I feel like I should start this post, It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…
Everyone prepares for a fantasy baseball draft differently. For me, as soon as January rolls around, I start checking out player rankings, do a few mock drafts, and read everything that Matthew Berry, Eric Karabell, Scott White, Ray Flowers and the rest of the so-called fantasy experts put out. In mid-February, I ramp up the mock drafts, listen to ESPN Baseball Fantasy Focus daily podcasts and begin creating my position tiers. I spend way too much time reading articles, comparing tiers and evaluating ADP’s. Does it help? I’m not sure. But it’s fun to read, and I enjoy preparing for the draft.
Ginger, on the other hand, waits to find out her draft position before the draft, does a few mocks, and subsequently wins the league every year.
This year’s preparation was no different. Doing my research, I made the determination that first base was really thin. I wanted Cabrera, Pujols, Votto, Gonazalez, or Fielder. I wasn’t interested in anyone else, so my first-round pick was going to be one of those five, even if I had to reach a little. I also thought that there were only a handful of truly “elite” outfielders: Kemp, Braun, Ellsbury, J. Upton, Carlos Gonzalez, Granderson, and Bautista. I wanted to grab at least one of those guys, with my strong preference being Justin Upton or Carlos Gonzalez (hopefully both). Those were the two positions I was going to fill first. There was no way in hell that I was going to take a pitcher in the first two rounds. Doing my mock drafts, I was always able to land a first baseman in the first and Justin Upton in the second. I did 10 mocks the week of the draft, and this was always the way it played out.
But something funny happened on my final practice draft, three hours before the live draft. I changed my game plan. Was it going to have a negative effect on how my draft was going to turn out?
Let’s check out the running diary from draft night.
You are… on the clock!
Prior to the draft, rumors circulated that Mike and The Hammer might not make it for the beginning of the draft. The other eight owners waited patiently in the draft room with some idle chitchat. But as the countdown clock finally hit 00:00, we had nine owners present as well as Mike ready to draft away via the iPhone.
It’s finally time to see who the new guy decided to go with at #1.
Miggy Cabrera with his soon-to-be third-base eligibility goes #1!
I know for a fact that Dennis mulled this decision all day long. He initially thought that he should grab an elite arm and shore up his rotation. Then he considered taking the best shortstop on the planet, Troy Tulowitzki. After conducting several mocks, taking Verlander or Cabrera first, Dennis goes for the bat. Great pick. Solid start for the October Boys.
- Second pick was the easiest decision in the world for Mike – Albert Pujols
- Pick three sucks. I really think it’s the absolute worst one to have. With that being said, I chuckled a little to myself when I saw that Ginger had drawn the short straw and got the third pick. With this pick, you hope someone takes a pitcher and leaves Cabrera or Pujols to fall to you. With the rumor of Mike making picks from his iPhone, this was a possibility.
Unfortunately for the LBC’s, the two big guns went with the first two picks. So what’s the game plan? Ginger hates taking pitchers early, doesn’t care for Jose Bautista or Matt Kemp, and knows Tulo gets hurt every year, which means one thing… Joey Effing Votto, LBC mainstay and alleged voodoo leader of the three-time champ.
As we approached the weeks before the draft, threats of taking Votto before Ginger could grab him were echoed by WillisBeTheYear, RedRays and myself. Our hopes were that without Joey V., the LBC’s would be sunk. No such luck.
And I guess we’re all playing for second place again.
- believe the hype (sundae-free) takes Jose Bautista (whose production, I predict, falls way off this year).
- Boston bad boys picks Adrian Gonzalez with the fifth pick. That’s four of the top-five first basemen off the board, and my plan is working.
- Rays Those Cowbells grabs Tulo
- Halladay goes to WillisBeTheYear
- Verlander goes to RedRays
- chefdick again reaches a little on Longoria
- The Hammer nabs 2011 NL Cy Young-winner Clayton Kershaw
So far a solid start for everyone.
I have a well publicized man-crush on Dustin Pedoria. Dan loves Longoria, Dennis idolizes Jeter, and the RedRays always grabs Martin Prado. But there’s no bigger love affair in the league than the one between The Hammer and Cliff Lee. Last year he took him with the 5th pick, and this year he snags him with the 11th. Lee is a great pitcher, but it may be time for an intervention for Sam.
This is another top notch round for The Foul Line league. Chefdick grabs another elite bat in Matt Kemp. RedRays takes Prince Fielder, the last of the great first baseman. He had planned on the elite arm/elite bat for the first two rounds. So far so good. WillisBeTheYear lands Ryan Braun with the 14th pick, which is downright robbery. Rays Those Cowbells takes my advice and snags Robinson Cano. And here is where I change my strategy.
