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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FantasyJudgment and Twitter at www.twitter.com/FantasyJudgment.
This is the first year I have ever done more than two fantasy baseball leagues in one season. In fact, I am doing four of them. I have also participated in more mock drafts over the last few months than I have in the last ten years. One could assume I would be “drafted out.” In many ways, I am. However, it is different for the league in which I am the Commissioner – the Old Bridge Fantasy Baseball League. This will be the 13th season of the OBFBL, and the 6th consecutive season we are doing a live, in-person draft. Because I created this league and we draft in person with friends and family, I feel an extra sense of pride and enjoyment out of it.
The OBFBL consists of 18 teams, which is quite large for a fantasy baseball league. I do not know of many other 18-team leagues. People come from out of state and far distances to attend the draft. In fact, several years ago someone flew in from Iowa to attend the draft. Currently, we have members in Long Island, Scranton, Manhattan, Philadelphia, Connecticut, North Jersey, South Jersey and many points in between. While 100% attendance is not expected, we usually get almost the whole crew to attend. The dynamic is great and we always end up having a good time.
After so many years, I am still as pumped up as I was each and every other year. But I have to curb my emotions and mentally prepare myself as I seek my 4th championship since 1999. And, I must stay focused and fulfill my duties as Commissioner to ensure the draft goes smoothly and there are no issues. Truth be told, I still have no idea who I am taking with the 3rd overall pick. But that is the fun of it. I am more prepared than I ever have been before from doing all of these mock drafts and two real drafts already. But despite all of that preparation, I will likely go on my instinct with my first round selection. The only thing I can guarantee is that it will not be Carl Crawford.
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 email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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).
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 email@example.com, comment on Fantasy Judgment’s Facebook page at http://goo.gl/xF0pt, or tweet me at www.twitter.com/FantasyJudgment.
On January 10, 2011, I participated in a fantasy baseball expert mock draft hosted by the good people at Fantasy Alarm (www.fantasyalarm.com). As you may remember, Fantasy Alarm was one of Fantasy Judgment’s (www.fantasyjudgment.com) partners at the 2010 fantasy football Superdraft event in Las Vegas. Doing mock drafts is something I have always enjoyed, so I was more than happy to accept Jeff Mans and Ryan Hallam’s invitation to join this star-studded draft. The big names came out for this draft – Nate Stephens from RotoWorld, Geoff Stein from Fanball, Steve Gardner from USA Today, Tony Cincotta from FantasyPros911, Jeff Mans and Ryan Hallam from Fantasy Alarm, Tim Heaney from KFFL, Cory Schwartz from MLB.com, and representatives from RotoExperts, Mock Draft Central, and Fantasy Sports R Us all participated in this 12-team, mixed 5×5 Roto league.
With the 6th overall pick, I drafted reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay. It turned out that I was the only one who drafted a pitcher in the first round. Players selected before me were Albert Pujols, Hanley Ramirez, Troy Tulowitzki, Miguel Cabrera, and Carl Crawford. Finishing out the first round after Halladay was Robinson Cano, Joey Votto, Carlos Gonzalez, Evan Longoria, Ryan Braun, and Ryan Howard. If I was not going to take a pitcher, I would have taken Carlos Gonzalez who provides the best production in all five rotisserie categories (average, homeruns, rbi’s, runs, and stolen bases). Gonzalez is coming off a monster season and just signed a 7-year contract extension for $80 million. I was a little concerned that maybe he would try too hard to justify the contract, thus slipping from his breakout 2010 performance. So I decided to take a sure thing with Halladay and pursue securing some of the pitching categories (wins, ERA, strikeouts and WHIP – obviously Halladay will not help with saves). Going into the second round, the trend to draft hitters continued with Chase Utley, David Wright, Adrian Gonzalez, Mark Teixeira, Josh Hamilton and Ryan Zimmerman taken off the board. I then debated taking King Felix or Tim Lincecum to have a dominant 1-2 punch with Halladay. But with all of the hitters being taken, I felt I needed to get a bat so I selected Matt Holliday. In his second full season hitting behind Pujols, I look for continued production in at least four categories (Holliday can steal some bases too). It is an added bonus that I can say I have both Halladay and Holliday.
