Yesterday I participated in an analyst league over at Razzball.com, a 12-team “experts” league that will also compete in an overall competition alongside 60 other leagues comprised of loyal readers of the site in their very popular RCL Leagues. The draft boasted an excellent roster of writers from around the web, including Tout Wars participants Scott Pianowski, Nick Minnix, Derek Carty, Paul Singman, Ray Guilfoyle and Mike Podhozer, Razzball’s own Grey Albright and Rudy Gamble, Bret Sayre, Mark Bloom and BP co-founder Clay Davenport. It also includes last year’s defending champion, yours truly.
We didn’t know our draft positions until we entered the room for the 25-round draft, and I wasn’t thrilled to be picking at 12. The league uses only one catcher and has only three bench slots. It also employs an interesting wrinkle on the pitching side, a 180 games started limit along with a 1000 IP minimum. It is also a daily and trading league, so there tends to be a decent amount of player movement throughout the year. Here is the Mastersball entry for our title defense:
1.12 Justin Upton – I had settled on grabbing Upton with one of my two picks prior to the draft and almost was able to pair him up with Joey Votto, who went just before. Landing in the back-end of the first round, I decided to take some of Todd’s advice and “go big or go home” with the newly minted Atlanta Brave. Others might go for Bryce Harper, but I decided to take my shot for first round value here.
2.13 Troy Tulowitzki – Honestly, I didn’t know what I was going to do with this pick until it came. I didn’t want to go pitching this high in back-to-back drafts, threw Tulo on the block and tried to talk myself out of it. In the end, I relented and drafted the oft-injured shortstop for the first time this year. I know he’ll more than likely miss time at some point, but it will be easier to bridge the gaps in a league this shallow. We all know what he can do when he’s healthy, so hopefully luck is on my side with this pick.
3.36 Billy Butler – Coming into this pick, I was focused like a laser on Yoenis Cespedes, who I was sure would be there for me. When he vanished from view, I opted to grab Billy Butler as the seventh first baseman off the board. Grey had taken Paul Goldschmidt in the second round, and he would have been my pick here in a normal draft. I’ll admit to playing it safe here with Butler, who’ll give me a .300 batting average and decent power.
4.37 Allen Craig – After getting sniped a couple times already, I decided Craig would be on this team as well. I’m on board with Todd’s aggressive projection for “The Wrench” and passed over Josh Hamilton and David Wright to lock him up.
5.60 Chris Sale – I was targeting my second baseman with this pair of picks but Jason Kipnis, Aaron Hill and even Jose Altuve elude and send me shopping elsewhere. Of course Desmond Jennings, who I had drafted in the sixth round the day before, was also snatched. I decided to grab Sale, who has the ability to mow down hitters with the best of them. Health is a concern, but I’m not that worried this year.
6.61 Gio Gonzalez – I’ll admit the fact that every bat I had in my sights disappeared brought Gonzalez into view. I almost took Brett Lawrie and Austin Jackson, but instead decided to lock up another elite starting pitcher with 200 K potential.
7.84 Martin Prado – Prado was not a target heading in, but I guess he falls into a similar category as Butler. He’s a relatively stable commodity that chips in a little bit of everything and adds flexibility to the roster. At least I had a third baseman on board, so I was covered if I missed my targets later on.
9.108 Carlos Santana – What, you knew I was going to draft him at some point didn’t you? Well, I was hoping for Josh Rutledge to fill my hole at second base, but Rudy Gamble beat me to the punch. Besides, being a homer pick, he’s also another multi-positional player. That could conceivably free up one of my corners for a trade at some point in the season. Beyond that, I still believe a breakout is coming. Getting Santana’s potential uncorked is one of Terry Francona’s primary tasks.
10.109 Shane Victorino – Getting some speed onto the roster was a need and the “Flying Hawaiian” was by far the best option on my board at this point. At 33, there is obviously more risk than before, but I actually think he will enjoy his new surroundings in Fenway.
11.132 Ian Kennedy – I was waiting on Rickie Weeks with this pick, but he went with pick #129. Instead I grabbed Kennedy as my SP3. This is one case where I definitely feel like I got a player I actually like quite a bit at a really nice discounted price.
12.133 Adam LaRoche – I thought about taking my second closer here, but opted for the the boring veteran again. While I really like LaRoche as a UT, I did miss the opportunity to start a closer run rather than finish it.
13.156 Kyle Seager – Seeing that this was a Mastersball entry, I was happy to secure one of our mascots. He’s a line drive machine with room for growth this season. Plus, he’ll chip in some additional speed as well.
14.157 Rafael Betancourt – After watching seven other closers drafted, I was happy to snatch up Betancourt, although I’d have been happier if he was my third closer.
15.180 Jedd Gyorko – I needed a second baseman, and Gyorko qualifies there to start the year in this league. He’ll be another multi-positional player at some point, and his power profile plays a lot nicer here than at the hot corner.
16.181 Coco Crisp – Crisp, like Victorino, fills the speed void on this team while still providing a modicum of pop.
17.204 Jarrod Parker – I’m a Parker fan, and I was actually pretty thrilled with the price I paid to secure his services in this draft.
18.205 Ryan Madson – This pick will either hit or it will miss big-time. It all comes down to whether Madson’s elbow will allow him to pitch and if Ernesto Frieri doesn’t steal the job for good. I almost grabbed Perry Van Hook fav Jean Segura here, and looking back I might make that switch if I could.
19.228 J.J. Hardy – Needed to fill my MI slot. Opted for the power that is the Oriole shortstop’s calling card.
20.229 Mark Teixeira – Felt like a decent gamble at the time. If they shut him down for the year next week, not so much.
21.252 Matt Harrison – Harrison has shown he knows how to win ballgames. If regression hits, I’ll look elsewhere.
22.253 Vinnie Pestano – With daily transactions, it actually helps to have high K relievers to throw in there. Pestano’s day in the sun will come eventually.
24.277 Wil Myers – I wasn’t going to take him in this draft, but I’ll take the shot this late and stash him as long as I can afford to.
Having played in this format last year, I have a good idea of what it takes to compete. Does this team have what it takes for a repeat? There are some quirks to the league that take some getting used to, but if the quality of the draft is any indication, I’ve got my work cut out for me.