Maybe I should have gone with the game plan and picked Justin Upton. It served me well in a lot of my mock drafts, so why mess with it? OF is shallow, so take one of the five remaining sure things, right? Nah, I’m taking Hanley Ramirez. RedRays gave me a WTF? on the chat. He later told me that he would have bet his house that I was going to take Pedroia. Nope, I take Hanley, the same guy that I picked two season ago at #2. The same guy that quit on his teammates last year. The same guy that had shoulder and back injuries in 2011. This might come back to haunt me… or I’m the smartest guy in the league. We shall see!
Believethehype picks Jose Reyes, the last of the upper-tier shortstops and guaranteed to miss 30 games at some point this season. LBC’s wanted Ellsbury with this pick, and of course she got him. Mike reached a little on Adrian Beltre, but I love this pick. Beltre is a monster, and I believe he is the safest 3B option. October Boys follows his first round gem by grabbing CC Sabathia. We may need to keep an eye on the rookie.
3rd Round, and the gloves are off!
Dustin Pedroia is a very good player, but he is definitely not worthy of a 2nd round pick. 3rd round is perfect.
I hate Felix Hernandez. Mike can have him. He plays on an awful team with no run support, and he misses out on a ton of wins every season.
LBC’s scoops up another of the great OF’s in Granderson.
I knew if anyone was going to pick Justin Upton is was going to be Allan. He traded him to me last season, and I knew he regretted it. Of course, Allan gives me an eff-you and takes the 2012 NL MVP. Nice pick! I’m left with the consolation prize, Carlos Gonzalez, and the outfield has just got incredibly thin.
Dan vowed to follow the LBC’s lead and wait on pitching. It lasted all of three rounds, and Jered Weaver is a RTC. Dan loves pitchers. It’s a fact!
Hamels, McCutchen, and Lincecum all get snagged. This draft is going as planned. It appears that everyone has been doing their homework.
Round three ends with The Hammer picking relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel. I’m not one to tell someone who to pick for their team… but this one was CRAZY.
Round 4… My plan is working!
I am definitely taking a pitcher this round. I really wanted Dan Haren, David Price, or Zack Grienke with this pick. Of the four, Grienke was my top choice. Of course, Chefdick starts off the round from hell by snagging Price. Willis sticks it in my ear and takes Haren. At this point the only thing in the way of Grienke becoming a Boston Bad boy is Dan’s pick. Having played with Dan for a few seasons, I know that he hates Zack Grienke. There’s no way that he takes him here. No freakin’ way!
And suddenly Dan is out of the draft room. I’m not a religious man, but I’m praying that Dan has loaded up his draft queue with non-Greinke players.
Tick… tick… tick…
Allan gets on the chat and says that he talked to Dan and that his computer died. How does this happen?!? At the end of last season, we all had to hear Dan complain that he would have taken down the LBC’s in the playoffs if only Troy Tulowitzki had played mediocre… blah, blah, blah. He vowed that 2012 was gonna be his year! He was dominating his mocks and ready to wreak havoc on the league. Dan talked all kinds of smack on how this was his year, and he didn’t take the time to make sure his computer was working?
Tick… tick… tick…
In the minutes leading up to the draft I made sure my computer was plugged in securely. I had my iPad on standby, iPhone loaded up to the CBS site. All contingencies were in place. So how does Dan forget to defrag his hard drive, or whatever crappy excuse he has? Now, if he winds up with a lousy, computer-generated team, we’re all gonna hear about it for the rest of the season. This is bad.
Tick… tick… tick…
And as the clock hits zero, Dan’s broken computer picks Grienke, and my perfectly constructed plan has its first problem. Thanks, Dan! A wise person once told me, “The thing about the fantasy draft is that you hope to get the player you want, but you should expect that he won’t be there.” Ok, that person was the Love Boat Captains, but she’s right. You need contingency after contingency. It can wear you down. So, I miss out on my top four pitchers and take C.J. Wilson. I’m ok with the pick. Wilson is not pitching in the Texas bandbox anymore and has had a 2.56 ERA on the road over the past two seasons. Is he an ace? Close…
Allan follows this pick by doing Dan a favor and taking Josh Hamilton. It’s well documented that I absolutely would never take this guy in a draft. He will break down at some point in the season. LBC’s, Mike, and October Boys finish the round taking great value picks Hudson, Shields, and Teixeira.
Four rounds completed, 1600 words and counting. This recap may never end!
Is it just me, or does it seem like this year there are 25 great players, followed by 25 really good players, a handful of decent guys and then garbage the rest of the way?
Rounds 5-10 – Things are getting interesting now
- The October Boys: Matt Cain, Michael Pineda, Jay Bruce, Ubaldo Jimenez, Jayson Werth and Big Sexy Alexei Ramirez. I love the Cain pick. He’s a sure thing and a great #2 on Dennis’s staff. Pineda is going to get crushed under the pressure of playing in NY. His second-half stats last year were pretty mediocre. The short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium is going to turn last year’s lazy fly balls at Safeco into home runs. Bruce is a solid pick. As for Ubaldo and Werth? Good players coming off bad years. Dennis is counting on a bounce-back.
