Draft Review and Rankings 2016

2016 draft review rankings

At long last, it’s time for the 2016 edition of the Draft Review and Rankings.

As always, I want to make it very clear that there is no science or metrics (or legitimacy) to these rankings. 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.

I’ve had a lot of people take these things personally over the years and that’s just silly pants, don’t be silly pants. 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 and – aside from occasional mentions – I tried to avoid factoring your keepers into your team strength. I really wanted to focus on JUST the draft itself. Obviously, as I re-read this, I screwed up given that this was written over a course of many days. Some of your rankings will include more references to keepers than others. This is an imperfect science.

Additionally, I tried to avoid giving anyone credit for a “best pick” within the first three rounds, because it’s really hard to give anyone tons of praise for an early pick as we’re still talking about All-Star caliber players and most of those should be 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 NA or DL-stashes or grabbing 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 couple 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 and look at some stats, but I generally go with my “gut feel” for the final rankings. Some teams will move up or down the more I look at them, but for the most part the ranking is reflective of how I felt on draft day after round 17.

As always, I’d love some feedback – love it, hate it, wish I’d die in a chemical fire – hit me with it.

Alrighty, enough of me rambling, let’s do this thing, without any further ado; here is the 2016 Draft Review and Rankings…


radioactiverush001

14. Radioactive Rush

Draft Pick # 5

2015 Rank: 13th
2014 Rank: 13th
2013 Rank: 13th
2012 Rank: 13th
2011 Rank: 12th
2010 Rank: 12th
2009 Rank: N/A

Keepers: Paul Goldschmidt (ARI-1B), Starling Marte (PIT-OF), & Matt Harvey (NYM-SP)

First Pick: Edwin Encarnación (TOR-1B) [Round 1-Pick 5]
Last Pick: Domingo Santana (MIL-OF) [Round 17-Pick 229]

Best Pick: Adam Eaton (CHW-OF) [Round 7-Pick 89]
Rationale: Eaton looks on the verge of a multi-category breakout in 2016.

Worst Pick: Delino DeShields (TEX-OF) [Round 3-Pick 33]
Rationale: *insert GIF of the rest of the league laughing forever and ever*

Rundown: Delino DeShields. Round three. What is this kid even doing?

Listen, I like Delino DeShields. You like Delino DeShields. We ALL like Delino DeShields, but I think it’s safe to say no one was pegging him anywhere near this early. The number of better, more valuable outfielders taken after DeShields is redonkulous. Just a horrible, horrible pick in that spot. Dude needs to steal 100 bases to make this move look good.

Grant is just SO F’N BAD at fantasy baseball.

…ugh.

As for the lesser controversial portions of his draft, I’m not going to lie, y’all. I’m not in love with this team. I know that Grant’s rankings like his team quite a bit, but I’m not seeing it. When you take his keepers out of the equation, there’s not a lot to love. Edwin Encarnación is awesome, but he’s already hurt before the season starts. Adam Eaton looks like a guy headed for a breakout season, Kyle Seager will provide some pop at a pretty barren position, aaaaannnddd…um…I guess Schoop and/or Crawford might build on last year’s glimpses of breakout potential, but Schoop can’t keep his OBP up to save his life and Crawford’s random spike after years as a good gloveman and not much else indicate a significant regression is on the way.

His bullpen looks to be pretty lights out if everyone keeps near their 2015 pace. So that’s neat. His rotation has a lot of guys coming off of rough years, looking for rebounds, or hoping to avoid regression. If Samardzija can return to his 2014 form and Lackey has another year of surprising performance left in him, they could be better than I’m projecting.

At least he got to draft in-person and not via Skype this year. That was something. As always, it’s likely that the valuable pieces of this club will be in Captain Jack’s hands well before the Fourth of July, so we’ve got that to look forward to.

Ultimately, if he can work the waiver wire and maybe make a few trades to upgrade, this is a club that could slip Grant into the playoff fray for the first time in franchise history, but it’s not going to be an easy path with the club’s current construction.

seabass001

13. Sea Bass v11.0

Draft Pick # 11

2015 Rank: 5th
2014 Rank: 10th
2013 Rank: 4th
2012 Rank: 12th
2011 Rank: 8th
2010 Rank: 6th
2009 Rank: 10th

Keepers: Kris Bryant (CHC–3B/OF), Yoenis Cespedes (NYM–OF), & Sonny Gray (OAK–SP)

First Pick: Xander Bogaerts (BOS-SS) [Round 1-Pick 11]
Last Pick: Kyle Gibson (MIN-SP) [Round 17-Pick 235]

Best Pick: Carson Smith (BOS-RP) [Round 13-Pick 179]
Rationale: This guy is the terminator of setup men. His K-rate and propensity to pile up holds in Boston make him, arguably, the most valuable setup man in the game this year.

Worst Pick: Kyle Gibson (MIN-SP) [Round 17-Pick 235]
Rationale: This was Craiggers’ sixth starting pitcher drafted. I realize it was the last round and he had, like, nine shots of Fireball by this point – but he could have gone many different ways with this pick that would have been more valuable.

Rundown: This fucking guy.

Craiggers was sniping me left and right in this draft. Xander Bogaerts – spite sniped. Raisel Iglesias – sniped. Daniel Murphy – sniped. Carson Smith – sniped. Kolten Wong – spite sniped (those damn shifty eyes in my direction haunt my dreams). Props to Craiggers for being locked in with a solid game plan – even if it caused me to pound rage beers on numerous occasions.

Unfortunately, despite Craiggers sniping me for a handful of guys I was very, very high on – I’m not sold on the full roster. Discounting his keepers – only two players hit 29+ doubles last year, only two hit 25+ home runs – but one is Kole Calhoun (WTF kind of name is that? Is he a cartoon dog who fights crime?) and the other is Khris Davis who is moving from hitter haven Miller Park to pitcher friendly Oakland Coliseum – and only two stole double digit bases, Wong with 15 and Bogaerts with 10.

