For most baseball bloggers/writers/reporters/whatevers, the last week of Spring Training is one to be watched with anticipation as the final roster spots are decided and the teams begin to transition in to "playing games that matter" mode. Preview and prediction articles are to be written, goals for the season to be created and mapped out, and strapping in for the long grind of the season is the norm.
As for us at Talking Chop, our process is a little different and we decided to do a fantasy baseball draft. The staff participants have a range of interest in fantasy baseball ranging from consistent participant with plans and strategy to "Sure Eric, I will draft a team, please stop asking. How do these things work?". There is also a non-zero contingent that wanted to use a bizarre scoring system centered on what I can only assume would be wRC+, dWAR, and various other acronyms (Hi Ivan!).
For those who are interested, we are doing a 10 team, head-to-head fantasy league using Yahoo! and its default settings. However, there were only 9 interested staff members, so we reached out to some of you faithful readers and Seth Sosebee stepped up to the challenge and joined in on the fun. The stakes: Pride for the winner and shame of defeat for the rest. Some will certainly be more shamed than others....so without further adieu here is what happened (well, here is who was drafted where by whom, but the minor details may be altered for dramatic/hilarious effect).
The First Few Rounds
|Round One||Round Two||Round Three|
|Ivan the Terrible||Clayton Kershaw||Scott Coleman||Giancarlo Stanton||Ivan the Terrible||Dee Gordon|
|Brad Rowland||Mike Trout||Seth Sosebee||Chris Sale||Brad Rowland||Jose Bautista|
|Carlos Collazo||Paul Goldschmidt||Tyler Duke||Andrew McCutchen||Carlos Collazo||Edwin Encarnacion|
|Garrett Spain||Bryce Harper||Kris Willis||Kris Bryant||Garrett Spain||Joey Votto|
|Kyle Parmley||Josh Donaldson||Eric Cole||Buster Posey||Kyle Parmley||Jacob deGrom|
|Eric Cole||Carlos Correa||Kyle Parmley||Anthony Rizzo||Eric Cole||Jose Fernandez|
|Kris Willis||Miguel Cabrera||Garrett Spain||Mookie Betts||Kris Willis||Jake Arrieta|
|Tyler Duke||Manny Machado||Carlos Collazo||Jose Altuve||Tyler Duke||Jose Abreu|
|Seth Sosebee||Max Scherzer||Brad Rowland||AJ Pollock||Seth Sosebee||Starling Marte|
|Scott Coleman||Nolan Arenado||Ivan the Terrible||Madison Bumgarner||Scott Coleman||Charlie Blackmon|
The first round saw a run on position players with 8 of the 10 picks going to those who don't throw off the mound. The exceptions were Ivan, who was picking at the top of the draft, and our reader volunteer draftee, Seth. Ivan took Kershaw first overall after his pitch to change to a rotisserie league using his personally-designed mathematical model fell on deaf ears.
Brad realized after a TV timeout in the Hawks game during Easter dinner that Mike Trout was still available so he went with it. Seth went with division rival ace Scherzer in a move that positioned him to snatch up position player value in later rounds. I took Carlos Correa because he is insanely good, is in a position of scarcity in terms of offense, and I needed to fill the void in my heart that exists now that Andrelton is gone.
The second round saw the second half of Scott's wheel picks. After snatching up Nolan Arenado at the bottom of the first, he continue to corner the market on power by grabbing Giancarlo Stanton as well while creating smurf Twitter accounts to tweet at DOB. One of our fearless leaders, Kris "My god, how do you manage two blogs?" Willis added Kris Bryant to his stable along with Miguel Cabrera to continue the run on position players. After brushing the taste of having to draft Bryce Harper out of his mouth, Garrett drafted Mookie Betts as he was a prospect recently and Garrett has an unhealthy, yet wonderful fascination with them.
Carlos, after attempting to get a few precious minutes of sleep between picks due to the hectic travel schedule of someone covering a team on a major run in the NCAA basketball tournament, woke up in time to draft Jose Altuve while Brad followed suit by drafting AJ Pollock. Seriously, no one tell Brad that Pollock just broke his elbow....he is still stinging from his beloved Wolverines getting bounced from March Madness early on.