- sportsmanMike: Yovani Gallardo, Rickie Weeks, Hunter Pence, Alex Gordon, Ervin Santana, and Asdrubal Cabrera. I’m trying to find something that I don’t like about these picks..but it seems like Mike did his homework, executed his plan and landed the players that he was targeting. Ok, Weeks was a little early, and Asdrubal will not be putting up the same numbers as his fluky 2011 season. I feel better now.
- Love Boat Captains: Carlos Santana, Mat Latos, Starlin Castro, Emilio Bonifacio, Dustin Ackley, and Justin Masterson. This is typical LBC draft. Fills two holes with elite players, then grabs a couple of sleeper picks. Bonifacio may steal 200 bases this year. It makes it even more enjoyable of a pick when Dan types “Bonifacio is it. That nobody player that damn near wins the MVP for the Love Boat Captains every year? That’s it right there!” Coupled with Dennis saying “Shit, I really wanted him too!” I look across the table to see Ginger do her little “I know more about fantasy baseball then you do” smirk, and I realize that we’re all screwed, again! It’s also fun when I tell her that I think Ackley isn’t going to be any good, and he starts off the season with a home run and the game-winning RBI. I don’t particularly like the Latos and Masterson picks, but these are the kind of pitchers Ginger rides to a championship.
- believe the hype: Giancarlo “Don’t Call Me Mike” Stanton, Tommy Hanson, David Ortiz, Michael Young, Yu Darvish, and Johnny Cueto. I really like Stanton a lot! He adds to a really impressive OF for Allan. Yu Darvish has looked good in the spring, but I’m still leery of a pitcher from Japan making the transition to American baseball. Hanson may be a steal… or a giant bust. I’m hoping for the latter.
- Boston bad boys: Dan Uggla, Madison Bumgarner, Stephen Strasburg, Matt Moore, Shin-Soo Choo, and Max Scherzer. I’m all in on Uggla. He had a great second half last season and is mashing the ball in spring training. He was a guy I targeted in every mock. I followed by making a very un-Dave-like run on young arms. Bumgarner will break out this year, Strasburg has lived up to the hype, and Moore has three great pitches and may be the best of the three. I was absolutely shocked that he fell to me. Thanks, Rays fans. I had to take an ourfielder at this point, since I only had one. I am counting on Choo to return to form after a horrendous 2011. In the 9th round, I figured he was worth the chance. I ended with my good friend Max Scherzer. Not entirely sure why I like him – I just do. Here’s hoping for a another 15-win season.
- Rays Those Cowbells: Jon Lester, Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Wainwright, Lance Berman, Andre Ethier, and Josh Beckett. Dan confirmed what I already knew: he loves pitchers. He grabbed three really good ones here. This was a good run for Dan… or was it Allan at this point? It’s hard to tell. These are pretty good picks, so I’m leaning towards Allan on his Nook. If Zimmerman can stay healthy, he’s as solid as they come. Not an Ethier or Berkman fan, but at this point of the draft it’s getting to be slim pickings.
- WillisBeTheYear: Matt Holliday, Josh Johnson, Ricky Romero, Shane Victorino, Eric Hosmer, and Alex Rodriguez. Prior to the draft starting, I made the statement that Willis was the one player that scared me this season. These six picks are the reason why. With the exception of the adulterous steroid user, Willis got great value with every one of these picks. At this point of the draft, Willis has Halladay, Hamels, Haren, Johnson and Romero. To mess with his mojo, I like to remind Willis that he traded me Josh Johnson two seasons ago for Mark Reynolds. Johnson pitched lights out the rest of the season, while Mark Reynolds was, well, Mark Reynolds.
- RedRays: Ben Zobrist, Desmond Jennings, Pablo Sandoval, Chris Young, Anibal Sanchez, and John Axford. Solid run by the RedRays. It’s hard to argue with any of these picks, so it’s time for a little game I like to call “Guess the Player Stats.”
- Player A: .333, 23 runs, 8 HRs, 20 RBIs, 14 SB
- Player B: .160, 21 runs, 2 HRs, 5 RBIs, 6 SB.
Player A is Desmond Jennings over his first 141 at-bats last season. Player B is Jennings over the next, and final, 106 at-bats. It poses the question, is Desmond Jennings a flash in the pan? (4/1/12 update: Jennings hit 3 bombs in one game.)
- Chefdick again: Brandon Phillips, Michael Morse, Matt Garza, Nelson Cruz, Elvis Andrus, and Mike Napoli. Chefdick is clearly sick and tired of finishing in second place. He grabbed the best remaining players at their positions with each of these picks, and I think he nailed every one! (Except Garza. He sucks.) The Texas triumvirate 8-9-10 was money. Chefdick, without a doubt, had the best draft.
