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Filed under: NL-Only Analysts League: Auction Draft analysis

It feels like my worst draft ever, but maybe I'm overreacting?

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

In some ways, drafting a fantasy baseball roster, particularly in an auction scenario, is like being a chef coming up with a recipe. Maybe you make five great dishes, but inevitably, if you try enough new ideas, something just won't taste right.

That was my reaction to my performance in Thursday's Analysts League NL-Only auction draft. I've been in variants of this league — filled with industry writers and guys with names people know way more than mine — for three seasons now, making this my sixth such super-fancy draft. And bar none, I like this roster the least.

Things happen. I splurged on a few names early, spending a few dollars more than I maybe should have. The later guys I hated targeted as potential bargains ended up being more popular than I expected, meaning I had to settle for second-tier "bargains." And Jonah Keri apparently stole my draft list, because for a big chunk of the draft he was the one going $1 over me on seemingly every daggone guy.

Before I go on, the participants:

  • Mike Kuchera, Fantasy Baseball Express
  • Mike Gianella, Baseball Prospectus
  • Philip Ponebshek, Patton & Co.
  • Pasko Varnica and Todd Zola, MAstersball
  • Daniel Kelley, Fake Teams
  • Al Melchior, CBS Sports
  • Scott White, CBS Sports
  • Rudy Gamble, Razzball
  • Jeff Boggis, Fantasy Baseball Empire
  • Jonah Keri, CBS Sports
  • Heath Cummings, CBS Sports
  • Bernie Pleskoff,

It's a strong group, one that maybe I don't belong in. I didn't think that until my performance in the draft, so sure, maybe I'm overreacting. Still, there are some lessons to be learned from the mistakes. Let's talk about a few.

  • I splurged early on Clayton Kershaw ($41). Having Kershaw is exhilarating. Barring injury, he almost guarantees you a contending spot on the pitching side. But splurging early makes it harder and harder to find competent complements. So you can't be wrong about your next-tier pitchers. I might not be wrong, but by the time I got to them, I didn't have the money to get the guys I had in mind, guys like Patrick Corbin and Aaron Nola. Anthony DeSclafani and Jerad Eickhoff have potential, but my pitching staff worries me, Kershaw or no Kershaw.
  • I waited too long on real power. The big-name sluggers passed by for a dollar or two more than I had envisioned, so I let them pass, assuming I'd find a different home-run hitter later. And then, when Carlos Gonzalez came up, it sort of clicked that he was the last big power bat left. It got me into a spot where I had to spend on him if I wanted any hope of rating well in power, so I put $28 down on Gonzalez. It could pay off, but an oft-injured Rockie who could be on the trading block? Risky.
  • NL-only leagues bother me, because so much of the offensive talent in baseball right now is in the American League (seriously, look at the shortstops). So I've made the plans each of my two years in this league that I am punting saves. Spending on saves means you have fewer dollars to use elsewhere, and each dollar on offense is crucial. I'm fine with that decision. But then I went and spent on Jonathan Lucroy and Travis d'Arnaud. It's a two-catcher league, so cool. But catchers carry more risk than other position players, and those two carry more risk than the typical catcher. Silly to save only to splurge and cost yourself elsewhere.
  • I bet too heavily on my ability to find guys late. I really thought I'd wind up with Jonathan Villar, John Jaso, Derek Dietrich, but other guys had the same ideas.
  • Jonah flippin' Keri, y'all. Dude saved his money early, meaning he could top me at every turn late.

In the end, I still have potential here. Mark Reynolds will hit homers in Colorado. Trea Turner should win the Washington job because he's good. I love Addison Russell's chances this year, as well as the likelihood of a bounceback for Yasiel Puig and even more development from Starling Marte. Jose Peraza at $4 was, for me, potentially the steal of the draft.

But I have a lot of worries on offense, and in the end I hate my pitching staff. Maybe I'm overreacting, but I certainly don't see a repeat of last year's second-place performance. It happens. Not every recipe is a five-star. It doesn't mean I'm the worst fantasy owner in the world, but Thursday at least, I didn't feel great about things.

Am I right? Below are all the rosters, with salaries attached.

Team Fantasy Baseball Express

Baseball Prospectus
Owner Mike Kuchera

Mike Gianella
C Buster Posey 27
Miguel Montero 8
C Kyle Schwarber 25
Nick Hundley 10
1B Lucas Duda 21
Brandon Moss 9
2B Brandon Phillips 11
Kolten Wong 17
3B Maikel Franco 25
Matt Carpenter 24
SS Chris Owings 1
Jean Segura 16
MI Cory Spangenberg 8
Jose Reyes 12
CI Justin Morneau 1
David Wright 12
OF Josh Harrison 16
Yoenis Cespedes 26
OF Jorge Soler 17
Ben Revere 20
OF Peter O'Brien 1
Jay Bruce 10
OF Jabari Blash 1
Domingo Santana 12
OF Michael Bourn 1
Jayson Werth 8
DH Wilmer Flores 1
DJ LeMahieu 15
P Mark Melancon 21
Fernando Rodney 8
P Trevor Rosenthal 19
Shelby Miller 12
P Raisel Iglesias 17
Kyle Hendricks 11
P Francisco Liriano 15
Jaime Garcia 12
P Julio Teheran 17
Aaron Nola 11
P Mike Leake 9
Jon Niese 4
P Tony Cingrani 2
Matt Cain 1
P Corey Knebel 3
Ryan Vogelsong 1
P Jarred Cosart 1
Tom Koehler 1
Res Michael Morse

