March 2014

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RotoAuthority League Update: Draft Recap

The RotoAuthority League is a highly competitive 12-team fantasy baseball league run by Tim Dierkes. The settings consist of standard 5 X 5 Rotisserie scoring and 23-man lineups along with 4 bench spots. In an effort to keep owners interested as well as to infuse new blood into the league, the teams that finish below 8th place are kicked out of the league each year. The author of this column just hopes he isn't one of them.

The RotoAuthority League draft took place a week ago. As always, it was a grueling three hours that really put our decision-making skills to the test. Full draft results can be found at the link at the bottom, but here's a quick look at how each team turned out in order of draft slot.

1. Men With Wood

Previous Finishes: 2008 – 8th, 2009 – 4th, 2010 – 2nd, 2011 – 1st, 2012 – 5th, 2013 - 8th

It's a luxury to own Mike Trout in any league, and it's always interesting to see how an owner chooses to build around the closest thing to a perfect fantasy player. Intended or not, Men With Wood placed a premium on quality outfielders early when he selected Carlos Gomez and Giancarlo Stanton once the draft snaked back to him. Offense was clearly a priority for this owner, as he didn't take a pitcher until Jordan Zimmermann in the seventh round. The bullpen is deep with three closers in Addison Reed, Steve Cishek, and Fernando Rodney as well as three quality setup men in Rex Brothers, Danny Farquhar, and Sergio Santos. As usual, I expect Men With Wood to be a contender this year.

2. Yu at the Animal Zoo

Previous Finishes: 2013 - 1st

Like I said last week, it's a tad scary that last year's champion gets to build his team around Miguel Cabrera once again. This owner chose to follow up Miggy with the currently red-hot Jose Bautista and then a pair of aces in Stephen Strasburg and Justin Verlander. The reigning champ continued to stockpile power with picks of Wilin Rosario, J.J. Hardy, and Matt Wieters. In addition to that dynamic duo at the top of the staff, this manager has a pair of arms with sky-high ceiling in Gerrit Cole and Yordano Ventura. The one weakness on this roster may be relief pitching, but this owner is incredibly active on the waiver wire.

3. Brewsterville Bruins

Previous Finishes: 2011 – 5th, 2012 – 2nd, 2013 - 4th

I projected this squad to draft Paul Goldschmidt with the third pick overall, but instead the Brewsterville Bruins selected a relatively safer option for my money in Andrew McCutchen. After grabbing the dominant Yu Darvish on the way back, this manager continued to load up on across-the-board contributors like Dustin Pedroia and Alex Rios. If you subscribe to the theory of drafting last year's bums because regression is a powerful force, then this roster is for you. The Bruins envision bounceback campaigns from Albert Pujols, Jason Heyward, and Starlin Castro. As always, the Bruins have a very reliable roster that should be right in the thick of things come September.

4. Spirit of St. Louis

Previous Finishes: N/A

Spirit of St. Louis built a strong offensive foundation by drafting just one pitcher over the first nine rounds. This owner places at least some value in scarcity, as he owned a player at every infield position by the end of the seventh round. Homer picks or not, this manager somehow ended up with five Cardinals by Round 20. Overall, I expect this squad to do well in the offensive categories, so the fate of Spirit of St. Louis will ultimately come down to its pitching staff.

5. Smell the Glove

Previous Finishes: 2008 – 1st, 2009 – 6th, 2010 – 5th, 2011 – 12th, 2012 – 11th, 2013 - 2nd

After all these years of playing with Tim Dierkes, I was virtually certain that he'd take Carlos Gonzalez with the fifth pick overall, so I for one was certainly surprised when he chose to go with Ryan Braun instead. Dierkes is clearly on the side of "steroids, schmeroids" when projecting Braun for this season. As usual, Tim then built his roster inside-out by filling up most of his infield with Evan Longoria, Buster Posey, Eric Hosmer, and Elvis Andrus. Dierkes is on record that he's a believer in Masahiro Tanaka, and he put his money where his mouth is by taking the new Yankees starter in the sixth round. Smell the Glove then continued to add power with middle-round picks of Jonathan Lucroy, Domonic Brown, and Aaron Hill. Finally, I like what Tim did late with high-upside plays like Khris Davis, Avisail Garcia, and Javier Baez. Ultimately, this roster will be fine offensively, so the true test will be the performance of Tanaka coupled with the health of Cole Hamels.

6. The Jewru

Previous Finishes: N/A

Perhaps no owner spoke louder with his picks than this one last Monday night. Right from the start, the Jewru swung for the fences with Bryce Harper at sixth overall. This owner then calmed down for a bit with relatively safe picks of David Wright, Jay Bruce, and Cliff Lee. However, the Jewru then took the player who embodies high risk / high reward more so than any player in this game with the selection of Billy Hamilton in Round Five. And yet, this manager was far from finished with highly volatile picks. From Xander Bogaerts to Anthony Rendon and Taijuan Walker, this roster is loaded with upside. Let's face it, though: Billy Hamilton is going to win or lose leagues this year. If the Reds speedster proves he can hit well enough to stay in the Bigs all year, this owner may get first round value out of that fifth round pick. Then again, Hamilton could easily bust and wind up in the Minors by May. One thing is certain: the Jewru could care less about finishing in the bottom four and getting booted from this league; he's in it to win it.

7. The Bombers

Previous Finishes: N/A

If you look at the first five picks for the Bombers, one is clearly not like the others. Carlos Gonzalez, Joey Votto, Felix Hernandez, and Matt Holliday put up numbers year in and year out. At pick 42, however, the Bombers couldn't pass up the chance to draft the ultimate wild card in Yasiel Puig. Some fantasy pundits view Puig as an elite top-15 player while others consider him to be a risky top-50 option. For the most part, this is a safe roster that I'm confident will avoid the bottom four. If Puig proves that last year was no fluke, though, this squad will have just what it needs to finish in the money.

8. Guitar Masahiro

Previous Finishes: 2012 – 8th, 2013 - 6th

Well, the owner who went by the name of Say it Ain't So Cano last year opted against drafting Robinson Cano in Round One, choosing Clayton Kershaw instead. Guitar Masahiro then selected Troy Tulowitzki for the third year in a row. This manager took an interesting approach to drafting pitchers. After grabbing Kershaw, Guitar Masahiro didn't select another starting pitcher until Matt Moore in Round 12. Instead, this owner drafted four closers in Koji Uehara, Glen Perkins, Jim Johnson, and Huston Street. That should come in handy, as there's always an owner in need of saves. Just a speculation: we might have a Boston sports fan here, as this owner drafted a grand total of eight Red Sox.

