Gonna take a little mind trip today.
This might be dumb, I don't know. But I was sitting out on the deck at the lakehouse this morning looking at this view, so I win even if this is dumb:
... And playing with my laptop, because even on vacation I'm a nerd. I was setting my lineups for Monday and ended up accidentally clicking on my Yahoo! profile, which led me down a rabbit hole of old fantasy teams and results. My first-round pick in my 2009 "League of Misfits 8" — which is still going, by the way, and which I am leading in 2015 — was Jimmy Rollins, for example. At the time, Rollins was a year removed from winning MVP, and while his 2008 wasn't great, he had hit .277 and stolen 47 bases for the World Series champion, so I suppose my pick wasn't that crazy ... except Rollins went on to hit .250 that year with five home runs and 31 steals. I did manage a third-place finish that year, so I guess the rest of my draft went better.
Anyway, reading old drafts got me wondering: what would fantasy teams drafted five years ago look like today? I don't mean dynasty/keeper leagues, just a single, redraft league roster, moved to 2015. What kind of turnover has there been? What kind of turnover hasn't there been? We like to imagine that value in fantasy baseball is more static than fantasy football, where a first-round running back one year might be unemployed the next, but how true is that?
So let's take a little trip. Yeah, might be dumb, but I don't care. Analyzing closers on July 27 when eight of them might be on a different team by Friday seems pretty time-wastey too.
I went with 2010's X-PBBL, which is an acronym that league still uses to this day, and which I've never known the meaning of. Oh well, it's a league based out of Richmond, Ky., that a friend got me to join. They draft football and baseball out of the local Hooters every year, and there's a lot of Bud Light and dip spit. But hey, they know sports at least a little:
The good: Albert Pujols, Hanley Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez are the first off the board. These picks were (in Hanley's case, are) long-term top-of-the-draft selections, and hey, if you took them first this year, it's actually worked out well for you in all cases (somehow, Hanley is the worst of the group for this season, which is kind of funny, actually).
The bad: Right after those two? Chase Utley and Joe Mauer. Evan Longoria was also a first-rounder. That's an All-Star foundation for a 2010 core that is doing little-to-nothing in 2015. Mauer has improved of late, hitting .327/.364/.473 over the last month-plus, but it's still a disappointing season out of the now-first-baseman-only, and he's the best of the three; Utley might actually be dead, and 2015 might be a Weekend at Bernie's situation.
My pick: At ninth in a 10-team league, I went with Mark Teixeira. I really don't have memory of Teixeira being a viable first-round fantasy pick, but a cursory search shows I took him in the first in at least two leagues that year, and heck, he was coming off two years of a .955 OPS and had just led the league in home runs and RBI. Seriously, I don't remind "Mark Teixeira, first-round pick." And 2010 was the beginning of his decline, as he hit .256 that year. Still, his 2015 has been very rebound, as his .913 OPS this season is his best since that 2008-2009 stretch.
The good: Miguel Cabrera was only a second-round pick that recently? I guess he didn't become all-caps MIGUEL CABRERA until 2010, when he led the league in RBI, on-base percentage and OPS+, but man, I thought he was a first-rounder earlier than that. Heck, dude hasn't finished lower than 15th in the MVP voting since 2004. Heck of a pick getting him in the second, and until he got hurt this year, it would've been good value now as well. Also in the first round: Troy Tulowitzki. That's all the good, truly.
The bad: Well, we have our first out-of-the-game selection, in Roy Halladay. Expired-milk Ryan Howard and CC Sabathia and barely active Carl Crawford and David Wright, and guys like Tim Lincecum also went in the second. Ouch.
My pick: Well, I went Justin Upton, who is in the running with Ian Kinsler for second-best pick of the round, but this was not a good 2015 showing.
The good: Zack Greinke, first off the board in the third! Heck, he was the fourth starter drafted across the draft. That'll play in 2015, as will Joey Votto, Felix Hernandez and, to a lesser extent, Matt Holliday. That's a bunch of guys who are fine in 2015, even if they aren't necessarily their peak selves.
The bad: Well, Johan Santana is done, and Grady Sizemore might as well be. Even when he was drafted then, he had just finished being a productive big-leaguer; he only played 33 games in 2010 and managed a 58 OPS+. Ichiro is still playing, but, you know, 62 OPS+. Dustin Pedroia (two DL stints) and Victor Martinez (99 OPS+) are fine, mediocre, whatever.
My pick: Here's a true 2015 ouch: I went Kevin Youkilis. His 2010 was fine. It was only 102 games, but he hit .307/.411/.564 in that time. But since a 28-game stint with the Yankees in 2013, Youkilis has played some in Japan and now works in the Cubs' front office.
(No sense running round-by-round when we're increasingly seeing "oh, he's literally and/or figuratively done.")
The good: Jacoby Ellsbury and Adrian Gonzalez in the fourth, Andrew McCutchen in the fifth, Clayton Kershaw in the ninth. Well-established veterans who were up-and-comers five years ago. That's what you're looking for here, even if there aren't a lot of them.
The bad: Do you remember "Aaron Hill, fifth-rounder" or "Chone Figgins, seventh-rounder" or "Rickie Weeks, relevant human"? I mean, I guess I do, but man, five years can change some things dramatically.
My picks: I went Brian McCann, Dan Haren, Jon Lester, Nelson Cruz, Josh Johnson, Jason Heyward and Heath Bell through Round 10. That's a mishmash of still-relevant somebodies and, you know, Heath Damn Bell.
I took Julio Borbon in the 11th round? What? I mean, he had hit .312/.376/.414 in 46 games in '09, but holy crap do I not remember him ever having any fantasy relevance.
You know what? I'm putting my picks after Round 10 in a chart. Y'all need to see this:
Seriously, for 2015, the Stephens — .188/.263/.380 Drew and 5.16-ERA Strasburg — are my success stories there. Them and A.J. dingdang Pierzynski. Listen, I know, I know, I wasn't drafting for 2015, and to say I struck out for this year is like saying the 1974 Sports Illustrated cover model was bad because she's aged today. I get that. But hoooooooly crap did I not expect things to end up the way they did. (Saddest part? I finished third in the league that season. Players' values can disappear in a hurry, y'all.)
Names I had to look up
It's not that I didn't remember these guys, but I certainly didn't remember them having any relevance, and I probably couldn't have told you what team they played for at the time. I mean, I remember Jorge Cantu, sure, but as a fantasy guy?
|Player||2010 team||Draft pick||2010 stats|
|Jorge Cantu||FLA||12.3||.256, 11 HR, 56 RBI|
|Randy Wells||CHC||20.3||8-14, 4.26 ERA, 144 K|
|Ryan Rowland-Smith||SEA||23.2||1-10, 6.75 ERA, 49 K|
|Kenshin Kawakami||ATL||23.6||1-10, 5.15 ERA, 59 K|
|Michael Wuertz||OAK||23.7||2-3, 4.31 ERA, 40 K|
Two different 1-10 guys! Two of them!
In the end, the lesson here appears to be that fantasy baseball value is at least as fungible as fantasy football, it seems. Guys come and go. It is notable that the very last pick of our draft, entering his rookie season, was Aroldis Chapman, although this is a central Kentucky, Reds-metro-area league, so I suppose he was more likely to be taken by us than anyone else.
My advice? Don't do this to yourself. You'll realize you drafted, like, Casey Blake in the 10th round and spend the rest of the day wondering what the hell you're doing with your life. It's a good thing I have that view of the lake, because I have some dark thoughts right now.