Ten Burning Questions From the First Five Rounds of #TDGX

As you surely know by now, 20 of us are currently drafting teams in The Dynasty Guru Experts League. The festivities can be followed on Twitter at #TDGX. So in lieu of talking about my team today, which I will get to in due time, I reached out with ten specific questions to ten specific owners–getting them to talk about things that have helped shape the first five rounds of the draft. Whether it’s strategy or particular picks, there was no shortage of things that I wanted to know from the first 100 picks, and the answers did not disappoint. Thank you to all of the owners who provided the insight below.

1) Craig Glaser/Tom Trudeau, Bloomberg Sports & MLB AM

Q: Did you guys set out with the strategy of taking all very young players up top and would it have been different if you had not picked at the #2 spot? Did you have particular players in mind for each of those picks? When do you think your team can reasonably be contenders?

A: We didn’t really get into specifics of our strategy until we found out where we’d draft, so it’s hard to say for sure what we might have done differently with an alternative draft slot. We certainly favored this strategy though. I think there were a few considerations for why we went this route:

1. We asked ourselves whether we could realistically imagine investing in enough short-term (closers, old vets)  and/or highly volatile (starting pitching) assets that you need to win a competitive league. In year one of a dynasty league where we want to get set up for the long-haul, the answer was no.
2. Not caring about 2014 is in and of itself an asset that few if any other teams have. That means a) on draft day we can take players that are discounted due to their lack of 2014 contributions, such as Matt Harvey. B)  We don’t need to roster the players that you need for depth in a league this deep, but probably won’t keep. That frees us up to stash more lottery tickets in the minors. Lottery tickets are low probability, so it helps to have a bunch.  C) Throughout the year we have a chance to pick off injured Major Leaguers at a relative discount from contending teams.
3. General philosophy — Craig and I (especially me) tend to look at dynasty leagues over a longer horizon than most. I’m not interested in a slim chance to win this year and next. Instead, I want a much higher probability of winning several times over the next five years or so. Everyone else is trying to win in 2014 with the same set of information. We’re ducking under the wave of competition and hoping when we come up it’ll be less choppy and we’ll be the only ones unbruised trying to fight through this disastrous metaphor.  David Ortiz has to decline eventually, basically.
4. Last (and least — this only came up recently), but we couldn’t deny there was some incentive to “tank.” For example, had we played out the season a year ago, we’d get a top 50-100 asset in Kris Bryant with our first pick. Next year we’ll presumably have a very good shot at Rodon, Turner, etc.
I think both of us expect to compete next season. Craig and I employed the exact same strategy in our first year in Devil’s Rejects. We started out with a middling team in 2012 and traded (literally) everyone for young players. Enough prospects hit (many of which we traded for in-prime MLBers) that by opening day 2013 we probably had the best collection of talent in the league for both the present and future (in my opinion, at least).

2) Mike Rosenbaum, Bleacher Report

Q: The Yelich pick may seem like some to be a reach, but he very well might not have made it back to you. What do you see as his fantasy upside and how quickly can he reach it?

A: I love Christian Yelich, but everyone probably figured that much after I drafted him in the third round, with an endless selection of proven, reputable players still on the board. Many of the top young players started going in the second and third rounds—specifically, Buxton, Bogaerts, Taveras, Myers, Profar, Baez and Springer—and I wanted to make sure I got one for myself before they were all gone. Therefore, I ended going with Yelich, who I think has the potential to be a .300-plus hitter for a long, long time (even if the average isn’t there during the initial years of his MLB career), with the ability to post 15-20 home runs (maybe more) annually once he settles in at the highest level. Plus, given his ability to reach base at a favorable clip—which lacks direct value in our league—I like Yelich’s chances of regularly surpassing his stolen bases projections. Entering his age-22 season, the left-handed hitting outfielder is going to keep getting better with experience, and my plan is to build around him in future years.

3) Nick Shlain, Rotowire

Q: Andrelton Simmons, your fifth round pick, showed surprising pop in 2013. How much do you believe in his power going forward?

