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 January 12, 2011, I participated in another fantasy baseball expert mock draft with more superstars in the industry, including Brett Greenfield of FantasyPhenoms.com, Kevin Jebens of RotoSavants.com, Tim McLeod of RotoRob.com, Joe Whelan of MLB.com, Geoff Stein (my long lost distant cousin) of the recently departed Fanball, Ryan Hallam of FantasyAlarm.com, Mike Spiher of RotoChamp.com, Jeff Gross of Hardball Times (www.hardballtimes.com), and Jared Norris of Rotowire.com. It was a 12-team mixed 5 x 5 Roto league and I had the randomly selected 9th pick overall. Notwithstanding my well-documented opinions on Roto leagues (http://fantasyjudgment.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/passing-judgment-the-reality-of-fantasy-baseball/), my preparation for this draft deviated from the norm as I am accustomed to participating in H2H leagues. Therefore, Carl Crawford was NOT on my radar (sorry to those people who love stolen bases).
The first eight picks were not surprising given the format. Albert Pujols rightfully was selected first overall as he continues to justify top billing in any format of fantasy baseball. Much to my pleasant surprise, Miguel Cabrera went second. I say I am surprised because I am used to seeing Hanley Ramirez go second overall in these Roto mock drafts. But Cabrera is arguably the second best hitter in all of baseball, so he was rewarded with the second pick behind King Albert. With position scarcity clearly a concern, Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki went third and fourth respectively. Then the fifth pick is where I have a big problem – Carl Crawford. I understand that Roto leagues operate differently and the need for contribution in all five categories is crucial. But when analyzing players’ talents, abilities, statistics, and every other objectiver criteria available, is Carl Crawford really the fifth best player in the league? Is he really the best outfielder in the league? I would argue not, but regardless of my personal opinions, he was taken fifth. Next up was the NL MVP Joey Votto going fifth, followed by Evan Longoria and Matt Holliday. I was not surprised by Votto or Longoria as Votto clearly has emerged as a top tier first baseman hitting in a good lineup at a great hitters’ park. Longoria is clearly the best third baseman available, which is a big deal considering there is a tremdendous drop-off after the top five. But Holliday did surprise me a little going eighth overall as I thought there were better outfield options still available like CarGo, Ryan Braun, and Josh Hamilton. I wasn’t complaining because I was then able to draft Carlos Gonzalez with the ninth pick. Regardless of the format of the league, Gonzalez has emerged as a top tier talent and is worthy of a top ten pick in any draft. He hits for a high average, demonstrated great extra base hit power, drove in and scored well over 100 runs, and will steal a lot of bases. He just signed a seven year contract extension for $80 million, so I would look for him to be motivated to justify those dollars and put up equally impressive numbers again. Finishing up the first round was David Wright (the second best third baseman), Josh Hamilton, and Robinson Cano. Cano has supplanted Chase Utley as the top second base option, and he is clearly worth a first round pick in any format.
After selecting Cano with the last pick of the first round, Jared Norris of RotoWire selected Ryan Braun. I really liked how he started his team off with Cano and Braun, two young studs with established resumes and only getting better as they enter their primes. Next went two stars in decline – Alex Rodriguez and Chase Utley. Then it was back to me for my second pick, and I decided to take Mark Teixeira (despite disliking the Yankees more than anything in the world). I have always been a fan of Teixeira as he plays the game the right way and is as consistent as they come with his production. Hitting 3rd in the Yankees’ lineup all but guarantees 30 homeruns, 100 RBI, and 100 runs scored. His hamstring injury in the ALCS has healed, and besides that, he has never been an injury concern. I had considered Adrian Gonzalez here as well, but adjusting to a new league was a minor concern if mine and I preferred to have the sure thing. Sure enough, Gonzalez would be drafted two picks after me (with NL Cy Young winner Roy Halladay sandwiched in between). Rounding out the rest of the second round was Matt Kemp, Ryan Howard, Tim Lincecum, Prince Fielder, Ryan Zimmerman, and Jose Reyes. I was a little surprised at the Kemp selection because he has been so disappointing thus far in his career. He has all the talent in the world to be a five-tool player, but it hasn’t materialized yet. Maybe this will be his breakout season (if Rihanna writes a song about him).
I will now provide a rundown of the rest of my picks and give some thoughts, commentary and analysis on why I drafted them and what my projections are. If you would like to see the entire draft so you can see in what context these players were drafted, please send me an email request and I will provide you with the draft grid.
3rd Round: Felix Hernandez-SP-SEA. What is not to like about the reigning AL Cy Young winner? To grab him in the third round was a steal for me. While he may not win 20 games because of the team he plays for, he will still win 12-15 games just based on his talent alone. He is a lock for 200 strikeouts, a sub-3.00 ERA, and a sub 1.25 WHIP. If the Mariners can somehow find a way to score some runs for him, he could easily win 20 games. It is scary to think he is only getting better as he enters his mid-20′s.