Nick Ahmed
Res Randall Delgado

Zach Davies
Res Tim Lincecum

Robbie Erlin
Res Chris Johnson

Robert Stephenson
Res Antonio Bastardo

Nick Williams
Res Eric Young

Tyler Moore
Res Clayton Blackburn

Justin Grimm

Team Patton & Co

Owner Philip Ponebshek

Pasko Varnica, Todd Zola
C J.T. Realmuto 13
Derek Norris 13
C Yadier Molina 6
A.J. Pierzynski 5
1B Paul Goldschmidt 43
Ben Paulsen 13
2B Howie Kendrick 10
Ben Zobrist 18
3B Martin Prado 6
Matt Duffy 17
SS Ian Desmond 7
Alexei Ramirez 13
MI Zack Cozart 4
Jonathan Villar 8
CI Freddie Freeman 24
Adonis Garcia 5
OF Andrew McCutchen 34
Charlie Blackon 30
OF Curtis Granderson 19
Randal Grichuk 20
OF Odubel Herrera 11
Jon Jay 4
OF Angel Pagan 2
Alex Guerrero 1
OF Peter Bourjos 3
Carl Crawford 3
DH Aaron Hill 5
Jedd Gyorko 2
P Madison Bumgarner 31
Jake Arrieta 30
P Arodys Vizcaino 9
A.J. Ramos 13
P Scott Kazmir 15
Michael Wacha 20
P Jimmy Nelson 6
John Lackey 15
P Hyun-Jin Ryu 4
Kevin Siegrist 1
P Daniel Hudson 1
Jason Hammel 14
P Homer Bailey 2
Tony Watson 1
P Luis Garcia 2
Rubby De La Rosa 6
P Archie Bradley 3
Robbie Ray 4
Res Julio Urias

Justin Nicolino
Res Tim Cooney

Sean Newcomb
Res Colin Rea

Tyler Lyons
Res Darnell Sweeney

Sean Rodriguez
Res Garin Cecchini

Gregor Blanco
Res Addison Reed

Christian Bethancourt
Res Kelby Tomlinson

Carlos Frias

Team Fake Teams

CBS Sports
Owner Daniel Kelley

Al Melchior
C Jonathan Lucroy 19
Welington Castillo 13
C Travis d'Arnaud 17
Francisco Cervelli 9
1B Mark Reynolds 1
Ryan Zimmerman 16
2B Trea Turner 8
Scooter Gennett 4
3B Anthony Rendon 23
Yangervis Solarte 13
SS Addison Russell 19
Corey Seager 23
MI Orlando Arcia 3
Brandon Crawford 18
CI Scott Van Slyke 1
Jake Lamb 12
OF Starling Marte 35
Matt Kemp 23
OF Yasiel Puig 23
Denard Span 13
OF Carlos Gonzalez 28
Gerardo Parra 17
OF Austin Jackson 1
Scott Schebler 1
OF Kelly Johnson 1
Clint Robinson 2
DH Jose Peraza 4
J.P. Crawford 3
P Clayton Kershaw 41
Carlos Martinez 20
P Wei-Yin Chen 15
Noah Syndergaard 23
P Anthony DeSclafani 8
Hector Rondon 19
P Brett Anderson 4
Jason Grilli 11
P Jerad Eickhoff 5
Shawn Kelley 2
P Jorge De La Rosa 1
Patrick Corbin 14
P Jeff Locke 1
Zack Godley 1
P Adam Warren 1
Sergio Romo 2
P Chase Anderson 1
Brandon Maurer 1
Res Matt Garza

