By: Jack Boulia
As evidenced in the title, it’s crazy to think the baseball season is nearly halfway over. I will be recapping my draft and looking at my pickups as I currently reside in third place, having a fairly successful season so far.
To the left of the player is where the respective player went in the draft, and to the right is obviously the price.
Picks 21-45: In the draft room at my house, I was given a lot of crap for waiting until after the twentieth pick of the entire draft. i inflated my values to 70% for hitters and figured I would be outbidding everyone, however that was far from what happened and I got quite a late start to the draft. I paid a heavy price for Jose Bautista, considering him to be one of the safest hitters in the draft. He has been a bit underwhelming this year so far, however he is in a potent Blue Jays lineup and the projections seem optimistic in terms of the power for the rest of the season. Ryan Braun will end up about breaking even and has returned to some power this year despite an underwhelming average. And Chris Sale has been an absolute stud after a rough start to the season. I spent 35% of my draft budget on these three players, and honestly haven’t gotten 35% of my team’s worth from them, so I am a little disappointed. Braun will break about even and Sale has been terrific, but the money I sunk into Bautista feels wasted at this moment and ruins the other two picks.
Picks 57-69: I thought $20 for Cespedes was somewhat cheap, but due to his lack of HR, R, and RBIs in a deep Detroit lineup, I will probably break about even with this, too. I still really liked the pick at the time, and still stand by it now. One of, if not my favorite pick in this draft, was Marte at $16. He’s an incredible fantasy asset and keeps getting better, however he is not even on my team anymore (more on that later). I’m a Red Sox fan, but when I nabbed Betts at $14 I thought I had a legitimate steal. Though his average is “suffering” right now to around the tune of .270, he has added some HRs and SBs and will end up being about a $14 player. I saw a high-floor, high-ceiling player which is very rare and I believe the price of $14 was and is justifiable. Trumbo is the next of the guys I basically got in rapid succession and I got him for a mere $10. I thought all the computers in my league had glitched; while he’s not an elite 1B, he puts up the time of offensive numbers that help a lot in three categories. Except just not for me. He’s sorely lacking in every category and even at $10 this is a pretty disappointing pick. I spent $60 on all four of these picks; good for 23% of my draft money, and I believe they’ve been that and possibly more despite underwhelming numbers. Marte would have saved this on his own even if I had not traded him.
Picks 77-82: Nothing really wrong with Prado at $8. Decent average, poor power, bad counting numbers but he is versatile and pretty reliable (although currently residing on the 15 Day-DL). Not a sexy pick, but whatever. I liked Chapman at $20 and still do, he’s the best in the game at what he does despite not having that many saves to his credit. Obviously not his fault, but I did pay for saves and should easily be leading, however I’m currently tied for third. Next was a player that polarized fantasy owners everywhere; JD Martinez. I believed in Martinez, clearly, and gambled kind of heavily at $20. While he’ll end up with decent power numbers and likely break even at his price, the counting numbers are kind of disappointing. Fantasy owners that own any Tiger besides Iglesias and Cabrera have been fairly disappointed this year, but it’s tough to predict counting stats. I paid $48 for these three which becomes 18% and I believe I have gotten more value than what I paid for.
Picks 97-130: Gattis really struggled at the beginning of the season, and I mean really struggled, with many panicked fantasy owners dropping him. While the average hurts, the HRs and counting stats have been welcome and he has really been a big part of my fantasy team’s resurgence after a putrid first two months. $18 at a scarce position with pretty good numbers; I like it. The Astros have a loaded lineup, and I only see room for Gattis to grow even more this season. I can’t remember why, but Kimbrel went really late in this draft and I still paid a steep price at $18 at pick one-hundred. There have been quite a few saves, but I paid a lot for Kimbrel to actually help with my rates, and with a 3.67 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP, he hasn’t really helped. The strikeouts are nice, but still disappointing. But the saves. Oh, the saves. He’s on pace for 30+ despite being on a poor Padres team. He has been better recently. I like this pick a lot. My last pick in this rung is Jose Fernandez, and if you know me, you know I have an extreme soft spot for Jose Fernandez, and I mean extreme. Last year I paid $22 for Jose Fernandez, and despite a shortened season, I felt like I got my money’s worth. And $11 for a half-season of one of the most talented pitchers on the planet is well worth the price of admission and was a smart gamble for such a low price. This rung cost me $47 and was a mere 18% of my budget, however Kimbrel and Gattis have kept my team afloat, and I expect Jose Fernandez to have an enormous second half, further bolstering my pitching staff.