4th Round: Brandon Phillips-2B-CIN. This was the one time I bought into the position scarcity craze as second basemen were flying off the shelves. Already gone were Cano, Utley, Pedroia, Kinsler, Uggla, and Weeks. I didn’t think it would be a good thing to get stuck with Luis Castillo, so I grabbed Phillips hoping for a bounce-back season. He has 30-30 ability, and in that Cincinnati lineup, he could really blossom into a top option as he approaches 30 years old. I might have overpaid to get him here, but the risk will be worth the reward when he returns to his 2008-2009 form.
5th Round: Justin Verlander-SP-DET. After starting my pitching staff with King Felix, I was pleasantly surprised and thrilled to take another ace pitcher in Verlander. He is a dominant pitcher who will win 15-18 games on an improved Detroit team, and is a lock for 200 strikeouts and a low WHIP. I could have taken Zack Greinke, David Price or Ubaldo Jimenez here, but I opted for Verlander who has been putting up great numbers for several years now and can truly be relied upon. I question Greinke’s value despite switching to the National League. He seems too fragile and I am concerned about his regression in 2010. Price is a great talent, but Tampa Bay has been decimated by free agency and trades. They have no bullpen and will see their offensive production take a big hit, so Price’s chance of winning games has been diminished.
6th Round: Jay Bruce-OF-CIN. I have been a fan of his since he arrived in the big leagues a couple years ago. He has a sweet swing and is primed to put up huge numbers once he matures as a hitter and becomes more selective. I expect a similar progression in his power numbers to Joey Votto. Bruce doesn’t look like he can be a .300 hitter yet because of his lack of plate discipline, but as learns the strike zone and becomes more selective, he can certainly become a .280 – .290 hitter. With another season of experience under his belt, I think he will approach 30 homeruns and 100 RBI this year. Not bad for a second outfielder.
7th Round: Matt Cain-SP-SF. Cain is another player I have been fond of for years. His win-loss record is not indicative of how good a pitcher he is. After his performance in the 2010 playoffs, I think people are now aware of what he can do. He always has a low ERA and WHIP, and he also has the potential for 200 strikeouts. The Giants are the defending champions and still have very little offense, so I would expect Cain and the rest of the staff to be pitching in close games all year. Even though Cain will pitch well enough to win 15-18 games, I would expect him to get no-decisions that will push that number back down to 12-15. Regardless, I like him a lot as my 3rd starter.
8th Round: Michael Young-3B-TEX. While the Rangers continue to disrespect Young by pushing him all over the field from SS to 2B to 3B to DH, I gladly scooped him up in the 8th round as the quality of third basemen plunged to scary depths. Young doesn’t do anything spectacularly, but he is consistent with his production and will not hurt me anywhere. He is historically a .290 – .300 hitter and should continue his trend of 20 homeruns and 90 RBI. With Adrian Beltre now batting in the middle of the Rangers’ lineup, Young should have no problem eclipsing 100 runs scored either.
9th Round: Jonathan Papelbon-RP-BOS. My first closer is a bit shaky as Papelbon comes off a poor 2010 that saw him blow several saves and essentially write the end of his career in Boston. The Red Sox would love to trade him, but there were no takers given his likely arbitration award. Despite all of that, he is now pitching for his future on a very good team, so there should be plenty of save opportunities for the Rick Schroeder look-alike. He isn’t a great first choice as a closer, but he should still amass 30-35 saves.
10th Round: Clay Buchholz-SP-BOS. This youngster emerged as a co-ace of the Red Sox staff forming a formidable duo with Jon Lester. I see continued progress with Buchholz who should win 15-18 games with an impressive ERA. However, he does not strike people out so the more batted balls in play could lead to an increased WHIP as hitters adjust to him. Despite that, he is my 4th starter so I can live with that.
11th Round: Carlos Lee-OF-HOU. I was very happy with this selection here because Lee is coming off a very disappointing season that saw his batting average plummet and his power numbers deflate due to being in a depleted Astros’ lineup. Lee has historically hovered around .300 with 30 HR and 100 RBI, so many think that 2010 represented the beginning of the end for the lumbering slugger. I think differently. He is only 34 years old and is primed for a comeback. As my 3rd outfielder, I can still live with .285, 25 HR and 90 RBI.
12th Round: Tim Hudson-SP-ATL. His 2010 season proved to any naysayers that he has fully recovere from Tommy John surgery. Hudson looked like his 2002 self again despite slowing down a little down the stretch. He is good for 12-15 wins and a solid ERA around 3.00, but he doesn’t strikeout anyone and the Braves revamped bullpen with a new young closer could potentially cost Hudson a couple wins as well. It is all relative as Hudson is my 5th starter so I am not relying on him to put up ace-like numbers.
