Archive for March, 2015

The Pick Is In

In the hours leading up to thefoulline.com’s 8th annual fantasy baseball draft, I tried all sorts of different things to relax and get into the right mindset for drafting. I watched the NCAA Tournament, I turned on some of the NASCAR race, I went out and washed my car, and I even went to the driving range and smacked some golf balls around. Turns out, it was useless.

I quickly realized that I could play in this league for 50 years, and I would always get pre-draft jitters watching that clock tick down. There’s nothing like knowing that nine other baseball savants have worked just as hard as you, for just as long as you, and would like nothing better than to steal the player you’ve been targeting all offseason. In fact, they probably revel in it.

I always try to have a backup plan in place for all my picks. Turns out it’s not enough. In this league, you need a backup plan for your backup plan for your backup plan. This year was no different. This might have been our most well executed draft ever. So let’s recap – it’s thefoulline.com draft diary!

The Clock Hits Zero

As I entered the draft room, I found myself knee deep in a discussion about which was better, the World Cup or the NCAA Tournament, As I was about to step in and give my opinion, Dave V. decided to put a stop to that conversation right away. It’s probably for the best. That debate would’ve lasted well into the 6th round. After some more idle small talk, the timer ticked down, and we were ready to go.

Surprise! Mike Trout goes #1 to The October Boys. There were some rumblings that Dennis has been bribing his way into the first pick year after year, and who knows, maybe they have some weight? I know I’d do just about anything to get Mike Trout, he’s a game-changer!

WillisBeTheYear grabs the best pitcher in the world after claiming he would do so last year and not following through. Clayton Kershaw goes #2, and our draft has a predictable start.

If there was one team I was completely unsure about, it was newcomer David Valentino. I’d heard rumblings he could go several different directions here. He settles on the best OF in the world, Andrew McCutchen. Great pick!

The Love Boat Captains grabs the best power hitter in the game, Giancarlo Stanton. Just move out of the way next time a fastball is heading for your face.

I know for a fact that Mike wanted Goldschmidt and only Goldschmidt with this pick. He gets his wish, and the best first baseman is off the board at pick #5.

If there was any pick in the first round I had pegged for sure, it was that Sam was taking a pitcher in round one. He doesn’t disappoint, and David Price goes to Panda the Hammer.

Believe The Hype grabs the second-best first baseman in the city of Chicago, Jose Abreu.

Is Miguel Cabrera fully healthy? If so, the RedRays just got the steal of the first round as Miggy goes #8.

The worst kept secret in the league was that I wanted Anthony Rizzo with my first pick this year. I get my way and Rizzo finds his way onto Rays Those Cowbells at #9.

Dave and I had been discussing our picks in the weeks leading up to the draft. He did a great job of pretending to give me information, but still not really letting me know who he was going to take. Adam Jones is the pick, and it’s a good one. He’s become so consistent it’s almost boring.

Round Two

I’d been preparing myself for a huge pitching run in round two. All the mock drafts that I did and all the pre-draft research suggested that this was the time to grab your ace. I thought as many as eight pitchers could go in this round. Well true to form, thefoulline.com goes away from conventional wisdom, and Dave grabs Robinson Cano at pick #11. I thought this was a bit of a reach, but I think Dave had some personal mission to get Cano on his team at least once before he retires.

Another pick I had pegged for weeks before the draft, AL MVP Josh Donaldson goes to Rays Those Cowbells at pick #12.

RedRays grabs Max Scherzer here, and I really like it. Moving from the AL to the NL is good. Moving to the best team in baseball is better.

Believe The Hype takes fantasy monster Felix Hernandez, and the pitching run has begun.

Panda the Hammer grabs the best catcher in the world, Buster Posey, and the pitching run stops as quickly as it started.

In a move that surprises nobody, Mike takes AL CY Young winner Chris Sale here. Like he does every year. Man crush!

The LBCs give Jose Altuve a home at pick #17, and I’m lukewarm on this pick. I see regression coming. Still, it’s 40 steals in the bank.

Team Stogies grabs my personal favorite pitcher in the game, Adam Wainwright, to anchor his pitching staff.

Willis steals Jose Bautista, who should’ve went 5 picks before this. The building of the infamous WillisBeTheYear beer league softball offense has begun.

