Fantasy Baseball: Blog Wars Draft Review

On March 24, 2014, I participated in the Sons of Roto Blog Wars fantasy baseball auction draft. It is a 13-team, mixed AL/NL roto league with standard 5×5 categories hosted on Yahoo with some of the best writers in the industry. My roster is listed below with the prices I paid to obtain them. I will be very candid that I am not pleased with the team I have assembled. They all can’t be winners.

C     Alex Avila-DET ($1)
C     Devin Mesoraco-CIN ($1)
1B   Prince Fielder-TEX ($34)
2B   Daniel Murphy-NYM ($8)
3B   Pablo Sandoval-SF ($14)
SS   Jhonny Peralta-STL ($1)
CI   Freddie Freeman-ATL ($33)
MI  Neil Walker-PIT ($1)
OF  Ryan Braun-MIL ($45)
OF  Josh Hamilton-LAA ($15)
OF  Nelson Cruz-BAL ($9)
OF  Dexter Fowler-HOU ($2)
OF  Melky Cabrera-TOR ($1)
U    Grady Sizemore-BOS ($1)

P    Madison Bumgarner-SF ($28)
P    Craig Kimbrel-ATL ($22)
P    Jordan Zimmermann-WAS ($14)
P    Matt Cain-SF ($16)
P    Jon Lester-BOS ($5)
P    Brandon Morrow-TOR ($1)
P    Vic Black-NYM ($1)
P    John Lackey-BOS ($1)
P    Michael Pineda-NYY ($2)

B    Daniel Nava-BOS ($1)
B    Matt Joyce-TB ($1)
B    Tanner Scheppers-TEX ($1)

There are some glaring holes on my team that really stand out. First of all, I only have one closer. While that one closer I have is Kimbrel who is the best in baseball, he alone will not keep me near the top of the standings in the saves category. I have no regrets spending $22 on Kimbrel, especially considering that other closers like Kenley Jansen and Greg Holland were acquired for just a couple dollars less. But I did not get a second closer which immediately puts me in the trade market for one.

Another aspect of my team that is lacking is speed. Dexter Fowler and Daniel Murphy are my top options for stolen bases, and neither are likely going to steal much more than 20 bases this year. There are only a handful of players who contribute greatly in this category, so I am sure I am not the only team who is lacking in speed. But I don’t have much hope of landing in the top half of the standings in the steals category.

If you think my duo of catchers is unimpressive, you would be correct. But that was not unintentional. I typically punt on catchers because I think they are overvalued and end up failing to meet expectations in comparison to their draft values. Despite that, I at least did end up with two catchers who are starters. Alex Avila hasn’t come close to reaching his 2011 statistics again, but he did have a better second half last year and has proven he can hit for average and power. Mesoraco was once a top prospect who now has a chance to play every day since Ryan Hanigan was traded away. They both cost $1.00 so whatever I get from them will be a bonus.

Finally, I think I lack starting pitching depth. My top four starters are Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Jordan Zimmermann and Jon Lester. I am very happy with them, especially because Bumgarner is my pick to win the National League Cy Young award. But after these four, I am relying on a couple candidates for comeback players of the year in Brandon Morrow and Michael Pineda. Morrow has a ton of talent, but is often injured. Pineda hasn’t pitched since 2011 and a strong spring training makes him the Yankees’ likely choice for their fifth starter. Add John Lackey to this group as another wild card because he had a tale of two seasons last year between a rocky regular season and then a great September and post-season. In sum, there are major question marks with the back end of my starting rotation.

So is there anything I do like about my team? Yes, of course there is. I do have several sources of power and run production in Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Freddie Freeman and Josh Hamilton. Braun and Hamilton are coming off difficult years for different reasons, so they have something to prove in order to restore their reputations and return to past glory. Fielder is now hitting in the friendly confines of Arlington, Texas and should thrive there. As for Freeman, he is the new face of the Braves after signing a long contract extension and is my pick for the National League MVP this year.

A couple bargains I think I drafted were Nelson Cruz for $9.00, Dexter Fowler for $2.00, and Grady Sizemore for $1.00. Cruz signed with the Orioles in February and should benefit greatly from joining the Orioles potent lineup. He also needs to restore his reputation and value, so I am expecting a 30-home run campaign from him. Fowler has five-category talent, but he can never stay healthy enough to sustain it. Now that he is in Houston, a change of scenery should help him fulfill his 20/20 potential. Finally, I am sticking my hand in the fire again by taking a chance on Sizemore. I have been burned by him several times in the past during the last few years of his tenure in Cleveland. But he has looked impressive and should be in line for Boston’s starting center field job. If he is healthy, he can be a dynamic and explosive fantasy player. But that is a big if.

OVERALL EVALUATION: C+

I am being honest with myself, so there is no sugarcoating going on here. The truth is that I have had better drafts than this. Of course anything can happen during the course of the season, but my initial reaction to this team is not overly positive. Maybe I am being too harsh on myself. Or maybe I am not being harsh enough. Let me know what you think by emailing me at michael.stein@fantasyjudgment.com, commenting on Facebook, or tweeting @FantasyJudgment.

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