Passing Judgment: KFFL BAD Fantasy Baseball – Draft Analysis

Over the past few weeks, I have been participating in the KFFL Baseball BAD Fantasy Baseball Draft hosted on RTSports.com. It has been a slow-style draft with a two hour limit per pick. BAD is comprised of 15 teams and is an AL/NL mixed 5×5 Roto league consisting of some of the best fantasy baseball pundits in the industry. Coverage and analysis of the first three rounds of the draft was featured in USA Today’s Sports Weekly during the last week of February. You can check out the results of the entire draft by clicking here.

I had the 5th overall pick in the draft meaning I had a critical decision to make.  It wasn’t rocket science to project who the first four picks would be, so I was faced with somewhat of a dilemma.  Here is a breakdown of all of my picks in order of the round and pick number they were selected in.

1.5 Clayton Kershaw (SP-LAD)

I know it was unconventional, but I went with my gut instincts after my top four choices (Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, Paul Goldschmidt and Andrew McCutchen) were off the board.  Read about my decision to go against the proverbial fantasy baseball grain by taking a pitcher with the 5th overall pick here.

Freddie Freeman2.11 Freddie Freeman (1B-ATL)

I am a big fan of Freddie Freeman and I think he is on the cusp of having a monster season.  He has already proven he can hit for average, power and drive in runs.  Now that he has signed a long-term deal to be the face of the Braves, I expect him to take his game to the next level by surpassing 30 home runs and driving in 120 runs.

3.5 Jose Bautista (OF-TOR)

I was burned by Bautista in the BAD league last year, but I am a glutton for punishment.  He needs to prove he can stay healthy for an entire season, so there is a decent amount of risk associated with a power hitter coming off of a major wrist injury.

4.11 Carlos Beltran (OF-NYY)

Carlos Beltran has Hall of Fame aspirations, so a few years hitting in the Bronx should pad his statistics enough to get there.  He has proven he has plenty left in the tank, and now he gets the fortunes of being a part-time DH and having the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium to take aim at.

5.5 Adrian Gonzalez (1B-LAD)

I previously wrote about my strategy of doubling up at first base before having any other infielders on my roster here. Now looking at the total composition of my team, I know I made the right call by taking the best available player here.

6.11 Matt Cain (SP-SF)

I believe the real Matt Cain is the pitcher we saw in the second half of 2013.  If you exclude his disastrous first half of 2013, then you have one of the most consistent and productive starting pitchers over the past several years.

7.5 Josh Hamilton (OF-LAA)

Hamilton was one of the biggest disappointments in both real and fantasy baseball in 2013.  He was so bad that he was still available in the 7th round of this draft.  I couldn’t let him pass by any further as I believe he will rebound in his sophomore season in Anaheim.  He may not hit for a high average ever again, but there is still plenty left in the tank in terms of power and run production.

8.11 Daniel Murphy (2B-NYM)

Say what you want about Daniel Murphy, but he has proven he can hit. He also proved he can score runs and steal bases which are an added bonus.  Murphy will once again be a focal point of the Mets’ offense and utilize his sneaky speed to swipe bags and score runs.

9.5 Jon Lester (SP-BOS)

The return of John Farrell proved that 2012 was a fluke.  Lester returned to his normal self and could be in line for a big year as he pitches for a contract.  He has indicated he would take a hometown discount to remain in Boston, so I am going to go along for the ride as he proves why the Red Sox should keep him.

10.11 Nolan Arenado (3B-COL)

The Rockies’ young third baseman was one of the top prospects in baseball before finally being given the third base job.  He proved he can play defense and held his own with the bat.  Now with a year of experience under his belt, I expect bigger steps to be taken and an increase in power and run production.

11.5 J.J. Hardy (SS-BAL)

It is hard to argue with getting a shortstop who can hit 25-30 home runs at this point in the draft, but that is exactly what I got.  Hardy is playing for a contract and is hitting in the middle of a very good lineup.

12.11 Jim Johnson (RP-OAK)

I hadn’t taken a closer to this point, so I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to grab a guy who had 50 saves in 2013.  Johnson is not a power pitcher and does tend to blow a fair share of saves.  But he will be the closer for a good Oakland team and should have no problem securing me 40+ saves.

13.5 Michael Bourn (OF-CLE)

Thus far, my team severely lacked speed which played a big part in my decision to take Bourn.  I am not a fan of his, but I recognize his stolen base capabilities.  His inaugural season in Cleveland was terrible, so I am expecting a big improvement including a return to 40+ steals.

14.11 Tim Lincecum (SP-SF)

Sniping is inevitable in fantasy baseball drafts. Sooner or later, a player you want is going to get taken right before it is your turn. Or, you can be the one who drafts a player knowing that someone else is targeting him. That is exactly what happened here as I drafted Lincecum knowing that Ray Flowers was going to take him two picks later. I did really want Lincecum but I knew I had to grab him here. This prompted various challenges to settle our score at WrestleMania XXX.

15.5 Nelson Cruz (OF-BAL)

No question that I was the beneficiary of good timing and good fortune. Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. Read about how Nelson Cruz ended up on my team here.

16.11 C.J. Wilson (SP-LAA)

Wilson went somewhat under the radar which is hard to imagine for a pitcher who consistently wins 15 games with a sub-4.00 ERA and close to 200 strikeouts.  He is my 4th pitcher so that is perfectly fine with me.

