Last night, I consummated the deed. I participated in my live online fantasy baseball draft (12 team, weekly head-to-head 6×6 OBP league), creating the only team that I am to own this season. This was an interesting draft as I started to feel the rug pulled out from under me in the early going, and might have panicked and rushed to pick a few of my favorites.
So I got to the draft room and started queuing up my guys. I was to pick third overall, Yahoo! said. So I queued Trout, Altuve, and Arenado in that order, just in case Trout or Altuve slipped, and predictably ended up with Arendado (Yes, my premonitions of owning him came true!). Then I proceeded to continue queuing up all of my favorite guys in the order I would take them. I had a pretty good feeling I would end up being able to nab El Gary (Sanchez) with my late 2nd rounder, only to be thrown for a loop when he came off the board two picks in front of me. Fuck. Time to panic.
Ok, so I knew I wanted my boy, the Degrominator, with my early 3rd round selection, and felt good he would still be there when the draft snaked back around to me on the short end. My choices to replace El Gary, where I knew I had to go with a bat, were Josh Donaldson, Manny Machado, and Lindor. Lindor didn’t feel in that same class for me still, and I knew Machado would play shortstop this year, whereas Donaldson would be pushed to UTIL due to Arenado’s presence. Also, I believed in Machado’s second half over his first half last year completely, and think Machado was like a solid second 1st round pick. So that’s how I went.
Ok, good, got Degrom next, and we were back on track. With every intention of going back to a bat again in the late 4th round, I couldn’t believe Rhys Hoskins had already been taken earlier in the round. 4th round felt too rich for my other bats in that area: Benintendi, Starling Marte (his good spring had reeled me in again), Alex Bregman. So I pivoted when I saw no high-end starters in my queue except Yu Darvish. This is how I draft, straight out of my queue, without checking the main board too often. At the end of my day, I want my guys, not guys I don’t believe in fully, but take because they fell. This strategy sometimes causes me to miss on a really nice bargain. With news that Daniel Murphy was still not all that close to getting into spring games, he fell all the way to the 12th round without me even realizing. I hadn’t queued him because I assumed him to go way, way earlier despite the news he wouldn’t be ready for Opening Day.
So I took Darvish, and felt good about my two aces. Now, back to the scary situation of not having my elite catcher in tow like I had been planning. I love Wilson Contreras, and knew if he also got by me, I would end up feeling inevitably shitty about my catcher. So I popped him in the early 5th round. A reach? Yes, I have to admit that. But if I had to do it again, I think I pop him there again. I think last season was just scratching the surface for this kid offensively, and am really excited to see what he can do for me.
Okay, so I looked up after 5 picks, and the elite closers, Kimbrel and Jansen had just gone off the board. In my league, saves share a category with holds, and K/BB ratio is an added category. This rewards owners for drafting elite relievers even if they don’t close games all the time. So that’s where I knew I had to be ready to address by this point in the draft. As a whole, the best relievers out-ERA, out-WHIP, and out K/BB the best starting pitchers. So I had queued up my favorite relievers in these areas: Brad Hand, Andrew Miller, Felipe Rivero, Brandon Morrow, maybe a couple others. I ended up using picks 8,9, and 10 on Hand, Miller, and Morrow in that order. I missed on Rivero, but no worries.
So to backtrack, I went Shohei Ohtani (the pitcher version) in the late 6th round. I felt that, despite his issues getting hit around a bit this spring, and his velocity not always getting into the mid-90’s, I had to take this risk at this point in the draft. The K/BB ratio this spring has still been elite, and the velocity did flash better in his first spring start. Listen, any starting pitcher can break, but to get clear elite level upside (based on his ridic scouting reports from Japan) at this juncture, I felt like I do when I know I shouldn’t eat that last brownie. But I just do it anyways, cause fuck, Ohtani’s probably going to taste so fucking good when he’s mowing down 13 guys in 7 shutout innings this April.
Anyways, I nabbed Yoenis with my 7th rounder. At this point my outfield was empty, I knew that Yo has tried to change his workout regimen this offseason to avoid more leg injuries, and well, he’s a Met. Even though I want to win the nominal cash prize and bragging rights, this is mostly for fun, and it’s no fun drafting players you wouldn’t normally root for.
So flash forward again, it’s the 11th round, and I’m looking at my bats: Arenado, Machado, Contreras, Yo, and I’ve got no speed. At all. Sometimes I’m intrigued by drafting a Trea Turner or a Dee Gordon early on and put that SB category in my back pocket, but in the end I never go for those guys where they are drafted. So again, was 11th round a touch early for Ozzie Albies? I mean sure, I would have loved his value even more in the 15th round, where he probably easily could have slid. Some players still on the board that I liked well-enough that I took him over: Jeurys Familia, Alex Colome, Danny Duffy, Mike Moustakas. But I guess I don’t approach drafts strictly as best-player-available. I needed Albies speed at this point, and so I nabbed him. I’m still glad I did, but I’ll admit, that was probably the very earliest I thought I’d have to do it.
I filled my roster out with Michael Conforto in the 12th round, (gotta own my boy), where I actually was pleased to get him that far down. I like his chances to get back to %100 based on the health progress reports coming out of Spring. I also got Kyle Schwarber next. I’ve been burned by Schwarbs in past seasons, but I am not walking away from his power/OBP combo in an OBP league. I had already missed out on Joey Gallo, who I was stoked for, and couldn’t believe how early he went, but Schwarbs felt like a good alternative.
So wait, what was I doing here with Albies? He alone wasn’t going to win the SB category for me single-handedly. So somewhere in the teens, looking back I am so glad I popped Delino Deshields Jr., who came back nicely last year and is projected to lead off for Texas full-time. If Deshields and Albies play everyday, I feel I’m legitimately in the hunt for the SB category more weeks than not.
Looking at my filled-out roster, I like my best late-round values as Tyler Chatwood (18th round I think?) and Mitch Haniger (similar).
Biggest regret/sore spot on my roster? Starting firstbaseman is Hanley Ramirez, a major risk. I might have to cut him mid-April if he starts slow. I also slept too long and missed out on Ronald Acuna, who I had been super hot on. Overall, I took a gander at everyone else’s team and was pretty impressed. It’s going to be a real long shot to pull this one out. Time to start overhauling and making trades I guess.