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Recapping my Fake Teams fantasy baseball draft

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How’d I do?

Getty Images/Pete Rogers Illustrations

The Fake Teams crew had their fantasy baseball draft last week. I was hoping to draft Trevor Story in the first round (power and steals), but ended up with pick #14 out of 15 total (snake, roto draft), and Story obviously didn’t last that long. But, two of the five best starting pitchers were available at that point, so I ditched the Story script and went with two elite painters instead: Jacob DeGrom and Justin Verlander (Gerrit Cole was the first SP taken). From there, I had to focus on complimenting a strong SP foundation with big bats, and I planned to take more cheap pitching later in the draft (as I originally planned to do when mocking for my first two picks to be bats), and perhaps draft steals one or two rounds early.

Here’s the roster construction: two Catchers, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, MI, CI, 5 OF, UTIL, 9 P, 7 bench.

Fantasy baseball, no matter what the league format, basically comes down to three things: power, speed, and pitching. Did I acquire enough of those three fundamental pillars of a good fantasy baseball team? You decide. Below is my draft, along with a brief explanation for each pick.

Round 1, #14 Pick Overall: Jacob DeGrom, SP, NYM

Round 2, #17 Pick Overall: Justin Verlander, SP, HOU

DeGrom is about as steady as they come. I’ve had both these pitchers on my main fantasy baseball team for years now, and DeGrom just seems to improve every year. No reason not to take a sure thing in uncertain times, especially when it comes to pitching. Healthy is always a concern for pitchers, and you can’t let it scare you off acquiring value. When opportunity knocks, answer. By picking DeGrom with my first pick, I feel locked in to taking another elite pitcher with my second, just to secure a good, strong base for my rotation.

Houston players were slightly depressed in this draft, at least at first, but let’s get one thing clear: the pitchers in Houston didn’t cheat. Nothing about JV’s success last year was illegitimate, so I’m absolutely happy to draft a top 5 SP with a second round pick, especially if the Ks stay up. Yes, yes, Father Time and regression and all that stuff; on the other hand, if Verlander is still dominant, or even top 20, then my SP is looking sexy as hell, and I’ll be able to take chances later on in the draft.

Round 3, #44 Pick Overall: Jose Altuve, 2B, HOU

Round 4, #47 Pick Overall: Giancarlo Stanton, OF, NYY

I’m not going to count the cheating against the production because I don’t believe the cheating elevated each Houston player’s individual numbers by that much. I’ve always loved Altuve, so I’m sticking with my undersized boyfriend. He’s a top 25 player available near pick 50, is how I thought of this, and I was happy to get him. Altuve gives you power and speed, along with peripherals, and he’s a great, solid start for my lineup.

Stanton is someone who’s capable of hitting 50 home runs. That’s the only thing I saw when I saw him. I drafted him with hope in my heart. If my prayers are answered, then I drafted two top 5 SPs, a possible top 10 all around offensive player, and an elite power bat. If things go wrong, then that’s what I get for drafting two Astros in my first four picks. At least, two pitchers and two hitters is a sensible way to start a draft, no?

Round 5, #74 Overall: JT Realmuto, C, PHI

Round 6, #77 Overall: Gary Sanchez, C, NYY

Again, lean into it: I saw a chance to have two top 5 players at a position (remember, this league has two C spots), and I took the opportunity. If things go well, then I have two more offensive weapons at a PRIME position, and if things don’t go well, then I still have above average catchers, barring injury, and they’re both valuable in trades.

(I’ve also never had two elite catchers at once, I usually punt on catchers. This will be interesting.)

Kansas City Royals v Oakland Athletics Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

Round 7, #104 Overall: Matt Chapman, 3B, OAK

Round 8, #107 Overall: Mallex Smith, OF, SEA

Chapman is a fantastic fantasy player, full stop. He was 18th in home runs last year (36 HR), but also had the lowest BABIP of any of those 18 hitters (.270). He can hit forty home runs, and I love his defense, and I think he could be an MVP some day. I love Matt Chapman. He’ll be a top 20 bat this year, I think, and I’m getting him after Aroldis Chapman and Kirby Yates are drafted. Yes, please. Saves can burn in hell, in my humble opinion. Chasing them early is not a good idea.

