Draft Review and Rankings 2018

rankings

It’s baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack…

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. 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.

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 2018 Draft Review and Rankings…

The Pretenders

14. InSaNeAuDiO

insaneaudio-new-logo

Draft Pick # 14

2017 Rank: 14th
2016 Rank: 11th
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), Jake Lamb (ARZ-3B), & Johnny Cueto (SF-SP)

Offensive Rundown: The draft was a typical G-Doggy draft. It was underwhelming and involved a lot of old guys. Marcell Ozuna could be an impact player and both Robinson Cano and Andrew McCutchen continue to be solid producers, despite advancing age. Didi Gregarious, Adam Jones, and (accidental pick) Mitch Haniger all offer some addition 20-30 home run power without any speed and debatable on-base skills. J.T. Realmuto is a stud at catcher, but he’ll be surrounded by a Triple-A roster which limits his value. The offense as a whole is really lacking in speed and has a lot of cats who could kill OBP over the course of a season. There’s plenty of 20+ home run power scattered about, but this offense feels very one dimensional on paper.

Pitching Rundown: This batch of arms looks like balls. Jake Arrieta could be solid, but he’s trending downward, moving to a bandbox of a ballpark, and gets a bunch of walk-year Bryce Harper. Gross. Julio Teheran and Jeff Samardzija are the types of pitchers that are tough to own with their Jekyll and Hyde performances. Shark was better than his overall numbers last year, but he’s still far too prone to the long-ball, despite pitching in a ballpark that suppresses offense. Tyler Chatwood is a fun gamble. I’m not sold, but I’m comfortable admitting that Theo Epstein is smarter than me, so maybe this dude is for real when not pitching batting practice in Coors. This bullpen is solid, but underwhelming. Alex Colome should get plenty of saves on a shitty team, but figures to be a setup guy somewhere else by mid-season. Sam Dyson has flashed closer stuff and is in a setup role in front of a recently injury-prone closer, so there’s SV+HLD value there – assuming he isn’t re-afflicted with whatever demon haunted his arm in Texas early last season. Pat Neshek is a solid middle reliever. This club definitely needs another closer as it waits for the Cardinals or Angels to blink and pay Greg Holland.

Overall Rundown: Yikes. Coming into this draft, G-Doggy’s goal – as has been the case many times in the past – should have been to draft with an eye toward the future. The club hasn’t had a legitimate ace since the early heyday of CC Sabathia and Miguel Cabrera, while poised for a possible bounce-back, is coming off the worst-season of his career. Injuries, age, and a depleted supporting cast ding his value again in 2018. His MVP, triple crown days are gone, but he could still be part of a trade to bring in a legitimate stud keeper if G-Doggy plays his cards right. He didn’t draft a good team, but between his keepers and a handful of solid picks, he might have just enough to stay competitive and/or finally pull of a franchise-altering change (in the good way).

13. Sea Bass v13.0

craiggers-cant stop this mfing dragon

Draft Pick # 10

2017 Rank: 13th
2016 Rank: 13th
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), Kyle Schwarber (CHC-OF), & Noah Syndergaard (NYM–SP)

Offensive Rundown: There is a lot of power scattered throughout this lineup, but a number of regression candidates as well. The OBP stings from some of these players – especially those riding inflated BABIPs – could cut into their playing time and/or Craiggers’ willingness to trot them out there every day in search of the longball. Rougned Odor and Xander Bogaerts could both produce monster bounce-back seasons in a big way. Yasiel Puig might have it all put together as a solid OF2 and is seemingly in the good graces of Dodgers brass for once and shouldn’t need to worry about losing his spot. Willson Contreras is a stud catcher who will likely get starts elsewhere to keep him fresh as he continues growing into a power-hitting machine. He’s also got one of the best keepers in the league holding down third base for the next half-decade or so and that figures to be a boon.

Pitching Rundown: It’s not the sexiest set of arms, but there’s some real potential here. Gerrit Cole moving to Houston is a big improvement. Cole has been up and down throughout his young career, but that ballpark is great for suppressing runs and the Astros have a great defense, stud bullpen, and an explosive offense. He could easily be a top 10 starter this year. Alex Wood is coming off a monster season. Health has always been in the issue, but Craiggers would undoubtedly be happy with another strong 150 IP campaign if it matches 2017. Eduardo Rodriguez is doing Eduardo Rodriguez things (read: he’s already on the DL), but offers upside if healthy. Youngers, Luke Weaver and Jake Faria both offer upside as well. Roberto Osuna was solid closing out games last season and anchors a solid, if uninspiring, bullpen. He’s flanked by Blake Treinen and Arodys Vizcaino, neither of whom has a ton of job security; but figure to get solid first cracks at the closer chair out of the gates in 2018. There isn’t anything resembling a setup man currently on the roster, so Craiggers is either punting holds altogether or planning to fill some holes as DL slots allow once rosters are official for Opening Day.

Overall Rundown: I’m not super intimidated by this team on paper. I see way too many holes in the offense (ie: speed, OBP, regression candidates, etc.) and the pitching – while potentially very good – doesn’t jump off the page as a playoff caliber staff. I like the front of the rotation, especially with a healthy Noah Syndergaard leading the charge; but the bullpen needs reinforcements. This team could make the playoffs with some tweaks or Craiggers could look for a monster deal to bring back a third stud keeper to pair with Thor and Bryant. Only time will tell which way the wind blows the smoke from this motherfuckin’ dragon.

