12 February 2014

Fantasy Baseball Draft Day Lineup

It's that exciting time of year, when Fantasy Baseball opens up at Yahoo!, and I have completed my first draft of the season. Here is the draft-day lineup for CuCoo for Coco Crisp. No, I don't like the spelling of CuCoo, but there was a character limit on team names. My 2014 projections are taken from FantasyPros.com. They make a composite projected line out of several projections from different sources for each player. I don't necessarily agree with their numbers, but they are close enough for me.

Catcher - Carlos Santana - Round 8, Pick 90

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 134 - 75 R, 20 HR, 74 RBI, 3 SB, .268 AVG

2014 Projections - 74 R, 20 HR, 76 RBI, 4 SB, .254 AVG

This wasn't a bad pick for the Catcher slot, as most of the guys out there don't play as often as you'd like or they are severe liabilities in one or more categories. Santana's batting average isn't too awful and he won't hurt my team in the counting stats, especially compared to other catchers. The experts project him to do about what he did last year, which ranked 134th in Yahoo! leagues. I probably reached a bit drafting him this early, but this is such a tough position to fill that I felt validated in making the pick.

1st Base - Brandon Belt - Round 12, Pick 138

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 106 - 76 R, 17 HR, 67 RBI, 5 SB, .289 AVG

2014 Projections - 66 R, 16 HR, 68 RBI, 7 SB, .275 AVG

The way the draft was going for me, the best available players in the early rounds were outfielders, so at this point I was really in need of guys to put in the infield. Rounds 12-14 are where I got my 1B, 2B, and SS picks because I was scared of running out of guys. Belt doesn't hurt me anywhere and is a solid roster filler.

2nd Base - Daniel Murphy - Round 13, Pick 151

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 42 - 92 R, 13 HR, 78 RBI, 23 SB, .286 AVG

2014 Projections - 74 R, 10 HR, 65 RBI, 14 SB, .279 AVG

Same as Belt, Murphy was the most solid all-around guy on the board at his position. The experts aren't projecting him to be as good this year as he was last year, but even if he splits the difference between last year's performance and the projections, I still think I got away with a good pick here, especially given the minefield that 2B can be after the first couple guys come off the board. Even if I am paying for a career year, the price wasn't all that high.

3rd Base - Adrian Beltre - Round 2, Pick 18

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 15 - 88 R, 30 HR, 92 RBI, 1 SB, .315 AVG

2014 Projections - 83 R, 28 HR, 95 RBI, 2 SB, .297 AVG

This was a decent pick-up in the second round of my draft, I think. Some places have Beltre ranked as a late first-rounder, and I felt fortunate that he fell to me with the 18th pick. He may not have the high ceiling that a lot of guys in the first couple rounds have, but he is unlikely to be a bust. Now that I typed that he will probably nurse a lingering groin or wrist injury all year and put up horrible numbers.

Shortstop - Jed Lowrie - Round 17, Pick 199

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 99 - 80 R, 15 HR, 75 RBI, 1 SB, .290 AVG

2014 Projections - 67 R, 14 HR, 61 RBI, 3 SB, .261 AVG

Again, this is a guy who had a career year last year and put up some decent numbers. But he just cracked the top 100 players in the Yahoo! game last year and I got him this year a full 100 picks after that ranking. He can still regress a little bit and be a profitable pick for me. It helps that he doesn't play for one of the big-name teams. You'll notice a lot of guys on my fantasy rosters who play for smaller markets because the Yankees and Dodgers of the world have a big-market price tag attached to them, even in fantasy baseball drafts. Lowrie is actually the second SS I drafted, but I plan on platooning him with my other SS to hybridize my starts at the position with some speed and power potential. Sometimes at a weak roster position you can find a couple of guys who do different things well and split your available games between them to build up numbers across the board. Unless you keep picking the wrong days to start a guy and wind up with all the good numbers sitting on your bench. Lowrie is an injury risk, but last year he showed that he can be pretty good when he's healthy.

Outfield - Adam Jones - Round 1, Pick 7

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 7 - 100 R, 33 HR, 108 RBI, 14 SB, .285 AVG

2014 Projections - 83 R, 28 HR, 89 RBI, 12 SB, .278 AVG

I wasn't sure who would be available to me in the middle of the first round, and Jones was the best guy left. I actually thought about drafting Adrian Beltre here, but he fell to me in the second round anyway. Jones offers a very nice combination of power and speed, although again he is projected to take a step back this year. I am hoping he will deliver numbers close to last year's performance and be a solid first-round selection for me. Not a lot of guys will give you 30 home runs, and out of those guys only a few will steal any bases. A lot of the big bats also hurt your batting average, too, although those guys tend to fall to the later rounds.

Outfield - Hunter Pence - Round 5, Pick 55

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 9 - 91 R, 27 HR, 99 RBI, 22 SB, .283 AVG

2014 Projections - 82 R, 21 HR, 92 RBI, 12 SB, .272 AVG

I didn't intend to pick so many outfielders early in the draft, but I felt a little out of sync during the draft. This guy finished in the top ten players overall last year, so when Pence was still hanging around in the 5th round I grabbed him up. I am hoping that he can replicate most of last year's numbers. Again, I was chasing guys who could offer both power and speed and Pence has the ability to do that.