9. Gramma Nutt Crushers

Previous Finishes: 2010 – 1st, 2011 – 8th, 2012 – 4th, 2013 - 3rd

I really like how the Gramma Nutt Crushers started the first three rounds of this draft with picks of Robinson Cano, Prince Fielder, and Shin-Soo Choo. That's about as safe as it gets. On the pitching side, this owner chose to embrace a tad more risk with Danny Salazar and Michael Wacha behind staff ace Chris Sale. After loading up on power early, the Gramma Nutt Crushers picked up some speed later on from Desmond Jennings, Brett Gardner, and Rajai Davis. In general, this looks like a balanced roster without any real categorical holes.

10.  Cobra Kai

Previous Finishes: N/A

Last week I gave my best guess as to which player each owner would select in Round One. Well, outside of the first two picks (which probably shouldn't even count), this is the only other pick I predicted correctly. Cobra Kai took five-category stud Adam Jones and then came back with last year's best player on a per-game basis, Hanley Ramirez. This owner clearly buys into the idea that elite catchers are worthy investments, as he not only took Joe Mauer in the third round but also Brian McCann in the fifth round. This manager also made a couple interesting selections with the well-hyped Jose Abreu in Round Six followed by the enigmatic Matt Kemp in Round Seven. In addition, Cobra Kai made it known that he doesn't care about a player's age. This roster has plenty of youth in players like Jose Fernandez, Zack Wheeler, and George Springer. There are all sorts of ways this squad could go this year, but it's certainly not short on talent.

11. E-Z Sliders

Previous Finishes: 2013 - 5th

I haven't seen Adrian Beltre go in the first round of 12-team leagues all that often this year, but I view the Rangers third baseman as worthy of Round One. After grabbing the consistent Beltre, E-Z Sliders drafted a pair of outfielders with first-round talent in Jacoby Ellsbury and Justin Upton followed by a couple of aces in Max Scherzer and David Price. This pitching staff could be special, as this owner also was able to get lights-out closer Kenley Jansen and the electric Anibal Sanchez. In general, the E-Z Sliders took a value-based approach. There seemed to be quite a few "look at me" picks throughout the draft, and this owner skillfully scooped up undervalued veterans like Alexei Ramirez and Torii Hunter when they fell too far. Given that I had to follow this owner, I know there were several times in which he drafted the player I had at the top of my rankings.

12. A Century of Misery

Previous Finishes: 2009 – 5th, 2010 – 4th, 2011 – 4th, 2012 – 3rd, 2013 - 7th

And finally we get to my squad. I wanted to play it safe at the turn, but I couldn't pass up the power of Chris Davis. I actually consider Davis to be overvalued this season, yet I somehow own him in four out of nine league this year. After Davis, I came back with Edwin Encarnacion; if you've read my work at all, you know by now he's a personal favorite, especially with third base eligibility in Yahoo leagues. I’m only guessing when it comes to the strategies of other owners in this league, but I can tell you my plan was to simply trust my rankings and draft the best player available as often as possible. In the past I've loaded up on offense, but I'm not so sure that's a recipe for success anymore in today's game. I can't say I'm happy to have only one closer, but I'm usually able to grab one or two off the waiver wire over the course of the season. I also have several next-in-line setup men in Mark Melancon, Cody Allen, Carlos Martinez, and Tyler Clippard. On paper my squad is rather boring, but I feel better about this one than how I felt about my team from last year.

So who's going to take home the title this season? Which squad do you like best?

Download RotoAuthority League 2014



Go Bold Or Go Home: Justin Masterson, Top-15 Pitcher

Among all qualified starters in baseball last season, only five pitchers threw 193 or more innings, struck out at least one batter per inning and had a SIERA of 3.32 or better.  Four were Yu Darvish, Felix Hernandez, Chris Sale and Max Scherzer; the fifth was Justin Masterson.  So by that metric, Masterson is actually a top-FIVE pitcher in the big leagues, so I not only proved my "top fifteen" point, I went above and beyond!  That was easy!  See you next week, folks!

.....okay, fine, it'll take more than some statistical cherry-picking to get the job done.  Fair enough.  There seems to be some inherent resistence to acknowledging Masterson as a top-tier fantasy pitcher, given his modest 218.80 average draft position (hat tip to Mock Draft Central) that ranks him as the only 56th-highest pitcher taken in this year's drafts.  Even if you don't agree with me that Masterson is on the verge of a major breakout, I think it's safe to say that there aren't 55 guys better than the Indians ace.

In fact, forget being 'on the verge,' it's possible Masterson took his big step forward last year.  Masterson has always been known as an elite groundball pitcher --- he led the league with a 58% ground ball rate in 2013 and he has the sixth-highest GBR of any pitcher in baseball over the last four seasons.  What changed Masterson's game last year, however, was his ability to miss bats.  Masterson had a career 7.1 K/9 over his first five seasons but he bumped that up to a career-best 9.1 K/9 in 2013.  In the Roto Authority starting pitcher rankings, Alex Steers McCrum even lumped Masterson into his group of "strikeout pitchers with too many walks." a designation that would've seemed unlikely a year ago.

There's a terrible pun coming in a few paragraphs, just so you know.  Be ready.

It seems like Masterson was able to goose his strikeout numbers by cutting back on the use of his sinker.  Masterson used his sinker a whopping 58.3% of the time in 2012, well above his career 44.5% mark, and it's perhaps no surprise that Masterson changed things up given how he struggled that season.  In 2013, however, the righty cut his sinker rate down to 49.4% and increased the use of his slider to 26.9%, by far the most Masterson has thrown the pitch in any of his four full Major League seasons.  If Masterson keeps the sinker in check, there's no reason he couldn't have another season of averaging at least one strikeout per inning. 

So that's the strikeouts accounted for, and Masterson should still get his fair share of wins given that the Tribe projects to be a pretty good team this season.  My only concern is that his ERA and WHIP could be slightly above what you'd want from the ace of a fantasy rotation.  Ideally you'd like a pitcher with a sub-3.00 ERA and a sub-1.20 WHIP, but with Masterson it could be more likely that he'll post something in the neighborhood of a 3.30 ERA and a WHIP in the 1.20-1.30 range.  This comes with the territory of having an ace groundball pitcher and an infield defense that includes UZR/150 nightmares Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Kipnis, not to mention the possibly-comic stylings of Carlos Santana as a regular third baseman.  Still, while grounders are still Masterson's bread and butter, his increased strikeout prowess will help him overcome his infield's miscues.

