In a drastic improvement over the last two or three years, y’all are getting this year’s Draft Review and Rankings within three weeks of the draft.
Not. Too. Shabby.
As always, I want to make it very clear that there is no science or metrics or legitimacy to these rankings. Unlike Mike’s annual look at everyone’s draft based on Average Draft Position, mine is based entirely on my often-biased opinion.
You may think a player is going to have a huge year and that you got him at a great value, if I think he’s a piece of dog crap, you suffer in my rankings as a result. It is completely subjective and based on my opinions toward players, their value, their abilities, and where/when you drafted them in relation to my perceived views of value elsewhere in the draft.
Just because I ranked you near the bottom doesn’t mean you won’t/can’t win this thing.
Are we all clear on that? I’ve had a lot of people take these things personally over the years and that’s just redonkulous. These are no more accurate or telling about potential success than if any one of you were to randomly write a ranking yourself. It’s all opinion.
That having been said, there are a few rules I tried to stick to when doing the rankings.
I tried to avoid using any players you’ve acquired since the draft when focusing on team strengths and weaknesses. Obviously, I probably screwed up somewhere along the way while gathering info from Yahoo. My apologies for that if/when you see it.
Additionally, I tried to avoid giving anyone credit for a “best pick” within the first three rounds, because it’s really hard to give a guy praise for an early pick. Those are generally gimmie picks. At the same time, I also tried to avoid ragging on anyone with a “worst pick” in the final three picks of the draft as it’s often scrap heap time for a lot of teams who are stockpiling DL-stashes or—if you’re drafting correctly—your holds guy.
That doesn’t, however, mean that some of you didn’t have your “best pick” in the final three or your “worst pick” in the first three. It happened, a number of times actually.
Also, just so y’all have an idea of how this works, I generally rank the teams immediately after the draft based on “gut feel.” After that I take some time to dig through the rosters a little more thoroughly and look at the numbers—generally using the previous three years as a data reference—and separate teams into tiers before assigning rankings. There are three distinct tiers in this year’s draft in my mind. Teams 14-11 fall in the bottom tier, teams 10-5 in the next, and teams 4-1 are the top tier that I foresee having the most success.
Once I’ve got the tiers, I compare those with the numbers, and the original gut feel rankings to sort out where exactly everyone falls in the final rankings. It’s not an exact science by any means, but it’s the best I’ve got.
You may also note that parts of the write-up sound more dated (ie: pre-injuries, etc.) than others and that’s because I generally write these things in chunks instead of all at one time. Each team usually gets multiple hours of research and data digging and I do various parts (ie: best pick, worst pick, weaknesses, etc.) at different points and then try to bring it all home with the summaries.
The write-up is shorter than last year—I cut out the “Most Likely to Succeed” and “Most Likely to Flop” sections—so it should be a bit of a quicker read.
As always, I’d love some feedback since I’ve spent three weeks working on this thing.
Alrighty, enough of me rambling, let’s do this thing.
Now, without any further ado, here be the 2012 Draft Review and Rankings…
14) Captain Jack
Draft Pick #11
2011 Rank: 7th
2010 Rank: N/A
2009 Rank: 1st
Keepers: Buster Posey (C/1B – SF), Curtis Granderson (OF – NYY) and Tim Lincecum (SP – SF)
First Pick: Mike Napoli (C/1B – TEX) [Pick 11]
Last Pick: Ian Stewart (3B – CHC) [Pick 235]
Best Pick: Aroldis Chapman (RP – CIN) [Pick 207]
Summary: Chapman spent all winter preparing to start for the Reds and was—at the last minute—shifted back to the bullpen where he currently holds down a middle relief spot setting up for incumbent closer Sean Marshall.
Chapman looked on-point all spring and—logically—deserves a spot as an everyday starter, but his value toss 100MPH pellets in the late innings cannot be denied. In round 15, the value he brings in ERA, WHIP, K and some combination of H/SV/W depending on his eventual role is pretty much impossible to beat.
Worst Pick #1: Mike Napoli (C/1B – TEX) [Round 1 – Pick 11]
Summary: This was his second catcher. Do I really need to say any more than that?!
Napoli is a very good ballplayer, but he’s not a first round pick. He hit well-above his career norms last year and regression—especially when factoring in his lingering ankle injury—is all but guaranteed. He’s also not a full-time player—thanks to the Texas logjam at C/1B/DH—which largely negates his overall value. You can never get legit first-round value from someone who figures to finish with 150-200 less at-bats than an everyday player.
Worst Pick #2: Bryce Harper (OF – WAS) [Round 11 – Pick 151]
Summary: I get what Travis was doing here, I really do. I just don’t like it. He told me he was going to pretend the new bench spot didn’t exist so he could justify wasting the newly-added roster flexibility by gobbling up Harper whilst he toils in the minors. If he’s down with wasting the roster spot and putting his team behind the eight-ball competitively, that’s his call.
One of the real issues I’m having with this is that I don’t understand why everyone thinks Harper is ready for prime time or will be ready for prime time in the near future. He struggled in Double-A last year. He’s still just 19-years-old and figures to have a lot more growing pains before he’s ready for the show. They Nats are transitioning him to CF so he’s trying to learn a new position on top of adjusting to drastically better pitching. Toss in the financial ramifications and there is zero reason for him to reach the majors before mid-summer. Feels like a complete waste of a pick for a team that could ill-afford to do so in this draft.
Team Strength(s): Catching Depth and Starting Pitching
Catching Depth: Obviously, your catching depth is going to be quite stellar when you’ve got two of the highest rated catchers in the game on your squad. Unfortunately, carrying two catchers in this league is largely ridiculous given your limited bench space. They’re both above average players who will receive below-average at-bats. At the same time, Travis is missing out on premier-level production at first base to accommodate his bloated catcher situation.
Starting Pitching:The rotation could go one of two ways. Everyone could have a monster year, in which case Travis could very well have five above-average starting pitchers with 200+ Ks, respectable sub 3.50 ERAs and relatively solid WHIPs. There is also a distinct possibility that Anibal Sanchez and Bud Norris have peaked, Jonathan Sanchez gets destroyed in the American League, Stephen Strasburg gets hurt again, and Tiny Tim finally succumbs to injury or the all-too-obvious signs of regressions that have been dogging him for a while now. Tons of potential. Tons of risk.
Team Weakness(es): Reliability and Depth
Reliability: This squad isn’t exactly packed with a lot of guys you can pencil into the lineup day-in and day-out with the same results. Most of the guys on this club (ie: Kelly Johnson, Aramis Ramirez, Chris Young, Curtis Granderson, etc.) are of the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type where they can go from being an All-Star one season to bench fodder the next. If they’re the latter rather than the former, this team is going to be sunk.
Depth: The depth of this roster is virtually non-existent. The bench consists of Bryce Harper who may or may not make the show this year, but will simply keep a stranglehold on an otherwise active roster spot for the foreseeable future. After that it is perennial underachieving former-top-prospects Ian Stewarts and Alcides Escobar. Although both have shown flashes of what put them on the map, neither has been able to sustain it long enough to be an erstwhile big league ballplayer. This is always why they’re both already on their second Major League team despite still the fact that they are both still just enterting their prime.
Summary: I know that it’s rough to pile on the guy who had to try and draft over the phone, but at the end of the day, this is far and away the weakest draft of the bunch. His pitching staff is very top-heavy and is relying on two major injury risks in Tim Lincecum—wait for it, that arm is gonna give out one day—and Stephen Strasburg who, despite recently undergoing Tommy John surgery, refuses to alter his flawed mechanics. Everyone else after those two is a question mark at best.
The outfield is uninspiring, the infield is full of retreads and underachievers, and the bench depth consists of marginal players with middling upside. The bullpen is ruled by the always volatile Jonathan Papelbon who is now doing his work a much better hitter’s park.
This club is begging for improvement up and down the lineup. I don’t doubt that Travis—the king of in-season management—will find a way to wheel and deal toward a more competitive lineup before the season comes to a close, but this is far and away the weakest club he’s had in years. Luckily, his minor league team (read: Radioactive Rush) figures to give him an infusion of talent in the near future.
13) Radioactive Rush
Draft Pick #10
2011 Rank: 12th
2010 Rank: 12th
2009 Rank: N/A
Keepers: Adrian Gonzalez (1B – BOS), Carl Crawford (OF – BOS) and Jaime Garcia (SP – STL)
First Pick: Matt Cain (SP – SF) [Pick 10]
Last Pick: Marco Scutaro (2B/SS – COL) [Pick 234]
Best Pick: Adam Jones (OF – BAL) [Round 5 – Pick 66]
Summary: Adam Jones is 26-years-old and coming off a season that saw him set career highs in home runs, runs batted in, stolen bases, doubles, and games played. His career trajectory is headed in the right direction as he enters his peak years and it isn’t too hard to think that a 30/15 season could be in the works for 2012.
Admittedly, I’ve been a big Adam Jones supporter for a while now, but I think given his value and potential this was a very good pick in round five and as far as value vs draft position, easily the best of all Grant’s picks on draft day.
Worst Pick: Brandon Phillips (2B – CIN) [Round 3 – Pick 38]
Summary: There was a time when I was an unabashed Brandon Phillips supporter. Granted, that time was about three-to-five years ago when Phillips was a legitimate 30/30 (or at least 25/25) threat year-in and year-out. Second basemen have a track record of aging poorly and Phillips fits the mold. His numbers have been in steady decline for years now and he’s basically a solid doubles hitter with potential for a 15/15 outburst.
