From the middle of December 2012 through the middle of January 2013, I participated in a Draft-master style (not to be mistaken with Gangnam Style) slow fantasy baseball draft hosted by the Dynasty Sports Empire. It is a 10-team roto league where all rosters are frozen for the entire season. Basically, the team we draft is the team we are stuck with as there are no trades, no transactions, no waivers…nothing. It is essentially a test to see who really did draft the best team. I had the 10th pick of the first round which means I had the wrap-around. In a 10-team league, that is very advantageous.
Below is a summary of the team I drafted along with some comments and analysis. It is in order of which round the player was selected in.
1. Albert Pujols (1B-LAA). This was an easy choice as King Albert slipped to me at the end of the first round. Granted his numbers were somewhat pedestrian in 2012 when compared to previous years. However, he now has a year under his belt on a new team and also has Josh Hamilton hitting behind him. I expect the power numbers to slightly increase as well as a return to his usual plus-.300 batting average.
2. Justin Verlander (SP-DET). I wanted to take a pitcher here because it would be another 20 picks before I got to pick again. The decision to take Justin Verlander was another easy choice given how dominant he has been and should continue to be. There is no reason not to expect at least 17 wins, a sub-3.00 ERA, 200+ strikeouts, and a great WHIP.
3. Curtis Granderson (OF-NYY). I expect eyebrows to be raised at this selection, but allow me to explain. Curtis Granderson is a free agent after 2013 and we all know what happens during players’ contract years. Granderson’s batting average took a major nosedive in 2012, but I expect that to bounce back. He will provide great production with homeruns and runs scored, and could be in for more RBI depending on where he bats in the Yankees lineup.
4. Hanley Ramirez (SS-LAD). Talk about a player whose fantasy value has gone down. Hanley Ramirez needed a change of scenery in the worst way. Now that he is in Los Angeles, I would expect his production to improve as well. His stolen base numbers will never likely be what they once were, but for a player who qualifies at both 3B and SS you can’t argue with his projected power numbers hitting in a potent Dodgers’ lineup.
5. Roy Halladay (SP-PHI). I was quite surprised to see Roy Halladay still available at this point in the draft. I wasn’t planning on taking a second pitcher at this point, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to grab the former Cy Young award winner and pair him up with Verlander on my staff. He had a down year in 2012 with some injuries and a lack of run support. However, I fully expect a return to greatness, especially because the Phillies will be a better team overall as well.
6. Jacoby Ellsbury (OF-BOS). It was just a year ago that Jacoby Ellsbury was considered a top 10 pick in any draft. However, injuries derailed him in 2012. Now he comes back in his contract year looking to prove he is worth a hefty new deal as a long-term investment. I think grabbing him in the sixth round will provide great value with his ability to contribute in all five roto categories,
7. Aramis Ramirez (3B-MIL). After all of these years, Aramis Ramirez still tends to go under the radar when discussing some of the better options at third base. Never before has this position lacked so much depth, but Ramirez is as consistent as they come with a solid batting average and close to 30 home runs and 100 RBI every year.
8. Jonathan Papelbon (RP-PHI). Wanting to make sure I got at least one elite closer, I grabbed Papelbon here in the 8th. The Phillies will certainly be better this season which means more saves opportunities. Papelbon had a very good inaugural season in Philadelphia, but with an improved team overall he could reach up to 40-45 saves.
9. Mark Teixeira (1B-NYY). Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira has been one of the most frustrating players to have on a fantasy team these past few years. Once a perennial .275 – .290 hitter, Teixeira has become an albatross for batting average in roto leagues. His power numbers have remained consistent, but he has never really elevated his game to the next level. Now in his fifth season with the Yankees and with A-Rod missing half the season, I think Teixeira could finally be in for his breakout season in pinstripes.
10. Yovani Gallardo (SP-MIL). After already drafting Justin Verlander and Roy Halladay, I grabbed Gallardo as my third starting pitcher. What is not to like? He wins double-digit games with a good ERA and high strikeout totals.
11. Alex Gordon (OF-KC). Coming into 2012, Alex Gordon was very high on my radar after his breakout 2011 season. After a slow start, he did finish strong. But now I think Gordon is ready to take an even bigger step as the Royals mix and match some young stars with veteran players to make a run in 2013. As Gordon gets stronger, a lot of those extra base hits are going to find their way over the fence for homeruns.
