Federal Baseball Fantasy Draft: Roto... Bluelineswinger's Take

For starters, I have a tendency to do draft reviews in all of my (non-keeper) fantasy leagues. I'll do some background on both the league settings and my personal draft strategy prior to going round by round. I ordinarily don't list the picks round by round, as it's usually in the league setting where they're easily accessible to all. As this is not in the league forum, I'll list each pick for each round. I'll then select what I consider to be the "best" pick, the "worst" pick, and my own pick. After half the draft, I'll remove the "worst" pick from the equation barring anything that's just catastrophically bad. If you participated in the draft and I hit you with the worst pick of the round, realize that this is just one man's opinion. While I used to write for a fantasy site and have participated in a few expert leagues in the past when I was writing for them, I've been wrong in the past. Those of you who have read my articles at FB in the past know that this will go on for quite a while! I'm hoping it provides a good read, though.


For starters, I've played in the Fantasy Sports Invitational Cup (held at FSRU) AL Only League three times (not to boast, since coming in second isn't the goal, but I was the runner-up twice) as well as a couple of other "Experts" Leagues. I play in a ton of deep leagues, including two 20 teamers (one of which is a full keeper) on an annual basis. That said, given the positional settings and requirements, this league approached the deepest talent pool I've ever had to draft from. The draft went a grueling 28 rounds, requiring 2 Catcher spots, one player at each infield position, a CI (Corner Infielder) and a MI (Middle Infielder) as well as 5 OF and a Utility spot. The pitching spots included 5 SP spots and 4 P slots (no specific RP spot, but relievers could all fit there). There were 15 teams, which meant that there were a grand total of 420 players who would go off the board. There is no cap on Games Played at any position. There is no minimum or maximum in terms of innings pitched. My imagination tells me that our commish (Dave) wanted to attempt to simulate real baseball as much as possible. My draft strategy, as explained in the next section, attempted to go in a completely different direction.

The scoring format is a 7X7 rotisserie format. The league carries the standard 5X5 categories (Avg., Runs, HR, RBI, SB for hitters.... W, SV, K, ERA, WHIP for pitchers) and adds OBP and Slugging Percentage for hitters as well as Losses (negative category, obviously) and Holds for pitchers.

Personal Draft Strategy

Desperate times call for desperate measures. While I'm used to playing in crazy deep leagues, I'm also used to an innings cap. A games played cap means little to me in terms of offensive players, since teams have roughly 20 off days per season and it's hard to exploit those by picking up extra starts from your bats. The innings cap can be exploited, however. A pitch & ditch strategy with available SP could work out if employed properly, though the talent in the free agent pool doesn't figure to be very strong. I have three choices, and whether I can execute the plan correctly or not will make all the difference.

1) I could saturate the market with Starting Pitching, loading up on starters and making sure that I'm successful in terms of wins. Of course, this will likely mean two different things. A) I'll probably hurt myself in the "Losses" category. B) I'll be sacrificing a lot of offense in the early rounds, and there are a lot of spots to fill.

2) I could go at it like I would a normal draft. Grab a starter in the fifth or sixth round. Grab another two around Round 10 or 11. Build a solid staff, build a solid offense, and hope for some guys to slip in the relief department.

3) I could forego Starting Pitching as a whole. By doing so, I'll cost myself roughly 14 points in Wins and 14 points in Strikeouts. I should also ensure that I'll finish first in Losses (split wins) and, given that I can stock up a little in the reliever department, set myself up with possible top finishes in the ratio categories (ERA/WHIP). If I can do well in Saves and Holds, that's a further bonus. It should also allow me to focus on getting stud bats. The tricky part may be finding enough good relievers with SP eligibility.

As you'll see, I went with Option 3. Starting pitching is extremely deep this season, but I have just one actual starting pitcher on my team. If someone else posts about the league (I thought I heard someone else say they would), they're going to laugh out loud about my SP. I did make use of the 5 SP spots, grabbing one SP (Hiroki Kuroda, who has consistently kept a solid ERA and low WHIP the past few years to bring down a bad relief outing or two) and four relief pitchers with SP eligibility (David Hernandez, Hisanori Takahashi, Felipe Paulino, J.P. Howell, and actually Kevin Slowey as well) who could help me bulk up on Holds.

Is this a fair strategy? Per the League Settings, it surely is. There's no minimum on Innings Pitched, and there's no stipulation that I'm required to carry five actual starting pitchers. I figure that if Slowey gets back into the rotation in Minnesota (or gets traded), I may have some trade bait on my hands. Without further adieu, let's get to the round by round analysis after the jump!

Since there will be enough that I'm retyping, team names for picks are not included. I will, however, post the draft order (which snaked... reverse it in even numbered rounds if you're looking to keep track of full teams) to start with. While I know who some of the owners are here at FB, I don't know all of their handles, so they've been excluded as well. As I'm writing this and will discuss each of my picks, I feel it's also fair to say that I discount myself from the "best" and "worst" picks of the round.

  1. Deadly Force
  2. Green Wave
  3. Rebuilding Decade
  4. Midlothian FlatBrims
  5. Nats News Network
  6. Smack 'em Yack 'em
  7. Werth the Money
  8. Washington Senators
  9. Shropshire Slashers
  10. Get That Curly W
  11. Roach Pancakes
  12. London Droogs
  13. Da' Meat Hooks
  14. Small Market Pride (Me)
  15. Milk and Cheese

Round 1

  1. Hanley Ramirez
  2. Albert Pujols
  3. Carlos Gonzalez
  4. Ryan Zimmerman
  5. Troy Tulowitzki
  6. Evan Longoria
  7. David Wright
  8. Miguel Cabrera
  9. Prince Fielder
  10. Joey Votto
  11. Robinson Cano
  12. Carl Crawford
  13. Ryan Braun
  14. Josh Hamilton
  15. Adrian Gonzalez

Best: Albert Pujols (1-2), Green Wave

Simply put, there's little reason that Pujols shouldn't be the top pick in any standard fantasy league. in this league in particular, Pujols has two more categories that he cleans up in (OBP and Slugging) in comparison with the guys behind him. Hanley Ramirez wasn't an awful pick by any stretch of the imagination, as he's an across the board contributor at a position that's more difficult to fill. However, Pujols is the best hitter on the planet, and it's not close. I'm a big fan of the Cabrera pick as well.