Seriously, it's one of the more obvious, no-creativity puns you could imagine when discussing Justin Masterson, so of course Mark can't help but make it.  Brace yourself.

Between the flaws of a poor infield defense and a too-high walk rate (his 3.54 BB/9 ranked a mediocre 73rd amongst all qualified starters), Masterson definitely has a few warts, but I have a couple more reasons why I think he'll end the year as a top-drawer fantasy starter.  Injury concerns aren't really a factor given how Masterson is averaging 199 innings over the last four years, plus there's the ever-popular "contract year" narrative.  The Tribe had been talking to Masterson about an extension but talks have fallen through, so it's very likely that the right-hander will test free agency next winter.  Not that Masterson isn't a motivated guy anyway, but he'll have all the more incentive to perform well, as he'll have a $100MM+ contract waiting for him if he duplicates last season's numbers in 2014.

As noted, Masterson is way off the radar of many fantasy owners, so even if you missed him in your draft, there's still a chance to acquire him in a trade before Opening Day.  If you have a promising but unproven arm like Zach Wheeler or Tony Cingriani (to name a couple of pitchers ahead of Masterson on the ADP list), I'd certainly see about unloading either for Masterson.  Your rival manager may think he's getting a steal in picking a hot young arm while you can sit back and take comfort in a more reliable option.

Are you ready?  Here it comes.

All things considered, owning Masterson could end up being a masterpiece of fantasy roster move.

...wow, could that have been shoehorned in any more?  Brutal.



How to Win 2014: OPS

Maybe you’ve already drafted and this column won’t be super-useful for you…but maybe you’re like me and you’ve still got an epic weekend packed with as many fantasy drafts as you and your supply of chips, beer, pizza, coffee, diet coke, chicken wings, and whatever else it is you use to power through will hold out. With the real baseball season (if your league doesn’t count the Australia games, neither do I) shockingly close, it’s the best time to draft anyway. Today’s episode of How to Win busts open the standard 5x5 categories with perhaps the most common sixth hitting category: OPS. Chances are this one comes into play somehow in just about every non-standard league, and while I might have drafted for my 6x6 format last week, I’m still here to do the research, just for you.

Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that OPS affects pretty much every other part of baseball and can still be informative in standard 5x5 formats—particularly for Runs and RBI.

OPS is an odd stat, insofar as it straddles modern sabermetrics and old-school baseball card stats. Made up of On-Base Percentage and Slugging Percentage (you knew that, I know), it directly reflects what actually happened in ballgames (though it requires some difficult math one instance of addition)…and yet it isn’t terribly luck-based. Basically, OPS is a stat for everyone, in a way that batting average and WAR are not.

Except Alcides Escobar. Sadly, OPS is not for him.

OPS Leaders 2013 (min. 300 PA)

 

Name

PA

OBP

SLG

OPS

1

Miguel Cabrera

652

0.442

0.636

1.078

2

Hanley Ramirez

336

0.402

0.638

1.04

3

Chris Davis

673

0.370

0.634

1.004

4

Mike Trout

716

0.432

0.557

0.988

5

David Ortiz

600

0.395

0.564

0.959

6

Carlos Gonzalez

436

0.367

0.591

0.958

7

Paul Goldschmidt

710

0.401

0.551

0.952

8

Troy Tulowitzki

512

0.391

0.54

0.931

9

Jayson Werth

532

0.398

0.532

0.931

10

Joey Votto

726

0.435

0.491

0.926

11

Yasiel Puig

432

0.391

0.534

0.925

12

Michael Cuddyer

540

0.389

0.530

0.919

 Wow…a stat leaderboard more or less correlated with the players who had the best seasons. Enjoy it for a moment, because we don’t get such things in fantasy baseball very often. It’s worth noting that a certain amount of luck does exist in the stat, in the form of high batting average players. Looking at you, Michael Cuddyer.

Since OPS is a component stat, and being great at both components is just a fancy way of being a great ballplayer, let’s look at each half, then dive into a position-by-position breakdown.

OBP Leaders 2013 (min. 300 PA)

 

Name

PA

BABIP

AVG

OBP

SLG

1

Miguel Cabrera

652

0.356

0.348

0.442

0.636

2

Joey Votto

726

0.360

0.305

0.435

0.491

3

Mike Trout

716

0.376

0.323

0.432

0.557

4

Shin-Soo Choo

712

0.338

0.285

0.423

0.462

5

Andrew McCutchen

674

0.353

0.317

0.404

0.508

6

Joe Mauer

508

0.383

0.324

0.404

0.476

7

Hanley Ramirez

336

0.363

0.345

0.402

0.638

8

Paul Goldschmidt

710

0.343

0.302

0.401

0.551

9

Jayson Werth

532

0.358

0.318

0.398

0.532

10

Freddie Freeman

629

0.371

0.319

0.396

0.501

11

David Ortiz

600

0.321

0.309

0.395

0.564

12

Matt Carpenter

717

0.359

0.318

0.392

0.481

 These guys can be counted on for walks—and therefore runs. At this elite level, most are fuelled by strong averages and high BABIP’s—making Choo look all the more impressive.

SLG Leaders 2013 (min. 300 PA)

 

Name

PA

ISO

AVG

OBP

SLG

1

Hanley Ramirez

336

0.293

0.345

0.402

0.638

2

Miguel Cabrera

652

0.288

0.348

0.442

0.636

3

Chris Davis

673

0.348

0.286

0.370

0.634

4

Carlos Gonzalez

436

0.289

0.302

0.367

0.591

5

David Ortiz

600

0.255

0.309

0.395

0.564

6

Mike Trout

716

0.234

0.323

0.432

0.557

7

Paul Goldschmidt

710

0.249

0.302

0.401

0.551

8

Troy Tulowitzki

512

0.229

0.312

0.391

0.540

9

Yasiel Puig

432

0.215

0.319

0.391

0.534

10

Edwin Encarnacion

621

0.262

0.272

0.370

0.534

11

Jayson Werth

532

0.214

0.318

0.398

0.532

12

Michael Cuddyer

540

0.198

0.331

0.389

0.530

Just take a second and look at Davis’s ISO. Wow. Unlike most of the other leaders, nearly all of his slugging came from extra-base hit power—and you know that wasn’t a bunch of triples. It’s also impressive just how much the two shortstops on this list distance themselves from the rest of their position. It’s almost enough to make me want to draft them early instead of waiting for some fleet-footed steals specialist in the late rounds.

Let’s see what OPS means for each position.