12. Radioactive Rush

radioactiverush001Draft Pick # 2

2017 Rank: 10th
2016 Rank: 14th
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), Jose Ramirez (CLE-2B/3B), & Robbie Ray (ARI-SP)

Offensive Rundown: In case you’re wondering where Radioactive Rush plays their ballgames, it’s in Dinger City, USA. As per pre-draft instructions, this lineup is chockful of power. Four of these mofos jacked at least 36 home runs last year and could easily repeat. Jose Ramirez popped 29, Kendrys Morales poked 28, Todd Frazier sent 27 balls into the seats, Randal Grichuk jacked 22 (in limited playing time), Evan Longoria smoked 20 longballs, and Brian McCann popped 18 as well. There’s a lot of power here. Speed is a bit more scattershot, but with Delino DeShields and Bradley Zimmer expected to get regular playing time in 2018, he should have plenty of speed to go around, even if Paul Goldschmidt and/or Jose Ramirez runs less this year. There are some serious OBP risks in the mix, but overall, this offense figures to give folks fits all year long.

Pitching Rundown: On the flip-side, the great offense exists largely because this club completely bypasses starting pitching and middle relief on draft day. Marcos Stroman has been a solid is slightly overhyped second tier starter for the bulk of his career, Gio Gonzalez is coming off an amazing bounce-back season, and Luis Castillo showed flashes of brilliance in his brief debut last season. Those three combine with keeper Robbie Ray to form a fairly solid, albeit undermanned rotation. Ken Giles and Edwin Diaz both saved 34 games last year with electric strikeout numbers. Both were shaky at points and spent time in the doghouse with their respective clubs, but figure to get long(ish) leashes in 2018. Aaaaand…that’s it. Three starters and two closers. Nothing else. No more arms. Yeesh.

Overall Rundown: This team is going to hit, like, a million fucking dingers this season. That’ll be fun to watch – unless you’re playing Grant, obviously – and that’s cool. This team also needs to dump a lot of that power to add some more arms to bulk up the rotation and needs to add some middle relievers along the way as well. Grant was at an obvious disadvantage not getting to draft his own team. That said, he’s also a jerk who opted to take a vacation during draft weekend – which was planned out roughly six months earlier – so screw that guy. He sucks.

11. 38 MPH Heaters

38mphheaters001Draft Pick # 4

2017 Rank: 7th
2016 Rank: 9th
2015 Rank: 6th
2014 Rank: 4th
2013 Rank: 14th
2012 Rank: 11th
2011 Rank: 14th
2010 Rank: 10th
2009 Rank: N/A

Keepers: Carlos Correa (HOU-SS), Jose Altuve (HOU–2B), & Madison Bumgarner (SF–SP)

Offensive Rundown: This is an odd offense that was built around two elite, up-the-middle keepers at second base and shortstop. It’s chockfull of 1B/OF types with a single starter at 2B, SS, and 3B. It’s possible the three players in those roles won’t miss a game all year, but that seems kinda-sorta-unlikely. Rafael Devers – the third baseman – showed great promise in a brief debut with the Red Sox late last season, but came back to earth in a hurry after a hot start. He’s probably got a leash until Dustin Pedroia is healthy and the club needs to figure out what to do with Eduardo Nunez’s playing time. Eric Thames, Carlos Gonzalez, and Ian Desmond are all stuck in playing time logjams which limits their overall valus. Yuli Gurriel and Steve Souza are both slated to start the year on the DL after breakout seasons. If neither has any lingering impact from their injuries, they should offer continued upside. Jose Abreu is solid and should continue to be a solid anchor to this – or any – offense he’s a part of for the foreseeable future. Dexter Fowler still gets on base, but the counting stats took a big dip last season with missed playing time. A return to health would be nice, but is not guaranteed. Jonathan Lucroy didn’t land in a great spot for a bounce-back year, but has the potential to return to his previous high return on investment. Only four of these guys got 500+ at-bats last year and two of ‘em are on the DL to start the year. Overall, it’s a good, not great offense that lacks speed, health, playing time guarantees, etc. There are some studs, but this isn’t a top flight offense.

Pitching Rundown: SO. MANY. CLOSERS. As of this writing, the Heaters are pegged to have four closers – three of them among the best in baseball – and a single setup guy. That’s an interesting approach. The club drafted three starters. Kyle Hendericks who has outpitched his underlying skills, but knows regression is lurking over his shoulder like the grim reaper (he also only struck out 123 batters last year), Chase Anderson coming off a strong year in Milwaukee, and one of many young stud Yankees, Jordan Montgomery. This club is anchored by stud keeper Madison Bumgarner, but should some accident befall that mountain of a man – this team is in a bad way and needs some serious starting pitching reinforcements.

Overall Rundown: Morgan’s championship win still befuddles me. He’s out here copying a closers-heavy strategy that was employed (unsuccessfully) by G-Doggy damn near a decade ago. He’s robbed his offense and starting rotation to do it and all to win saves. Sure, if you win by one save or ten saves…it’s still just one category. He’ll need to be on the waiver wire and/or work some trade-action without comically overvaluing his ill-advised quartet of closers in the process. As of this writing, he’s made zero moves to patch any of these holes and he hasn’t even set his roster yet. WTF is that all about?! I guess he could surprise, but this isn’t a team that currently warrants a second look.

The Contenders

10. Dome Dogdome_dog_logo

Draft Pick # 3

2017 Rank: 4th
2016 Rank: 3rd
2015 Rank: 7th
2014 Rank: 7th
2013 Rank: 12th
2012 Rank: 2nd
2011 Rank: 4th
2010 Rank: 8th
2009 Rank: N/A

Keepers: Cody Bellinger (LAD-1B/OF), Corey Seager (LAD–SS), & Jacob deGrom (NYM–SP)

Offensive Rundown: It’s a good thing this club has a pair of stud keepers in place to anchor this offense. The crew assembled in the draft figures to post a roughly average OBP, offer minimal speed – and that’s assuming Jonathan Villar doesn’t lose more playing time in 2018 – and post some middling R/RBI numbers. That said, Nick Castellanos continues to crush and doesn’t have to play 3B anymore, so he could be in line for a monster year and Brian Dozier is an all-cat contributor and entering his walk year. Those two could produce some all-world numbers to help make up the slack elsewhere in this lineup.