Rather than go through every draft pick made, I will provide a list and comments of the players that I drafted starting with the third round. If anyone would like to see the draft board and everyone’s picks, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get you a copy.
3rd Round: Adam Wainwright-SP-STL. The chance to pair up two dominant starters was too enticing to pass up this time around. Wainwright has become an elite pitcher and is poised to win a Cy Young Award at some point. He is a lock for 18-20 wins, 200 strikeouts, an ERA under 3.00, and a WHIP under 1.20.
4th Round: Ichiro Suzuki-OF-SEA. I have always liked having him on my fantasy teams because he is so consistent and annoys opponents to death. In a roto league, he is great for batting average and stolen bases. Under normal circumstances, a leadoff hitter with over 200 hits a year should score at least 100 runs. But the Mariners have been so inept offensively the past couple years that Ichiro hasn’t even come close to the century mark in runs scored. I think that will change this year.
5th Round: Paul Konerko-1B-CHW. Konerko conveniently picked his contract year to have his best season in 2010. I don’t expect him to match or come close to +.300 or 39 homeruns again, but he is still a solid performer and should have no trouble slugging at least 30 homeruns and drive in 100 runs. Having Adam Dunn in the Sox lineup will only help Konerko, either by protecting him in the order or getting on base before him.
6th Round: Brian Wilson-RP-SF. Besides the crazy beard, orange cleats, and WWE-style interviews, Wilson is a pretty damn good closer. He showcased his talents during the 2010 playoffs and should have no trouble topping 40 saves again this year. The Giants excellent starting pitching means a lot of close games, which means Wilson should have plenty of opportunities to save games.
7th Round: Michael Young-3B-TEX. All of a sudden, third base has become barren with talent beyound the first tier of players. Young is one of the best of the rest after Wright, Longoria, Zimmerman, A-Rod and Beltre are taken. Hitting in the Rangers’ potent lineup helps Young, who should reach .290, 20-25 homeruns, and 90+ RBI. He is one of those players who seems to avoid prolonged slumps and is the model of consistency.
8th Round: Brian Roberts-2B-BAL. I liked this pick here because Roberts is primed for a comeback season after missing most of 2010 with multiple injuries. He is not the same player he was five years ago, but he certainly can hit .280, 15 homeruns, 75 RBI, score 90 runs, and steal 25 bases. Those are not bad numbers for a second basemen this late in the draft.
9th Round: Carlos Pena-1B-CHC. If I could have one mulligan, it would be this pick. Pena should love hitting in Wrigley and in that loaded Cubs’ lineup, but he is a cancer to the batting average category. The guy didn’t even crack the Mendoza line in 2010. He is the true epitome of “all or nothing”. Essentially, he is this generation’s Rob Deer, except he is a terrific defensive player too. Pena should do well in Chicago, but I admittedly could have done better here.
10th Round: Matt Cain-SP-SF. As much as I despised my last pick, I absolutely loved this one. I have always been a Matt Cain fan and defend his virtues to those who pay too much attention to win/loss records. He has been the victim of poor run support over the years, yet his talents often get overlooked. After his great performance in the 2010 playoffs, he is ready to ascend to the next level in relative obscurity because his rotation mates Tim Lincecum, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner often get more attention. Cain is my third starter behind Halladay and Wainwright. Mikey likes this.
11th Round: Carlos Beltran-OF-NYM. As a Mets’ fan, I always try and draft at least one Met (assuming he is somewhat competent and not named Luis Castillo). Beltran is another risk-reward selection because this can go either way. He is in a contract year, which bodes well here because the last time he played for a contract was 2004 when he put up monster numbers with Houston in the regular season and playoffs. However, he is a major health risk after two partial seasons and microfracture surgery on his leg. I think money talks and Beltran will seek to cash in.
