Funny how things change. For instance, I started off this post by just writing short notes so I could come back to it after my fantasy draft was finished and turn those notes into full sentences. Well, halfway through this I started typing complete sentences for some odd reason. Perhaps it was that I had 10 minutes in between half of my picks (I was 4th of 12 teams, so sometimes I had to wait for 16 picks before I could pick again). Anyway, here’s how it happened for me tonight during my ESPN fantasy baseball draft.
I suppose since I really don’t care as much as I claimed I did over the past few days, I’ll reveal my draft strategy. Going in, my plan was to focus on getting the best players for the positions that traditionally don’t field very good offensive players. In other words, fill the catcher, middle infield, and center field spots ASAP and worry about everything later. You’ll see that I obviously strayed from that strategy (instead I started taking guys I had on my roster last year because I finished in 1st place in that league), but I’m still very pleased with how it turned out.
1st round: The first three picks were Albert Pujols, Hanley Ramirez, and Alex Rodriguez. There were three names that jumped out to me by the time my first pick came around: Joe Mauer, Chase Utley, and Tim Lincecum. I didn’t really worry about Lincecum because although he’s a really, really, ridiculously good-looking pitcher (and he can get some guys out, I suppose), I figured finding some top pitchers wouldn’t be too hard to find. It was tough between Mauer and Utley, but I figured there was no way I could say no to Joe.
Pick: Joe Mauer, C/DH, Minnesota Twins
2nd round: Lincecum and Utley were drafted shortly after my pick, so I hoped that I could take Dan Haren. However, I discovered Evan Longoria and I figured that although there were plenty of third base bats, Longoria was someone I shouldn’t ignore.
Pick: Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays
3rd round: I was very tempted to take Adrian Gonzalez, but my strategy was to avoid first basemen because there are so many that could give me 25+ HR and a solid batting average. Yes, Gonzalez is much better than that, but I chose to look elsewhere. I feel dirty about taking a Yankee (and I have some White Sox as well, as you’ll see later) but he’ll definitely help me.
Pick: Robinson Cano, 2B, New York Yankees
4th round: Some of the top starting pitchers were being taken, and although I didn’t need a Lincecum-quality pitcher, I still felt that I would need some solid starters. I wanted Adam Wainwright but he was drafted before I could get him, so I decided to find myself a shortstop. I focused on Troy Tulowitzki and decided to prepare to take Chris Carpenter and/or Cliff Lee soon, but Tulo was also drafted before I could get him. I didn’t like Lee since he would be hurt and suspended to start the season, so…
Pick: Chris Carpenter, SP, St. Louis Cardinals
5th round: Many starting pitchers were being taken, so I chose to get in on the fun. I put aside Curtis Granderson and Ben Zobrist so I wouldn’t forget about them in the next few rounds, and I found myself another good starting pitcher, someone that was sort of involved in rumors with the Twins this offseason.
Pick: Josh Johnson, SP, Florida Marlins
6th round: I desperately need a shortstop (after ignoring Derek Jeter, for good reasons), but I noticed that the next few good ones (Jose Reyes, Elvis Andrus) wouldn’t be taken for a couple more rounds. Zobrist was taken by now, so I went with Granderson. I’ll have to sit him against LHP, unfortunately, but I’m jumping on the “Yankee Stadium should help Granderson’s power numbers” bandwagon.
Pick: Curtis Granderson, CF, New York Yankees
7th round: I like both Nelson Cruz and Shin-Soo Choo (I had both of them last year) but I felt that I had to decide on one since they were rated similarly this season. I decided on Cruz, but this was a tough decision. I had also been pursuing Jose Reyes a little, but wasn’t too upset when he was taken shortly after my pick. However, I secretly believed I would get Andrus anyway.
Pick: Nelson Cruz, RF, Texas Rangers
8th round: Amazingly, it looked like I would get Choo, and I did! Eric Olson of Call to the ‘Pen was displeased. I really like Choo because he’s a good combination of everything. He’s essentially Ben Zobrist Lite, and the only reason he’s a Lite version is because I feel that he’s still very underrated.
Pick: Shin-Soo Choo, RF/LF, Cleveland Indians
9th round: Down the list from Andrus, I noticed Jason Bartlett. I really needed a shortstop, and I decided I was done with waiting. Last year, I took Mike Aviles late and ended up getting screwed by him. The loss of Aviles caused shortstop to be a position I wasn’t able to adequately fill until about midseason. It was a good thing I took Bartlett, since he was apparently on a few other peoples’ wish lists.
Pick: Jason Bartlett, SS, Tampa Bay Rays
10th round: I had been waiting patiently on 1st baseman, and Lance Berkman and Carlos Pena were two guys that I expected to be drafted rather soon. I also needed to start filling up my bullpen since closers were starting to be drafted and I didn’t want to risk drafting non-closers (since earning a save would usually gain another point for me). Therefore, I started looking at Andrew Bailey.
Pick: Carlos Pena, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays
11th round: Nothing too unexpected happened, so I was able to draft Bailey.
Pick: Andrew Bailey, RP, Oakland Athletics
12th round: My starting lineup had been filled out by now, so I decided to start assembling my pitching staff. I decided to go after Trevor Hoffman (effective closer), Max Scherzer (potential for many strikeouts) and despite being on a rival team, one of my favorite pitching duos, John Danks and Gavin Floyd. Surprisingly, no one was really interested in Manny Ramirez*…well, at least until the auto-draft forced him to be drafted to a team whose owner wasn’t present. I found it a bit odd, but I wasn’t shocked that Andrus hadn’t been taken either. As for my relief corps, I noticed that I had only 3 roster spots (excluding bench), so I figured I would only need one more closer. I took Trevor Hoffman, and I decided to save Floyd for the next round.
