Friday, March 14, 2014

Fantasy Baseball Dossier 7.0

"He's the kind of guy that would say
Hey baby let's get away
Let's go some place, huh
Well...I don't care."

Well, here we are again. In only a few weeks, baseball's regular season will officially be open for business (in Australia of all places), and what would be a baseball season without doing a long, rambling, semi-coherent fantasy preview (semi-coherent is being generous, but when you are the sole writer, editor, publisher, and creator of a page, you can afford to use some self-generosity...if there is such a thing/word). Well shit man, let's get right on after it before you roll-bounce to another site...especially to that dreadful Matthew Berry, who sits on literally the highest metaphorical horse known to man.

So, as you may have been accustomed to seeing if you have read any of my prior dossiers, the preview will revolve around a real mock draft that I did with real people I've never met before on a fucked up laptop. The reason again that I do this is that as the draft progresses, it's easier to point out the trends. I have to stress that before we dive into this that ultimately this boils down to who you want on your team and not what some Yuengling drinking, really good looking guy from Boston tells you to do. This is like making picks, and then saying "for entertainment purposes," which in essence absolves you from having to take any responsibility for anything you's pretty great actually:

Roster Setup: Standard ESPN League: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 1B/3B, 2B/SS, 5 OF, UTIL, 9 P's, 3 BN

Team Name: It's Koji Time Bitch!: Even if I don't land Koji on my team, it still is representing the defending champs and a guy who, in one year's time, went from cast-off reliever, to early 90s Eckersley in six months...pretty freggin' great if you ask me.

Draft Position: #2 of 10: So here, I'm either getting Mike Trout or Miggy Cabrera. You could argue Goldschmidt, McCutchen, even Kershaw could go 2, but to me...

Theory #1: Mike Trout and Miggy Cabrera Are Still The Only Sure Things: Hey, you gotta start off with the easy ones and work your way down...that's good business. But in all seriousness, Goldschmidt had a monster year, but he's still below this group. Basically the same with McCutchen, Car-Go, and Clayton Kershaw, who rightfully deserves to be the best fantasy baseball pitcher by far right now.

#2: Mike Trout, OF, LAA: If you get Mike Trout, feel free to do cartwheels and flips...or at least attempt to do them. This guy literally prints fantasy money. So I'm excited, and I have no inhibitions on hiding it.

So I have about 15 picks to do flips and other lucha libre maneuvers. In this time, the usual suspects to the top 20 (Tulo, HanRam, Prince, Adam Jones) go by, and new standbys (Bryce, Chris Davis, Carlos Gomez) go by as well. Bryce is near and dear to me because you really can't tell me that it wasn't worth it at the time to take him wherever he ends up going (potentially a top 10 pick this year). His ceiling is the best player in baseball...there's not a whole lot of guys you can say that about. Carlos Gomez is another guy I'm huge on. He's a .300-30-100-30 player potentially. and finding that outside the top 10 is usually pretty difficult. So of course, both of these guys go in succession before my next pick, so I went pretty safe...

#19: Yu Darvish, SP, TEX: I would be surprised if Yu doesn't win the AL Cy Young this year. Outside of Kershaw, few dominated like Darvish...and he has to face a DH.

#22: Yasiel Puig, OF, LAD: 

Theory #2: Nothing Can Be Said To Not Take Yasiel Puig In The Top 25: Puig had a, dare I say, Mike Trout-like effect on fantasy teams in the second half of last year, and in just doing that, there's no way I would pass on Puig here. In my eyes, fantasy usually comes down to the players that jump off the page at you, and know that it is entirely possible that one guy could take a matchup over. Puig is absolutely one of those elite players in this game, and his potential is scary and exciting at the same time.

#39: Jose Fernandez, SP, MIA: 

Theory #3: All I Want Is Jose Fernandez And Forget The Rest: I actually got to see this guy throw most of his starts. I would be the only one at the bar I worked at that was eager to throw the Marlins games on with Jose starts at first, but as the season progressed, everyone understood that this guy is must-see TV. My theory within this theory is that the fact he plays on the Marlins is why he's not closer to the the top 20-25 in rankings. Otherwise, if you had actually watched this guy pitch, you could argue he was the best pitcher in the second half of last year...and that includes Kershaw. This guy is 21 years old (turns 22 in July). and already, he seems to have a tremendous amount of poise and command both on and off the mound. He is a special, special player.

#42: Craig Kimbrel, RP, ATL:

Theory #4: I Still Love Closers: No matter what, I continue to be convinced that if you surround your team with a few elite closers and other guys who will rack up saves, more often than not, you are going to win your pitching categories. Obviously you can't have all closers, but just know that, at least in this situation, you are rolling with nine pitchers at a time, and rather than have mostly starters who only go one, maybe two times a week if you're lucky, I think that closers, who can sometimes pitch three, four, even five games a week (five is in pretty limited circumstances...but it could happen) have a bigger impact, and because they throw one inning or less an appearance, if they screw up, not only is it less circumstantial on your overall ERA, but they have other attempts to make it up. I feel like I say this every year, but I enjoy being the pied piper of closer domination.