The third round saw Ivan take his first position player with Dee Gordon while various forms of severe weather allowed Kyle enough of an internet connection to draft his first pitcher with Jacob deGrom. True to my Braves fandom, I took a high upside arm with a history of Tommy John surgery with my selection of Jose Fernandez. Tyler decided that pitching staffs were for the weak of heart and took his third position player with Jose Abreu joining Machado and McCutchen.
Brad and Carlos both realized that they had a podcast to record in addition to countless articles to write for various outlets, yelled "first available Blue Jay" and ran flailing in to the night. Oddly enough, it worked out as they landed Bautista and Encaracion in back-to-back picks in the 3rd, although it would have worked out better for Brad if Bat Flip Quotient was a scoring category in the league (Statcast, you know what to do). Kris went all-in on the Cubs' roster and drafted Jake Arrieta as his first pitcher in the draft.
The teams and what we think of them
The rest of the draft went off without incident with various jokes, jabs, and autopicks peppering the goings on of the many, many rounds. Here are the starting rosters for reference later, I would include every player...but thats a lot of typing and, well, I don't want to.
|Eric - Counting Stats FTW||Kris - Team Moneyball||Garrett - Teheran Up My Heart||Ivan - Placeholders||Scott - Right Wrist Injuries|
Buster Posey - C
|Brian McCann - C||Jonathan Lucroy - C||Stephen Vogt - C||Kyle Schwarber - C|
|Kendrys Morales - 1B||Miguel Cabrera - 1B||Joey Votto - 1B||Eric Hosmer - 1B||Chris Davis - 1B|
|Robinson Cano - 2B||DJ Mahieu - 2B||Jason Kipnis - 2B||
Dee Gordon - 2B
|Anthony Rendon - 2B|
|Evan Longoria - 3B||Kris Bryant - 3B||Miguel Sano - 3B||Kyle Seager - 3B||Nolan Arenado - 3B|
|Carlos Correa - SS||Xander Bogaerts - SS||Addison Russell - SS||Elvis Andrus - SS||Corey Seager - SS|
|Carlos Gonzalez - OF||Gregory Polanco - OF||Bryce Harper - OF||Adam Eaton - OF||Giancarlo Stanton - OF|
|Billy Hamilton - OF||Corey Dickerson - OF||Mookie Betts - OF||David Peralta - OF||Charlie Blackmon - OF|
|Randal Grichuk - OF||Ben Revere - OF||Adam Jones - OF||Khris Davis - OF||Hunter Pence - OF|
|Billy Burns - Util||David Ortiz - Util||Maikel Franco - Util||Hanley Ramirez - Util||Adrian Gonzalez - Util|
|Byung Ho Park - Util||Starlin Castro - Util||Hector Olivera - Util||Dexter Fowler - Util||Curtis Granderson - Util|
|Jose Fernandez - SP||Corey Kluber - SP||Chris Archer - SP||Clayton Kershaw - SP||Marcus Stroman - SP|
|Zack Greinke - SP||Jake Arrieta - SP||Garrett Richards - SP||Madison Bumgarner - SP||Michael Wacha - SP|
|Kenley Jensen - RP||AJ Ramos - RP||Ken Giles - RP||Francisco Rodriguez - RP||Cody Allen - RP|
|Trevor Rosenthal - RP||Brad Ziegler - RP||Dellin Betances - RP||Huston Street - RP||Hector Rondon - RP|
|Adam Wainwright - P||Felix Hernandez- SP||Tyson Ross - SP||Dallas Keuchel - SP||Jeff Samardzija - SP|
|Carlos Rodon - P||Jon Lester - SP||Steven Matz - SP||Johnny Cueto - SP||Patrick Corbin - SP|
|Collin McHugh - P||Noah Syndergaard - SP||Drew Smyly - SP||Jose Quintana - SP||Jason Hammel - SP|
|Kenta Maeda - P||Arodys Vizcaino - RP||Hisashi Iwakuma - SP||Glen Perkins - RP||Jake McGee - RP|
|Brad - B-Row's Team||Kyle - Frenchy's Fries||Tyler - The Dukes||Carlos - Better Call Paul||Seth - Bartolo Coloncleanse|
