Earlier in the week, I wrote about the setup of an experts' league I am participating in, along with 19 other fantasy writers from across the internet. As a refresher, here are the details:
20 team dynasty league
40 round snake draft, any player signed by a major league club at the start of the draft is eligible for any pick
4 hour per pick slow draft
Roster is C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, MI, CI, 5 OF, 9 P, 7 BN, and 10 minor league slots
Minor league slots are available for anyone that qualifies for a prospect list (less than 130 AB, 45 IP)
5x5 categories, with weekly lineup deadlines
$100 in-season FAAB
35 players kept each year out of the 40 on the total roster
No limit on the time a player can be kept
I have pick #18
The top half of the first round came together as you might have expected, with the following players going ahead of me:
1. Mike Trout
2. Bryce Harper
3. Miguel Cabrera
4. Paul Goldschmidt
5. Andrew McCutchen
6. Carlos Gonzalez
7. Clayton Kershaw
8. Giancarlo Stanton
9. Ryan Braun
10. Joey Votto
11. Hanley Ramirez
12. Yasiel Puig
13. Troy Tulowitzki
14. Adam Jones
15. Robinson Cano
16. Prince Fielder
As my turn approached, I had settled in on a specific player, because frankly I didn't love the other options available. I wanted someone young, with the potential to be an elite option at their position, and frankly it seemed like he was the last one left.
17. Jose Fernandez
If you've been reading carefully, you'll notice one problem with my targeted player, the young Marlins ace. I wasn't picking at #17. I was picking at #18, which forced me to adapt again.
Round 1 (18) - Yu Darvish, SP, TEX
After I cooled off about not getting Fernandez, I went back to the drawing board and looked at my options again. The system kept recommending Jacoby Ellsbury or Alex Rios, but I didn't want either of them with that pick. At this point in the draft, my aim was two-fold:
1) Find an elite option
2) Find a young player that is an elite option
As a result, I went with Darvish, who can provide elite level production in four of the five pitching categories. I had really hoped to take a hitter here originally, but the players in front of me just didn't lead me there.
Round 2 (23) - Adrian Beltre, 3B, TEX
You know, I wasn't the only one with thoughts of trying to go young with my offense. Which of course made it more painful when I watched Xander Bogaerts go off the board with the pick before mine. This was also right after the first true prospect (ie, not going to be in the majors this year) went at #21 overall with Byron Buxton. Again, I had been looking for both youth, and now a safe option. In a dynasty league you always want the young, potentially elite option at all junctures. However, I felt it was too early to go with another prospect like Javier Baez or Oscar Taveras. Here I went with a player who is a lock for a .300 batting average, 30 HR, 90 runs, and 90 RBI at a position that is more shallow than it appears at first glance.
Round 3 (58) - Billy Hamilton, OF, CIN
My first hitter was not going to provide me with a single stolen base, and I thought my own tweet about it kind of summed up how I felt about it:
In a league as deep as this one, I like the idea that I didn't really have to look for speed for another 8-10 rounds at least. If Hamilton can hit even .250 and get on base even around .310, he could steal 70+ bases by himself. It's risky to be sure, because there is still the possibility that he hits so poorly that he forces a return engagement to Louisville, but I think the odds of that are relatively low.
It also helps that Taveras, Baez, Yelich, and Springer all went in between as well, continuing the run on prospects.
Round 4 (63) - Mark Trumbo, 1B/OF, ARI
Having locked up my speed possibilities in the last round, I wanted more power, as it seemed extremely likely that it would run out quickly. At this juncture, Trumbo represented one of the last, best opportunities to draft a potential 40 home run hitter, and I went for it despite the relative positional weakness. I debated for a long time here between Trumbo and Gerrit Cole, and probably would have gone with Cole had I taken a hitter in the first round. It became moot on the very next pick, as Cole went off the board at 64 to the Fernandez owner.