13th Round: Bobby Abreu-OF-LAA. Once regarded as a 1st or 2nd round pick in any fantasy format, Abreu is heading towards the end of a productive career. That being said, he still performed well in four of the five Roto categories in 2010. He doesn’t appear to be a .290 – .300 hitter anymore, which is a direct parallel to his increase in strikeouts and decrease in walks he is drawing. His lower on base percentage also leads to a decrease in runs scored. He should still be able to reach .260 – .275 with 20 HR and 75 RBI. His value is also increased in Roto leagues because is can still steal 20-25 bases. At least defensive value isn’t counted in fantasy because Abreu avoids contact with the outfield wall as if the wall has a sexually transmitted disease.
14th Round: Brad Lidge-RP-PHI. My second closer is also a question mark as Lidge had a shaky 2010 season but looked good in the playoffs. He is pitching for a contract this season, so I would look for him to be motivated even more. With the Phillies’ outrageous starting pitching, there should be plenty of opportunities to save games (assuming Halladay, Lee, Oswalt and Hamels don’t complete every game themselves). The other upside to Lidge is the fact the Phillies don’t appear to be as offensively dangerous, so they are likely to be playing in close games all year. Since blown saves and earned runs allowed won’t hurt me in a Roto league, I will take my chances with his potential for 35 saves and a bunch of strikeouts.
15th Round: Juan Uribe-SS-LAD. After a great postseason run with the world champion Giants, Uribe parlayed it into a big three-year contract with their NL West archrival. He will likely play second base for Los Angeles, but Uribe will qualify at shortstop based on his 2010 output. This is a signing the Dodgers will regret relatively quickly, but for my fantasy team’s purposes I can live with him here in the 15th round. He won’t help with batting average or stolen bases, but if he can continue his power surge and put up 20 homeruns and drive in 65-70 runs, I won’t complain.
16th Round: Ervin Santana-SP-LAA. I was a little surprised to see Santana still available down here. He has had an up and down career and seems to suffer from Saberhagen Syndrome where every other year is an epic disaster. Unfortunately, 2011 is the year that will be a disaster if this pattern continues. Seriously, look up his numbers from 2006, 2008 and 2010 and compare them to 2007 and 2009. I am an optomist and think this is just a fluke. Santana won’t be winning any ERA titles, but he is good for 15 wins and a bunch of strikeouts as the Angels’ #3 starter.
17th Round: Lance Berkman-1B/OF-STL. I am excited about this pick all the way down in the 17th round. The former fantasy stud had the worst year of his career in 2010 as he split time with the Astros and Yankees. Berkman was never completely healthy as a nagging wrist injury sapped him of his power, and then the trade to New York didn’t do much for his value as he split time as a designated hitter. Now projected to play full time in the St. Louis outfield, Berkman should return to fantasy relevance batting behind Pujols and Holliday.
18th Round: Angel Pagan-OF-NYM. Being a Mets’ fan, it is both superstitious and sentimental that I get at least one Met on my fantasy team. I have no problems with that being Pagan down in the 18th round. Like it or not, he is going to play everyday for the Mets, and after his impressive 2010 season, he has proved that he belongs. Pagan won’t be leading the league in any category, but he demonstrated he can steal bases and hit close to .300. That is good enough for me to be my 5th outfielder.
19th Round: Carlos Zambrano-SP-CHC. Either I need to see a shrink or everyone else in the draft will need to be psychiatrically examined for letting The Big Z fall to the 19th round. Yes, he is insane. Yes, he has been a trainwreck for several years. But after he came back from his “personal issues” in 2010, he looked like the Zambrano of old by finishing 8-0. With Lou Piniella gone, Zambrano should get a fresh start in the Cubs’ rotation. He isn’t going anywhere with that albatross of a contract, so the Cubs will rely on him to return to form. This was well worth the gamble in the 19th round because if he flames out, I wouldn’t have lost anything. If he is his old self, then I look like a genius.
20th Round: Jorge Posada-C-NYY. This one was a head scratcher as I couldn’t believe he was still available. I never draft a catcher until the end of a draft, ever, except for when Mike Piazza was in his prime. Otherwise, this is a waste of a pick to take a catcher so high. Joe Mauer’s 2009 season was not the norm, but even still, there are plenty of other players that put up much greater numbers. I don’t buy into the position scarcity argument with catchers because they are all so fragile, and their maximum performance still falls well under the averages for other positions. The fact that Posada will still available was gold to me because he will be the full-time DH for the Yankees, so I will benefit from the pop in his bat and be spared from the nagging injuries he is accustomed to behind the plate.
21st Round: Alex Gonzalez-SS-ATL. My final pick of the draft was the Braves’ starting shortstop who catapulted into fantasy relevance last season with a great start to the season with Toronto. After he was dealt to the Braves, his numbers leveled off and never approached his apex with the Blue Jays. That being said, he will play everyday in Atlanta, and that is good enough for me to have in a backup in the last round of a draft.
So that is the team I drafted. I was quite pleased with my team and would have no problem going into battle with them. I feel I have a good balance of power, speed, and pitching to compete for a championship with this squad. I’d like to hear whether you agree or not and what your thoughts are. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, comment on Fantasy Judgment’s Facebook page at http://goo.gl/xF0pt, or tweet me at www.twitter.com/FantasyJudgment.