2018 FSTA MLB Experts Draft
The Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) held their annual Experts Fantasy Baseball Draft in Los Angeles on January 22nd, 2018. Well, sorta. The draft actually started the final week of December, a slow draft online. After completing eight rounds we went to L.A, made it through 10 more rounds, and now are back at the slow draft online thing (keep checking back for updates as the draft progresses). I and 13 other experts did battle in the 14-team, mixed league draft, the first experts draft of the baseball season. How did my team turn out? Did I make any sterling picks? Were there any blunders? Do I need to hit the bottle to dull the pain? Read on to find out.
1 - Jim Bowden, SiriusXM Fantasy Baseball
2 - Steve Gardner/Howard Kamen, USA Today Sports
3 - Charlie Wiegert/Vlad Sedler, CDMSports
4 - Ralph Rabe, Rotoballer
5 - Derek VanRiper, RotoWire
6 - Greg Ambrosius/Tom Kessenich, NFBC
7 - Anthony Perri, Fantistics
8 – Dr. Roto Mark Bloom, Scout Fantasy
9 - Brent Hershey/Ray Murphy, BaseballHQ
10 - Jeff Mans/Ted Smith-Schuster, Guru Elite
11 - Howard Bender, FantasyAlarm
12 - Ray Flowers, SiriusXM Fantasy Drive
13 - Lawr Michaels Creativesports2.com
14 - Colton & The Wolfman with Stacy Stern
5 x 5 Rotisserie style scoring.
Hitting Categories – BA, HR, RBI, Runs, SB
Pitching Categories – W, ERA, WHIP, K, SV
ROSTER: 2-C, 1-1B, 1-3B, 1-CI, 1-2B, 1-SS, 1-MI, 5-OF, 1-UT, 9-P, 6 reserves
Every team must have a minimum of 3,500 at-bats and 900 innings pitched.
Each player will have $1000 in FAAB money to spend on changes for his team.
The minimum bid on any player will be $1.
*Round taken in parenthesis.
Catcher: Russell Martin (20), Francisco Mejia (25)
First Base: Joey Votto (1)
Second Base: D.J. LeMahieu (8), Kolten Wong (28)
Third Base: Manny Machado (2)
Shortstop: Amed Rosario (16)
Middle Infield: Eduardo Nunez (10)
Corner Infield: Joey Gallo (9)
Outfield: Starling Marte (3), Christian Yelich (4), Ryan Braun (7), Eric Thames (13), Melby Cabrera (21)
Utility: Chris Davis (15)
Bench: Gleyber Torres (19), Josh Harrison (22)
Pitchers: Gerrit Cole (5), Jose Berrios (6), Jeff Samardzija (11), Arodys Vizcaino (12), Kevin Gausman (14), Dellin Betances (17), Patrick Corbin (18), Cam Bedrosian (23), Carl Edwards Jr. (24), Mike Leake (26), Tyler Glasnow (27), Colin McHugh (29)
ROUND 1: I had 10 hitters I loved, and I postulated two folks would take SPs, so I took pick #12 (we were allowed to choose our draft spot prior to draft day). No one took a pitcher in the first 11 selections, so I barely got a hitter that I truly "wanted." I'm totally fine with Joey Votto who is rock solid and that average of his is fierce, but it's amazing no pitchers went before my selection. None. You won't see that happen anywhere else.
ROUND 2: Manny Machado is still just 25 years old, and his three-year average is .280-35-92-96. I could have gone Freeman/Rizzo but I already had Votto. Could have gone Francisco Lindor, but not totally buying his power surge from last season. Machado is young, never misses games (690 plate appearances 3-years running) and still has another level offensively to go.
ROUND 3: This was tough. I wanted Abreu, but with Votto/Machado already in the fold, I didn't want to go that heavy at corner infield this early. I thought of Justin Upton, but he went right before my selection. I considered Yelich, but hope he falls to the next round. Starling Marte has questions, but double up his 77 games from last season (not scientific), and you get a season of .275-14-62-96-42. He’s capable of reaching those numbers in ’18. Steals are so hard to find anymore, and I’m really not concerned with his bat.
