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Looking Back: A two year review of a Covid Dynasty Draft: Part I

Two seasons ago, when Covid-19 sent many of us to work-from-home, home from school, unemployment, and worse, I joined a 16-team Dynasty League start-up, and detailed it in a Nine-Part (Dang, I can’t believe I wrote that much back then) series. The league is still up and going strong, and one of the members is now a writer on the Dynasty Guru with me, Andrew Jurewicz. Andrew even won year one! My team made the playoffs both years, but alas no wins for yours truly. Well, like the Cubbies used to say, back before their 2016 World Series win, there’s always next year!

First pick was mine, and if you all remember back to pre-2020, the first pick was an obvious choice; one Mr. Ronald Acuna Jr. Now that he’s coming off a somewhat serious injury, he will not be the first overall pick in most start-up dynasty leagues. This league is 6×6, with categories for Hitters: R, HR, RBI, SB, AVG, OPS and Pitchers: K, K/BB, ERA, WHIP, W+QS, SVx2+H; Rosters: Starters: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 4 OF, 2 UTIL, 9 SP; 10 Bench. 65 total players. Let’s first look at the Round 1 (link to the original piece):

  1. Ronald Acuna Jr. (Phil)
  2. Cody Bellinger
  3. Mike Trout (Andrew)
  4. Juan Soto
  5. Christian Yelich
  6. Fernando Tatis Jr.
  7. Mookie Betts
  8. Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
  9. Francisco Lindor
  10. Rafael Devers
  11. Alex Bregman
  12. Gerrit Cole
  13. Wander Franco
  14. Trea Turner
  15. Trevor Story
  16. Jacob deGrom

Phil’s take:

Best Value: Trea Turner

Worst Pick: Cody Bellinger

Bellinger was ranked sixth going into the season, and he was taken by a known Dodgers fan. Now that pick looks pretty bad in hindsight, however Bellinger has the youth and pedigree to bounce back, and thus is a hold for now. At the time I found the two Juniors a bit rich for my blood, but we here at the Dynasty Guru still had them both as top 13 Dynasty picks, and all they have done is move into the top five. Yelich may never gain back his power, but was the fourth overall ranked player, so taking him at fifth overall wasn’t too bad; and a rapidly improving Brewers lineup may help propel him back into fantasy’s good graces. Soto was drafted by the winner in year two and may be the top overall dynasty pick, depending on league set-up.

Andrew’s take:

Best Value: Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.

Worst Pick: Cody Bellinger

Hard to say anything other than Bellinger would be considered the worst pick here as of right now. Hopefully we will get the top end Bellinger we know and love back soon! I’m a huge Mike Trout fan, as many others are, so when I finally had the chance to get my first share I did not think twice. Soto probably should have been the pick at the time but I’m not losing any sleep over it. I like Phil’s Turner pick for best value, however, I needed to go with Guerrero Jr. here. Now considered a top five pick along with Tatis Jr., when you compare the two give me Guerrero Jr. with better plate discipline and less strikeouts. I also feel like Devers needs to be mentioned overall; dude rakes and flies under the radar as others get more love. We see you!

 

Let’s check out Round 2(link to the original piece):

  1. Nolan Arenado
  2. Walker Buehler
  3. Pete Alonso
  4. Yordan Alvarez
  5. Jose Ramirez
  6. Bryce Harper
  7. Ozzie Albies
  8. Gleybar Torres
  9. Keston Hiura
  10. Bo Bichette
  11. Eloy Jimenez
  12. Shane Bieber
  13. Shohei Ohtani
  14. Jack Flaherty (Andrew)
  15. Gavin Lux
  16. Anthony Rendon (Phil)

Phil’s take:

Best Value: Shohei Ohtani

Worst Pick: Keston Hiura

Ohtani and Bichette take the cake for being the best picks of the round; Hiura is easily the worst (and was panned in our draft room at the time), followed by Torres, Lux(the biggest reach by our rankings), and Rendon, though I redeemed myself taking Freeman at the top of round three, and (much) later taking Ke’Bryan Hayes to back up Rendon. Injuries were always an issue with Rendon, and they have continued to be (the same could be said about Flaherty, who was my original target). Harper dropping so low surprised me at the time, but more than once I’ve mentioned the real-life dislike for the guy adding to him being undervalued in fantasy circles.

