Tampa Bay infielders. Brignac showed some pop last year with 8 homeruns and 45 RBI in limited playing time. He should have the chance to play more this season in a lineup that now features Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon to go along with Longoria and B.J. Upton. For a MI option, I could have done worse than this in the second to last round. I would not be surprised to see Brignac hit well and be used as trade bait later on.
23rd Round: Sean Rodriguez-2B-TB. Much of the same said about Brignac can be said about Rodriguez, who has more upside and potential than his teammate. Rodriguez should get the bulk of the playing time at second base, which could be a huge deal if he performs well at that thin position. Rodriguez also showed some pop in his bat in limited playing time. He needs to cut down on his strikeouts and learn to be more patient. There is no reason he can’t hit .280 if he matures. All in all, I was satsified to land such a player with upside and a starting job in the last round.
And there you have it. Please feel free to send your comments or questions to email@example.com, post them on Facebook at www.goo.gl/xF0pt, or find us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/FantasyJudgment. If you want a copy of the draft board, just let me know.
On February 9, 2011, I participated in the second Fantasy Alarm expert fantasy baseball mock draft with 11 of the brightest minds in the fantasy baseball industry. My fellow draftees included Mike Harmon (Fox Sports), Nick Gleichman (RotoSports), Ryan Hallam (Fantasy Alarm), Chris Carbonell (Roto Experts), Keith Hernandez (KFFL), Nate Stephens (Roto World), Rich Wilson (FantasyPros911), Cory Schwartz (MLB.com), Steve Gardner (USA Today), Jeff Mans (Fantasy Alarm), and Geoff Stein (Fanball). Once again, the format for the mock draft was a 12-team mixed Roto league with the standard 5 x 5 categories. I had the 11th pick overall and I vowed to not select Carl Crawford in the 1st round. I was also drafting next to my distant cousin, Geoff Stein, as I had done in the last mock draft.
In a surprise to no one, some guy named Albert Pujols was taken with the first pick. Then, the principle of position scarcity took over as Troy Tulowitzki and Hanley Ramirez went second and third, respectively. This was the first mock draft I have seen with Tulowitzki going second overall. His monster September last season has fantasy owners setting high expectations for the new hundred million dollar man. Next went Evan Longoria, Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Gonzalez and Ryan Braun. None of these picks were surprising except that Longoria going 4th overall is likely because third base is a relatively weak position compared to first base and outfield. Next went NL MVP Joey Votto, Robinson Cano and Adrian Gonzalez. Cano has definitely established himself as the premiere second baseman in fantasy baseball so he is well worth a first round pick. Votto and Gonzalez are solid picks at a very deep first base position. Because first base has lots of solid options, I chose David Wright with the 11th pick overall instead of Mark Teixeira. Third base is not what it used to be in terms of depth, so I went with Wright who can contribute in all five categories. Next in the wrap-around went Carl Crawford and Teixeira before I took Josh Hamilton in the second round. Hamilton is coming off an MVP season and just recently signed a two-year contract, so I am looking for him to continue his offensive onslaught now that he can focus without the specter of arbitration or free agency. Hamilton is a five-category stud in the outfield, and I like the combination of him and Wright leading my offense.
Rather than write out what every pick was after this, I will go through each of my picks with some comments and analysis. If anyone would like to see the whole draft board, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3rd Round: Jon Lester-SP-BOS. My first pitcher is the ace of the Boston Red Sox and one of the best young starting pitchers in all of baseball. Lester has asserted himself into the elite category with his tremendous 2010 season that saw him post 19 wins, an ERA of 3.25, and 225 strikeouts. These numbers should easily be attainable again, and I would even look for him to crack the 20-win demarcation with an improved offense and a better Jonathan Papelbon closing games. Lester is a top five starting pitcher so there was no hesitation grabbing him here at the end of the 3rd round.
4th Round: Adam Wainwright-SP-STL. After Geoff Stein decided to forego pitching and take Jason Heyward and Adrian Beltre in the wrap-around, I decided to double up on the starting pitching by selecting Wainwright. He is the National League version of Lester as he also has emerged into the elite of fantasy starting pitchers. Wainwright reached 20 wins and had an amazing 2.42 ERA with 213 strikeouts. He has consistently put up numbers like this for a couple years now, so I fully expect him to do the same in 2011. Having Lester and Wainwright as my 1-2 combination sets me up nicely in the pitching categories.
5th Round: Dan Uggla-2B-ATL. In almost every other mock draft I have done, I bypassed second basemen until the end of the drafts because after the top tier they were pretty much all the same. Here, I couldn’t let Uggla slip by in the 5th round. Now in Atlanta, I don’t see any change in Uggla’s normal offensive output. If anything, he could improve a little by hitting in a better lineup. To get 30 homeruns, 100 RBI, and 100 runs scored from my second baseman in the 5th round could be a steal.
