This year at Pitcher List, we’re having fun with our internal staff fantasy league. We held a slow draft that lasted across five days, ending Monday evening. We wanted to get our readers involved as well, making us come up with the Pitcher List Staff League Contest, which has everyone of our Patreon supporters linked to one of our writers. If your writer wins the league, you get a free merch, simple as that. Help support the site and follow your team through the year with our weekly updates every Monday.
I asked each writer after the draft to write a summary about their team with no specific guidelines. Some took full liberty (cough *Ian Post* cough), while others kept it simple and straight forward. Here are the draft results to reference through the article as we dive into each team’s draft approach:
Nic Gardiner – Pick #1
Thanks to Team USA’s WBC Championship, I secured the #1 spot. I took Mike Trout. There wasn’t any debate about the selection but part of me thought about Clayton Kershaw because he’s so good and I’ve never had him in a fantasy league. I normally play it safe in the first couple of rounds; I don’t think you should reach on players in the first 3 or 4 rounds because you should take the best player. Use the middle rounds to fill in your weaknesses and later rounds to reach. The down side of the first pick is the long wait. I do have to reach some to get the person I want, but some players fell to me. That happened with a number of players: Chris Sale, Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, Ben Zobrist, and Rick Porcello. I locked up the two best closers in the game in the sixth and seventh round with the 72nd and 73rd picks. This did two things for me, 1) Created a run on Closers as eight were taken in the next 18 picks, and 2) Combined they had a stat line of 126.2 IP, 194 strikeouts, 7 W, 83 saves, 1.71 ERA, and a 0.76 WHIP in 2016. These are Kershaw esque numbers. With Chapman giving me a full season, I can see 200+ Strikeouts and 90+ saves between them. If Chris Sale’s ERA goes up moving to the AL East, the closers will bring my weekly average back down. The ensuing run on closers allowed me to fill out my corner infield with Anthony Rendon to go with Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Abreu plus I added one of the most consistent outfielder in Adam Eaton.
At this point, the draft is loaded with inconsistent or very young players. By taking very safe bets in eight of my first nine picks, only risk being Yu Darvish, I can start reaching on players I like. I took some players in the middle rounds that are a bit risky but have huge upside. I snagged Miguel Sano, who I boldly predicted to lead the league in homeruns, Kevin Gausman, who had an excellent 2nd half in 2016, and somehow the AL CY Young winner fell to me with the 144th pick, as the 43rd pitcher off the board (82.9 ADP). I added two more consistent guys in the 13th and 14th with Brandon Belt and Ben Zobrist, and then used my later rounds to lock up some young players I really like in Joe Musgrove, Blake Snell, Dansby Swanson, Max Kepler, and Jurickson Profar. I also added some bounce back candidates in Russell Martin, Sonny Gray and Matt Moore.
Overall, I believe I created a very balance team. I doubt I win stolen bases every week but I should compete with every other hitting category. I also really like my pitching which is led by Sale, Darvish, Chapman, and Jansen. I also have some high upside young pitchers for my rotation and solid bounce back pitcher in Sonny Gray (241th pick). I think my team is in the upper tier after the draft and with good management on my end, I should be in the playoff hunt.
Christopher Edmunds – Pick #2
Here at the Stunning Bunts front office, we are all scrambling to spin this into a positive. Of course we planned on drafting seven batters to fill up bench spots, leaving vacancies at catcher and 1B. We even doubled down on our pro strats by drafting almost enough relievers to fill out the roster. Don’t listen to the haters who are insisting that letting the intern manage a team in this public league was a mistake. I’m here to take risks, and drafting without any prior knowledge of the available players was a calculated decision. Numbers and news may have kept me from drafting Jason Kipnis, who I hear is learning how to swing a bat again, so that’s nice.
Ben Palmer – Pick #3
Overall I’m fairly happy with the way the draft went for me. I went outfield heavy early, that wasn’t my intent, but it just kind of happened. Mookie Betts as my first pick was a no-brainer to me, and then Starling Marte was available in the second and I really wanted to grab Christian Yelich so I drafted him in the 4th.
I will say though, if there’s one thing I regret about my draft, it’s not getting enough pitching. Most of the time, I like to try and get two stud pitchers to anchor my team, and then wait on pitching, but I wasn’t able to do that this time. My “stud” pitcher is Carlos Martinez, and while I think he’s a good pitcher, he’s not what I was hoping for. I’m also lacking on saves, but those can be grabbed during the year.