Picks 200-242: Although McGee was injured to begin the season, I loved what I saw last year, and I already feel I have gotten my money’s worth at $3. He has incredible rate stats and is starting to be given save opportunities again which I am surely thankful for. Next is Odor, and for $1, coming out of the draft this was my favorite pick. After struggling to hit the first half of last year, Odor tore it up in the second half and I thought he made the necessary adjustments to be a 15/15 guy. Well. Although he has been better of recent, right now he has hurt my team quite a bit. However, a demotion and utter demolition to AAA has brought me back on board the Odor hype train and I bet I see more than $1 of value going forward. Another bargain pick, I absolutely loved Phil Hughes and getting him for a dollar made me swell with joy. I thought he could be a 3.65ish ERA guy and loved the changes he made. But this year the homer has been a burden, and it hasn’t exactly been fluky, either. Hughes has always given up home runs, and last year was more the outlier than the norm. He’s stopped striking guys out; essentially he is still as efficient of a strike thrower, however he is not throwing good strikes. I don’t know why I keep trotting him out there, I should probably cut and run while I can. However I will get Hisashi Iwakuma back soon (will explain later), and Jose Fernandez. All of my favorite picks in this draft went down the drain. My goodness. Brandon McCarthy at $1? Love, love, love. He had terrific rates at the beginning of the year and I identified him as a second-half surger last year, which he did. This might be the most disappointing injury that will happen to me this year. However, to end things in this tier, I liked Hector Rondon coming into the season, and although it’s more “closer-by-committee” now in Chicago, I’m still hanging onto him as he’s still getting save opportunities and has generally been good. I spent a mere $7 on this tier, or 3% of my total budget and it’s hard to argue with that. They have probably been worth around that already, but I like the potential in this group, especially Odor and McGee, moving forward.
Picks 251-297: Semien at the beginning of the season looked like a steal, so naturally as owners started adding him I dropped him. I really liked Semien at the beginning of the season, but there was something I saw that owners didn’t see and he has regressed pretty poorly, to my chagrin. I basically used Semien for his hot month and dropped him; I can identify flashes in the pan, and that’s all that month or so was. Loved Fiers coming into the season. He has an ugly 4.50 ERA, however FIP and xFIP really like him, still, and most importantly so do I. He’s striking out batters that a guy with his stuff shouldn’t, but he still is. He’s been very unlucky (.368 BABIP) and feel very confident in his ability to continue supplying value. Danny Santana was what he was and was quickly dropped. In this tier, only Fiers remains. I went through a pretty ruthless cut-and-run after seeing what other owners dropped at the beginning of the year. Flores has been rather solid and it was actually a somewhat difficult decision dropping him because I have always loved his bat. Michael Saunders was one of my 15/15 sleepers this year, but got injured and performed poorly at the beginning of the season. And Marlon Byrd was just terrible. Coming out of the draft, however, I thought I won my league in this tier. It cost me $7, so 3% of my budget. Fiers has maybe helped in strikeouts? Or maybe a decent month of Semien? Anyway. Pretty awful. Blegh. Let’s forget this.
Adds: So my team looks really different. At shortstop I have Jimmy Rollins, which I’m not proud of, but I don’t hate either. Added Dozier after the owner dropped him after a rough two weeks. That’s right, you read that correctly. Two weeks. Dozier has been terrific for me. I also added Adam LaRoche, and I know this isn’t very “sabr-friendly”, but I’m really banking on his second half. I also added Javier Baez, and my goodness was I excited when he was tearing up AAA and showing enormous improvement. Then he got injured. But I like his potential too much to drop him, so he is still on my bench. Then I added Torii Hunter, because I can’t quit him for some reason. I also added Brett Cecil, who has been pretty awful and Steve Cishek who was just recalled from AA after being demoted. So, you win some, you lose some. But these guys have been historically better, and I’m still sticking through it for that reason. And lastly, I picked up Hisashi Iwakuma, who went on the DL and I love Iwakuma so he’s been bench-warming with Jose Fernandez for a bit. Yes, Iwakuma was dropped after two or three starts. Because fantasy owners don’t believe there are other months after April. But I really decided to make over my roster through free agency adds because people, well…they don’t like trading with me.
Trades: Ha. Well, as mentioned before, people hate trading with me. I don’t purposely go out of my way to screw people over. I don’t pester people with ridiculous trade offers like Jimmy Rollins for Jose Bautista. Oh wait, that actually happened. Rollins had a hot two weeks of April, and the owner of Bautista two weeks into the season, agreed to that trade. I did not say anything. But I prey on impatience. Remember Chris Davis’ fifty-three homer season from 2013? I got him and another starter for Torii Hunter. In April. Last year I traded for Corey Kluber. In April. This year I traded for Corey Kluber. In May. I traded Starling Marte because I had a surplus of outfielders, for a struggling Corey Kluber. And the day after I got Kluber, he merely racked up eighteen strikeouts in one game. Since then he has brought his ERA down to 3.65 with a minuscule 2.66 FIP and a 2.79 xFIP. Right around the Kluber trade, Chris Sale started to be Chris Sale and I rocketed through the rankings. And people hate that I have Kluber, even though that trade helped both teams immensely. At the time of the trade, the owner and I were sixth and seventh place, respectively. Now, we occupy second and third, and we are just barely out of first. A few weeks ago I offered Torii Hunter for Stephen Strasburg and his response was simply “absolutely not”. I hate adding players to make my team better, but nobody trades with me now.
Moving Forward: Interestingly at the beginning of the season, in April, I was in eleventh place out of twelve. All my players were underperforming, and Marcus Semien was the only one keeping my team from being a complete and utter disaster. Halfway through May, I moved to sixth and seventh. I traded for Kluber and my players started regressing positively and I shot up through the rankings. It was incredible. Patience is my best skill in fantasy. Right now I sit seven points out of first, and I feel like I’m in a good position. Although it sounds boring, I probably don’t make anymore moves from here on out. I like how my pitching looks, and I have a few offensive assets with a lot of potential. It’ll be interesting to review this at the end of the season.