2012 Fantasy Baseball – Draft #1 (14 team, 5×5 roto league)

On Wednesday, March 7, 2012, I had an auction draft in the first of my four fantasy baseball leagues for the 2012 season.  This league is a 5×5 roto league hosted on Yahoo and involves some of the great minds and personalities in the fantasy baseball industry.  Overall I am satisfied with my team, but I admit that I have some deficiencies on my roster that will require tweaking and making some deals down the road. 

I also must disclose that I typically punt on catchers, even with this league requiring two catchers in the starting lineup.  The risk of injury is so great and most catchers do not play more than five games a week, so I feel it is not worth spending the extra auction dollars on the position.  Of course guys like Joe Mauer, Buster Posey, Brian McCann and Carlos Santana are the premier options, but I never choose to big high on any of them because it limits what I can do elsewhere.  I am not saying that is the right strategy, just that it is mine.

Here is my roster and some commentary on each player.

C – John Buck-MIA.  Because I punt on catchers, the only thing I look for is someone who is a team’s primary backstop and isn’t completely incompetent.  I have had Buck the past few years and he is a solid producer in terms of homeruns and RBI at the position.  But there is no question he will bring my batting average down.  For $1.00, I can live with whatever he produces.

C – Nick Hundley-SD.  The same rationale for Buck applies to Hundley except that Hundley has more potential to produce across the board if he can stay healthy.  Hundley is capable of hitting .275 which is useful.  He is San Diego’s starting catcher, so for $1.00 he was worth one of my final draft picks.

1B – Mark Teixeira-NYY.  Of course, the elite first base options such as Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Joey Votto all went for over $40.00.  I felt I could save a couple bucks on Teixeira and get almost as good power production as the others.  Teixeira’s batting average has dropped significantly the past couple years, but he is a workout machine and motivated to improve himself every day.  I think he will get back up to the .280 – .290 range with his usual 35 homeruns and 120 RBI.

2B – Ryan Raburn-DET.  I slotted Raburn in my starting lineup because I have to use Michael Young as my corner infielder until Ryan Howard returns.  Raburn will get a shot at second base in a loaded Detroit lineup.  He has pop in his bat and can be very productive if he is given consistent at bats.  His eligibility in the outfield also adds to his value.

3B – David Wright-NYM.  Once regarded as the premier third base option not so long ago, Wright has fallen on hard times over the past three seasons.  Now the remaining face of the Mets, he is looking to establish himself as the true leader of the team and regain his power production with the new hitter-friendly dimensions at Citi Field.  He came much cheaper than Evan Longoria and Jose Bautista and can also swipe 20 bases as well.

SS – Derek Jeter-NYY.  I never had any desire to bid $40.00 on elite shortstops Hanley Ramirez, Troy Tulowitzki or Jose Reyes.  Instead, I got Jeter for $11.00.  He isn’t the same player he was in 2009, but Jeter is still a productive shortstop who should score a lot of runs and can still steal some bases.  I would also expect his batting average to rebound as he is coming off a strong second half from 2011.

CI – Michael Young-TEX.  I am a big fan of Young because of his position flexibility and the fact he is hitting in a stacked Texas lineup.  He has been one of the league’s best hitters for the past decade and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.  He won’t hit many homeruns, but he is good for a .300 batting average and a fair share of runs scored and RBI.

MI – Alcides Escobar-KC.  In need of some speed, I grabbed Escobar for $1.00 late in the draft.  He is part of the Royals impressive young lineup but will need to take the next step in his progress this year.  I don’t expect much more than a .250 batting average and next to no power, but I do think he should swipe 30 bases.

OF – Ryan Braun-MIL.  This was the player I targeted before the draft.  Of course there will be questions about Braun’s ability to sustain his numbers without “enhancements” or Prince Fielder providing protection in the lineup.  But I think Braun is extra motivated to have a big year to answer the critics’ questions.  He is a five-category stud who should have no problem hitting .300 with at least 30 homeruns, 100 RBI, 100 runs scored and over 30 stolen bases.  For the record, I will not ask him to pee in a cup to be on my team.

OF – Hunter Pence-PHI.  Pence is another player I was targeting because of his five-category potential as well.  This will be his first full season hitting in the friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park and in the middle of a good Phillies lineup.  He should thrive in this environment and could be in line for a breakout season by possibly surpassing 30 homeruns and driving in close to 100 runs.  He also can steal 30 bases.

OF – Jason Bay-NYM.  Ugh.  I cannot believe I drafted him, but for $1.00 it was worth the risk.  With the walls moved in at Citi Field, maybe Bay can actually reach 20 homeruns this year.  He needs to stay healthy and focused as he looks to avenge two horrendous seasons in New York.  Bay is a hard worker and has pride, so it would not be the most shocking thing in the world if he rebounded to have a solid season.  Again, he cost $1.00. 

OF – Seth Smith-OAK.  I am on the fence about Smith.  He was never given a full-time opportunity in Colorado, so we only saw flashes of what he is capable of.  He should now have a chance to play everyday in Oakland, which is debatable whether that is a good thing or not.  Smith certainly has 20 homerun capability and can hit for a respectable average.  The question is whether he will have many opportunities to drive in runs on Oakland’s offensively-challenged team.  But for a fourth outfielder that cost $1.00, he was worth taking a flier on.

OF – Jon Jay-STL.  Not to be mistaken with the former Supreme Court Justice, Jay has been a solid performer in his brief major league career.  He has little to no power, but he can be a .300 hitter and has decent speed.  The question is whether he will play everyday for St. Louis, especially against lefties. 