A full, healthy season from Matt Wieters, a rebound over a poor second half from Wong, continued progression for Bogaerts and a rebound for Jorge Soler should help alter my feelings about the offense. Although, the club is currently planning to play Daniel Murphy at 1B. So that’s a thing. Pedro Alvarez, Trevor Plouffe, Chris MotherF’n Carter (BAYBAY!), and a few other 1B are available who offer more upside at 1B, so hopefully he addresses this quickly.

On the other side of the ball, Craiggers went hard to land a young, big game ace after trading Madison Bumgarner for…um…reasons(?!?!) last season. He added a solid ace in Noah Syndergaard and a good second-tier starter in Garret Richards. His biggest get – in my opinion – was stud in waiting, Raisel Iglesias who has future ace written all over him. He added a pair of Kyle’s – Hendricks and Gibson – to round out an overloaded rotation.

The rotation is overloaded leaving him weak in the bullpen. He’s got last year’s save leader, Mark Melancon and elite setup man Carson Smith. Smith offers the most upside with his ridiculous K rates and the move to Boston where he’ll be setting up for uber-closer Craig Kimbrel. He could prove to be the best setup man in baseball this season. After those two, things get dicey with Luke Gregerson falling down the pecking order in Houston and Tyler Clippard who may end up bouncing between setup and closer duties in Arizona. Right now, he looks heavy on the olds and light on the saves.

I can’t see this club cracking the postseason the way it’s currently comprised, but with a few shrewd moves and upgrades (and hacking everyone else’s computer), it is possible Craiggers could play spoiler in 2016.

salmonkings003

12. Salmon Kings

Draft Pick # 7

2015 Rank: 4th
2014 Rank: 3rd
2013 Rank: 6th
2012 Rank: 5th
2011 Rank: 13th
2010 Rank: 2nd
2009 Rank: 4th

Keepers: Mike Trout (LAA-OF), Anthony Rendon (WAS-2B/3B), & Jake Arrieta (CHC-SP)

First Pick: Troy Tulowitzki (TOR-SS) [Round 1-Pick 7]
Last Pick: Eduardo Rodriguez (BOS-SP) [Round 17-Pick 231]

Best Pick: Carlos Martinez (STL-SP) [Round 4-Pick 50]
Rationale: I loved my brief stint with Martinez in 2014 and regret not nabbing him last year. Dude could be a legit 200K pitcher if things break right. Solid value in round four.

Worst Pick: Marcus Stroman (TOR-SP) [Round 3-Pick 35]
Rationale: Listen, I like Stroman as much as the next guy – but this felt like a huge overdraft to me. Plenty of pitchers went later that I had higher and I’m sure plenty of others did too. Felt like an old school “get my sleeper early” move from Steven.

Rundown: This draft is going to work out one of two ways. This will either prove to be the year that Steven was too smart for his own good and his villainous plan to land in the middle of the draft kills him and the guys he was madly in love with don’t pan out. – OR – This will prove to be the year Steven proved he’s playing chess and we’re all playing checkers and he’ll take a draft that looks less-than-stellar on the surface and turn it into another GD Golden Salmon.

On paper, it’s hard to given Steven credit for being a shrewd drafting genius. This club currently features precisely one drafted player who cleared 20 home runs last year, zero drafted players who stole more than seven bases, two drafted players who hit 30 doubles, and seven players who failed to reach 500 at-bats. Heck, five of those seven failed to reach 350 at-bats, so yes…there is a lot of room for improvement.

A healthy Tulowitzki, whom I’d hoped – after a winter of solid online bashing – would fall to the 14-slot, could pay huge dividends hitting near the top of a loaded Blue Jays lineup all year. Eric Hosmer finally appears on pace to reach the lofty expectations he set in his debut, Corey Dickerson is just one injury-riddled season (and a move away from Coors) removed from being an MVP candidate, Anthony Rendon/Wil Myers/Shin-soo Choo/Devin Mesoraco can hit if/when they’re healthy. Rusney Castillo, Addison Russell, and Starlin Castro are all primed and ready for breakout years. Hell, I had both Castro and Russell as solid late gets for my squad; hard to totally fault him for either of those mofos.

Admittedly, that’s a very positive outlook. If most of these cats perform anywhere close to how they did a year ago, this team is officially THE MIKE TROUTS with backup performances by Eric Hosmer and Shin-soo Choo. Steven needs A LOT of things to break right for this offense to be worth a damn…I’d highly recommend he move a SS or 2B to someone in need of an upgrade – ideally when Castro or Russell is on an early hot streak – and improve elsewhere instead of hogging the market on middle infielders like a jerk.

On the flipside, the pitching staff is anchored by an ace in reigning Cy Young, Jake Arrieta. The rest of the rotation features Steven’s golden boy, Marcus Stroman who looked solid in limited action after an ACL injury cost him the bulk of 2015, Carlos Martinez – a crush for many of us – who had a great 2015, but suffered a shoulder injury late in the year, Justin Verlander who has been lights out and a train wreck in recent years – but he’s hooking up with Kate Upton regardless, so he’s pretty chill about it all – and a very solid last-round pick in Eduardo Rodriguez who had a good, not great, debut in Boston last season; but has the repertoire to be a huge asset if he can put it all together.

The bullpen feels wrong, because it goes counter to what we’ve seen from Steven in recent years. Rather than loading up on high-K relievers, he’s built a rather pedestrian bullpen. Brad Boxberger is all about that K, but lost 10 fucking games last year and posted a craptacular 3.71 ERA and 1.37 WHIP – also his arm might have fallen off already – and he’s joined by Roberto Osuna who looked solid in his debut season as closer for Toronto, but is now challenged by Drew Storen. They’re joined by Steve Cishek who Steven likes way more than anyone else I’ve ever met for reasons I cannot comprehend and 73-year-old Joaquin Benoit who is now back in the American League after a few years living it up in San Diego.

This could easily be Steven’s worst draft in a looooong time. I’m just not impressed by this roster and as much upside as there is, it’s going to require A LOT of guys to right the ship for it to work out. Could it happen? Sure. Could it blow up in his face? Sure.

