This past Tuesday (3-12-2013) I had the opportunity to particvipate in my second LABR Mixed League draft. I participated in last year's first ever LABR Mixed, and injuries to Jacoby Ellsbury and a few others derailed my season almost before it started. With that debacle in mind I entered the 2013 draft with health on my mind and upside in my heart. Of course things can change once you get in the thick of things. Ahead I'll break down each of my picks and give the reasoning behind them. If you just want to see the final draft results you can check out draft board on RTSports.
Prior to the draft, I was mapping the first round and was worried I would have to make a choice between Prince Fielder and Carlos Gonzalez. Fielder is safe, but he struggled to hit 30 Hrs last year, didn't score all that many runs, and I'm not sure he's a .300 hitter again. I love Cargo, but he's always nicked up and after the Ellsbury experience last year, I was very hesitant. Todd Zola took the certainty of Fielder at pick six and I was able to grab the eqaully relieble Albert Pujols, who I think can still come close to his prime. Pujols was very good last year after that horrendous start.
Rick Wolf and Glenn Colton of Sirius/XM were pretty critical of this pick, but to win a 15-teamer against this type of competition you have to make some decisions that go against the grain. I get that Clayton Kershaw may have been the safer pick, but if you look at the rate stats, Strasburg was better in fantasy terms. Even in a year in which Strasburg was babied and shut down early, he bested Kershaw in wins and had just 32 fewer strikeouts in almost 70 less innings. It can be dangerous playing the extrapolation game, but my gut says Strasburg won't disappoint. I honestly believe he can put up numbers that we haven't seen since Randy Johnson was in Arizona. As for those injury concerns? Who was the pitcher who limped into the playoffs with a hip injury that still hasn't been dealt with? Clayton something…
Everyone waited for Jones to suddenly explode; instead it's been a slow, steady progression. I'm not expecting any huge leap forward, but numbers similar to last year will be just fine.
This is the one pick I battled with internally. I've never been a big fan of Mauer because of his health issues, but he's still a great hitter and I wanted some batting average from my catcher slot. Was it a reach? Possibly, but it allowed me some freedom later on to take on a batting average risk or two.
Rounds four and five will be my downfall if things don't work out. There are more question marks at this point in the draft and the decisions between reliability and upside take on more importance. I've actually been down on Jennings, mostly due to health concerns, but his obvious upside lured me in. I'm ready for the .260 average Jennings will likely put up. I just need him healthy enough to put up the 15 HRs and 35-40 stolen bases he can also add.
I was a huge proponent of Kipnis last year, but I can't say his second half slide doesn't concern me. Here in the sixth round I felt that he was close enough in value to the other players remaining that position scarcity made my decision for me. This one could go either way.
|Does surgery for bone spurs even count? Tommy John thinks not. Photo Credit: Keith Allison|
I fought myself as long as I could, but Crawford just kept calling out to me. I think the move to laid bacl L.A. helps and his most recent injury shouldn't affect his running or hitting. If Mauer and Jennings can break my season, Crawford is the one player who could really make it. If he can even resemble the player he was in Tampa I got a steal. This pick undoubtedly comes with risk, but I don't think you win a 15-team expert league by going safe with every pick.
Here I am entering the dangerous injury waters again right? Maybe, but Johnson's second half last year is something most people didn't notice. After a lackluster first half, Johnson improved in every category except wins in the second half. The Marlins descent into oblivion explains the 3-9 record. From the All-Star game on Johnson posted an 8.1 K/9 and a 1.153 WHIP. While he's still a concern, I see plenty of reason to expect a solid starter to re-emerge. I'd be more scared of the move to the AL East, but at least he doesn't have to face the Jays.
Thanks to the earlier picks of Joe Mauer and Albert Pujols, I'm pretty confident I can withstand the batting average drain that Dunn brings with him. It's popular to hate on Dunn and 2011 earned him that, but he's still gonna hit his 35-40 bombs and score his 80-90 runs. It may not be the sexy move, but the value here is solid.
Prince Fielder went at pick No. 6. Now compare the rate stats between Fielder and Morse. Obviously Fielder gets a lot of credit for reliability and consistency, but it's not a huge stretch to think Morse can approach Fielder in HRs and BA. That Seattle offense won't provide as many RBI opportunities or score as many runs, but we're in the 11th round here. With that said Morse is changing leagues and has to prove he can stay on the field.
