The Fantasy Sports & Gaming Association (FSGA) held their annual Experts Fantasy Baseball Draft in Las Vegas on January 14th, 2020. Yes, we just completed a fantasy baseball draft in January. There are still free agents looking for teams, games haven’t started yet either, but we drafted our teams in the first experts fantasy baseball draft of 2020. How did my killer squad start out? A note before we dig into it.
I had the option to choose my draft spot in this league. Out of the 14 contests, my name came up first so I had the first selection of roster spots. With that choice, I went with number… four. Why? I gave a long explanation of why I made that decision in The First Round: Why Not the Fourth Pick?
With that, let’s get into how things played out in Sin City.
Listed in order of draft spots.
Howard Bender, Fantasy Alarm
2 Josh Hayes / Ralph Rabe, Rotoballer Radio
3 Charlie Wiegert / Tim Jensen, RT Sports
4 Ray Flowers, SiriusXM Fantasy Drive
5 Dr. Roto, (Mark Bloom), Full Time Fantasy
6 Jeff Erickson, Rotowire Fantasy Sports
7 Jordan Paulson / Michael Lazarus, Yahoo Sports
8 Steve Gardner / Howard Kamen, USA Today Sports
9 Scott Fish / Greg Ambrosius, NFBC, Sportshub
10 Chris Towers, CBS Sports
11 Trevis Waters / Anthony Carson, DFS Karma
12 Ray Murphy / Brent Hershey, Baseball HQ
13 Anthony Perri, Fantistics Fantasy Sports
14 Stacy Stern / Rick Wolf / Glenn Colton, Fantasy Alarm
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. A shot from the draft with the first six picks.
Catcher: Francisco Mejia (17), Tucker Barnhart (29)
First Base: Paul Goldschmidt (4)
Second Base: Gavin Lux (10)
Third Base: Kris Bryant (3)
Shortstop: Corey Seager (11)
Middle Infielder: Dee Gordon (18)
Corner Infielder: Brian Anderson (19)
Outfield: Mookie Betts (1), Aaron Judge (2), Tommy Pham (5), Yasiel Puig (12), Justin Upton (15)
Utility: Jurickson Profar (22)
Pitchers: Jose Berrios (6), Brandon Woodruff (7), Kenley Jansen (8), Raisel Iglesias (9), Kenta Maeda (13), German Marquez (14), Joey Lucchesi (16), Seth Lugo (20), Mychael Givens (21)
BENCH: Ternt Grisham (23), Johnny Cueto (24), Pablo Lopez (25), Dylan Carlson (26), Travis Shaw (27), Rick Porcello (28)
DRAFT WRITE UP
*NOTE: The draft only completed 11 rounds in Las Vegas. The rest of the draft is now being filled out in real time, so check back regularly to see how the draft is progressing.
ROUND 1: Mookie Betts is a star. Totally comfortable having him as my first-round building block.
ROUND 2: Aaron Judge has averaged .273-45-101-119 per 162 games. Unfortunately, he’s played less than 115 games the last two seasons keeping his homer total under 30 both times out. With health, he will end up being a great selection at this point of the draft.
ROUND 3: Kris Bryant is boring to many, I get it. He’s really, really good though. In the four seasons he has 600 PAs he’s averaged 31-88-107, and his career slash line sparkles at .284/.385/.516.
ROUND 4: Paul Goldschmidt doesn’t run anymore, 10 steals the last two years, but he’s still really effective. The last two years he’s averaged .275-34-90-96-5, and it’s completely reasonable to expect another such line this season. Truth be told, I was going to grab Adalberto Mondesi here to get that speed. I also felt comfortable doing that since I knew my plan was to go heavy offense early, which would have, at least in theory, helped me to overcome the deficiencies with Mondesi’s bat. Alas, Mondesi went the pick before me.
ROUND 5: In search of that speed I lost out on the previous round, I turned to Tommy Pham. People seem to continually sleep on Pham even though his three-year average is .284-22-68-91-22. He’s not great at anything, but he’s really, really solid, and he runs.
ROUND 6: Jose Berrios was my first SP selection in this draft, for the second year in a row. He went 14-8 with a 3.68 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 195 punchouts over 200.1 innings. I’ll take that level of production again.
ROUND 7: Madison Bumgarner went a pick before me so the selection ended up being Brandon Woodruff. He’s had some health issues through the years, and he only threw 121.2 innings last season, but he dominated with a 3.62 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 10.58 K/9 and 2.22 BB/9 rate. If he throws 170-innings, this pick is going to pay off nicely.