Outfield - Jay Bruce - Round 4, Pick 42

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 34 - 89 R, 30 HR, 109 RBI, 7 SB, .262 AVG

2014 Projections - 79 R, 30 HR, 92 RBI, 7 SB, .257 AVG

The glut of outfielders from rounds 1 through 7 continues with Jay Bruce. I was chasing home runs here, and Bruce produces stats in bulk. I picked him about where he should have gone in the draft, I think.

Utility - Josh Donaldson - Round 9, Pick 103

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 31 - 89 R, 24 HR, 93 RBI, 5 SB, .301 AVG

2014 Projections - 75 R, 19 HR, 79 RBI, 7 SB, .271 AVG

Again I picked a guy who had a career year last year and will hopefully keep much of that production this year. I have a hard time prospecting on career years from guys who haven't done much yet in the bigs, and I think I got enough guys at a discount in this draft that some of them are likely to replicate their numbers from last season.

Utility - Alex Gordon - Round 7, Pick 79

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 70 - 90 R, 20 HR, 81 RBI, 11 SB, .265 AVG

2014 Projections - 86 R, 17 HR, 74 RBI, 10 SB, .273 AVG

I picked Alex Gordon right around where he was expected to go and right around where he finished in 2013. He's a pretty solid 20 HR / 10 SB guy who isn't going to hurt a team by lagging in runs or RBI. His batting average is average, but he's not going to hurt you much.

Bench - Nick Swisher - Round 20, Pick 234

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 211 - 74 R, 22 HR, 63 RBI, 1 SB, .246 AVG

2014 Projections - 75 R, 23, HR, 81 RBI, 2 SB, .254 AVG

This was a decent pick, I suppose. Guys who you pick in the 20th round aren't going to be great, but they can fill games and stand in for injured players. They can also be dropped if someone on waivers gets hot. He doesn't hurt a team too much aside from batting average and he doesn't steal bases, but he offers a good number of home runs, runs, and runs batted in, at least for a bench player.

Bench - Adam Lind - Round 19, Pick 223

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 121 - 67 R, 23 HR, 67 RBI, 1 SB, .288 AVG

2014 Projections - 64 R, 21 HR, 72 RBI, 2 SB, .265 AVG

Lind had about the same year statistically as Swisher, except that his batting average was 40 points higher. Again, I am hoping he can hit a few home runs while filling in a few games for other players who are injured or otherwise missing time.

Bench - Coco Crisp - Round 10, Pick 114

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 56 - 93 R, 22 HR, 66 RBI, 21 SB, .261 AVG

2014 Projections - 79 R, 14 HR, 55 RBI, 24 SB, .262 AVG

Of course a team with 'Coco Crisp' in its name is going to make sure he is on the roster. He is also a guy who went 22 / 21 last year in Home Runs and Steals. The experts don't think he will quite reach that level, but even 15 / 20 or 15 / 25 is pretty darn good. He's probably good enough to be a starter, but my outfield is pretty crowded. I will probably be rotating the hot hands in and out of the lineup. I seem to have picked a lot of A's this season. It wasn't entirely intentional, but I feel like I got some good value out of the Athletics I picked. I'll let other guys draft the old injured Yankees with big names and fat contracts.

Bench - Alexei Ramirez - Round 14, Pick 162

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 138 - 68 R, 6 HR, 48 RBI, 30 SB, .284 AVG

2014 Projections - 67 R, 9 HR, 55 RBI, 19 SB, .268 AVG

I picked Ramirez during a stretch where I was trying to fill out my infield spots between rounds 12-14. I also had been focusing on balanced guys with a lean toward power, so I wanted a guy who could boost my steals. He doesn't offer a whole lot outside of steals, but since Jed Lowrie fell in my lap and offers a bit more power with no speed, I plan to play them both about equally in the shortstop position and create a hybrid set of stats. Last year a 50 / 50 split would have gone 74 / 11 / 62 / 15 / .287. That doesn't really make for an elite set of stats, but it is decent. I am looking to my outfield to put this team over the top while hoping for the rest of my roster to keep up with their peers.

Starting Pitcher 1 - Adam Wainwright - Round 3, Pick 31

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 10 - 241.2 IP, 19 W, 0 SV, 219 K, 2.94 ERA, 1.07 WHIP

2014 Projections - 212.0 IP, 15 W, 0 SV, 189 K, 3.13 ERA, 1.11 WHIP

I try not to take pitchers too early, but the batters available in round three all had question marks for me, and Wainwright was the tenth-ranked player in the game last year. I decided to grab him as my staff ace. I think I did pretty well with this draft choice.