6th Round: Justin Morneau-1B-MIN. This is a potential risk as Morneau is just starting to come back from his concussion that prematurely ended his 2010 season. But all signs are pointing towards the former AL MVP being ready for Opening Day. When healthy, Morneau is a lock for a .300+ average, 35 HR, and 110 RBI. People were clearly concerned about his health because there is no reason he should have fallen to me in the 6th round. That is fine with me as my infield now consists of Morneau, Uggla and Wright. I’ll take that against anyone else.
7th Round: Jonathan Papelbon-RP-BOS. I will admit that this pick was a bit of a stretch. I probably could have waited another round or two, but the closers were going off the board and I wanted to make sure I grabbed one. With Bell, Wilson, Rivera, Marmol, and Feliz off the board, I took Papelbon expecting that he will be better in 2011 now that he facing free agency. The Red Sox will be very good this year which means lots of save opportunities. He is a competitive guy so I look for him to be extra motivated to prove that 2010 was a fluke in terms of his meltdowns.
8th Round: Carlos Lee-OF-HOU. This pick also received some criticism as being too early for El Caballo. True, I probably could have waited another round or two. But given there would be 21 picks before I selected again, I wanted to grab Lee here and bank on a huge comeback season. Lee had a miserable 2010 season that saw his average and power numbers drop considerably. But the Astros were horrible for most of 2010 and he had no protection in the lineup. His career numbers are impressive across the board, and he is still only 34 so there should be plenty of gas left in the tank. Plus, he is my second outfielder so I am not relying on him to carry my team.
9th Round: Jason Bay-OF-NYM. I can basically repeat everything I said about Carlos Lee above. Bay’s 2010 season with the Mets was an outright disaster. Before his season-ending concussion, Bay struggled mightily hitting for any kind of power. He is still young and his career averages show that he should bounce back to at least 25 HR and 90 RBI. The downside to Bay is hitting in the cavernous Citi Field. But he is a smart enough hitter to modify his approach and find a way to utilize his power and hit for average taking advantage of the spacious gaps.
10th Round: Roy Oswalt-SP-PHI. Despite what team he plays for now, Oswalt has always been one of my favorite pitchers. I added him onto my fantasy team during his rookie season in 2001 and rode his wave into the semi-finals that year. He has always been one of the most talented pitchers in baseball and has had some misfortune with health, poor run support, and shaky bullpens. That seemed to changed once he was traded to the Phillies in 2010. Now the #3 starter in one of the greatest rotations in baseball history, I look for Oswalt to have a monster season pitching for a contract and being matched up against other teams’ third starters. Plus, he is also my third starter behind Lester and Wainwright. Not bad.
11th Round: Corey Hart-OF-MIL. I wear my sunglasses at night…so I can…Sorry, I got carried away. Despite eliciting memories of that great 80′s song, Hart had a great year in 2010 which earned him a contract extension from the Brewers in mid-season. He reached career highs in homeruns (31), RBI (102), and runs scored (91) hitting in a potent Brewers lineup. With Milwaukee now poised to make a playoff run thanks to the pitching they acquired, I foresee Hart being a major complement to Prince Fielder in terms of run production in support of the pitching. If Hart replicates his 2010 season as my 4th outfielder, that would be nice. AS he says, never surrender.
12th Round: Brad Lidge-RP-PHI. While Lidge is often pulling a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde routine with his reliability, I am high on him this year as the closer for the Phillies’ insane rotation. They should be playing in lots of close games because of their pitching and the fact they are not as offensively reliant. Lidge had a tremendous second half of the 2010 season, so I look for him to continue that trend. Oh by the way, he is still waiting for Pujols’ homerun from the 2005 playoffs to land.
13th Round: Starlin Castro-SS-CHC. This 20-year old stud fills out my infield which makes me very happy. Castro came up in mid-season last year and showed that he was ready for the big leagues. He does not have much power at this point in his career, but he should hover around .290 and steal lots of bases. Depending on where the Cubs bat him in the order, he could also score 100 runs if he learns how to be patient and get on base. Big upside here with Castro.
14th Round: Vernon Wells-OF-LAA. With my four outfield spots filled, I decided to take Wells as my Utility Player because of what he provides in terms of power production. He also gives me some flexibility in the outfield in case Bay or Lee struggle to return to pre-2010 form. Wells and his albatross of a contract were traded to the Angels this winter, which should benefit him in several ways. He now is playing for a team with a legitimate chance of making the playoffs, and he doesn’t have to face the pitching of the AL East as often. The Angels’ lineup will hinge on the health of Kendry Morales, but Wells should fit in nicely with Abreu and Hunter.
15th Round: Brett Myers-SP-HOU. Myers is another fantasy favorite of mine dating back to his early years as a starter for the Phillies. He had a very solid 2010 season which earned him a contract extension from the Astros. Myers has always been a good strikeout pitcher so he will help in that category. It is debatable how many wins he will earn because the Astros are not very good and don’t have the most reliable bullpen. But based on how I drafted, Myers is on my bench and ready to fill in if an injury to Lester, Wainwright or Oswalt happens.