Chasing steals, though! This is a boom-or-bust pick: either Mallex repeats his production from last year or he doesn’t, and his batting average sucks, and his production tanks, and I lose this pick. I said I was going to try and draft steals a bit early, and so I did. I also wasn’t very enamored of any of the players who were drafted following this pick, so I’m actually pretty happy with the gamble.

After 8 rounds, I have two SPs, two catchers, two infielders, and two outfielders. This was not by design, but I dig the balance.

Round 9, #134 Overall: Lance Lynn, SP, TEX

Round 10, #137 Overall: Kyle Schwarber, OF, CHC

Lance Lynn was one of the very best starting pitchers in baseball last year (he had the seventh most strikeouts), and none of his numbers suggest it was a fluke. He’s been improving immensely over the past few seasons, and his success makes me think that Corey Kluber, newly traded to the Rangers, could be in store for a great season, too. I have three of the best 20 SPs from last year, and two above-average to great OF bats. My power and pitching plan proceeds apace.

Round 11, #164 Overall: Garrett Hampson, 2B/SS/OF, COL

Round 12, #167 Overall: Brandon Lowe, 1B/2B/OF, TB

Hampson is, again, a boom-or-bust speed pick. He was a bust last year, but he may be afforded a greater opportunity this year. Plus, I love his positional flexibility.

Brandon Lowe is a guy who can go 20-10, and the Rays don’t generally just casually hand out contracts to players, especially young ones. I believe in their belief, if that makes sense. And, again, I love the positional flexibility.

Round 13, #194 Overall: Justin Upton, OF, LAA

J Up had a down year, but if he’s healthy, then he’s due for at least 25 bombs, if not 30, and a lot of runs and RBI. He may not be ready for the start of the season, but he has tremendous upside and deflated value, and that’s what we’re looking for at this point in the draft. I’ll get another OF later in the draft to play for him if/while he’s on the IL.

Round 14, #197 Overall: Jon Gray, SP, COL

Gray had a top 35 xFIP as a pitcher for the Colorado Rockies. He also had a sub-4.00 ERA. I’ll take the upside for my fourth SP: DeGrom, Verlander, Lynn, Gray are my SP, so far. Feeling pretty good about that, especially since I wrote about Gray being a good SP4 “no matter what kind of draft I’m in.”

Round 15, #224 Overall: Shin-soo Choo, OF, TEX

This is a bit of a hedge, and a bit of a value pick: Choo, much like Nelson Cruz, continues to deliver valuable stats despite age. I realize he’s probably on the decline, but if he can keep getting on base in the midst of an improved lineup, then I think that will make up for any losses in HR or SB. He’s just a solid, high-floor OF (hopefully!). I like a safe, unsexy pick here, especially if he can still give me 20 HR and 10 SB (not a sure thing, but again: optimism!).

Round 16, #227 Overall: Ryan Pressly, RP, HOU

One of the best ratios pitchers over the last few years, I took Pressly here to protect against lesser SPs that I’ll draft later on. (Remember, this league has nine Pitcher positions, no difference between SP and RP, and it’s a regular roto league with Wins and Saves.) I love Pressly, he’s a super-valuable ratios protector: he had the best xFIP of any pitcher who threw at least 10 innings last year.

Round 17, #254 Overall: Chris Archer, SP, PIT

I believe in the strikeout potential, and I believe that a new pitching coach and regime will focus more on what Archer does well. Also, from June 1st through the rest of the season last year, Archer had a 3.73 xFIP and a 12 K/9. If that’s the Archer we get this season, then he’ll be a steal this late in the draft. I’ve targeted Archer as a bounce-back candidate in leagues, because if he can keep his Ks and maintain a sub-4.00 ERA, then he’ll be a very valuable starting pitcher. (I also plan on drafting ratio protectors as RPs, like Pressly, rather than closers, so I’m less concerned about my ERA.)

Round 18, #257 Overall: Domingo Santana, OF, CLE

This is another boom-or-bust pick. If Santana can hit enough homers, then he’s a steal. We’re looking for upside with all our picks, at this stage, so Santana possibly getting DH duties in Cleveland, along with OF eligibility, makes him a nice grab at this stage, I think. His upside is 30 homers.