ROUND 4: Abreu went since my last pick, as did Andrew Benintendi, leaving me with the choice of A.J. Pollock or Christian Yelich. You know I went with my boy Yelich. Just 26 years old, Yelich has posted an OBP of at least .362 every year of his career, and the last two years his average effort is .290-20-90-89-12. I think he has more to give. Way more stable at this point than Pollock.
ROUND 5: Gerrit Cole, Nola, Berrios were the three arms I was looking at. I really was considering going with Xander Bogaerts here, folks are looking past him because of a perceived down 2017, but ultimately, I went with an SP. Reason being, and I say this all the time, you have to play your draft. With 67 picks off the board there had already been 20 arms taken, so it was time to grab a pitcher. Cole struck out 196 batters last season, his K/9 rate returned (8.69) and it's nearly a mortal lock that his 15.9 HR/FB ratio will regress. Cole was dealt to the Astros after this pick was made.
ROUND 6: Good thing I went Cole last round as Nola went right after my selection. I grabbed Jose Berrios to give me two arms I believe are top-25 heading into the season. After a dreadful rookie effort, Berrios pitched as expected in year two with 14 wins, an 8.59 K/9 and a solid 2.90 K/BB ratio. One can hope against hope that Bogaerts will fall to my next pick, highly unlikely as it is, as I will most likely turn back to the offensive side of the ledger.
ROUND 7: Considered going with Lo Cain, but he went the pick before me making this an easy decision after Bogaerts went earlier in the round (poo). Not who he once was, Ryan Braun could still hit .285 with 25 homers and 15 steals; production I would gladly take at this point of the draft.
ROUND 8: This was the toughest selection of the draft to this point. I thought Marcus Stroman, and he was there. I was looking at the relief spot, and goodness, are there some concerns there both with roles and health. I also saw five relievers go in the last 14 selections, and knowing that I have a long wait till my next pick, I zeroed in on Iglesias who has as good an arm as any on the board. That left me eyeing Iglesias, Stroman, Eduard Nunez (still no team), D.J. LeMahieu and Trevor Story with my next selection. I just couldn't take the RP with all the volatility at the spot, and I just don't think it's necessary to take three SPs in my first eight picks. I'll take the runs and batting average the last three years from DJL (.319 average and 95 runs per season), so I can take shots on power hitters later in the draft that don’t offer anything in batting average.
ROUND 20: Tough call here. I didn't have a catcher and counted 18 off the board. Felt that this might be the point in the draft, since there are 28 starters at the position, that a few folks would start to dive in to grab a second. I took Russell Martin with hopes of a 15-55-55 season. No grand expectations. I considered going SP, but no one stood out. There are about 10 relievers that I'm eyeing, no way they all get taken before my next selection, so I ultimately passed there for now. Ditto the outfield where there are still plenty of solid OF5 options left on the board. I hate taking such a boring pick as Martin, but I didn't want a catching duo of Avila/Gomes.
ROUND 21: Melky Cabrera’s last four years have resulted in an average 5x5 line of .289-15-80-75-3. He doesn’t run anymore, but he always suits up, and his batting average will help to offset some of what I’ve given away with the power bats. I’m also a bit worried about Thames playing time as of making this pick, so I wanted to get some stability in the outfield, even if Cabrera is boring.
ROUND 22: I thought of going with an SP, but no one stood out. I thought of going RP but no one stood out (there are still about 10 arms I really like). I thought of going catcher, but I might as well just wait that one out. I ended up with Josh Harrison, who like Cabrera, is boring but stable with a four year average of .290-9-46-64-15. I get some steals, and another batting average boost, not to mention that Harrison enters the year qualifying at second and third which means he could play middle infield allowing me to slot Nunez in the outfield if need be.
ROUND 23: I considered, strongly, one of two paths. (1) Take a catcher this round. This position, one I had taken before Mans (Hedges) and Bender (Avila) grabbed two catchers right on front of me, held some sway. (2) Take a reliever. Ultimately, I went with Cam Bedrosian. I don’t know for sure if he or Blake Parker will emerge as the closer in Anaheim, truth be told I wanted to take both in Rounds 23/24 (Parker already went), but I really like his arm. The question now becomes do I take another reliever, or catcher with my next selection (Lawr Michaels has one catcher so he might take one, though Colton/Wolfman have two so they won’t)?