Overall though, I like the team. The offense is solid, I think, and it gives me some players to use as trade bait to balance out my pitching.
Max Eddy – Pick #4
I came into the draft with the idea that, at pick #4 overall, I’d end up with a Nolan Arenado/Freedie Freeman pairing to start off my infield. I was drooling at the idea of stacking up all that power. Needless to say, that didn’t occur, and wasn’t necessarily a terrible outcome in the long run. I was able to land Paul Goldschmidt and Jonathan Villar with my first two picks, setting me up well in the speed department. Chasing speed late in H2H often means you’re sacrificing many other categories, which are far easier to mask in a full season Roto where you can trade later in the year to pick up Steals points. Villar was also the first of four a multi-position guys I drafted. Guys like Daniel Murphy, Jose Ramirez, and Willson Contreras will allow me to add more plate appearances from my bench and run up offensive counting stats. Maximizing every possible at bat on your roster becomes crucial in a seven-day sample.
I was giddy to land Justin Verlander and Chris Archer in the 4th and 5th. Pitching “sleepers” seem to be even more woke than usual this season. Investing early in some known quantities with tremendous upside allowed me to avoid overdrafting for breakouts later. I’m betting on bouncebacks from Mariners Felix Hernandez and Drew Smyly. Felix’s velocity is up this spring, Safeco is tailored perfectly for Smyly’s fly ball heavy batted ball profile, and the Mariners defense is much improved. The top Closers fell relatively far from their ADP and I was aiming to snag one of the elites but it wasn’t feasible and, again, I didn’t want to overdraft on some of the break-out guys. It’s far easier to punt saves in H2H and load up on some high-K RPs who post good rate stats over an above average reliever workload. I love the Marlins pen in H2H this year as there’s a lot of buzz that they could be used earlier in games to spell their weak rotation. I figured why try to compete with the teams who are already loaded on Closers with the worst possible options. Brandon Kintzler and Jeanmar Gomez are inferior talents who will harm your team in four categories, and won’t have enough opportunities to float you against the teams that drafted the elite guys early. Oh, and there’s the fact that roughly only 40 percent of closers keep their jobs…think about that.
Max Posner – Pick #5
My draft strategy was centered around positions of need. I like to take infielders pretty early, within the first 5 rounds usually, because premium power in the infield is much harder to find then power in the outfield. I also aimed to have one of the top 5 starters in the draft as a benchmark. In this draft, top line starters seemed to go very quickly so I was left with Johnny Cueto, which wasn’t ideal. However, I think my second starter, Masahiro Tanaka, was pretty good value and has the potential to be a top line starter minus a few Ks. Later in the draft I drafted Michael Brantley and Carlos Beltran who I like as middle of the order bats in good lineups pending their iffy health. My closers are somewhat iffy, but I like the Twins as a sleeper team and Brandon Kintzler is a decent closer who may keep the job even when Glen Perkins comes back. Overall, I think I did fine, but I would have liked my starters to be better, especially at the top.
Ian Post – Pick #6
Editor’s note: Ian went all-out talking about his draft and I just didn’t have the heart to cut any of it.
Intro regarding both the draft and league format
There were a lot of ‘firsts’ for me with our inaugural staff league draft here at Pitcher List. For one, and this may come as a surprise to most of you, this was my first time playing in a 12-team league for fantasy baseball. I understand how standard a 12-teamer is among the industry but until now I’ve exclusively made my chops in 10-team ‘home style’ leagues for the past 5 years. This was also the first time I’ve ever participated in an offline snake “slow draft” – where picks are made one at a time with no time limit per pick. You would often have a couple hours to sit and ponder what your next selection would be which meant you also had to wait a couple hours to sweat the possibility of having your targeted acquisition taken by someone else. This was the best way for us to do it though with a staff member (Nic Gardiner) living in Germany and the rest of us spread all over the states with mixed time zones. And finally, it’s the first time I’ve played in a league with the roster being so shrunken on the offensive side. I’m used to having 5 OF slots, a 2B/SS, and a 1B/3B to fill along with the standard infield positions. For this league, we’re only tasked with filling each infield position once, 3 OF, and 2 UTIL slots. So, despite there being an extra 2 teams in the league, the overall offensive players that are started on a given day has shrunk for me from 130 (10 teams x 13 offensive slots) to 120 (12 teams x 10 offensive slots).