Given that Howie Kendrick—roughly the exact same ballplayer, but younger—went 22 picks later and plenty of other serviceable second sackers (ie: Cuddyer, Weeks, Johnson, Espinosa, etc.) were available it makes you wonder why someone would jump so far for Phillips. My guess, he’s a brand-name second baseman and Grant wanted to land himself a marquee name far more than he wanted to land the most valuable commodity at that point in the draft.
Team Strength(s): Speed and Bullpen
Speed: This roster is equipped with a couple of legit burners in Crawford and Ichiro; both of whom figure to swipe over 40 bags if healthy. Ian Desmond should be good for 25+ and both Brandon Phillips and Adam Jones could contribute 15-20 thefts a piece. Toss in a handful of stolen bases from the rest of the roster and this club figures to make speed a major asset.
Bullpen: The bullpen may not have a bunch of recognizable names beyond Jose Valverde and JJ Putz, but Tyler Clippard and Rex Brothers are legit bullpen weapons who will keep Radioactive Rush piling on holds, vulture wins and occasional saves all season long. The post-draft addition of Henry Rodriguez only adds to the stockpile of talent as Rodriguez figures to be in the mix for both holds and saves while Drew Storen is out with an injury to start the year.
Team Weakness(es): Starting Pitching and Power
Starting Pitching: The start pitching on this club is not pretty. It’s Matt Cain—a debatable staff ace—and then a lot of question marks. Jaime Garcia is a solid number three starter, but when that’s the second best pitcher on your staff and he’s been pegged for regression by most experts, you’re in a tough spot. Ervin Santana and Edwin Jackson offer some upside, but have shaky track records. Tim Stauffer was a fine story last season, but he has an injury-riddled past, and middling projections for a soon-to-be 30-year-old-starter. Adding a second legitimate ace is key for this pitching staff.
Power: The club has some serious thump in Adrian Gonzalez, Brian McCann, and Adam Jones. After that the power potential gets muddled. Will Jason Kubel return to the 25+ pop he showed when healthy in Minnesota or will he struggle in the NL? Is Mike Moustakas ready to translate his prodigious minor league power to the bigs or will he—like so many Royals prospects before him—suffer from a power outage at his pitcher friendly home field? Is Torii Hunter a threat to top 15 homers this year or has age finally caught up with him? Does Brandon Phillips have another 15-20 homer campaign in him or is he another in a long line of second baseman to break down by age 30? Can Ian Desmond save his job and take a major step forward in the power department or is he doomed to become a bench option? Lots of question and not enough reliable thumpers.
Summary: Grant has received a lot of criticism in his short time in the league and—based on his track-record—most of it has been well-deserved. One major point of contention has been his always flawed drafts. This marks the third consecutive year that Grant ranks in the bottom three of my draft rankings and justifiably so. This roster—although containing one of the best players in baseball in Adrian Gonzalez—is incredibly lackluster from top-to-bottom.
It would take major bounce back years from decline-phase Phillips, Ichiro, and Hunter to make the offense competitive and it would require Kubel, Moustakas and Desmond to take major steps forward. I think that this team has a solid core in the likes of McCann, Gonzalez, Moustakas, Jones, Cain, and the bullpen…but there are too many ancillary pieces that aren’t going to be enough to push this team into the playoffs.
Right now this looks like another team that will burnout and leave Grant on the outside looking in come playoff time for a third consecutive season.
12) Sea Bass 7.0
Draft Pick #1
2011 Rank: 8th
2010 Rank: 6th
2009 Rank: 10th
Keepers: Mark Teixeira (1B – NYY), Ben Zobrist (2B/OF – TB) and Tommy Hanson (SP – ATL)
First Pick: Carlos Gonzalez (OF – COL) [Pick 1]
Last Pick: Ivan Nova (SP – NYY) [Pick 225]
Best Pick: Denard Span (OF – MIN) [Round 11 – Pick 141]
Summary: I think there is a lot of value in snagging Span where he did. The dude—if he avoid any reoccurrence of his concussion issues—is a consummate lock for 25+ stolen bases, an above average OBP, and double-digit triples. Assuming the rest of the lineup does its part behind him, he could easily surpass 90+ runs scored as well.
He is a solid bet for a bounce back season and has flown under the radar for his four category contributions. Meanwhile, lesser outfielders like Coco Crisp and Melky Cabrera both jumped off the board while Span lurked long enough to give Craiggers some solid mid-to-late round value at a good price.
Worst Pick: Russell Martin (C – NYY) [Round 14 – Pick 196]
Summary: A second catcher? Really?! I’ve already lambasted Travis over taking a second catcher, but at least both of his catchers are legit studs at the position. Martin is an overrated catcher who has been largely washed up since he turned 25. He’s still costing by on name value far more than real talent.
He “hit” .237/.324/.408 last year which is pretty mediocre but was buoyed by 18 home runs to help prop up his other less-than-inspiring numbers. If he was drafted as a starting catcher this late, it’d simply be an uninspired pick and I’d wash right over it, but drafting him a second catcher when Miguel Montero is already on your roster is a complete waste of a roster spot. At best it would gain you a couple dozen mediocre at-bats a season, all while giving up depth bench and wasting a roster spot that could be given to a drastically more dynamic player.
Team Strength(s): Speed and Outfield Depth
Speed: This lineup is built to burn. CarGo, Fowler, Span, Zobrist, Gordon, and Aybar can all swipe 20+ bags and at least four of those guys could easily go 30+ if things work out right. Toss in Span and Fowler’s penchant for ripping triples and Craiggers has gobbled up two of the biggest speed categories without having to make any major additions…and he did it without Juan Pierre!
Outfield Depth: All of those names I just mentioned—except for Aybar—all have something more than speed in common, outfield eligibility. Craiggers has one of the more dynamic outfields in the game. He’s got power in CarGo, Gordon, and Zobrist and he’s got speed in Span, CarGo, Zobrist, Fowler and Gordon. If there comes a point where Craiggers needs to improve—(see: pitching)—via trade, his outfield is stacked with solid trading chips.
Team Weakness(es): Starting Pitching and Bullpen
Starting Pitching:: The pitching on this club is pretty ugly. Tommy Hanson is an ace just waiting for that breakout season, but a recent rash of small injuries could derail his inevitable ascension to the top of the league. James Shields is a solid arm to have on any staff, but coming off a career year, he is due for a regression closer to his career norms, rather than the ace-like season he put up in 2011. After that things get shaky. Daniel Hudson, Phil Hughes, and Ivan Nova are all interesting picks that could either turn out to be huge wins for Craiggers. All three could also blow up in his face as they’re young and all three have plenty of red flags heading into the season. The staff is rounded out by an interesting—and perhaps too early—DL stash of Chris Carpenter. I’d like this move later if it had come after round 10, but a return to the norm for Carpenter would make me forget all about the talent Craiggers left on the table to grab Carp this early in the draft.
Bullpen: The bullpen is going to be a problem when you’re turning to me after round ten and asking “is this guy a closer?” Mark that down. If you’re in the mid-to-late rounds and you don’t even know who is or is not a closer, it is in your best interest to avoid drafting for one. Craiggers assembled a hodge-podge of injury and age-risks (see: Joe Nathan) and guys who may or may not get a shot to close (see: Alfredo Aceves and Joel Peralta) on teams that just their regular closer. Definitely a work in progress, but saves and closers in general are fungible, especially early in the year and it should be a pretty quick fix for Craiggers.
Summary: Something tells me that Craiggers unlikely run to the championship game back in 2007 feels like little more than a distant memory at this point. The Sea Bass squad has yet to return to the post season and has constantly finished in the bottom half of the league. There is some serious potential on this team and a very good, young core; but at this point, it isn’t much of a stretch to wonder if Craiggers can do anything with it. He is notorious for letting trade offers die on the table and for overthinking many of them until they never take place. Two years ago, he made a barrage of moves late in the season to set himself up for a big run in the consolation round and lock up quality keepers. If he can harness that level of managerial acumen throughout the entire season, he could be a dark horse candidate to find his way into the playoffs for the first time in nearly half-a-decade. If he cannot, then it is likely another year trolling in the consolation bracket and planning for next year’s draft priority.
11) 38MPH Heaters
Draft Pick #8
2011 Rank: 14th
2010 Rank: 10th
2009 Rank: N/A
Keepers: Ian Kinsler (2B – TEX), Jason Heyward (OF – ATL) and Dan Haren (SP – LAA)
First Pick: David Price (SP – TB) [Pick 8]
Last Pick: Sean Rodriguez (2B/SS/3B – TB) [Pick 232]
Best Pick: Carlos Beltran (OF – STL) [Round 9 – Pick 120]
Summary: Carlos Beltran is coming off a season where he hit .300/.385/.525 with 22 home runs, 39 doubles and even six triples. He has a career .362 OBP and, if he remains healthy, he should be good for 145 games, 20-25 homers, 40+ XBH and—if everything breaks right—maybe even low double-digit stolen bases. He’s also hitting in a lineup where he’s surrounded by Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman, David Freese, Alan Craig, and the partially fossilized remains of Rafael Furcal. That alone bodes for a decent shot at 100 R and 100 RBI.
Despite all of these facts, Beltran sat on the board pick after pick after pick while a plethora of lesser outfielders (ie: Stubbs, Joyce, Upton, Bourn, etc.) leapt off the board in front of him. This is far and away one of the best value picks in the draft, although as is always the case with Beltran, it comes with the caveat no fantasy player likes to utter “if he can stay healthy.” He looked solid last year and there is enough depth in the St. Louis outfield to provide him with days off to keep him fresh, the bigger question is whether or not rookie manager, Mike Matheny will handle his playing time correctly.