ROUND 8: I intended to go another arm, James Paxton, but he went the pick before me. It might have turned out for the best anyway as I selected Kenley Jansen, and then backed him in a round later with Raisel Iglesias. I rarely end up with two relievers I deem as top-10 in this draft, it’s so early in the year I usually end up speculating, but I went for perceived stability with those two. Jansen has 33 saves in 6-straight seasons, and though his skills have pulled back a bit, he still had a 1.06 WHIP and 11.43 K/9 last season. Iglesias has 28 saves in 3-straight seasons, including a career best 34 last season, and his 4.24 K/BB ratio was also a career best last year.
ROUND 9: See the Round 8 breakdown.
ROUND 10: ‘Ray Flowers doesn’t draft rookies, and he hates youngsters.’ That’s what some folks seem to think about yours truly. Not true of course, and here’s another example. Gavin Lux struck out 24 times in 75 big league at-bats, but the kid can hit, which he did most of last season in the minors (.347-26-76-99 with a 1.028 OPS in 113 games). He should play daily, and be effective, but I will grab another second baseman at some point to give me some depth.
ROUND 11: Don’t draft with your heart. Draft with your head. I hate the Dodgers (being a Giants fan). Still, I took Dodgers with back-to-back picks. Corey Seager has had health issues that have knocked off some of the luster, but the kid can still hit. Just 25 years old, Seager went .272-19-87-82 last season with a .817 OPS. I considered that to be the floor of what his production will be this season.
ROUND 12: Yasiel Puig is still a free agent, and I have to hope he doesn’t sign with the Marlins. The guy is a goof, and he’s hurt a good deal, but he also profiles as a stupendous fourth outfield option capable of going 20/15 (as he has done each of the past three years).
ROUND 13: Kenta Maeda starts and relieves, as the Dodgers always move him around. Over his last four seasons his average effort is 12-9, 3.87 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 9.8 K/9 and a 3.6 K/BB over 147 innings pitched. I’ll take those numbers with pleasure at this point of the draft.
ROUND 14: Tough call here. Thought Ryan McMahon / Rougned Odor for MI help, and Justin Upton who I’ve traditionally loved was also in consideration. Even thought about grabbing a third closer. Ultimately, I went for German Marquez. We will see if it’s the right call or not. He stunk at home last season, and was wildly overdrafted (something I said ALL spring), but taking him at pick 193 this year, versus his 79.9 ADP last season at the NFBC, seems like a solid play for a guy who still had 175 Ks and a 1.20 WHIP last year.
ROUND 15: Sitting here with the same three options as I thought of turning to last round on the hitting side (kinda what I thought would happen). Yes, he’s now 32, years old, and yes, he was an injury riddled mess last season who played 63 games with a .724 OPS. Still, Justin Upton is just a year removed from a .257-30-85-80-8 effort, which was a third straight season of 30-85-80 for the outfielder. If he posted numbers similar to 2018 I really wouldn’t be surprised, and neither should you be. He’s an excellent 5th outfielder here.
ROUND 16: I don’t have a catcher, a MI, a CI, a UT on offense, and there are a few spots on the pitching side open too. There are a lot of similar type arms out there at this point, so I don’t feel a huge push to go in that direction. That said, there seems to be a lot of parity/boredom at those offensive positions. I mean, will I really rue the day I passed on Robinson Cano to draft Starlin Castro? Or what about Brian Anderson instead of Eric Hosmer? I just grabbed Joey Lucchesi. He struggles to pitch on the road (5.40 ERA and .340 wOBA in his career), but unlike Marquez can pitch at home (3.22 ERA, .290 wOBA), so I will have some managing to do with the lineup each week. I’ll take a catcher next round as there just seems to be a heck of a lot of parity at the MI/CI spots (the more I thought about McMahon, the more I thought about a plate appearance cap unless Nolan Arenado is dealt).
ROUND 17: Francisco Mejia hit .265 with eight homers last season, so why take him here? He’s a vastly superior offensive option to teammate Austin Hedges (who still holds a significant defensive advantage over Mejia). It’s admittedly a small sample size, but Mejia was a robust offensive performer in the second half last season when his 141 plate appearances resulted in a .305 average, a .866 OPS and a .363 wOBA. This is the year that he finally emerges, and we are getting to the point that (A) catchers are going to start to go off the board (Danny Jansen just went) and (B) where the catchers taken will have significant batting average concerns. I don’t think I will regret this pick at this point, and there’s a significant chance that he has a James McCann like breakout this year.
ROUND 18: Gavin Lux holds tremendous upside, but there are of course concerns as he enters his first full season in the bigs. Therefore, it is pretty important that I grab a backup at second base just in case. At this point of the draft, there aren’t many players who legitimately can go .275 with 25 steals. One of those men happens to play second base – Dee Gordon. His NFBC ADP is 270, so I’m jumping that mark by about a round, but I need a backup second sacker, and it’s never a bad thing to be considering steals at this point of a draft. Is Gordon the most well-rounded option at this point? Absolutely not, but I have built what I think is a pretty damn strong offense so I’m willing to take the shot on his lack of pop for that speed/insurance addition.