Being aware of the roster changes I was facing on the offensive side of things really shaped how I approached the draft. Some people might see the limited offensive rosters and assume they should spend their time filling those slots with premium bats before looking at pitching – and maybe they’d be right – but that isn’t the way I looked at it at all. I saw this as an opportunity to dominate the pitching categories instead. In theory, with fewer bats being rostered overall, the replacement level on the wire would be much closer to par than that of pitching – where the roster size stayed the same (9 slots) but with the 2 extra teams added in. When you look at our waiver wire as it stands today, this is entirely the case. There are bats sitting in free agency that are on equal footing with some of the bats that owners are starting in their lineups. Pitching free agents, however, are incredibly thin with risky streaming options and long-shot future closers. If there was a SP or a Closer I liked within a decent range of my turn, I usually made the decision to take him over an iffy bat whose level of production might be found later in the draft. I wanted to be proud of my pitching staff and really feel like I came out of the draft with an edge on that side of the scoring over most of the league. Mission accomplished.
It sounds like it would be a given for all members of the league to know the roster settings come draft day, but it was apparent (at least in my opinion) that this was not the case. Some teams (I won’t name names, you know who you are) came out of the draft with upwards of 7, yes SEVEN, bench bats on their team. Even after the initial waivers have cleared, there’s still a team with 6, two teams with 4, and another team with 3 bench bats on their roster. I don’t understand this method of thinking, but I’ll get to that later in the ‘Aftermath’ section. Let’s get to the draft already!
Things got interesting for us quickly when Nolan Arenado was selected 2nd overall. It got more interesting when it came to my first selection at #6 and both Kris Bryant (expected) and Jose Altuve (completely unexpected) are staring at me. “That little runt from Houston can play for someone else. Gimme Bryant.” I said. My Mariners fandom was leaking again. I like the power/MVP upside of Bryant as well as the roster flexibility he gives with his duel position eligibility (3B/OF). The second round decision was made for me when Ben Pernick took Madison Bumgarner as the 2nd SP after Clayton Kershaw directly before my pick. I honestly didn’t know where I wanted to go in the 2nd round before that happened. Seeing Max Scherzer still on the board at #19 overall with his enormous K/W potential, while keeping my original pitching-focused strat in mind, it was a no-brainer. I then drafted my first Mariner in the 3rd, Nelson Cruz, as another power source to join Bryant in the quest for 50 bombs. I was aware of how quickly first base tends to crater after the top tier of talent is gone, and managed to grab what I considered the last chance at an elite 1B in the Paul Goldschmidt-lite of San Diego – Wil Myers. Myers set a goal for himself of joining the 40-40 club this season after going 28-28 last year and admitting to lacking focus in the second half after making his first all-star team. Anything close to 40-40 and I’ll be ecstatic.
After getting 3 bats as a foundation for HR/RBI, I would spend 6 of the following 7 picks on pitching. Before getting to that, I’ll talk about my most questionable pick (in my opinion) of the draft – Dee Gordon in the 6th round. I had no plans to draft Dee originally, and honestly this didn’t even feel like a reach, but when I look back at my picks this is the one I discuss internally the most. 2B went pretty quick in our draft, and after Gordon there weren’t many names on my list that I felt comfortable with holding down the everyday job on my team. I was also in need of some steals at this point so it just kind of made sense altogether. The reason I think about who else I could have used this pick on (Justin Upton or DJ LeMahieu for example) is because of how many steals were to be had in the later rounds.
I loved getting deGrom in the 5th to pair with Scherzer. Two studs with strikeout potential who both pitch in the NL Least? Sounds good to me. After Gordon, the closer run officially started with Gardiner taking both Jansen and Chapman back-to-back on the swing. This put my brain in one place and one place only – DRAFT THE ‘ELECTRIC ONE. Luckily for me, the two owners I was most worried about stealing my boy from me, Nick and Rick, were picking behind me when the closer run started. I got Edwin Diaz. I can’t believe I got Edwin Diaz. Another five closers would be drafted between Diaz and my next pick which made the decision to double up on an upside Save-earner easy. Give me Roberto Osuna. I then added one last sturdy SP in the reigning A.L. ROTY Michael Fulmer who also happened to be the only SP from the A.L. I would draft. I wasn’t planning on taking Rich Hill next as I was targeting Maikel Franco hard. The idea was to put Franco at 3B and swing Bryant to the OF but Pernick sniped him from me one pick too soon. With Franco gone, I went back to SP and took another one of my bold predictions in Hill. 20 starts from him and that pick should bring back its value. Taking Cody Allen in the following round gave me the pitching foundation I set out to draft. 4 starters that have a good shot at finishing in the top 25 and 3 closers with a chance at 35+ saves.