|Yan Gomes - C||Salvador Perez - C||Russell Martin - C||Travis d'Arnaud - C||Matt Wieters - C|
|Freddie Freeman - 1B||Anthony Rizzo - 1B||Jose Abreu - 1B||Paul Goldschmidt - 1B||Prince Fielder - 1B|
|Rougned Odor - 2B||Brian Dozier - 2B||Ian Kinsler - 2B||Jose Altuve - 2B||Dustin Pedroia - 2B|
|Matt Carpenter - 3B||Josh Donaldson - 3B||Manny Machado - 3B||David Wright - 3B||Todd Frazier - 3B|
|Brandon Crawford - SS||Francisco Lindor - SS||Jean Segura - SS||Ian Desmond - SS||Troy Tulowitzki - SS|
|Mike Trout - OF||Yoenis Cespedes - OF||Andrew McCutchen - OF||George Springer - OF||Starling Marte - OF|
|Jose Bautista - OF||Justin Upton - OF||Ryan Braun - OF||Nelson Cruz - OF||JD Martinez - OF|
|Delino DeShields - OF||Jason Heyward - OF||Matt Kemp - OF||Carlos Gomez - OF||Yasiel Puig - OF|
|Albert Pujols - Util||Ben Zobrist - Util||Adrian Beltre - Util||Edwin Encarnacion - Util||Kole Calhoun - Util|
|Mitch Moreland - Util||Daniel Murphy - Util||Shin-soo Choo - Util||Jacoby Ellsbury - Util||Michael Conforto - Util|
|David Price - SP||Jacob deGrom - SP||Matt Harvey - SP||Carlos Carrasco - SP||Max Scherzer - SP|
|Stephen Strasburg - SP||Cole Hamels - SP||Gerrit Cole - SP||Francisco Liriano - SP||Chris Sale - SP|
|David Robertson - RP||Craig Kimbrel - RP||Andrew Miller - RP||Wade Davis - RP||Jeurys Familia - RP|
|Masahiro Tanaka - P||Shelby Miller - SP||Sonny Gray - SP||Michael Pineda - SP||Aroldis Chapman - RP|
|Jordan Zimmerman - P||Julio Teheran - SP||Jake Odorizzi - SP||Carlos Martinez - SP||Brad Boxberger - RP|
|Taijuan Walker - P||Yordano Ventura - SP||John Lackey - SP||Lance McCullers - P||Danny Salazar - SP|
|On the DL - AJ Pollock||
Wei-Yin Chen - SP
|Justin Verlander - SP||Shawn Tolleson - P||Raisel Iglesias - SP|
Now, we could go through and dissect the strategy of each team/manager going in to the draft. However, connection issues as well as my idiocy in scheduling the draft on Easter Sunday of all days means that its not necessarily true that all the managers were around for the entire draft. Also, several of us have a strong knowledge of the game of baseball but not exactly a strong desire to formulate fantasy baseball draft strategies. However, a few of them did take the time to offer their thoughts on what went down, so here they are.
I haven't played standard 5x5 fantasy baseball for a while, and it's been even longer since I played in a head-to-head league, so it's safe to say I have no real idea what I'm doing. With that said, I had the first pick and thought I'd have some fun, so I decided to pull a Hart/Coppy and acquire as much pitching as possible. So I fully expect to be very competitive in pitching with Kershaw, Bumgarner, and friends, even though they'll all just go down with forearm tightness-into-Tommy John Surgery, because we can't have nice things.
On the hitting side, I kept scrolling through hitters' counting stats and batting average and saw mostly blah aside from the first couple of rounds. Basically, by picking Kershaw over Trout, I pretty much made sure that all the exciting hitters with huge counting stat potential disappeared over the next 19 picks. So I feel that my offense is some combination of mediocre and blah, and catcher and shortstop are especially problematic. But at least I should have a foothold in steals. If Hanley Ramirez hits more like a generic 2016 middle infielder, both the Red Sox and myself are likely hosed in terms of fielding a competitive team.