Worst Pick: BJ Upton (OF – TB) [Round 4 – Pick 49]
Summary: Admittedly, I could just copy and paste exactly what I wrote about BJ Upton when Morgan drafted Upton last year—one round and 13 picks earlier—but I won’t do that. I mean, obviously I’m going to link to it, but I won’t just copy it. The story remains the same with Upton, he has all the potential in the world and every year could be the year that he finally puts it all together and has his breakout campaign. The problem is, he hasn’t had a season that warrants his draft stock in roughly half-a-decade.
He’s almost always good for a league average (or below) OBP, 20-25 home runs, 40+ stolen bases, and a complete crapshoot in the XBH/R/RBI categories. To top things off he was hurt coming into the draft and his already tenuous position is already in jeopardy thanks to the emergence of Desmond Jennings. He could have that big year the world has been waiting for, but it is far more likely he puts up another typical BJ Upton year and never lives up to his fourth round sticker price.
Team Strength(s): Core and Starting Pitching
Core: The club has a very good core in the likes of Ian Kinsler, Jason Heyward, Paul Goldschmidt, Dan Haren, David Price, and Matt Moore. That is the nucleus to a winning team. Unfortunately, those cats are currently surrounded by a less-than-intimidating supporting cast. Some big trades or waiver-wire moves could help add considerable clout to an otherwise ho-hum looking bunch.
Starting Pitching: The front three in this rotation—Haren/Price/Moore—all figure to be very solid. This is of course assuming that Price takes another step forward and can stay on point and Moore takes the big step from amazing minor leaguer to solid big leaguer. Morgan clearly believes that’s going to be the case as he went all-in using his first two picks on the Tampa Bay hurlers, thus tying a lot of his fortunes to a team with plenty of question marks. I think the Moore pick was a reach, but if he can live up to his considerable hype, Morgan won’t care when the final bell sounds on the 2012 season.
Team Weakness(es): Injury Risks and Bullpen
Injury Risks: This roster is stock-piled with injury risks. Just a quick glance at the roster and you notice the following names: Soto, Morse, Kinsler, Youkilis, Hardy, Heyward, Upton, Beltran, Beckett, and Liriano. All of these players fall into one of two categories: a) hurt to start the 2012 season or b) have a track record of being injury prone. If you want to do the math real quick, that’s half the roster. In his two years in the league, Morgan has made 19 roster moves…total. He made ten moves last year—the lowest in the league, by a large margin—and he made nine moves in his rookie campaign—also the lowest by a large margin. It makes me wonder if he’ll have the savvy to go out and make the right moves if/when the injury bug finally strikes or if he’ll attempt to ride it out with in-house options.
Bullpen: The bullpen is, for the second straight year, without a closer and is led, for the third straight year, by setup man extraordinaire, Mike Adams. I get that there is some gamesmanship at play here looking to win holds, pick up the occasional garbage win/save and all the while keeping the ERA/WHIP low and the Ks—hopefully—pretty potable. The problem is that you’re still sacrificing an entire category. Every. Single. Week. When Jay went reliever heavy, he won the league and it was a good plan. When Morgan has gone reliever heavy, he’s been a bottom of the barrel team. I feel like history speaks for itself, the system isn’t working.
Summary: I’m going to make a bold prediction. Morgan’s team will not win the Salmon League Championship in 2012. If Morgan keeps drafting like this (read: ignoring entire categories, drafting the same disappointing players year after year, showing up to the draft half awake, etc.) he’s probably never going to win the SLB Championship. This team has some serious potential, but it’s also very bogged down with injury risks, regression candidates, and an all-too-familiar cast of underachievers. The core (ie: Kinsler/Heyward/Goldy/Haren/Price/Moore) could get this team in the right direction, but some supplementary moves definitely have to be made and we need to see more fire and activity from Morgan than we’ve seen in his first two years combined. If we don’t, it is probably safe to pencil him for a third consecutive losing season and add his name to the list of guys that Mike lovingly refers to simply as “donors.”
10) j’s team
Draft Pick #7
2011 Rank: 6th
2010 Rank: 7th
2009 Rank: 7th
Keepers: Evan Longoria (3B – TB), Ryan Braun (OF – MIL) and Brandon Morrow (SP – TOR)
First Pick: Zack Greinke (SP – MIL) [Pick 7]
Last Pick: Matt Thornton (RP – CHI) [Pick 231]
Best Pick: Ted Lilly (SP – LAD) [Round 14 – Pick 190]
Summary: Ted Lilly is one of those guys who has been around the game forever and put up some pretty solid numbers, but always seems to fly under the radar. This despite the fact that over the last five season’s he’s averaged more than 30 starts, nearly 200 innings pitched per season, all the while accumulating a 3.74 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and averaging 7.7 K/9 and an overall 3.33 K/BB ratio.
He’s not an ace, but he’s certainly the type of guy who has a lot of fantasy value. That value is magnified by the fact that Lilly is traditionally a much better second-half pitcher who saves his best stuff for September/October (ie: SLB playoff time). He’s got a career 3.71 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and a boosted K/9 of 8.4 at the season’s end. If Jay makes the playoffs, Lilly could play a huge role in determining Jay’s fate this season.
Worst Pick: Jimmy Rollins (SS – PHI) [Round 3 – Pick 35]
Summary: There was a time (2005-2007) when Jimmy Rollins was one of my favorite fantasy players and I considered him a key cog to winning a championship. Mike scooped him out of my grasp in the 2007 draft—and I had to settle for some chump named Hanley—and went on to win the championship. Since that three-year run of awesomeness Rollins has taken a serious step backwards in terms of both playing time and production.
I think he’s still a serviceable shortstop—especially with the position so weak—but to draft him in the third round feels like a HUGE overdraft. The biggest reason being that another old balls shortstop—Derek Jeter—hung around for another eight rounds and 117 picks where he was an absolute steal for High Cheese.
Here is a quick glance at their respective averages over the last three seasons:
Jeter 2009-2011: .300/.367/.408, 11 HR, 65 RBI, 21 SB, 101 R, 27 2Bs, 3 3Bs, 147 Games Played
Rollins 2009-2011: .255/.316/.403, 15 HR, 60 RBI, 26 SB, 78 R, 27 2Bs, 3 3Bs, 128 Games Played
I see absolutely zero value in taking Rollins this early.
Team Strength(s): Stikeout Artists and Outfield
Strikeout Artists: The pitching staff—although not my favorite—does have the potential to be one of the top teams for total strikeouts. Brandon Morrow, Zach Greinke, and Ubaldo Jimenez has all notched 200+ Ks at least once in the past two seasons. The rest of the rotation can be counted on to post a minimum of 150 K, most edging closer to 175+. This team is gonna send a lot of guys back to the bench shaking their heads.
Outfield: I hate Drew Stubbs. I really, really do. He has, however, put up serviceable numbers in two consecutive seasons proving to offer power and speed. He cannot, however, hit for XBH or a decent OBP. Luckily, what he lacks, both Ryan Braun and Hunter Pence make up for in bunches. Both post above average OBPs with solid power/speed combos of their own and both are very good at piling up XBH. The trio is currently one of the most enviable in the game unless Stubbs finally falls off the table completely.
Like I want him to, because I hate him.
Team Weakness(es): Starting Pitching and Regression Candidates
Starting Pitching: Jay has a very deep starting rotation—too deep if you ask me—and despite the upside it offers, you’re still looking at six guys who posted a combined 4.30 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP. They all hit over 150 K and up to three of those cats could easily surpass that total again, but the staff doesn’t feature anyone I consider an “elite” fantasy pitcher, but rather a bunch of guys who make for solid #2 or #3s on a fantasy staff. It’s not a bad staff, but I think he’ll experience more pains with this rotation than he anticipated on draft day, especially given how shallow it left his bench on the offense-side of things.
Regression Candidates: This roster is loaded with a lot of guys who could regress in a big way in 2012. Jimmy Rollins—as stated above—has been a shell of the ballplayer he was a few years ago and he’ll undoubtedly be trying to shoulder more of the load in the injury-depleted lineup. Expect him to struggle trying to do so. Jeff Francoeur played well-above his career norms and is a prime candidate to come crashing back to earth. Adam Lind has proven to be an OBP killer with monster power and little else. Drew Stubbs is a complete enigma as he’s got 40+ SB speed and 20+ HR power, but he can’t get on base consistently and offers little in the way of XBH. Carlos Pena is Carlos Pena. Matt Weiters has shown flashes of greatness and flashes of being a huge flop. Which one is the real deal? There’s a lot of risk in this lineup after the Braun/Longoria/Pence nucleus.
Summary: Given how “in the zone” Jay looked on draft day and how much he seemed to be obsessing over his strategy, I expected a better team than what he’s ended up with here. This team could definitely win and prove me wrong, but I’m just not enamored with the offense beyond the aforementioned nucleus and the rotation—although formidable—just doesn’t strike me as a championship-caliber assembly of arms. We’ve seen Jay take home golden fish before when he’s been counted out, so I don’t know what to expect from this kid anymore.
Draft Pick #5
2011 Rank: 10th
2010 Rank: 9th
2009 Rank: 9th
Keepers: Miguel Cabrera (1B/3B – DET), Jose Reyes (SS – MIA) and CC Sabathia (SP – NYY)
First Pick: Michael Bourn (OF – ATL) [Pick 5]
Last Pick: Alfonso Soriano (OF – CHI) [Pick 229]
Best Pick: Brennan Boesch (OF – DET) [Round 13 – Pick 173]
Summary: Personally, I’m not overly sold on Boesch. I still think he’s been largely overrated throughout his career based on a couple of hot starts in back-to-back seasons. That fact notwithstanding, he’s in a pretty prime position this year. Magglio Ordonez is gone and so is the glut of outfielders pushing for at bats in Detroit. Boesch is also turning 27 and hitting in front of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Call me crazy, but that all bodes pretty well.