With the staff foundation set, I filled out my offense with my next 5 picks. Keon Broxton, Marcel Ozuna, Jose Peraza, Javier Baez, and Mike Napoli. After missing out on Franco, Bryant was set as my 3B with a hole still in the OF. Just how different can Maikel Franco’s final stat line be from that of Marcel Ozuna three rounds later? I’d still rather have Franco, but I think the two will be closer in numbers than most give Ozuna credit for. The speed combo of Broxton and Peraza is what gives me doubts on the Dee pick in round 6. I have so much SB potential on this team – too much, if I’m being honest. But hey, Peraza just got done taking Carlos Carrasco deep in the Spring Training finale Wednesday, so I’m holding out hope for double digit pop. Best case scenario is I have multiple SB trade chips to wheel and deal for some power later in the season.
I would end up drafting 4 players that I had outlined in my bold predictions piece (Diaz, Hill, Broxton, Eickhoff). You can say I’m a man that sticks by my guns – for better or worse. Throw in the late round flyer on the Mariner Spring Training hype machine that is Mitch Haniger and I’m a happy draft participant. Jerad Eickhoff as a SP5 and the chance on a Michael Wacha bounce back season as my SP6 sounds excellent to me in a 12-teamer.
Aftermath thoughts and assessment
It was a hell of an inaugural staff league draft. Getting to play in a league with 11 other baseball nerds like me is something I’m looking forward to. Having someone as talented as Max Eddy to play the ‘league reporter’ is also something I cannot wait to experience. Giving our readers an insight into how this whole thing plays out is an excellent idea.
As far as overall team assessment, I’m more than pleased with what my squad looks like heading into week 1. I’m confident my pitching staff can match up with anyone and I don’t see myself struggling to win SBs. It’ll be up to Bryant, Nelson, Myers, Ozuna, Napoli, and possibly Haniger to keep me in the battle for HR/RBI on a given week. Again, the hope is that this league will be heavy in trade talks throughout the year, allowing me to allocate some of the surplus speed and possible pitching for any power I might need in the future.
I typically like to use 1 bench slot for a bat to swap in on off days while I use the rest of my bench for SP to rotate in on days they pitch. This is where I have questions for others in the league. What’s the point of holding 3, 4, or even SIX bench bats on your team? Do you really want to decide who to start between 4-5 bats each day based on matchups? How many times are you going to see production on your bench be wasted because you made the wrong decision that day? Not to mention the numbers you’re missing out on in the pitching categories when facing teams like mine that use their bench slots efficiently with extra arms. Maybe I’m crazy. I just don’t see the point in holding bats that won’t be able to contribute on a daily basis compared to a couple extra bullpen arms (like my Ottavino/Montgomery) that can occupy the spots of SPs that aren’t pitching that day.
I’m excited to see how this team does out of the gate. Will one of Keon Broxton or Peraza truly breakout? Will either Nelson or Bryant reach 50 HRs? Will Mitch Haniger finish in the top 30 OFs? Hmm…maybe I should have done a Haniger > Benintendi bold prediction…Less than a week until all this preseason curiosity is behind us. Bring on the meaningful baseball!
Ben Pernick – Pick #7
In the early going of the draft, I wanted to targeted batting average (since I felt that power is easier to acquire later in the draft) and to get one to two aces to anchor my staff and then buff my hitting and wait on starters. To make sure my picks weren’t too far off base, I used the draft order results from the LABR mixed draft as a guide. Often the values were rather obvious, such as my Jose Altuve (LOVED him at #7 overall), Stephen Strasburg and Craig Kimbrel picks. However, I had thought I had a steal but may have overreached on Buster Posey, especially since Jonathan Lucroy went 4 rounds later. See, I soon realized a major flaw of my strategy is that LABR is a two-catcher league where ours is one-catcher… and here I thought they took Jett Bandy in the 17th round because they traveled through time to read my Bold Predictions article!