As Dennis went on the clock, I told Allan that he would take a pitcher and Troy Tulowitzski with his next two picks. The first half the equation comes true as World Series hero Madison Bumgarner is the last pick of the 2nd round.

Round Three

I feel downright clairvoyant as The October Boys grab Troy Tulowitzki with this pick. Dennis loves Tulo!

Willis will keep building his stud offense, right? Nope. He takes Corey Kluber here. I love me some Kluber. This is a great pick.

I have no idea why, but for some reason Edwin Encarnacion sinks like a stone in the draft every year. He routinely puts up first round numbers, and are his injuries really that much bigger a deal than some of the other players that go before him? David V gets McCutchen and EE to anchor his offense. Dangerous.

The Love Boat Captains steal rising superstar Anthony Rendon, who I thought would go ten picks before this.

Mike must have seen a copy of MLB 15 The Show in a store somewhere, because he makes Yasiel Puig his #1 OF. It’s a great pick! Puig will break out this year.

I knew two things about Johnny Cueto heading into this draft. Somebody would take him early, and that somebody wouldn’t be me. Still, you can’t argue with his numbers last year, and Panda the Hammer adds a 2nd ace to his team.

Allan takes a 3rd baseman in the first three rounds every year. This year is no different, as the champ adds the ageless Adrian Beltre to his lineup.

Michael Brantley is a RedRays-type player. Solid, not flashy, gets the job done. He’ll put up huge points this year for team RedRays.

All along I wanted a pitcher here. I was targeting Jon Lester or Cole Hamels. Never in 100 years did I think I could land Stephen Strasburg at pick #29. I’m amazed this pick took me 25 seconds to make. Maybe I just wanted to be sure I didn’t click onto the wrong player.

Team Yankeehater thinks this is 2010 as he nabs Albert Pujols with the last pick of the 3rd round. I don’t hate the pick, but aren’t there younger, higher upside players available here?

Round Four

I always consider round four to be the game-changer round. There are a ton of high quality players available in the first 30 picks, and it’s pretty hard to make a mistake, outside of unforeseen injuries. But in round four you have to start taking gambles and making decisions. When to pass on the player getting older, and when to reach a little and grab the up-and-coming young stud. Dave makes just such a decision and takes Nolan Arenado #31. I like this pick, a lot! Great home ballpark, elite prospect pedigree. He may hit 30 HRs this year.

If there was one player in the whole draft I had to have, it was Matt Harvey. He’s throwing 99 MPH in spring training, and his breaking stuff looks sharp. He may throw 185 innings, but those 185 innings will be the best for a pitcher not named Kershaw.

The RedRays commit downright larceny as they snatch Carlos Gomez at pick #33. Gomez is a mid-2nd round player who had no business being on the board here.

Allan grabs his boy Julio Teheran. Can’t argue with this pick. He’s young and getting better. I just worry about his win total after Atlanta completely bottomed out this offseason.

Panda the Hammer takes only 10 seconds to select Jordan Zimmerman, and once again, he’s building the best pitching staff in the league.

sportsmanMike nabs Carlos Santana with this pick. Can’t hate it. He set career-highs across the board and has multiple position eligibility.

Ginger takes the least likeable pitcher in the game, Zack Greinke. You couldn’t pay me enough to take this dude.

In a move that shocks nobody, one of our Yankees fans takes only 9 seconds to draft Masahiro Tanaka. With Wainwright and Tanaka leading his pitching staff, team Stogies better pray the Tommy John fairy doesn’t come knocking.

WillisBeTheYear grabs Jose Reyes. He’ll steal 30 bases and score a ton of runs atop the major’s best lineup, and he plays at a horribly weak SS position.

Dennis grabs Jon Lester with pick #40. I was willing to take him at pick #29. See how this draft can ruin a man?

Rounds 5-10: Where Championships Are Won

The October Boys: Bryce Harper, Matt Kemp, Michael Wacha, Jered Weaver, Chris Davis, David Ortiz.

It’s hard not to like these picks. Dennis resists the urge to grab Harper early and gets him in a much better spot here. The problem with Harper is you always have to overpay to get him, but if you can get him at a reasonable price, the value is there. Matt Kemp looked back to normal in the 2nd half last year, and I think the big dimensions at Petco Park play well to his gap power. Wacha has one of the best arms in the majors, and Weaver is always a solid guy to fill out your rotation. I think he reached on Chris Davis, but I think a bounce back and 40 HRs could be possible. I have no idea how Ortiz lasted until round 10.

