If you were given the opportunity to go back to your league’s draft day and redo the draft given the knowledge of what’s happened almost one-third through the season, how different would your draft look? My goal in this inquiry is not to make you question how heavily to weigh early season performances and create projections for players to the end of the season, though that would be the more scholarly thing to do.
Instead I’m simply forcing you to look back at all of the picks you shoulda, coulda and almost made that would have made your team that much better at this point in the season. Using the Yahoo ADP numbers, here are the players that, if drafted realistically around the same place they were in the preseason, would compose the most dominant fantasy team thus far.
Catcher: No One (Round 0) – Honestly no catcher deserves to be on this team since the most valuable catcher currently is Miguel Olivo. Mauer is fourth on that list and I am surprised that so little has been said about his unremarkable season, from both a real and fantasy baseball perspective. It sounds ridiculous to call a .363 wOBA from a catcher “disappointing,” but when it succeeds a .438 wOBA from the prior season, well, clearly some expectations are not being met.
First base: Miguel Cabrera (1) – Cabrera has been the most dominant fantasy hitter so far in 2010, hitting for an insane power and average combo of 17 home runs and a .351 average. Throw in a league-high 51 RBIs and you have the numbers of a player even Albert Pujols cannot match at the moment.
|I wasn’t kidding when I said lumberjack. (Icon/SMI)|
Second base: Robinson Cano (4) – As the second-most-valuable fantasy hitter so far this season, Cano barely beat out Justin Morneau—the third-most-valuable—to make the cut for this team. An elite contributor in all the fantasy categories save for steals, Cano figures to compete for this year’s AL batting title and is currently sporting a sporty .363 average.
Third base: Kevin Youkilis (3) – Despite excellent production the past two seasons, Youkilis has remained just outside the bubble of elite fantasy players. Available in the third round of most drafts, this lumberjack of a ballplayer has burst that bubble and joined the pack of the elite, batting .320 with 12 home runs already and an incredible 50 runs scored.
Shortstop: Elvis Andrus (10) – In the preseason it was my feeling that Andrus, for a variety of reasons, was being overpicked in the 10th round. Unlike the other two players mentioned in that article who have complied by being either injured or ineffective, Andrus has been rather effective this season most notably by batting a robust .304 with 39 runs and 18 steals.
Outfield: Carl Crawford (2) – Crawford is one of those across-the-board fantasy producers and, with the development of a respectable power game last year, is immensely valuable in fantasy. His 41 runs and 18 steals make him elite in those two categories and with a .299 average, 32 RBIs, and five home runs in the others he is certainly not lacking in any facet.
Outfield: Andrew McCutchen (6) – Already aptly compared to the player directly above, McCutchen has been doing a fantastic Crawford impersonation since his impressive rookie campaign last year. The homers, average, and steals are there; the biggest thing holding back McCutchen’s fantasy value is the Pirates lineup that makes runs and RBIs infrequent.
Outfield: Carlos Gonzalez (12) – His 36 R, 8 HR , 36 RBI, 7 SB, and .308 AVG line is a fantasy baseballer’s treat. Simple as that.
Utility: Alex Rios (14) – I never thought I would say this, but Rios has been the fourth-most-valuable fantasy hitter so far in 2010. With possibly the most impressive three-category line of a .318 average with 12 home runs and 17 stolen bases, he has made a truly miraculous turnaround in Chicago. I just wish he did it while on my team last year.
Starting pitcher: Adam Wainwright (5) – Wainwright got a little lucky with his 2.63 ERA and unprecedentedly high strikeout rate of 8.2 batters per nine in 2009 and understandably fantasy owners were somewhat hesitant to draft the towering righty this preseason. Surprisingly Wainwright has built upon his “lucky” 2009 by increasing his strikeout rate even more to 8.7 and cutting back on walks and hits so that he almost deserves his current 2.05 ERA.
Starting pitcher: Ubaldo Jimenez (7) – It should come as no surprise to see this Rockies hurler on this team as Jimenez is off to an unprecedented start to the 2010 season. His 11 wins, 78 strikeouts, and uncanny 0.93 ERA and WHIP are good enough to carry an entire pitching staff.
Starting pitcher: David Price (13) – After not meeting the hype with a meh rookie season, Price has responded well in his sophomore campaign, earning eight wins already with a 2.29 ERA and 53 Ks. Although it does not matter for this article, I feel obligated to warn you, the reader, about the upcoming regression to Price’s ERA. His strikeouts are down, the BABIP is low, the LOB percentage high, and home run rate slightly lower than it should be. Call me Emeril and this sounds like the recipe for a higher ERA.
Relief pitcher: Heath Bell (9) – Players picked in the ninth round were quite the terrible bunch but at least if you picked Bell you got a guy who is tied for the third most saves with 15, is striking out plenty of batters, and has a pristine 1.08 ERA. Impressively he has done all of this despite pitching slightly sub-par as evidenced by his 1.32 WHIP.
Relief pitcher: Carlos Marmol (11) – What Ubaldo has been doing with ERA Marmol is currently doing the equivalent with K/9. By far the league leader with a 17.4 mark, Marmol is striking out basically two batters for every one inning pitched. Coupled with solid ratios and saves totals, Marmol has been the second-most-valuable closer—behind only Jonathan Broxton—and by far the most exciting to watch. The 51 Ks in 26 innings says it all.
I’m sure there are at least a couple of players on this team that you were oh so close to drafting but then took some other scrub instead. For me I remember running the clock down to the last second while deciding between Ben Zobrist and Robinson Cano in the Yahoo F&F league draft. Unfortunately Zobrist’s SS eligibility won me over and I chose him instead of Cano, but at least Zobrist has not played horribly so I can live with it.
Feel free to share your own sob stories of drafting regrets in the comments below.