Team Doran Fires a Blazing Fastball at the #TDGX Draft, Part 2
This is going to be an exciting baseball season as a participant in The Dynasty Guru Experts League (#TDGX), which as you know by now is an awesome new league filled with industry experts from all the best baseball sites on the Internet. In my first column about this league I discussed my strategy for the draft and how the league structure made a major impact on my draft plan. In this column we will do the fun part and discuss all my picks and why I made them. So read Part 1 first and then these picks will make more sense.
The Invisible Hand of Drafting Doom
One thing I didn’t mention in Part 1 was Bret’s unique “Invisible Hand” draft slot bidding system. Teams were allowed to bid keeper slots for the right to “buy” a particular draft slot. So for example if you wanted to bid on the #1 draft slot to snag Mike Trout you could bid X number of keeper slots. If you won the bid you would have to drop that X number of extra players next Spring. So if you bid 10 keepers you would only be able to keep 25 players next Spring instead of the standard 35 keepers. I decided not to bid on any slots because I felt my team would be pretty solid and I didn’t want to have to drop any extra players. I like the idea of getting to grab some of those extra players that other teams will have to drop in next year’s draft.
I am glad I didn’t bid, but it wouldn’t have mattered because I would not have won any of the bids. The #1 slot sold for 15 keepers! I wouldn’t have bid more than 5. Even the 2nd through 5th slots cost between 6 and 15 keepers. Way too expensive for my tastes. All told there were 61 keepers spent on draft slots. That will be three full draft rounds worth of extra players available next year for me to choose from. I like it!
Since I didn’t place any bids, I randomly ended up with the 12th draft slot in the 20 team league and I was quite happy with that. I prefer to be in the middle of a snake draft rather than on either end. Being on the end creates the tendency to reach for a coveted player knowing he has no chance of coming back to you on your next pick. My goal was to follow my 4 Phase Plan while digging for maximum value and youth. Read on and let me know how well I succeeded (or failed).
You can follow along with the full draft results as I talk about my picks below.
Team Doran’s 2014 Draft Picks:
1.12 Yasiel Puig, OF Dodgers Age:23
I don’t really expect Puig to repeat his brilliant 2013 season again this year, but he is only 23 and I am confident he will mature into an elite player over the next several years. When I made this pick I worried that it may have been a slight reach, but I am happy with it now given how quickly all the other young studs got snapped up in this draft.
2.29 Freddie Freeman, 1B Braves Age:24
I very seriously debated taking Freeman in the first round so needless to say I was thrilled to snare him 17 picks later. Freeman is already an elite fantasy option and he is young enough to expect continued growth as I explained here: Fretting Freddie Freeman.
It was interesting to me that the likes of Byron Buxton, Xander Bogaerts and Oscar Taveras all went before Freeman even though they are only a little younger and have a LOT to prove before they even get anywhere near as good as Freeman already is. Elite prospects don’t always pan out into elite major leaguers (take a look at Jesus Montero, Mike Moustakas, Desmond Jennings, Brian Matusz, Travis Snider, Colby Rasmus, Cameron Maybin and many other former elite can’t-miss prospects that missed), so why take a maybe when you can have a proven stud? I am not a gambler, I take the sure thing over the potential jackpot. I love prospects too, but they just went waaaaay too early for me to invest.
3.52 Josh Donaldson, 3B Athletics Age:28
Another good, youngish player who will yield positive contributions in all five categories. I considered Jose Bautista here but opted for the younger, healthier Donaldson. Slight reach maybe?
4.69 Alex Rios, OF Rangers Age:33
By this time all the good young players were long gone, so I went with a proven vet who has shown no signs of slowing down. He is well above average in all 5 roto categories. Considered Jose Reyes (injury prone, 3 category player) and Matt Carpenter (track record too short).
5.92 Adrian Gonzalez, 1B Dodgers, Age:31
Does everything at a star level except steal bases. Has been around forever but still not as old as you might think.