12. Carlos Beltran (OF-STL). In this league, there is no disabled list or add/drops. That means that I took a chance by drafting Carlos Beltran who is a lock to miss time at some point during the season. He had a very productive debut season in St. Louis last year, but he did miss several games with various ailments to his legs. If he can play 130-135 games, he should be able to put up similar power numbers.
13. Carlos Santana (C-CLE). I am never a fan of drafting catchers before the end of a draft, but with Carlos Santana still available I had to take him. Santana will be another year removed from his knee injury and will get time at first base and DH to keep his bat in the lineup. With an improved team around him, he should be counted on for 20 homeruns and 75 RBI assuming he remains healthy.
14. Drew Storen (RP-WAS). This pick was made before the Nationals signed Rafael Soriano as a free agent. Now it doesn’t seem like such a great pick in terms of saves, but Storen should still help with ERA, WHIP and strikeouts.
15. Ichiro Suzuki (OF-NYY). Recognizing that my roster was deficient in projected stolen bases, I decided to take one of my favorite fantasy players of all time in Ichiro Suzuki. I know he won’t hit .340 with 60 stolen bases any more, but playing every day in the Yankees lineup should bring some of his fantasy value back in terms of batting average, runs scored and stolen bases.
16. Tom Wilhelmsen (RP-SEA). Acting on pure instinct, I decided to go for the kill in saves and grab a third closer. Wilhelmsen emerged from nowhere in 2012 to become a viable fantasy closer after taking over for Brandon League. The Mariners probably won’t win more than 70-75 games, but Wilhelmsen should save about 30 of them.
17. David Ortiz (DH-BOS). This was another risky pick given Ortiz’s age and injury history, but at this point in the draft his upside was too valuable. Even at his age, David Ortiz still is capable of hitting .300 with 30 homeruns and 100 RBI. Boston has overhauled a majority of the lineup around him, so Ortiz should have plenty of run-producing opportunities. It will be interesting to see how John Farrell uses him in interleague games which could possibly cost him some at bats.
18. Joel Hanrahan (RP-BOS). Now I am just being greedy with saves. I was very surprised that the Red Sox’ new closer, Joel Hanrahan, was still available at this point of the draft. He is coming off of two very good seasons with the Pirates and now inherits the closing duties in Boston. The issue will be how many save chances he gets because Boston’s starting pitching and middle relievers must show a significant improvement from last year.
19. Dan Uggla (2B-ATL). I waited this long without taking a second baseman and I was still able to get Braves all-star Dan Uggla. There is no question that he will not help me in batting average, but he is one of the most powerful second basemen in the league. To get a second baseman that will hit at least 20 homeruns and drive in 75 runs at this point in the draft is a steal.
20. Alexei Ramirez (SS-CHW). My final pick of the draft is another player who has yet to really fulfill his potential. White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez has the tools to be a very good fantasy player with a good combination of power and speed. At the very least, Ramirez will provide depth at the middle infield position and give me some much needed stolen bases.
Here is what my roster looks like positionally:
C Carlos Santana (CLE)
1B Albert Pujols (LAA)
2B Dan Uggla (ATL)
3B Aramis Ramirez (MIL)
SS Hanley Ramirez (LAD)
CI Mark Teixeira (NYY)
MI Alexei Ramirez (CHW)
OF Curtis Granderson (NYY)
OF Jacoby Ellsbury (BOS)
OF Alex Gordon (KC)
OF Carlos Beltran (STL)
OF Ichiro Suzuki (NYY)
UT David Ortiz (BOS)
SP Justin Verlander (DET)
SP Roy Halladay (PHI)
SP Yovani Gallardo (MIL)
RP Jonathan Papelbon (PHI)
RP Drew Storen (WAS)
RP Tom Wilhelmsen (SEA)
RP Joel Hanrahan (BOS)
Overall I like this team quite a bit. I think my power and run production should be at or near the top of the league. My biggest concerns offensively are batting average and stolen bases. If Ellsbury and Ichiro have vintage years, then I should be fine. On the pitching side, I am very pleased having three dominant starters plus four closers.