Worst: Ryan Zimmerman (1-4), Midlothian FlatBrims

Hey. We're all Nats fans here. As I type this, I'm sitting in my Ryan Zimmerman jersey. We all knew that he'd go higher than he should in most fantasy drafts tonight. Fourth overall is just way too big a stretch. From a fantasy perspective, Longoria is the top 3b on the board. Most would believe that Wright and A-Rod are right there as well, though I actually have Zimm as my #2 3b in fantasy. He's worth it from pick #15 on or so. I've obviously said I'm not big on Hanley at #1 as well, since... well... that means you're bypassing Pujols. The other one that I worry about is CarGo at #3 overall. He's no one year wonder by any stretch, and the 30/30 potential is there. I wish he'd be a little more disciplined at the plate, though. Is he a first rounder? Sure.... Third overall? Probably not.

Mine: Josh Hamilton (1-14)

This sticks with the theme of me drafting late so far this season. Through six fantasy drafts this season, I haven't picked higher than twelfth overall in a single one. Hamilton obviously brings some durability concerns. He also gets a boost because of the additional OBP and Slugging categories, though. If he plays 162 games, he's a top three player. I'm expecting roughly 140 games, which is more than he played in winning the AL MVP last season.

Round 2

  1. Matt Holliday
  2. Alex Rodriguez
  3. Roy Halladay
  4. Felix Hernandez
  5. Mark Teixeira
  6. Ryan Howard
  7. Tim Lincecum
  8. Jason Heyward
  9. Kevin Youkilis
  10. Matt Kemp
  11. Jose Reyes
  12. Joe Mauer
  13. Dan Uggla
  14. Dustin Pedroia
  15. Ben Zobrist

Best: Dustin Pedroia (2-14), Green Wave

I'm not liking how this is going, as one team gets my "best" pick in the first two rounds. Truth be told, Pedroia seems like the clear #2 fantasy second baseman with Chase Utley's injury concerns. To go a pick after Uggla just seems like a bit of a steal. He'll provide seven category production and be elite in several of them (Runs, Average, OBP). Kemp's a good pick. Halladay's a good pick, as he's been going in the first round in a lot of drafts this season. Pedroia shouldn't last past pick 21 or 22, though, and went with pick #29.

Worst: Ben Zobrist (2-15), Deadly Force

Zorilla had a great year two seasons ago, and he's going to be a nice find at 2b for Deadly Force. Still, he's averaging going at Pick 107 at Yahoo for a reason. The average will come up this year, and the OBP should be fine. You have to expect a bit of a rebound in terms of power and a bit of a dropoff in terms of stolen base production. He's a real nice sixth or seventh rounder with plenty of upside. He's just a significant reach in the second round, even if he will cover a thin position.

Mine: Alex Rodriguez (2-2)

Admittedly, as I took Rodriguez, I felt a little piece of my soul fly away. I can't stand the guy personally. He's coming off a down year, and he's not getting any younger (I think I'm 25 days older than him or so). Still, it's difficult to argue with a guy whose "down year" saw him hit .270/.341/.506 with 30 HR and 125 RBI..... particularly considering that there's a big dropoff after about the top five 3b.

Round 3

  1. Ian Kinsler
  2. Shin-Soo Choo
  3. Jon Lester
  4. Cliff Lee
  5. Nelson Cruz
  6. Andrew McCutchen
  7. Clayton Kershaw
  8. Ubaldo Jimenez
  9. Buster Posey
  10. Adam Dunn
  11. Jose Bautista
  12. Josh Johnson
  13. Justin Upton
  14. Victor Martinez
  15. Jayson Werth

Best: Jose Bautista (3-11), Roach Pancakes

There are several picks that I like here, and Bautista is an easy one for many of us not to like. I love Kinsler and Choo to start the round. I'm big on going high on Posey (actually lower than his ADP) because of the two catcher spots. I'm not sure I really buy into Bautista's year last season. He's not a 54 homer guy. He probably is a 35 homer guy, though, in that ballpark. His average won't help you, but his OBP and Slugging will. Last season, Bautista closed the year out as a top ten player despite his warts. He was selected 41st overall.

Worst: Nelson Cruz (3-5), Nats News Network

This is what I mean when I say that you shouldn't be insulted if I choose you as the worst pick of the round. In all honesty, my V-Mart pick may have been the worst of the round (hindsight says I should probably have taken McCann there). The round was strong all-around. In the case of Cruz, he's a dominant player when he's on. The problem is that he's not the most durable guy in the history of the league. With no real weak picks in the round, I'll make the injury risk the one I'm the most skeptical about.

Mine: Victor Martinez (3-14)

Going with the plan to bulk up on offense and ignore SP, I can't afford to waste both of the catching spots (one of them, I can probably get away with tanking). At the same time, I want to stick with the best player available and make sure that I get some production out of as many spots in the lineup as I can. V-Mart is a top five catcher for sure, though I'll admit that Brian McCann would have been a slightly better pick. Somehow I flip-flopped them in my pre-ranking.

Round 4

  1. Chase Utley
  2. Rickie Weeks
  3. Brian McCann
  4. Ichiro Suzuki
  5. Adrian Beltre
  6. Brandon Phillips
  7. Andre Ethier
  8. Alex Rios
  9. CC Sabathia
  10. Jimmy Rollins
  11. Derek Jeter
  12. Jorge Posada
  13. Carlos Santana
  14. Justin Verlander
  15. Martin Prado

Best: CC Sabathia (4-9), Werth the Money

Again (yeah... it's early) there were a bunch of picks that I liked here. I love Carlos Santana, and think he could emerge as a top three catcher this year. I'm a big fan of McCann, who could lead catchers in three of our categories. Verlander's fantastic. CC is CC, though. He and Verlander may be the two most durable starters this side of Roy Halladay, but CC should have the dramatic edge in win-loss record because of the team behind him. He's the #4 overall SP and he's taken in the middle of the round. While the spot is just about right in terms of where he should go, he's still a great value.