Pitching Rundown: The starting pitching leaves something to be desired. While any of Dinelson Lamet, Blake Snell, Mike Cleveinger, Tanner Roark, Kenta Maeda, or Luiz Gohara could have a breakout year and blossom into big stars, they’re all just as likely to struggle. Lamet was a reach, but an understandable one after an electric debut. He walks more guys than you’d like and FIP thinks his ERAs might settle closer to 4.00 on the regular, but with some better command, he’s a future All-Star. I love me some Blake Snell – the dude has monster stuff – but has underwhelmed in 43 career starts in the big leagues. He seemed on the verge of putting it together late last year, so maybe now is the time. Roark alternates between great years and serving up batting practice (although he’s due for a good year in 2018). Maeda is good, but boring. I also always think he’s, like, 36-years-old and a grizzled veteran. Dude ain’t even 30 yet! Cleveinger has the goods, but can’t prevent the free passes and his fastball doesn’t have the command to bail him out if hitters wait out his top-shelf breaking stuff. Gohara is a big-hype prospect with a filthy (the good kind) slider and filthy (the bad kind) platoon splits. The relief corps of Brad Hand, Dellin Betances, Corey Knebel, and Brad Peacock are just a wee bit more enticing than the rotation in terms of initial confidence.

Overall Rundown: There were a lot of long runs of position players for multiple rounds, then pitchers, then position players, then pitchers, etc. It feels like this club missed on some better options by getting locked into positional needs over “best player on the board” type of situations. If the starting pitching is more hit than miss with the assortment of young arms, this could prove to be a top-shelf pitching staff. The offense still figures to have some holes, but an upgrade or two – possible dealing from the strength of good young pitching – could help alleviate that weakness. Right now this is a good, but flawed club.

09. SL DisappointmentsSLD

Draft Pick # 11

2017 Rank: 11th
2016 Rank: 10th
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), Gary Sanchez (NYY-C), & Chris Archer (TB–SP)

Offensive Rundown: This offense offers a little bit of something for everyone. There’s a number of mashers as damn near everyone his 20+ home runs last year, there’s some speed with five different players swiping double-digit bags, there’s studs anchored in big time lineups, there’s some major OBP threats. The biggest weaknesses I see are some potential OBP killers, some regressions candidates (*stares directly at Scooter Gennett and Elvis Andrus*), and some playing time crunches costing at-bats. If this crew can stay healthy, produce, and get 500(ish) at-bats a piece…this might be a wrecking crew. Also, he’s got fucking Vlady Guerrero Jr, BAYBAY!!

Pitching Rundown: I am not going to change any of my initial gut rankings, but looking under the hood a bit and digging deeper into the draft, this pitching staff is rougher around the edges than I initially though. Lance Lynn is coming off a good (but down) year. He’ll be another year removed from Tommy John surgery (good) and he’ll be moving to the American League (bad). Danny Salazar is still a f’n stud with a lightning bolt for an arm, but he can’t seem to stay healthy or locate his pitches during his fleeting moments between DL stints. Shohei Ohtani is the wild card here. Is he good? Is he garbage? He showed flashes of both during Spring Training. His track record in Japan was stellar, but it’s a very different game. His performance will be a key factor in how good this club is in 2018. Lucas Giolito is a former top prospect who looked solid in his cameo appearance last year – he’s on a shitty team in a shitty park for hitters…but he’s got a live arm! The bullpen of Kelvin Herrera, Hector Nerris, Brandon Kintzler, and Cam Bedrosian ain’t sexy by any means, but it figures to produce consistently good numbers.

Overall Rundown: I still really like this team and think John put together one of his better teams over the past few years. This club does have a lot of wild cards and a lot of potential weak points. It’ll take some solid in-season management to react if/when some of these cats falter, but I think there’s enough base talent here to carry the club a long ways. If John is diligent, this could finally be the year that the Disappointments crack the postseason.

groundhog00308. The Groundhogs

Draft Pick # 7

2017 Rank: 8th
2016 Rank: 8th
2015 Rank: 10th
2014 Rank: 1st
2013 Rank: 10th
2012 Rank: 10th
2011 Rank: 6th
2010 Rank: 7th
2009 Rank: 7th

Keepers: Manny Machado (BAL-3B), Trea Turner (WAS-SS), & José Berríos (MIN-SP)

Offensive Rundown: This has the makings of a classic Jay offense. It’ll overall be a solid producer, with nothing flashy. Nobody Jay drafted scored 100 runs or drove in 100 runs last year. Only three guys hit more than 30 doubles. No one stole double-digit bases. No one even hit 25 home runs. Uber-stud Rhys Hoskins could handle most of those things (stolen bases notwithstanding) himself this season and Jay’s keepers figure to make up for some of the slack themselves. Jason Kipnis is healthy and could bounce back with a 20/20 campaign and a pile of doubles. Maikel Franco is playing to keep a job and should be swinging for the fences, Carlos Santana is moving to a bandbox in Philly, young stud Ryan McMahon could do his finest Andres Galarraga impression this year. Once Ronald Acuna find his “flow” or whatever the fuck the Braves are using as rationale to demote him, he figures to be a one-man wrecking crew. Needless to say, there’s a ton of room for this club to impress and impress in a big way. On paper is looks solid, but boring. In the box scores by season’s end, it could look like a championship caliber offense.