I like a handful of select pieces of this roster and absolutely love a few others, but for the most part – this team looks rough.

insaneaudio-new-logo

11. InSaNeAuDiO

Draft Pick # 3

2015 Rank: 14th
2014 Rank: 14th
2013 Rank: 7th
2012 Rank: 9th
2011 Rank: 10th
2010 Rank: 9th
2009 Rank: 9th

Keepers: Miguel Cabrera (DET-1B), Charlie Blackmon (COL-OF), & Johnny Cueto (SF-SP)

First Pick: Dee Gordon (MIA-2B) [Round 1-Pick 3]
Last Pick: Jon Singleton (HOU-1B) [Round 17-Pick 227]

Best Pick: Tyson Ross (SD-SP) [Round 4-Pick 54]
Rationale: Needed another ace (badly) and Ross with his 200K potential gets it done about as well as one can by round four.

Worst Pick: Jose Reyes (COL-SS) [Round 6-Pick 82]
Rationale: See below…

Rundown: I feel comfortable saying this is one of G-Doggy’s best drafts in league history. His “magical app” and some actual preparation paid dividends as he built a pretty nifty little roster that should combine speed and power quite well. He has four players capable of stealing 20+ bases, two capable of stealing 35+, and a guy who could easily steal 60 if things break right. The power side of things will require a bounce-back for aging sluggers Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez and health for Carlos Gonzalez and Evan Longoria, but could also prove quite formidable.

In typical G-Doggy fashion, I think he over-prioritized one area – that being speed – leaving some others weaker than one would like. I think his biggest weakness is going to be his pitching. Snagging Tyson Ross and his 200+IP and 200+K skillset is a huge boost and will pair nicely with keeper Johnny Cueto. After that he’s hoping on a trio of bounce-back seasons from Julio Teheran, Andrew Cashner, and Rick Porcello. If there is any team that should have put a higher priority on starting pitching in a draft flooded with it, it was this guy.

I feel like the biggest weakness, by a mile is his mismanagement of the shortstop position. He jumped at Jose Reyes WAY too early for a guy who could miss a month or much, much more and, even if his playing time isn’t torpedoed, is in the midst of regression. He does call Coors Field home – where he posted a solid .813 OPS in 22 games last year – but overall he only had a .659 OPS with Colorado and a .688 OPS overall, marking his worst season in a decade. Not a good look for a 33-year-old shortstop. If Reyes gets off light and only misses a month or so and G-Doggy can patch-work together a middle infield stopgap, it might still work out. Right now, it looks as though he could have a gaping hole up the middle all season long. Brock Holt is not a legitimate alternative given that he’s a super utility guy not guaranteed regular at-bats. G-Doggy’s love of super-utility guys has been well-chronicled and all-too-often results in him picking up second or third tier talent simply because he can swap them into multiple spots, even if they won’t produce numbers that warrant their inclusion in a lineup.

In closing, this club has a solid core between the keepers and some of the early picks, but beyond that this is a club that will need very good in-season management to contend. G-Doggy is more locked in right now than he’s been at any point in the league’s history, so maybe this is the year it all comes together.

…or maybe he’s done paying attention by Memorial Day. We’ll have to see how it shakes out.

sldisappointments001

10. SL Disappointments

Draft Pick # 12

2015 Rank: 2nd
2014 Rank: 11th
2013 Rank: 8th
2012 Rank: 7th
2011 Rank: 1st
2010 Rank: 11th
2009 Rank: 5th

Keepers: Miguel Sano (MIN–3B), Jose Bautista (TOR–OF), & Chris Archer (TB–SP)

First Pick: Brian Dozier (MIN-2B) [Round 1-Pick 12]
Last Pick: Kevin Jepsen (MIN-RP) [Round 17-Pick 236]

Best Pick: Byung-ho Park (MIN-1B) [Round 7-Pick 96]
Rationale: Dude could be a 30-40 homer powerhouse!!

Worst Pick: Byung-ho Park (MIN-1B) [Round 7-Pick 96]
Rationale: Dude could be in Rochester learning about breaking balls by June…

Rundown: Even before the draft was complete, John was not a happy camper…and not just because the draft moved at a snail’s pace. He was very upset with this roster and while I think there are plenty of question marks, there is also a lot of legitimate talent as well.

The name of the game – as is often the case for the Disappointments – is starting pitching. Keeper Chris Archer, Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels, and Michael Wacha make a very imposing front four. Add in stud prospect and breakout candidate Luis Severino and this could be one of the best rotations in the Salmon League this season. The bullpen isn’t nearly as intimidating built from second and third tier relievers, but all have upside. What they may not have is job security as Shawn Tolleson, Brad Ziegler, and Drew Storen are all in bullpens with potential battles for the high-leverage, late-inning roles.

The offense is buoyed by two sluggers in keeper Jose Bautista and Miguel Sano. They’re joined by hair-flipper extraordinaire, Brain Dozier, crazy eyes Hunter Pence, and all-world catcher Salvador Perez to form the core of a high-powered offensive machine. I’d pay to watch this club take batting practice.

The club has two big wildcards that figure to play a big factor in where the Disappointments’ season goes. Byung-ho Park in round seven is the first and – arguably – the most important of those wildcards. Park has incredible, game-changing power that could make him a mammoth asset, but he is also very, very prone to strikeouts. A lot of this club’s success may hinge on his success. The player John took right before Park, Billy Hamilton offers the same caveat, but with speed in lieu of power. Hamilton has the wheels to win stolen bases every week of the season on his own, but thus far his bat hasn’t proven worthy of placement in a daily lineup. Entering this third full-season in the big league, it might be “make or break” time for Hamilton with the Reds and – for the sake of the Disappointments and Hamilton’s career going forward – he’d better make.

It’s tough to accurately rank a lineup with so many question marks, but the upside is undeniable. If things break right for this club, John could find himself in the postseason fray for the first time. If the immense potential on this roster doesn’t turn into real-world results, however, this will be a club scrambling mid-season.