The fact that he was drafted as what appears to be the fourth or fifth outfielder for this team makes it an ever better move. Boesch is prone to lengthy slumps and injuries. Playing him when he’s hot and matched up well and sitting him when he’s absolute horseshit could net some high returns for G-Doggy.
Worst Pick: Michael Bourn (OF – ATL) [Round 1 – Pick 5]
Summary: Michael F’n Bourn?! Are you kidding me?! Michael Bourn with the FIFTH pick in the draft!?!?! There were SO MANY legit first round picks still on the board. Michael Bourn is the type of guy you draft as a third outfielder or a desperation second outfielder—and you do it in the mid-rounds—but not someone you take in the first round with the fifth pick.
Bourn has a career OBP of .336 which is roughly average. He swiped bags like a madman. He scores a solid number of runs, but has never scored 100+ in a season. He’s hit more than 27 doubles in a season once. He’s only reached double-digit triples twice. He’s good for—maybe—five home runs and 40-50 RBI. He is one of the most one-dimensional players in the game and in no way worth a first-round pick. This makes me soul sad. Just so much talent left on the table right here.
Team Strength(s): Core and Speed
Core: The core of this teams is the keepers—Cabrera/Reyes/Sabathia—and the solid draft picks like Victorino, Sandoval, and Garza are very good and could carry this team a long ways if everyone of them has the type of season they’re capable of having. There are obvious concerns with this crew, however, as Victorino and Reyes are both far from safe bets to make it to September without getting injured; Sandoval is just one year removed from the Giants keeping him out of postseason games because he was such a slug, and Matty Garza is pitching for one of the worst teams in the game. I love the core of this club, but there are definitely some question marks.
Speed: Reyes. Bourn. Victorino. Three guys who can all do some major damage on the base paths. If Bourn goes over 60 SB and Reyes, if healthy, and can go for 45+ this club will likely be winning steals every single week. Victorino, if healthy, can steal up to 35+ and given the dearth of legitimate run producers in the Philly lineup this year, there’s little reason to think he won’t be given the green light for the bulk of the year.
Team Weakness(es): Depth and Regression
Depth: Six. There are six outfielders on the roster. We only need three in our starting lineup. That leaves one to play the UT role. So fine, fine…there’s four. That’s still two OFs too many. One can also play 1B, you say? Well cool. That’s still one OF too many and means you’ve got a 1B sitting. This team has a middle infield that makes me nervous because Reyes is an injury risk and Espinosa—despite a solid power stroke and good speed—is not a game-changer and the Nationals have Steve Lombardozzi knocking on the door to create a serious playing time logjam for Espinosa and incumbent shortstop Ian Desmond. G-Doggy needs to add some more depth to his roster, bulking up on OF—especially marginal types like Alfonso Soriano and Melky Cabreara—is not the way to build a winning roster.
Regression: When documenting the team’s strengths, I couldn’t help but mention that some of the best players on the team were potential regression candidates. On top of that Alex Avila is coming off a career-year that included a huge increase in workload and it showed when he was toast in the postseason. History has proven that catchers who are overworked one season tend to struggle in the following act. Toss in the likes of Melky Cabrera coming off a career year, Alfonso Soriano’s continued decline into nothingness (seriously, why is this guy on anyone’s team in this league at this point?), Michael Pineda coming off a career-high in innings pitched and moving to a tougher division and ballpark (and being on the DL on draft day), Kyle Farnsworth coming off a career year (and being on the DL on draft day) and Trevor Cahill moving to hitter-friendly Chase Field. There’s a lot of guys looking to take a step—or in some cases gigantic flying leap—backward in 2012.
Summary: G-Doggy’s draft is proof that it’s not enough to have one of the best sets of keepers in the game. You’ve got to be able to draft a good club and G-Doggy just didn’t do that this year. This is the second year in a row that I thought he wasted his first round pick—he took Jimmy Rollins with the 5th pick last year—on a marginal player leaving drastically better talent on the board. It once again shows that you can’t just roll in with a list and absolutely no preparation for the draft. If G-Doggy wants to become anything more than a year-in, year-out “donor” to the league, he needs to make it a point to spend more than 15 minutes prior to the draft preparing. There’s a lot of talent on this team, but it’ll take a season of top-notch management to get this club into the playoffs and I just don’t know if G-Doggy has it in him to get it done.
Draft Pick #4
2011 Rank: 11th
2010 Rank: 5th
2009 Rank: 8th
Keepers: Albert Pujols (1B – LAA), Prince Fielder (1B – DET) and Clayton Kershaw (SP – LAD)
First Pick: Nelson Cruz (OF – TEX) [Pick 4]
Last Pick: Jhonny Peralta (SS – DET) [Pick 228]
Best Pick: Jhoulys Chacin (SP – COL) [Round 14 – Pick 193]
Summary: Chacin “The Machine” has put up solid numbers over the last two seasons averaging 10 wins, a 3.48 ERA, a 1.29 WHIP, and 7.8 K/9. He walked more guys than you’d like to see in 2011, but overall he was the most valuable member of the Rockies pitching staff and played a big role in the Genies regular season dominance over the league.
Chacin is a legit number two starter on a big league club and probably a solid third starter for fantasy purposes where teams are generally loaded with aces. To land him near the end of the draft as his fourth drafted starter and fifth overall makes for some crazy value. Chacin is entering his third full-year in the bigs and that is generally when pitchers really start to put it altogether, if that holds true for the 24-year-old Chacin, expect a monster year.
Worst Pick: Emilio Bonifacio (3B/SS/OF – MIA) [Round 6 – Pick 81]
Summary: Bonifacio is one of those guys that I can never bring myself to trust. He’s put up some great numbers in important categories—SB/3B/OBP—in recent years, but he’s also put up abysmal numbers elsewhere and is one of those guys who is multi-position eligible for a reason, he’s never proven the ability to hold a job for a long time on his own merits. He seems like the type of guy who serves as solid bench fodder, but in round six, he was (over)drafted to be the team’s starting shortstop.
I don’t doubt that he could swipe 40+ bags if he’s given 500+ at-bats again, but I’ve got doubts about his ability to match last year’s .360 OBP given his penchant for strikeouts and lack of power to drive the ball. He doesn’t exactly pile up XBH in bunches, but he can certainly help with triples if he gets his at-bats. Not a horrible player, but blatantly overdrafted in round six and the expectations seem to be awfully high coming off a career year.
Team Strength(s): Power and Speed
Power: This lineup is loaded with mashers. There are no fewer than eight guys on this roster who can be counted on for 20+ homers and with Pujols, Fielder, Cruz, and Trumbo it isn’t impossible to envision 30-40 home runs. That amounts to plenty of potential for XBH in the form of doubles and boatloads of RBI and R opportunities.
Speed: On the flip-side of the coin Zima has burners Desmond Jennings, Emilio Bonifacio, and Angel Pagan. Bonifacio swiped 40 bags last year and could easily replicate that if he gets enough at-bats this year. Pagan nabbed 32 bases last year and 37 the year before. Jennings netted 20 thefts in less than 250 at-bats last season and was a master thief in the minors. It’s not a stretch to imagine him leading the American League with 60+ stolen bases this year. This team can burn and that speed figures to bulk up the totals in not only stolen bases but runs and triples as well. This offense could give everyone fits all season long.
Team Weakness(es): Starting Pitching
Starting Pitching: The starting pitching is anchored by one of the best keepers in the game, reigning Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw. Then it gets a bit hairy. I praised Chacin earlier, but he’s far and away the second-best and most-reliable starter not named Kershaw on this roster. That’s scary.
There’s Yu Darvish who—despite a prodigious track record in Japan—figures to suffer some growing pains adjusting to the Major League game and could really struggle dealing with the summer heat in Texas and the tiny ballpark he now calls home. If he’s even half as good as he was in Japan, Collin is going to be okay. After that it’s Johan Santana returning from a potentially-career ending injury and likely on a pitch count; former top-prospect, Brandon McCarthy coming off a bounce-back season following years of ineffectiveness and injury; and consummate underachiever Homer Bailey.
Summary: The offense is—on paper—one of the better bunches of the draft at this point, but JP Arencibia is nothing but a free-swinging OBP-killer and Collin is relying on health and/or continued success from question marks like Nelson Cruz, Emilio Bonifacio, Jhonny Peralta and Mark Trumbo. Any of whom could either end up hurt or regressing at the blink of an eye. The question marks surrounding the starting rotation figure to have Collin scouring the waiver wire or trade market all season long, but if everyone can manage to stay healthy and effective, this team could definitely get ZIMA back to the postseason. Given his rather lackluster showings the last two seasons, I’ve got him on the outside looking in come September, but it’s a long season and ZIMA could definitely prove me wrong with some strong roster management this season.
07) S.L. Disappointment
Draft Pick #3
2011 Rank: 1st
2010 Rank: 11th
2009 Rank: 5th
Keepers: Jose Bautista (3B/OF – TOR), Jon Lester (SP – BOS) and Cliff Lee (SP – PHI)
First Pick: Starlin Castro (SS – CHI) [Pick 3]
Last Pick: David Robertson (RP – NYY) [Pick 227]
Best Pick: Jesus Montero (UTIL – SEA) [Round 12 – Pick 166]
Summary: Montero, 22, has been one of baseball’s top prospects for years and finally got a chance to show his bat was big-league ready late last season. An offseason trade to the Seattle Mariners guaranteed regular playing time for Montero and his impressive .308/.366/.501 career minor league batting line.