WillisBeTheYear: Freddie Freeman, Adrian Gonzalez, Victor Martinez, Dallas Keuchel, Ian Kinsler, Evan Gattis.

Wow. Runs of picks like this should be illegal. This is an amazing run for Willis. He got three stud first baseman here, all at amazing value. Freeman and Gonzalez mash, and V-Mart in round 7 is robbery. Dallas Keuchel was one of my targets. With a 63% ground ball rate, he’s Brandon Webb in his prime and will be this season’s breakout ace. Ian Kinsler still has something left, and Evan Gattis will hit 30 HRs moving from behind the plate and into Minute Maid Park. I’m REALLY glad they moved Willis out of my division.

Stogies: Hanley Ramirez, George Springer, Kris Bryant, Justin Verlander, Taijuan Walker, Dee Gordon.

Our newcomer means business. I saw Hanley Ramirez go mid-2nd round in some of my mocks; he gets him in round 5. I cried a little bit when he took Springer, I’ll admit it. I really wanted him! He may hit 45 HRs this year. Someone finally takes the plunge and takes super rookie Kris Bryant! It’s a good pick. But then the dreaded autodraft kicks in and grabs Verlander and Walker. I’m not crazy about those picks, but they are high-upside arms. At this stage in the draft, you could do a lot worse. Dave V. returns and grabs Dee Gordon, who should steal 50 bases leading off for the Marlins. This was a good run for team Stogies.

Love Boat Captains: Ian Desmond, Joey Votto, Carlos Carrasco, Jake Arrieta, Devin Mesoraco, Christian Yelich.

This is such a Ginger run. The last of the elite shortstops go off the board, and surprise! Joey Votto goes to the LBCs. At this point I honestly just want someone else to take him, just so she can’t get him. Carrasco and Arrieta are high-upside mid-rotation arms who have the talent to pitch like aces, and are typical LBC pitchers. Mesoraco may be the best power hitting catcher in the majors. He’ll make a run at 30 HRs. If there was one person I was sure was going to take Christian Yelich, it was Ginger. Yelich has huge breakout written all over him. It’s runs like this that have the LBCs in contention every year.

sportsmanMike: Jacoby Ellsbury, Jacob deGrom, Corey Dickerson, Jason Kipnis, Zach Britton, Alex Cobb.

This is a nice run for team sportsmanMike. He gets good value with Ellsbury, who always seems to be overdrafted one way or another. deGrom was one of the nice surprises in the league last year. His stuff is legit. He’ll be a strong #2 on this pitching staff. Dickerson tears up Coors Field, and Mike makes his best pick of the draft getting Kipnis this late. He has 20 HR, 30 SB upside. I can’t say that I like the Britton pick. There were better closers available with later price tags. But he makes up for it with a high upside arm in Alex Cobb. If Mike can ride out April, he’ll have a borderline ace at a round-10 price tag.

Panda the Hammer: Greg Holland, Jonathan Lucroy, Brian Dozier, Todd Frazier, Aroldis Chapman, Ben Zobrist.

If there’s one team in the league who laughs in the face of conventional wisdom, it’s the Hammer. He takes a catcher in round two, grabs two elite closers before round 10, and piles up on the early pitching. Everything the experts tell you not to do. Holland and Chapman form a dynamic closing duo. Lucroy is an elite catcher. Dozier was a revelation at 2nd base last year. He’ll put up points for this team. Todd Frazier is legit. He’s not flashy, but he could go 20/20 this year. Zobrist can play everywhere and is fairly predictable in his stat lines. These are the types of runs of picks Sam makes every year.

Believe The Hype: Cole Hamels, Phil Hughes, Tyson Ross, Nelson Cruz, Carlos Gonzalez, Mat Latos.

As Allan and I watched Cole Hamels tumble down the boards, I knew Allan would grab him here. It might be the steal of the draft. Allan’s laptop then proceeds to crap out on him, and Phil Hughes is autodrafted to BTH, leading to a string of obscenities being screamed throughout the RTC/BTH war room. You could’ve done worse! Hughes might be the most underrated pitcher in MLB. Or maybe it’s Tyson Ross, whose playing for San Diego was the only thing holding him back from being among baseball’s top tier pitchers. Nelly Cruz will swat 30 HRs, and I admit, I completely forgot about Carlos Gonzalez. I think Allan might have too, until he saw him sitting there for the taking. If he plays 120 games, it’s a steal. Latos moving to a more pitcher-friendly ballpark is good value. This was a nice run for our champion.