Later on, I continued to use the list more loosely as a guide, but would jump the list for guys I believe have breakout potential (Maikel Franco, Joc Pederson, Lance McCullers). I had planned to wait to fill out my rotation, but I waited a bit too long. I didn’t want to pay the high price for “Wide Awake Sleepers” like James Paxton and Drew Smyly, but had been hoping to scoop up higher upside guys like Jharel Cotton, Dylan Bundy, Matt Moore and Carlos Rodon, but had to settle for the consolation prize of underrated yet productive innings eaters like Marco Estrada, Jeff Samardzija, and Ivan Nova (SharkNova would be a great band name and/or Sharknado sequel). One pick I regret was Eric Thames in the 13th, since he may end up on my bench and I could’ve had Julio Teheran there. My favorite gets were Altuve as the 7th pick, Kimbrel in the 9th round as the 12th closer off the board, Maikel in the 10th, Joc Jams in the 17th, Shark in the 18th, and honestly, Brandon Finnegan’s Wake in the 23rd, who I think has true breakout potential, even though I don’t care for James Joyce.
Alex Fast – Pick #8
Going into a draft I usually have one tactic that I try to adhere to regardless of pick: balance. I’m not a believer in punting any category nor am I a fan of hoarding RP’s to keep ratios down at the cost of wins and K’s. This was the mindset I had going into this draft and I think I stuck to it well. I took Clayton Kershaw at #8 – never taken a pitcher in round one before – because he’s just a constant dominant force and I knew 3B was deep (hence no Josh Donaldson). Robinson Cano in round 2 was a mistake. I was thrown off being snaked the pick before – I wanted Joey Votto – and I had him valued higher a bit more than Freddie Freeman. I like Cano’s lineup better too but I underestimated how deep 2B was and as a result I had to save 1B till much later in the draft. All in all, I’m happy with my infield though my weakest point is Eric Hosmer who I’m not too keen on but had to take as he was the highest valued 1B at the time. There was one snake in the draft that really hurt: Yoenis Cespedes. He would’ve given me a stud OF but instead Will Wright – who’d taken Giancarlo Stanton and Bryce Harper already – picked him up. Gregory Polanco is definitely an injury threat – he ran into a wall 36 hours after drafting him – but he’s a stud when healthy. All in all, I’m very happy with my team though. I think Kershaw + Jon Lester is a solid 1-2 punch that allows room for a James Paxton injury or worse a Paxton Bust. I think Lance Lynn could be a good value too and that Matt Holiday could be a great source of late round tates. I don’t think there’s a single category where I’m entirely lacking and that if Paxton is healthy and what people think he can be I can win ERA, WHIP and K’s every week.
William Wright – Pick #9
My strategy for Team “Céspedes Centipedes” leading up to the draft was to be that one “out of the box” team. My evil genius plan was to draft elite pitchers in the first few rounds while every other owner spent their picks on big bats. After I had assembled unarguably the best pitching rotation in our league, I would then move on to speedy leadoff batters with high averages and steals while the rest of the league was spending their 4-7 round picks on elite pitchers. My goal was to easily win 4-5 pitching categories every week with my unmatched pitching rotation, while also winning avg., steals, and runs in the batting categories. I would totally ignore any players who would provide home runs. This strategy, I was sure, would piss off all the other owners while winning a championship with an unorthodox route. Fantasy nirvana, right? Well, my fantasy ended when Alex Fast and his silly dancing wolves team selected Clayton Kershaw at #8, right before my pick! I was livid. Hours later, after I had calmed down, I decided to give the finger the fantasy gods and go for basically the exact opposite approach that I had planned. I would forgo pitching in an effort to create a team of superhuman meat heads who pretty much hit home runs…and that’s it. The plan was so crazy that it just might work! I knew I was drafting against fantasy experts who would overthink every pick in an effort to make a conservatively balanced team. Those fools!