* We were actually discussing on the instant messenger during the draft. Apparently in another league, someone mentioned that Ramirez went completely undrafted.
Pick: Trevor Hoffman, RP, Milwaukee Brewers
13th round: I noticed that Carlos Gonzalez was available and would likely be drafted soon. However, I wanted to ensure I got my top choices for my rotation and I stuck with Floyd and hoped that Gonzalez would remain until my next pick. Plus, Danks was very far down the list so I figured I could avoid him for a round or two.
Pick: Gavin Floyd, SP, Chicago White Sox
14th round: Gonzalez ended up being taken by the auto-draft, so I took Danks instead.
Pick: John Danks, SP, Chicago White Sox
15th round: I started to focus on my bench. Chris Davis’ name had just appeared and I thought that he could be a steal for this season. However, his lack of positional flexibility was an issue, so I took Max Scherzer instead and hoped that I could get Davis in the next round. I now had filled up all 5 of my active starting pitcher slots.
Pick: Max Scherzer, SP, Detroit Tigers
16th round: Yep, got Davis. Definitely a gamble with his strikeouts, but the power can turn him into a Mark Reynolds wannabe.
Pick: Chris Davis, 1B, Texas Rangers
17th round: I wanted to take Erick Aybar here, but he only had eligibility at shortstop. Instead, I decided to find someone to act as an alternative for my outfield.
Pick: Cody Ross, CF/RF, Florida Marlins
18th round: I started looking at Mat Latos as an alternative for my rotation, but wasn’t too worried about drafting him right away since I figured no one would know who he was. I also was looking at my favorite part-time catcher, Mike Napoli, and a great second base/shortstop guy, Maicer Izturis. I ended up taking Napoli because I figured a 20 HR catcher wouldn’t fly under the radar as well as a slightly above average middle infielder. Napoli and Mauer are a great offensive catching duo. The only issue is that since Napoli is only a part-time player, there’s a good chance I’ll have both of my catchers sitting on the bench several times this season.
Pick: Mike Napoli, C, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
19th round: I didn’t realize how low Izturis and Matos were on the draft chart, so I decided to make up for Cody Ross’ lack of ability to back up left field by finding myself another outfielder that could play that position. I figured my next 3 rounds would be Juan Rivera, Latos, and Izturis.
Pick: Juan Rivera, LF, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
20th round: Proof that no one really cared about Latos: Randy Wells, who wasn’t anywhere near Latos’ ranking, was taken before him. I actually liked Wells also, but didn’t have room for him this year.
Pick: Mat Latos, SP, San Diego Padres
21st round: I knew I was taking Izturis here, but I had targeted Brad Lidge to fill my final bullpen spot and hoped that he would rediscover his magic this year. Too bad he was taken before I could get him in the 22nd round.
Pick: Maicer Izturis, 2B/SS, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
22nd round: I had that last reliever spot to fill, so I decided to go for Neftali Feliz. He shouldn’t get many saves and likely won’t be as dominant as he was last year, but he still has a good chance of being very good this year.
Pick: Neftali Feliz, RP, Texas Rangers
23rd round: Now I wanted to have some roster flexibility and I needed a backup for third base (my only 3B was Evan Longoria), so I went for Mark DeRosa. Well…until I started typing this up and learned that DeRosa is only eligible at 3B. &@$#**!!!!! Oh well. I’ll probably just release him and sign someone else that can play more than just third.
Pick: Mark DeRosa, 3B, San Francisco Giants
24th round: Here, I was at the point where I felt that it really didn’t matter who I drafted. I started looking at David Freese, but ultimately chose to avoid him since I had just taken another 3B in DeRosa* and I also had Longoria, who shouldn’t sit too often this year. I remembered last year that I carried a few extra starting pitchers to maximize those chances of scoring points in bunches, so I ended up drafting Derek Holland.
* But if I had known that DeRosa was only eligible for 3B, I probably would have taken Freese instead just for the hell of it.
Pick: Derek Holland, SP/RP, Texas Rangers
25th round: Proof that I didn’t really care for this last pick: I really like Matt Diaz and he had eligibility at left and right field, so I made him my last pick for the draft.
Pick: Matt Diaz, LF/RF, Atlanta Braves
I feel very good about this team. The only thing I don’t like is that I’m lacking a super utility player, but I’ll probably wait a week or two before I decide if I feel that it’s going to be an issue. One thing I learned from last year is that I will make plenty of roster moves (mostly signing and releasing players) until I find the right fit, so everyone in my league will have to get used to seeing that. At least my moves paid off last year as I finished in 1st place during the regular season, but ended up losing in the playoffs thanks to my roommate owning Dan Haren and Adam Wainwright. I’m sure I’ll be taking this a little more serious than most people, but deep down I’ll still be having fun. I just wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t try to do well.
Finally, as a recap, here is my 25-man roster for this season. Bolded positions are from the ESPN league, and all players positions are the same as the bolded ones unless designated otherwise and if I deem it necessary.
St. Peter MacGyver Cult
C Joe Mauer
1B Carlos Pena
2B Robinson Cano
3B Evan Longoria
SS Jason Bartlett
2B/SS Maicer Izturis
1B/3B Chris Davis (1B only)
LF Shin-Soo Choo (also RF)
CF Curtis Granderson
RF Nelson Cruz
OF Cody Ross (CF/RF)
OF Juan Rivera (LF)
Utility Matt Diaz (LF/RF)
Bench Mike Napoli (C)
Bench Mark DeRosa (3B)
SP Chris Carpenter
SP Josh Johnson
SP Gavin Floyd
SP John Danks
SP Max Scherzer
RP Andrew Bailey
RP Trevor Hoffman
RP Neftali Feliz
Bench Mat Latos (SP)
Bench Derek Holland (SP/RP)