6.109 Daniel Murphy, 2B Mets Age:29
Another guy who contributes at a plus level in all five roto stats. All of my players have good batting averages so far, which was one of my priorities.
7.132 Aaron Hill, 2B Diamondbacks Age:32
Yet another star-caliber hitter. My strategy is working great so far. Wanted Billy Butler here but Wilson Karaman stiffed me. Still very happy to get Hill.
8.149 Greg Holland, Closer Royals Age:28
I made a major deviation from my draft plan here. I probably shouldn’t have done it, but I wasn’t feeling any of the hitters in this round and I feared a run on closers was imminent. Kimbrel and Chapman were already gone and I wanted to get one of the elite closers so I reached for one here. Mistake?
9.172 Kole Calhoun, OF Angels Age:26
He is an unproven player but many are predicting a breakout season from this 26 year old. Hitting in front of Trout, Pujols and Hamilton should be a good thing.
10.189 Shane Victorino, OF Red Sox Age:33
Another 5 category contributor, although his age is getting high enough to worry about.
11.212 Alexei Ramirez, SS White Sox Age:32
Mid-range shortstop who steals a lot of bases and hits for a positive batting average.
12.229 Kendrys Morales, 1B Free Agent Age:31
Yet another good bat. I’m getting worried that he still hasn’t signed with a team, but he will be a nice boost to my stats when he does sign. Hopefully he will land in a hitter’s park for the 1st time in his career. If he does, watch out! Another guy who is not as old as he seems. Great value this late in the draft.
13.252 Michael Brantley, OF Indians Age:26
Got a lot of kudos for this pick in the draft room after he kind of slipped through the cracks. Still very young and will hit 5th for the Indians this year. Positive contributor in all categories.
14.269 Adam LaRoche, 1B Nationals Age:34
Had a bad year last year but has been consistently good hitter throughout his career. Expecting a bounceback year. Very happy to still be getting plus hitters 270 picks into the draft.
15.292 Koji Uehara, Closer Red Sox Age:38
Great ratios and lots of Saves, although he is old and somewhat brittle. Slight deviation from my draft plan but only need one more hitter before proceeding on to Phase 2: Closers. Wasn’t expecting such a good closer to be available here. Will try to handcuff him to Edward Mujica later on.
I had hoped to grab Marco Estrada with this pick, but Jake Ciely of RotoExperts poached him from me about an hour after my Estrada article was published here: Targeting Marco Estrada as a Breakout Candidate
16.309 Dillon Gee, SP Mets Age:27
Passed on my last hitter here to grab my first SP, who I felt was by far the best starting pitcher left on the board. I am very high on Gee and now have him in all 4 of my dynasty leagues. Was excellent in second half last year after recovering from early injury.
17.332 Miguel Montero, C Diamondbacks Age:30
Catcher is the only hitting position that is not severely overdrawn in this league. I felt comfortable waiting deep into the draft to grab a catcher. Montero had an off year last year but he is usually one of the better catchers to own in fantasy leagues. There was a big dropoff at catcher after Montero so I went ahead and grabbed him here to complete my starting lineup of hitters, which I feel is by far the strongest in the league. My starting pitching on the other hand needs some help.
18.349 Fernando Rodney, Closer Mariners Age:37
Not an elite closer option but Saves are Saves man. My third closer guarantees I will earn at least 15 points in the Saves category and could provide a trade option later in the season.
19.372 Scott Kazmir, SP Athletics Age:30
Great strikeout rate in his comeback season last year. Moving to a strong pitchers’ park. Kazmir is fragile and might not pitch anywhere near 200 innings, but should be a very nice contributor when he is in my lineup.
20.389 Jake Peavy, SP Red Sox Age:32
Continuing Phase 3 of my draft strategy, filling out my starting rotation with the best options I can scrounge up. Peavy is fragile and inconsistent but I will play the matchups and hope the strong Boston offense can generate Peavy some Wins.