16th Round: Josh Beckett-SP-BOS. How the mighty have fallen. Beckett’s horrible 2010 season has landed him off the radar in terms of fantasy relevance. He is projected to be Boston’s fourth starter, so if healthy, this could be a big bounce-back season for him. Beckett obviously has all the talent in the world, but he just cannot seem to stay healthy. With some of the pressure off of him due to the emergence of Lester and Buchholz, Beckett can ease his way back into relevance by pitching against other teams’ fourth starters and by being smart with his approach. He gives me depth on my bench and could be good trade bait if he performs well.
17th Round: Lance Berkman-1B-STL. Continuing my trend of drafting players who had awful 2010 seasons, Berkman is another guy looking to bounce back. He was never healthy in Houston as his power was depleted and his average sunk to new lows. He was traded to the Yankees for the pennant stretch and did not perform well as their primary DH. However, he did hit well in the playoffs which was good enough for St. Louis to sign him and give him a starting job in right field and hitting behind Pujols and Holliday. Now appearing to be healthy, Berkman should have something left in the tank and will have plenty of opportunities hitting in a very good Cardinals’ lineup. Look for a return to .300 with 20 HR and 80 RBI.
18th Round: Scott Rolen-3B-CIN. Rolen had a solid 2010 season where he stayed healthy for the most part, something he has not customarily done over the years. He was a leader on a young Reds’ team that won the NL Central and is poised to defend their title. He is hitting in a great hitters’ park in Cincinnati and has a loaded lineup around him with Phillips, Votto, Bruce and Stubbs. Assuming he can stay on the field, Rolen makes a nice back-up at third base and could also be trade bait for someone looking to upgrade at a relatively weak position.
19th Round: Kurt Suzuki-C-OAK. My strategy is always to wait until the end to take my catcher. Except for when Mike Piazza was in his prime, I have never thought it was a good idea to draft a catcher early on regardless of the position scarcity. Even Joe Mauer, who is the best catcher on the board, is not worth such an early pick because his numbers don’t equate to draft position value. Yes, Mauer is much better than the 2nd best catcher, but I don’t think he is worth such an early pick. Suzuki is a solid offensive player for Oakland and has put up respectable numbers in terms of batting average and run production over the last couple years. He plays everyday and won’t hurt me, which is well worth the 19th round pick.
20th Round: Magglio Ordonez-OF-DET. Once regarded as a fantasy stud, Magglio Ordonez has seen father time and nagging injuries take its toll. He is still a productive hitter when healthy, and he is hitting in the middle of a solid batting lineup with Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. He provides me with additional depth and flexibility in the outfield, and could also be trade bait for a team looking for a bat down the stretch. For his value and potential, it is hard to argue with this pick in the 20th round.
21st Round: Ryan Raburn-2B-DET. This is my sleeper pick of the draft. Raburn has shown he can hit major league pitching and be a productive everyday player. Detroit just needs to find a position for him. His eligibility at second base also makes him attractive. I’ll have to see how things play out in spring training, but it would behoove the Tigers to find a way to keep Raburn’s bat in the lineup everyday.
22nd Round: Carlos Zambrano-SP-CHC. My team’s psychological experts are on notice as Big Z joins my rotation. While he is bat-shit crazy, he is also extremely talented when he can stay sane and keep his head in the game. Zambrano’s rollercoaster 2010 season ended on a very positive note as he was borderline dominant down the stretch after he returned from his hiatus. With Lou Piniella gone, Zambrano should be much calmer and seems motivated to perform as indicated by his desire to pitch on Opening Day. Again, he is 3rd on my bench depth chart and was my last pick of the draft. How many potential 15-game winners with 200 strikeouts can you find in the last round? Not many, so I took the Big Z with a big upside.
So here is my team broken down by positions:
C – Kurt Suzuki-OAK
1B – Justin Morneau-MIN
2B – Dan Uggla-ATL
3B – David Wright-NYM
SS – Starlin Castro-CHC
OF – Josh Hamilton-TEX
OF – Carlos Lee-HOU
OF – Jason Bay-NYM
OF – Corey Hart-MIL
UT – Vernon Wells-LAA
CI – Lance Berkman-STL
MI – Ryan Raburn-DET
B – Scott Rolen-CIN
B – Magglio Ordonez-DET
SP – Jon Lester-BOS
SP – Adam Wainwright-STL
SP – Roy Oswalt-PHI
RP – Jonathan Papelbon-BOS
RP – Brad Lidge
P – Brett Myers-HOU
P – Josh Beckett-BOS
P – Carlos Zambrano-CHC
So that is my team in a nutshell. Feel free to share your thoughts, comments and questions by emailing me at email@example.com. If you want a copy of the whole draft grid, send me an email and let me know. Also, you can comment on the draft on Fantasy Judgment’s Facebook page located at http://goo.gl/xF0pt or by tweeting me at www.twitter.com/FantasyJudgment (@FantasyJudgment).