38mphheaters001

09. 38 MPH Heaters

Draft Pick # 2

2015 Rank: 6th
2014 Rank: 4th
2013 Rank: 14th
2012 Rank: 11th
2011 Rank: 14th
2010 Rank: 10th
2009 Rank: N/A

Keepers: A.J. Pollock (ARI–OF), Jose Altuve (HOU–2B), & Max Scherzer (WAS–SP)

First Pick: Joey Votto (CIN-1B) [Round 1-Pick 2]
Last Pick: Clay Buchholz (BOS-SP) [Round 17-Pick 226]

Best Pick: Albert Pujols (LAA-1B) [Round 5-Pick 58]
Rationale: It’s weird living in a world where Albert Pujols, coming off a 40 home run season, makes it into the fifth round. He’s not the hitter he once was, but that kind of power ain’t easy to find…and should be impossible to find in round five.

Worst Pick: Clay Buchholz (BOS-SP) [Round 17-Pick 226]
Rationale: I hate holding late round picks against people, but holy hell…another starting pitcher?! They’re not Pokemon, you can’t catch ‘em all.

Rundown: I’ve bashed Morgan’s drafts many, many, many times in the past. Now that he’s been better than me (much better than me) in recent years, I don’t really have a lot of room to do so anymore. That having been said, I’m very confused about his strategy this year.

I really like what he did with his offense, combining a lot of players who are top-tier at their positions (ie: Votto, Adrian Beltre, Jonathon Lucroy, and Pujols) to go alone with two great keepers in Altuve and Pollock. He’s got some serious plays for upside with Lindor and Souza and is hoping for bounce-backs from Holliday, Beltre, and Lucroy. If at least half of those pan out, he should be in pretty good shape when combined with his keepers. All-around, I really like this offensive attack and the balance of speed, power, high OBPs, etc. There are few clubs in the league that can boast this kind of overall balance. This should be a beastly offensive crew.

What confuses me is his pitching game plan. He already has a superstar in Scherzer, but still went out and drafted SIX additional pitchers, but somehow didn’t land a single additional ace. The pitchers include a slew of second and third-tier starters: Jordan Zimmermann (moving to the American League), Jake Odorizzi (who is still searching for a third pitch to help him make the step to the next level), Hisashi Iwakuma (who – at this point – I believe Morgan is contractually-obligated to own every year), Wei-Yin Chen (who is really just a boring, middle of the road pitcher so I don’t even have anything snarky to say about him, he just is what he is), (potential dumpster fire) Buchholz, and Ian Kennedy (who might strikeout 200 guys while posting an ERA around 34.50). It’s an interesting mix and confuses the hell out of me.

He’s also got a bullpen that is banking on Sean Doolittle returning to health after a mostly lost season in 2015 and Jake McGee’s fastball overcoming the thin air in Colorado to remain a top-flight late-innings threat. He’s also got the duct-taped remains of demoted closer Koji Uehara to pick up some holds.

I like the offense a lot and think he’s one reliable outfielder – maybe if he can mash Melky Cabrera and Souza together into one? – away from having a juggernaut, but I think the pitching needs some serious attention and tinkering to put this club in the top of the heap. He’s close, but it needs a little bit of work. I guess you could say the situation is…

volatile

groundhog003

08. The Groundhogs

Draft Pick # 8

2015 Rank: 10th
2014 Rank: 1st
2013 Rank: 10th
2012 Rank: 10th
2011 Rank: 6th
2010 Rank: 7th
2009 Rank: 7th

Keepers: Ryan Braun (MIL-OF), Jose Abreu (CHW-1B), & Gerrit Cole (PIT-SP)

First Pick: Nelson Cruz (SEA-OF) [Round 1-Pick 8]
Last Pick: Andrew Heaney (LAA-SP) [Round 17-Pick 232]

Best Pick: Brad Miller (TB-2B/SS-OF) [Round 15-Pick 204]
Rationale: Post-hype sleeper at two prime positions looks bound to finally reach his long untapped potential in 2016!

Worst Pick: Andrew Heaney (LAA-SP) [Round 17-Pick 232]
Rationale: I rarely go with late picks here, but the dude needed another bullpen arm, badly…not a back-of-the-rotation starter.

Rundown: The Groundhog is a mixed bag in recent years. I’ve ranked him 10th three of the last four years and first in the other year. This year makes me think his 2014 ranking was an outlier.

The rotation beyond Cole lacks an obvious ace, but does have two Graves’ favorites in Danny Salazar and Jose Quintana – both of whom I was (obviously) targeting in this year’s draft. Quintana has been a very, very solid pitcher – and quality start machine – for years now and is just itching for that breakthrough year where everything clicks and the wins/ERA/WHIP match-up with the rest of the repertoire. An improved White Sox defense implies that this might be the year it all comes together. Salazar has been a breakout candidate in waiting for years now and gave the first big step forward last year posting 195K, 3.45 ERA, and a 1.13 WHIP over 185 innings after starting the year in Triple-A. This is the year Salazar becomes a beast. After those two it’s Andrew Heaney who had a good, not great debut season with the Angels in 2015, Kenta Maeda who is a bit of an unknown entity but figures to be a solid middle-to-back end starter, and Joe Ross who impressed over 76 innings with the Nationals last year.

The bullpen is…something. The Groundhog made a bold move going early(ish) on Aroldis Chapman in round five knowing he’ll miss the first month of the season. Assuming there are no setbacks in his pre-season preparations and/or no performance issues out of the gate, this shouldn’t be a huge issue from May onward. He quickly followed up with Cubs’ closer Hector Rondon and then he chilled on relievers until grabbing Royals’ flamethrower Kelvin Herrera in the 16th round. That sets this club up with one closer and one setup man, not a strategy that figures to win many weeks reliably before Chapman returns.

The offense is…interesting. Keepers Braun and Abreu are both solid, but after that this is a roster full of familiar and seemingly “safe” picks. Nelson Cruz should add some power and Gregory Polanco will add some speed, but the rest of the roster is full of one or two category contributors who will fall in roughly middle of the pack in most categories. That having been said, full, healthy seasons from Robinson Cano, Alex Gordon, and Brandon Belt could help alter my view of this club’s offense in a big way.