ROUND 24: The catcher run continued, Lawr grabbed Tucker Barnhart, so I was extremely tempted to grab Matt Wieters who is the best backstop left. Ultimately, there isn’t much upside with Wieters compared to the rest of the left overs at catcher – is a .250-16-60 season that much better than a .250-12-48 season? – whereas there’s huge potential with Carl Edwards Jr. I don’t know who will close when Brandon Morrow is hurt, it may not be Edwards, but the young righty has a huge arm, could easily repeat his impressive numbers from last season (2.98 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 12.75 K/9), and even 5-10 saves gives him more value than the catching option.
ROUND 25: I took a gamble on Francisco Mejia. Why? Line of thought follows. Someone is gonna get hurt in spring training on my roster. I will therefore be using the DL quickly. I can then use that open spot to add a catcher. Even if I lose one week of at-bats from my catchers spot, it shouldn’t hurt too badly, not with the potential of Mejia to be a strong bat in the second half of the season. That was the decision I was left with after four catchers went since my last pick in the draft. Heck, maybe I’ll take a third catching option one of the last three rounds.
ROUND 26: I don’t really like Mike Leake that much, but some solid innings will do my current roster well. He has posted a GB/FB ratio of above 2.00 the last four seasons, and his K/BB the last two seasons is 3.81. He's also thrown 175 frames in 6-straigt seasons. I should be able to make up some of the lost strikeouts with the power arms I gained in my bullpen ranks.
ROUND 27: I considered names such as Josh Tomlin, Dan Straily and Kyle Gibson, but man are they boring. I looked over the board and said – let’s take the best arm. I grabbed Tyler Glasnow to fit that bill. He has an arm touched by the gods, but he often has no idea where he’s throwing it. Four outcomes. (1) He is sent to the minors. (2) He works out of the bullpen. (3) He’s a moderate starter just getting by with solid K totals. (4) Something clicks, he’s slightly better than average, and pushes for 200 strikeouts. Pretty sure it will be #1/2, but at this point in draft, and being sooooooo early with 50 days until Opening Day, I’ll take a show on the arm talent.
ROUND 28: This was a tough call. Should I grab another SP? Should I take another shot on an RP (Barraclough or Oh)? Should I grab Dustin Pedroia, knowing he will start the year on the DL so I can stash him and replace him with another player in Week 2 (likely that second catcher since it’s unlikely that Mejia will break camp with the Indians)? Ultimately, I went with Kolten Wong. Just 27 years old, he has the ability to swipe 15-20 bases. He’s also coming off his best offensive season with a .285/.376/.412 slash line and might finally be ready to reach the heights once predicted of him with his newfound willingness to hit the ball the other way.
ROUND 29: Here’s the deal. Do I take a second catcher, or do I go one week without a second catcher? That’s the choice here. I could have gone Pedroia and used that DL spot after Week 1. Ultimately, I decided to do something I don’t think I’ve ever done before... take a zero at a spot for a week. I won’t have a second catcher the first week of the season, but what am I really missing out with Jason Castro or Kurt Suzuki in one week? Not much really. Instead, I took a shot on Collin McHugh. We’re hearing that teams are beating down the Astros door for the righty. Let’s hope he ends up starting for someone. He’s got the talent to be a useful piece, no doubt about that. See 2015 (19-7, 3.89 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 171 Ks).
The team is a bit messy. I’ll need to find saves, something I’ve been extremely successful doing in this league in the past. Offensively, I’ve sprinkled loads of power throughout the lineup. I’ve also been able to add ample batting average coverage as well. With speed a target for many, I’ve got plenty of guys who could swipe 15 bases (Nunez, Marte, Yelich, Braun, Harrison, Rosario, Wong). I’ve also added young talent, and hope that it pans out (Rosario, Torres, Mejia, Glasnow). There’s also substantial positional flexibility (Nunez, Gallo, Thames, Harrison and Machado when he picks up shortstop eligibility). Health and the waiver-wire is where it will all play out over the next eight months. Let’s see how it goes.