He won’t have catcher-eligibility right away, but given his tremendous upside, this was a super stealthy pick. Most teams had a catcher on their roster at this point and the few who didn’t were definitely giving Montero the “bar is about to close, why don’t you come home with me” eyes right before John plucked him up. Given the dearth of top-flight catchers in the game, the ability to snag a potential top three contributor at the position in round 12 is pretty much unheard of, great pickup (once he gets that eligibility, that is).
Worst Pick: Doug Fister (SP – DET) [Round 11 – Pick 143]
Summary: This pick has a lot less to do with Fister himself and a lot more to do with John’s roster construction when he made this choice. In round 11, John was already looking at a roster that had Cliff Lee, Jon Lester, Josh Johnson, CJ Wilson and Brandon Beachy in the starting rotation. Adding another starter when the offense was in dire need of another boost was a costly mistake. If nothing else, adding a closer in this round would have been a better move.
Overdoing it on starting pitching caused John to wind up with a weak bullpen that had no closer coming out of the draft and his offense—already a weak point—lost out on an opportunity for improvement. I think Fister—although a regression candidate—could be in for another solid year, but he is an unnecessary commodity for John at this point in the draft.
Team Strength(s): Starting Pitching and Power Potential
Starting Pitching: John basically did the exact opposite of Collin in the draft, which is amusing given that they drafted side-by-side. Collin went hot and heavy for a balls-to-the-wall offense and has a rotation that could prove to be his undoing. John is flooded with top-flight starting pitching—hands down the best rotation in our league—but his offense leaves a lot to be desired. The rotation figures to obliterate just about everyone he locks up with all season long.
Power Potential: Although I’m not in love with this offense, I can’t take away from the power potential that exists on paper. The roster—as currently comprised—only has one player who had at least 450 at-bats last season that didn’t reach double-digit home run totals. That was Coco Crisp who settled for eight bombs and 49 stolen bases. The roster has some prodigious sluggers in Paul Konerko, Jose Bautista and Mark Reynolds and a bunch of dudes with the ability to pop anywhere from 15-30 bombs along with plenty of XBH.
Team Weakness(es): Bullpen and Offensive Depth
Bullpen: In an odd-twist, John is pairing his league-best rotation with one of the saddest bullpens I’ve seen in the history of fantasy baseball. He’s got no closer and he’s running out two holds guys. One who is top-notch in David Robertson and one who is coming off a career year in Glen Perkins. This club needs to add a closer (or two) and could definitely stand to move some starting pitching if the opportunity arises.
Offensive Depth: The offense is not exactly going to keep anyone up at night. Jose Bautista is the only player on the roster who I’d consider an elite fantasy player. Starlin Castro is an up-and-coming stud shortstop who could breakout in a big way this year, but even if he does that just leaves a two-man offense. Paul Konerko is solid, but aging and the decline-phase may not be far off. Montero is a young stud, but does figure to see his power numbers take a hit when he plays at his power-suppressing home ballpark. Everyone after that is a big question mark headed into 2012.
Summary: I think John put together a solid team, but there are a lot of question marks on offense right now and the bullpen is virtually non-existent. He clearly went hot and heavy on premium starting pitching and it weakened the rest of the squad as a result. He’s overloaded in the pitching department with seven starters on the roster and will likely need to move some of that depth to add another impact bat if he wants to return to the postseason for the first time in years. I’ve currently got him on the outside looking in, but I think he’s just one or two solid moves from cracking the top six this season.
06) cracker jack
Draft Pick #13
2011 Rank: 5th
2010 Rank: 4th
2009 Rank: 6th
Keepers: Dustin Pedroia (2B – BOS), Matt Kemp (OF – LAD) and Ian Kennedy (SP – ARI)
First Pick: Yovani Gallardo [Pick 13]
Last Pick: Vinnie Pestano [Pick 237]
Best Pick: Justin Morneau (1B – MIN) [Round 12 – Pick 156]
Summary: Morneau has had a rough year and a half since a concussion put down and out in the midst of an MVP-caliber 2010 campaign. He’s struggled to stay healthy and struggled to produce when he’s appeared healthy. This spring it seems he’s finally put all of that past him.
Morneau started slow in spring training, but was tearing the cover off the ball by the time the club broke north for the season and he’s primed to have a rebound year. He’s got legit 30+ homer pop, is a doubles-wrecking machine and has the potential for 100 runs and 100 RBI while entrenched in the heart of an improved Twins lineup. In the two and a half years before his concussion he’d hit .300/.383/.530 getting better and better with age. If he can get close to that pre-injury form, he’ll be a huge pickup at great value in round 12.
Worst Pick: Jason Kipnis (2B – CLE) [Round 5 – Pick 69]
Summary: I love me some Jason Kipnis. He played a big role in my drive to a championship last year. That having been said, he only had 136 at bats coming into this season. That feels like a pretty big overdraft in the fifth round, especially given that this roster already contained one of the top two second basemen in the game, Dustin Pedroia.
Kipnis is an odd guy to project as he breezed through Cleveland’s minor league system in less than three full seasons before landing in the show. He hit for solid averages and OBPs in his time, but never put up major power numbers, XBH totals, or stolen base totals. When he got to the show last year he showed some good pop and solid speed. He could go 25/25—absolute high side—or he could finish closer to 15/15 which is drastically more likely and probably won’t give Justin the type of return he was looking for, especially since he’ll be entrenched at the Utility position or riding the pine with Pedroia in place.
Team Strength(s): Power and Offensive Depth
Power: Everyone in this lineup—except Brett Gardner—is capable of hitting double-digit home runs in 2012. Beyond that, everyone except Gardner and Yunel Escobar is legitimately capable of wrecking 20+ bombs. Kemp, Rodriguez, Morneau, Scott, Freese, and maybe even Rasmus could all potentially go well beyond that if everything broke correctly this season. Most of the cats in this lineup can pop 30+ doubles as well and most are serious run producers. This lineup could be downright nasty in the power department if everyone is “on” this season.
Offensive Depth: This team is currently using all four bench spots on position players. There’s a rehabbing second baseman (Utley), a World Series hero (Freese), a fallen prospect looking for a rebound (Rasmus), and a former MVP looking to get his career back on track (Morneau). That covers 1B/2B/3B/OF in potential depth. You don’t find a lot of teams that have that much depth as too many teams stock pile OF on their bench and hamstring their rosters. It’s refreshing to see such flexibility.
Team Weakness(es): Speed and Bullpen
Speed: Looking at this roster there are two guys who I’d consider legitimate double-digit steal threats. Brett Gardner should be a lock for 40+ thefts and Matt Kemp is a pretty big wildcard. He’d like to swipe 50+ bags, but the odds of doing that are pretty low if he also wants to try and jack 50 bombs. In his four full years in the bigs he’s posted stolen base totals of 35, 34, 19, and 40. I’d say he’s a safe bet for 35+ but beyond that I’m skeptical. As I mentioned earlier, Jason Kipnis is a complete wildcard and could either steal 25+ or steal 3 bags all year. He’s a tough read. Nick Markakis is hard to predict as he’s gone 2, 18, 10, 6, 7, and 12 in his six years as a regular. Dustin Pedroia could go for 20 SB, but new manager Bobby Valentine may limit how much he has Pedroia running in front of Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz. Beyond that, I don’t see anyone else stealing in this lineup. Given that I’m not real high on Kemp to match last year’s thefts total, I’m thinking speed could be an issue for this club.
Bullpen: The bullpen here isn’t deep—two closers, one setup man—and doesn’t contain any household names. It does, however, contain one of the most underrated closers in the game in Javy Guerra who is a K-machine that figures to keep his stranglehold on the job in Los Angeles despite the presence of Kenley Jensen. Vinnie Pestano is one of the games least-heralded setup men who posts great numbers and could be next in line for saves if/when incumbent closer Chris Perez falters in Cleveland. Frank Francisco is the only real wildcard here and he’s hard to project. He’s been a legit shutdown closer and he’s been a steaming dumpster fire of awful. His performance could play a big part in how this works out. At the end of the day, I think it’s a solid bullpen, but given the depth of other teams in the league, it is probably another reliever short of being legitimately competitive with the rest of the league…especially if Francisco blows.
Summary: There’s a lot about this team I like and a lot that I’m not real sure about. He drafted a team full of starters who are either injury risks (Verducci effect) or appear in line for a regression, but if healthy and effective could compete with anyone. His bullpen consists of no big names, but seems solid on paper. His lineup isn’t explosive, but is loaded with solid contributors throughout the lineup who could all lead this team into the postseason fray and perhaps all the way to the championship. I just don’t know what to do with this team. I didn’t like it during the draft. Just looking at it, I’m still not all that impressed, but on paper, these cats stack up pretty well as a full unit. I assume Justin will be all over the waiver wire and trade market—as he is renowned for in the Salmon League—and will be able to deal with any deficiencies that he encounters.
