I drew the #9 pick for the Dynasty Guru draft, and it proved to be a more challenging slot that I anticipated. You can read about the bidding guidelines for purchasing draft slots here, along with some stellar analysis for the staggering 15-keeper price paid by winning bidder Mike Buttil for the right to draft Mike Trout 1st overall. In planning my pre-draft strategy I assessed very quickly that I was not going to be willing to go as high as I anticipated I’d need to in order to compete for the slot. I made a smaller wager on the 3 spot to see if I could snag Miguel Cabrera for a short-term run, but that didn’t pan out (I bid 4 slots, winning bid was 6). So I threw in a slot apiece on the 8th, 9th, and 10th spots with an eye towards hopefully grabbing Giancarlo Stanton in the first round followed by nice, evenly spaced picks for the duration of the draft.
The first part of the equation didn’t happen either as Stanton was popped at #8, one pick before me. I immediately regretted not going to 2 picks with my bid on that slot, even moreso after seeing what remained on the draft board. And what was left, you ask? A whooole lotta question marks, that’s what. Can you count on Hanley Ramirez to stay on the field, and even if you can what is the baseline performance expectation for him at this point, anyway? Can Ryan Braun come back from a half season of lost at-bats and again be the elite power/speed combo now that he’s (presumably) off the sauce? Can you count on Joey Votto for elite production in more than two categories? What do we make of Yasiel Puig? Did Troy Tulowitzki’s achilles just explode while I was typing this? Not a fun bunch of questions to be asking ahead of your first pick in an indefinite-keep dynasty league. Here’s how things went down:
Round 1 (#9) – Ryan Braun, OF MIL (TDG Rank: #6 OF, #9 overall)
After some deliberation and a brief flirtation with Yu Darvish I ended up electing to side with Braun’s track record and the hope that he comes back as a goatee-clad heel who taunts crowds when they boo him and delivers another ho-hum 30-30 season or 3. That’s probably a tad ambitious, but his floor is still pretty tasty. Even if you want to dock him some juice points he’s a career .312/.374/.564 hitter with per-162 averages of 36 homers, 22 steals, and 228 R+RBI. I’d expect his steals to dip from their juice-enhanced 30+ levels of 2011-12, but I don’t see any reason to believe he can’t be a 30/20 type for next few years. In an ideal world I’d have been able to grab a franchise cornerstone on the upswing of the aging curve, but I feel reasonably comfortable with this selection.
If I had to do it again… I think I’d go Braun again. I chewed this one up and spit it out many, many times, and I’m confident he was the best option on the board at that point.
Round 2 (#32) – Evan Longoria, 3B TAM (TDG Rank: #2 3B, #27 overall)
I entered Round 2 with a wing and prayer eye on Eric Hosmer, but Mike Newman from ROTOscouting wisely snapped him up at 24. I’d had my eye on Longoria from the beginning of the round, and once Freddie Freeman went off the board at 29 he became my no-doubt pick. I considered Jean Segura (picked right after me at #33) and Edwin Encarnacion (#37), but decided that an in-his-prime Longoria was my best bet. His home park doesn’t do him any favors (93 park factor for right-handed power), but barring another fluky BABIP year like 2011’s .244 mark he’s a .270+/30/170+ hitter that should give me a stellar foundation in the power categories with little in the way of an AVG hit.
If I had to do it again…I’d go Longoria again.
Round 3 (#49) – George Springer, OF HOU (TDG Rank: #25 OF, #88 overall)
This was my first reach of the draft, and I apologize for nothing. I’d been eye-balling Javier Baez hard for this pick, but he was thiefed up at #46. I wanted to go with an MLB-ready prospect here for some youth balance to my veteran core, and it came down to a mano-a-mano between Springer and Billy Hamilton. Both prospects have a (perhaps fatal) flaw in a questionable hit tool. But I like Springer’s ability to get on base via the walk much better, and the power advantage is significant. Yes Hamilton has the ability to win you a category virtually by himself, but even in the best case scenario he’ll take away as much power as he’ll give you speed. And if a less-than-best-case scenario unfolds with his batting average…potential ugly. Springer’s hit tool is not even close to a sure thing either, but he’s overcome significant swing-and-miss in his game at every stop so far to post >.300 batting averages. Even if he only hits .250 his power/speed combo in the middle of what should be a rapidly improving Houston lineup is drool-worthy, and on the off chance he can translate his high BABIP’s to the Majors and hit .280 or .290 he’s got 1st round redraft upside.
If I had to do it again…There was still a bunch of elite starting pitching on the board, and in hindsight I probably could have waited on Springer until he came back to me in the 4th round. I didn’t want to take that chance, but it still may have been a good one to take. Madison Bumgarner went off the board right after my pick, and that was excellent value at the crack of the top 50.
Round 4 (#72) – Cliff Lee, SP PHI (TDG Rank: #18 SP, #96 overall)
On the surface this is my biggest reach of the draft, and probably my biggest regret so far. I am admittedly a huge sucker for Lee, and I let my love shine through on this one. For this coming year, and this year alone, I frankly love the value of this pick. As I mentioned on Twitter, I still think Lee’s got another 500 at least near-elite innings in that left arm of his, and I feel as confident about the next 200 as any starter in Major League Baseball. I worry about the W potential given Philadelphia’s mediocrity, but the ERA/WHIP/K numbers should all be stellar again. If I’m out of it come July he’ll make for an attractive mid-year buy for someone who needs a pitching boost, and if I am in contention his stability the top of my rotation will likely be a significant reason why.
If I had to do it again…I took a hard look at Albert Pujols here, and I kicked myself when he went off the board at the following turn (#80). The multiple UTIL slots along with 1B and CI positions makes for a premium on those corner bats, and in the fourth round Pujols was far and away the best bet of anyone to give hope for a .300/30/200 season. I probably could’ve waited on Lee, and definitely could’ve waited on pitching, and should’ve taken Pujols here.
Round 5 (#89) – Shelby Miller, SP StL (TDG Rank: #16, #79 overall)
The opposite of the Lee pick, I was stoked at the time to make this selection and am every bit as happy in retrospect. Miller’s second half slowdown and post-season sequestration last year seem to have colored a lot of pre-season rankings for him entering 2014. Gerrit Cole went off the board at #64, yet I see precious little separation between the two. Miller did indeed stagger his way to the finish line last year, but don’t let the fade fool you. I see perennial 200+ strikeout material and legitimate ace potential here, and he’s in literally the best organization in baseball to turn that potential into realized production. I’m all-in on this kid, and he makes for a perfect yin to Old Man Lee’s yang at the top of my rotation.
If I had to do it again…I’d take Shelby Miller again, then try to draft him one more time in Rd. 6 for good measure.