Catcher
OPS Leader: Joe Mauer, 0.880
Top-12 Average: 0.815
Top-12 Range: 0.771-0.880
Worth Noting: There’s a big dropoff from Mauer to the next guy. And a really big drop from the first 12 to the next 12 for those on you in two-catcher formats: their average OPS is just 0.717.

First Base
OPS Leader: Chris Davis, 1.004
Top-12 Average: 0.881
Top-12 Range: 0.819-1.004
Worth Noting: Yeah…the average first base starter is better than the top catcher. And the top catcher is pretty good.

Second Base
OPS Leader: Robinson Cano, 0.899
Top-12 Average:  0.800
Top-12 Range: 0.745-0.899
Worth Noting: The next 10 players after Cano and second-place Carpenter OPS just 0.783.

Third Base
OPS Leader: Miguel Cabrera, 1.078
Top-12 Average: 0.842
Top-12 Range: 0.758-1.078
Worth Noting: The top performers are pretty decent, but it’s a quick slide into numbers that more resemble middle infielders than first basemen. Don’t go looking here for your CI if you can help it.

Shortstop
OPS Leader: Hanley Ramirez, 1.040
Top-12 Average: 0.804
Top-12 Range: 0.736-1.040
Worth Noting: Only three players topped the 0.800 mark in 300 PA. Only one of those players (Tulowitzki) did it in over 500 PA. Without the top two, the next 10 average 0.768. And you thought second base was rough.

Outfield
OPS Leader: Mike Trout, 0.988
Top-36 Average: 0.840
Top-36 Range: 0.776-0.988
Worth Noting: Looked at this way, OF and 3B appear pretty similar—but plenty of leagues require four or five outfielders while allowing you just one third baseman in the starting lineup. The next 24 outfielders OPS average is just 0.748…so still pretty close to the 12th-place 3B, and better than the 12th place player at second and short. Just one more reason not to even consider filling your Util slots with anyone but first basemen and outfielders.

OPS is strongest by far in the traditional power positions. If your league replaces BA with OPS, or just adds the category, you should definitely prioritize either the top two or three players at the infield positions, or go all in on 1B and OF.

OPS is also in opposition to stolen bases. If you're in a 5x5 league with OPS, prioritizing power/speed guys is all the more important, because high-steals guys who may not kill you in average (like Jose Altuve or Elvis Andrus) will tank your OPS. If you're in a 6x6, though, the extra category just downgrades the importance of steals, so feel free to bulk up on power.

Whether OPS (or either of its components) are direct categories in your league or not, keeping OPS in mind when drafting is well worth it. Since it provides a good rough guide to overall hitting contribution, it will affect playing time in real baseball. Since it measures how often a player gets on base and how hard he hits the ball, it will come out indirectly in Runs and RBI as well.

This is the last of How to Win 2014, so hopefully it’ll help you power through the last, glorious weekend of drafting. Baseball is just about upon us, and on Monday RotoAuthority will be in full regular-season mode.



Tim Dierkes' Picks For 2014 - Starting Pitchers

On Tuesday I gave you my picks for position players.  Now here's a look at the starting pitchers who kept winding up on my teams, plus a few other thoughts.

  • Masahiro Tanaka - Do you want to take a starting pitcher in one of the first five rounds?  Most people do.  I mostly find a lot of risk and not a ton of profit potential in that top tier, though I'm open to Chris Sale and Jose Fernandez in the fourth round and Justin Verlander and David Price in the fifth.  One potential tier-jumper is Tanaka.  Back in February I talked to an international scouting director who was convinced Tanaka is already one of the ten best pitchers in MLB, and the conversation stuck with me.  I think he'll whiff more than eight per nine innings with a low WHIP.  The larger questions are how many innings he'll throw and how many home runs he'll allow, but hey, that's why he's available in the sixth round or later.  I grabbed him in the tenth round in one league.
  • Marco Estrada - I can't help but wonder if Estrada is the new Ricky Nolasco, a guy with health issues whose ERA never matches his peripherals.  I don't like Estrada's lack of velocity or groundballs.  However, I think enough people got burned by him as a sleeper last year that he's falling in drafts, so he's a good gamble in the 17th or 18th round as one of your last starters.  He won't kill your WHIP, at least.
  • Danny Salazar - One of the most popular sleeper types, which has driven up his price in some leagues.  He went in the eighth round in the RotoAuthority League, which is too rich for my blood.  In the 11th or later, definitely.  Salazar's 52 Major League innings last year checked every box aside from groundballs, though he might top out around 170 innings.
  • Sonny Gray - Another guy who checked most boxes in a small big league sample, Gray actually did get groundballs.  He's worth a 10th or 11th round pick.
  • Tyson Ross - I have a little concern about his control, but I'm hoping he's tough enough to hit to make up for it.  Ross had that elusive combination of strikeouts and groundballs in his half-season of starting last year, plus he plays in San Diego and can be taken late in a draft.
  • Corey Kluber - Kluber's another peripheral-based favorite of many, though he's allowed a lot of hits throughout his career.  If you're a believer in his BABIP dropping, he's worth an endgame pick for sure.
  • Alex Cobb - He's not a sleeper, but his spring training was so dominant it makes me wonder if he can jump into the top tier of pitchers this year.  
  • Jeff Samardzija - People have backed away from Samardzija after he failed to make progress last year.  Control is the only remaining piece of the puzzle for him.  Even if it doesn't come, you get 200+ Ks.
  • Matt Garza - People hate Garza this year.  Every time I look at the top of my spreadsheet near the end of a draft, Garza's there as the best available pitcher.  I think people are overrating the health risk and his terrible spring.  I'm a little wary of him too, I get it.  But his draft position has been so low in my leagues, I had no choice but to take him.  What part of this is unreasonable: 3.63 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 8.2 K/9, 2.7 BB/9?  I drafted him in the 25th round of the competitive RotoAuthority League.  Don't take a boring Ervin Santana type over Garza.  There is still upside here for a quality year.
  • Chris Tillman - The AL East is no fun, but his second half says breakout potential and he's going very late in drafts.   


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Closer Updates: Astros, Jays, Reds, Rangers, White Sox

As you already know, the 2014 MLB season is already under way after a quick series in the Outback and our saves leader thus far is… drumroll please… Kenley Jansen, with a whopping 1 save and a fairly rough start (6.75 ERA, 1.50 WHIP). With Opening Day on our heels, let’s take a quick look at some of the other developments on the closer scene.