Kimbrel continues to be the gold standard of closers, and even though I love Aroldis Chapman (i.e. the Cuban Missile Crisis), there's no way you can convince me that Kimbrel's #1 in that category.

#59: Kenley Jansen, RP, LAD: Chapman went two picks before here...if I had a Kimbrel/Chapman 1-2 at closer...well that wouldn't even really be fair would it? Jansen is a pretty good consolation prize. Let's see, a 9th inning guy who pounds the shit out of the strike zone with a cut fastball...sound familiar? It's like Mariano reincarnated...into a really big dude.

#62: Wil Myers, OF, TB:

Theory #5: This Will Be The Last Time Wil Myers Goes Outside The Top 50 For A Long Time: I'm convinced after last season that Myers is ready to explode this season, and once that happens, good luck getting him this low. It's quite possible he makes a jump into the top 30 by the end of the year.

#79: Billy Hamilton, OF, CIN: 

Theory #6: Anytime A Guy Could Conceivably Steal 100 Bases, Take Him: It was at this point when I really felt like I had the league by the balls and that if I took any interest in this team, it would be curtains...curtains I say! Like the theory mentions, it is quite possible Hamilton goes for 100 steals. He is going to have a never-ending green light on the basepaths, so try and jump on a guy who could single-handedly win the SB category for you (by the by, 18 teams had less than 100 stolen bases for the season last yeah, he is a big-time difference maker).

#82: Carlos Santana, C/1B, CLE: Santana is great for me because he allows me to be flexible in terms of the next spot I need to fill, whether it be catcher or first base. He is a solid option at both spots.

#99: Manny Machado, 3B, BAL: 

Theory #7: I'm Still All-In On Manny Machado: Despite recovering from that horrific knee injury, I still can't get past what he did last year, and it sounds like he is on the way to recovering at least close to the start of the season, so right now, I still consider him a borderline top 50 player, and getting him around #100 is a big steal.

#102: Trevor Rosenthal, RP, STL: People were practically begging the Cardinals to give Rosenthal the closing gig last year, but after Edward Mujica did such a good job in that role, Rosenthal was relegated to set-up duties. However, Mujica faded down the stretch, and Rosenthal was able to step up in a big way, and now is the incumbent Cards closer dating back to his playoff run from last year in which he allowed no runs in 20 1/3 innings.

#119: Everth Cabrera, SS, SD: Shortstop is going to be a fairly weak position every year, so it would be wise to plan according and don't wait and think someone remotely decent will fall to you late in the draft. Cabrera has shown elite speed which could propel him to the 45-50 stolen base mark, and also showed much improved discipline at the plate, spiking his average up from .246 in 2012 to .283 in 2013.

#122: Michael Wacha, SP, STL: Well if you didn't know about him before, Wacha's performance in September and in the playoffs was certainly an eye-opening experience. He's got all the tools and plays on the favorite to get back to the World Series. This is yet another guy who I'm finding it hard to believe is going this late, but, as I've explained before, rankings are for suckers, so take advantage while you still can.

#139: Xander Bogaerts, 3B/SS, BOS: The expectations are big here as Bogaerts could represent stability at a position the Sox haven't had since...NOMAH!...and yet we've won three championships since then...crazy...anyway, his position eligibility will become SS/3B within a matter of a week or so (depending on how many games at a position your specific league requires...ESPN is I think 10 games?). I'm really looking forward to this, and I'm excited because this is by far the Sox' best option at the position they've had since Alex Gonzalez (no offense Stephen Drew).

#142: Jurickson Profar, 2B/3B/SS, TEX: So Profar finally has a clear path to the Rangers' everyday lineup with the Ian Kinsler trade to Detroit. I think he's going to be great in his first full year. He has a realistic shot of making the top 10 2Bs next year if he can package together what he showed us in flashes last year. These last two picks are representing a pretty common thread:

Theory #8: Basically No One On My Team Is Over 25: This current wave of players hitting the majors is probably the most exciting crop to come along since I've been watching baseball. These guys are pushing the game to new heights, and I'm doing everything in my power to cash in on it. Green is the new black.

#159: Danny Salazar, SP, CLE: The guy throws 100 MPH on the reg...I mean what else is there? I've never heard of a guy throwing that fast and not having made at least some kind of dent on the stat sheet. Even if he might get touched up here and there, his K/9 will be north of 10, so in that value alone, Salazar is of tremendous value here.