05) The Dominators
Draft Pick #6
2011 Rank: 13th
2010 Rank: 2nd
2009 Rank: 4th
Keepers: Robinson Cano (2B – NYY), Ryan Zimmerman (3B – WAS) and Felix Hernandez (SP – SEA)
First Pick: Elvis Andrus (SS – TEX) [Pick 6]
Last Pick:Eric O’Flaherty (RP – ATL) [Pick 230]
Best Pick: Alejandro De Aza (OF – CHI) [Round 14 – Pick 191]
Summary: Alejandro De Aza is no one’s idea of a legitimate superstar. He’s just getting his first full-time, uncontested big league job at 28-years-old. He doesn’t hit for power. He isn’t a speed demon on the paths. He’s not going to have an out of nowhere breakout season that turns him into a top ten player next year.
What he is going to do is provide solid value for his round 14 price tag. While De Aza isn’t a speed demon, his profile in the minors suggests that 20+ swipes are entirely reasonable, and he should be able to post 25-30+ doubles and perhaps a half-a-dozen triples. The number of runs he’ll score is entirely dependent upon the type of season that Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko, and Alex Rios have this year. What he brings to the table in a big way is his penchant for getting on base. His last three years in Triple A he’s put up a slash line of .309/.372/.479 and in his 54-game stint with the White Sox last fall he hit .329/.400/.520 and put up some solid counting stats. A full season at the bigs hitting atop a potent lineup could reap some big rewards for an unheralded 14th round pick.
Worst Pick: Elvis Andrus (SS – TEX) [Round 1 – Pick 6]
Summary: I am so very tempted to just copy and paste all of the stuff I had to say about Michael Bourn and put it right here, because he’s basically the same player, but with less speed and better position eligibility. He gets on base at roughly a league average rate. He steals 30-40 bags a year. He scores 80-100 runs. He…um…well, he plays shortstop and that’s peachy keen!
Andrus is a very good example of a good real ballplayer, but a very underwhelming fantasy player. He’s not worth round one value and given that Steven was able to wrangle Asdrubal Cabrera in round four, he was definitely not worth leaving drastically more valuable players on the table. This was a huge overdraft and given that Steven turned around and drafted another shortstop, he’s hamstrung his roster, because he spent two of his first four picks on guys who can’t both be in the lineup at the same time without wasting the utility spot that is meant for David Ortiz. It was a poor pick that has hurt the overall roster.
Team Strength(s): Power and Infield
Power: This lineup boasts an incredible amount of power. Everyone short of Yadier Molina, Alejandro De Aza, and Elvis Andrus could hit 20+ home runs this season. Molina himself could hit 15+. Hosmer, Cano, Zimmerman (if healthy), Swisher, Hart, Cespedes, and Ortiz could all crack 30+ bombs and I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest. Damn near every one of these dudes should be able to wreck 30+ doubles as well. This team has power in bunches and figures to be a thorn in many teams’ sides throughout the season.
Infield: This may be the best infield in the game. Molina is coming off a career year and seems to have finally reached a place where he can contribute as much offensively as he has behind the dish for his entire career. Eric Hosmer is a future All-Star in the making and coming off a tremendous rookie campaign. Robinson Cano is one of the best players in the game today and hitting in the middle of one of baseball’s most potent lineups. Ryan Zimmerman is healthy—for now—and ready to contribute in a big way after signing an extension. The offense around him this year means he won’t have to do all of the heavy lifting himself and can just do his thing at the plate. The Elvis Andrus/Asdrubal Cabrera combination at shortstop is pretty hard for any team—excluding the few clubs with elite shortstops—to match or compete with given the power/speed combo these two bring to the game. Just a completely star-studded infield.
Team Weakness(es): Bullpen and Speed
Bullpen: Steven didn’t draft a closer. He drafted three setup guys. We’ve hit on this a couple of times with a couple of teams, but I still don’t get why anyone wants to punt on any one category, they all count. Why give someone a freebie win over you every week if you can avoid it?! His holds trio of Kenley Jensen, Sergio Romo, and Eric O’Flaherty is top-notch and can dominate, but unless one of ‘em takes as closer’s job in the near future they’re overkill to win one category that is often the most fluky in the entire game.
Speed: This lineup is pretty much completely devoid of speed in its current incarnation. Elvis Andrus is the breadwinner with his 30-40 SB potential, but after that the cupboard is pretty bare. There’s the aforementioned De Aza would could surprise and steal up to 30 if things break right, Eric Hosmer snagged 11 thefts last season and Asdrubal Cabrera had a bounce back year with the wheels and swiped 17…and that’s it. Pretty much no one else on this team runs and there’s no safe bet that Hosmer or Cabrera will post double-digit steals again.
Right now I look at this team has willing to hand over two categories week in and week out uncontested.
Summary: The Dominators aren’t exactly known for, well, dominance. Rather this has been a club that shows up and has a big season before slinking back into obscurity for years on end. Steven is doing his damndest to avoid continuing that trend with this year’s draft. I think this offense—despite a deficiency of speed—is packed with solid run producers with some serious upside. He’ll obviously need to figure out what to do with the two shortstops clogging up his roster, but I’m going to go out on a limb and assume there’s a market for second-tier shortstops out there in this league. The rotation looks formidable if Mat Latos handles the transition to his new home park and Johnny Cueto doesn’t regress after having a monster year in 2011. Hiroki Kuroda isn’t flashy, but he’s going to get wins and put up solid back of the rotation numbers in New York. Kyle Lohse is a walking enigma from year-to-year, but could pay big dividends if he has another of his “good” years, especially as a 16th round pick. The bullpen needs some work, but overall this is one of the more balanced teams in the draft.
04) Genies in a Bottle
Draft Pick #14
2011 Rank: 2nd
2010 Rank: 3rd
2009 Rank: 3rd
Keepers: Hanley Ramirez (SS/3B – MIA), Jacoby Ellsbury (OF – BOS) and Jered Weaver (SP – LAA)
First Pick: David Wright (3B – NYM) [Pick 14]
Last Pick: Allen Craig (2B/OF – STL) [Pick 238]
Best Pick: Allen Craig (2B/OF – STL) [Round 17 – Pick 238]
Summary: Allen Craig hit .320/.379/.545 in Triple A. He did so while showing good power and an ability to play multiple positions. Those numbers translated well to the big leagues when he hit .315/.362/.555 in 200 at bats last season, all the while playing everywhere on the diamond except for catcher, pitcher, and shortstop. Tony LaRussa seemed determined to keep bouncing him in and out of the lineup, so he didn’t get a chance to pile up big numbers, but he did jack 11 home runs, 15 doubles, and five stolen bases in his 200 at bats…all numbers that project out well over the course of a full-season.
Tony LaRussa is gone and the club is working to make up for the loss of Albert Pujols offensively, so new manager Mike Matheny figures to give Craig plenty of opportunity to continue his transition from stud minor leaguer and part-time player to All-Star big leaguer. Craig starts the year off on the DL following offseason knee surgery, but he is ahead of schedule and could be back with the big club before the end of April. His potential is huge—especially with 2B eligibility—and in round 17, it’s impossible to argue with the value picked up with this selection.
Worst Pick: Heath Bell (RP – MIA) [Round 8 – Pick 99]
Summary: As is the case with many of the “worst picks” I’ve focused on in this draft, this has very little to do with the player and drastically more to do with the placement. I have no idea why I took Bell here, it was earlier than I wanted to dive into the closer market and I still managed to snag three other solid closers later in the draft as it was. Toss in the fact that there were roughly four other closers or closer-by-committee guys left in free agency after the draft and this looks even worse.
Bell was quite obviously an overdraft here and there’s no working around it. He’s a solid closer to have, there’s no doubting that given that in his three years as a closer in San Diego he posted a 2.36 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 9.6 K/9 and averaged 44 saves per season. He’s moving to a tougher division, he’s another year older, and his K-rate plummeted to 7.3 K/9 last season. He’ll likely be solid, but in round eight, there was too much talent still sitting on the board.
Team Strength(s): Offensive Balance and Potential
Offensive Balance: This team has a lot of balance. There are guys with the power/speed combo (ie: Wright, Ramirez, Ellsbury, and Rios), guys who can offer straight-up power (ie: Dunn, Ethier, and Bruce), and guys with wheels (ie: Weeks and Drew). If everyone is healthy and plays as well as they’re capable of playing, this team could be one of the most consistently solid teams all year long.
Potential: There is a ton of potential on this squad thanks to a plethora of players who were either injured or ineffective last year. I am obviously banking on a lot of big rebound seasons from a big ole chunk of my team, but doing so allowed me to maximize my roster’s potential without having to burn too many early picks. This was especially fortuitous given that I was stuck with the 14th draft slot and was working on a draft wrap for the first time ever and was largely uncomfortable with the position. All-in-all, I think I made it work.
Team Weakness(es): Risk and Bullpen
Risk: There is a ton of risk involved with filling a roster full of injury-prone players and guys coming off of horrible years. If things don’t break right for my squad or we’re beset with injuries, this team could go from a top of the heap club to a bottom of the barrel scrapheap squad well before Memorial Day.
Bullpen: The bullpen is bloated with four closers on the roster and no holds guy. Obviously, this will need to be remedied, but I never draft a holds guy—I’d rather get a DL-stash and pick up a holds guy post-draft—and I need to do something about the glut of closers. Carrying four isn’t the worst thing in the world—especially since Myers carries SP eligibility, but it’s overkill and I could probably stand to add another starter instead, especially given Bell’s potential for age-regression, Marshall’s risk of struggling in the closer’s role, Street’s injury history, and Myers’ potential to struggle moving back to the bullpen.