Chicago White Sox

The bullpen picture for the Sox is clear as mud. Lead man Nate Jones hasn’t quite taken over the role as some had hoped and manager Robin Ventura recently acknowledged that a closer might not be named prior to Opening Day. Matt Lindstrom and Ronald Belisario are both still in the mix, but so is Javy Guerra – who was just picked up on waivers from the Dodgers.

Cincinnati Reds

With Aroldis Chapman out for at least a month, the closer job in Cincy will be a hot topic until he returns. J.J. Hoover should have the job going into the season after a strong 2013 (69 appearances, 2.86 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 3 saves). Jonathan Broxton and Sean Marshall are still working their way back from injury and won’t be ready for Opening Day.

Houston Astros

Rather than naming a closer before Opening Day, the Astros have opted to go with a closer-by-committee approach to start the season. Manager Bo Porter made it clear that he’ll be examining matchups before deciding who gets the nod. Right now, the group of potential candidates includes Chad Qualls and Josh Fields, as well as Kevin Chapman, Matt Albers, and Anthony Bass. If nobody takes the gig by May, Jesse Crain should emerge as the favorite once fully healthy.

Texas Rangers

It seems that manager Ron Washington has made up his mind and Joakim Soria will be the closer in Texas on Opening Day. With 160 career saves, look for Washington to stick with the two-time All Star through any early struggles. Former frontrunner Neftali Feliz was just sent to AAA and will try a move to the starting rotation while Alexi Ogando will assume the role of setup man.

Toronto Blue Jays

After a lengthy recovery from a shoulder injury, Casey Janssen made his spring debut on Monday and had a scoreless appearance. However, Janssen never topped 86 mph and this lack of velocity is a small red flag. That being said, Janssen should come back to full strength after a few more outings and his fastball will follow shortly thereafter. If not, April might be rough.

If you’re chasing saves in your fantasy league, there’s only one place to check out… For the latest news on closers to grab, stash, start, or bench, be sure to follow @CloserNews on Twitter.



RotoAuthority Reader Leagues

If it's not too late, please use the comments here to post fantasy baseball league openings.


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Draft Round Battles: Alvarez Vs. Seager

Go big or go home.  This is my mantra every time I go to an all-you-can-eat pasta buffet, and it's the mantra many fantasy managers take when putting together a team.  Everyone has one or two managers in their league (or you're one yourself) who load up their rosters with players who are injury risks, coming off poor seasons, youngsters looking to break out into stardom, etc.  For managers like these, Go Bold Or Go Home isn't just a feature column, it's a way of life.

These types of managers love Pedro Alvarez.  "Look at that raw power!  He hit 36 homers last year!  With 100 RBI!  I don't care if he strikes out more often Mark did at finding a senior year prom date, Alvarez is my guy!  If he gets his average up even just a bit, look out!"  First of all, I didn't appreciate the cheap shot, fictional straw man fantasy manager.  Secondly, while said managers can cut right to the bone by bringing up painful high school memories, they may have a point.

Alvarez hit .233/.296/.473 in 614 PA last season, and it's of no small concern to the Pirates and their fans that Alvarez's walk rate dropped to a career-low (7.8%) after, ahem, "peaking" with a career-high 9.7% in 2012.  The slugger still hasn't surpassed the .326 OBP he posted over 95 games in his 2010 rookie season so forget about Alvarez inheriting Adam Dunn's title as the Three True Outcomes King; Alvarez's only two outcomes seem to be "hit a dinger" or "strike out."

That said, walks don't account for much in a 5x5 fantasy league.   Sure, a guy who gets on base less often will score fewer runs (Alvarez only crossed the plate 70 times last year) but by and large, if a guy is able to give you 36 HR/100 RBI from the third base position, you don't mind if he underachieves a little bit in the run category.  And, like Dunn, you also don't mind trading off lower batting average for that kind of extra pop.

Alvarez currently holds a 73.06 average draft position in Mock Draft Central's latest ADP report, putting him just in front of his 77.5 ADP doppelganger.  This third baseman is also a left-handed hitter who can't hit southpaws at all, plays in a pitcher-friendly ballpark and yet enjoyed a pretty solid power season in 2013.  This player also topped Alvarez in rWAR, fWAR, wRC+ and OPS+, and I can probably stop being coy with his name since it's right there in the post title --- it's Kyle Seager

The Silver Bullet Man hit .260/.338/.426 with 22 homers, 69 RBI, 79 runs and even nine steals over 695 PA last season.  If Alvarez is the new Dunn, maybe Seager can take over from Chase Headley as the player whose value is most limited by his home ballpark.  Over his three-year career, Seager has an .836 OPS in road games and only a .645 OPS at Safeco Field, so it's quite possible that Seager would be a top-five fantasy third baseman if he played anywhere but Seattle.  (Alvarez, for the record, also enjoyed a big edge in away games in 2013 but his home/away splits are almost identical for his career.)

Both players definitely aren't the kind you can just stick in your 3B slot and happily forget about for the rest of the year.  Neither Alvarez or Seager can hit left-handed pitching, and in Seager's case, he's a poor play for the home half of the schedule.  From a 5x5 perspective, however, Seager may have the edge....

  • Runs.  Seager gets on base a bit more and thus will score more.  Also, since the Mariners actually have some quality Major League hitters in the lineup this year, Seager should theoretically score more often.
  • RBI.  Alvarez had the big edge last season but Seager had 86 steaks in 2012.  The improved Seattle lineup should also lead to more opportunities for Seager to drive in runs, so I'll still give this one to Alvarez, but only slightly.
  • Steals.  Seager stole 13 bags in 2012 and nine last year, so he can at least hit the double-digits in the category.  Alvarez has four career steals in four seasons so he's nada in this category.
  • Average.  While Seager's .260 career average is nothing to write home about, it's still better than Alvarez's .235 mark.  Even when Alvarez was ripping up the minors with an .888 OPS, he only had a .278 average (and a .270 in Triple-A).  His contact rates have dipped in each of the last three seasons, so it's hard to see where the "he just needs to get his average up a bit!" argument holds much sway aside from a BABIP spike.
  • Home runs.  While 22 homers counts as a major power surge for a Mariner, there's no question Alvarez holds the edge here.

I've got to confess, I'm not much of a "go big or go home" kind of fantasy manager.  I always hesitate to have players who are utter sinks in a category (besides steals) since adds a bit more pressure to find another player who excels in that category to balance things out.  It's for this reason that I prefer Seager to Alvarez, because while I think Seager also has a better chance of breaking out in 2014,  at the end of the day he's just a less-frustrating pick. 