With my first pick I decided to take Bryce Harper. The 6’3, 214lb, unshaven beast-man would be the perfect face of my team. For my second round pick I was fortunate enough for Joey Votto to be available. Votto, for those who don’t know, is basically a fantasy god, and there was no way I was letting Alex Fast take him after he ruined my prior plans (FYI, he was pissed). The third and forth round had teams starting to pick up the pace with pitchers, so I decided to join them and get some pitchers too. Just kidding! Giancarlo Stanton and Yoenis Cespedes. Boom. When the 5th round came around I knew I needed at least some pitching, so I pulled the trigger on David Price. Boring, I know, but I would further bulk up my team in later round with the addition of Albert Pujols and Adrian Gonzalez for my two Utility slots. After the dust settled on our draft, I was proud of my creation. I added Evan Longoria at 3rd, Ian Kinsler at 2nd, Addison Russell at short, and JT Realmuto behind the plate. And for almost ignoring pitching in the first 7 rounds, I think I was able to put together a pretty decent pitching rotation with Price, Zack Greinke, Dallas Keuchel, Matt Harvey, and Drew Pomeranz. I was only able to get two closers during the draft, but I intend to scour the waiver wire during the first month to complete my team. I will keep all my Céspedes Centipedes fans updated on how the team is working soon!
Andrew Todd-Smith – Pick #10
I was ecstatic to land Josh Donaldson with my first pick. Personal preference guiding early picks saw Bryce Harper and Clayton Kershaw come off the table first, and I was feeling like I could dodge a bullet suddenly. I dogged Alex Fast for the aggressive Kershaw pick, as I’m the type of guy who refuses on principle to take a QB in fantasy football until the fifth round at the earliest. I’d rather solve the puzzle of how to make my draft order spot work for me instead of overcompensating for adverse circumstances by reaching too high to secure a guy. So I was more than OK with getting Donaldson at 10 because he has crushed it for me in the past (I actually have him as a keeper in a roto league). I had my eyes on 2B/OF-eligible Trea Turner next, since he is going to be one of the best steals guys in the league this year while not being a slouch in any category, i.e. dominant AND versatile; but he was taken with the 13th overall pick by Rick Graham. I stuck to my guns strategically and still went for an outfielder speedster in Charlie Blackmon. If Nick Pollack hadn’t taken Miguel Cabrera in the second round with the pick preceding mine, I would have been hard-pressed to pass on him so the decision was made truly easy to go for Blackmon when Cabrera became unavailable.
Five aces were taken in the ensuing expanse of picks between my second and third round opportunities, and I started to get nervous I would soon be missing the boat if I didn’t nab SP gold soon. Some solid position players fell to me in Xander Bogaerts and Rougned Odor, and I felt like BA and HR outlooks were now looking pretty sunny. Glad to have been patient with pitching despite initial pangs of despair, I happily took Carlos Carrasco in the fifth. I had the strength of my pick confirmed by Nick expressing frustration that he had been eyeing Cookie. I then turned my attention to 1B, as I was concerned the dropoff from elite to above-average was drawing near: I honestly wanted Matt Carpenter because I am a sucker for both his skill set and his multi-position eligibility but Rick deftly got him before me on the snakearound. I went with Hanley Ramirez based on past exploits and the scary good prognosis for the Boston lineup and his spot in the order.
Back to pitching: I really struggled in the aforementioned roto points league last year because I lacked elite RP who could consistently rack up saves for me. In attempting to learn from this lesson, I snagged Seung-Hwan Oh with the plan to get another lockdown bullpen guy shortly since there are only so many who accumulate the right stats for the limited scope of 5×5 scoring. Again, I didn’t want to push it or get cute, but I knew one closer wouldn’t and couldn’t do it all. I got Andrew Miller FIVE rounds later. I was blown away: I think he dropped because Cody Allen is the official ninth inning guy for Cleveland, but that ERA and WHIP are unstoppable so my thinking was that I’ll gladly accept 10-15 fewer saves from him if I can maybe pick up a third and final appointed true closer. My eye was on Alex Colome but he got scooped up, so Miller was a fun detour when the safe, predictable route didn’t work out. I was feeling good about getting Cole Hamels before Nick could get to him as well, and throw in Kyle Hendricks to boot and I was sitting pretty.