Andrew’s take:

Best Value: Shohei Ohtani

Worst Pick: Keston Huira

Ohtani takes best value easily; he’s grown as a professional exponentially since coming to the MLB and being able pitch and hit at a high level is remarkable. Don’t listen to the hater’s Mr. Ohtani, gotta harness in the good energy; block out the bad. Moving on! I have to go back to back on worst pick choices with Phil so Huira it is. It’s tough to watch him rake at AAA and then dud out at the Show. Heading into the draft I had Bichette rated higher than both Huira and Torres; since then he’s pushed himself into first round consideration. Seeing what was on the board I thought Flaherty was the right pick. However, he didn’t finish the season on my squad (moved for Luke Voit, JJ Bleday, and Nick Lodolo) and overall since then his stock has taken a dip in my opinion. 

 

Now, Round 3 (link to the original piece):

  1. Freddie Freeman (Phil)
  2. Austin Meadows
  3. JD Martinez (Andrew)
  4. Corey Seager
  5. Aaron Judge
  6. Yoan Moncada
  7. Jo Adell
  8. Luis Robert
  9. Chris Paddack
  10. Xander Bogaerts
  11. Ketel Marte
  12. Javier Baez
  13. Victor Robles
  14. Max Scherzer
  15. Matt Olson
  16. Mike Clevinger

Phil’s take:

Best Value: Matt Olson

Worst Pick: Victor Robles

We have seen eight pitchers taken through the first three rounds: Four have been absolute hits for the past two seasons: Cole, de Grom, Buehler, and Scherzer. Bieber and Flaherty have been hurt, Clevinger and Paddack has been hurt and ineffective. I tend to avoid pitching early (and did not take one until the top of round five, which turned out to be a total fail so far) but loaded up on quantity in the middle rounds, and thus made the playoffs each year; going for aces can work out, but also the risk in inherently higher than taking hitters.

I loved Olson back then, and love him even more now (nothing weird about that). Bogaerts and Scherzer were right there for best value as well. Robles has not made the improvements that made him a high pick at the time, and we had him pegged correctly, ranking him 129 overall back in pre-2020.

Andrew’s take:

Best Value: Luis Robert

Worst Pick: Victor Robles

Coming into the third round and previously selecting Flaherty the strategy was to grab another well established bat to pair with Trout so Martinez was my pick. Overall I’m not opposed to selecting pitchers earlier on but I was not ready to commit to a Paddack or Clevinger who both went later in the round. A super-talented young player with a very high ceiling, Robert is my choice for best value here. I would bet my money that he is going to be in the MVP conversation for 2022. Olson provides a ton of value as well but when you have Robert doing what he does and three years younger I’ll take that all day. From this round I also traded for Baez after the draft, unloading some prospect talent I had acquired to push my chips in for win now (sent Sixto Sanchez, Matt Manning, Grayson Rodriguez, and Didi Gregorius), which worked out really well.

 

Here is Round 4 (link to the original piece):

  1. Jose Altuve
  2. Manny Machado
  3. Luis Castillo
  4. Mike Soroka
  5. MacKenzie Gore
  6. Lucas Giolito
  7. Blake Snell
  8. Tyler Glasnow
  9. Jesus Luzardo
  10. Stephen Strasburg
  11. Kris Bryant
  12. Justin Verlander
  13. Aaron Nola
  14. Joey Gallo (Andrew)
  15. Brandon Woodruff
  16. Adalberto Mondesi (Phil)

Phil’s take:

Best Value(s): Brandon Woodruff & Manny Machado

Worst Pick(s): Jesus Luzardo & MacKenzie Gore

The starting pitching gates opened with this round, with 11 picked in this round. But as you can see, only Woodruff stood out as being a true ace two years later; the rest have dealt with all the things that typically happen to pitchers: injuries, ineffectiveness, lack of run support, etc. The five hitters taken in the round all have performed at, or exceeded, their draft slot. I still think that Mondesi will have that one 70-steal, 25-home run season, hopefully the Royals now realize that letting him DH will keep him healthier. Machado is one of my favorite fantasy players, though less a fan in real life (that he was the mature one in the end-of-season spat with Tatis Jr. is a paradox unto itself).