Round 5 (98) - Sonny Gray, SP, OAK
3 more prospects went off the board in the 35 picks between my two, along with a lot of high-level, young players like Anthony Rizzo, Andrelton Simmons, and even Matt Harvey. After missing out on Rizzo, I decided I wanted another young starting pitcher, and having seen Gray in person last year, became my target pretty quickly. I don't think he necessarily turns into a #1 starter for the A's (although he'll probably fill that role), but I can see a top 25 starting pitcher for fantasy purposes, further strengthening my pitching staff and numbers.
Round 6 (103) - Jedd Gyorko, 2B, SD
Another goal as I moved through the draft was to try to fill as many of my hitting positions with solid options. Gyorko has 25+ homer potential despite playing in San Diego, and is only in his second year in the majors. It's also entirely possible that he could end up with 3B eligibility at some point in the season, given that it is his natural position.
My head gets foggy at this point, as I struggle with what happens next. While I had been watching prospects fly off the board each and every round, with Gregory Polanco and Carlos Correa among the taken, I simply didn't see it coming. Mike Newman had been taking players I had been looking at in nearly every round of the draft so far, so it shouldn't have been that much of a surprise. And yet, I nearly threw my computer when I saw that he had auto-drafted from his queue, taking personal favorite Addison Russell with pick 104. Thankfully, I didn't have a pick for a while to recuperate from this. When I woke up, I felt the desire to tweet things like this:
Clearly not entirely awake, I continued this for another 30 minutes or so in the vain hope that by some small miracle, he would win the day, and MLB would be required to find a new contest next year that couldn't be so easily manipulated. It didn't work, and eventually during the day I snapped back into my normal mind.
Round 7 (138) - Lucas Giolito, SP, WAS
The large gap before my next pick saw our first true run of the draft, as third basemen were getting snatched up by nearly everyone. Four of them went within six picks, including both Arenado and Castellanos. At this point, I went for another of my personal favorites in Giolito. I think that by this time next year, we are looking at a top 10 overall prospect, and one that could potentially debut as soon as 2016. In a league with this many prospects drafted, I wanted to get as much upside as possible, especially if they are far away. He may have the highest upside of any prospect in the minors right now, and the only one that was left at this point in the draft that could be the #1 player at his position in the future.
Round 8 (143) - J.J. Hardy, SS, BAL
Another player that isn't that old, but isn't that young either, Hardy should be good for 20-25 home runs with a passable batting average and at least decent runs and RBIs. I absolutely didn't want to get stuck with a shortstop that wasn't going to provide positive value, and 11 shortstops had already been drafted (to go along with 5 shortstop prospects). With Hardy I now had all four starting infielders with the potential for 25 home runs each, an extremely nice pairing with Hamilton's stolen base potential.
Round 9 (178) - Victor Martinez, UT, DET
With all of the power potential I took in the first eight rounds, I wanted a high level batting average hitter, and Victor Martinez fit the bill very nicely. There have been reports that he will see some games at catcher this year, and with CBS rules requiring just 5 games in-season to qualify, he could be a very nice value there. He is probably good for a .290-.300 batting average with 15+ home runs and 85 RBI.
Round 10 (183) - Robert Stephenson, SP, CIN
I love the potential upside of Stephenson, who seems like a reasonably good possibility to be in the Reds' rotation by season's end and could be a #2 fantasy starter with a slight possibility of him being a true #1 starter down the line. As I said at the time, I like the potential that Sonny Gray could be my #4 starter in two or three years with Darvish, Giolito and Stephenson ahead of him, but it's definitely a higher risk strategy for a dynasty format.
Some Other Notes from the 1st 10 rounds:
- Closers starting going off the board in round 4 with Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman going over three picks, Jansen in round 6, and Rosenthal in round 8.
- At least one team is playing for 2015 or 2016 at this point, as they drafted almost exclusively prospects after round 3 or 4. I wondered at the time what would have happened to them if another team had done the exact same thing in the draft, and how that would have affected valuations of both prospects and veterans throughout the draft.
- For those of you interested in where you might see injured players drafted in long-term leagues, Matt Harvey went in the 5th round (pick #82) in a pure dynasty format. Jeremy Hellickson didn't go until the 25th round.
- Masahiro Tanaka went at pick #114, and Jose Abreu went at #88.
The recap of rounds 11 through 20 will run on Friday, and 21 through 40 on next Monday.