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MLB Remix League draft recap

Heath talks about his MLB Remix League Draft.

Washington Nationals v Miami Marlins Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Fantasy baseball still exists, folks—just in a slightly different form. The MLB Remix League draft is over, with a whopping 50 rounds now in the books. A group of fantasy baseball pundits drafted 1,500 players, enough for each new MLB team to field a 26-man MLB roster and 24-man MiLB roster.

The rules for the league are simple. We are playing out a three-year sim on OOTP 21 to see which fantasy baseball manager makes the best real life GM. We each drafted as though we were running an actual MLB team from scratch—a world where splits, defense, bullpens, and park factors all matter for one’s success. We wanted it as close to real life as we could make it, and the goal is to play it out on OOTP, simulating two weeks at a time.

By the end, my draft board was littered with prospects who MIGHT debut by the time our three-year simulation ends on OOTP 21. That, and I was reduced to evaluating the merits of one Christian Villanueva, just to give you an idea of how deep the draft went. If you forgot about Villanueva, here’s a snapshot of him, still crushing baseballs into oblivion in Japan:

You know you’ve drafted 1,500 players when you’re sad that you can’t retain the services of a guy who struck out nearly 30% of the time and amassed a career .303 OBP. Anyway, Villanueva is considered “retired” in our OOTP world, so I went with a young Cardinals prospect named Juan Yepez as my last pick. Thanks for saving me from myself, OOTP.

Yours truly drew the Reds, and the NL Central is sure to be a heck of a battle with @cory5ott (MLW), @Nate_Grimm (STL), @davithius (CHC), and @MichaelWaterloo (PIT) bringing the stiff competition. Even if one commenter doesn’t think we have what it takes:

HAPP, buddy, you were low-key the best part of our league. I hope you keep following along, and that the NL Central surprises you!

If you’ve made it this far, I commend you for reading about someone else’s team. It felt wrong to devote over three weeks to probably the most ambitious fantasy baseball draft in history without at least putting my roster out on the airwaves for people to judge. HAPP thinks my entire division needs some work. You can be the judge as well, by accessing the draft board here.

Now, here’s my 26-man MLB roster as best as I can envision it right now. I may make some small tweaks based on OOTP settings and how that platform values certain players, but this is what I have so far:

26-man MLB

LINEUP name bats age STARTERS name throws age
LINEUP name bats age STARTERS name throws age
SS Trea Turner R 26.8 SP Eduardo Rodriguez LHP 27.0
3B Tommy Edman S 24.9 SP Dinelson Lamet RHP 27.7
CF Oscar Mercado R 25.3 SP Spencer Howard RHP 23.7
1B Matt Olson L 26 SP Spencer Turnbull RHP 27.0
RF Hunter Dozier R 28.6 SP Luis Cessa RHP 28.0
2B Eduardo Escobar S 31.3
C Danny Jansen R 25.0 BULLPEN name throws age
LF Mike Yastrzemski L 29.0 CL Archie Bradley R 27.7
SU Amir Garrett L 27.9
BENCH name bats age RP Joe Kelly R 31.9
C Wilson Ramos R 32.7 RP Anthony Bass R 32.5
1B/OF Wil Myers R 29.4 RP Lou Trivino R 28.5
INF/OF Kike Hernandez R 28.6 RP John Gant R 27.7
3B Evan Longoria R 34.5 RP Alex Young LHP 26.6
OF Sam Hilliard L 26.2 RP Tanner Rainey R 27.3

Let’s just say I took a death-by-papercut approach to pitching, eh? I was handed the 21st pick in the first round, so the truly elite bats and arms were already off the board. Given the hitter-friendly environs of the the Great American Small Park, I chose to emphasize quality innings and two-way players—namely guys who are strong on defense and at least solid with the stick. Again, being saddled with pick 21 played a role in this.

Basically, I did what I feel the like the real-life Brewers try to do each year—get some reliable arms and beef up the bullpen...while focusing more on offense. That said, offense in my park shouldn’t be hard to come by, not with a bevy of quality MLB regulars up and down my lineup (and on my bench).

Having Trea Turner fall to me in Round 2 was huge, as he profiles as the best No. 3 hitter on my team heading into Year 1 (though I was hoping to have him set the table). As is, it’s likely Oscar Mercado and Tommy Edman ahead of Turner, with Matt Olson cleaning things up.

Hunter Dozier slashed .279/.342/.515 against righties last year, with 18 of his 26 homers coming in that split. And it’s not even his best split, as he crushed lefties to the tune of a .281/.370/.545 slash and eight homers (and a whopping .264 ISO). It seems strange to have Eduardo Escobar (35 homers in 2019) slotted into the No. 6 spot in the batting order, but we are rolling deep in Cincinnati, folks! Besides, Escobar offers pop but not as much on-base potential as Dozier. If Dozier can reprise last year’s breakout, this is a nice setup for the everyday lineup. And honestly, looking at everyone’s splits and considering Dozier’s deceptive speed—it’s not insane to me that he could bat somewhere atop the order if I needed him to do so...