12th Round: Brad Lidge-RP-PHI. While Lidge is still waiting for Albert Pujols’ homerun from 2006 to land, he seems to have overcome whatever ailed him at the beginning of last year. He is in a contract year as well and has the fortune of closing for a team with the best starting rotation in all of baseball. While Halladay, Lee, Oswalt and Hamels are all capable of throwing a complete game on any given day, the reality is that complete games are few and far between. Lidge should have plenty of chances to close games for a team primed to win 100 games.
13th Round: Ian Desmond-SS-WAS. Desmond is an up and coming player now hitting in a relatively competent lineup that includes Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche. If Desmond ends up hitting 2nd in the order, he has a legitimate chance to score 100 runs. His bat is known to possess talent, but he must demonstrate he can play shortstop consistently enough to stay in the lineup. I was pleased to get someone with his upside down here in the 13th round.
14th Round: Nick Swisher-OF-NYY. If giving peppy interviews was a category, Swish-a-licious would be a first round pick. But it is not so he is a 14th round pick. Swisher provides some good power numbers for my 3rd outfielder, and hitting in the Yankees’ lineup should see him attain similar numbers this year as well. He has never been known for his batting average, so that may slip back down to the .250 – .260 range. But I expect another 25 homeruns and 85 RBI along with 100 runs scored if he bats second in the order.
15th Round: Tim Hudson-SP-ATL. My satisfaction with pitching selections continued as I happily grabbed Hudson down in the 15th round. After being two full years past major arm surgery, Hudson proved that he is back to his old self again. He doesn’t strikeout a lot of batters, but he is good for at least 15 wins and an ERA around 3.00. He is a reserve on my roster which indicates how deep my staff is.
16th Round: Casey McGehee-3B-MIL. What I wrote above about Michael Young can be reiterated here with McGehee as a solid option for the second tier of third basemen. McGehee benefits from hitting in a potent Brewers lineup which includes Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Corey Hart and Rickie Weeks. He topped 100 RBI in 2010 and should have an opportunity to do it again. He is just as qualified to start at 3B on my team, so getting him this far down in the draft was a pleasant surprise.
17th Round: Marco Scutaro-SS-BOS. After being known as a backup with a good glove for most of his career, he has learned how to hit and provides production in real and fantasy baseball. Hitting in the Red Sox explosive lineup should provide plenty of runs scored for Scutaro, and depending on where he bats in the lineup, he could knock in 70-75 RBI as well. He is coming off a surgery, so I will keep an eye on how he recovers.
18th Round: John Buck-C-FLA. I was very pleased to get Buck down in the 18th round. I typically concede the catcher position in almost all of my leagues because they just aren’t worth a high round pick. While Joe Mauer, Brian McCann and Victor Martinez are all good offensive players, their production and statistics do not warrant such high picks. Buck should give me 15 homeruns and 65 RBI playing everyday for Florida. Not bad for an 18th round pick.
19th Round: James Shields-SP-TB. Big Game James took a big step backwards in 2010. But with Matt Garza now gone, Shields has to step up his game again and be that dependable #2 pitcher behind David Price. Shields has proven over the years that he can win 15 games and strikeout 200 batters. I look for a rebound season from him because he is too talented to repeat what he did last year. The only concern is that Tanpa Bay’s team has been gutted, so scoring enough runs and successfully closing out games in the bullpen could be problematic.
20th Round: Jason Kubel-OF-MIN. For my last pick of the draft, I selected Jason Kubel, who looks like he may be the Twins’ full-time designated hitter if Jim Thome does not return. Kubel is a power threat who can hit for decent average when he is being selective at the plate. Hitting in the spacious Target Field will probably continue to decrease his homerun totals compared to when he played in the Metrodome, but he should produce 20-25 dingers hitting behind the M&M boys (Mauer and Morneau).
So that is my team. Overall I am pleased with the team I drafted. I shouldn’t have drafted Carlos Pena where I did, but other than that, I don’t think I would undo anything else. Thanks again to Ryan Hallam and Jeff Mans from Fantasy Alarm for hosting this expert mock draft. Thanks also to my fellow team owners who drafted.
Let me know what you think of my team. Shoot me an email at email@example.com, comment on Fantasy Judgment’s Facebook page (http://goo.gl/xF0pt), comment down below on the blog, or tweet me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/FantasyJudgment.