Pitching Rundown: The pitching, however, seems downright underwhelming when compared to the offense. The offense has the chance to bust out and be a top team. The pitching would need a whole bunch of miracles for that to happen. No one in this rotation hit 200 IP last year and only one guy hit 150 IP (BIG Q, REPRESENT!). Overall durability and injury risk are very high witht here of the four starters drafted for this squad. Rich Hill, Michael Wacha, and Garrett Richards have all missed substantial time in recent years and could very easily kill this club’s already limited rotation depth with any sort of long-term injury. The bullpen is better with the presence of two stud middle relievers in Archie Bradley and Chris Devenski. Blake Parker and Keone Kela are both part of crowded bullpens in Los Angeles and Texas, respectively. Either could end up closing, setting up, or bouncing back and forth. That leaves the club without a locked in closer, but four solid arms who could slide into the role if/when someone falters.

Overall Rundown: The offense has all the potential in the world, the rotation makes me physically ill, and the bullpen looks good on paper, but lacks a guaranteed closer to give it all-around value. I like this club and think they can be a very solid contender. Once Acuna is up and McMahon and Hoskins have had a chance to establish themselves, there should be more than enough offensive firepower to make a move to bolster the rotation and/or bullpen to complete the assembly of a top-notch championship contender.

07. Captain Jack

beerbash-travis-cropped

Draft Pick # 6

2017 Rank: 3rd
2016 Rank: 7th
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), Josh Donaldson (TOR-3B), & Stephen Strasburg (WAS-SP)

Offensive Rundown: This is an offense that could be an absolute beast, but is largely dependent upon health and friendly aging curves. This is a weirdly-old team for Travis and a number of the sluggers he drafted – and he drafted a team where only two dudes (Billy Hamilton – duh and Yoan Moncada – 199 ABs) were the only peeps without double-digit home runs – saw sizable drop-offs in areas other than power. Ryan Zimmerman’s crazy bounce-back year seems unsustainable. Chris Davis is looking closer and closer to being done as anything other than source of home runs. Yoenis Cespedes probably tore a hammy while I was typing this sentence. There is obvious upside with Yoan Moncada, but most of this offense leaves something to be desired. Three regulars who figures to get 500+ at-bats had OBPs below .309 last year, that’s not good. Billy Hamilton can’t get on-base, is batting at the bottom of the order, and could lose his position. He is this team’s only reliable source of speed – which is odd, because Travis. The keepers are studs and the supporting cast – if healthy and productive – could make this a playoff-caliber offensive unit.

Pitching Rundown: I was going to just doodle Carlos Martinez’s name on a Trapper Keeper with hearts all around, but I figured that I should provide something more substantial. That said, I think Martinez is a stud and should probably be a keeper from here on out. He’s hitting the 200+IP/200+K portion of his career and figures to make the climb into baseball’s best arms soon enough. I am less enthused about his two other starters – the Gray twins (note: not really twins) – Sonny and Jon. I think they’re both solid, but Sonny has been diminished since his injuries in Oakland and is at a disadvantage pitching in Yankee Stadium and the AL East on the regular. Jon is solid and if he didn’t pitch half his games in Coors, I’d be all-in. He’s got the stuff, but his home part ain’t his friend. NA stash Michael Kopech is fun, when the White Sox will pull the trigger to call him up in a pointless season is debatable, but he’s got must-see stuff. The bullpen doesn’t include a single closer (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but it does include bullpen ace Andrew Miller and rising studs Carl Edwards (don’t call me Hardee’s) Jr. and Anthony Swarzak. Of the bunch, Miller (with Bryan Shaw now in Colorado) and Swarzak (albeit second in line after AJ Ramos) figure to be the best bet to vulture saves. He’ll need to add a closer via free agency or trade, but if anyone can swing a deal, it’s this guy.

Overall Rundown: In all reality, I could have moved this club up or down the rankings a bit based on how confident I was in breakouts/regressions/etc. on both sides of the ball. Ultimately, I’m assuming that only a handful of these cats will be playing for Captain Jack come September and almost none of this will have mattered, so I’m just going to assume that – based on the last couple years of production – this club is a likely contender right now, as currently assembled.

06. ZIMA

zima001

Draft Pick # 1

2017 Rank: 6th
2016 Rank: 1st
2015 Rank: 12th
2014 Rank: 12th
2013 Rank: 9th
2012 Rank: 8th
2011 Rank: 11th
2010 Rank: 5th
2009 Rank: 8th

Keepers: Aaron Judge (NYY-OF), Andrew Benintendi (BOS-OF), & Clayton Kershaw (LAD–SP)

Offensive Rundown: I’m not sure if you’ve heard about this Francisco Lindor guy or not…but he’s pretty good. Lindor should anchor a strong offense that was further reinforced with the additions of 2017 breakout Tommy Pham in the outfield, future star Ozzie Albies at second base, young clubber Josh Bell at first, and a pair of underrated contributors at third base in Eugenio Suarez and in the outfield in Odubel Herrera. There’s plenty of additional power and speed available from three late picks in Matt Chapman, “Beef” Welington Castillo, and Cesar Hernandez. This is a balanced attack that, when paired with two stud keepers, should be one of the better units in the league. If Lindor finds another level, Pham proves last year was legit, and Bell and/or Albies breakout this offense could be at the top of the heap.