Andrew’s take:

Best Value: Brandon Woodruff

Worst Pick: Justin Verlander

For a win-now team that previously drafted Yelich, Bieber, and Judge, getting only six innings pitched from Verlander through two years of the league hurts, and he’s now even older. Luzardo landing in Miami at the 2021 trade deadline was a blessing as they seem to know how to set up young pitchers for success. He finished the season with a strong 11 strikeout performance over five and a third innings; could he be turning the corner? Here’s to hoping so. Gallo still has a high ceiling even though his 2021 season ended in disappointing fashion. Look for him to bounce back as he settles in for year two with the Yankees as well as entering a contract year. For the returns on Woodruff with the pick you have to give him best value in this round. I also love the Machado pick at #50 too.

 

Round Five (link to the original piece):

  1. Patrick Corbin (Phil)
  2. Zac Gallen
  3. DJ LeMahieu (Andrew)
  4. Josh Hader
  5. Starling Marte
  6. Kyle Tucker
  7. Matt Chapman
  8. Jeff McNeil
  9. Josh Bell
  10. Dylan Carlson
  11. Anthony Rizzo
  12. Nate Pearson
  13. Julio Rodriguez
  14. JT Realmuto
  15. Max Muncy
  16. Tim Anderson

Phil’s take:

Best Value: Kyle Tucker

Worst Pick: Jeff McNeil

I will stan Patrick Corbin until he returns to his 2019 form; the Nationals have him signed through 2024, and in my defense, he was the highest rated pitcher left on the board. He was supposed to be my ace, but that obviously did not work out; which is why I loaded up on multiple starters later (and post draft traded for Zach Wheeler and Shane McClanahan). At the time, I had LeMahieu as the biggest reach up until that point, though he provided a solid 2020 season to make it worthwhile; then in 2021 he had 690 plate appearances with 10 home runs and four steals.

McNeil I never liked and thought he was a flash in the pan, and more a poor man’s Ben Zobrist or Chris Taylor, at best. Tucker dropped due to lack of performance at the big-league level and playing time questions; now he is a top 20-dynasty player. Picks like Tucker are good risks; think about a guy like Jo Adell in drafts this season. If Adell breaks out, everyone will look back like we did for this Tucker pick. Better than taking a McNeil or LeMahieu anyway.

Andrew’s take:

Best Value: Kyle Tucker

Worst Pick(s): Jeff McNeil & Patrick Corbin

Muncy is the honorable mention for best value but the clear winner is Tucker. He broke out in a big way and should be filling up the stat sheets for a long time. It’s a toss up for me on the worst pick; Corbin hasn’t looked sharp in two years and McNeil is undesirable at this point.

I remember getting heat for the LeMahieu selection thanks for reminding me Phil! Looks like you haven’t been won over just yet. However, as the phrase goes winning fixes everything and no doubt LeMahieu was a huge part of my team capturing the championship in 2020. I still like what he brings to the table (and his statcast doesn’t seem too shabby either) with eligibility for 3 positions (1B/2B/3B) in our league for added flexibility.

That’s all for us for now. Andrew and I will be back to break down some more rounds, as well as provide some advice going into drafting start-up Dynasty leagues in 2022!

The Author

Phil Barrington

Phil Barrington

Fantasy player since 1999, specializing in OPS leagues. Accountant by day, fantasy writer by night. Spreadsheets are life. Currently living in Spain, follow my travels at https://waypastcool.org/times-in-spain-2021/

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