17.5 Derek Jeter (SS-NYY)

As much as I dislike the Yankees, I have always respected and admired Derek Jeter.  I truly believe him when he says he is healthy and feels good.  I think he will be extremely productive in his farewell season and provide his Jeter-ian statistics of a .300 batting average, 100 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases.

18.11 Jake Peavy (SP-BOS)

Owning Jake Peavy on a fantasy team is like being on a roller-coaster.  It goes up, it comes down, and inevitably you feel like you want to vomit.  But the nausea is worth the thrill.

19.5 Yovani Gallardo (SP-MIL)

Gallardo had been one of the most consistent pitchers in the National League until 2013 when everything went wrong.  He had some injuries and personal demons to deal with, but never could get things on track.  A 19th round pick was well worth taking the chance on him rebounding.

20.11 Mitch Moreland (1B-TEX)

I needed a hitter to stick into my Utility slot, and lo and behold Mitch Moreland was still available.  With Prince Fielder now in town, Moreland will be the Rangers’ primary DH.  While he doesn’t hit left-handed pitching very well, he should still manage to hit 20+ home runs.

21.5 John Jaso (C-OAK)

I usually punt catchers because I just don’t think they are worth spending early round picks on (no offense Buster Posey).  Jaso should see time as Oakland’s designated hitter as well, so he can be helpful with batting average.  Anything else is icing on the cake.

22.11 Yasmani Grandal (C-SD)

I was sniped when Mike Zunino went immediately before my pick, so I settled for the upside of Yasmani Grandal.  Injuries and suspensions have derailed him the past couple years.  If he can stay healthy and drug-free, then this could turn out real well.

23.5 Mark Melancon (RP-PIT)

Since I only had one closer, I needed a relief pitcher who is likely to inherit the closer’s job in the event an incumbent is injured or ineffective.  Melancon was outstanding in 2013 and did close games while Jason Grilli was out.  He should be the man again if Grilli needs assistance.

Noah Syndergaard24.11 Noah Syndergaard (SP-NYM)

There is no doubt that Noah Syndergaard will be pitching in the big leagues this year.  The only question is when.  Given how the Mets have previously handled Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, we can expect to see the top prospect some time in June or July.  He will be stashed away on my bench, and when he is called up it could be like making a big mid-season trade.

25.5 Chris Young (OF-NYM)

When looking for a reserve outfielder, I preferred one who plays every day if possible.  Sure enough, Chris Young was still available.  That is probably because he has sucked since 2010 but the Mets felt inclined to overpay for him and give him a starting job.  Hopefully he never cracks my lineup, but if he does there is a slim chance he can provide some power and speed.

26.11 Alberto Callaspo (2B/3B-OAK)

I took Callaspo primarily because he is going to play almost every day and qualifies at multiple infield positions.

27.5 Garrett Jones (1B/OF-MIA)

This was a pleasant surprise to land Jones in the second to last round of the draft.  He is going to get a good amount of playing time for Miami as he is one of the only sources of power to possibly protect Giancarlo Stanton.  If he gets 400 at bats he could hit 15-20 home runs.  And he has eligibility at multiple positions as well.

28.11 Felix Doubront (SP-BOS)

My final pick of the draft was Felix Doubront who will likely be in Boston’s starting rotation.  If he can cut back on the walks then he could provide a palatable WHIP.  Otherwise he could just be a cheap source for wins and strikeouts.

 Here is my complete roster by position:

C      John Jason (OAK)
C      Yasmani Grandal (SD)
1B    Freddie Freeman (ATL)
2B   Daniel Murphy (NYM)
3B   Nolan Arenado (COL)
SS   J.J. Hardy (BAL)
CI   Adrian Gonzalez (LAD)
MI  Derek Jeter (NYY)
OF  Jose Bautista (TOR)
OF  Carlos Beltran (NYY)
OF  Josh Hamilton (LAA)
OF  Michael Bourn (CLE)
OF  Nelson Cruz (BAL)
U    Mitch Moreland (TEX)

P     Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
P     Matt Cain (SF)
P     Jon Lester (BOS)
P     C.J. Wilson (LAA)
P     Tim Lincecum (SF)
P     Jake Peavy (BOS)
P     Yovani Gallardo (MIL)
P     Jim Johnson (OAK)
P     Mark Melancon (PIT)

B     Garrett Jones (MIA)
B     Alberto Callaspo (OAK)
B     Chris Young (NYM)
B     Noah Syndergaard (NYM)
B     Felix Doubront (BOS)

EVALUATION: I really like the team I drafted.  However there are two glaring holes that I have: stolen bases and saves.  While I have Michael Bourn and Daniel Murphy as my primary stolen base threats, that is likely not enough to be near the top of the standings in that category.  As far as saves go, Johnson is my only closer so my fate rests in his hands.  However, saves always become available during the season when new relievers emerge as 9th inning options.  I will have to stay proactive and aggressive on the waiver wire or through trades to improve in that category.

Otherwise, I think I should be at or near the top in almost all other categories.  I have a lot of power along with guys who can rack up RBI and runs scored.  My batting average could be questionable if players like Hamilton and Cruz struggle.  In terms of starting pitching, I really like my top four in Kershaw, Cain, Lester and Wilson.  My staff could be unstoppable if my 5-6-7 pitchers (Lincecum, Peavy and Gallardo) regain their previous respective forms.  Having Syndergaard stashed away gives me security while also providing potential trade bait.

Let me know what you think of this team.  Send your comments to me by email at michael.stein@fantasyjudgment.com or through social media on Facebook and Twitter (@FantasyJudgment).

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