Worst: Jimmy Rollins (4-10), Smack 'em Yack 'em

J-Roll is a fine player if he's at 100%, and there's every reason to expect a rebound. Furthermore, this spot is actually a bit low in terms of where he's going from an ADP standpoint this year. I still don't like the pick, though. He had a sub-.300 OBP two years ago when he was healthy all season long, and the added categories water his value down as much as anything. He's likely still the #4 SS on the board this season, but it's a very distant fourth.

Mine: Rickie Weeks (4-2)

Continuing a theme, let's fill some positions that might be a little more difficult for me to find an answer for. I wouldn't have had the guts to take Chase Utley (who went a pick earlier in the most boom or bust pick of the round), and I have my concerns about Weeks' durability in the past. Still, he's a guy capable of 30 HR, 20 steals, and a .350+ OBP even with a slightly weak batting average. Second base drops off dramatically after he and Phillips go, and I like Weeks better because he tosses in an added category of production (76 walks to Phillips' 46 last season, which led to a 34 point OBP edge).

Round 5

  1. Alexei Ramirez
  2. David Price
  3. Yovani Gallardo
  4. A.J. Pierzynski
  5. Hunter Pence
  6. Jay Bruce
  7. Cole Hamels
  8. Casey McGeehee
  9. Elvis Andrus
  10. Drew Stubbs
  11. Mat Latos
  12. Geovany Soto
  13. Tommy Hanson
  14. Justin Morneau
  15. Kendrys Morales

Best: Geovany Soto (5-12), London Droogs

Think fast! Who led all big league catchers in wOBA last year? That'd be Geovany Soto with a .385 wOBA. He draws a ton of walks. He hits for a ton of power. He won't kill you with his average. Outstanding pick in a two catcher league.

Worst: A.J. Pierzynski (5-4), Midlothian FanBrims

On the flip side, we can see the bad part about a two catcher league right here. In terms of a 15 team league, Pierzynski is probably a starting catcher. He's the kind of guy who should probably go somewhere around the 15th or 16th round in a 15 team league that only plays one catcher. He's just not a good fit in the fifth round. As an example, he went undrafted in the 16 team, 1 catcher league that I drafted immediately following the FB draft.

Mine: Justin Morneau (5-14)

The concussion he's returning from is scary, but the numbers he put up prior to that concussion were equally as frightening for the competition. Morneau hit .345/.437/.618 with 18 HR in the first half before getting plunked in the head. If I felt better about Morneau being completely healthy, I can't imagine he'd have lasted past the second round.

Round 6

  1. Mike Stanton
  2. Billy Butler
  3. Carlos Marmol
  4. Zack Greinke
  5. Jered Weaver
  6. Mariano Rivera
  7. Neftali Feliz
  8. Matt Cain
  9. Shane Victorino
  10. Aramis Ramirez
  11. Chris Carpenter
  12. Pablo Sandoval
  13. Paul Konerko
  14. Roy Oswalt
  15. Matt Wieters

Best: Jered Weaver (6-5), Roach Pancakes

Again, given the depth of the starting pitching that will go in this league, it's easy to like some of the guys who may have slipped farther than their numbers suggest. He's not as sexy a pick as the traded Greinke, Matt Cain coming off of a dominant playoff run, or even the former Cy Young winner in Carpenter. Along the lines of the Soto trivia question: Who led the major leagues in strikeouts last season? Why that would be Jered Weaver with 233. He posts great ratios, gets plenty of wins, is extremely durable. He just doesn't quite get the notoriety that some of the other guys from the round do.

Worst: Neftali Feliz (6-7), Shropshire Slashers

There were a few I didn't like here. I'm not a fan of Sandoval, who just seems like a massive hacker who will occasionally run into one (usually out of the zone). If Jeff Francoeur were 100 pounds heavier and played 3b, he'd be Sandoval. Aramis is iffy coming off a down year. Feliz is just a big question mark, though. He's well worth the pick here as a closer. He's worth a pick about four or five rounds down the road as a starter. It looks quite possible the Rangers are going to have him start.

Mine: Billy Butler (6-2)

He's not a massive HR guy, which is what I prefer from a 1b. He is, however, a high average and high OBP guy who is a mortal lock for 45+ doubles. Sure, his 20 HR production at 1b doesn't look so strong, but the doubles will help balance the overall slugging percentage. I have Morneau as well. Butler acts as both insurance for Morneau coming off of post-concussion syndrome and my CI if Morneau is (as I expect him to be at least close to) 100%.

Round 7

  1. Miguel Montero
  2. Mike Napoli
  3. Pedro Alvarez
  4. Carlos Pena
  5. Max Scherzer
  6. Shaun Marcum
  7. Stephen Drew
  8. Kelly Johnson
  9. Chipper Jones
  10. Brian Wilson
  11. Francisco Liriano
  12. Gaby Sanchez
  13. B.J. Upton
  14. Joakim Soria
  15. Mark Reynolds

Best: B.J. Upton (7-13), Da' Meat Hooks

Again, handful of strong picks. Montero and Napoli are decent #1 Catchers in this format, and you don't want to get stuck without at least one who produces. Liriano is a borderline ace. Marcum is so underrated it's scary. Upton, however, contributes big SB production and solid power production. What's more, while he's never been much of an average hitter, he offsets it with a strong walk percentage and will at least give Meat Hooks some production in terms of OBP. He's gonna bust loose one of these years.

Worst: Gaby Sanchez (7-12), London Droogs

I could well be wrong. Sanchez is, in fact, a guy that a lot of people like in the fantasy community. I'm just not really blown away. He may only have been a rookie last season, but last year was his ceiling. He's 27 and should already be in his prime years. I think he comes back to the pack a bit as a soph now that the league has gotten a better look at him. He's certainly not terrible by any stretch, but is perhaps a bit overvalued here.