I fleshed the outfield out a bit with Jackie Bradley Jr. and Stephen Piscotty, and then knew a top-10 catcher was a necessity given the lack of depth at the position. J.T. Realmuto coming off the board after I had wanted to target also-taken Yasmani Grandal was my sign that I should pounce now, and I daresay that acquiring Salvador Perez in the 14th was a well-executed maneuver. At this juncture, it was about adding depth at all positions. Brad Miller remaining available as a streaming backup appealed to me, although I will still have to address getting an additional SS or 1B since Miller can only replace Bogaerts or HanRam on Boston’s off days. I stole Jonathan Schoop as a backup out from beneath a freshly irritated Nick (who still didn’t have a STARTING 2B), and it gave me joy that he had to settle for Logan Forsythe. Shawn Kelley was the guy I tabbed to round out the bullpen, with Junior Guerra figuring to be my No. 5 SP and Yadier Molina serving as my streamer C for Perez’s byes or maintenance days. All in all, I am quite pleased with the balance, versatility and competitiveness of the roster I was able to pull off, especially when doing a lot of the drafting from my phone. Trying to consult Fangraphs and make important decisions while bartending a crazy Sunday brunch while getting hassled on Facebook Messenger by the guys takes finesse and patience, so I especially think I did just fine, considering.
Nick Pollack – Pick #11
Carlos Correa seems like a stretch in the first round, but I was aware that Rick had no intention of drafting two first basemen (Miguel Cabrera and Anthony Rizzo), while I ideally wanted Correa as my pick in the second round. I took the gamble and paid off, albeit with a odd swap of round allocation for Cabrera and Correa.
I really dislike being at the end of drafts this season, as it’s difficult to get proper value for starting pitching. Instead of reaching for someone like Justin Verlander at the start of the fourth round, I elected to take a shot and hope for someone like Chris Archer or Carlos Carrasco at the end of the fifth. But of course five of the starters I would have selected went in the seven picks ahead of me (I have no interest in drafting David Price), and with the clear gap of talent between Carrasco and Carlos Martinez mixed with the large pool of players inside the third tier of starters, I elected to push my wait to grab a starter all the way to the ninth round. I can’t say I’m satisfied with Aaron Sanchez as my #1, though I like my staff of solid upside pitchers (Jameson Taillon, Sean Manaea, Robert Gsellman, Garrett Richards, Daniel Norris, Joe Ross) with higher floors than other riskier young arms. Paired with a trio of solid relief arms that will have good holds on their role and will help in all three peripheral stats (WHIP, ERA, Ks) and I should be competitive each week to keep my head afloat in pitching categories.
Offensively, going heavy hitting early makes me confident that I can pull ahead in hitting categories each week, especially when J.D. Martinez returns from the DL in April (that “fun” pick was made on Thursday after narrowly missing Matt Carpenter and Jean Segura). Greg Bird, Josh Bell, Nomar Mazara, and Domingo Santana provide solid upside bench and UTIL options through the year, while the steady floor of Correa, Cabrera, A.J. Pollock, and Kyle Seager should be a potent combination. Logan Forsythe could provide solid value leading off for the Dodgers, while I may be dancing with my catcher slot through the year.
Overall, I think I have a strong foundation to win each week. My offense should pull ahead while a solid relief core will keep my pitching in the game, and with seven starters, strikeouts/Wins should be in abundance. It wasn’t my ideal draft, but I like how it shaped it for the season ahead.
Rick Graham – Pick #12
I will rightfully blame Canada for my 12th spot in the draft and reprimand them for making my life difficult throughout this draft process. Overall though, I feel like my offense is pretty solid, so long as I can get production out of my two utility spots (currently occupied by Hernan Perez and Tommy Joseph). My favorite selections were Trea Turner and Matt Carpenter because of their position versatility and just how they play the game in general. Especially Carpenter, he’s long been a personal favorite of mine.
I don’t really want to talk about my pitching staff, because there isn’t much here to talk about. I will need to get lucky and hop on the waiver/streaming train for SP’s. Steven Matz is definitely my least favorite pick, as I made it the night before news of his elbow tenderness broke. I hope strong ratios out of my bullpen can help to even things out. I really was hoping to land Ken Giles but Nick Pollack, full well knowing this, took him a pick before, leaving me to settle for Mark Melancon. I was happy to get Nate Jones late and even consider him as a bit of insurance for Koda Glover, in case the kid doesn’t pan out and it forces Washington to trade for David Robertson.
I don’t hate where my team ended up, but the key to my success will be to find a SP or 2 on waivers to help bolster my staff for the long run.