Brad Miller is setting up to be a huge post-hype sleeper in Tampa Bay with 2B/SS/OF eligibility and the potential that the 20/20 season we’ve been waiting years to see may finally come to fruition. Given his draft spot in round 15, even a 15/15 season with 30 doubles would be a huge return on investment. Great value pick and great Segura insurance.

I’d put this roster in the same grouping as some others we’ve covered. It’s a solid overall roster that needs work in a few areas, but it doesn’t have any sort of “wow factor” that makes me think they’re a favorite for the coveted golden salmon.

Jack Sparow Flag-01

07. Captain Jack

Draft Pick # 10

2015 Rank: 11th
2014 Rank: 8th
2013 Rank: 11th
2012 Rank: 14th
2011 Rank: 7th
2010 Rank: N/A
2009 Rank: 1st

Keepers: Bryce Harper (WAS-OF), Giancarlo Stanton (MIA-OF), & Jose Fernandez (MIA-SP)

First Pick: Prince Fielder (TEX-1B) [Round 1-Pick 10]
Last Pick: J.T. Realmuto (MIA-C) [Round 17-Pick 234]

Best Pick: Mark Trumbo (BAL-1B/OF) [Round 14-Pick 187]
Rationale: Trumbo is moving to a ballpark where could realistically jack 40+ bombs. That kind of power in round 14 is absolutely disgusting.

Worst Pick: Sergio Romo (SF-RP) [Round 11-Pick 150]
Rationale: Going back-to-back for holds guys is an odd move and going for Romo with Carson Smith still on the board is bonkers. BONKERS!!

Rundown: This one is tough. I’m not a real big fan of this draft, but when I look at it on paper, it’s a solid enough crew. It just doesn’t do anything for me.

Travis has an enviable trio of keepers in Harper, Stanton, and Fernandez. The sluggers alone should provide power and OBP, but they’ll be joined by Trumbo, Prince Fielder, and Hanley Ramirez – all of whom are capable of hitting 30+ home runs in their respective ballparks if they can remain healthy. Rougned Odor is a buzzy breakout candidate who combines power and some speed at second base. He had a solid second-half after getting recalled from the minors and needs to build on that in 2016.

The rest of the offense is a pile of familiar, but mostly unimpressive names; but the big guns should be able to do most of the heavy lifting if everyone is healthy and productive. Speed is one thing this club is severely lacking – which is ironic given ole Spooch’s affinity for the stolen base – as only Ben Revere and Elvis Andrus had double-digit steals last year. A full-season of Odor and a healthy year from Ramirez and Stanton could help, but that may be an area of concern for this club.

The rotation boasts two legit aces in Fernandez and second-rounder David Price. These two should both be locks for 15+ wins, 225+ K, sub-3 ERAs and WHIPs just a shade over 1.00. They’ll be aided in the strikeout column by James Shields who will be in for a bounce-back season after a rough debut in San Diego. A return to his more respectable form should be expected. Add in rising stud Taijuan Walker and NA-stash Lucas Giolito and this club might have the best rotation in the league.

The bullpen should give teams fits all year with two stud closers in Craig Kimbrel and Cody Allen, both capable of saving 40 games while racking up late-innings Ks by the bushel. Setup men Tony Watson and Sergio Romo should provide ample amounts of holds while also chipping in with solid K/9 rates.

Personally, I’m just shocked that Travis hasn’t made a single move (as I’m writing this anyway, that could very well change by the time this sucker gets published). I think he needs to improve the offense by injecting some speed and may need to work on a plan B if things don’t pan out for either of this third basemen and/or Odor can’t continue last year’s success.

As I said in the beginning, it’s a good team, but a boring one…it’s a meh-burger with cheese, but likely a meh-burger with playoff aspirations.

SLB_HighCheese

06. High Cheese

Draft Pick # 4

2015 Rank: 9th
2014 Rank: 6th
2013 Rank: 3rd
2012 Rank: 1st
2011 Rank: 9th
2010 Rank: N/A
2009 Rank: N/A

Keepers: Anthony Rizzo (CHC-1B), Freddie Freeman (ATL-1B), & Stephen Strasburg (WAS-SP)

First Pick: J.D. Martinez (DET-OF) [Round 1-Pick 4]
Last Pick: Erick Aybar (ATL-SS) [Round 17-Pick 228]

Best Pick: Felix Hernandez (SEA-SP) [Round 3-Pick 32]
Rationale: This is CRAZY late in the draft to land a pitcher of this caliber who should be more valuable than the team’s incumbent keeper.

Worst Pick: Scott Kazmir (LAD-SP) [Round 9-Pick 116]
Rationale: This is less about the player and more about the strategy, with four solid starters in place and no offensive players selected since round five, this seemed like the right time for more bats not another arm.

Rundown: I want to like Levi’s team more than I do, but I can’t quite bring myself to do it.

The offense has two guys who hit 20+ homers last year (Rizzo and first-round pick, Martinez). Freeman is the only other guy who looks like he could do so this year – assuming anyone is dumb enough to pitch to him – so this team may need to add another thumper. There are plenty of guys who can chip out low, double-digit home run totals, so it’s not like he’s completely deprived of power.

There is a good mix of speed on the roster with seven guys swiping double-digits last year. A healthy season from Ellsbury should help bump those numbers up a bit as well. Jung Ho Kang will need to bounce-back relatively quickly to help solidify this offense as Matt Duffy, Erick Aybar, and Hector Olivera are far from “sure things” to provide value.

The pitching is now anchored by a huge one-two punch of Strasburg and THIRD FUCKING ROUND pick Felix Hernandez. While Fernandez may have had his “worst” year in 2015, he was still one of the top pitchers in the game and is arguably better than plenty of other club’s keepers. The Mariners have worked to improve their defense behind him, which should keep him from feeling like he needs to strike everyone out to get through innings. A repeat of last year’s “poor” performance will be a-okay for Levi coming out of round three.