If you're in a league that goes beyond the 5x5 numbers, Seager becomes even a better pick.  If you track OBP or walks, Seager has the edge (though not by a wide margin, given his career .325 OBP).  Tracking doubles again favors Seager, since doubles aren't a True Outcome.  And if you're in a league that counts negative stats like strikeouts, then Alvarez becomes a burden.

As opposed to when I'm deciding on a fourth plate of spaghetti as a pasta buffet, I'm going to show restraint here and recommend Seager over Alvarez.  While power is an increasingly rare commodity, Alvarez is just too streaky for my liking.



Tim Dierkes' Picks For 2014 - Position Players

All four of my drafts and auctions are in the books, and before the season begins in earnest I'm going to put down all my favorites for 2014.  It will be fun to look back in October and see how I did.

Catchers

The RotoAuthority League has 12 teams and two catcher spots for each, and historically, the best players at the position have come off the board extremely early.  In 2013 most of the top-tier catchers went in the sixth round; this year most were getting snapped up in the fifth.  Even though I had taken Buster Posey at #29 overall, I found Jonathan Lucroy hard to pass up at #77 in the seventh round.  I think Lucroy is on par with bigger names like Carlos Santana, Wilin Rosario, Yadier Molina, Brian McCann, and Joe Mauer.  For those seeking later value at the position, my picks are Wilson Ramos and Yan Gomes.

First basemen

There is profit to be had with Edwin Encarnacion outside of the first round, as he's a first-round talent if healthy.  Eric Hosmer has five-category potential in the fourth round or later.  But the biggest profit may come from Jose Abreu, who I feel has top five potential at the position this year.  I believe in Anthony Rizzo as well.  Chicago bias, maybe.

Second basemen

Aaron Hill is on a lot of my teams.  I'd rank him seventh or eighth at the position, but he typically goes after guys like Brandon Phillips, Brett Lawrie, Martin Prado, and sometimes Jedd Gyorko.  I'm also a big fan of Brad Miller to fill my MI spot.  Dustin Ackley and Anthony Rendon are a couple of good end-of-the-draft wild cards.

Shortstops

I was pretty high on Jose Reyes as a fourth or even third-round pick, as we all know he can be a #1 shortstop in a full season.  Then his recent hamstring injury shook me out of my haze; I'd rather let someone else take the risk.  The remaining value at shortstop is in what I'd call the Elvis Andrus-lite type guys, Everth Cabrera and, to a lesser degree, Jonathan Villar.  40-60 steals, no power, and hopefully batting average and run numbers that don't hurt you too much.  Villar's average should hurt, though.  I hate drafting unbalanced players, but Ian Desmond is going too early these days.  Javier Baez projects to go deep at a 40 home run pace once he comes up, and he's worth rostering in the endgame in case the Cubs choose to go to him in late April or May rather than the more likely June.

Third base

I've mentioned Encarnacion, and I also think David Wright is a solid second-round pick despite the health gamble.  In some leagues Pedro Alvarez's low batting average drives him down further it should and profit can be made, but generally I fill this position early rather than overpay for a Matt Carpenter, Ryan Zimmerman, or Josh Donaldson.  In the end game, I like to take Todd Frazier.

Outfield

I think the backlash is a little strong on Domonic Brown, who is still a solid second or third outfielder.  Nelson Cruz still has 35 home run potential.  Kole Calhoun is a 20 home run, 15 steal candidate, and Khris Davis could hit 25 bombs.  Calhoun and Davis are pretty typical sleepers, but I think it's justified since you can get them late.  If you're willing to roster him for potentially a couple of months, George Springer should break in at a 30/30 pace.  Both Springer and Baez seem likely to hit worse than .250, however.


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RotoAuthority Unscripted: Your Aberrant Experts (Starter Rankings)

Aberrant, deviant, distorted...awesome. However you want to call it, the rankings we put up here at RotoAuthority aren't just a clone of every other expert on the planet. Sure, we agree on the top four hitters, and that Clayton Kershaw and Yu Darvish should be the first two pitchers off the draft board, but things start to change after that.

Last week, I wrote up where some of our biggest differences were at each hitting position, and today we'll take up starting pitchers. You can check out our whole SP rankings here. (Note: I thought about including relievers, but it just didn't seem that fruitful—the big differences at that position are when to take any relievers at all.)

And for your reference, check out all of RotoAuthority’s rankings: OutfieldCatcherFirst BaseThird BaseSecond BaseShortstopCloserMiddle and Corner Infield

Once again, ADP and the Expert Consensus come from FantasyPros.com, with data they glean from across the fantasy globe.

Matt Cain
RA Ranking: 14 ADP Rank: 18 Expert Consensus: 17

The ranking difference doesn’t quite tell the story here—the RA thinking is that Cain remains a high-level SP option, just after the truly elite. Though ADP and the Expert Consensus only slot him a few ranks lower, they suggest he belongs squarely in the middle of your number-two pitchers. Verdict: Small differences matter—trust RA.

Doug Fister
RA Ranking: 19 ADP Rank: 33 Expert Consensus: 33

We’re aggressive on Fister, but there's very little not to like about his new situation, moving to the NL most especially. Remember when Gio Gonzalez made the same transition? There was a big improvement in his strikeout rate. Our prediction is that Fister leapfrogs new teammate Jordan Zimmermann, and we’re willing to take him as our number two starter if need be. Of course, we may not need to, given his ADP, but games of fantasy chicken are another story altogether…. Verdict: Trust RA.

Jered Weaver
RA Ranking: 21 ADP Rank: 28 Expert Consensus: 31

Weaver went from overrated to underrated in the space of about a year. I’m inclined to think that he’s being punished for the fact that he hasn’t sustained that one season of elite strikeout production. Just because he isn’t missing bats, though, doesn’t mean that he hasn’t made a habit of overperforming his FIP and providing solid help in WHIP every year. Weaver is just the kind of pitcher that I like to use to balance out high-K, high-BB pitchers like Gio Gonzalez. Verdict: Expect to see Weaver on plenty of teams that contend in ERA, WHIP, and Wins—trust RA.

Hyun-jin Ryu
RA Ranking: 25 ADP Rank: 31 Expert Consensus: 30

Ryu is another guy who doesn’t dominate whiffs, but helps everywhere else. Playing for the Dodgers, he benefits from a good lineup and a friendly park—he’s got the factors you want for good luck. That and strong control, and the fact that he’s relatively young. I see a high floor with room for improvement in his second year stateside. Verdict: Trust RA

Gerrit Cole
RA Ranking: 27 ADP Rank: 21 Expert Consensus: 19

“Why do you hate Gerrit Cole?” asked, apparently, everyone. We don’t. It’s not that we love Cole less—just that we love others more. There’s always risk with young pitchers, and with Cole there’s also the risk that he doesn’t add the strikeouts that most are expecting—and there are a lot of enticing options between our ranking and that of the Experts. Still, he’s got seriously high reward, so the enthusiasm is understandable. Verdict: Go for it if you’re focused on upside. Otherwise, there are plenty of more proven pitchers available.

