Last night, 15 fantasy baseball experts participated in the 2015 LABR mixed league online draft. The LABR mixed league is a 15 team, 5 x 5 standard roto league, and includes the following experts:
Jeff Erickson, Rotowire
Fred Zinkie, MLB.com
Paul Sporer/Jason Collette, FanGraphs
Rudy Gamble, Razzball
Doug Anderson, Fantasy Network
Steve Gardner, USA Today Fantasy
Keith Hernandez, Fantasy Score
James Quintong, ESPN
Ray Murphy, BaseballHQ
Craig Glaser/Corey Schwartz, Bloomberg Sports
Mike Podhorzer, FanGraphs
Jake Ciely, Rotoexperts
Todd Zola, Mastersball
Bobby Colton, Rotowire
Mike Gianella/Bret Sayre, Baseball Prospectus
Here is a quick look at how the first and second rounds went in this 15 team snake draft:
1.1 Mike Trout, Angels
1.2 Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
1.3 Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
1.4 Jose Abreu, White Sox
1.5 Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks
1.6 Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins
1.7 Carlos Gomez, Brewers
1.8 Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays
1.9 Adam Jones, Orioles
1.10 Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
1.11 Anthony Rizzo, Cubs
1.12 Anthony Rendon, Nationals
1.13 Jose Altuve, Astros
1.14 Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
1.15 Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
2.1 Ian Desmond, Nationals
2.2 Robinson Cano, Mariners
2.3 Hanley Ramirez, Red Sox
2.4 Ryan Braun, Brewers
2.5 Billy Hamilton, Reds
2.6 Yasiel Puig, Dodgers
2.7 Starling Marte, Pirates
2.8 Adrian Beltre, Rangers
2.9 Buster Posey, Giants
2.10 Max Scherzer, Nationals
2.11 Michael Brantley, Indians
2.12 Jacoby Ellsbury, Yankees
2.13 Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays
2.14 Felix Hernandez, Mariners
2.15 Chris Sale, White Sox
You can find the complete draft results in the link below:
Other LABR write-ups for your reading pleasure
Click on the links to read the write-ups
I was surprised that Mike Podhorzer drafted Billy Hamilton with the 5th pick, or 20th overall, in the second round, when better hitters like Adrian Beltre, Josh Donaldson, Bryce Harper and ace starters Felix Hernandez and Chris Sale were still on the board. I lean power or aces early in drafts, so this pick was a shock. It was discussed heavily in my timeline on Twitter last evening.
I asked Mike why he picked Hamilton that early, and he responded that he has Hamilton ranked as the 15th most valuable hitter in fantasy baseball this season.
There were ten starters taken in the first three rounds of the draft. In other words, 10 of the top 45 picks were starters, so it just goes to show that the experts are picking starters earlier and earlier as pitching is becoming much more dominant in fantasy baseball. Don't listen to the experts who say that if you take an ace starter early in drafts that "you are scared" or that "you can't find good pitching late in drafts". That's nonsense. Grabbing an ace starter early is becoming the norm, and in my opinion, a good strategy in all drafts.
The fact that Miguel Cabrera dropped to the 10th spot overall tells you that owners are worried about his health, and aren't willing to take the risk of taking him at the #2 spot like they have the past two years.
The Baseball Prospectus guys, Mike Gianella and Bret Sayre, took two shortstops at the turn, taking Troy Tulowitzki and Ian Desmond. Drafting the top two shortstops certainly thins out the position for the remaining 14 owners, but while I like both hitters, I might have leaned toward drafting Josh Donaldson or Ryan Braun, or one of the ace starters with the first pick in the second round.
MLB.com's Fred Zinkie took two aces, Felix Hernandez and Stephen Strasburg in the second and third rounds, signaling how important he thinks drafting two aces are right now. He also drafted three closers, Koji Euhara, Huston Street and Sean Doolittle in rounds 9, 10 and 14, so it appears he is looking to dominate the pitching categories.
After drafting Mike Trout, Chris Sale and Bryce Harper with his first three picks, Rotowire's Jeff Erickson grabbed two of the top 4-5 closers in the game, Kenley Jansen and Greg Holland in rounds four and five. I am not one to draft closers early, but in a league of 15 experts, going off the rails with your draft can be beneficial, as searching the waiver wire and spending FAAB on future closers can be a burden. He locked up his two closers, two really good ones, so he can surf the waiver wire for hitting and pitching, if needed. In an era where starting pitching is more plentiful, this strategy may actually work out well for him.
The owners who I thought had one of the better drafts was the team of Paul Sporer and Jason Collette, from the Sleeper and the Bust podcast on FanGraphs. After saying all last week, on his podcast and on SiriusXM Fantasy radio, that they would take a hitter with the third overall pick in the draft, Sporer/Collette grabbed Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. I have been saying all offseason that Kershaw is the #3 overall pick in drafts this season, and that is where he came off the board in this draft. Sporer/Collette followed the Kershaw selection with the following hitters:
I already stated that I think Springer could lead the American League in home runs this season, and should put up double digit steals, at the very least, with 20+ being his upside. Next year at this time, we could be talking about drafting Springer in the first round of mixed league drafts.
Sporer/Collette also drafted three guys who I think can have breakout seasons in 2015, Arismendy Alcantara, Kevin Gausman and Nick Castellanos, in rounds 18-20. Solid value picks if you ask me.
I thought it was very interesting to see USA Today's Steve Gardner picking Nationals ace Max Scherzer over Mariners ace Felix Hernandez in the second round. I like Scherzer, but think Felix is a tier above Scherzer.
I am as big of a Yasiel Puig fan as there is, but taking him with the sixth pick in the second round seems a round too early for me. Granted, I think there is more power to come from Puig, I am just not a fan of taking him that early. I prefer some of the guys listed previously -Donaldson, Harper, Springer, Beltre and a few others.
Who do you think had the best draft? Let's hear your thoughts in the comments section below.