The two-headed monster is combined with three very solid next-tier starters with high-upside in Shelby Miller, Drew Smyly, and Kazmir. All of these three – barring health – should be good for 150+ K and solid ERA/WHIP combos, giving Levi a very solid pitching staff. The bullpen is anchored by A.J. Ramos who offers high K-rates and plenty of saves. Arodys Vizcaino is in competition with the old, shambling remains of Jason Grilli for the closer role in Atlanta and figures to claim it at some point giving him flex value for holds and saves. Joakim Soria returns to Kansas City, but as one of the club’s setup men. The ‘pen could probably use another high-quality arm and I suspect Levi will be all over the free agent pool and trade market.

This is a good club with some upside, but I’m not blown away by the offense. I really like the rotation and think the bullpen is one piece away from being elite, but right now I’d say the club requires a little bit of tinkering and perhaps the jettisoning of a few Braves when Kang returns to the field.

Expect Levi to make his triumphant return to the postseason in 2016.

crackerjack2016

05. cracker jack

Draft Pick # 1

2015 Rank: 1st
2014 Rank: 2nd
2013 Rank: 1st
2012 Rank: 6th
2011 Rank: 5th
2010 Rank: 4th
2009 Rank: 6th

Keepers: Manny Machado (BAL-SS/3B), Chris Davis (BAL-1B/OF), & Madison Bumgarner (SF-SP)

First Pick: Buster Posey (SF-C/1B) [Round 1-Pick 1]
Last Pick: David Hernandez (PHI-RP) [Round 17-Pick 225]

Best Pick: Carlos Rodon (CHW-SP) [Round 11-Pick 113]
Rationale: Snagging a former top prospect who is capable of 200+K in round 11 is huge!

Worst Pick: Joe Panik (SF-2B) [Round 14-Pick 196]
Rationale: There was a 0% chance of Panik surviving on a Justin Kunkel roster until Opening Day.

Rundown: I have been a huge fan of Justin’s drafts in recent years. He’s placed first or second in my rankings every year since 2013. This year, not so much.

I think he’s got a monster trio of keepers, but his draft left me less inspired. I really liked his gets of Buster Posey, Maikel Franco, Yasiel Puig, and Matt Kemp – but after that I’ve got little interest in the rest of his offense. He’s overloaded on outfielders who aren’t sure things and second basemen who are either made of porcelain or will definitely be gone from his roster as soon as the first wave of waiver claims goes through.

There is a solid supply of power. Keeper Chris Davis handles plenty of that himself, but his keeper-in-crime, Manny Machado is no slouch either. Posey, Franco, Puig, and Kemp should all be locks for 20+ homers as well if they’re all healthy. This team should hit doubles up and down the lineup as well, but figures to be lacking for reliable speed options. Kevin Pillar swiped 25 bases in a career year, after that you’re hoping Machado matches a career high (on a team that figures to be swinging for the fences, not playing small ball), and/or hoping for low double-digit steals from Puig and Kemp. Not ideal.

One intriguing player to watch in this lineup will be Mets outfielder Michael Conforto. The 22-year-old went from first-round draft pick in 2014 to big league regular in the World Series in 2015. He has a pedigree that lines him up as a line drive machine with power that has already made an appearance and only figures to blossom with age. He’s shown a good eye throughout the minors and could be the number three hitter in Queens before he’s even been in professional baseball for two full seasons…not too shabby for a 10th round pick.

On the pitching side of things, Madison Bumgarner is a great cornerstone ace, but he wasn’t surrounded by a lot of sure things. Yu Darvish and Adam Wainwright are both coming back from major injuries. If they can return to pre-injury form for the bulk of 2016 – starting pitching will be a non-issue.

Surrounding the three household names, he also brought in Mets phenom Steven Matz and White Sox stud Carlos Rodon, both of whom have HUGE, ace-level upside and the potential to pay big dividends with a full-season in each club’s respective rotation, but neither is a sure thing. Rodon has huge strikeout potential, but is prone bouts of erratic control and a general lack of consistency. Matz’s success will hinge upon his usage and innings limits, his ability to prove his out-of-nowhere “changeup of doom” is legit, and to avoid the small, nagging injuries that have haunted his young career.

His bullpen suffered as a result of the wrap and opting to go offense-heavy, but – this being Justin we’re talking about – it’s safe to assume he’ll be all over the waiver wire, free agency pool, and trade market to fill any holes in this roster.

Overall, it’s a good roster with a solid core and an owner with an incredible track record. It’d take a slew of injuries for this club to miss the postseason.

genies2016

04. Genies in a Bottle

Draft Pick # 14

2015 Rank: 3rd
2014 Rank: 9th
2013 Rank: 5th
2012 Rank: 4th
2011 Rank: 2nd
2010 Rank: 3rd
2009 Rank: 3rd

Keepers: Mookie Betts (BOS-OF), Kyle Schwarber (CHC-C/OF), & Carlos Carrasco (CLE-SP)

First Pick: Carlos Gomez (HOU-OF) [Round 1-Pick 14]
Last Pick: Alex Rodriguez (NYY-UT) [Round 17-Pick 238]

Best Pick: Will Smith (MIL-RP) [Round 11-Pick 154]
Rationale: Underrated reliever with high K/9 late in the draft, yes please. Also, it allowed me to make my “Fresh Prince of Brew-air” joke. That was neat.

Worst Pick: Brett Gardner (NYY-OF) [Round 8-Pick 99]
Rationale: We’ve seen Gardner’s upside. Dude has reached his ceiling. He’s a very boring pick. He’ll be fine, but…you know, meh. It would have been the time to jump on David Peralta a round earlier than I’d planned.

Rundown: While I really like this roster, I have found myself souring on it a bit the further we get away from the post-draft euphoria. I chose to go number 14 after last year’s 1.1-Ian Desmond debacle and, overall, I’m quite happy that my strategy seemed to work as expected – short of a few players getting sniped right in front of me by Craiggers and Collin.

