The key to looking successful in life, I've found, is managing expectations. If people think you'll be average and you're slightly above-average, hey, good job. But if they expect you'll be great and you're great, heck, that's what you were supposed to do. That's why LeBron James hasn't already been given every NBA MVP from now until 2018.
Of course, that's the exact rule I broke by taking over the Fake Teams slot in the CBSSports.com NL-only Analysts League, which held its auction draft Thursday. See, Jason Hunt repped Fake Teams in 2013, and did so by winning the whole damn thing. (Good job, Jason.)
This isn't like me winning my long-time league, playing with my old restaurant buddies. I mean, sure, I take pride in that, but did you read the league name up there? This is an analysts' league. Taking over Jason's champion role meant I was the 12th member of this group:
- Mike Gianella, Baseball Prospectus
- Adam Aizer and Ferdinando Di Fino, CBSSports.com
- Al Melchior, CBSSports.com
- Jeff Tobin and Scott White, CBSSports.com
- Mike Kuchera, FanDuel.com
- Ryan Carey, Mastersball.com
- Christopher Kreush and Todd Zola, Mastersball.com
- Philip Ponebshek, Patton & Co
- Keith Cromer, Patton & Co
- Grey Albright and Rudy Gamble, Razzball
- Andrew Fiorentino, RotoWire.com
- Daniel Kelley, Fake Teams
It's a strong list, and yeah, I'm the sort-of reigning champion. Expectations, they have not been managed.
As I said, we held our auction Thursday afternoon. I'm a Stars-and-Scrubs proponent in mixed-league drafts, when you can use your leftover single-dollar bids to pick up guys who are still starters and contributors at the tail end of a draft. In a single-league setup, though, it's more difficult to pull off - stars are still there, but when you're putting down a dollar on a guy who isn't even going to see the major leagues this year? You're in trouble.
So I entered the draft shooting for a modified Stars-and-Scrubs - grab the big names, sure, but save enough to still put down a few dollars per end-game guy. Call it Quasi-Stars-and-Sorta-Scrubs.
|MY FIRST THREE PURCHASES|
So my plan didn't really come to fruition. Here's how I ended up with three of the biggest NL names on a single roster despite my theoretically more conservative approach:
On Posey: I had Posey pegged as a catcher likely to go for $26 or $27. He was the fourth player nominated in the draft, so it wasn't like anyone was running short on money, but time was ticking down and he sat at $22. So I bid $23. It was a combination of price-enforcing and "hey, if they aren't going to bid on him, I will." I had no illusions that would be the final Posey bid, but hey, why not. Happy to have him, especially when Jonathan Lucroy, Yadier Molina, and Wilin Rosario all went for $21 or $22; yeah, they're good catchers, but a peak Posey is more than $1 or $2 more valuable.
On Kershaw: In my Quasi-Stars-and-Sorta-Scrubs buildup, the one player thought I might talk myself into breaking the bank for was Kershaw. We all know starting pitcher is deep right now, but that idea is really for 10- or 12-team mixed leagues. You get to a 12-team NL-only, and it dries up way more quickly. It's hard to imagine a surer bet among pitchers right now than Kershaw, and I would have gone to $40 on him if need be.
On Goldschmidt: I suppose this was me getting a little ahead of myself; I envisioned Goldschmidt as a high-30s guy and exceeded my own pre-set limit. Still, I had saved on Posey, and in a league without Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout, Goldschmidt and Andrew McCutchen stand clearly above the rest of the offensive players; it was nice to have one of them.
In the end, two players went for 40 or more dollars, and I got one. Three players went for 37 or more dollars, and I got two. (McCutchen, at $40, was the other.) I settled down a lot at that point, only going over $20 one more time - Kenley Jansen, at $24. Here is my roster, spending a full $260:
Other than second base and outfield, I have at least the possibility of ending the season with the position's top player. That's asking a lot out of Starlin Castro and Chase Headley, but both have more impressive years on their resume. Scutaro was the last viable second-base option after Daniel Murphy, Neil Walker, and Anthony Rendon - all of whom I thought I'd get when they came up for bid - went for higher than I was willing to spend. In retrospect, I wish I had gone an extra dollar or two on Walker (who went for $14), but oh well. Also, I took Drew as a late what-if-he-signs-in-the-NL pick. Low-risk, high-reward.
The outfield is my biggest worry, obviously. I kept getting beat out for the guys I had my eyes on, until Upton came up and I realized that if I didn't spend on him, Maybin was going to be my top outfielder. I don't love my outfield group, and it will be my top priority when free agency and trades get going, but that's fine with me - especially if Taveras comes up sooner rather than later.
On the pitching side, I grabbed Kershaw, Jansen, and Teheran (who I think is an absolute steal at $17) pretty early in the draft, and then left pitching behind for approximately forever. Other than grabbing Melancon (who I think gets the Pittsburgh closer gig eventually) and Veras (who should have the Chicago gig from the start) semi-late, the rest of my staff - Maholm, Peralta, Leake, and McCarthy - were four of my last five picks.
Below are the 12 rosters for the league. Read them if you want, ignore them if you want. But if you read them, how did I stack up? Can I retain Jason's crown and bring it back to Fake Teams for a second straight year?