Starting Pitcher 2 - Hyun-jin Ryu - Round 11, Pick 127

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 85 - 192.0 IP, 14 W, 0 SV, 154 K, 3.00 ERA, 1.20 WHIP

2014 Projections - 189.0 IP, 12 W, 0 SV, 154 K, 3.51 ERA, 1.22 WHIP

I tried to focus on batting early, as there always seems to be more variation among pitchers from year to year. One strategy you can use is to combine the innings of strong middle relief pitchers in your extra pitching slots. Relievers generally have pretty high strikeout rates and good ratios, and they will get a win here or there, so combining a few relievers worth of stats will net you the same or better numbers than a single starting pitcher after all the big arms are gone. Ryu's WHIP is kind of ugly and his strikeout rate is lower than I'd like, but I am hoping he will be solid this year. I probably overpaid for a big name after panicking because I didn't have much pitching on my roster at this point.

Starting Pitcher 3 - A.J. Burnett - Round 15, Pick 175

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 107 - 191.0 IP, 10 W, 0 SV, 209 K, 3.30 ERA, 1.21 WHIP

2014 Projections - 192.0 IP, 13 W, 0 SV, 186 K, 3.47 ERA, 1.23 WHIP

Burnett doesn't even have a contract at this point, but I think he is pretty close to signing with someone. He provides way too many strikeouts at the starting pitcher position to go undrafted in a fantasy league. His ratios don't impress, but I can live with that in the fifteenth round. He also wears my favorite jersey number, so there may be some favoritism on my roster.

Starting Pitcher 4 - R.A. Dickey - Round 16, Pick 186

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 256 - 224.2 IP, 14 W, 0 SV, 177 K, 4.21 ERA, 1.24 WHIP

2014 Projections - 205.0 IP, 13 W, 0 SV, 162 K, 4.06 ERA, 1.26 WHIP

Speaking of playing favorites, this guy shows up on my roster. Last year he had a few reasons for turning in a less-than-stellar performance. I don't know how good he will be this season, but I'm willing to gamble. If you take away his AL East starts last season, I think he was at about a 3.50 ERA and had a slightly higher strikeout rate. I may start this season out with him on the bench for his starts against the AL East.

Closer - Greg Holland - Round 6, Pick 66

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 36 - 67.0 IP, 2 W, 47 SV, 103 K, 1.21 ERA, 0.87 WHIP

2014 Projections - 67.0 IP, 4 W, 25 SV, 90 K, 2.22 ERA, 1.06 WHIP

I know that you shouldn't grab closers this early in the draft because there is so much turnover at that spot during the season, but at this point there was a bit of a run on saves and I wanted to have at least one guy with a pretty sure grip on the job. I tend to think he'll pull in a few more saves than the experts are projecting. I whiffed on most of the low-end closers in the later rounds, so I am kind of glad now that I reached and got Holland.

Relief Pitcher - Jesse Crain - Round 18, Pick 210

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 288 - 36.2 IP, 2 W, 0 SV, 46 K, 0.74 ERA, 1.15 WHIP

2014 Projections - 52.0 IP, 3 W, 17 SV, 58 K, 2.85 ERA, 1.25 WHIP

Crain is injured right now, but has started throwing again and projects to be the closer in Houston this year. If he winds up on the DL again or doesn't win the closing job then I will probably pick someone else up from waivers without losing too much sleep over it.

Relief Pitcher - Tyler Clippard - Round 21, Pick 247

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 146 - 71.0 IP, 6 W, 0 SV, 73 K, 2.41 ERA, 0.86 WHIP

2014 Projections - 70.0 IP, 4 W, 3 SV, 75 K, 3.13 ERA, 1.12 WHIP

Here is a pretty elite setup guy. Given the right circumstances he could step into the closer role at some point, but I picked him mostly because he can give me a lot of strikeouts and good ratios while pitching a little under half the innings that you might get from a frontline starter. In rounds 21-23 I picked a few relievers who had good stats on their own, but who also had a decent shot at taking over the closer role at some point in 2014.

Relief Pitcher - Darren O'Day - Round 22, Pick 258

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 198 - 62.0 IP, 5 W, 2 SV, 59 K, 2.18 ERA, 1.00 WHIP

2014 Projections - 60.0 IP, 4 W, 4 SV, 57 K, 3.26 ERA, 1.14 WHIP

I picked O'Day up for many of the same reasons discussed in Clippard's entry, but I have since swapped him out for another starting pitcher, Marco Estrada, who had a pretty good stat line last year and will hopefully do well again this year. There will be plenty of roster churn on my roster this year, and O'Day might even show up on my team again before the season is over.

Relief Pitcher - Edward Mujica - Round 23, Pick 271

2013 Stats - Y! Rank 136 - 64.2 IP, 2 W, 37 SV, 46 K, 2.78 ERA, 1.01 WHIP

2014 Projections - 65.0 IP, 4 W, 2 SV, 52 K, 3.59 ERA, 1.17 WHIP

Mujica had a pretty good line last year, but he is now blocked out of the closer role in Boston for the moment. I don't know if he strikes out enough batters to stay on my team in a setup role. I might wind up swapping him back out for O'Day.

And that's my first drafted team of the season. I think my batters are pretty good, although there are some question marks and my infield especially could struggle. I am not comfortable with my pitching staff outside of the top few guys, especially when it comes to ratios. I can see myself tweaking the rotation quite a bit as the season goes on.

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