RedRays: Jeff Samardzija, Hisashi Iwakuma, Evan Longoria, Craig Kimbrel, Dustin Pedroia, Salvador Perez.

This is an awesome string of picks. Samardzija and Iwakuma are excellent pitchers to fill out the middle of a rotation. Longoria is GREAT value this late. He’s always drafted too high every year. I guess this is the over compensation as he tumbles down the draft boards. Kimbrel is the game’s best closer, although I’m concerned about the Braves win totals dropping this year, limiting his save chances. I’m not sure how in a league full of Red Sox fans, Pedroia lasts until round 9. It’s a great pick. Perez has power at a position where power is scarce. This run could get the RedRays back into the playoffs.

Rays Those Cowbells: Ryan Braun, Gerrit Cole, Prince Fielder, Matt Holliday, Jay Bruce, Garrett Richards.

Is Braun’s thumb healthy? I sure hope so, I’m counting on him to be my #1 OF. I had two preferences for this round 6 pick. I wanted Alex Wood, and if I couldn’t get him, I wanted Gerrit Cole. Wood goes to team Yankeehater right before I could get him, so I settle on Cole, who I really like, a lot! I like a 30-HR bounceback from a healthy Fielder, and Holliday is somebody I’ve always wanted but could never get. He’s as solid as they come. There’s no pick in my draft I regret more than Bruce. I should’ve taken Christian Yelich with this pick. I make up for it by snatching my #1 mid-round target, Garrett Richards. He’s a top-tier ace, going in round 10, because he’ll miss two weeks? Sign me up! This run of picks was okay, with Richards being my favorite and Fielder a close runner-up.

Yankeehaters: Alex Wood, James Shields, Justin Upton, Sonny Gray, Jorge Soler, Doug Fister.

This is a really good run for Dave. As mentioned, Wood was somebody I really wanted. His 200 K potential and RP eligibility are worth their weight in gold. Dave double dips on new Padres, with Shields moving to the best pitcher’s park in the majors really helping him, and Upton being downgraded for the same reason. But he’ll serve nicely as a #2 OF. Sonny Gray is somebody I really like. He’ll take that final step and be a true ace as he leads Oakland’s staff. Soler is kind of like a George Springer light. It’s rare you find 30-HR potential in the late rounds. Fister is a solid mid-rotation arm who always gets underrated for some reason.

Picks I Really Love, Rounds 11-22

Round 11: Dellin Betances by Stogies. I WANTED this guy. He’ll dominate for the Yankees this year.

Round 12: Kolten Wong by RTC. My #1 target at 2nd base. He’ll hit 15 HRs and have 30 SBs. Mark Trumbo by TOB. Now healthy, he’ll follow through on last years promise of 35 HRs.

Round 13: Yordano Ventura by BTH. Does anyone in baseball have a better arm? Why is he still on the board here? Gio Gonzalez by PTH. He’s slipped from his peak, but he’s not round 13 kinda bad.

Round 14: David Wright by Stogies. Yea okay, he’s not in his prime anymore. But the guy isn’t dead. Kyle Seager by Willis. .270 average and 25 HRs in round 14?

Round 15: Chris Archer by RedRays. High upside arms are always good late. Yan Gomes by Yankeehaters. He was going to be my starting catcher with my next pick. Suck it Dave.

Round 16: Marcell Ozuna by SM. Sneaky power. Could make a run at 30 HRs. Kevin Gausman by LBC. Could be this season’s Garrett Richards. Guy throws HARD.

Round 17: Hunter Pence by Willis. I can wait the two months if I get him in round 17. Drew Hutchison by RedRays. 184 Ks in 184 innings. A strikeout per inning can’t be ignored.

Round 18: Danny Salazar by Yankeehaters. He can’t be as bad as last year, can he? The stuff is still electric. Matt Adams by SM. At some point, the breakout is coming.

Round 19: Lucas Duda by RedRays. The most silent 30 HR season ever.

Round 20: Shelby Miller by Yankeehaters. A flyball pitcher moving to a flyball park. Daniel Norris by Stogies. 15.1 strikeouts per 9 at AAA last year! That’s insane. The best pitching prospect nobody has heard of.