Mine: Joakim Soria (7-14)

Admittedly, I freaked for a second in the previous round when closer run #1 started right after I took Butler off the board. Given that I came into the draft with the intention to tank SP and bulk up on hitting and the RP categories (while hopefully keeping a stellar ERA/WHIP), one top-flight closer and three total closers are both things I must have. Soria fits the bill for me. Even on a team that figures to only win 65 games or so like the Royals, he'll save about 40 of them with great ratios. One top five closer... Check!

Round 8

  1. Nick Markakis
  2. Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. Adam Lind
  4. Aaron Hill
  5. Dan Haren
  6. Michael Young
  7. Gordon Beckham
  8. John Buck
  9. Chad Billingsley
  10. Chris Young (OF - ARI)
  11. Clay Buchholz
  12. Juan Uribe
  13. Corey Hart
  14. Ian Desmond
  15. Curtis Granderson

Best: Gordon Beckham (8-7), Shropshire Slashers

I'm going to go by feel on this one. Haren's an established borderline ace. Buchholz is coming off a monster year. I love Granderson here as well, as his high walk percentages cancel out a middling batting average for the most part. The same could be said for CY. Beckham was a steal here, though. His awful first half last season masked his overall production for the season enough so that everyone forgot just how fantastic he was in 2009. His second half was right on par with that production. Beckham could easily be one of the top three or four 2b off the board in 2012.

Worst: John Buck (8-8), Washington Senators

We have enough of a sample size from Buck in his years with Kansas City to know that he's generally a .240 hitter with 12-15 homer pop behind the plate. Like many Blue Jays, he hit completely out of his mind last year (.281 with 20 HR). He's not in Toronto anymore, though, and now takes his show to pitcher-friendly Florida. Expect a return to normalcy.

Mine: Jacoby Ellsbury (8-2)

I've gone power, average, and slugging heavy in the early rounds. I don't, however, have very much speed. Ellsbury's injury-plagued 2010 hurt his value a lot heading into this season, but I didn't think it would hurt it this much. He won't bring much in terms of power, but he won't hurt my ratios (AVG/OBP/SLG) either. In the last two seasons when he was healthy, Ellsbury averaged 60 SB. I could wait a few rounds and grab the completely one-dimensional Juan Pierre, or I could pay for Ellsbury at what I feel is a discounted price. The choice was easy.

Round 9

  1. Brett Gardner
  2. Bobby Abreu
  3. Starlin Castro
  4. Heath Bell
  5. Tim Hudson
  6. Brandon Morrow
  7. Colby Rasmus
  8. Rafael Furcal
  9. Matt Garza
  10. Delmon Young
  11. Wandy Rodriguez
  12. Aubrey Huff
  13. Neil Walker
  14. Jonathan Papelbon
  15. Ted Lilly

Best: Colby Rasmus (9-7), Werth the Money

If I hadn't had to focus on speed last round, I'd have taken Rasmus there. He's never going to be a great average hitter, but improved by leaps and bounds with his plate discipline last year. He's good for a great OBP, has improving power (capable of 30 bombs), and he's going to be hitting in front of the best hitter on the planet on a nightly basis. What's not to love? The other pick I loved here was Brett Gardner (great OBP, kind of a poor man's Ellsbury).

Worst: Neil Walker (9-13), Da' Meat Hooks

This is one of those rounds that I'm really happy to see. I had an awful lot of trouble finding any pick that I didn't like. If I had to go with one, it'd be either Walker or Starlin Castro. Both are nice young middle infielders who hit for average and do a little of everything. Unfortunately, the key word there is little. There's nothing he does exceptionally well, while most of the other guys in this round have some real nice strong suits.

Mine: Jonathan Papelbon (9-14)

It certainly wasn't a banner year for Paps in 2010, and he's not having a great spring. I'm not really bothered. He's a Top 10 closer at worst and a Top 5 closer at best. I'd like him to get that ERA and WHIP down a bit, as I'm not going to be chewing up a bunch of innings to make up for lousy relief performances.

Round 10

  1. Brian Roberts
  2. Nick Swisher
  3. Vernon Wells
  4. Vladimir Guerrero
  5. Michael Bourn
  6. Francisco Rodriguez
  7. Austin Jackson
  8. Ryan Dempster
  9. Gio Gonzalez
  10. Brett Anderson
  11. Adam Laroche
  12. Carlos Quentin
  13. Jonathan Sanchez
  14. Howie Kendrick
  15. Francisco Cordero

Best: Brett Anderson (10-10), Smack 'em Yack 'em,

I kicked myself for taking Swisher here, as I'd been hoping that Anderson would make it through to the late 11th (explanation in a bit). Despite arm troubles that delayed the start to his season, Oakland's burgeoning ace had a great follow-up to his strong rookie campaign, posting a 2.80 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. Expect similar production (probably a little higher ERA) with a better strikeout total this year..

Worst: Howie Kendrick (10-14), Green Wave

Another personal preference thing. Kendrick has been a player I just haven't liked for a few years now. He's a 10 HR/10 SB guy who hits for average and is allergic to walks. At second base, he's far from worthless. I'd just like to think there were better players on the board at this point, though.

Mine: Nick Swisher (10-2)

I'm loaded with guys who will likely bring up his middling batting average. I'll take the power production and the OBP at this point. Outfield seems a bit thin to me this year, and I'm starting to see it in Round 10 already. Imagine if I'd taken two starting pitchers at this point!

Round 11

  1. Ryan Franklin
  2. Drew Storen
  3. David Ortiz
  4. Jose Tabata
  5. Jose Valverde
  6. Kurt Suzuki
  7. Chone Figgins
  8. Andrew Bailey
  9. Edinson Volquez
  10. Carlos Lee
  11. Angel Pagan
  12. Phil Hughes
  13. Jonathan Broxton
  14. Carlos Beltran
  15. Torii Hunter

Best: Torii Hunter (11-15), Milk and Cheese

You'd never know it, since I think this is the first time I'm giving M&C the "best" pick, but they burned me on several picks. In retrospect, while I love Beltran for this season, Hunter provides similar production with less risk. Broxton and Pagan are excellent here as well.