ROUND 19: I’ve wanted to draft Jesse Winker for about three rounds. I know his ADP is like 50 picks from now, but I still like the bat. That said, a best-case scenario could still lead to a platoon effort this season. I need help at corner infield, so I’m turning to Brian Anderson who is 3B/OF eligible. His numbers are likely to be similar to Winker, and he brings that CI designation as well. The Marlins moved the fences in a few feet too, and that doesn’t damage his outlook at all this season either. Solid, but unlikely to break out.
ROUND 20: I really like the ideal of getting a middle reliever, with some saves potential, who racks up strikeouts and helps in the ratio category. That man, in this draft, is Seth Lugo. Edwin Diaz had a darn spotty season last year in some respects, and Lugo was a force in the second half (i.e. there’s a path to at least a few save chances for Lugo, if not more). The last two years Lugo has dominated opponents with an average effort of five wins, five saves and 104 strikeouts over 91 innings. He also owns a 2.68 ERA and a WHIP of 1.00. Yeah, damn good right?
ROUND 21: I might regret this pick. I considered going Chirinos at catcher, and Berti at everywhere. There’s plenty of decent starting pitching left, so I took a shot on the last guy left who I think has the 9th inning on lockdown to start the year in Mychal Givens. He disappointed last year with 11 saves and eight blown efforts, but he also had a 12.29 K/9 rate and he owns a career WHIP of 1.14. Gotta think that stupid high 23 percent HR/FB ratio regresses (career 11.1), and if he gets off to a hot start 20 saves is doable.
ROUND 22: With the news that Shed Long is going to be the full-time at second, that leaves Gordon is a bit of a nebulous situation necessitating another MI addition – hence Jurickson Profar. Certainly took him a while to arrive, but the last two seasons he’s averaged 20/10 with 72 RBI and 74 runs scored. The .237 average is a concern, but his counting category game is mighty solid for this point in the draft.
ROUND 23: This was a tough call. Go with that second catcher? Grab a starting pitcher? There seems to be a lot of parity there, at the SP spot, so I figured I would roll the dice and just take two in rounds 24/25. That sent my attention back to the outfield where I landed on Trent Grisham. Yet again, the Padres have a crowded outfield, but I’m guessing that Grisham plays most days after he was the big trade acquisition this offseason. The 23 year old went 26/12 in just 97 games at Double and Triple-A last season, and certainly owns the skills to one day go 20/20 in the big leagues.
ROUND 24: Johnny Cueto is the choice, as the other arms I had targeted all went since the last time I was on the clock. Cueto is 33 and last threw 150-innings in 2017, but he still knows how to pitch, he still has a 1.14 WHIP his last 13, but the question is, how long will his body hold up? If he succeeds, this pick will be fine. If he fumbles the ball, it’s not the end of the world.
ROUND 25: Rick Porcello, Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta were on my radar, and the old Ray Flowers would have grabbed one of those arms. The new Ray Flowers though, he went with Pablo Lopez. Through 170 innings he has 141 punchouts with a 1.60 GB/FB and a 1.25 WHIP. There should be some more punchouts if that wing is healthy this year.
ROUND 26: The 17th ranked prospect in baseball by MLB.com, Dylan Carlson went .292-26-68-95-20 last season, and it sure sounds like there is a legitimate chance that we could see him up pretty darn early this season with the Cardinals.
ROUND 27: I almost went with Ray favorite Miguel Cabrera, but I went Travis Shaw instead. Why? Some of it had to do with the third base eligibility that Shaw has, and he is expected to play first base for the Jays as well this season adding that second position. There is also the fact that Miggy no longer has much pop, and as much of a disaster that Shaw was last season when he implemented a swing change, he still has gone 30/85 in 2-of-3 seasons and is just 29 years of age.
ROUND 28: A boring pick at this point is Rick Porcello. I wanted to go with a relief arm, but I already had four relievers so I thought it wise to turn my attention to another starting arm. He’s thrown at least 170-innings every year since 2011, and he has had 180 or more punchouts in 3-of-4 years (he fell down to 143 lasts season). Perhaps a move out of the AL East, to the NL East, will help a bit.
ROUND 29: He’s boring, but I went with Tucker Barnhart who isn’t likely to damage my batting average. I could have gone with James McCann who has better skills, but baring a trade McCann isn’t likely to generate enough playing time with the addition of Yasmani Grandal.
AUDIO FROM DRAFT
To listen to the draft click on this link.
A FEW DRAFT NOTES
- Four of the first eleven picks were shortstops.
- Four starting pitchers went in the first round.
- Two teams, #13 and #14, both went SP/SP in the first two rounds.
Here are the overall Draft Results.