This is the second post about fantasy baseball. I just blogged about an NL only league draft I did two weeks ago. Check it out here. This posting is about the mixed league draft I did yesterday. This draft took about two and a half hours. Everyone showed up and each pick was fully considered. It was a lot of fun.
Here’s a round-by-round recap. (Overall draft position is in parentheses)
1. Nolan Arenado (4) – As I mentioned in my previous draft recap, I like the first or last position of a snake draft in order to get back-to-back picks at the turns. Drafting fourth overall in a 12-team league isn’t ideal, but workable. I had hoped Kris Bryant would fall to me here, but he was taken second overall. That being said, Nolan Arenado is a nice consolation prize. As a San Francisco Giants fan, I get to see way more of him than I like. He just kills the Giants, especially on the road in San Francisco. If he’s going to cause me stress, it might as well benefit my fantasy baseball team. For the record, the first three picks in the draft were Mike Trout, Kris Bryant, and Mookie Betts.
2. Madison Bumgarner (21) – Part of my plan for the draft was to get two frontline starting pitchers early in the draft. In recent years, I’ve waited on pitching and watched helplessly as my fantasy team disintegrated from injuries and lack of quality pitching depth. I considered taking Clayton Kershaw fourth overall, but I couldn’t justify taking a pitcher that high. That’s why I was relieved when Madison Bumgarner fell to me here. He’s a frontline starting pitcher who happens to play for my favorite team. Arenado and Bumgarner were a solid start to the draft.
3. Buster Posey (28) – I’ll be the first to admit that this was an overdraft. As a Giants fan, I try to get Buster Posey in every fantasy team. However, I wasn’t sure he’d make it to my next pick at 45th overall. That being said, he’s the best hitting catcher in baseball with an MVP ceiling. There are worse overdrafts out there. Ironically, I considered taking a Dodger, Corey Seager, here if someone else had taken Posey.
4. Johnny Cueto (45) – This is killing two birds with one stone by getting another frontline starting pitcher who is also on the Giants. Johnny Cueto would be a number one starter on most teams, and he’s reliable as hell. According to the Yahoo! rankings, I got him at the ideal spot in the draft. I’m feeling pretty good so far.
5. Gregory Polanco (48) – Outfield is deceptively thin in fantasy baseball because most leagues require five starting outfielders. As in my NL only league, I would have started Kris Bryant in the outfield if I could have gotten him in the first round. I took a more direct route by taking Gregory Polanco. He’s projected for 20 home runs and 20 steals with room for growth. I especially liked that Polanco had some speed. My team in the NL only league has a woeful lack of speed.
6. Evan Longoria (69) – I had considered taking Kyle Seager the preceding round, but I figured third base was deep enough to address that position in a later round. Evan Longoria was my choice after Christian Yelich, who I wanted for a second starting outfielder, was taken a few picks earlier. Longoria is the type of player I like in fantasy baseball in the early rounds of the draft because he’s boring, consistent, and reliable.
7. Alex Bregman (76) – There’s a pretty good chance that by the end of the season Alex Bregman will have numbers slightly worse than Evan Longoria. However, Bregman appealed to me for two reasons. First, he has the upside to be better than Longoria by a large margin. Second, he has multi-position eligibility, which gives me more flexibility in later rounds of the draft. Strangely, Bregman has middle infield eligibility while not being eligible at either second base or shortstop. He’ll play third base for the Astros, but I’ll slot him in at middle infield.
8. Brandon Belt (93) – I’ll admit this is a major overdraft. I was caught in bind because Addison Russell, who I was targeting, was taken a few picks earlier. Russell would have been even more of an overdraft, but he was less likely to still be available by my next pick at 100th overall. I selected Brandon Belt because first base becomes strangely generic after the top few guys. As I mentioned in my previous draft recap, Belt represents a tipping point to me. I view him as a working class man’s Joey Votto.
9. Ken Giles (100) – The run on closers started the previous round. I wanted Mark Melancon here, but he was long gone by the time I needed to draft for saves. That being said, I like Ken Giles a lot. The Houston Astros are my pick to win the AL West, and someone has to get the saves for that team. Giles is the best relief pitcher on that team by a large margin.
10. Aaron Sanchez (117) – I like Aaron Sanchez quite a bit. At the 117th overall pick, he actually represents pretty good value. However, I should have taken another hitter at this spot because starting pitching is surprisingly deep in mixed leagues. Given a second chance, I probably would have taken Ben Zobrist instead. Sanchez should still provide solid value as my third starting pitcher.
11. Jackie Bradley Jr. (124) – Many of the outfielders I would have preferred to take at this point in the draft were taken ahead of me. This fantasy league requires five starting outfielders. I had only drafted one, Gregory Polanco, in the fifth round. I’m not sure if Jackie Bradley Jr. can repeat his 2016 breakout, but he’s a lot safer than many of the outfield options drafted after him.
12. Javier Baez (141) – Like Jackie Bradley Jr., Javier Baez had a breakout season in 2016. However, I feel more certain of Baez being able to repeat those gains in 2017. By now, it’s clear that I value players with defined roles in fantasy baseball, preferably with positional flexibility. Baez is eligible at second base, shortstop, and third base. He’ll hit around 15 home runs and steal 15 bases. He’s a great defensive player, so he’s relatively safe from all the platooning that Cub tend to do.