Pitching Rundown: The weakest point of this club is the starting pitching. Lance McCullers has ace stuff, but can’t stay healthy. If he can get 30 starts, he could provide a very solid #2 behind all-world keeper, Clayton Kershaw. After McCullers, Michael Fulmer offers another big arm stud, but one who is coming off of elbow surgery. If he’s fully-healthy and all of his nerve-issues are in the past, he’s a very intriguing arm in 2018. Kevin Gausman and Jameson Taillon are strikingly similar in that they can both be top-shelf shutdown arms or they can be erratic batting practice pitchers. A lot of ZIMA’s 2018 success may rest on which version of his four and five starters he gets this time around. The bullpen is anchored by one of the best closers in baseball in Craig Kimbrel. He’s flanked by Sean Doolittle who – while not overpowering – gets the job done and should get plenty of late inning looks in Washington. In middle relief, Josh Hader and Kyle Barraclough both offer sky-high K-rates and ability to dominate late innings.

Overall Rundown: Top draft priority doesn’t guarantee any sort of success, but it does allow you to control your draft day destiny in a way no one else can. TCB opted to go first overall and put together a very solid club in the process. This is a very balanced club and he seemed to address areas of need with each pick and avoided any crazy reaches that could have thrown off the feng shui needed when drafting on the wrap. This might be the year that ZIMA finally makes the most of the best pitcher of this generation and brings his club to the Promised Land by reeling in the all-elusive GOLDEN FISH.

 

05. money grubbers

Mr. Magoo, co-created by animation legend John Hubley. Mr. Magoo

Draft Pick # 12

2017 Rank: 1st
2016 Rank: 2nd
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), Giancarlo Stanton (NYY-OF), & Chris Sale (BOS-SP)

Offensive Rundown: I mean…for what it’s worth, this club probably could have just drafted someone to swipe bags and rolled with their keepers and still stayed in contention. That said, Mike went out and drafted some legit offensive weapons to fortify his high-powered offensive keepers. Christian Yelich has been a machine for years now and is moving into one of baseball’s best offensive environments, Manny Margot is a 20/30 breakout waiting to happen, and Greg Bird has legit 40 home run power (if he can ever stay healthy). He also reeled in a pair of 2017 standouts in Eric Hosmer and Whit Merrifield. I am bearish on the potential of a repeat (or further improvement) for either of these two in 2018, but the baseline talent and production levels should still prove valuable to this offense. The return of Wilson Ramos for a full-season after his breakout in 2016 and subsequent solid return from knee surgery last year anchors this club at an oft-overlooked position. Marcus Semien is a solid regular who can hit for some power and speed at shortstop and is still young enough to take another step forward in 2018. This isn’t my favorite offense, but it’s solid enough and when the keepers are factored into the mix, it’s good enough to make the playoffs. I’d like to see some more speed – largely because I question Merrifield’s ability to replicate last year’s numbers – but otherwise this is a solid unit.

Pitching Rundown: Pair an keeper-level ace up with your otherworldly keeper ace is a big win and the money grubbers did just that when they took Yu Darvish in round two. Darvish has 250+ K stuff, a great defense behind him, and an AL-style offense. Expect big things in 2018 as Darvish looks to help bring the Cubs back to the World Series and the money grubbers back to the SLB Championship Game. Zack Godley, Trevor Bauer, and Sean Manaea all present solid follow-ups to one of the best one-two punches in our league. I’m not expecting breakouts or major steps forward for any of the three in 2018, but with their K-heavy workloads they’ll more than compensate for any dings to the club’s ERA/WHIP if they all remain healthy for 30 starts. Raisel Iglesias has turned into a great closer over the past two years. So there’s that?! I like AJ Ramos a lot, but it was evident late last season that he’s playing second fiddle in the Mets’ bullpen and lost the high-K-rate from his younger days. Shane Greene has been VERY BAD way more often than he’s been good throughout his career. Mark Melancon was on my untouchable list on draft day after his injury-riddled 2017. Bud Norris is, well, Bud Norris and he might find himself in something closer to the 6th-7th inning depending on how things shake out in St. Louis, thus limiting his value. The bullpen is going to need some work.

Overall Rundown: I try to avoid talking about keepers too much in the draft rankings, but with this club it’s hard to get them out of your mind. The trio of Sale, Arenado, and Stanton is one of the best in the game and allowed Mike to make some mistakes (which I think he did) on draft day and still put together a competitive ball club when it was all said and done. I think the bullpen needs a serious amount of tinkering – but relievers are the easiest “fix” in the game – and I think that he may want to upgrade somewhere in the rotation, but the bet we’ve already established over our pitchers indicates Mike is pretty content with the rotation he’s built. Expect Mike to tweak and move parts around as necessary, but he should have himself a legitimate contender on Opening Day with little or no alterations.

04. High Cheesecheese-high-final001

Draft Pick # 13

2017 Rank: 2nd
2016 Rank: 6th
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/2B), Freddie Freeman (ATL-1B/3B), & Luis Severino (NYY-SP)

Offensive Rundown: This club could be really, really dangerous. There is a lot of power up and down this lineup, a trio of players who could swipe 20+ bags and a handful of others who could reach double-digits, solid OBPs, and a number of players with enviable lineup spots on clubs with stacked lineups. Anthony Rendon might be the best of the bunch and the biggest difference maker in this lineup with legitimate 100 R, 40 2B, 25 HR, 100 RBI, 10 SB potential with a .400 OBP nowhere near out of the question. Aging lion, Ryan Braun should still provide very solid multi-category value and came at a steep draft day discount. Positional Swiss Army Knife, Chris Taylor will try to build on his breakout season and provide Levi with incredible value and roster flexibility. Oft-injured AJ Pollock will attempt to put together a full, healthy season that builds on his 2015 breakout campaign. Ender Inciarte figures to provide continued under-the-radar value. Matt Olson and Jay Bruce should provide plenty of pop and the dual catcher combo of Yasmani Grandal and Austin Barnes guarantees full-time at-bats from a position that generally settles in a lot closer to 400-450 over the course of a season. The latter strategy could prove to be a game-changer if it’s as effective as it projects to be over the course of a full year.