Worst: Andrew Bailey (11-8), Washington Senators

This ends up being either a great pick or an awful one. Word is that Bailey isn't facing a worst case scenario with his elbow, but the way that he screamed and clutched the arm a couple of weeks ago is a bit unsettling. In the 11th round, it's far from the worst gamble of all-time. Bailey probably goes in the first nine rounds if he's a lock to be 100%.

Mine: Carlos Beltran (11-14)

As in a couple of other leagues that I have him in, I'm really not looking for the most successful (percentage-wise) base stealer of all-time to run a lot this season. If his power comes back and he keeps that OBP where it's been throughout his career, I'll be more than happy from my fourth OF.

Round 12

  1. Matt Thornton
  2. Hiroki Kuroda
  3. Ian Stewart
  4. Adam Jones
  5. John Jaso
  6. J.J. Putz
  7. Craig Kimbrel
  8. Madison Bumgarner
  9. Jason Bay
  10. Michael Cuddyer
  11. Jhoulys Chacin
  12. John Axford
  13. C.J. Wilson
  14. Ryan Raburn
  15. Brett Myers

Best: Matt Thornton (12-1), Milk & Cheese

M&C burned me again. If Thornton had put up the numbers that he's put up the past three years as the White Sox closer, he'd be a top 7 reliever. He hasn't. He is, however, their closer this year. He brings big strikeout production, a terrific ERA/WHIP, and should close out 35 games this season. Don't worry about Chris Sale.

Worst: Jason Bay (12-9), Werth the Money

For those not keeping track, the entire Mets outfield has gone in the past round and a half. I'm bullish on Pagan and Beltran. I'm not so sure about Bay. That power alley in Citi Field really killed him last season. He simply can't be as bad as he was last year, but I would be shocked if he's a Top 50 outfielder in 2011.

Mine: Hiroki Kuroda (12-2)

What the? I thought I wasn't taking any starting pitchers? Kuroda would prove to be the only one who I grabbed in the draft. I wanted to grab one starter who I felt confident would keep the ERA and WHIP in line, since I feel fairly certain that some of the relievers with SP eligibility may keep my ratios from being as dominant as I'd like. I don't care about strikeouts or wins, and I don't care if he could lose a lot of games. I care about ERA (worst in three years since coming to America was 3.76 in 2009) and WHIP (worst since coming to America was 1.22 in 2008). I feel Kuroda would fit that bill, though I'd have gone a round earlier if Anderson had made it back around.

Round 13

  1. Rafael Soriano
  2. Jaime Garcia
  3. Andres Torres
  4. Daniel Hudson
  5. Brad Lidge
  6. Mike Aviles
  7. Carlos Ruiz
  8. Tyler Colvin
  9. Mike Moustakas
  10. Ricky Romero
  11. Joel Hanrahan
  12. Leo Nunez
  13. Jordan Zimmermann
  14. Grady Sizemore
  15. Derrek Lee

Best: Rafael Soriano (13-1), Deadly Force

Some good talent went in the round. Truth be told, Soriano's move to NY hurts his fantasy value in regular formats (and, to an extent, in this one.... there are certainly more guys who will get holds than saves). In terms of all-around production, though, he's going to bring outstanding ratios and a ton of strikeouts to go along with those holds. Given Rivera's age, I wouldn't be shocked if Girardi decided to keep Mo a little fresher now that the Yanks added one of last season's top five closers.

Worst: Mike Moustakas (13-9), Shropshire Slashers

I'm a big fan of Moustakas. The fact of the matter, however, is that it looks unlikely he's going to break camp with the Royals, and he has some things to work on in the minors (see: defense) as well as just the simple service time issues. I don't like Nunez or Hanny. The fact of the matter, however, is that they not only have big league jobs, but leverage roles.

Mine: Grady Sizemore (13-14)

Could I have gone safer here? Sure. Juan Pierre and Denard Span were out there, but I took Ellsbury for that purpose. A guy like Marlon Byrd could be a solid 15-20 HR and 5-10 SB type. Sizemore's upside outweighs all of them by a wide margin. I expect him to begin the year on the DL, and the fact that I'm not grabbing another SP eligible player for another seven or eight rounds means I should be able to take a suitable injury replacement for him.

Round 14

  1. Colby Lewis
  2. Joe Nathan
  3. Yunel Escobar
  4. Omar Infante
  5. Huston Street
  6. Juan Pierre
  7. Brian Matusz
  8. Arolids Chapman
  9. Chris Perez
  10. Jeremy Hellickson
  11. Ike Davis
  12. Travis Snider
  13. Brandon Lyon
  14. Jason Kubel
  15. Ervin Santana

Best: Juan Pierre (14-6), Get That Curly W

Sooooooooooooo many good picks here. Lewis is for real. Matusz is a star in the making. Ditto for Chapman. Chris Perez doesn't get nearly enough credit for how well he performed last year. Oh... And I love me some Hellboy. Pierre, though? He's one dimensional, but he's the type of player who is so dominant in that one category that he can give you a top five finish in the category by himself.

Worst: Omar Infante (14-4), London Droogs

Much like John Buck, we'd seen a large sample size of what Infante can do in the past. We also saw him suddenly become an All-Star last season and almost win the batting title. That's going to be an outlier. On the bright side, he qualifies at four positions.

Mine: Joe Nathan (14-2)

I have Nathan in most of my leagues, so I obviously like him quite a bit. It's all a question of how durable he proves and how his command comes back. Prior to TJ surgery, Nathan was arguably the best closer in baseball over a three year span. Three closers... Check!

At this point, since we're past the midway point and the pickings are getting slimmer, it's time to eliminate the "worst" picks of each round

Round 15

  1. Gavin Floyd
  2. Magglio Ordonez
  3. Jarrod Saltalamacchia
  4. Josh Beckett
  5. Danny Espinosa
  6. Matt Capps
  7. Denard Span
  8. Marlon Byrd
  9. Dexter Fowler
  10. Rajai Davis
  11. Hong-Chi Kuo
  12. David Freese
  13. Ricky Nolasco
  14. Tsuyoshi Nishioka
  15. Trevor Cahill

Best: Trevor Cahill (15-15), Milk & Cheese

Cahill is a rare animal. He's the guy whose terrific showing on the surface last year (18-8, 2.97 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 118 K) has been talked down so much because of his BABIP (which was ridiculously out of whack at .236) that he's become a little bit underrated coming off of what figures to be a career year. Nice value.