#162: Sonny Grey, SP, OAK: Not only does he have the best name in baseball, and the thought of his name wants me to transition into random Donnie Brasco references (forget about it), but Grey showed that he was ready for the jump and was great down the stretch.

#179: Christian Yelich, OF, MIA: Another one pretty near and dear to me. Yelich was thought all along to be the Marlins' best prospect until Jose's swift takeover last year. Still, Yelich has the makeup of a potential batting champ. I'm expecting at least .290 with a good possibility he puts it into the .300-.310 range by the end of the year.

#182: Neftali Feliz, RP, TEX: There have been concerns about Feliz' velocity in spring so far, but considering he was throwing 98 in the Dominican League, it seems like he's saving some MPHs for the regular season, which seems like a smart decision. Also, he is finally back in the bullpen after a so-so attempt to become a starting pitcher.

#199: Jason Castro, C, HOU: This is where Santana's position flexibility pays off for me. I've been able to hold off getting a catcher, and if Castro went off the board, I could simply draft a 1B (Mark Teixeira's ADP is 180.7...I know he's not the same player, but doesn't that seem really low?). I really like Castro and his 30 homer potential for the lowly, but soon to be pretty good Houston Astros.

#202: Nate Jones, RP, CWS: His fastball rarely dips under 97 MPH and he's the frontrunner to become the closer on the south side...where do I sign up?

#219: Anthony Rendon, 2B/3B, WSH: Rendon is a very intriguing player for the Nats, as they seem poised to take over the NL East. In that lineup, Rendon could do some serious fantasy damage.

#222: Alex Wood, SP, ATL: While he still does not have a starting spot locked up, Wood has looked great this spring, and it would appear like he will be in the rotation over Freddie Garcia. The Bravos did pick up Ervin Santana after Kris Medlen appears likely to miss a significant amount of time (I never like hearing "elbow injury" and "Dr. James Andrews" appearing too close to each other).

#239: George Springer, OF, HOU: I would be surprised if Springer is not starting for the 'Stros right away. He's too good to keep down right now. Sure it was between AA and AAA, but his minor league line last year is staggering (.303-37-108-45). He will provide immediate dividends in every stat category.

#242: Taijuan Walker, SP, SEA:
For my final pick, I take another risk/reward guy in Walker, who, due to shoulder inflammation, was shut down earlier this spring and is now just getting back to throwing long toss. Even if Walker ends up on the DL to start the year, it sets up for you to use a DL spot (hopefully your league has at least one) and pounce on a player who gets off to a hot start. Then, once Walker returns, you can further evaluate him without feeling pressure to actually put him in the starting lineup. To me, if Walker gets back to where he has been at, he could have a tremendous strikeout impact for the suddenly prospering Mariners.

So, to recap, here's the lineup:

C: Jason Castro
1B: Carlos Santana
2B: Jurickson Profar
3B: Manny Machado
SS: Everth Cabrera
2B/SS: Jurickson Profar
1B/3B: Xander Bogaerts
OF: Mike Trout
OF: Yasiel Puig
OF: Wil Myers
OF: Billy Hamilton
OF: Christian Yelich
UTIL: Anthony Rendon

BN: George Springer

P: Yu Darvish
P: Jose Fernandez
P: Craig Kimbrel
P: Kenley Jansen
P: Michael Wacha
P: Danny Salazar
P: Sonny Grey
P: Neftali Feliz
P: Nate Jones

BN: Alex Wood
BN: Taijuan Walker

This draft really couldn't have gone much better. Maybe if I could have paired Bryce Harper and Mike Trout together, but otherwise, this team is going to do some major damage in every conceivable category you can come up with. The emphasis on the hitting side is on speed and average. I figure if you focus on those two aspects, the power numbers along with runs will fall into place. Plus, if you have Mike Trout and don't make the playoffs, you should be ashamed of yourself.

I continue to emphasize strikeouts and pitchers who can get a lot of them. If you just go by the K/9 stat line, it really makes drafting pitchers much easier. No stat can tell how well a pitcher dominates a game more than the K/9 stat. I'm feeling incredible about this one, and really wish my friends could just for some reason allow me to replicate this and beat them out of their money...I would really appreciate that.

As always, I love to talk about guys who may not be getting drafted, or may be slightly off the 2014 radar but could make an impact either at the end of this year or in 2015 and beyond.

The All 260.0 (Undrafted) Team:

Mike Zunino, C, SEA: Hey who really knows what the Mariners are going to be capable of this the very least, they seem to be attempting to progress. I think Zunino is like the only righty in this lineup...I'm not sure what that does for his fantasy value, but I just wanted to point out that this team has like eight lefty hitters (Justin Smoak (GAMECOCK!) is a switch hitter for the sake of maybe 1.5 righties)...that's got to be some kind of record right?...anyway, Zunino's got serious potential, and the only question now becomes if he will fulfill it this year or will he need a full year to adjust. I know I'm not betting against it.