A.J. Burnett
RA Ranking: 28 ADP Rank: 48 Expert Consensus: 48

Most others seem to see in Burnett a guy who’s too old and had huge home/road splits—and now is leaving that favorable home behind. Me, I see a guy who pitched good and struck out far more batters than anyone else left on the board. There’s certainly downside here—serious downside—but the upside is the ace-level pitching he gave owners last year. The RA ranking is aggressive, but he’s an absolute steal at his ADP. Verdict: Target him between our rank and his ADP—he’s a risk worth taking.

Masahiro Tanaka
RA Ranking: 30 ADP Rank: 20 Expert Consensus: 27

The numbers above tell the story on Tanaka: experts (including RA) are cautiously interested—but every league seems to have someone who just can’t wait to take Tanaka. Verdict: The experts agree—be patient with Tanaka.

Hiroki Kuroda
RA Ranking: 37 ADP Rank: 49 Expert Consensus: 41

Another Japanese Yankee where RA and the Experts land nearly together—and far from ADP. There’s nothing terribly exciting about the dependable Kuroda, so it’s no wonder he’s lasting longer in drafts. That said, reliable pitchers are rare, and good for balancing out risks like his new teammate. Verdict: Trust RA (and the other Experts)

Matt Moore
RA Ranking: 49 ADP Rank: 32 Expert Consensus: 28

This is one strikeout source even I won’t touch. With huge walk rates and a year that started great but seemed to get worse every month, Moore seems to be made of red flags. There’s no way I’d consider taking him as early as the other Experts suggest. If that means I miss out on what he’ll do to my WHIP even if things go right, well that’s fine. Verdict: Moore is a time bomb at 28. Trust RA.

Rick Porcello
RA Ranking: 55 ADP Rank: 77 Expert Consensus: 71

Porcello is cemented into the rotation of one of baseball’s best teams, and he's ratcheted his strikeout rate up a bunch in 2013. He’s still younger than we think, since he came to the Majors at 20 years old and he could really put it all together this year. Even if he doesn’t, he ought to be a good source of Wins and ERA. Verdict: He’s got more upside than plenty of late-round pitchers, and a much, much higher floor. Trust RA.

Scott Kazmir
RA Ranking: 56 ADP Rank: 76 Expert Consensus: 72

Kazmir came back like lightning last year, with prodigious strikeouts and a FIP that suggested his 4.00+ ERA ought to come down. Now, he’s in a very favorable park, still playing for a contending team—this is a risk I like. Verdict: Trust RA.

John Lackey
RA Ranking: 61 ADP Rank: 80 Expert Consensus: 64

RA and the Experts are nearly 20 draft slots ahead of most on Lackey! Maybe most drafters didn’t notice that he really bounced back last year. I don’t know why drafters don't like him, but it's easy enough to see that he's well worth drafting. Verdict: Trust RA—and the Experts.

Chris Tillman
RA Ranking: 70 ADP Rank: 60 Expert Consensus: 58

Tillman was pretty lucky with his ERA last year, so I have some worries about what his 2014 will really look like. That said, he plays on a team with a good offense and misses bats, so there’s some useful upside here. If you think his ERA and WHIP will hold together, I can understand liking him more than we do. Verdict: You can feel OK about drafting him before me…but I’ll feel fine too.

Jonathon Niese
RA Ranking: 71 ADP Rank: 100 Expert Consensus: 84

RA and the Experts seem to have noticed what most drafters haven’t: Niese really regained form after I dropped him off all my fantasy teams returning from injury. In fact, he pitched like the top-40 starter that he was in 2012. You don’t have to be as aggressive as RA to get this guy on your team, but you definitely should. Verdict: Trust RA…but feel free to wait on him.

Alex Wood
RA Ranking: 73 ADP Rank: 62 Expert Consensus: 60

I’d like to excuse myself to say that we did this ranking before the Braves’ rotation got hit with injuries…but that’s not particularly true. Wood does seem to have more upside than our 73 ranking gives him credit for, though at this point in the draft, you’re sorting through which kind of risk/reward candidates you like. Verdict: Go ahead and move Wood up a little higher on your draft board. There are plenty of people less interesting than him.

 

 



RotoAuthority League Update: Draft Preview

The RotoAuthority League is a highly competitive 12-team fantasy baseball league run by Tim Dierkes. The settings consist of standard 5 X 5 Rotisserie scoring and 23-man lineups along with 4 bench spots. In an effort to keep owners interested as well as to infuse new blood into the league, the teams that finish below 8th place are kicked out of the league each year. The author of this column just hopes he isn't one of them.

Tonight the RotoAuthority League snake draft will take place. Due to the fact that the four teams that finish at the bottom of the standings get booted each year, this league is always competitive from start to finish. I've played against some of these owners for a few years now, so I have a decent idea of their personal preferences in players. That being said, there are always new faces to the league each year, so I'm also working with incomplete information.

Let's take a look at the owners in the order in which they'll be drafting tonight. Along with a brief introduction, I've provided my best guess as to which player each owner will select in Round One.

1. Men With Wood

Previous Finishes: 2008 – 8th, 2009 – 4th, 2010 – 2nd, 2011 – 1st, 2012 – 5th, 2013 - 8th

Projected Pick: Mike Trout

Aside from Commissioner Tim Dierkes, this owner is the only one who's been around since the beginning of the league. Given that we kick out the bottom four every year, that's no small feat. After four consecutive finishes in the top five, Men With Wood just barely avoided the boot last year. Over the years, this owner has shown a preference for the rare five-category contributors in Round One with previous picks including Ryan Braun, Matt Kemp, and Andrew McCutchen. Well, this year he'll get the best power-speed option of all in Mike Trout. In fact, this isn't even a prediction on my part, as this owner made it known he'll be taking Trout immediately after the draft order was announced.

2. Yu at the Animal Zoo

Previous Finishes: 2013 - 1st

Projected Pick: Miguel Cabrera

Last year this owner drafted Miguel Cabrera in Round One and wound up winning the league. Could we see a repeat this year? Well, I'm fairly certain we'll at least this owner select Miggy in the first round again. It's tough to make a case for anyone over Cabrera at pick two. I know this owner has only been in the league for a year, but he clearly knows his stuff. I have to say - it's a tad scary that he'll get to build his team around the rock-solid Cabrera again.

