This year we put together several reader leagues to allow our fans to play against us. I participated in the CBS 5×5 league, with 10 teams. Frankly, it’s the shallowest league I’ve played in for at least a few years. Even though a 12-team league doesn’t seem that much larger, it is still enough to add a few above-average players to every team. As such, I’m very positive about how my team turned out. Then again, with such a deep talent pool, a lot of teams look (almost) as good. What follows are my team, some of my thoughts during the draft, and some best and worst categories.
Team Roster: Coming Up Milhouse (round taken in parentheses)
C – G. Sanchez (5), W. Castillo (19)
1B – C. Davis (13)
2B – D. Murphy (3)
3B – A. Beltre (8)
SS – J. Villar (4)
MI – DJ LeMahieu (12)
CI – J. Ramirez (9)
OF – M. Betts (1), A. Eaton (10), L. Cain (14), R. Grichuk (24), Y. Tomas (25)
DH – A. Pujols (20)
BN – E. Andrus (23), M. Kepler (28), CJ Cron (29)
P – M. Bumgarner (2), K. Hendricks (7), M. Melancon (8), C. Kimbrel (11), F. Hernandez (15), S. Manaea (16), J. Odorizzi (17), J. Ross (18), C. Bedrosian (21)
BN – A. Wainwright (22), H. Iwakuma (26), D. Pomeranz (27)
I was hoping Jose Altuve would fall to my draft position (4th), but Paul Hartman sniped me. This trend would continue throughout the draft. It’s almost as if we write for the same site and read each other’s articles… Hmm. Instead, I opted for the player who projects as the best value of the draft according to some valuations. Trout and Bryant make sense, as did Altuve. But Mookie Betts proves he’s a legit five-category guy. Great speed, HR/FB rising, capable of maintaining plus BABIP and therefore a .300 average. It wouldn’t surprise me if Betts was the #1 overall player in our format by season’s end.
This was a snaking draft, and in the even rounds, I kept getting sniped by Brian (Lou Brown’s Tire World). Being sandwiched between Brian and Paul made for some mad scrambles in my draft strategy. After Paul took my guy in round one, Brian took Carlos Correa from me. You can tell my original plan was to solidify my middle infield — Altuve and Correa would have been a nice combo. Instead, my choice was between Joey Votto and Madison Bumgarner. If you know me, you know I like pitching. However, by the end of the draft, I’d slightly regret not taking Votto, given that I had to settle for a first baseman I didn’t love.
Now, because I’d missed out on middle infield the first two rounds, it was time to strike. My next two picks were Daniel Murphy and Jonathan Villar. My goal was to establish a high batting average early, and guys like Betts and Murphy will help with that. Villar won’t hurt me, given he reached .280 in 2016, but even if he falls to .270, what’s important is Villar’s speed. In too many drafts, I’ve missed out on a 30+ SB guy, and I was determined to take Villar or Dee Gordon early on.
We have to start two catchers, and Paul sniped me again, taking Posey. I didn’t have any idea who I wanted instead — my mind was made up. Sure, Lucroy would have made a nice consolation prize, but after running my clock down to 10 seconds, I said what the heck and drafted Gary Sanchez. I’m not usually one to buy into sophomore seasons, but with McCann gone, he’s definitely going to accrue playing time, and the power is legit.
My sixth pick was a bit of a homer, but Kyle Hendricks proved his value last year. With so few teams, counting stats should be easier to find, so I sought to solidify my pitching ratios, and Hendricks was the perfect #2 SP behind Bumgarner. A lot of people are writing him off as a fluke, but those of us who watched him carve up hitters know that he’s fully capable of having another top-10 SP season, and if he manages to reach 200 innings, that’s even more help for my ERA and WHIP.
The next few rounds were simply filling the roster with reliable players. Adrian Beltre keeps getting dismissed but will continue to produce. Mark Melancon was a great ratio pitcher. Jose Ramirez gave me versatility and is another potentially high batting average guy. Adam Eaton is the same thing, and I hope he can finally reach 20 SB. Craig Kimbrel was simply more saves insurance, though in hindsight I should have waited a few rounds for a second closer (like Alex Colome in round 14).