Pitching Rundown: Zack Greinke had a tremendous season and should be back for another Cy Young-lite type of season, with 200 IP/200+K and above average ERA/WHIP numbers to boot. His diminishing velocity could lead to an overnight drop in skill level, but he’s proven to have the guile and smarts to get by with reduced gas. I think Levi still gets another big year out of Greinke in 2018. I’m less sold on Miles Milolas and Sean Newcomb as anything more than “just guys” in 2018 and both seem very expendable. Mike Montgomery offers some fun value as a swing man who will get a lot of work in the ‘pen, but is likely to be first-up for spot starts and/or if a regular spot in the rotation opens up. Nate Jones is the better option in Chicago and figures to overtake Joakim Soria by mid-May at the latest. Jeurys Familia is the Mets closer of choice and can go back to being one of baseball’s most reliable closers if he’s fully healthy again. Felipe Rivero is a beast and beats on bad teams tend to get a lot of saves and then get traded. Expect him to provide big time value before getting shipped off in July. Addison Reed is a solid setup man and the obvious next-man-up after Fernando Rodney does Fernando Rodney things and the Twins launch him into the sun via medieval trebuchet.

Overall Rundown: This was a very good draft. High Cheese has assembled a very solid, very balanced offense that pairs well with his keepers and their enviable position-eligibility. He’s got an intriguing game plan to extract maximum value out of the catcher slot and – while I’m skeptical it’s sustainable – I’ll be very interested in seeing how it pans out over the course of the season. His rotation is front-heavy with a great keeper and a solid veteran workhorse. I’d suspect we’ll need to see him add an arm or two via trade or free agency for this rotation to look championship ready. The bullpen is full of studs that I’m high on and should all be in line for good years. This club is easily a playoff contender and could be the vehicle for a second Golden Fish on Levi’s mantle.

The Front Runners

salmonkings00303. Salmon Kings

Draft Pick # 5

2017 Rank: 12th
2016 Rank: 12th
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), Jonathan Schoop (BAL-2B), & Aaron Nola (PHI-SP)

Offensive Rundown: This is an offense that might not be eye-popping at first glance, but has huge potential and I’m finding myself pretty high on damn near everyone Steven took and many of them were at or near the top of my draft list right around the time he’d call their names out. I think Starling Marte is in for a monster year as the Pirates offense moves on from the Andrew McCutchen era and slides into the new Marte/Polanco/Bell anchored offense. A real push for 60+ XBH, 40+ SB, 80+ R/RBI, and an OBP of .350+ is entirely plausible and good enough to anchor damn near any offense in this league. Trevor Story came back to earth a bit last year from his torrid pre-injury pace in 2016, but he’s got the skills to produce 30+ home runs, 30+ doubles, 80+ R/RBI, and can even swipe double-digit bags. He’s not going to set any records for OBP, but he’ll hold his own and should provide plenty of bounce-back value in 2018. Lorenzo Cain joins Travis Shaw in one of the best offensive environments in baseball and both should be high-level producers this season. Hanley Ramirez is reportedly slimmed down instead of bulked up this year and seems to finally be free of the lingering shoulder issues that have derailed his last two campaigns. If he’s healthy, he could have a monster year in a very potent Red Sox lineup. Nomar Mazara is the second guy I’ve ever heard of named Nomar. That’s fun. He’s also pretty good at baseball, despite constantly flying under the radar. The Rangers had a quiet offseason, but still have a highly-potent offense and a great park for young sluggers who still have room to grow. Addison Russell needs to take a step forward (or at least a return to his 2016 numbers) to avoid getting pinched out of playing time on a very packed Cubs’ team.

Pitching Rundown: If you’ve got the chance to land a recent Cy Young winner (in a walk year) and one of the best closers in the game in the first six rounds, you do that. Steven did just that adding Houston Astros hurler Dallas Keuchel who pitches in a great park, in front of a great offense, and in front of a top-notch defense. He’s also pitching for a big free agent payday. Not too shabby. Wade Davis may have moved to a less desirable home in Coors Field, but his arm figures to play well damn near anywhere. Jon Lester slipped a bit last year, but should still provide solid value in round seven and – barring injury – should be able to produce something approaching the 200IP/200K stats he’s been putting up for years. Advanced stats indicate he was a bit unlucky last year and he saw the third worst BABIP of his career in a full-season. If he can avoid the long-ball a bit better than last year, it isn’t hard to imagine him putting up a top ten season among starters once again. Aaron Sanchez is a fun gamble. Do you get the guy who looked unhittable a couple of years ago or do you get that guy from last season who can’t stay healthy and can’t get anybody out when he is on the field? If it’s the former and not the latter, this is an absolute steal – and potential difference-maker – in round 14 of our draft. Dylan Bundy does a little less for me. I know he’s been a long-hyped process, but it’s impossible to feel good about any Orioles pitcher and this is coming from the guy who has owned Kevin Gausman roughly 83 times over the last four seasons. He’s got one of the game’s better sliders, added a sinker for this year, and was able to put together a very good run last year. The advanced metrics say his ERA (which was still 4.24 in his breakout) should have been a few ticks higher and the Orioles did little to get better behind their pitching staff or on offense. The bullpen has some solid arms beyond the aforementioned Davis. I really like Brad Brach as a placeholder for Zach Britton through at least the All-Star break. He’s got a big arm and given the volatility of closers, he’s a good get in round 12. Wil Harris is a steady arm in a great bullpen. Dominic Leone is part of a jumbled mess in St. Louis, but might have the inside track to saves assuming the club doesn’t go out and sign Greg Holland or something like that.

