I’m asked to participate in a few “experts” leagues draft each year, and this year was no different. One of those leagues that I was asked to enter was a 12-team, mixed league auction that drafted the other night. Here are the participants in The Battle of the Fantasy Gods Draft.
Mike Kuchera – The Fantasy Man
Scott White – CBS Sports
Tim McLeod – RotoRob
Todd Farino – Fantasy Baseball Search
Jeff Boggis – Fantasy Sports Empires
Chris McDonnell – Fantasy Baseball
Tony Cincotta – Fantasy Pros 911
Paul Greco – Fantasy Pros 911
Grey Albright – Razzball
Ryan Hallam – Fighting Chance Fantasy
Scott Swanay – Fantasy Baseball Sherpa
Ray Flowers – FanBall
* Note. Each team had $260 dollars to spend to field a traditional lineup of 14 hitters (C, C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, MI, CI, 5 OF, UT) and nine pitchers. There was no reserve draft held, so each team was only comprised of the 23 men drafted, and therefore every player selected will obviously be in the active lineup.
I entered the draft playing on spending $180 on hitting and $80 on pitching. I also planned on being patient as people sometimes blow their wads early.
Here is how my team turned out.
Catcher: Kelly Shoppach ($3), Yadier Molina ($3)
I probably overpaid for Shoppach who I grabbed early, but he brings enough power to be useful. Molina is better than you think, and a safe play in batting average.
First Base: Miguel Cabrera ($35)
One of two big ticket items. Cabrera is about as steady as they come. He and Albert Pujols are the only two men in the game to have hit .290-25-100 in each of the past six seasons.
Second Base: Brian Roberts ($20)
Love this guy, and he was the last of the top tier second basemen to go. Roberts is the only player in baseball history to have 3-straight efforts of 100-runs, 30-steals and 40-doubles
Third Base: Michael Young ($9)
I think this was one of the best bargains of the draft. Doesn’t have the traditional third base pop, but he owns a .302 career average, has scored 80 runs in six of seven seasons, and knocked in 80 runs 5-straight years before falling to 68 last year as injury struck.
Shortstop: Stephen Drew ($7)
Drew is one of just four shortstops to have 10 homers, 65 RBI and 70 runs the past two seasons.
Middle/Corner Infield: Howie Kendrick ($8), Lance Berkman ($18)
Kendrick will hit .300 in his sleep. If he finally makes it out there for 500 at-bats, he could swipe 15 bags while going deep 15 times. Berkman had a down season last year, mostly because of injury. If you give him another 100 plate appearances to reach his normal level, he would have been right at 30 HR and 100 RBI.
Outfield: Jacoby Ellsbury ($29), Shane Victorino ($15), Alfonso Soriano ($10), Jason Kubel ($8), Johnny Damon ($5)
Ellsbury is a beast and has as good a chance as anyone to lead the league in steals. Victorino does everything well, and has been money the past three years. Soriano is a risk, no doubt, but with health 30 homers still seems doable. Kubel is a safe choice. He’ll likely regress a bit from last season’s numbers, but should still be solid. And I have no idea why no one loves Johnny Damon – not only in real life but also in the fantasy game.
Utility: Vlad Guerrero ($1)
Got my guy here. Drafted him really late when others were low on cash. With the Rangers I really think he could still hit .300 with 25 homers, totals he had reached 11-straight years before last season.
Pitcher: Joe Nathan ($16), Josh Beckett ($16), Brian Wilson ($12), James Shields ($10), Scott Baker ($9), Tim Hudson ($8), Chad Qualls ($8), Max Scherzer ($5), Matt Thornton ($3)
Beckett is an ace. In each of the past three seasons he has posted a K/9 rate of at least 8.43 while keeping his WHIP under 1.20. He is the only AL hurler who can make that claim. Shields, Baker and Hudson could all win 15 games with solid ratios, and I think they form a great base behind Beckett. As for Scherzer, he just might be the most dominating hurler of the bunch if he can ever learn to throw strikes. Nathan and Wilson should get me 75 saves. The Qualls selection caused some to snicker, but he could save 30 if healthy. After all, he led baseball with a 6.43 K/BB ratio last year. Thornton may not get saves, but he will provide ratio help, strikeout a ton of batters, and could move into the closers role if/when Bobby Jenks is traded.
Total: Hitting $171, Pitching $87 (I was left with $2).
I darn near hit my pre-draft goals in terms of spending, and put together a strong team. I was especially pleased with my pitching staff considering how long I waited to jump into that mix for starters. Still, are you wondering why I had $2 left over? Let me tell you a story.
I had targeted Vlad for my UT spot late, and I had that spot and one final OF spot open with $11 left. I tried to draft Corey Hart and Nate McLouth, but both times the bidding went to $10. I could have paid that amount, but then (a) I wouldn’t have been able to get Vlad (there is no way anyone could have known he would go for a dollar), and (b) I HATE having $1 players. It’s not like they can’t be productive players, in fact they are often the most productive given how cheaply they come on draft day, but the problem is you have no say in who it ends up being. Think about it. All someone needs is $2 and they can lock you out of the bidding on that player. I want to be able to dictate who is on my team, not be stuck with a player no one else thinks is worth a dollar bid.
In the end I feel good about the club. I will need Damon/Soriano/Guerrero to come through on offense, but given their illustrious track records, I feel pretty strongly that they will. The pitching staff is also a solid group who I would go to battle with in any mixed league.
So there it is. Wish me luck as I battle all year long with the “Gods” of fantasy baseball.
By Ray Flowers