Mine: Tsuyoshi Nishioka (15-14)

I can't be sure what I'm going to get out of the Japanese import this season. I was never a (Kaz) Matsui fan, but I expect a much better version of him. He figures to hit for average with a solid OBP (two of his strong suits in NPB) and I'd be less than shocked to see 25 steals and an upper single digit homer total. Considering he qualifies at SS and I ignored the position after the top three were gone, I'll take him.

Round 16

  1. Jorge de la Rosa
  2. Manny Ramirez
  3. Placido Polanco
  4. Jair Jurrjens
  5. Luke Scott
  6. John Danks
  7. Michael Pineda
  8. Freddy Sanchez
  9. Fernando Rodney
  10. Daniel Bard
  11. Logan Morrison
  12. Alfonso Soriano
  13. Alex Gonzalez
  14. Jhonny Peralta
  15. Josh Willingham

Best: Luke Scott (16-4), Roach Pancakes

Given the point of the draft, it was a really strong round. We should see great contributions out of Scott, Danks, Bard, LoMo, Hammer, and Soriano. Scott, however, takes the cake in my eyes. He's established himself as a nice 25 HR and high OBP bat with eligibility either in the outfield or at first base. Like our beloved Hammer, he's done so under the radar.

Mine: Manny Ramirez (16-2)

I said I was going to get some backup outfielders for Sizemore and Beltran, didn't I? In a season that was considered a massive disappointment last year, Manny hit .298/.409/.460. He'll have the DH spot to hit from all year, and while I certainly still don't expect more than 110 games or so out of him, I expect him to rake.

Round 17

  1. Michael Morse
  2. Yadier Molina
  3. James Loney
  4. Frank Francisco
  5. Edwin Encarnacion
  6. Tyler Clippard
  7. Raul Ibanez
  8. Carlos Zambrano
  9. Alcides Escobar
  10. Asdrubal Cabrera
  11. Jonny Venters
  12. Grant Balfour
  13. David Aardsma
  14. Luke Gregerson
  15. Travis Wood

Best: Carlos Zambrano (17-8), Washington Senators

Zambrano took a lot of flack for his unsettling effort in the first half last season. He was even so bad that he ended up in the bullpen for a while. When all was said and done, though, he had his typical solid ERA (3.33), high WHIP, and high K/9 season. Expect another solid effort from Z, though for Sens sake I hope there's less drama.

Mine: Luke Gregerson (17-14)

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd end up with three closers I really like and the all-time single-season record holder for Holds. Gregerson brings big strikeout rates (don't care) and a nice low WHIP to the table for me. His ERA should stay steady in the 3.00 range while he gets plenty of holds and possibly takes over closing duties if Heath Bell gets traded. One top-flight Holds man for the fourth "P" spot... Check!

Round 18

  1. Chris Iannetta
  2. Cliff Pennington
  3. Sean Rodriguez
  4. Todd Coffey
  5. Russell Martin
  6. Ian Kennedy
  7. Chris Sale
  8. Scott Rolen
  9. Kevin Gregg
  10. Johnny Cueto
  11. Mike Adams
  12. Jake McGee
  13. Jake Peavy
  14. Brandon League
  15. Nate McLouth

Best: Scott Rolen (18-8), Washington Senators

There's some nice upside that goes in this round. I really like Iannetta, Sale, and Kennedy. Peavy's a great find if he can get and stay healthy. Rolen is healthy, though. He's coming off a great year, and while there are always durability concerns with him, you know you're getting 20 HR pop with a strong OBP and plenty of RBI from him. For a third baseman in the 18th round, he's fantastic.

Mine: Cliff Pennington (18-2)

I just about have my starting offense filled out at this point, as Pennington gives me a MI and leaves me a Catcher short. I'm not super high on Pennington, but he does run. Despite the presence of Ellsbury, the SB category may be my only concern offensively. With no SP, I need to dominate with the bats.

Round 19

  1. Franklin Gutierrez
  2. David Murphy
  3. James Shields
  4. Javier Vazquez
  5. David DeJesus
  6. Tim Stauffer
  7. Ty Wigginton
  8. Miguel Olivo
  9. Jason Motte
  10. Peter Bourjos
  11. Miguel Tejada
  12. Wilson Ramos
  13. Coco Crisp
  14. Hideki Matsui
  15. Jason Bartlett

Best: James Shields (19-3), Rebuilding Decade

I'll take Big Game James here. He's the darling of the sabermetric community heading into the season as he was incredibly unlucky last season (.341 BABIP). Apart from the BABIP, the rest of his numbers were right in line with the rest of his career (a little better from a K/9 perspective actually). Expect a nice bounceback.

Mine: Hideki Matsui (19-14)

Yet another backup outfielder. It's true that I've backed up my injury risk outfielders (Sizemore and Beltran) with old guys who could potentially be injury risks in their own right. It's also true that one of them is a Hall of Fame caliber player (Manny) and the other is a guy who has resumed his consistent 20-25 HR production with solid AVG/OBP/SLG across the board following his 2006-2008 injury blip.

Round 20

  1. Joaquin Benoit
  2. Jesus Montero
  3. Freddie Freeman
  4. Reid Brignac
  5. Scott Podsednik
  6. Erick Aybar
  7. Desmond Jennings
  8. Carl Pavano
  9. Marco Scutaro
  10. Nyjer Morgan
  11. J.D. Drew
  12. Domonic Brown
  13. Evan Meek
  14. Koji Uehara
  15. Chris Young (SP-NYM)

Best: J.D. Drew (20-11), Nats News Network

If for no other reason than the fact that I groaned when it happened. He obviously fits the profile of the older, undervalued, slight injury risk type that I like, right? In truth, Drew is good for one DL trip and 125-135 games a season. In those 130 games or so, he'll hit north of 20 bombs. He'll score 70 runs or so and drive in roughly 70 more. He'll maintain all of those with a healthy batting average and a terrific OBP. Very nice!