A: Simmons was moved down in the order after a brutal first half that saw him post a .282 OBP. His putrid .246 BABIP didn’t improve much in the second half (.249), but his walk rate ticked up and he had a .316 OBP in the second half. I will be absolutely stunned if Simmons has a .247 BABIP for a full season again. He’s not a slow first baseman, and I don’t believe in that BABIP as his baseline at all. With improvement in that regard, Simmons’ batting average will come up this year. The power Simmons displayed last year, however, is something I believe in and I’ll always take 17 home runs from a shortstop. Simmons can also steal more than six bases, he showed that skill in the minors.

4) Chris Crawford, MLB Draft Insider/ESPN

Q: Taking Jose Abreu in the fourth round says to readers that you believe in the bat. What kind of numbers do you think he’s reasonably capable of in 2014 and beyond?

A: I know some people concerned about the bat-speed — and no, bat-speed is not some overrated skill that isn’t necessary — but I love the swing, and he’s strong and balanced enough to hit the ball out to any part of the park. I don’t think a 30 homer, 100+ RBI season is out of the question, and I fully expect Abreu to be a top five to eight first-baseman for the next few years. I think that’s well worth the 68th pick.

5) Luke Chatelain, The Dynasty Guru

Q: Buxton at 21? Did you have that on your radar before the draft started, or was it a lack of major league options you liked at that spot which drove you into his arms? If you hadn’t decided to go young for that pick, who would your selection have been?

A: Personally I have Buxton ranked somewhere in the 30s for dynasty leagues but in other expert leagues I’m in I’ve seen him traded straight up for Buster Posey, so with no other youthful stud MLB guys on the board we made the plunge. We could have gone Bogaerts at this point but I think Buxton will be the superior fantasy player in the future, which could arrive as soon as next year. We also realized that Buxton/Bogaerts would never get back to us at pick 60/61. If we didn’t go young I think we would have went J-Up/Segura/Bruce or maybe Carlos Gomez. I didn’t want to take any of the old 3Bs, Desmond or Hosmer. Oh, we should also note that Adam scouted him in person and felt the tools really justified the hype. Mature beyond his years and obviously the best player out there.

6) Alex Kantecki, The Dynasty Guru

Q: Why do you think Carlos Gomez lasted until 38th overall? Seems like he could be one of the best bargains of the first few rounds. At what point did you think he might actually make it to you?

A: Needless to say, I was very surprised to see Gomez available for me at the 38th overall pick. As the only player to go 20/40 in 2013, pairing one of the most unique skillsets with my first selection, Miguel Cabrera (No. 3 overall), was a no-brainer. I’m stumped as to why so many owners passed on the Brewers center fielder. It could be that no one expects CarGo 2.0 to recreate his breakout season, which is a fair critique, but he finished last year as the ninth best player in standard 5X5 leagues. Does expected batting average regression make up for a near 30-player drop in his perceived value? I’m skeptical. What I can say for certain is that the dynasty dynamic worked in my favor here. Byron Buxton, Xander Bogaerts and Oscar Taveras were all selected before Gomez in the second round. The 20-team format made it impossible for teams to pass on stud prospects, leaving fantastic values for the rest of us. Gomez only became a reality when Rotowire’s Nick Shlain drafted Edwin Encarnacion immediately before my selection. I had no intention of taking anyone else when he fell to me.

7) J.D. Sussman/Nate Stoltz, FanGraphs

Q: What drew you to Bumgarner for your third round pick over some of the more acclaimed names on the board like Chris Sale, David Price and Max Scherzer? Was is mostly age or is it something in his skill set?

A: (J.D.) Bret, it was a combination of things. Nate lead the Bumgarner charge and I relented to his onslaught of reason. Look at his entire body of work — young, durable and NL pitcher in a pitcher friend park. For me, the durability was the selling point. Mr. Consistency.