After those two I have the catcher (Jansen) slotted into the seventh spot with Yastrzemski penciled into the eight-slot ahead of the pitcher. And that spot is probably fixed if Yaz can reprise last year’s production. Yaz graded out well as a defender and fared well against both lefties and righties in 2019. He was also slated to play some center field for San Francisco in 2020, so having him prowling around left field with stud defender Mercado next to him is okay by me. There’s a chance that Sam Hilliard could work his way into the mix, but he profiles as the clear OF4 on this team. Wil Myers is a right-handed complement to Olson at first base, and to Yaz and Hilliard in the outfield. I like having Myers’ tools off the bench—maybe I can keep him healthier that way. He can also help cover center field and even third base in a pinch.

Speaking of the bench, I view it as a strength. Evan Longoria still offers Gold Glove defense and is capable of bashing southpaws. Ramos is a big negative on defense, but adding his bat to the lineup when Jansen needs a blow is a luxury. As stated, the oft-injured power/speed threat in Myers MIGHT stay healthy with backup duty on tap. Myers and Kike Hernandez can both be threats off the bench against lefties, while the left-handed Sam Hilliard will have to push Mike Yastrzemski for time in left field. I really, really dig the bench. Maybe I’m biased. You decide!

Last but not least, the bullpen is a spot I feel like I spent only a moderate amount of draft capital on and still came out pretty solid, except for some potential control issues. Anthony Bass is my oldest guy, and at the beginning of our final year of the simulation he’ll only be 34.5 years old. I focused on guys who can generate ground balls, strike batters out, and not allow barrels. Here’s what I came up with:

New Reds Relievers

NAME THR GB% BB% K% HR/9 Brl%
NAME THR GB% BB% K% HR/9 Brl%
Archie Bradley R 45.2% 11.4% 27.4% 0.63 4.8%
Amir Garrett L 53.9% 14.2% 31.7% 1.13 4.7%
Joe Kelly R 61.2% 9.7% 27.4% 1.05 5.8%
Anthony Bass R 51.6% 9.0% 22.8% 0.94 4.7%
Tanner Rainey R 52.6% 17.8% 34.6% 1.12 8.2%
Lou Trivino R 45.1% 11.5% 21.2% 1.05 3.9%
John Gant R 46.3% 12.6% 22.3% 0.54 2.9%
Alex Young L 48.1% 7.7% 20.3% 1.51 7.3%
2019 MLB AVERAGE - 43.1% 9.6% 23.9% 1.35 6.3%

I’m trading some control for those ground balls, strikeout rates, and low barrel rates. And John Gant could easily slot into my SP5 role over Luis Cessa, but I think I like him in the bullpen as another long man alongside the lefty Alex Young. Once Rich Hill returns in midseason, Cessa could also be another option in the bullpen, if needed.

If you’re unfamiliar with Tanner Rainey (like I was) allow me to direct you to this propaganda regarding his wipeout slider:

Rainey is a candidate to pitch late innings on this team in the future if Kelly or Bass age out or become ineffective. And he’s maybe a name to remember for fantasy baseball moving forward, as the arms ahead of him in Washington’s bullpen aren’t the youngest or healthiest. Control is an obvious issue, but that’s not an uncommon story with young bullpen arms. If Rainey can improve in that regard, he’ll only get nastier.

Trivino is a bounce-back candidate with some strong peripherals. He’s well above the MLB average with regard to Whiff %, fastball velocity, xBA, xSLG, Barrel %, exit velocity, hard hit rate, and xwOBA. I especially dig the 3.9% barrel rate, which placed him inside the Top 4% of the MLB last year. His velocity held steady from 2018 to 2019, at 97.6 MPH and 97.5 MPH on average those two years. When he’s “on,” he can be devastating with the changing of speeds and a nasty cutter—a pitch that ranked 2nd in pVal in 2018, behind only Corey Kluber’s. Still only 28 years old, I like taking a shot on a return to form. Here’s some cutter propaganda:

Bye bye, Mookie Betts. Who knows, maybe Trivino works himself into my closer’s role? If so, Archie Bradley becomes a big weapon as a multi-inning “fireman,” a la how we’ve seen the Brewers use Josh Hader in the past. And how Bradley himself has been used in the past.