Round 21: Homer Bailey by RTC. I still love the talent level. He’ll bounce back from last year.

Picks I Really Hate, Rounds 11-22

Round 11: Steven Souza by TOB. This was a terrible pick. He might’ve gone undrafted.

Round 12: Jose Fernandez by Willis. Love the player, hate the fact that he might not pitch until July.

Round 13: This was a good round for everyone!

Round 14: Another top notch round!

Round 15: David Robertson by TOB. Simply because his suckage gifted Allan a championship.

Round 16: Jessie Hahn by BTH. Not a bad player, but he probably wouldn’t have been drafted.

Round 17: Drew Storen by LBC. A talented arm , but I just can’t trust this guy. Everytime I turn around he’s given up 3 ERs.

Round 18: Brian McCann by RTC. This is an absolutely awful pick that had no business being made. McCann is garbage.

Round 19: Alex Rodriguez by Willis. A-Rod sucks and so does this pick. Retire already. Matt Wieters by BTH. Allan will need to drop him for a catcher who won’t start the season on the DL.

Round 20: Jean Segura by BTH. Only because I was begging him to draft Asdrubal Cabrera. Pablo Sandoval by PTH. He’s fat and his regular season numbers are mediocre.

Round 21: Brett Cecil by BTH. I think Allan gave up at this point and autodrafted a middle reliever. Cliff Lee by Yankeehaters. Isn’t he out for the year?
If you’ve stuck with me this long, I just wanna thank you for reading. This is the best fantasy baseball league in the world, and I’ve had a blast writing for the site these last two months. I have a lot of exciting stuff coming, including the weekly fantasy reviews. Stay tuned!

And now we dip into the magic 8-ball and see who will be in our final four….

Playoff Predictions

The October Boys
RedRays
WillisBeTheYear
Love Boat Captains

Draft Day

As we approach the final hours before thefoulline.com’s 8th annual fantasy baseball draft, I feel like I’m in a pretty good place.

I’ve ramped up the prep work and I’ve assembled my strategy. I’ve taken the necessary electronic precautions after my infamous “computer meltdown” of 2012, and I’ve checked the weather forecast for possible thunderstorm-related power outages. I’m good to go.

I absolutely love draft day. It’s the only time of the year where all 10 owners get together at the same time and chat. It’s the thrill of being on the clock, wondering if the team in front of you is going to swipe the player you desperately wanted, but never thought would be there for the taking in the first place. It’s fresh beginnings, and a chance to erase the previous season’s mistakes.

This will be our first draft with this set of 10, and I hope we can play together for many years. Since I started in 2009, we’ve had a lot of roster turnover, and sometimes I miss the old gang. Dylan and his gaggle of Shortstops, the McLaughlins, Matt and Dave, our Canadian friend Less Than Zero, and of course Dave’s father and his Bostobadboys, misspelled and all. It was really fun playing and trading barbs with all those guys.

But now we have new blood in the league, and draft day is about looking forward, not backward. And I’m more focused and determined than ever before. But I know you all will be too. I’m ready.

Just leave Anthony Rizzo for me, okay?

Spring Fever, Week Two

I can’t believe it’s already St Patrick’s Day. This spring is just rocketing by, and with the draft about to fall right on top of us, I’m not even close to where I need to be on my draft prep. I think I’ve decided on my first two picks, and maybe my third rounder. But in this league full of fantasy assassins, going into the draft unprepared can leave you sunk and fighting for last place. I really need to get into gear before it’s too late.

Speaking of the league, the gang from thefoulline.com got together again yesterday for another “baseball game,” which is just essentially three hours of standing in the shade of the left-field berm and talking baseball while occasionally asking “what’s the score?” every three innings or so. It’s always a fun time, but I wish attendance had been a little higher. One of these years we need to get the whole league together and take a group photo for the site. Regardless, it was a fun time, as usual.