Hunter Renfroe
Res Josh Bell

Colin Walsh
Res Marco Gonzales

Jorge Lopez
Res David Freese

Jimmy Cordero
Res Stephen Drew

Jorge Alfaro
Res Jhoulys Chacin

Phil Gosselin
Res Jordan Lyles

Edwin Jackson

Team CBS Sports

Owner Scott White

Rudy Gamble
C Kevin Plawecki 1
Carlos Ruiz 1
C Tom Murphy 4
Dustin Garneau 1
1B Wil Myers 18
Brandon Belt 20
2B Dee Gordon 32
Daniel Murphy 16
3B Yasmany Tomas 12
Hector Olivera 11
SS Javier Baez 12
Jhonny Peralta 15
MI Asdrubal Cabrera 8
Chase Utley 1
CI Darin Ruf 1
Chris Carter 17
OF Hunter Pence 21
Dexter Fowler 17
OF Aaron Altherr 12
Gregory Polanco 24
OF Jesse Winker 1
Matt Holliday 14
OF Nick Markakis 9
Ender Inciarte 16
OF Michael Taylor 3
Michael Conforto 17
DH Eugenio Suarez 12
Rymer Liriano 1
P Zack Greinke 27
Jacob deGrom 26
P Adam Wainwright 20
Max Scherzer 32
P Santiago Casilla 14
Carter Capps 11
P Stephen Strasburg 25
Andrew Cashner 10
P David Hernandez 10
John Lamb 3
P Will Smith 7
Brandon Finnegan 3
P Vincent Velasquez 5
Drew Pomeranz 2
P Jeremy Jeffress 4
Jeremy Hellickson 1
P Matt Wisler 2
Adam Conley 1
Res Tommy Pham

Bud Norris
Res Jarrett Parker

Kirk Nieuwenhuis
Res Mallex Smith

Mike Foltynewicz
Res Dilson Herrera

Jameson Taillon
Res Aaron Blair

Jose Pirela
Res Brett Phillips

Edward Mujica
Res David Dahl

Christhian Adames

Team Fantasy Baseball Empire

CBS Sports
Owner Jeff Boggis

Jonah Keri
C Tyler Flowers 2
Cameron Rupp 5
C Wilson Ramos 8
Yasmani Grandal 14
1B Anthony Rizzo 34
Ryan Howard 7
2B Danny Espinosa 4
Cesar Hernandez 5
3B Kris Bryant 34
Justin Turner 15
SS Erick Aybar 5
Adeiny Hechavarria 3
MI Jace Peterson 1
Trevor Story 3
CI Adrian Gonzalez 25
Matt Adams 7
OF Giancarlo Stanton 37
Billy Hamilton 24
OF Jason Heyward 27
Ryan Braun 28
OF Derek Dietrich 1
David Peralta 19
OF Adam Duvall 1
Joc Pederson 20
OF Juan Lagares 1
Stephen Piscotty 22
DH Pedro Alvarez 1
Melvin Upton 2
P Matt Harvey 28
Kenley Jansen 22
P Steven Matz 17
Brad Ziegler 11
P Kevin Quackenbush 6
Yimi Garcia 2
P Tyler Glasnow 9
Taylor Jungmann 4
P Kenta Maeda 11
Jeff Samardzija 15
P Alex Wood 3
Hunter Strickland 5
P Zack Wheeler 2
Joe Ross 15
P Chris Heston 1
Jake Peavy 4
P Jason Motte 2
Lucas Giolito 5
Res Austin Hedges

Pedro Strop
Res Brandon Drury

Jose De Leon
Res Jason Rogers

Tyler Goeddel
Res Chad Bettis

Cody Reed
Res Williams Perez

Justin Miller
Res Josh Bell

Dansby Swanson
Res Jim Johnson

Alex Reyes

Team CBS Sports
Owner Heath Cummings

Bernie Pleskoff
C Devin Mesoraco 14
Andrew Susac 4
C A.J. Ellis 2
Brayan Pena 1
1B Joey Votto 32
Justin Bour 17
2B Joe Panik 15
Micah Johnson 1
3B Cody Asche 2
Nolan Arenado 36
SS Jung Ho Kang 19
Jordy Mercer 3
MI Neil Walker 15
Alen Hanson 1
CI Will Middlebrooks 1
Juan Uribe 1
OF A.J. Pollock 36
Bryce Harper 43
OF Marlon Byrd 2
Christian Yelich 24
OF Andre Ethier 7
Socrates Brito 2
OF Alejandro De Aza 1
Marcell Ozuna 13
OF Enrique Hernandez 3
Travis Jankowski 2
DH Freddy Galvis 1
John Jaso 6
P Johnny Cueto 19
Jon Lester 24
P Gerrit Cole 25
Jonathan Papelbon 17
P Jeurys Familia 21
Jose Fernandez 26
P Jon Gray 2
Jake McGee 15
P Tyson Ross 16
Jumbo Diaz 3
P J.J. Hoover 10
Gio Gonzalez 15
P James Shields 15
Bartolo Colon 1
P Tyler Clippard 1
Wily Peralta 4
P Brandon McCarthy 1
Tanner Roark 1
Res Trayce Thompson

Mac Williamson
Res Charlie Morton

Jake Cave
Res Kyle Parker

Elias Diaz
Res Emilio Bonifacio

Michael Lorenzen
Res Arismendy Alcantara

Jonathan Broxton
Res J.P. Howell

Yusmiero Petit
Res Manny Banuelos
Ruben Tejada