The offense—if everything clicks—combines loads of speed and power for an incredibly balanced attack, albeit likely at the cost of some OBP points thanks to a trio of bottom-feeders in that category and the lack of a .400 OBP talent to counteract it. That having been said, Mookie Betts – beginning just his second full-season in the big leagues – appears to be the only lock for consistency. The club’s second keeper (ie: the guy who will forever be linked to Xander Bogaerts in my mind) Kyle Schwarber needs to live up to the hype in a big way. This roster is also banking on A-Rod having another age-defying season at 293-years-old and – ideally – picking up position eligibility somewhere along the way, a power surge from breakout candidate Nick Castellanos, and returns to form for Carlos Gomez, Jay Bruce, and – *sigh* – Ian Desmond.

The pitching boasts three legit ace-level talents at the top, but the back-end of the rotation is full of question marks. I’d intended to add at least one of Danny Salazar, Jose Quintana, Raisel Iglesias, or Eduardo Rodriguez to the mix, but whiffed on all four. Kevin Gausman (a perennial Genies favorite) and redemption candidate Rich Hill don’t exactly inspire the level of confidence that having one or two of those other names in the rotation would.

Once again, the bullpen was built from second-tier closers – allowing the club to add value elsewhere – and should be one of the team’s strengths throughout the season – barring injuries. On paper this club looks like a decent bet to make the postseason, but will need a lot of things to break right in terms of health and bounce-backs. Some pitching reinforcement may be needed, especially if Masahiro Tanaka suffers more arm woes, and the Genies might regret not pushing harder to land that coveted fourth starter on draft day.

This is a big year for the Genies as they’re tipping on the precipice of complete irrelevancy in the league and need a return to the postseason very, VERY badly. If the club is languishing come mid-season, expect a rebuild effort concentrated on young, high-caliber keeper acquisitions…and probably a lot of crying and drinking while the club formulates yet another new strategy for 2017.

dome_dog_logo

03. Dome Dog

Draft Pick # 9

2015 Rank: 7th
2014 Rank: 7th
2013 Rank: 12th
2012 Rank: 2nd
2011 Rank: 4th
2010 Rank: 8th
2009 Rank: N/A

Keepers: Andrew McCutchen (PIT–OF), Corey Seager (LAD–SS), & Jacob deGrom (NYM–SP)

First Pick: Todd Frazier (CHW-3B) [Round 1-Pick 9]
Last Pick: Brandon Finnegan (CIN-SP/RP) [Round 17-Pick 233]

Best Pick: Russell Martin (TOR-C) [Round 14-Pick 188]
Rationale: Martin was the second highest-rated catcher in baseball last season and the sixth-highest the year before that. Adam got him in round 14. That is lunacy.

Worst Pick: Byron Buxton (MIN-OF) [Round 11-Pick 149]
Rationale: …because FantasyPros had all but assured me I could pluck him up in round 14 or later and this made me sad. FantasyPros is a dirty f’n liar.

Rundown: Adam might be the only person in this league who has zero qualms about drafting next to The Groundhog, because he’s done it a couple of years in a row now and produced another solid team.

This offense has power for dayzzzzzzzzz. In 2015, only TWO players on this roster didn’t hit at least 23 home runs – Byron Buxton (129 at-bats) and Corey Seager (98 at-bats). Five different players hit 33 or more doubles. Two players hit 43 or more doubles. Three players scored 91 runs or better. Four players drove in 84 runs of better. Six players posted OBPs of .350 or better.

The only area where this club is lacking offensively is speed. Todd Frazier led the team with 13 SB with Curtis Granderson and McCutchen coming in tied for second with 11. No one else reached double-digits. The potential for Seager and Buxton to get a full-season (or close to a full-season) worth of at-bats could play a large role in altering that outlooks.

This offense is probably one of the top two or three in the league right now and only figures to get better as Buxton and Seager get comfortable in the big leagues and if Joc Pederson is able to bounce-back from a poor second-half to match (or near) his first half exploits from last season.

The pitching is anchored by a great keeper in deGrom and a great second ace in Jon Lester who only appears to be getting better with age (and a move to the NL). He complimented his dual-aces with a pair of very good second-tier starters in Gio Gonzalez and Yordano Ventura, both of whom have the ability to outpitch their current modest projections.

The bullpen is downright nasty. Ken Giles – a value pick in round six after SO MANY relievers had jumped off the board – will be the bullpen ace for this crew, combining huge K-totals and lots of saves for an on-the-rise Houston Astros club. Santiago Casilla makes a good second-tier closer, although the competition in the San Francisco bullpen could threaten his role if he falters. Andrew Miller will allow Adam to double-dip as he’ll rack up saves while Aroldis Chapman serves his suspension and he’ll return to setup duties upon the Cuban Missile’s return. All the while, expect him to pile up 1.5 K/IP or better. Kevin Siegrist is the ultimate setup weapon that Adam seems to own every year. He can expect me to offer 30,000 meager trades for him as the year progresses.

Brandon Finnegan is the a wildcard as his role in Cincinnati is TBD. He could be in the ‘pen, where he’s likely to be a swing man or he could crack the back end of a pretty sad Reds’ rotation. Either way the jury is out on Finnegan until we can know what role he’s playing this season. He’s a high-upside former top prospect who has shown solid flashes of skill at multiple levels. I’d mention Jose Berrios as another big-time wildcard who could pay huge dividends, but he plays for the Twins, meaning he’ll be in Triple A until his 28 and then he get called up and moved to the bullpen where they ask him to pitch to contact.

This is a pretty good team overall. The offensive unit is top notch and he’s compiled a great set of arms. This might be one of Adam’s most airtight drafts ever…undoubtedly prompting everyone to buy FantasyPros for next season.

moneygrubbers4life

02. money grubbers

Draft Pick # 6

2015 Rank: 8th
2014 Rank: 5th
2013 Rank: 2nd
2012 Rank: 3rd
2011 Rank: 3rd
2010 Rank: 1st
2009 Rank: 2nd

Keepers: Nolan Arenado (COL-3B), Carlos Correa (HOU-SS), & Chris Sale (CHW-SP)

First Pick: Justin Upton (DET-OF) [Round 1-Pick 6]
Last Pick: Denard Span (SF-OF) [Round 17-Pick 230]

Best Pick: Ben Zobrist (CHC-2B/OF) [Round 8-Pick 107]
Rationale: At this point in the draft, second base was pretty much cashed out on legit, starter-level talent when Big Magoo grabbed a reliable OBP contributor who should see a power spike with a move to Wrigley. Not. Too. Shabby.