St Patrick’s Day Spring Quick Hits

  • Allan got his trophy yesterday. It’s pretty nice, but its real purpose is motivational. The quest for “Javier” is on. Be advised.
  • I’d never left a baseball game in the top of the 5th inning before. But when it’s 99 degrees and Tim Beckham enters the game at SS? Yep, it’s time to go. Start the car.
  • I stand by what I said. Jose Abreu, under .270, under 30 HRs, under 100 RBI. Book it.
  • Zack Wheeler went down yesterday with the dreaded “Tommy John” curse. This is devastating. The starting pitching keeps taking hit after hit, and if you keep thinking that pitching is deep, you’ll end up with Andrew Cashner as your ace. Don’t wait. Get your pitching.
  • The Cubs are insane if Kris Bryant doesn’t start the season in the majors. If he’s named the opening day starter, you almost have to move him into the top 10 at third base. He’s the most exciting hitting prospect since Ryan Braun.
  • CBS rankings are at an all-time low this year. Jacob deGrom is ranked ahead of Jose Bautista. Think about that.
  • Asdrubal Cabrera final line: .271, 18 HRs, 82 RBI, 6 SBs. Great? No. Serviceable, you bet. Dave will make him his starting shortstop this year.
  • Consensus Rays Those Cowbells first round pick Anthony Rizzo is batting .060 this spring.

5 days!

Spring Fever, Week One

As the Grapefruit and Cactus League schedules get underway, there are a few questions that keep running through my head. Who will be the Rays shortstop? Who will be the odd men out in the Red Sox outfield? Will Kris Bryant start the season in the majors? Could Alex Rodriguez implode under the weight of his own ego? Will thefoulline.com crew finally settle on a suitable date for a Port Charlotte game?

So many unanswered questions, but I know one thing for sure. The games have started, and baseball is back! Take a day off from work, grab a beer and a hot dog and head out to some spring training games. I promise you won’t regret it. The baseball season is a six month grind, but spring training is only one month out of the year. That makes it special in its own way.

The season will be here soon enough. Enjoy the spring fever while it lasts.

Start of Spring Quick Hits

  • SportsCenter has begun giving us live play-by-play coverage of every Alex Rodriguez spring training plate appearance. I will now be abstaining from all things SportsCenter until opening day.
  • Yu Darvish needs Tommy John, Cliff Lee has already had elbow soreness, and Masahiro Tanaka’s elbow seems to be held together by paper clips. All the round 3-5 pitchers seem to be giving out already. Grabbing an ace early may be more important than ever this year.
  • Team Yankeehaters swears they aren’t taking a pitcher in the first two rounds. Surprisingly, I believe him.
  • Pedro Alvarez hit the first home run of the spring. Potential bounce back? 35 home runs can’t be ignored in an age where power is dying.
  • Which round will Ginger gamble on the Joey Votto bounceback? Round 4? Perhaps round 5?
  • Allan and I made an observation when watching a spring game that Anthony Rendon looked 20 pounds overweight. Let’s hope his uniform was just baggy that day. He’s an exciting young star.
  • Speaking of Allan, it’s only a week in, and Bryce Harper has already gotten on his nerves.
  • I still wanna go to jetBlue Park one day. It’s the best stadium in the Grapefruit League.

13 days!

And Who Might You Be?

I’ve noticed over the years that every single owner in our league has developed their own personality. You have a basic idea who they’ll target in the first round, what players they’d be willing to give up in trades, and if they’d even trade with you at all. It’s this diversity and clashing of ideas that make us the best fantasy baseball league in the world.

But do real life teams go through this? Are8/ there certain teams they have pegged for certain ideas? Are there other GM’s that they just can’t, or won’t, make deals with? It really got me thinking, who in our league tends to gravitate toward the tendencies of real MLB teams? So here is the first thefoulline.com fantasy GM comparison list!

1) Love Boat Captains: St Louis Cardinals

I’ve heard rumblings over the years that Ginger is partial to the Cincinnati Reds, so this one may sting a bit, but this one fits like a glove. The three-time champion is the very definition of quiet excellence. She contends every single year, wins championships, and does it without the noise and flash of some of the other owners in the league. When was the last time you heard any noise from the Cardinals? They develop right, draft right, and rarely make big splashes on the trade market. Sound like Ginger to you? Yea, me too.

2) Yankeehaters: Detroit Tigers

I can hear Dave now. “You gotta make me the Red Sox!” Well, I considered it, but in the spirit of keeping this post friendly, I will be omitting any references to the evil empires of the northeast. Dave contends every year, has teams loaded with superstars, and is never afraid to make a deal. The Tigers felt right here. Swinging blockbuster deals for Miguel Cabrera, Max Scherzer and David Price just really seems like a Dave thing to do. Plus I know Dave’s dad was a big Sparky Anderson fan.