Yet another pick that drew some criticism. I even heard the name Homer Bailey thrown out as a better choice. Yes, the Homer Bailey with the lifetime ERA of 4.50; the Homer Bailey who throws 95 but can strike anybody out. Bailey is a head case, that you will never be able to count on. The common perception is that fantasy experts love to grab the hyped rookie and say they "found" him. I find that very often they do the exact opposite. They go out of their away to avoid the hyped player to avoid looking foolish. Harvey didn't just come up and pitch great for two or three starts. Ten starts is basically a third of a season and he dominated with a 2.73 ERA, 1.146 WHIP and a 10.6 K/9. Do I expect those rates for this year? Not likely, but I saw enough to take him over the Homer Bailey's of the world.
I went into round 13 with the idea to grab two unheralded closers in the 13th and 14th. KFFL's Tim Heaney decided to rain on my parade and grabbed Greg Holland with the first pick in the round, but Wilhelmsen made it down to me. Now, no closer in baseball comes real close to Craig Kimbrel, but I'll take Wilhelmsen's 87 Ks and 1.109 WHIP in the 13th round. Nobody talks about them, but at the end of the season I think you'll see Holland and Wilhemsen in the top seven or eight closers.
Sometimes it's not fun to draft certain players. Johnson and his pathetic 5.4 K/9 are such a case. He's got nowhere to go but down, but can you ignore his incredible 2012 season or the 2.67 ERA he put up in 2011? This was not a pick that left me all warm and fuzzy, but I'm not a fan of chasing saves later on in the season.
I really like Kubel here as long as he stays healthy. That Arizona offense is going to be better than most people think without Chris Young and his negative on-base percentage. Martin Prado will replace Justin Upton's on-base skills and Adam Eaton will also be aboard quite a bit if his 2012 audition is any indicator.
Did anybody pay attention to what Burnett did last year? He looked real comfortable in Pittsburgh and I don't see a reason he can't put up a similar season in 2013. He won't be the first pitcher who flamed out in New York only to revive his career later on.
This is a pick I can look back and say I should have went a different direction. I needed a player with some kind of upside at third base. That may or may not be Chisenhall, but there were better picks to be had. Grabbing J.P. Arencibia as my second catcher was probably the pick I would make looking back.
I realize he likely won't see the majors until close to June, but I'd rather grab his potential than the mediocrity of picks that surrounded him. Myers will head to my bench and either act as trade fodder to make a two-for-one deal or become part of my lineup when he comes up.
Keppinger gets no love for that .325 average of a year ago… Of course that may have to do with the fact that he's basically just a really solid utility player. Keppinger does have second base eligibility though and will get plenty of PT in a nice ballpark. If he can hit .280 with double-digit HRs, I'll take it.
What nobody believes in those 21 HRs Moss hit in 265 ABs last year? To be honest neither do I, but it's fun to extrapolate that out. Moss also hit 15 HRs in Triple-A, so the power is somewhat legit, but if he can hit .260 I'll be happy. It's a longshot but whatever vitamins Moss have been taking seem to be working. Maybe he's what Crash Davis was meant to be.
So the first question that pops up is why is that damn "d" not capitalized, but he "A" is? Like Wil Myers I don't expect to see d'Arnaud until later in the year, but when catchers like Kurt Suzuki and Wellington Castillo are getting drafted in the same round, I'll take that hit. I'll survive with Rob Brantly, who I ended up getting later, until d'Arnaud is ready.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried about Buerhle in the AL East. I may be a little selective with when I activate this wily veteran.
I reaslize he's got a career ERA near 5.00, but why is nobody talking about Tillman as a sleeper? The guy started 15 games, going 9-3 with a 2.93 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP. He's obviously got the pedigree and talent to back up solid results. Has he turned the corner? His past is certainly ugly, but I'm gonna take the chance that those 15 starts were the start of something special. If it isn't I'll deal with losing a chance to have Jason Vargas or Wade Davis.
In Furcal and Aviles I'll hopefully have one healthy adequate option at shortstop each day. That is if they can coordinate their injuries… Brantly is hopefully an adequate catcher who won't hurt me until d'Arnaud is ready to take over… Chacin is someone I actually have high hopes for. Ray Guilfoyle of FakeTeams.com gives Chacin some love in his LABR Review. If either Tillman or Chacin pan out, I'll feel pretty good about my pitching… Weeks? He's got to be better than last year right? Right? Well, he's fast.
Here's the way my roster looks as a whole, along with their stats from last season. I'm pretty satisfied as a whole. I obviously took some risks, but in a league like this I think playing it safe is a recipe for fourth place. Besides, if my teams fizzles out I'll probably have some injury to an important player to blame, like maybe the ghost of Jacoby Ellsbury 2012.