Worst Pick: Denard Span (SF-OF) [Round 17-Pick 230]
Rationale: This was also one of his better picks – talent-wise – but grabbing a fifth outfielder when he could have added a reliable arm – perhaps Eduardo Rodriguez, taken with the very next pick – seems like a mistake for a team with a lot of questions surrounding the rotation.

Rundown: Recent draft rankings have not been kind to the Big Magoo. In recent years, he’s tumbled from a perennial top three ranking to fifth and last year to his lowest ranking ever at eighth. This year, he’s coming back into form after a pretty solid draft.

The offense might be one of the most potent in the game with a great combination of power and speed up and down the lineup. He got solid value on bounce-backer veterans in Denard Span, Ryan Zimmerman, and Carlos Santana. He added some young hotness in Jason Heyward and Justin Upton. He’s got solid periphery pieces in Dexter Fowler, Gerardo Parra, and Brian McCann. Ben Zobrist is also present. He once threw a pen at my eyeball over Ben Zobrist. Never forget.

All of that makes for a very solid roster and that’s before you factor in two of the best young keepers in the game at two of the games shallowest positions in Carlos Correa at shortstop and Bashy McBasherton, Nolan Arenado at third base. This club might struggle to keep a league average OBP, but they’ll make up for it in a non-stop array of counting stats.

The pitching – however – is a different beast. I really like what he did with his bullpen. I spent months plotting to take Kenley Jensen only to change course in the ensuing days before the draft. I really, really like that move. I feel like – suspension or not – this is the year he’ll push Aroldis Chapman from the top-spot on the closer hierarchy.

The starting pitching is a confounding. He already has a serious game-changing keeper in Sale, whom I’m projecting to have the best year of his young career, and Francisco Liriano is a great compliment. After that, things get dicey as he’s really relying on a pair of starters returning from Tommy John and a veteran in the midst of a surprising renaissance. Matt Moore showed zero signs of regaining his changeup post Tommy John surgery last season. He’s still got top tier velocity, but without that changeup, he’s grooving batting practice. Patrick Corbin turned in a solid half-season on his return from TJ, but has always been more of a control pitcher than a strikeout machine and doesn’t figure to be given any help pitching half his games in Arizona. He could surprise, but expectations need to be kept in check. Jason Hammel – a guy I was way too high on years ago in the NFBC – has put together a couple of really nice, unexpected seasons in Chicago after flaming out elsewhere. He’s found a slider late in his career and has carved out a nice niche as a number five starter. You rarely want a number five starter in real-life as your number five starter in fantasy life, but such is the way with the money grubbers.

Overall, I really like the offense and the bullpen. The rotation is top-heavy and doesn’t do much for me after Sale and Liriano. There is big time potential to surprise or bust with the other three starters and an upgrade is probably necessary if this club is going to compete on both sides of the ball.

It is worth noting – I currently consider this the best collection of keepers in the league. That’s a pretty good leg up in this league.

zima001

01. ZIMA

Draft Pick # 13

2015 Rank: 12th
2014 Rank: 12th
2013 Rank: 9th
2012 Rank: 8th
2011 Rank: 11th
2010 Rank: 5th
2009 Rank: 8th

Keepers: Josh Donaldson (TOR–3B), George Springer (HOU–OF), & Clayton Kershaw (LAD–SP)

First Pick: Adam Jones (BAL-OF) [Round 1-Pick 13]
Last Pick: Eddie Rosario (MIN-OF) [Round 17-Pick 237]

Best Pick: David Peralta (ARI-OF) [Round 9-Pick 125]
Rationale: Peralta is a power/speed threat waiting to breakout in 2016.
Worst Pick: David Ortiz (BOS-1B) [Round 3-Pick 41]
Rationale: …because it broke my heart. *insert sad face emoji*

Rundown: What a difference a year makes. A year ago, I was questioning why TCB has gotten a “free pass” from scrutiny in this league, despite years of diminishing returns after an initial burst of success when he joined the league. Last year, I also claimed that there wasn’t a single drafted player on his roster I’d rather have…this year, that’s not the case.

This draft was very solid for Collin. He’s got a very balanced offensive attack that – when you factor in his keepers – could be one of the toughest lineups anyone has to face all season long. He has a breakout candidate in David Peralta just waiting to provide a boon in every category, a shortstop ready to take another step forward in Marcus Semien, and a slugger looking to go out with a bang in David Ortiz. Toss in keepers Josh Donaldson and George Springer and you’re looking at a murder’s row. If Springer can stay healthy and get 500+ at-bats for the first time in his career, he’s an easy 25/25/25 candidate.

On the flipside, the strength of his offense is offset by a lot of question marks surrounding his pitching staff. He has arguably the best pitcher in the game today as his keeper in Clayton Kershaw and – despite warnings of regression from the talking heads – he’s signed on for another dance with reigning AL Cy Young Dallas Keuchel. After that, things get dicey. Lance McCullers has electric stuff, but he’s hurt and likely to miss Opening Day. He also got demoted to the minor leagues mid-season a year ago. Aaron Nola has major upside, but he’s plying his trade in a hitter’s park on what figures to be a very, very bad Phillies team. Granted, Collin hit big on Keuchel and Jake Arrieta a year ago – before trading them away – so perhaps he’s once again “the pitcher whisperer” and I should just wait and see…and perhaps TCB should tell everyone to fuck off when they come knocking in search of starting pitching.

There is a lot I like about this team and I think this is one of the better squads that Collin has ever drafted. I’d like to see him make a move to add another sure thing to his rotation, but otherwise, this club looks to give him his best shot in years of cracking the postseason fray…and since he’s ranked number one in my draft rankings, he’s CLEARLY going to win the championship, uncontested. I might just put it in the mail today.

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