A: (Nate) Yeah, I kind of spearheaded that particular move. For me, Bumgarner’s really in a uniquely strong position among pitchers–he’s just 24 and yet he’s got a sizeable track record of both effectiveness and durability. Just about everyone else either is further along in years (like Price and Scherzer) or has some sort of performance/injury concerns (with the also-24-year-old Sale, there’s the worries about his mechanics). Plus, Bumgarner gets the luxury of facing pitchers, helping his ERA and Ks along. As a result, I really didn’t feel like we were sacrificing anything in 2014 by taking him over the other alternatives, and he likely projects the best in 2016 and beyond.

8) Mike Buttil/Paul Clewell, The Dynasty Guru

Q: What do you think the next couple of seasons look like from your third round pick (41 overall), Starlin Castro? And do you think his rebound begins in 2014?

A: Yes, we do think his rebound will begin in 2014, and getting off on the right foot with new manager Rick Renteria is a good start. Between the attempts to change his approach at the plate and the natural growing pains of a young hitter, it’s easy to forgive him one season. He’s still only 24 years old and has already flashed 5-category production in the majors. In 2013 his contact percentage fell slightly (82%), but he still hit line drives at a 20% clip. A good spring will have people quickly believing again if Castro gets comfortable, something he didn’t seem to be able to do in 2013. We are buying the talent, not last year’s stats, and we think that Castro is a small boost in confidence away from being a fantasy stud for several years. We’re expecting a return to double-digit homers and steals along with an average that flirts with .300 at times.

9) Ian Kahn/Tim McLeod, RotoRob.com

Q: Why do you hate Bret so much? That’s the only reason you could have had to snipe Alex Gordon from him. And speaking of Gordon, how much does the depth of this league increase his value for you guys?

A: We jumped at Alex Gordon with the 87th pick in the draft. Both Tim Mcleod (My partner in The League) and myself are fans of what Gordon brings to the table in this 20 team Dynasty start-up. High end consistent outfielders are always in short supply, and we’re playing a 20 teamer. For those going for the inaugural crown, 2014 should come down to health and consistency. Gordon has played essentially a full slate of games the last three years, and though his numbers fell a bit in 2013, he is about as consistent a solid citizen as your going to find in baseball. He’s a good age for dynasty, having just turned 30, and that lineup in KC is growing around him. We’re looking for 4-7 years of consistent outfield production, with power numbers increasing as he continues to mature. We believe we found that in Gordon, a potential bargain at pick 87. Or as Timmy said as we agreed on the road ahead… “I just see a career year coming for Gordon eh?”

Oh and a welcome side effect? Fun to see Bret throw that hissy on the Twitter. #TDGX

10) Nick Doran, The Dynasty Guru

Q: You were one of only two teams to not take a pitcher within the first five rounds. Was this by design or did you just not like the values presented?

A: It was by design. My devious draft plan was to load up on good hitters early then try to snag some sneaky pitching flyers late in the draft. So far I am right on track. It was awfully tempting to grab an ace pitcher before they were gone though! In a deep league like TDGX with 20 teams and 40 man rosters I believe there are going to be some market inefficiencies to exploit. The supply of everyday position players is going to evaporate long before all team owners have filled their lineups. I don’t want to get shut out and end up having to rely on platoon players or utility men in my starting lineup. I guarantee you some teams in this league are going to fall into that trap.

Follow me on Twitter at @dynastyguru.

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One comment on “Ten Burning Questions From the First Five Rounds of #TDGX

  1. […] The only question surrounding Trout at this point is whether the 15-keeper price we paid for the rights to him will do us more harm than good. We’ll have to wait to find out. Price aside, he’s the best player in baseball and at 22 has no blemishes to make us think twice about drafting him #1 overall. Heyward and Castro are both looking to come back from bad years in 2013. Both are also young, talented baseball players that we are willing to invest in. Machado went one pick before us, and he would have been our choice over Castro had he fallen. We discussed taking Profar instead of Castro as well, but we felt that Castro’s position as well as his (slightly) longer MLB track record made him a more comfortable pick for us. More on the Castro pick here. […]

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