Overall Rundown: Admittedly, I’ve cooled on this team a bit since writing my initial gut rankings shortly after the draft, but I’m sticking with it. I really liked Steven’s first five rounds and thought he drafted a lot of studs that will play very nicely with his incumbent keepers to build a formidable core. I thought there were some solid value picks late (ie: Ramirez, Brach, & Sanchez) that could prove to be huge game changers if they produce at the levels they’ve shown they can in the past. This team needs Aaron Nola and Jonathan Schoop to prove that their breakouts were legit to make up for some of the areas of concern that I can still see on this roster. This club could probably stand to add another big arm to the bullpen and given the uncertainty surrounded damn near every starter in the rotation, he should be on the lookout for another starter as well. I think the offense is primed to compete as it is and that’s before you factor in Mike Motherfuddruckin’ Trout into the equation. Expect this club to be in the mix and to be a force when the playoffs roll around.

genies2016v5-tshirtversion202. Genies in a Bottle

Draft Pick # 9

2017 Rank: 9th
2016 Rank: 4th
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), George Springer (HOU-OF), & Corey Kluber (CLE–SP)

Offensive Rundown: FIREPOWER, BAYBAY!!! This offense is likely to give teams fits all season long. Despite going hot and heavy for pitching in the early rounds, the offense is anchored by breakout in the waiting Gregory Polanco who figures to bounce-back from a down year with 60+ XBH and 20+ SB. He’s hitting in the two spot of a surprisingly lively Pittsburgh lineup and could be a real threat to score 100+ runs as well. Adam Eaton returns to the field after last year’s ACL tear and should be a run scoring machine at the top of the Nationals’ high-powered offense. He’s got 20/20 skills, the ability to wreck doubles for dayzzzz, and could lead all of baseball in runs scored if he stays on the field. Jean Segura is back at the top of Mariners lineup and should offer lots of speed, XBH up the whazoo, some surprising pop, and plenty of runs scored hitting in front of Cano/Cruz/Haniger/Seager/etc. Ian Happ gets a full-season on the big league roster and is a current favorite to hit leadoff and play some CF/2B throughout the year. He’ll likely sit against tough lefties, but offers very real 60 XBH potential, double-digit speed, and shouldn’t struggle to get to 75+ R/RBI even losing out on a game or so a week due to the Cubs’ stacked lineup. Justin Turner does Justin Turner things and should be a solid catalyst for this lineup, assuming he doesn’t take a fastball to the wrist a week after the draft and miss the first month or two of the season…or whatever. Justin Smoak broke out in a monster way in 2017 and there’s little reason he can’t replicate last year’s success. If there is regression, we’re still looking at 30 HR power in a good lineup and a great hitting environment. Evan Gattis gets to spend most of his time at DH this year. This should give him an extra 150-200 at-bats and could help bounce his value and power potential back to the highs he posted in 2015-2016. Marwin Gonzalez broke out in 2017 and should have a fairly clear path to another 450+ at-bats in 2018 while offering power, some sneaky speed, and the ability to play all over the diamond. NA stash Francisco Mejia has a bat that’s MLB ready, but the Indians are still working to find his permanent position in the field. He could be a major contributor down the stretch for both Cleveland and the Genies. All-in-all, this is a very packed lineup with power, speed, and XBH galore scattered up and down the roster. That’s before factoring in keepers Mookie Betts and George Springer, who both hit leadoff in two of the game’s best lineups. These cats should be dangerous from day one.

Pitching Rundown: Man alive, this could be the single greatest starting rotation ever assembled in league history. We might need our league statistician to pull the numbers and figure it out. The club went hot and heavy on starting pitching in the early rounds to land Carlos Carrasco and Justin Verlander. They followed it up by adding an undervalued David Price in round six and rolling the dice on a bounce-back for long-time ace Cole Hamels in round 15. Verlander and Carrasco were both legit aces and Cy Young contenders last year. Price and Hamels both had down years as a result of injuries. If they’re both healthy and back in form, a return to the 200IP/200K plateaus they’ve established for the bulk of their careers seem perfectly reasonable. Combine those four with incumbent keeper and reigning AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber and this looks like a downright dangerous rotation. Injuries and age will be the two biggest factors that could hamper this all-ace rotation. The bullpen is stocked with three monster arms in Chad Green, David Robertson, and A.J. Minter. Minter and Robertson figure to pile up holds in bunches and both are “next up” for saves. Green has more value as a multi-inning fireman and will provide a lot of added value. The biggest weakness is the current lack of a closer. The Genies got sniped at multiple points in the draft and/or refused to overpay for saves and opted for drafting stud closer (and surgery room frequent flier) Zach Britton as a DL stash for the season’s second-half. He’ll need to make a move to acquire a closer to compete until one of Minter/Robertson steals the job or Britton returns. Post-draft FA closers include – *shudders* – Fernando Rodney, Brad Ziegler, and a handful of guys who might, maybe, kinda, sorta be in the mix for closing gigs in largely unsettled pens. The Genies can roll the dice (and FAAB) on one of these jabronis or attempt to swing a trade with a closer-laden team in need of a starter. Either way, this club needs a closer.