In rounds 12-14, I may have gotten some steals of the draft. DJ LeMahieu is a bit like Dustin Pedroia in that at first glance, he doesn’t look like he really helps you that much. Not a ton of power or speed, like Pedroia, but he has a high batting average ceiling. It’s not BABIP luck, because his career level is well above the major league average. He should have no problem continuing with a .300 average, which is becoming rare. With all my high average guys, it allowed me to take Chris Davis. I was surprised he lasted this long despite the poor average, because 40 HR is always valuable. I’m hoping for .240 and 45 HR, but I’ll settle for .230 and 35. Then Felix Hernandez fell this far. His velocity and walk rate hurt him, but considering he was recently an early pick, there’s little risk here.
At this point, a lot of starting pitching that I had hoped would fall kept going before my picks. I went on a SP run to stock up on some upside. Joe Ross and Sean Manaea may not be much more than #3-4 SP, but there’s potential for #2 in there. Jake Odorizzi may not get any better than 2016, but he should be able to repeat.
I’ll cut off my round-by-round recap there, but I want to point out one more player. Yasmany Tomas fell to round 25 due to some potential injury troubles to start 2017. Also, perhaps no one believes in his ability to repeat given his higher ground ball rate. I already talked about how he’s underrated, and the injury allowed me to get him so late that I feel he could net the best return on profit for me.
Great Picks, and Even More Snipes
As I said, two guys on both sides of me were sniping me all draft. Here’s a list of all the guys they took, as well as the round. Clearly I thought these were good picks, because I would have made them myself.
Altuve (1), Correa (2), Posey (5), Quintana (10), Salazar (14), Nola (16), Bell (24), Moustakas (25), Heyward (26)
On top of these picks, I thought there were a lot of great selections throughout the draft. Let’s hit some of my favorites.
- Nelson Cruz in the 5th round is a nice source of 40 HR. Age still seems to play a factor in people’s picks. See my piece on aging veterans for an idea of how you can capitalize.
- Chris Archer’s boatload of strikeouts was available in the 7th round. When you consider this team also has Kershaw and Scherzer, no one is going to catch him in that category.
- Christian Yelich was my target in round 8. I almost took him in round 7, but opted for an infielder. I feel he’s capable of 30/10 if only he can convert some grounders into fly balls.
- Round 11 made for a nice time to gamble on Masahiro Tanaka’s health. He could put up a nice profit based on that draft slot.
- Eduardo Nunez in round 12 was great. If I hadn’t already had Villar, Beltre, and Jose Ramirez for 3B/CI, I would have taken him in round 11. As it was, I had hoped he would fall to me in round 12, but he didn’t make it.
- Khris Davis may not be a good source for average, but his 40 HR power is legit, and getting him in round 15 is a bonus.
- I’ve been a fan of Neil Walker for years, and he was on the verge of a breakout in 2016. If his back is really the best it’s been in years, then round 22 is a steal.
- Ivan Nova is giving indications he could continue his hot streak in Pittsburgh. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s one of the best values in the draft, at round 25.
My Awards for Best…
Infield: Assembly Andy’s only potential weakness is shortstop, but Segura and Peraza aren’t awful. The other positions are so strong that they’ll make up for it: P. Goldschmidt, B. Dozier, K. Seager, M. Cabrera
Runners Up: If you remove the CI/MI slots, then my vote would have been for Lou Brown’s Tire World (Freeman, Cano, Machado, Correa). Another close team was Fip_CBS (W. Myers, Turner, Bryant, Story, A. Diaz, Hanley).
Outfield: Lou Brown’s Tire World put up the best starting five in my book, with a lot of power/speed options: Polanco, Springer, McCutchen, CarGo, Kemp.
Runner Up: Swing and a Drive combines sheer power with some helpful speedsters: N. Cruz, K. Davis, B. Hamilton, O. Herrera, J. Pederson.
Pitching: Swing and a Drive is unbeatable here, even if his offense took a few dings to make it happen: Kershaw, Scherzer, Darvish, Archer, Duffy, E. Diaz.
Runner Up: Some higher risk, but potentially the #2 staff for Texas Shadows: Kluber, Verlander, deGrom, Price, Harvey, Carrasco, Happ.