Summary: In my head, I’ve got the best team in the league. In my head, however, I’m projecting everyone to be healthy and/or have a bounce-back year. I think it’s safe to say neither of those predictions are likely to be 100% accurate. This team is definitely built around a risk vs reward mindset. I’d say that more than half my roster is a legitimate injury-risk (ie: Mauer, Wright, Ramirez, Wainwright, Drew, Craig, etc.) and another half is coming off of down years and in need of big bounce-backs (ie: Mauer, Dunn, Wright, Ramirez, Rios, Wainwright, Dempster, etc.). If it all—or at least 85%–works out, this team will be tough to deal with all season long. If some of those down years turn out to be indicators of future production and some of those injury-prone players live up to that label, I’m going to be struggling and spending the year scouring the waiver wire. There is a ton of potential to succeed and just as much to flop and that’s why I can’t rank myself in the top three this year.
03) money grubbers
Draft Pick #2
2011 Rank: 3rd
2010 Rank: 1st
2009 Rank: 2nd
Keepers: Joey Votto (1B – CIN), Andrew McCutchen (OF – PIT) and Roy Hallady (SP – PHI)
First Pick: Adrian Beltre (3B – TEX) [Pick 2]
Last Pick: Vernon Wells (OF – LAA) [Pick 226]
Best Pick: Vernon Wells (OF – LAA) [Round 17 – Pick 226]
Summary: Wells didn’t exactly have a great year in 2011 and that dampened his value a lot in the Salmon League. He’s clearly not anyone’s idea of a top-flight outfielder for fantasy purposes, but in round 17, he’s got way too much value not to gobble him up with this pick.
Over the last three years Wells has been a bit of an OBP killer, but he’s averaged 24 HR, 73 RBI, 32 2B, 74 R and 11 SB. Those aren’t outstanding numbers, but again, when taken in round 17, you’d be hard-pressed to find that kind of value elsewhere. Toss in the fact that the Angels lineup appears to be drastically more potent with the additions of Albert Pujols, Chris Iannetta, Kendrys Morales, and—eventually—Mike Trout and you’re looking at a guy who could offer some major run producing numbers in round 17.
Worst Pick: Wilson Ramos (C – WAS) [Round 9 – Pick 114]
Summary: Wilson Ramos is someone I wish the Twins had never traded away. He’s a very good real-life backstop. What he’s not is an overly valuable fantasy catcher. One plus is that he offers an OBP that is right at or slightly below league-average and he’s not going to kill you in the category some of the other “close your eyes and swing hard” types will.
His overall numbers are solid, but not spectacular. He hits for decent power, doesn’t drive in a lot of runs, doesn’t hit for a very high average, doesn’t hit a lot of XBH, but he’ll hit 15-20 homers and hit for the aforementioned league average OBP. In reality, he’s probably at the tail end of the top 15 backstops in the game and waiting until much later the draft still netted solid returns for other teams (ie: Iannetta, Molina, Montero, etc.). I think Mike gave up some serious value pouncing on Ramos this early in the draft.
Team Strength(s): Potential and History
Potential: This roster doesn’t have a lot of speed. It doesn’t have a lot of mashers or run producers. What it does have is a metric boatload of potential. Joey Votto is in the prime of his career and figures to be an MVP candidate for years to come. Andrew McCutchen is blossoming into one of the best outfielders in the game. Brandon Belt—if given playing time—has potential to give the Giants an amazing offensive core. Billy Butler is a consummate producer ready to take the next stpe in the power department. Adrian Beltre is building on an MVP-caliber season. Roy Halladay is a perfect game waiting to happen every time he takes the ball. Jordan Zimmermann may be the best pitcher in the Washington rotation—yeah, I said it—and he’s officially shackle free now two years removed from Tommy John surgery. Madison Bumgarner is ready to join Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain to form the west coast’s edition of the three aces in Philly. Dee Gordon could be ready for a monster breakout at the dish. Etc. Etc. Etc.
History: Although I’ve got some issues with this team overall, the core is very solid and Mike has a pretty good track record in this league of making these things work out in his favor. Whether it’s going to result in him coasting off of the draft—as he did two years ago—or spending the early part of the season spinning the tires and looking for traction via free agency and trades, he’ll find his way to the top of the dog heap by mid-season and likely deep into the postseason.
Team Weakness(es): Rotation and Bullpen
Rotation: I think the top half of Mike’s rotation (Roy Halladay, Madison Bumgarner and Jordan Zimmermann) could be lights out all season long. The rest of the crew (Justin Masterson, Vance Worley and Scott Baker) doesn’t instill the same level of confidence. Masterson and Worley both look like regression candidates and Baker is injured—Update: He is now out of the season—with no clear timetable for his return. If he is healthy, he could play pivotal role and be a huge value-pick in round 16, but recent history is not on his side.
Bullpen: Jason Motte, Sergio Santos, Grant Balfour and David Hernandez. Not exactly a murderer’s row in the late innings. Santos is a converted shortstop moving to the AL East after a short—but successful—stint as the stopper in Chicago and figures to suffer some growing pains moving from the weak bats of the Indians and Twins to the more potent offenses of the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox. Motte has been jerked around for years thanks to the now departed Tony LaRussa and can go from looking like a stud closer to pitching machine firing BP in a matter of seconds. Balfour is a solid setup man turned closer on a shitty team. Rough. Hernandez is probably my favorite pitcher of the whole bunch because of his raw stuff and he’ll likely pile up holds and strikeouts in bunches.
Quick Player Thoughts: I’m not quite as high on Adrian Beltre as Mike is this season and that’s largely due to his lingering health issues that have popped up late in his career. I’m also questionable of Mike’s expectation that Brandon Belt will get enough reps with the Giants after getting misused horribly last season—Update: Yep, Bruce Bochy still f’n hates Belt. Michael Cuddyer to play 2B in Colorado is a huge pickup and could net Cuddy his second season of 30+ HR, 45+ XBH, 100+ RBI and 100+ R. The rotation and bullpen don’t inspire me as much as they do Mike, but if everyone holds together they could be a surprisingly valuable bunch by season’s end.
Summary: Mike has said numerous times that the only team he likes more than this squad is his barnstorming crew from a couple years back that—along with Steven—ran roughshod on the rest of the league before falling to the Genies in the playoffs. Personally, I’m not quite as high on this club and the more I look at it, the less I like it. I just keep picking out the chinks in the armor, but I’m going to stick with my original gut feeling and keep him in the top three, because I do think he’s got a crew built to contend.
Personally, I struggled to choose a “best pick” and a “worst pick” for Mike because it feels like he nabbed most players in roughly the right spot, which means he didn’t let the draft play him all that badly, which is very impressive given his placement at the draft table. He got a buttload of guys he was looking at coming into the draft and I don’t blame him for being happy with the results. It’s one of the strongest cores (ie: Votto, Beltre, McCutchen, Butler, Hallady, Bumgarner, Zimmermann) in the league this year and if Cuddyer/Gordon/Choo/Belt/Masterson can all kick in the way Mike is expecting them to, this club is going to be an absolute beast.
02) Dome Dog
Draft Pick #9
2011 Rank: 4th
2010 Rank: 8th
2009 Rank: N/A
Keepers: Troy Tulowitzki (SS – COL), Justin Upton (OF – ARI) and Justin Verlander (SP – DET)
First Pick: Brett Lawrie (3B – TOR) [Pick 9]
Last Pick: Jim Johnson (RP – BAL) [Pick 233]
Best Pick: Ryan Howard (1B – PHI) [Round 11 – Pick 149]
Summary: I want to get this out of the way up front, I don’t really like Ryan Howard. There, that’s done. That having been said, in round eleven his value is absolutely redonkulous. Sure, sure…he’s getting older and slower. He’s coming off a career-threatening injury, he’s starting the season on the DL, the lineup around him has regressed, and he’s signed to one of the worst contracts in the game of baseball.
He’s also still a dude who has averaged a .353 OBP, 36 HR, 122 RBI, 30 2B, and 91 R over the last three seasons. He’s no longer a keeper level player, but if he was healthy on draft day what are the odds he’d have survived the first round of the draft? Slip to none. That’s some pretty plush value for a guy in round 11, especially with the reports estimating Howard to be back in May. Even if he’s not on the field until June, it’s still an infusion of big-time power and run producing numbers into a lineup as it’s ramping up for the postseason.
Worst Pick: Chris Perez (RP – CLE) [Round 12 – Pick 160]
Summary: Much like while examining Mike’s squad, it took me a while to pick a player to deem the “worst pick,” because you don’t get ranked this high and have a lot of misses in the draft. I chose Perez, because I like him just about as much as Tony LaRussa did, which is to say , not all that much.
He always looks lost on the mound—and has ever since his time in St. Louis—and seems to let the game play him. He’s a slam-dunk when it comes to easy saves situations, but when the pressure is on, he folds like fine Egyptian cotton. Vinnie Pestano is far and away the better reliever at the back end of the Cleveland bullpen and will likely be taking over the ninth inning by the All-Star break. Perez is a flop waiting to happen and his production is rendered superfluous on a team with three other closers.
Team Strength(s):Power and Rotation
Power: There were 11 position players on this club at the end of the draft. Seven of them hit at least 20 homers last season. The four who didn’t—Aaron Hill, Brett Lawrie, Ike Davis, and Yonder Alonso—all fell short because of injury (Davis/Hill) or lack of playing time (Lawrie/Alonso) and all four have the ability to hit 20+ this season. This team figures to be crushing the long ball, XBH and driving in runs like gangbusters all season long.
