The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational – Draft Review

One of the biggest phenomena during spring training has been the Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational put together by Justin Mason. He has organized several 15-team Roto leagues amongst dozens of fantasy baseball writers and experts to compete against each other.  I was in League #2 and our slow draft just ended so I wanted to break down and review my roster after picking from the 13th spot.  Being towards the end meant that I would have to plan ahead with my two selections because it would be another 25 picks before I go again.  If there are any issues that arise in this league, I will have to recuse myself as Chief Justice of Fantasy Judgment and appoint a special prosecutor.  Let me know what you think of my roster by tweeting me @FantasyJudgment.

1.13       Chris Sale (SP-BOS)

It looked like Clayton Kershaw may fall to me, but he was taken one pick before my turn. Max Scherzer was already the first pitcher off the board taken eighth overall.  At this spot, I wanted to take an ace pitcher because if I passed I would never see the likes of Chris Sale or Corey Kluber on the way back.  I chose Sale over Kluber because I already owned Kluber in two other leagues and I think Sale will win over 20 games this season along with his insane strikeout totals.

2.18     Aaron Judge (OF-NYY)

I was targeting Carlos Correa here but he was taken right before my pick. Instead of settling for Francisco Lindor just to fill shortstop, I went in another direction and chose Judge and his 50-home run potential.  There were some red flags with his struggles in the second half last year, but he should put up monster numbers again now that he has fellow slugger Giancarlo Stanton in the lineup with him.

3.43     Kenley Jansen (RP-LAD)

If I could go back and undo one pick, this would probably be it. I think I took Jansen a little too early but my thought process was to grab the best closer in the league to ensure that I am at least competitive in the saves category.  As the draft unfolded, I failed to pair him up with another viable closer so this strategy may have ultimately backfired.

4.48     Rhys Hoskins (1B-PHI)

This was an aggressive pick as Hoskins only has one half a season under his belt. However, that half a season produced massive statistics which projected over a full season put him in rarified air.  I am banking on a continuation of his development and pairing him with Aaron Judge to collectively give me 80-90 home runs.  Plus, first base is very shallow this year so it was important to grab a premier bat at the position where I did.

5.73    Robinson Cano (2B-SEA)

Cano is about as consistent as they come playing in at least 150 games every year since 2007 and providing power, run production and a solid batting average on an annual basis. Second base is not as barren as it used to be, but I have no problem filling that slot with a fixture in the lineup that I know I can count on for sustained health and production.

6.78     Masahiro Tanaka (SP-NYY)

I needed to start filling out the rest of my staff to go along with Sale and Jansen, so I reached a little high for Tanaka in the sixth round. He had a very up-and-down 2017 and still has the specter of a partially torn UCL looming around him.  However, Tanaka has a lot of upside and should be in line for 15 wins on a great team.  Plus, my reverse psychology of hating the Yankees played a role because either I reap the benefits of his success or revel in the joy of him being injured and costing the Yankees games.

7.103    Jon Lester (SP-CHC)

Continuing the path towards filling out my staff, I went with Lester here coming off a down year. I expect a bounce-back season with a little pressure taken off him with the Cubs signing of ace Yu Darvish.  He is the epitome of a 3rd fantasy starter as he does not put up flashy numbers but is generally consistent and dependable.

8.108     Kyle Seager (3B-SEA)

I waited long enough to take a third baseman and was left with options such as Seager, Joey Gallo, Miguel Sano and Adrian Beltre. I opted for Seager due to his ability to stay healthy and being the model of consistency he has displayed since 2012.  His batting average took a hit in 2017 plummeting 29 points from 2016, but I expect his average to improve back to the .260 – .270 range along with his annual 25 home runs and 80-90 RBI.

9.133     Adam Jones (OF-BAL)

At this point, I still only have one outfielder so I felt it was imperative to obtain another. I was debating between Adam Jones and Adam Eaton, so I went with Jones hoping Eaton would make it back to me around the bend.  Jones is a lock for 25 home runs and 80 RBI and is also a free agent at the end of the season, so I went with him banking on a big year from him with a big contract looming in his future.  Unfortunately, Eaton was taken with the very next pick but I can live with having Jones at this point.

10.138   Brett Gardner (OF-NYY)

Having lost out on Eaton, I needed to acquire some speed on this roster so I went with Brett Gardner who will be leading off in a potent Yankees lineup. Gardner should swipe 20 bases and will score at least 100 runs in front of the likes of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.  He also hit a career-high 21 home runs last year so he should also be a nice source of additional power.

11.163   Ian Kinsler (2B-LAA)

I prioritized filling my middle infield spot here and grabbed Kinsler who will be hitting atop the Angels batting order in front of Mike Trout, Justin Upton and Albert Pujols. He is in his mid-30’s but is still a productive fantasy player that should easily score over 100 runs and provide double-digit stolen bases.

12.168   Danny Duffy (SP-KC)

This was the point in the draft where I was torn between continuing to fill my starting pitchers or grab a second closer. I debated taking Archie Bradley here, but the unknown about Arizona’s closer situation made me a little hesitant.  Instead I opted for Duffy who, despite some injuries and off-field issues, is still the ace of the Royals staff and capable of winning 10-15 games with close to 200 strikeouts.

