Hey guys, Drew back here! Last night was really cool for me, as I got the chance to host my 1st ever Fantasy Baseball draft party! I had my entire league (with the exception of one person) over my house, and we sat around the big board I constructed eating pizza and picking players the way fantasy was meant to be done. It was an extremely fun experience and I'm very happy with not only the party turnout but my team as well. My ESPN Fantasy league has 8 teams in it, and after drawing out of a hat, I landed the second pick of 8. It was a Snake Draft, so after picking 2nd, I had to wait all the way until Pick #15 for my second round choice. Despite the long wait, I was pleased with the way my team came out. Take a look:
Round 1, Pick 2: Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Detroit Tigers
Despite the recent allegations, Ryan Braun was taken 1st overall. I was a bit surprised that Cabrera wasn't taken first, so I jumped at the chance to add the Triple Crown winner to my team! My original plan was to take an outfielder such as Trout, McCutchen, or even Kemp, but I think I was better off with Cabrera, even despite the strong amount of fantasy caliber third basemen.
Round 2, Pick 15: David Price, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
Over the past few years, I've tried to make pitching my team strength in fantasy, and clearly this year I was going for the same idea with Price being selected in Round 2. Verlander, Kershaw, and Strasburg were already taken, so I went with my gut and chose the reigning AL Cy Young winner. This year should show whether Price will be a perennial ace or if he reached his peak last season.
Round 3, Pick 18: Jose Bautista, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
Boy, does Toronto look scary or what this season? I don't quite think they'll live up to the hype, however I still think they'll be a tremendous improvement from last year. With a fresh lineup of top notch hitters, I thought taking Joey Bats would be a safe choice, even though he missed a good majority of 2012.
Round 4, Pick 31: Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Boston Red Sox
One key factor in my league's drafts is that Red Sox never get any love. Maybe that could be because most of them haven't lived up to the hype lately, but I think the bigger reason is that most of us can't stand them. I don't like Dustin a whole lot, but I have a lot of respect for the way he plays, and he was the best second baseman available at the time.
Round 5, Pick 34: Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado Rockies
I talked pretty poorly about Tulo going into this draft. I said how overrated he is and that I didn't understand why he was ranked so high. Well, I didn't expect him to sit on our draft board for as long as he did, and by Round 5 he was easily a great value pick. I couldn't pass him up, and I was able to fill 2 of the most difficult positions relatively quickly.
Round 6, Pick 47: Cliff Lee, SP, Philadelphia Phillies
Cliff Lee was another guy I wasn't very high on leading up to the draft, but again, when you let someone as good as he is drop around 3 rounds later than he should, there isn't much of a choice to me. Lee was easily the top pitcher available, and I think people passed on him because of the low amount of wins he had last year. Few realized that he actually had a great season, but just couldn't put a lot of 'W's' on his stat sheet.
Round 7, Pick 50: Jason Heyward, OF, Atlanta Braves
Just like the past two players, I really wasn't interested in Heyward either. However, sitting in the draft room looking at bargain value players is like watching eBay auctions at extremely random times. When you see a ridiculously low price with seconds left on the clock, instinct tells you that you need him on your team. As a #1 outfielder, I'd be a little concerned personally, but I'm more than happy to have him as my #2.
Round 8, Pick 63: Austin Jackson, OF, Detroit Tigers
Austin Jackson has really grown on me over the past year. I had him in my outfield for most of the second half of last season, and he was as productive as it could possibly get. He does a little bit of everything, and is becoming more and more of a threat to be a 20/20 player. This could be a breakout year for the former Yankee prospect, so I was glad to take a chance on him here.
Round 9, Pick 66: Johnny Cueto, SP, Cincinnati Reds
Cueto has got to be one of the most underrated pitchers throughout all of baseball, so I was pumped to make him my 3rd starter! He's matured a lot over the last few seasons, and he's turned out to be a threat for 20 wins on a year to year basis! Plus, he has the chance to be on a contending team for the next years to come, which really won me over with the choice.
Round 10, Pick 79: Martin Prado, 3B/OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
I didn't honestly have a clue who to choose with this pick, so I went with the versatile Prado, who could turn out to be an X-factor for my team. He should fit in nicely with the Diamondbacks lineup, and if he bats around .300 I'll be content to have him in my outfield.
Round 11, Pick 82: Aroldis Chapman, RP, Cincinnati Reds
Let it be known that I was the guy who started the closer picking spree in this year's draft. Sure, Kimbrel went a few rounds earlier, but everyone knows he's above and beyond all of the others. Once I took the Cuban Missile in Round 11, they began to drop like flies. I'm not normally an advocate of picking closers early on, but after dealing with Heath Bell and John Axford last year I needed to feel assured with Chapman.
Round 12, Pick 95: Adam LaRoche, 1B, Washington Nationals
I may have waited a bit too long to choose my first baseman, but with strengths at other positions I should make it out alright with LaRoche. He had an awesome year last year, but he's struggling in Spring Training and he isn't exactly a young guy at this point either. He could potentially end up as a 2009-2011 Mark Teixeira type player, or a 2008-2010 Adam LaRoche. I guess I'll have to wait and see.