Rotation: Justin Verlander is easily one of the top three to five pitchers in the game today. Ricky Romero and Jeremy Hellickson are studs who have learned to navigate the choppy waters of the AL East with relative ease. Those three alone are top-notch and they’re followed up by breakout candidate and fireballer Max Scherzer and Ryan Vogelsong who came out of complete obscurity to post All-Star numbers in 2011. This is a fine collection of arms and assuming Vogelsong doesn’t completely regress and Scherzer/Romero/Hellickson all take the next step, this rotation will be stellar.
Team Weakness(es): Bullpen and Speed
Bullpen: The quartet of Jordan Walden, Chris Perez, Matt Capps and Jim Johnson doesn’t exactly strike fear into the heart of anyone. Of those cats, I’d say the only one with a legitimate leash is Walden and that’s because his setup crew doesn’t contain any proven arms beyond Scott Downs and Jason Isringhausen, neither of whom has the stuff to be a closer in the AL in 2012. That having been said, there are plenty of times where Walden’s very hittable. He put up great counting numbers last year, but looked all-too-human in the closer’s role every time I saw him pitch.
Speed: This could be one of the slower lineups in the game. No one on this roster is a legit threat to steal 25+ bases this year. Werth and Upton look like the only two locks to run regularly and could both swipe 20+ if all breaks well. Hill had a career year with 21 steals last season and Brett Lawrie showed some speed in his brief debut last fall, but neither is a safe bet to swipe more than a dozen. Tulo and Weeks have both limited how often they run to avoid injury, so this team will need to acquire some speed via trade or free agency to avoid handing over a category every week.
Quick Player Thoughts: I like Carlos Santana to take another step forward this year and hopefully boost the OBP and keep his average up it’s not out of line to think he could pop 45+ doubles and 30+ home runs this year. Brett Lawrie is a serious gamble in round one after just 150 big league at bats, but there’s no way he makes it back to Adam, so it’s a ballsy move. Tulo and Upton are two of the best keepers in the game – if healthy. I’ve been saying it all offseason, but Willingham(mer) is built for Target Field and figures to thrive there (Update: So far, so good). Romero and Hellickson could both look like aces by year’s end if they continue to progress as they have thus far. Yonder Alonso, in San Diego, odd pick – don’t know what to do with that one. Good hitter. Bad ballpark. Bad lineup.
Summary: On paper this looks like one of the strongest teams in the draft. The lack of speed and questionable bullpen is a little bit troubling, but saves and steals have proven to be the two easiest things to conjure up via free agency. This club is going to need healthy years from some guys who have had major injury issues in recent years (ie: Santana, Davis, Weeks, Tulowitzki, Upton, Willingham and Howard) to produce at the high-level they’re capable of reaching.
I really like the top of this rotation. Verlander is one of the tops in the game and the Hellickson/Romero duo has the potential to breakout in a big way this season. “Mad” Max Scherzer is someone I’m viewing as a viable re-breakout candidate. He’s had some up and down years in the bigs and although none of his outliers (ie: K/9 has gone down every year, but so has his BB/9) make much sense, something just feels right about him this year (Early Season Update: Yikes!). If Vogelsong does half as well as he did last season, this club will be solid. I think this was a great draft and given what we’ve seen out of Adam in his two years in the league, he’ll be in the mix right down to the end.
01) High Cheese
Draft Pick #12
2011 Rank: 9th
2010 Rank: N/A
2009 Rank: N/A
Keepers: Giancarlo Stanton (OF – MIA), Josh Hamilton (OF – TEX) and Cole Hamels (SP – PHI)
First Pick: Dan Uggla (2B – ATL) [Pick 12]
Last Pick: Chris Iannetta (C – LAA) [Pick 236)
Best Pick #2: Derek Jeter (SS – NYY) [Round 11 – Pick 152]
Summary: G-Doggy has gotten crap for overdrafting Jeter many times in years past. So much so that he avoided drafting him last year and overdrafted Jimmy Rollins instead while Jay got his turn with Jeter. This year, Jay overdrafted Jimmy Rollins and with G-Doggy all set at shortstop—thanks to acquiring Jose Reyes from High Cheese last season—Derek Jeter just kept tumbling down the board to the point that it was absolutely ridiculous and the dude sitting two picks after High Cheese was all kinds of psyched to gobble the Yankee captain up at a HUGE value.
Here’s the thing, Jeter is old balls. We all know that, but shortstop is still one of the shallowest positions in the game and he’s still hitting atop one of baseball’s best lineups. Among qualified shortstops over the previous three seasons he has the third highest OBP (.367), the most hits (553), the most runs scored (302), the sixth most RBI (194), the seventh most stolen bases (64), the tenth most doubles (81), and the most at-bats (1843) and plate appearances (2062). Any team that came into the draft without ta shortstop should be ashamed they let him fall this far in the draft especially when you look at so many of the lesser shortstops taken well in advance of Jeter. Shame on so many of you.
Best Pick #2: Chris Iannetta (C – LAA) [Round 17 – Pick 236]
Summary: Chris Iannetta is criminally underrated in an OBP league. He has put up solid numbers for years and received little fanfare or respect from his own team. Iannetta has been bounced in and out of the lineup, stuck at the bottom of the lineup, and even demoted to the minor leagues in recent years when his bat should have been crushing in the middle of the order.
Over the last three years—for all catchers with at least 999 plate appearances—Iannetta ranks sixth in OBP with a .349 mark, 13th in home runs with 39, and 17th in RBI with 134. When you factor in that he is right at the bare minimum for plate appearances while most other catchers have 500+ PA more than he does, you start to see how well those HR/RBI numbers could look now that he’s given the full-time gig with little to no competition in Los Angeles. He’s also moving away from the abysmal death trap that is batting directly in front of a pitcher.
Worst Pick: Brian Wilson (RP – SF) [Round 8 – Pick 101]
Summary: This has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Wilson is now down for the season and everything to do with the fact that Levi was drafting his THIRD f’n reliever in round eight. Most teams were just starting to think about dipping into the closer pool at this point and he was gobbling up a third closer. Complete overkill.
On an unrelated note, I’m totally over the whole Brian Wilson thing…it was moderately funny during the Giants World Series run in 2010, but I can’t stand it anymore. It’s kinda like Derek Holland in Texas. He was somewhat entertaining during the World Series last fall, I don’t need to see him doing his impressions anymore.
Team Strength(s): Power and Bullpen
Power: This lineup is just jam-packed with mashers. There are at least five guys who could go for 30+HR/85+RBI/40+XBH/80+R on this roster. Even the less Herculean members of the roster (ie: Jeter, Murphy, Prado, Maybin) can pretty much all be counted on to pop low-double digit homers to go with plenty of XBH scattered along the way. This lineup will make a lot of people very, very unhappy through the season.
Bullpen: Well, you don’t draft the Braves lethal one-two punch for a second year in a row and surround it with the greatest closer of all-time and then bring “The Beard” without assembling a pretty legitimate bullpen. Even with the loss of Brian Wilson, this bullpen is still probably better than everyone else in the game right now. Kimbrel/Rivera/Venters is a pretty potent trio that figures to dominate the late innings all season long.
Team Weakness(es): Starting Pitching and Speed
Starting Pitching: Cole Hamels is on my short list of best pitchers in the game and easily one of the top three left-handers in the game today. After that, however, this rotation is relying a lot on some youth taking major steps forward and some veterans bouncing back from injuries. Erik Bedard (HUGE value in round 16) and Tim Hudson are both lights out when they’re healthy, but that’s never been a guarantee for Bedard and Hudson is coming back from offseason back surgery. Corey Luebke and Mike Minor are both young fireballers with big-time potential. They both need to take steps forward this year for High Cheese to be successful and that’s far from guaranteed for either of them.
Speed: This lineup has power to burn, but very few legit burners on the roster. Cameron Maybe and Lorenzo Cain are the only two legitimate speed threats in this lineup right now and that could prove to be a major setback for this club as the year progresses. If High Cheese can get some minor contributions from the likes of Derek Jeter, Matt Holliday, and Josh Hamilton it’ll be a major plus, but none of those three is a safe bet to do a lot of running at this point in their careers.
Quick Player Thoughts: I love Iannetta finally getting a full-time gig, dude got treated like crap in Colorado for years. The outfield of Stanton/Holliday/Hamilton looks pretty f’n potent, but they’ve all gotta stay healthy for that to work and I never know if that’s doable for Hamilton. I love Erik Bedard in round 16. All signs point to him being healthy and that’s great value if he can pitch 25+ games this year. I hate that Jeter and Hudson were both taken two picks in front of me. Both of those picks burned me deep; huge value for both at that point, especially Jeter. Daniel Murphy could play a surprisingly large role in this team’s success in 2012.
Summary: Last year, I didn’t know what to do with Levi’s draft. I thought he had a good roster, but I wasn’t sold on the club as a contender. He proved me wrong and was one of the hottest teams in the league all year long and proved more than willing to do whatever was necessary to try and win it all. This roster has a lot of potential to be one of the best all season long with a strong bullpen, a good front end of the rotation, a powerful lineup, and lots of potential throughout with a good mix of young and old.
Once again there are plenty of Braves on his roster this season, six in total, one less than last year. If the Braves don’t have the same type of success they had last year, this could prove problematic, but Levi has proven himself adept at adjusting on the fly and keeping his roster in the thick of things. Based solely on gut feel after the draft—and subsequent statistical follow-up—this is the team I’m ranking numero uno headed into the 2012 season.
14: Captain Jack
13: Radioactive Rush
12: Sea Bass 7.0
11: 38 MPH Heaters
10: j’s team
7: S.L. Disappointment
6: cracker jack
5: The Dominators
4: Genies in a Bottle
3: money grubbers
2: Dome Dog
1: High Cheese