Baltimore Orioles v Detroit Tigers Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Round 19, #284 Overall: Renato Nunez, 1B, BAL

I’m not even considering Nunez’s eligibility at 3B in Yahoo leagues for this pick. He’s a dude who can hit 30+ HRs, and he’s the power bat in a rebuilding Orioles lineup. He’s a cheap source of counting stats, and I’m all over that.

Round 20, #287 Overall: Emilio Pagan, RP, LAD

Another ratio protector, Pagan had the 18th best xFIP of pitchers who pitched at least 60 innings last year. He’s no longer a closer, he’s now a setup man for the Dodgers, but I love his 12+ K/9, and he’s next in line for saves if Kenley Janson gets hurt.

Round 21, #314 Overall: Kyle Seager, 3B, SEA

Seager is another cheap power source. His floor should be 20+ HR and a .240 average, but I’m betting his season line ends up being closer to 30 HR and a .260 average. I’ll take that potential for my CI.

Round 22, #317 Overall: Jarrod Dyson, OF, PIT

This pick is all about steals. If Dyson plays a lot in Pittsburgh, then he’ll get 20+ SB, and I think that will be hella valuable this year. He’s a hedge against Garrett Hampson not working out, too.

Round 23, #344 Overall: Miguel Cabrera, 1B, DET

Miggie showed up to camp in great shape. If he can regain any of his previous form, then this pick is gravy. If not, then no big deal.

Round 24, #347 Overall: Joey Wendle, 2B/3B/SS, TB

This is about positional flexibility and counting stats. If Wendle can get 10+ HR and 10+ SB, then he’s a great bench piece that can fill in for injured players elsewhere on the roster.

Round 25, #374 Overall: Luke Jackson, RP, ATL

His ERA last year doesn’t suggest it, but Luke Jackson’s luck was terrible last year, AND he had an inflated HR rate, ANDAND he had the sixth best xFIP of pitchers who threw at least 10 innings. I think Luke Jackson will be a valuable ratio protector this year, ANDANDAND he had a 13+ K/9 last season. The more I can protect my cumulative ERA, WHIP, and Ks early in the season, the easier it’ll be to try and trade for other stuff later on.

Round 26, #377 Overall: Matt Barnes, RP, BOS

11th best xFIP of pitchers who pitched 60+ innings, and a 15+ K/9. Yes, please, and eff Saves.

Round 27, #404 Overall: Cameron Maybin, OF, DET

Maybin’s a possible source of SB, HR, and Runs. If he gets an everyday job in Detroit, or almost everyday, then he should produce as a cheap source of counting stats. Love it, and go Tigers.

Round 28, #407 Overall: Drew Pomeranz, RP, SD

After Pom was traded to Milwaukee, and became an RP rather than an SP, he had a 2.14 xFIP and a 15+ K/9. Now, he gets to be an RP in San Diego. RATIO. PROTECTOR.

Round 29, #434 Overall: Dellin Betances, RP, NYM

This is a pick about potential. If Betances can return to being one of the most dominant RPs in the game, as he was for several years before getting hurt last year, then he’ll be another great ratio protector on my team. If not, then he didn’t cost much.

Round 30, #437 Overall: Justus Sheffield, SP, SEA

A young SP with upside. That’s all we’re looking for with the last pick in the draft.

Here’s my roster:

C - JT Realmuto
C - Gary Sanchez
1B - Renato Nunez
2B - Jose Altuve
SS - Garrett Hampson
3B - Matt Chapman
MI - Brandon Lowe
CI - Kyle Seager
OF1 - Giancarlo Stanton
OF2 - Mallex Smith
OF3 - Kyle Schwarber
OF4 - Justin Upton
OF5 - Shin-soo Choo
UTIL - Domingo Santana
P1 - Jacob DeGrom
P2 - Justin Verlander
P3 - Lance Lynn
P4 - Jon Gray
P5 - Ryan Pressly
P6 - Chris Archer
P7 - Emilio Pagan
P8 - Luke Jackson
P9 - Matt Barnes

Bench:

  1. Jarrod Dyson
  2. Miggie
  3. Cam Maybin
  4. Joey Wendle
  5. Drew Pomeranz
  6. Dellin Betances
  7. Justus Sheffield

So, how do you think I did? And, how are your drafts going? Have you noticed any interesting trends? Let us know in the comments!