13.193   Jose Peraza (SS-CIN)

Continuing to satisfy my need for speed, I took Peraza despite him frustrating the hell out of me in 2017. He should be the Reds starting shortstop and has eligibility at multiple positions.  I don’t expect much offense from him outside of his stolen base output for which I am in desperate need.

14.198   Albert Pujols (DH-LAA)

This may have been another aggressive pick because I probably could have waited another round or two. However, I was targeting Pujols as a sneaky pick because he is off everyone’s radar at this point in his career.  He still slugged 23 home runs and drove in 101 runs last year, so there is something left in the tank.  He has apparently lost some weight and is prepared to play more first base which adds to his value rather than solely being eligible as a utility player.

15.223   Jackie Bradley, Jr. (OF-BOS)

Bradley is a polarizing fantasy player because he is so inconsistent. He had a very solid 2016 season which was followed up by a disappointing 2017 campaign.  He will be hitting towards the bottom of the Red Sox lineup and should not see a decrease in playing time thanks to his defense.  My expectations for him are tempered so I will be satisfied if he can do better than .250/15/60.

16.228   Cam Bedrosian (RP-LAA)

I debated taking Blake Parker with my previous pick but the uncertainty of the Angels’ bullpen made me a little apprehensive. Parker was taken right before me so I grabbed Bedrosian as the other option.  Neither will likely save 30 games, but they both equally have a chance to be productive.  Bedrosian is younger and has better closer’s stuff, so he should get the first opportunity to close if Parker falters.

17.253   Josh Harrison (2B-PIT)

Harrison provides a lot of flexibility at multiple positions and also offers some speed as he has reached double-digit stolen bases each of the last four seasons. The Pirates are rebuilding and Harrison should see plenty of playing time at the top of their order.  He is also a candidate to be traded which could increase his value later in the season.

18.258   Felix Hernandez (SP-SEA)

King Felix has fallen quite far off his fantasy throne over the past couple years. Injuries and inconsistency have plagued him recently and he can no longer be considered a solid fantasy choice.  That being said, he could be a steal at this point in the draft if he can remain healthy and find a way to return to his old ways.  I had no problem taking that chance on a pitcher of his caliber at this point in the draft.

19.283   Max Kepler (OF-MIN)

I filled my final starting outfield slot with Kepler who does have 20-home run potential. The downside to him is his struggles against left-handed pitching so he could wind up in a platoon if he does not improve.  Kepler is still young and a big part of the Twins resurgence.  I could have done worse getting 15-75 from my fifth outfielder.

20.288   Hanley Ramirez (DH-BOS)

Ramirez proclaimed that he would go 30/30 this year despite being 34-years old and not having stolen double-digit bases since 2014. He has dealt with injuries for the last four seasons and could see his playing time limited with the Red Sox acquisition of J.D. Martinez.  However, he seems motivated to put up big numbers and could be a bargain at this point in the draft.  It was worth taking the chance here.

21.313   Yasmani Grandal (C-LAD)

I had no interest in taking a catcher until the end of the draft but the pickings were slim at this point. I was hoping Brian McCann would slip to me but he was taken a few picks before my turn.  Grandal was the best option available and can still hit 20 home runs which would be just fine with me.

22.318   Alex Cobb (SP-F/A)

Cobb still has not signed with a team putting his draft value in limbo. He had a successful return from Tommy John surgery and should be even better another year removed from the operation.  I find it hard to believe he won’t sign somewhere before Opening Day, so I took the chance on him which could pay dividends depending on where he signs.

23.343   David Robertson (RP-NYY)

Robertson was dominant as a set-up man upon his return to the Yankees and he would be the first in line to close games if Aroldis Chapman struggles or gets injured. He also has value with his strikeouts and expected low ERA and WHIP.

24.348   Hunter Pence (OF-SF)

This was a sentimental pick because Pence has always been one of my favorite players and helped me win a league championship several years ago. He is a shell of the player he used to be, but if he can stay healthy then he can still be productive now that the Giants have surrounded him with some big bats like Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria.

25.373   Zach Britton (RP-BAL)

Britton will miss the first couple months of the season recovering from off-season surgery on his Achilles tendon. I grabbed him here planning to stash him on the disabled list until he comes back and hopefully assumes his role as Baltimore’s closer.  He has dealt with injuries for the better part of the last year, so there is no telling how effective he will be.  But in the 25th round, he is worth the risk with great upside in contributing saves in the second half of the season.

26.378   Joe Mauer (1B-MIN)

Mauer is in the twilight of his career and does not offer much value as a first baseman, but he can still hit for a decent average and is in the middle of a much improved lineup. At this point in the draft there were few options of everyday players so I was happy to get some insurance at first base in case Hoskins does not pan out.

27.403   Mike Foltynewicz (SP-ATL)

The Braves are an up-and-coming team with a lot of young players, and Foltynewicz has secured a spot in Atlanta’s rotation. He has a terrible second half last year but does offer upside with his strikeout potential.  He could be a streaming option against some of the weaker lineups in the NL East, but if he can find some consistency there is a chance he could become more than that.

28.408   Keon Broxton (OF-MIL)

The Brewers’ acquisitions of Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain will limit Broxton’s playing time, so I don’t expect much from this pick. However, he did go 20/20 in 2017 and could possibly be traded to another team giving him an opportunity to play.  He would be the first player I cut if I need to make a transaction.

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