3) Believe The Hype: Los Angeles Dodgers

Loud, flashy, treats players like rentals. This one was easy. If we had payrolls in our league, Allan’s would easily be the highest. Committed to winning and never afraid to make a deal, I’ve literally seen Allan trade for a player, then offer him to me later that night. It reminded me of what the Dodgers did earlier this offseason with Andrew Heaney. Whether he’s winning games, losing games, making trades or hitting the waiver wire, The Champ will be the talk of the league this year.

4) RedRays: Oakland Athletics

There is no team in the league that is more money in the bank than the RedRays. Every year you can pencil them in for a solid draft, a solid season, minimal mistakes, and between 11 to 14 wins. One way or the other, this team will be in contention for a spot in the final four during the last week of the season. Another easy choice, Trent’s steadiness and consistent winning are a mirror image of what the Athletics have built in Oakland.

5) The October Boys: Washington Nationals

My team got better every year, and I won my first championship in year four. Allan’s team got better every year, and he won his first championship in year four. Dennis’ team has gotten better every year, and he’s entering… year four. We seem to have found the secret formula for newcomers to the league. It’s worth noting that the Nationals are in year four of their contending window that started in 2012. The Nationals will be stacked this year, and are my pick to win the World Series. And I think The October Boys will be stacked this year and I’m picking them to win the league championship. He’s ready. I also considered making Dennis’S team the Houston Astros, seeing as he gets the #1 overall pick every year.

6) WillisBeTheYear: Texas Rangers

I don’t know how he does it, but every single year, Willis builds a team that simply crushes the ball. He makes promises to take pitching early, then loads up on the bats and destroys us all in most offensive categories. Last year he had a murderer’s row of Miguel Cabrera, Edwin Encarnacion, Yasiel Puig, David Ortiz, and Giancarlo Stanton. There’s no team that scares me more on draft day. Every hitter he takes is going to break out, and it makes me wish I had taken them myself. His beer league softball teams remind me most of the Texas Rangers. I’ll have to have a discussion with him about offensive sleepers this year…

7) Panda The Hammer: Seattle Mariners

Nobody in the league likes pitching more than Sam. He takes a pitcher in the first round every year, and last year made the playoffs with a pitching staff anchored by Clayton Kershaw and Corey Kluber. His commitment to the arms race leaves him a little short offensively at times, but if you face him in a week where his two-start pitchers line up…. You already lost. His pitching-heavy teams resemble the Mariners most, and I’m smelling Felix Hernandez to Panda The Hammer at 6th overall this year. Call it an educated guess.

8) sportsmanMike: Toronto Blue Jays

Mike is a little short in the playoff appearances department, having yet to make one as he enters his 6th season. But 2015 is as good a year as any, right? I know Mike is putting in extra work this year, as he’s already purchased fantasy baseball magazines and is really trying hard to figure out what to do with his 5th overall pick. He reminds me of the Blue Jays, who haven’t had a playoff appearance in years but always have promise and put together good years. The Blue Jays enter the season as AL East favorites, and I think this may be the year that they, and Mike, break through and enter the postseason party.

9) Rays Those Cowbells: Philadelphia Phillies

This one was the easiest one of all. My team sucks. I started off great, entering the league with a bang and contending for years, finishing it off with a championship. But like the Phillies, I’ve taken a nose dive in the seasons since my title, capping off my free fall with a full-on last place finish last year. Will I rebound? Can I rebound? I’m sure trying. Confidence is really shaken in the RTC camp, and if I get off to a bad start this year, I might start making silly Rubén Amaro, Jr. type trades that lead to full on implosion. Ugh!

10) Stogies: To be determined

I feel it would be a little silly to make a call on our newcomer Dave Valentino right now, as I’ve never played with him before and know next to nothing about him. But if the five minutes I spent talking baseball with him two years ago in Port Charlotte are any indication, next year I’ll be putting “San Francisco Giants” into this slot. He really seems to know his stuff! Welcome to our league. You’re going to have a blast.

Draft day is fast approaching this year, and I know all of you will be doing your homework and preparing for the upcoming season in a way that only our league can. This is the most competitive fantasy baseball league around, and it’s a real joy playing with all of you. Let me know what you think!