There's also a lot of uncertainty in relief this year, moreso than I can remember. My closers are probably fairly reliable (haha, I said that about a Tigers reliever... oy), but I feel much better about the rotation.
I took Aybar and Inciarte (who will largely ride the bench) just to get some Braves connection on my team, and used a late-round pick on Alex Wood because I think he'll still be very productive. (He seems to have recovered from that forearm scare in Spring Training.)
My draft went well, I think. Actually, it probably didn't. I'm not sure.
Truthfully, I always think that my fantasy teams will be world beaters until I look at everyone else's roster.
I did the whole thing in secret under the dinner table in during an Easter meal with my family so it could be worse, I suppose.
I picked late in the first round so I went with the best available arm, Max Scherzer. I was also able to scoop up Chris Sale and Danny Salazar. My other starters are Raisiel Iglesias (pitches in a bandbox), James Shields, and Scott Kazmir. It all goes downhill from there.
Looking at the relief pitchers on my team give me a similar feeling to watching Bryce Harper tee off on Julio with two strikes in the 1st inning of opening day: grooaaan. I landed Jeurys Familia, who is good, but also picked Aroldis Chapman, which is bad. I forgot he was suspended. My other reliever, Brad Boxberger, starts the season on the 15-day DL because he had "core surgery" which will keep him out for more than a month. Lucky me.
My biggest gets on the offensive side of things are Troy Tulowitzki, Todd Frazier, JD Martinez and Starling Marte. These are all solid complementary pieces, though I think the lack of a top tier bat could sink me. Yasiel Puig also ended up on my roster, though it is a toss up whether or not I'll get his 2014 production or 2015 production. Otherwise I have Michael Conforto, Matt Holiday, Lucas Duda, Matt Wieters, Prince Fielder, Dustin Pedroia, Cole Calhoun, Mike Moustakas, and Denard Span.
To be successful I will need to shore up my pitching staff quickly and make sure to keep an eye on injuries. Like many others, I suppose, I always start off strong in fantasy leagues but eventually let other life stuff get in the way. Maybe this is the year I will manage to let things like my marriage, career, and social life slide so that I can focus on what's really important: fantasy sports.
It never fails that the guy you have queued up to draft next makes it ALL the way back around to you...to be picked right before you.
As for my team, I have no problem with sabotaging the last pick of the draft for a guy that will complete my roster. After all, a team named Frenchy's Fries can't possibly NOT have Jeff Francoeur on it!
Let's mention specifically that I did not draft Bryce Harper the computer did that for me I wasn't around. Though I probably would have anyway.
Also, I drafted Hector Olivera because I felt bad for all the negative attention he gets. He deserves a chance.
(Garrett then went back to looking at his roster page, muttering to himself at how many former top 40 prospects are on his team)
I don't really remember much from the last couple of weeks due to being an editor for roughly half the Atlanta sports blogs in existence, but I do want to send my condolences to AJ Pollock as his injury basically torpedoed my season.
(Brad then clutched his Jim Harbaugh jersey, asked for the location of the nearest coffee shop, and stumbled away in a sleep-deprived stupor).
I'll be honest, its been quite a while since I have done fantasy baseball period as it encourages the sort of fandom that I have moved away from in recent years for better or worse. I am happy with the draft though as it has a good mix of well-rounded players as well as specialist types that I think will give me an edge in certain categories. I was targetting Correa for the draft if I was outside the top 3 picks so I was very happy to get him. I remember the wisdom being that you shouldn't spend high picks on relievers, so of course I did that anyways but I should be in the running on saves each week with Kenley and Rosenthal.
Other than that, I feel like I have a decent team and its interesting to me to see how everyone else in the league values players and what they try to accomplish with their teams. Given that in a 10 team league, everyone should have a pretty loaded roster...its interesting seeing baseball minds you respect make decisions about their rosters and who they want to follow, etc.
Well guys, thats it....most of us did a fantasy baseball draft and it was a lot of fun even if we are far from a staff of full season fantasy experts. Let us know what you think in the comments, specifically if you want to see more fantasy baseball content here on Talking Chop (not necessarily updates on how this particular league is going, just more fantasy content in general).