Note: One hugely important reason to take pitchers here in the later draft rounds is to minimize the chances of your team being wrecked by injury. We have already seen several good draft picks wasted on starting pitchers whose entire seasons and maybe careers are already ruined before the first real game is even played. Kris Medlen (9th round), Patrick Corbin (10th round), Brandon Beachy (13th round) and Jarrod Parker (13th round) have already gone down. Others will go down on a regular basis all season long. Hitters can get hurt too, but their injuries don’t usually last as long or derail their careers. Why invest so heavily in such fragile assets as pitchers when you can invest in the just as important yet safer hitters first? Check this out: 5 Reasons to Prioritize Hitting over Pitching in Dynasty Leagues.
21.412 LaTroy Hawkins, Closer Rockies Age:41
Might not be a closer for long, but will help me dominate the Saves category. He is my 4th closer. One other team has three and everyone else has two or less. Take value when you can find it at this stage of a deep draft.
22.429 John Lackey, SP Red Sox Age:35
Had a very nice bounceback season last year. When healthy should provide solid stats playing in front of a stellar offense.
Note: While I am drafting useful mid-rotation starting pitchers other teams are still scrambling to fill the hitter slots in their starting lineup and their options are grim. They are stuck drafting platoon players and utility men they will have to use every week in their starting lineup. I may be getting the picked-over starting pitchers but at least they will be on the field generating stats for my team. Guys like Matt Joyce, Robbie Grossman, Didi Gregorius, Mark Reynolds, Lonnie Chisenhall and Emilio Bonifacio will frequently be sitting on the bench instead of racking up stats, and when they do play they are likely to wreck a team’s batting average while they barely accrue counting stats.
23.452 Mike Foltynewicz, SP Astros Age:22
My first prospect pick. Folty throws 100mph and I love blazing fastballs so much I named my website after them. He could reach the majors this year or next. He was by far the best prospect left on my board, so I reached for a minor leaguer earlier than I had planned.
24.469 Jesse Crain, RP Astros Age:32
He will start the season on the disabled list, but he is by far the best pitcher in the Houston bullpen. So I think he will be their closer before the All Star break, giving me another closer right about the time Rex Brothers takes over for LaTroy Hawkins in Colorado.
25.492 Alexi Ogando, SP Rangers Age:30
Risky pick but SPs who don’t suck real bad are hard to find in the draft right now. Ogando is injury prone but can put up big numbers when he is fully healthy.
26.509 Tyler Clippard, RP Nationals Age:29
A closer-in-waiting who will provide me with great ratios in the meantime. Rafael Soriano is getting shaky and could lose his grip on the Nationals’ closer role at any time.
27.532 Josh Beckett, SP Dodgers Age:33
Another injury prone starter who may never pay off. When healthy should generate lots of Wins for a very good Dodgers team in a pitchers’ park.
28.549 Jesse Winker, OF Reds Age:20
Underrated as a fantasy prospect due to his poor defensive value. This youngster can hit the baseball and will have a nice career in the majors.
29.572 Taylor Guerrieri, SP Rays Age:21
Was a near-elite pitching prospect before Tommy John surgery. Once he recovers I hope he will regain his prospect mojo once again.
30.589 Pierce Johnson, SP Cubs Age:22
Doesn’t have elite upside but is likely to be a solid contributor for a Cubs team that should be pretty darn good in a couple years.
31.612 David Lough, OF Orioles Age:28
One of the few players left in the draft who will play nearly everyday for his team. Provides a nice substitute for my team in the inevitable event of an injury to one of my starters. Or I could trade him to an owner who is forced to start a part-timer and needs an upgrade.
32.629 Marc Krauss, OF Astros Age:26
Having a good Spring Training and could be looking at a lot of playing time in Houston. Still young enough to hope for a breakout season. If not I can dump him without losing much.
33.652 Edward Mujica, RP Red Sox Age:29
Handcuff for Koji Uehara as closer in Boston. Will provide good ratios as a setup man if I put him in my lineup. Will take over the closer role if Uehara falters or gets hurt.