UTIL – Chris Heisey-OF-CIN.  Heisey is apparently a late bloomer as he displayed some intriguing power numbers in 2011 with limited playing time.  That is also the biggest question for him this year as Dusty Baker hasn’t indicated whether he will commit to Heisey or not.  If he gets consistent at bats, then this $1.00 pick could be a steal.  If not, then I had better search for an upgrade at utility.

BN – Ryan Howard-1B-PHI.  In every mock draft I did this winter, I got Howard in the middle to late rounds.  He is coming back from a torn achilles tendon that he suffered when grounding out to end the 2011 NLDS.  Reports from spring training are good and Howard is on schedule to be back by the end of April or early May barring any setbacks.  Even if he misses a month, he is well worth the $10.00 I spent on him to give me 30 homeruns and close to 100 RBI even after missing some time.

BN – Alex Presley-OF-PIT.  Presley is part of the Pirates’ rebuilding process and presents an interesting option if he plays regularly and stays healthy.  He doesn’t have much power, but he does bring speed and possibly a decent batting average to the table.  Depending on how things turn out for Jon Jay and Chris Heisey, it is possible that Presley could crack my starting lineup sooner than later.

SP – Cliff Lee-PHI.  I knew I wanted one of the Phillies’ aces, so I got Lee for the second year in a row in this league.  Roy Halladay went for well over $40.00 so I opted to wait for Lee and got him at $37.00 which I think is a fair value for him.  Lee should approach 20 wins with a sub-3.00 ERA, a WHIP right around 1.00, and close to 200 strikeouts.  He will serve well as my ace.

SP – Michael Pineda-NYY.  After being acquired from the Mariners in the Jesus Montero trade, Michael Pineda steps right in to become the likely #2 starter behind C.C. Sabathia for the New York Yankees.  Pineda was an all-star in his rookie season but hit a wall during the second half.  Now in his sophomore season, he has the benefit of getting run support and having arguably the best bullpen in the league behind him.  For $12.00, I am expecting 15 wins with a 3.20 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and 175 strikeouts from Pineda.

RP – Brian Wilson-SF.  I admit that I dropped the ball on relief pitchers, so I do not foresee winning the saves category.  After the elite closers like Mariano Rivera, John Axford, Heath Bell, Carlos Marmol, Jonathan Papelbon, Craig Kimbrel, and Drew Storen were off the board, I knew I needed to make a move.  I got Wilson and his beard for $10.00 which could be a bargain.  But since he is my only closer, I am hoping he sets a record with 84 saves this year.

RP – David Hernandez-ARZ.  Needing to fill a second relief pitcher spot with only $1.00 available to spend, I got Hernandez who was terrific last year for Arizona.  He also filled in well for J.J. Putz as closer, so Hernandez could sneak in a few saves for me.  I expect a good ERA and low WHIP for the Diamondbacks set-up man.

P – C.J. Wilson-LAA.  My #3 starter is new Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson.  I expect a big year from Wilson pitching in front of his hometown fans and already very familiar with the AL West.  He has proven to be consistent over the past few years as a starter, so you can pencil him in for 200 innings with 15 wins, a 3.30 ERA, 180 strikeouts, and a WHIP around 1.25. 

P – Johan Santana-NYM.  Again going bargain shopping with my beloved New York Mets, I grabbed Johan Santana for $3.00.  This could be a steal if he stays healthy and somewhat resembles the Johan of the past.  Even if Santana can make 30 starts this year, it is unreasonable to expect a high strikeout total or sub 3.00 ERA because he has lost some velocity due to the shoulder injury.  That being said, to get a staff ace and someone of Santana’s caliber for $3.00 was worth the risk.

P – Ivan Nova-NYY.  Another $1.00 special, I got the Yankees #3 starter as well with Nova.  He had an outstanding rookie season and should continue his ascent in 2012.  He isn’t overpowering so his strikeout totals are low, but he should win at least 15 games again and have a respectable ERA and WHIP.

P – Chad Billingsley-LAD.  After a dramatic step backwards last year, Billingsley fell into the scrap heap.  I scooped him up for $1.00 in the hopes that he finds his way again.  I am not counting on it, but stranger things have happened.

P – Homer Bailey-CIN. Well, I had to fill a roster spot.  I like Homer Simpson.  Hey Homer!

BN – Francisco Rodriguez-RP-MIL.  K-Rod pitched well for the Brewers as their set-up man last year, and it is expected he will do the same in 2012.  However, he will be ready, willing and able to take over the closing duties if John Axford falters.  Regardless, Rodriguez should post a low ERA and WHIP and could pick up some vulture wins and saves.

BN – Tommy Milone-SP-OAK.  Milone was one of the prospects acquired from the Nationals in the Gio Gonzalez trade.  Whether he makes any sort of impact this year is unknown, but in case Oakland gives him a chance and he succeeds, he was worth the $1.00 investment.

So that is my team.  I recognize that it has some deficiencies, but it should be competitive.  I am banking on several players having bounce-back years, which is a risky proposition.  My biggest weaknesses are in the outfield and saves.  Like I said earlier, I don’t care about my catchers as long as they play regularly and don’t completely suck.  I will certainly need to be creative and aggressive in the trade market depending on how things progress.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Shoot me an email at michael.stein@fantasyjudgment.com, post a message on Facebook, or send a tweet to @FantasyJudgment.

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