3. Brewsterville Bruins

Previous Finishes: 2011 – 5th, 2012 – 2nd, 2013 - 4th

Projected Pick: Paul Goldschmidt

One of the most consistent performers in the league's brief history, Brewsterville Bruins have yet to finish outside the top five. During his three years in the league, this owner has drafted a power-hitting corner infielder in Round One every time. First, it was Evan Longoria with the fifth pick in 2011; next, it was Prince Fielder with the 11th pick in 2012; then, it was Fielder again with the tenth pick last year. I'll project that trend to continue and put this owner down for Goldy at third overall.

4. Spirit of St. Louis

Previous Finishes: N/A

Projected Pick: Andrew McCutchen

One of four new faces to the league this year, the Spirit of St. Louis has drawn a good pick in a year in which there's a pretty clear top four among the fantasy community. Clearly I have no information to work with here, but I'd be surprised if this owner let Cutch fall past the fourth pick. If by chance Brewsterville opts for the Pirates superstar with the third pick, then I'd have to think this owner would go with Goldschmidt.

5. Smell the Glove

Previous Finishes: 2008 – 1st, 2009 – 6th, 2010 – 5th, 2011 – 12th, 2012 – 11th, 2013 - 2nd

Projected Pick: Carlos Gonzalez

Smell the Glove is run by Tim Dierkes, creator of MLB Trade Rumors. Perhaps you've heard of it? After winning the league in its inaugural season, Tim finished in the middle of the pack for a couple years and then struggled for two years. Now that I’ve drafted with Tim for six years, I have a good feel for his general draft approach. He values multi-categorical production in the early rounds. Assuming the consensus top four is off the board, CarGo is precisely the type of player whom Tim typically selects to serve as the foundation for his teams. 

6. The Jewru

Previous Finishes: N/A

Projected Pick: Clayton Kershaw

Another one of our newbies, the Jewru won his way into the league by taking home the Silver League last year. Once again, I'm really only guessing here, as I have nothing to go off when it comes to this manager. I'll go with the data here and put this owner down for the player being selected after the consensus top four according to NFBC ADP, Clayton Kershaw. It's certainly possible that this owner is the type of fantasy owner who refuses to draft a pitcher in Round One, and I'm actually hoping that's the case. After all, I'd love to see the Dodgers ace fall all the way to my pick at the turn, but I'm probably just dreaming.

7. The Bombers

Previous Finishes: N/A

Projected Pick: Chris Davis

The Bombers won their way their ticket into the league through random selection after participating in the RotoAuthority Mock Draft. Accordingly, I'm working with a sample size of exactly one mock draft when it comes to information on this owner. Still worse, this owner had the second pick in that mock draft and naturally selected Miguel Cabrera, who clearly won't make it to pick seven tonight. As such, I'm mostly throwing darts here when it comes to projecting a Round One selection; however, this owner does appear to value power in the early rounds (even at the expense of AVG) with early picks in the mock like Yoenis Cespedes and Mark Trumbo, so I'll put the Bombers down for Chris Davis. Of course, that's really just a guess.

8. Guitar Masahiro

Previous Finishes: 2012 – 8th, 2013 - 6th

Projected Pick: Robinson Cano

While the name Guitar Masahiro may look unfamiliar to those of you who read about this league last season, this is the same owner who managed Say it Ain't So Cano last year. Naturally then, there's really only one player to project for this owner to draft in Round One, Mr. Cano himself. The manager of Guitar Masahiro enters his third season in the league still looking for his first finish in the money. It's worth noting that this manager drafted Troy Tulowitzki in the first round in 2012 and then in the second round last year. Should I pencil in Tulo for this owner in Round Two this year?

9. Gramma Nutt Crushers

Previous Finishes: 2010 – 1st, 2011 – 8th, 2012 – 4th, 2013 - 3rd

Projected Pick: Ryan Braun

Outside of 2011, the Gramma Nutt Crushers have finished in the top four every other year they've been in the league, including a title in 2010. That's an impressive resume for this league. Over the years we've seen this owner draft a Who's Who list of some of the most talented players in modern baseball history in Miguel Cabrera, Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, and (dare I say) Bryce Harper. I know there are some question marks revolving around Ryan Braun, but I just don't see this owner passing on the Brewers star at nine.

10.  Cobra Kai

Previous Finishes: N/A

Projected Pick: Adam Jones

Like the Bombers, Cobra Kai took part in the RotoAuthority Mock Draft and was randomly selected to join this league. Once again, we have a whopping sample size of one mock draft at our disposal. Once more, even that single mock draft isn't all that useful, as this owner had the first pick in the mock. While Mike Trout won't make it to pick ten in any league this year, this manager should be able to get another five-category outfielder in Adam Jones here. Cobra Kai did take Jason Kipnis in the second round in that same mock, so this owner appreciates the power/speed options at least to a certain extent.

11. E-Z Sliders

Previous Finishes: 2013 - 5th

Projected Pick: Bryce Harper

After winning the Silver League in 2012, E-Z Sliders finished just outside the money in fifth place last season. This owner drew the third pick in last year's draft and chose none other than Mike Trout. I'd say that pick worked out pretty well. This manager came back with Justin Upton in Round Two, so the E-Z Sliders aren't afraid to swing for the fences with a young player with a sky-high ceiling. Well, outside of Trout, perhaps no player in the game has a higher ceiling than Bryce Harper, so I could certainly see this owner going with Nationals phenom tonight. 

12. A Century of Misery

Previous Finishes: 2009 – 5th, 2010 – 4th, 2011 – 4th, 2012 – 3rd, 2013 - 7th

Projected Pick: Edwin Encarnacion

And that brings us to my pick at the turn. If you've read any of my work this offseason, you know I prefer to play it safe in the early rounds. Well, if the draft goes as I've projected, some highly talented yet relatively risky players like Hanley Ramirez and Jacoby Ellsbury will be potential options for me here. I'm on record that I'd rather opt for safer options like Edwin Encarnacion, Joey Votto, and Adrian Beltre. Given the state of third base, I can practically guarantee that I'll draft either Encarnacion or Beltre with one of my two picks at the turn. As I look at how I've finished over the years, however, I can't help but think I need to embrace some risk if I want to win this league anytime soon. Should I break free from my norms and swing for the fences tonight?

Check back here next week for an extensive draft recap.





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