Overall Rundown: Despite eschewing conventional wisdom of not overpaying for pitching, the Genies opted to run hard and heavy for stud starters early and often in this draft and built a very solid pitching staff – lack of a healthy closer notwithstanding – and managed to put together a very potent (on paper, at least) offense of potential breakout stars, bounce-backs, reliable veterans, and a slew of players hitting at/near the top of their lineups as MLB front offices have finally begun embracing new lineup models. This isn’t the strongest offense in the league, but it has monster potential and should be one of the best if everyone can stay healthy and reach their potential. This offense combined with an elite rotation, a solid bullpen, and a manager just fucking champing at the bit to win another Golden Fish could be what puts the Genies over the top in 2018.

beerbash-justinger00101. cracker jack

Draft Pick # 8

2017 Rank: 5th
2016 Rank: 5th
2015 Rank: 1st
2014 Rank: 2nd
2013 Rank: 1st
2012 Rank: 6th
2011 Rank: 5th
2010 Rank: 4th
2009 Rank: 6th

Keepers: Joey Votto (CIN–1B), Charlie Blackmon (COL-OF), & Max Scherzer (WAS–SP)

Offensive Rundown: Alex Bregman has breakout potential and hits at the top of the best lineup in baseball. He’s got legit 70 XBH potential, double-digit speed, 3B/SS eligibility, and hits for a solid OBP. He’s good. There’s a certain manager who had a very, very different draft strategy lined up if Bregman had slipped just one more spot in the draft. This was a good pick. Dee Gordon is something of a one-trick pony and he’s learning a new position, but he’ll still likely swipe 50+ bags and score 100+ runs. Kyle Seager is perpetually underrated despite posting reliable, solid stats year-in and year-out. Joey Gallo is here and his power is real. The club is committed to him in an everyday role, he’s got three positions of eligibility, and he could very easily jack 40+ home runs in a sneaky good Rangers lineup. Adrian Beltre is 78-years-old and that’s fine. He’s still arguably the greatest third baseman of all-time and still a solid producer as long as he’s on the field. Ian Kinsler is only 64-years-old and has looked a little long-in-the-tooth at points in recent years, but he should spend most of his time hitting in front of Mike Trout in a solid Angels lineup and figures to provide solid value, even if he’s unlikely to get a greenlight for stolen bases all year. Gleyber Torres is a fun stash with breakout potential, but the Yankees seem inclined to ease him into the mix, so Justinger will have to wait a bit for Gleyber to make an impact. Russell Martin is boring, but a safe and reliable backstop who hits in a good lineup and has a manbun few can pull off. Jedd Gyorko was a drunken, last round pick that will probably be off this roster the second the post-draft waiver period is over, so I’m not even commenting on him. The biggest steal here might be Adam Duvall in round 12. Duvall has averaged 70 XBH (32 HR/34 2B/ 4 3B) the past two years along with 101 RBI and 82 runs scored. He doesn’t offer much for speed and is a poor base stealer in general. His OBP is goose shit at .299 over the past two years, but if the those counting stats are for real and this club will hope that keeper Joey Votto can rock a .600 OBP this year to balance things out.

Pitching Rundown: James Paxton has shown major potential for years and appeared to breakout in 136 strong innings in 2017. If he can carry that performance forward, this club has found an ideal #2 for its rotation. Masahiro Tanaka is good. His numbers last year looked rough based on a career high BABIP and the implosion of the launch angle revolution causing his HR/FB numbers to spike early in the year. Advanced metrics liked his season better than the raw numbers did and he settled into his usual ace-light role after a roughly couple of months at the beginning of the season. Expect him to be one of the better #3s in any rotation in this league…if his arm doesn’t fall off. This is always a caveat with that mofo. Taijuan Walker, Danny Duffy, and Charlie Morton round out the rest of the rotation and all three come with obvious red flags as well as serious upside. All three pitchers have been dominant for stretches of their careers and both have been dumpster fires as well. Duffy has the highest ceiling, but is on a far, far worse team than either of the other two which obviously hampers his value. Walker has been a grab bag, but gets a humidor this year and seemed to acclimate well to the NL in 2017. Morton has proven to be made of glass and largely incapable of pitching beyond the sixth inning, but is in a great spot in Houston to thrive. The bullpen is easily the biggest weakness as it’s wildly understaffed. Brandon Morrow should be in a very good spot closing for the Cubs who have produced top closers for years now and is coming off a dominant season with the Dodgers. Beyond Morrow, however, there’s only one other reliever on the roster. Luke Gregerson has put up a lot of great years, usually as a setup man, but is coming off the worst-season of his career in Houston and is stuck in a very volatile closing situation in St. Louis. He has value if he gets the 9th inning, but given the presence of many younger, better relievers on the roster he’s likely to slide into lower-leverage situations if he’s not the closer. So if the Cardinals go out and sign, let’s just say Greg Holland – or whatever – it’ll likely kick Gregerson’s value right in the pills. That’s it for a bullpen. No other setup men. No other closers. This will obviously be an area of concern.

Overall Rundown: This dude has won three pennants in a row. He’s been in two of the last three championship match-ups. He hasn’t ranked outside the top six in my pre-season rankings a single time since I started tracking this shit back in 2010. He’s good at this. He came into this draft already owning three of the best keepers in the game and then proceeded to draft a team that looks ready to win another pennant, return to another championship game, and put a third Golden Fish on his mantle. He also did the latter half of the draft after drinking roughly 73 shots of Fireball and half-a-dozen beers. Not. Too. Shabby. He’s going to need to do some work to bulk up the bullpen, but he’s not exactly adverse to making moves – be it via free agency or the trade market – and figures to have turned over much of this roster before Memorial Day rolls around. Regardless, I really like the way this team looks on paper, I like the keepers, and I like the manager’s ability to pull all the right levers during the season to ensure this club is in the mix until late September. Expect yet another highly-competitive year (and a thousand trade offers) from the Justinger.

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