The Problem Is Choice

As we fast approach the 8th annual thefoulline.com fantasy baseball draft, I’ve come across some difficult decisions in my prep work. A lot of players are frighteningly similar in average draft position, skill sets, and production. It’s on you to make the choice of who you want to be on your team. Sounds easy, right?

In a perfect world, all the players you’re considering drafting would have career seasons. The hitters would all hit .300 with 30 HRs and 115 RBI, and the pitchers would all win 15+ games. But of course that’s not the case. As we all have found out the hard way, one of the players you’re considering will have an MVP-type season. The other will spend 10 weeks on the DL. You have to navigate the minefield and make choices that won’t sink your season before the first pitch is thrown.

Three years ago, Dave wrote a post called Weapon Of Choice where he went into detail on this very problem. It’s time for a follow-up. Here are some of the choices that I’ve found myself facing.

Mike Trout or Clayton Kershaw?

Who’s number one? That’s the decision facing Dennis and his October Boys as he secures the first overall pick for the 47th consecutive season. This choice boils down to your base philosophy in building a fantasy baseball team. Do you go with the best pitcher in the world, or the young phenom who finally secured his elusive first AL MVP last year? A year ago, this was a no-brainer. But Kershaw has put himself so far ahead of every other pitcher that you have to stop and consider the advantage he gives you over the field. Add in the fact that Trout seems to be regressing, as his OPS, OBP, batting average, and SBs have all plummeted, and you have a real decision to make. But at the end of the day, there are far fewer elite hitters than elite pitchers, and that makes Trout the pick here. But I can’t fault anyone for going the other way.

Felix Hernandez, David Price, or Chris Sale?

We all know what Clayton Kershaw brings to the table, but who’s the second pitcher off the board? All these guys are strong candidates, and all have things that set them apart. Felix Hernandez piles up the innings and strikeouts but has had trouble securing wins on a mediocre Mariners team. David Price is probably the best workhorse in MLB at this point, throwing an absurd 250 innings last year, while leading the majors in strikeouts and having an amazing walk rate. But he’s a little too hittable and seems to have trouble keeping his ERA down. Chris Sale is probably the most dominant of the three, but he can never seem to have a fully healthy season and has trouble piling up the innings needed to be an elite fantasy ace. If you’re willing to take a chance that Chris Sale could finally exceed 225+ innings, you could have the AL answer to Clayton Kershaw, but Felix Hernandez is the guy here. Safe, dependable, and more wins coming with an improved Mariners offense.

Andrew McCutchen or Giancarlo Stanton?

Again with a who’s number 2? This time it’s in the outfield. Nobody broke out in a bigger way than Stanton last year, cranking 37 jacks, 105 RBI, with a .290 batting average and a career-high 94 walks. Still just 25 years old, on an improving Marlins team, the sky is the limit, right? Maybe. He still has an issue staying healthy, only playing 150 games one time in his career. McCutchen, meanwhile, is an absolute rock, finishing in the top 5 in H2H points leagues for three straight years. Personal experience, last year I took Ryan Braun instead of McCutchen because I wanted Braun’s 40 HR, 30 SB, .315 BA upside. You know all the rest. McCutchen dominated, while Braun was a shell of his former self and was off my team by mid-May. Stanton has the upside to be the best hitter in fantasy baseball, but if you’re picking in the top 5, safety has value. McCutchen is who you want here.

Corey Kluber or Johnny Cueto?

Both these guys broke out in a big way last year and will be drafted in the mid 2nd round. But who can you trust? Can you trust either? The answer is yes… It’s Corey Kluber. This may be a bit of an upset, but Kluber is someone I’m targeting in all my mocks. He’s a 1st-round type arm with a 2nd-round price tag because people just can’t get behind “one-year wonders.” (See RA Dickey, 2012.) Kluber is no fluke. All his advanced numbers are legit. He’s a strikeout pitcher with supreme control who piles up innings. Maybe I’m biased here, but I just can’t get behind Johnny Cueto. He’s burned me before, multiple times, and I just keep waiting for that strained dreadlock or whatever stupid injury he misses six weeks with. Kluber and Cueto have nearly identical average draft position, and most people will lean Cueto. But trust me, you’re gonna regret it…

What decisions do you find yourself stuck with in your mock drafts? Let us know! Try not to pick the wrong guy on draft day (a talent I seem to have mastered), because it will leave you scrambling and making decisions that hurt your team in the long run to make up for short-term losses.

Like Neo said throughout the Matrix trilogy, “The Problem is Choice.”

Tick Tock

Since finding out my fantasy draft position three days ago, I’ve had a constant clock ticking in my head. Tick… tick… tick…

I drew the second pick, which assures me of a great player. But with that pick comes a sense of responsibility/pressure to nail this selection. Our league is a bunch of fantasy assassins ready to pounce on any mistake and take advantage of any misstep.

Tick… tick… tick…

I think it’s pretty obvious that Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, & Ryan Braun are going to be the top three picks. But who’s going first? Will Chefdick take the American League Triple Crown winner? Or will he set his sights on the AL Rookie of the Year and MVP runner-up? Maybe he goes with Mr. Consistency and his automatic .300/35/110, even with the cloud of PED suspicion hovering over his head.

Tick… tick… tick…

Will Chefdick reveal this prior to the draft? Would I, if I were in his shoes? Hell no!

I have the second pick and 13 days to prepare. I can’t screw this up… I hope.

Tick… tick… tick…

And now, your slightly rained-on thefoulline.com quick hits:

  • I hate to write anything pro-Yankee, but it’s hard as a baseball fan not to appreciate everything that Mariano Rivera has accomplished over his illustrious career. He has epitomized class while performing at the highest level in the game, all while playing in most scrutinized city in the world. He announced his retirement, effective at the end of the 2013 season. MLB needs to waive the five-year waiting period and induct him into the Hall of Fame immediately after his last game. He’s been a great ambassador of the game and deserving of this honor. He’s earned it… even if he is a damn Yankee.
  • Al Roker in a New York Yankees uniform photo by Mark Feinsand

  • How does Kyle Lohse not have a job yet?
  • You think you’re having a bad day? Jordany Valdespin took a Justin Verlander fastball to his nuts yesterday.
  • Back to my regularly scheduled Yankee bashing… The New York Yankees are cursed this year, and I love it. With the rash of injuries that New York has suffered already this year (A-Rod, Granderson, Teixiera, Cashman), I can’t name five starters. They have fewer well-known players in their starting lineup than the Houston Astros. Brian Cashman is so desperate to field a “quality” team, that he tried to lure Chipper Jones out of retirement. When you have this guy suiting up for you, you’re in for a long year.
  • I love baseball, but going to watch the Rays/Yankees game in the rain with only scrubs playing might be the low point of my week. At least I’ll get to meet the Foul Line guys.
  • Ginger has written two posts for thefoulline.com and has had the most comments of anything that has been written over the past year. Should she try to write something on a regular basis?
  • Don’t forget to follow Yaysports: Real Talk Radio on Facebook.

Enjoy your week!