Last week, I participated in an NL-only experts draft at CBS, the third time I have played in that league. It's a standard 5x5, with two catchers, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, corner infield, middle infielder, five outfielders, a utility, nine pitchers, and seven reserve players (who were selected after the auction in a snake draft). The budget was $260, it's 12 teams, and I'm in an odd position of having no idea how I feel about this team.
It's my first draft of 2012 since I participated in a Rotoworld mock back in January, and one with a whole lot of prices I was not comfortable paying. For that reason, my infield turned out to be a bit light, but my outfield -- where many quality players ended up going later and for less -- ended up kind of ridiculous.
Here's my starting roster, with some reasoning behind why I made the picks and paid the prices I did.
C - Jonathan Lucroy ($12), David Ross ($2): I paid a little too much for Lucroy early (in terms of what I was comfortable paying), out of fear that there wouldn't be enough catchers to go around. The Player Forecast Managerprojects Lucroy to just over $11, though, so maybe I'm more upset that I'm not getting value, just expected production at price. Especially since catcher ended up being a dead zone, as feared.
1B - Lucas Duda ($20): I know what you're thinking: "Okay, why am I reading about this guy's draft when he spends $20 on Lucas freaking Duda, and how did he get in an expert league?" Duda was at the end of the line for first basemen, and I didn't have one yet because of my outfield (which we'll get to later), the prices for first basemen overall, and the lack of quality first basemen in the NL at the moment. It was going to be $15-20 for someone like Duda or worse at this stage, and with Citi Field's fences moving in, and Duda in line for playing time, I decided to throw excess money at him to avoid having Garrett Jones starting at first for me. The PFM forecasts Duda for $14, too, so it's not that big of an overpay considering his projection (75 R, 19 HR, 74 RBI, 1 SB, .264 average) isn't overly optimistic.
It's not my finest moment, I'll readily admit, but it's not nearly as embarrassing in the proper context.
2B - Mark Ellis ($5): Here's one I'm pleased with -- not because Ellis is great, but because second is weak, and I got him pretty cheap. I can see sneaking a few bucks in value out of this if things go right for Ellis. As long as he stays on the field, he should get decent R, RBI, and SB numbers, and for $5, I'll take it.
3B - Chipper Jones ($9): Playing time is always the issue thanks to health, but Jones has his uses in NL-only formats, especially at a thin position. A repeat of last year (or something slightly worse) will easily be worth the $9.
SS - Rafael Furcal ($7): He'll need to bounce back from a poor 2011 to make this worth the money, but given the other options that were available at shortstop at this point -- and my ongoing need for a middle infielder in addition to Furcal -- it was $7 that I had that needed to be spent to fill a hole.
CI - Garrett Jones ($7): I never said I avoided him entirely. But if he plays a season's worth of games, then this will pay off. Players like Jones (and the fact they might have value) are why some people can't stand AL- and NL-only, though.
MI - Juan Uribe ($2): $2 for positional flexibility and one year removed from a quality season is something I was fine with. I might regret having him, but at this cost, it was hard to pass up the possibility he would do more than this.
OF - Carlos Gonzalez ($43), Jayson Werth ($21), Michael Bourn ($28), Chris Heisey ($6), David DeJesus ($5): If you were wondering how I was ever going to produce any offensive value, here's your answer. Carlos Gonzalez ended up being one of the highest-paid players in the whole draft, but that shouldn't be a surprise. He's Carlos Gonzalez. I'm big on the idea of a Jayson Werth bounce back, and he was valuable last year even in a horrible disappointing season. $21 will look like a deal when the year is over. Same goes for Michael Bourn, who I value at about $33-35 in this format.
Chris Heisey could use more playing time, but for $6, in a single-league format with five outfielders, $6 should be a bargain for me. He picked up 308 plate appearances last year and hit 18 homers with 50 RBI, 44 R, and six steals, so a repeat of that (or more) for $6 beats some of the other back-end outfield selections. David DeJesus is coming off of a down year, but he'll also hit in a park that helps lefty hitters for the first time ever in 2012. I have faith in his being worth this and more easy.
Utility - Anthony Rizzo ($2): He won't actually start at utility for me until he reaches the majors, but given he's leaving Petco, will be a year old, and is in a lefty-friendly park, $2 was basically forcing me to buy.
Pitchers - Stephen Strasburg ($23), Adam Wainwright ($23), Tim Hudson ($5), Aroldis Chapman ($4), Tim Stauffer ($6), Jeremy Guthrie ($2), Dillon Gee ($2), Jonny Venters ($7), Ryan Madson ($19): $23 a piece for Strasburg and Wainwright might sound expensive, but as I tweeted during the draft, pitcher prices were soaring early for elite arms. This could end up looking pretty good for me later on, or it could basically ruin my entire season. Fun!
Complementing that pair are a group of pitchers who should give me innings and opportunities for W without harming my stats all that much. The presence of Venters should help make up for the lack of strikeouts from some of my starters, and in 150 innings a healthy Strasburg should be able to notch 200 innings worth of punch outs. I would have liked one more closer, but I needed to do something with my offense -- I'm currently debating whether Madson should be dealt for another starter with K, or an infielder with some pop. His rate stats should help me plenty (like Venters), but I'm clearly not going to win saves with just the one guy. There's always FAAB, of course.
Reserves - Jack Cust, Matt Guerrier, Chris Denorfia, Scott Hairston, Mark Teahen, George Kottaras: Due to some connection issues, I didn't actually select any of my reserves, but most of them were in my queue for the purpose of being drafted as reserves. So it's an approximation of my plan, anyway. (Except Matt Guerrier. Who will be first on the FAAB chopping block.)
This team has a lot of potential to be a great, but that rests almost entirely on a long and interconnected series of ifs. If Strasburg and Wainwright are healthy, if Carlos Gonzalez is closer to 2010 than 2011, if Chipper Jones can get 500 plate appearances, if Lucas Duda can send 25 balls over the closer fences of Citi, if I luck into a second closer, if Aroldis Chapman doesn't single-handedly kill my WHIP, if Jayson Werth and David DeJesus have strong campaigns after down years... see where I'm going with this? If most of those maybes become positives for me, I'm in business. If I'm on the other side of the luck ledger, then I'm, in a word, screwed. I get the feeling I'll split the difference and finish somewhere in the middle in this league, but again, it all depends on how much of the roster's upside comes through in my favor.