13. Neftali Feliz (148) – I considered taking Mazara here to fill out my outfield. However, I sensed another mini-run on closers, so I took Neftali Feliz as a flier. Feliz has a scary injury history. We’ll see how this goes.
14. Byron Buxton (165) – Not getting Norman Mazara in the previous round partially explains taking Byron Buxton here. Mazarta wasn’t available, but I still needed three starting outfielders. I wasn’t enamored with the established ones left available. In fact, none of the players valued at this pick excited me that much. That’s why I went for crazy upside. I’m not sure what type of season Buxton will have, but the Twins are rebuilding and he’s one of the main pieces of that endeavor. He’ll play the entire year, which means 15 home runs and 30 steals are well within reason.
15. Lance McCullers Jr. (172) – This selection makes the Aaron Sanchez pick in the tenth round more questionable. Lance McCullers Jr. kept falling in the draft and represented too much of a value to pass up here. In conjunction with my previous picks of Alex Bregman and Giles, I’m betting big on the Houston Astros this year.
16. Keon Broxton (189) – As with my pick of Byron Buxton two rounds earlier, Keon Broxton represents crazy upside. Broxton has a lower ceiling than Buxton, but he’s guaranteed a full season’s worth of playing time on a rebuilding team. Fifteen home runs and 30 steals aren’t out of the question.
17. Brandon Crawford (196) – Shortstop is a surprisingly deep position in fantasy baseball. However, I wanted to make sure I had a starting shortstop other than Javier Baez. I prefer to use Baez to fill in for multiple positions. This was a heavy overdraft according to the Yahoo! rankings, but I genuinely think Crawford is underrated. He’s going to bat fifth behind Buster Posey in the Giants’ lineup. I think his offensive numbers will be better than expected.
18. Ryan Madson (213) – I wanted Hunter Renfroe here in order to get another young, high upside outfielder starting for a rebuilding team. Unfortunately, he was taken a few picks earlier. I decided to play it safe by drafting the closer for the Oakland A’s. That team has a crowded bullpen, but I think Madson is the safest bet to get and keep the job for saves.
19. Matt Moore (220) – I tend to draft five starting pitchers, filling out the rest of my rosters spots with relief pitcher fliers. Having already drafted four starters, I was debating between Jeff Samardzija and Matt Moore for this pick. Even though he’s ranked lower, I think Moore is going to be more consistent. I was impressed by how he pitched for the Giants after coming in a midseason trade.
20. Max Kepler (237) – I still had a starting outfielder slot left to fill, so I decided to draft the other young Twins outfielder with some upside. Max Kepler had a pretty good season last year. He’s good for about 20 home runs if he plays the entire season, which will happen because he’s one of the best players on a rebuilding team.
21. Brandon Drury (244) – Taking Brandon Drury here represents a crazy overdraft according to the Yahoo! rankings. However, Drury had a really good season last year despite not getting regular playing time at a set position. He’s now the starting second baseman for the Diamondbacks while retaining last year’s multi-position eligibility.
22. Manuel Margot (261) – If you’re going to rely on young outfielders with upside, then having as many of them as possible for risk-management is essential. Despite his youth and lack of experience, Manuel Margot is still one of the best players on the Padres. He’s going to play the entire year, getting about 25 steals in the process.
23. Corey Knebel (268) – This pick is purely for insurance against something bad happening to Neftali Feliz, who I drafted the 13th round. Remember, even bad teams get save opportunities.
24. Hector Rondon (285) – I usually don’t like drafting closers early. I like drafting handcuffs for thsoe closers even less. However, I like using the final rounds of the draft to take the handcuffs for other people’s closers. Wade Davis is in no danger of losing the closer job for the Cubs for now, but he missed much of last season with an arm injury. Hector Rondon was the team’s closer before the Cubs acquired Aroldis Chapman midseason last year. Rondon would take over again if Davis misses time.
25. Luke Gregerson (292) – This is purely as insurance for Ken Giles. I don’t like handcuffing, but the Astros started last season with Gregerson as the closer even though they gave up a ton of assets to acquire Ken Giles to do the job. Giles eventually got the role he was acquired for only after Gregerson demonstrably lost it. Weird decisions like that often occur again.
26. Hunter Strickland (309) – I’m not sure why I took Hunter Strickland even though Mark Melancon isn’t on this fantasy team. I took Strickland in my NL only draft, and I like symmetry.
27. Asdrubal Cabrera (316) – Asdrubal Cabrera was one of my favorite picks in my NL only league draft. I like him even more here. He’s a starting shortstop for a contender who’s going to hit 20 home runs. Not bad for the 27th round.
28. Wilmer Flores (333) – The Mets have their fair share of injury problems. Their pitching staff gets most of the attention in that respect. However, don’t forget that David Wright’s body is being held together with surgical stitches and hope. Wilmer Flores is like Asdrubal Cabrera, but younger and less consistent.
Let’s do a recap. I probably made more mistakes in this draft than in my NL only league. However, I kind of like this team because it has a wider array of outcomes. I started taking solid, reliable players in the early rounds before taking upside fliers in later rounds to fill needs. My outfield will be a work-in-progress all season. It should be interesting. I also ended up with seven members of the San Francisco Giants on this team, which is a lot for a mixed league.
P.S. – Here’s the list of the eight players I have in both fantasy leagues: Buster Posey, Johnny Cueto, Brandon Belt, Matt Moore, Brandon Drury, Corey Knebel, Hunter Strickland, and Asdrubal Cabrera.