Mine: Jesus Montero (20-2)

Well... I have to carry two catchers. My feeling (literally) after Iannetta went of the board a few rounds ago was that all I wanted was someone who wouldn't drag me down elsewhere. Montero brings the caveat that he either A) Won't produce at all because he'll be in AAA OR B) He's considered amongst the top hitting prospects in all of baseball. If I get anything from him, it's gravy. I do expect to see him at some point this year.

Round 21

  1. Barry Zito
  2. Kyle Farnsworth
  3. John Lackey
  4. J.J. Hardy
  5. Matt Guerrier
  6. Cameron Maybin
  7. Sean Marshall
  8. Garrett Jones
  9. J.P. Arencibia
  10. Edwin Jackson
  11. Lance Berkman
  12. Chris Coghlan
  13. Ivan Rodriguez
  14. Justin Smoak
  15. Ryan Madson

Best: Kyle Farnsworth (21-2), Green Wave

Some decent picks here. I like Maybin in what you have to figure is his last shot to succeed. I like Berkman as a hitter, though I think he'll kill the Cardinals with his glove. I like Madson a lot as a general reliever with an outside shot at saves if (when?) Lidge breaks or implodes. While I feel that McGee and Peralta are better, Farnsworth seems like the the safest bet for saves early on in Tampa. If he doesn't blow his chance, he could lock down the job. It's tough to find closers in the 21st round.

Mine: Justin Smoak (21-14)

With Morneau a little up in the air, I wouldn't mind backing up the Corner Infielder spot. I had some guys to choose between (Brandon Belt and Daric Barton were still there, I believe), but went with the best blend of upside (Smoak over Barton), certain opportunity (Smoak over Belt), and big league experience. I hate the park and I hate the lineup support, but I love the hitter.

Round 22

  1. Joba Chamberlain
  2. David Hernandez
  3. Scott Baker
  4. Bobby Jenks
  5. Cody Ross
  6. Anibal Sanchez
  7. Lorenzo Cain
  8. Sergio Romo
  9. Ryan Doumit
  10. Bryce Harper
  11. Will Venable
  12. Derek Holland
  13. Ryan Ludwick
  14. Livan Hernandez
  15. Josh Thole

Best: Will Venable (22-11), Nats New Network

We've all heard of players who are "better real players than fantasy players" right? Venable is exactly the opposite. In real baseball, he isn't much of an average hitter or on-base machine. In fantasy, you can pretty much chalk him up for double digit homers and 20 steals or so, which is nice for a back end outfielder this late.

Mine: David Hernandez (22-2)

Hernandez made 8 starts for the Orioles last season, which means I've found something to do with all those SP spots. He'll serve as the primary setup man for J.J. Putz in Arizona and his ratios shouldn't kill me.

Round 23

  1. Chris Capuano
  2. Kenley Jansen
  3. Johnny Damon
  4. Ryan Theriot
  5. Bronson Arroyo
  6. Alex Avila
  7. Jim Thome
  8. R.A. Dickey
  9. Johan Santana
  10. Hank Conger
  11. Orlando Hudson
  12. Matt LaPorta
  13. Brian Fuentes
  14. Dustin Ackely
  15. David Ross

Best: Jim Thome (23-7), Werth the Money

At this point in a deep draft, I really am enamored with what Thome can bring. No, he's not an everyday player. He'll probably be limited to the roughly 350 plate appearances he got last year. The fact of the matter, though, is that Thome sure made the most of those opportunities last year, hitting 25 bombs in 276 AB.

Mine: Dustin Ackley (23-14)

I don't really need more outfielders at this point, but Ackley will qualify at 2b about 5 games into his big league career. That's what I was after, as he could bolster/backup my Middle Infield spot.

Round 24

  1. Ivan Nova
  2. Hisanori Takahashi
  3. Brandon Inge
  4. Chase Headley
  5. J.A. Happ
  6. Rod Barajas
  7. Chris Johnson
  8. Lyle Overbay
  9. Kila Ka'aihue
  10. Bud Norris
  11. Seth Smith
  12. Mitch Moreland
  13. Derek Lowe
  14. Clay Hensley
  15. Brandon Webb

Best: Bud Norris (24-10), Smack 'em Yack 'em

I believe in the power of the strikeout. Norris does have a tendency to get those in bunches. Be careful, though. He also likes to walk half the park. There's some nice upside in Brandon Webb and the Kila Monster, but Norris feels like the biggest breakout candidate based on his K rate.

Mine: Hisanori Takahashi (24-2)

I sense a theme developing. Takahashi made 12 starts for the Mets last season. He'll begin the year in a leverage relief role for the Angels. I anticipate around 20 Holds and solid ratios.

Round 25

  1. A.J. Burnett
  2. Clayton Richard
  3. Mark Buehrle
  4. Dan Johnson
  5. Julio Borbon
  6. Eric Young, Jr.
  7. Nick Masset
  8. Yuniesky Betancourt
  9. Scott Downs
  10. Alex Gordon
  11. Stephen Strasburg
  12. Skip Schumaker
  13. Brandon Belt
  14. Michael Brantley
  15. Jerry Hairston, Jr.

Best: Alex Gordon (25-10), Get That Curly W

Yeah... I'm a sucker. I like the upside of Brandon Belt here a lot as well. I also think Burnett is a terrific pick this deep in a draft. This is probably Gordon's last chance, and there's some sneaking suspicion that he's finally going to figure it out. The 3b eligibility doesn't hurt him any.

Mine: Michael Brantley (25-14)

I had Gordon and Belt queued up and they went before me. Brantley was a bit of a scramble pick, but he's going to start the year as the Indians' leadoff man. He has speed to burn, but nobody knows better than a bunch of Nats fans how much Manny Acta likes to kill the running game.