- the Hammer: Kevin Youkilis, Alex Avila, Jimmy Rollins, Paul Konerko, Gio Gonzalez, and Drew Storen. The Hammer has assembled a pretty good team, but with the exception of perennial 30-HR, 100-RBI guy Konerko, I think he reached on every one of these picks. With that being said, these rounds were tough, and he did add some solid players.
10 rounds in, it’s time to stock up on the mediocre pitchers!
Picks I Love, Rounds 11-22
- Round 11: Brett Lawrie by LBC. David Wright by BBB.
- Round 12: Jonathan Papelbon by RTC. Pap is going to dominate in the NL. Carl Crawford by Willis. This guy does not suck, this guy does not suck (repeat 100 times).
- Round 13: Matt Wieters by TOB. This is the season that Wieters lives up to the hype.
- Round 14: Brandon McCarthy by LBC. Breakout candidate. Pitched great on opening day in Japan.
- Round 15: Francisco Liriano by BBB. I picked Liriano based on one stat: He has a 26/4 K/BB rate in the spring. His control is there. I look forward to a huge bounce-back season. Jesus Montero by Willis. I like a guy that’s eligible at catcher but is playing primarily DH. He’ll get a lot of AB’s. This kid is something special.
- Round 16: Howie Kendrick by RR. Hitting in front of Pujols is going to lead to great numbers. Add 2B/OF eligibility, and this guy is a bargain. I was going to take him with this pick, and the RedRays stick it to me for the 3rd time in the draft.
- Round 17: Kendrys Morales by Chefdick. Another guy I was targeting, before Chefdick swooped in and grabbed him. After missing the last season and a half, this guy was totally worth the gamble. Another good pick by Chef.
- Round 18: Not Applicable. We all picked garbage.
- Round 19: Brennan Boesch by RR. Solid player having a good spring. Hitting in front of Cabrera and Fielder is only going to help this year.
- Round 20: Erick Aybar by The October Boys. If you’re going to wait on shortstop, you can do a lot worse than Aybar.
- Round 21: Ryan Roberts by The October Boys. A versatile player who’ll steal some bases and hit some home runs. The rest of this round was pretty ugly.
Picks I Hate, Rounds 11-22
- Round 11: BJ Upton by Chefdick. The outfield position got thin early, but I think this is a gamble that he could have waited a few rounds for.
- Round 12: Chris Carpenter by Chefdick. If he were healthy, I wouldn’t have taken him this high. He had a mediocre 2011 with a great run in the playoffs. He’s not a guy you can count on, especially when he’s all banged up.
- Round 13: Andrew Bailey by Chefdick. Round 13 is early for a middle-of-the-road reliever. Add the nagging injuries, strained lat, and hurt thumb, and this could be total waste of a pick. That’s three turds in a row for Chefdick. Didn’t I say he had the best draft? I may need to reevaluate.
- Round 14: Joe Nathan by RedRays. Big name, bad arm. 10.79 ERA in the spring.
- Round 15: Jair Jurrjens by Chefdick. Not a fan.
- Round 16: Mike Leake by The October Boys. This t-shirt shoplifter is un-draftable. The fact is that he’s just not very good.
- Round 17: Matt Joyce by unsportsmanMike. This guy is good for one month a season. Which month? That’s a good question. PASS!
- Round 18: Adam Lind by BBB. This guy and his damn back issues. I picked him and dropped him. Believe the hype can have him! He’ll drive you crazy this year. I traded Ian Kennedy for this bum last season. I am a moron.
- Round 19: Alfredo Aceves by The October Boys. Long relievers hold absolutely no value in fantasy baseball.
- Round 20: David Freese by RTC. World Series MVP does not translate to good fantasy player. Stats are mediocre.
- Round 21: Chase Utley by the Hammer. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Utley went from top-5 pick to Mr. Irrelevant.
If anyone is still with me, I really appreciate you reading this monster of a post. I hope you remember that this is just one guy’s opinion. Drafting a team is a fickle business. Do you draft a team of players that you enjoy watching, or the players that put up big numbers but play for a team you hate? After all, we are only playing for bragging rights, so we should just try and have fun.
In closing, I want to thank everyone for supporting the site and playing in OUR league again. I really do look forward to it every year. Let’s all try to remember that this is just a game. and that the important thing is to enjoy each other’s company, appreciate the baseball being played, have some friendly discussions, and keep the focus on the friendly competition. There’s a reason that this is the best fantasy baseball league around. We have ten owners that know their baseball and are savvy with their teams. Let’s make this the best year yet!
Boston bad boys
Thanks for reading… PLAY BALL!