Round 13, Pick 108: Josh Willingham, OF, Minnesota Twins
Essentially; I chose the same type of player on back to back picks. Two power bats coming off breakout seasons that in my mind are still high risk type guys. However, Willingham really seemed to find his groove last year in Minnesota so I figured it was worth giving him a shot.
Round 14, Pick 111: Anibal Sanchez, SP, Detroit Tigers
If Anibal Sanchez didn't dominate to the extent that he did during the playoffs last season, I don't know if he'd even be considered in this draft. He showed a lot of people up during that time, and I feel like coming off the fresh contract he could have a really nice, possible break out year.
Round 15, Pick 124: Torii Hunter, OF, Detroit Tigers
I'm not a Tigers fan, I swear. In fact, I didn't even realize how many of them I took until the draft was over! Hunter was another guy who did wonders for me at the end of last season, so I was glad to give him a shot again this year. He'll most likely hit second in the Tiger's order, behind Jackson and ahead of Cabrera, so he should see a lot of great pitches to hit!
Round 16, Pick 127: Hanley Ramirez, SS/3B, Los Angeles Dodgers
I don't buy the hype in the Dodgers at all. I don't like Hanley Ramirez. And to top it off, he's missing 2 months of the season. However, he could be a potential keeper for me if he comes back strong (I'll be able to keep him if my team stays relatively healthy). I'm not always right, and I would love it if Hanley made me look bad by dominating when he comes back. For now, I'm a fan.
Round 17, Pick 140: Brandon Morrow, SP, Toronto Blue Jays
I don't much of anything about Morrow, other than that he's an injury prone strikeout machine. I've never had him on any of my teams, so this should be interesting. He was the top starter on the board, and was sitting there for a good 4 rounds at that point so I figured I'd put him out of his misery and into my lineup.
Round 18, Pick 143: Nick Swisher, 1B/OF, Cleveland Indians
New team for Swish? Don't care! Nick is still one of my favorite players although he left my beloved Yankees this offseason. He's been on a tear this spring, and Cleveland is shaping up to be another much improved American League team. What I love most about Swish, other than his love for the game, is his consistency. You know what to expect out of him year in and year out. Glad to finally have him aboard.
Round 19, Pick 156: Jeremy Hellickson, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
Hellickson is definitely one of the more underrated pitchers in baseball, and I thought this was a really smart pick on my part because his low ERA should correspond well with the higher ERA strikeout pitchers I'd already chosen. He isn't a star fantasy pitcher, but I believe this could potentially be a breakout year for him as only as he stays off the shelves.
Round 20, Pick 159: Brett Gardner, OF, New York YankeesIt took me 20 rounds to take my first Yankees player, after Cano, Sabathia, Kuroda, Jeter, Granderson, Ichiro, and Rivera were already taken. Seven of the 8 kids in my league are Yankees fans, so they tend to be a bit overrated. However, I found a hidden gem in Gardner towards the bottom of the spreadsheet, which could turn out to be the best low risk-high reward move I made on that night. If Gardy can hit enough to get on base a good amount, he should finish high in the steal categories this season!
Round 21, Pick 172: Wade Miley, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Much like Hellickson, I chose Miley to try and balance out my pitching styles. It's nice to have a bunch of guys who will blow hitters away, but strikeouts are only one category, with two others relating to how few runs and hits they allow. Miley could regress from his solid rookie season this year, but I figured he was worth a shot at that point.
Round 22, Pick 175: Joel Hanrahan, RP, Boston Red Sox
Closers were running thin around this round, but I still found a pretty solid option in Hanrahan. I've always liked the Hammer, but I have a funny feeling that the pressure in Boston could be too much to handle. I didn't have many other options though, so I'm hoping he can give me more than I expected!
This was by far my least favorite pick of the draft. I really lost interest in Dan Uggla's playing style, along with all of the other low average high home run hitters. I actually dropped Uggla immediately following the draft for Erick Aybar to fill my middle infield spot that Hanley Ramirez will eventually inhabit. I already had a power heavy team, so the drop was probably for the best.
Round 24, Pick 191: Matt Harvey, SP, New York Mets
At this point, I was hoping for a needle in a haystack, and I went with the Mets young gun Harvey. I liked what I've seen out of him so far, and who knows, maybe he could have a Rookie of the Year level season!
Round 25, Pick 204: Salvador Perez, C, Kansas City Royals
Yeah, that's right. I waited until my final pick to take a catcher. Why? It's simple, each team needs 1 catcher, and it's really out of the ordinary for someone to take multiple backstops. The first 7 came in and went, but I figured Perez could be an underrated option, and saved him for the end. Miguel Montero is also a free agent, so worst comes to worst I could pick him up if need be, but for now I'm liking what I see out of Perez.
Overall, I was pretty happy with the way my team came out. Obviously, an 8 team league delivers some star studded teams, but there can only be one winner in the long run! How do you think I did?