Round 26

  1. Danny Valencia
  2. Felipe Paulino
  3. Jonny Gomes
  4. Homer Bailey
  5. Sean Burnett
  6. James McDonald
  7. Brennan Boesch
  8. Darren O'Day
  9. Jon Garland
  10. Brett Cecil
  11. Daric Barton
  12. Kyle McClellan
  13. Jonathan Niese
  14. Jose Lopez
  15. Alberto Callaspo

Best: Daric Barton (26-11), Nats News Network

Barton is never really going to develop a ton of power, but there's something to be said for his on-base skills. It's difficult to find a regular who will post a .380 OBP at this point in the draft, but NNN did.

Mine: Felipe Paulino (26-2)

Here we go again. Paulino made 14 starts for the Astros last season. He'll begin the year as a member of the Rockies' bullpen. Though he won't have a leverage role, the move should help his ratios. While I have no concerns about my top six relievers, a guy like Paulino is why I spent the pick on Kuroda earlier in the draft.

Round 27

  1. Mike Pelfrey
  2. Jamey Carroll
  3. Ben Francisco
  4. Wade Davis
  5. Ryan Hanigan
  6. Jordan Walden
  7. Tommy Hunter
  8. Andruw Jones
  9. Kyle Drabek
  10. Justin Masterson
  11. Bill Hall
  12. Luke Hochevar
  13. Dallas Braden
  14. J.P. Howell
  15. Erik Bedard

Best: Wade Davis (27-4), Midlothian FlatBrim

So many people seemed to view his rookie year as a disappointment, but a 4.07 ERA and 1.35 WHIP for a rookie in the AL East is nothing to sneeze at. Brian Matusz (4.30 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, marginally better K rate) looked like a solid pick in the 14th. Davis looks brilliant in the 27th. I'd think Justin Masterson would be great here if he could get lefties out.

Mine: J.P. Howell (27-14)

Howell will begin the year on the disabled list and pitch out of the bullpen. Though he last started a major league game in 2007, Yahoo has him eligible as a SP. I plan to take full advantage of this, as he figures to have a leverage role upon his return, most likely netting me more Holds.

Round 28

  1. Mike Minor
  2. Kevin Slowey
  3. Jeff Keppinger
  4. Matt Lindstrom
  5. Billy Wagner
  6. Casey Blake
  7. Travis Hafner
  8. Kerry Wood
  9. Jeff Francoeur
  10. Russell Branyan
  11. Ramon Hernandez
  12. Juan Rivera
  13. Kevin Kouzmanoff
  14. Yorvit Torrealba
  15. Fausto Carmona

Best: Fausto Carmona (28-15), Deadly Force

Considering the depth of the league, Mr. Irrelevant isn't so bad. Carmona will carry a high WHIP, and his strikeout production won't excite you. Still, he's a solid sixth or seventh starter in a league of this size. I also like Pronk (just remembering his heyday) and considered going with Billy Wagner (retired) or Frenchy for comedy's sake.

Mine: Kevin Slowey (28-2)

Ummm.... he lost the battle for the rotation spot in Minnesota, right? I guess he's no Nick Blackburn. Oh well. That makes him a better fit for me.

I won't comment on every team as a whole. This is already approaching 8,000 words. I will, however, go back to my team and a look at the strategy, since I employed something different.

  • C - Victor Martinez (3)
  • C - Jesus Montero (20)
  • 1b - Justin Morneau (5)
  • 2b - Rickie Weeks (4)
  • 3b - Alex Rodriguez (2)
  • SS - Tsuyoshi Nishioka (15)
  • CI - Billy Butler (6)
  • MI - Cliff Pennington (18)
  • OF - Josh Hamilton (1)
  • OF - Jacoby Ellsbury (8)
  • OF - Nick Swisher (10)
  • OF - Carlos Beltran (11)
  • OF - Grady Sizemore (13)
  • UT (OF) - Manny Ramirez (16)
  • OF Bench - Hideki Matsui (19)
  • OF Bench - Michael Brantley (25)
  • 1b Bench - Justin Smoak (21)
  • 2b Bench (OF) - Dustin Ackley (23)
  • SP - Hiroki Kuroda (12)
  • SP/RP - David Hernandez (22)
  • SP/RP - Hisanori Takahashi (24)
  • SP/RP - Felipe Paulino (26)
  • SP/RP (DL) - J.P. Howell (27)
  • SP/RP - Kevin Slowey
  • P - Joakim Soria (7)
  • P - Jonathan Papelbon (9)
  • P - Joe Nathan (14)
  • P - Luke Gregerson (17)

Given the nature of the league (5 SP spots... no actual RP spots, and 4 P spots where relievers could be used), I had little choice but to target Herandnez, Takahashi, Paulino, Howell, and Slowey (I think there was a sixth SP eligible reliever, but can't think of who it was off the top of my head) if I were to go with the strategy. I'd been hoping for guys like Chris Carpenter and Tim Hudson to slip a little later than they did because they do what I needed from my one (actual) SP well. They keep a great ERA and a great WHIP, and while there's some strikeout production, it's not elite (reason I thought they would slip). Ted Lilly was a target along the same lines. I'm fine with Kuroda, though. If he keeps a sub-4.00 ERA and a sub-1.25 WHIP, I like my chances in those categories. As for strikeouts and wins, who cares?

The three-headed monster at the back of the bullpen should net me 13-15 points in saves. The three-headed setup monster (Gregerson, Hernandez, Takahashi) should net me 12+ points in holds. The combination of one starter and 8 RP should net me 15 points in Losses. I fully expect to be at or near the top in ERA and WHIP as well. In this regard, I feel I executed as well as I could given the parameters I had to work with.

The question will be whether or not I built the offense up as much as I could have. If I stay healthy (without having looked around the league), I obviously don't feel anyone can compete with my offensive depth. Truthfully, I'd feel pretty good about it if this were a 12 team league. We'll have to see how it plays out.

Anyway, the draft was a lot of fun, as I've kind of been going through some Federal Baseball withdrawal. I'm eager for the season to start so I can watch Nats games instead of coming on here and checking up on the articles. Getting a chance to draft with some of you was a treat. Best of luck all, and beware Small Market Pride!

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