And now for the 24-man MiLB roster:

24-man MiLB

LINEUP name bats age STARTERS name throws age
LINEUP name bats age STARTERS name throws age
OF Lane Thomas R 24.7 SP Rich Hill L 40.1
C Andrew Knizner R 25.2 SP Brandon Bielak R 24.1
1B/DH Bobby Bradley L 23.9 SP/RP Alec Mills R 28.4
2B/SS Luis Garcia L 20.0 SP Kendall Graveman R 29.0
OF Alex Dickerson L 29.9 SP Jasseel De La Cruz R 22.8
SS/2B Anderson Tejeda L 22.0
3B CJ Alexander L 23.8 BULLPEN name throws age
OF Trey Harris R 24.3 RP Tayron Guerrero R 29.3
C Curt Casali R 31.5 SP/RP Dario Agrazal R 25.3
SS Liover Peguero R 19.3 SP/RP Huascar Ynoa R 21.9
SP/RP David Hale R 32.6
RP Hector Rondon R 32.2

I really like my “organizational depth” pieces. I kept aiming for guys who can play right now, as this is only a three-year sim. I don’t have to worry about 10 years down the road, and I don’t need to fret over contracts in this league. Kendall Graveman, Hector Rondon, Tayron Guerrero, Alec Mills, Dario Agrazal, David Hale, Alex Dickerson, and Curt Casali are all guys with varying degrees of MLB experience and success. Again, as an OOTP newbie I’ll have to wait to see how the game handles some of these guys. But if this were a real life thing I’d be okay with my depth. Alec Mills would likely be the first call from Triple-A if I needed an arm, with the ability to pitch out of the bullpen as a long man.

As for the straight up prospects, I really dig Lane Thomas. If any of my major league outfielders get injure, Thomas is a safe bet to get the call. Or, if Matt Olson needed a blow or became injured, Hunter Dozier could slide in at first base and Lane Thomas can take an outfield spot—giving me essentially three center field types on the grass.

The presence of Andrew Knizner gives me some leeway with my current projected backup, Wilson Ramos. I selected Ramos in Round 23, and there was some immediate FOMO in the draft room as a couple of managers were grieving at missing out on a starting-caliber catcher that late. However, Ramos doesn’t give me strong defense and therefore doesn’t fit the mold of what I’d like to do. Knizner’s bat is ahead of his defense, too, so there’s a scenario where he’s my backup MLB catcher and I pawn Ramos off for whatever part I need in the near future. Of course, Curt Casali is already the actual backup in Cincinnati, so that would just be all sorts of poetic if I loosed Ramos and had Casali slot in on the 26-man (if Knizner needed more seasoning).

In my total ignorance, I think I fared okay with prospects? Luis Garcia (#2), Andrew Knizner (#6), Lane Thomas (#8), Anderson Tejeda (#5), Liover Peguero (#5), and Brandon Bielak (#7) are all top 10 prospects for their respective organizations. I figured I’d do much worse given how long I waited to start building the farm. We’ll just have to see if OOTP agrees. Granted, Peguero is far away, but I like that Bielak profiles as a safe enough 4/5 starter, which is exactly the sort of pitcher I was going for. Again...you guys can decide!

To continue being honest, I took four Atlanta prospects towards the end, in Jasseel De La Cruz (#12), Huascar Ynoa (#16), CJ Alexander (#18), and Trey Harris (#24). These guys might interest me more than you all given my Braves fandom.

If De La Cruz can stick in as a starter, that will be nice for my pitching depth—an area I may need to address in some capacity. Alexander is interesting to me. He had a strong showing offensively and defensively until his 2019 was injury-marred. With a current real-life ETA of 2021, he could be a boost to my big league club in the event that either of my older third basemen start getting too long in the tooth. But between Eduardo Escobar, Hunter Dozier, and Tommy Edman, I think someone can man the hot corner for the next three years. Again, I built the starting roster to stand the test of time for the next three years. By my count I only need a pitcher or two to pop in order to compete...not necessarily a prospect like Alexander. But we shall see.

What say you guys? Can you imagine this squad in the Great American Small Park? Will they compete? I’d project Olson at over 45 homers in a full season. Danny Jansen, too, could surprise in the power department in this stadium—his extreme pull tendency (53.7% pull rate last year) is perfectly suited for this locale. He’s the catcher version of Eugenio Suarez.

Let me know what YOU think I need to work on. We are simulating, but we can still make trades. So there’s still room for a little tweaking here and there.

Finally, I’ve labored over flipping Mercado to leadoff and sliding Trea Turner into my No. 3 slot. Again, some of how the game handles these guys may dictate decisions like this. What say you guys? Are you letting Turner be the leadoff man for this squad, or asking him to take on No. 3 hitter duties?

Poll

Which everyday lineup arrangement are you rolling with?

This poll is closed

  • 100%
    Trea Turner leads off and runs wild
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    Bump Oscar Mercado to leadoff, drop Turner to #3
    (0 votes)
5 votes total Vote Now