34.669 Jose Berrios, SP Twins Age:19
Nice pitching prospect who could climb up the rankings this year.
35.692 Tanner Scheppers, SP/RP Rangers Age:27
Competing for a rotation spot in Texas, but at the time of this draft pick he was also being mentioned as a potential closer if Feliz and Soria didn’t get their act together soon. Put up truly great numbers in relief last year.
36.709 Billy McKinney, OF Athletics Age:19
Young prospect with helium potential. 2013 1st round draft pick.
37.732 Yorman Rodriguez, OF Reds Age:21
5-tool talent with high upside but poor plate discipline and poor pitch recognition. Will make the majors at a minimum with the potential to be an above average player.
38.749 Keury Mella, SP Giants Age:20
Pure lottery ticket. Very raw but elite potential. Could blast up the prospect charts or flame out altogether.
39.772 Devin Williams, SP Brewers Age:19
Another 2013 1st round draft pick with lots of raw potential. Hopefully one of these guys will pay off big time.
40.789 Jake McGee, RP Rays Age:27
A lefty setup man with some potential for Saves if Grant Balfour isn’t healthy as rumored. Great ratios. Probably won’t see my starting lineup very often.
My Opening Day Lineup
C — Miguel Montero
1B — Freddie Freeman
2B — Daniel Murphy
SS — Alexei Ramirez
3B — Josh Donaldson
MI — Aaron Hill
CI — Adrian Gonzalez
OF — Yasiel Puig, Alex Rios, Michael Brantley, Kole Calhoun, Shane Victorino
UTIL — Adam LaRoche, Kendry Morales
Bench — Marc Krauss, David Lough
SP — Dillon Gee, Scott Kazmir, Jake Peavy, John Lackey, Tanner Scheppers, Josh Beckett
RP — Greg Holland, Koji Uehara, Fernando Rodney, LaTroy Hawkins, Tyler Clippard, Edward Mujica, Jake McGee, Jesse Crain, Alexi Ogando
Minors — Mike Foltynewicz, Taylor Guerrieri, Jose Berrios, Pierce Johnson, Devin Williams, Keury Mella, Yorman Rodriguez, Jesse Winker, Billy McKinney
Draft Analysis: Decent Success or Epic Failure?
I stuck to my 4 Phase draft plan pretty closely but not religiously. Sometimes you have to adapt on the fly if you see a player with surplus value for the draft slot. I was successful in all my goals, which is really what matters. I got a very good hitter at every spot in my starting lineup. I got 4 and possibly 5 closers, which is better than I hoped for. I salvaged some adequate starting pitchers, which doesn’t sound like a success but that is what I expected. I will likely have to mix and match starting pitchers all season long until I settle on a few reliable ones to keep long term. I think there will be some surprises on the waiver wire occasionally.
I actually did better on the prospect front than I thought I would, although I didn’t get any minor leaguers that will be able to help my team this year or even next year except possibly for Foltynewicz. The good news is that I don’t expect to need any good prospects to step into my starting lineup any time soon. My hitters should be solid for at least two years, possibly more. My starting pitching could use an infusion of quality youth, but my plan all along was to continually scavenge pitchers for the first couple of seasons.
All things considered I am very happy with my draft. I think my team will be very competitive this season and next season just with the players I have now. Hopefully I will be able to improve my team with trades and free agents as we go along.
In a couple years I should start getting a little bit of help from my prospects. Even if they are not ready for the majors they should have built up some good trade value by then. Next year’s draft will enable me to pick up some 2014 amateur draftees and a few of the players that other teams will have to drop due to their “Invisible Hand” draft slot bids this year. So I am feeling optimistic about my chances not only this year but also well into the future. Am I crazy? What do you guys think? Let me hear it in the comments below. If you have any suggestions I could use them!
– Nick Doran writes all kinds of cool stuff about the game’s ultimate flamethrowers at Blazing Fastball and you can find him on Twitter @BlazingFastba11.