Travis d'Arnaud, C, NYM: This is finally going to be the put up, shut up time for d'Arnaud, who I swear I've been looking up his page on for like five years (made his first minors appearance is '07 with the Phillies organization, so even longer). I'm excited to see what he does with Zack Wheeler and, ultimately, Matt Harvey.

Kolten Wong, 2B, STL: Wong will become the everyday second baseman with Matt Carpenter moving to third full time. There could be some Jurickson Profar/Dustin Pedroia-like slow adjustment to start, but once he gets locked in, he will be a run-scoring machine.

Nick Castellanos, 3B/OF, DET: With the Fielder/Kinsler trade, Miggy Cabrera is shifting back to first while Castellanos, who had been transitioning to become an outfielder, will return to his natural third base spot, which could mean he may have the always intriguing 3B/OF eligibility.

Javier Baez, SS, CHC: He may not make it to the majors this year, but he's worth officially adding to the radar. Last year's line between A and AA: .282-37-111-20...and he's a shortstop! This is some epic stuff, and the hope is that Baez tears up whatever level he ends up at and Theo has no choice but to pull the trigger (Note: Because Starlin Castro is the SS of the present and future, Baez may be in for a position change to third base).

Byron Buxton, OF, MIN: Like Baez, there is a chance Buxton doesn't play in the majors at all this year, but he's already the #1 minor league player after only playing one year in A ball. Perhaps not this year, but next year could be the debut of Mike Trout 2.0, so get ready for that.

Jackie Bradley, Jr., OF, BOS: So obviously JBJ is basically the easiest guy for me to root for...he's a Gamecock and he plays for the Sox...what's not to like? I may be a homer in saying this, but Jackie's going to have a really strong year. He's not going to replicate what Jacoby will do in the Bronx, but expect a high .200s average and plenty of runs scored, and maybe a stolen base and homer sprinkled in along the way.

Archie Bradley, SP, ARI: Bradley is the #1 pitching prospect, and judging on how filthy he was in AA last year, you may want to make a note around May or June, whenever Bradley's arbitration clock runs out, and pick him up in hopes that he's anywhere close to how well he has played in the minors.

So in essence, the all undrafted list is looking a lot more like a top prospect list. You have to credit the fantasy community for unearthing most of the gold mines (I recall last year's list being hella long)...damn you internet.

In all seriousness, the draft I went through went too well, but it does display pretty much everyone I have any intention on are some notable guys besides Bryce Harper and Carlos Gomez that I just missed out on:

Matt Carpenter, 2B/3B, STL (selected 58th): This guy was a huge pickup for me last year. He had an amazing amount of position flexibility, with second, short, third, and outfield. In addition, he led the NL in hits and runs. Still is eligible at second along with third base, and should have no problem putting up at least comparable numbers this year.

Greg Holland, RP, KC (selected 76th): He started off so dreadful that is widely thought that hard-throwing phenom Kelvin Herrera would unseat Holland. Fast forward six months, and Holland is wrapping up one of the most dominant stretches ever for a closer. He ended with the second best K/9 of closers with a 13.84. He was absolutely unhitable to close out last year, and is probably the third closer going off the board.

Matt Adams, 1B, STL (selected 101st): Ideally, I wanted Santana at catcher and Adams playing first, but Adams went a pick before I went, sullying that plan. In any event, this will be Adams' first full season starting, and considering he had so much success in the power numbers department, Adams is an enticing, high ceiling player who doesn't come with too much risk.

Tony Cingrani, SP, CIN (selected 149th): Cingrani is a big part of my continued emphasis on youth, especially in dealing with starting pitching. Cingrani put up big strikeout numbers in his two stints in Cincinnati, and he's a southpaw...that's a winning combo right there.

Hyun-Jin Ryu, SP, LAD  (selected 155th): Ryu is another lefty who had huge strikeout numbers in his first go-around in the majors. Being out in LA, he's going to get a bunch of wins, so look for Ryu's numbers to be even better this year.

Chris Archer, SP, TB (selected 217th): I just re-watched his start against the Yankees where he threw a complete game shutout on the road, and it's just burned in my memory. I know I shouldn't judge based on one start, but he was that good, and his numbers overall last year were also pretty good having only pitched about 130 innings.

So, of course, you're not going to get everyone, but I'm still very happy how things went, and hoping when that actual live draft happens, I'll be looking somewhat like can only hope.

Well please feel free to leave a comment about anything you read on here...or anything en general, and I'll be more than happy to entertain them. As always, good luck, happy drafting, and cheers everyone. Peace.