This was my second fantasy draft, and the rules for this league are different than for my first one. Each owner keeps three players, who are eligible to be kept for up to three seasons, so those three players are basically your first three draft picks. So without further ado, let’s have a warm welcome for the Section 314 Boozers:
Round 1 (Keeper), Ryan Howard, 1B, PHI: This is the last year I can keep Howard, but with his power in Citizen’s Bank Ballpark, he’s good for 40 homers by accident. The only downside to Howard, which I’ve gotten a little better about managing, is that when he goes into a slump, it’s a bad, bad slump. He won’t even get you the occasional home run or RBI. When he’s in the tank, he’s deep in the tank, and I’ve learned to not be afraid to bench my “best” player.
Round 2 (Keeper), Ian Kinsler, 2B, TEX: I actually kept Carl Crawford, the Rays’ talented outfielder, but made a draft-day trade for Kinsler after much deliberation. I have Kinsler on my other fantasy team, and I tend to end up with several duplicate players. As I said in my blog entry on my other team, Kinsler doesn’t dominate the 2B position the way Joe Mauer of Minnesota dominates the catcher position, but he posts strong power numbers, steals bases, and is an all-around fantastic fantasy player (and real-life player).
Round 3 (Keeper), Curtis Granderson, OF, NYY: I have been a Granderson fan for years, and the fact that he’s now a Yankee is just icing on the cake. The good news is that I expect his power numbers to rise big-time playing in Yankee Stadium. The downside: I fear that he may not try to steal as many bases because of the strength of the Yankee lineup and where he’ll bat in it.
Round 4, Dan Haren, SP, AZ: He was, simply, the best starting pitcher left here.
Round 5, Pablo Sandoval, 3B, SF: Another duplicate pick for me, for the exact same reason I picked him in my first draft. He was the last good 3B available, but as I said in my blog on the last draft, he only has one season under his belt, and his belt became quite large toward the end of last season, so this pick was a little on the risky side, especially because his home ballpark is far from a hitters’ park.
Round 6, Bobby Abreu, OF, LAA: As a Yankee fan, I was never an Abreu fan, because I felt that he was terrified of the right field wall on defense, and I felt that his RBIs never came in key situations. Fortunately, neither of those means a thing in fantasy baseball, and he is simply an on-base-percentage machine with good speed.
Round 7, Elvis Andrus, SS, TEX: Up-and-coming young ballplayer, also with good speed.
Round 8, Chad Billingsley, SP, LAD: He was another duplicate pick for me. I like his strikeout numbers and the fact that he pitches for a solid team in a pitchers’ ballpark.
Round 9, Joakim Soria, RP, KC: The run on closers started well before I picked (I had pick No. 9 out of 12), and Soria was the best one left by the time my turn came.
Round 10, Hunter Pence, OF, HOU: Yes, another duplicate pick and, as I said in my earlier blog post, I really like this guy, but I hate picking players in bad lineups, and I don’t have much confidence in the Astros. Still, he’s a solid hitter playing in a hitters’ park, so I hope he has a strong season.
Round 11, Billy Wagner, RP, ATL: Wagner is my risky pick in both leagues. As I said when writing about him after my first draft, if his elbow doesn’t blow apart into 20 pieces, he is capable of putting up fantastic numbers. If he hadn’t pitched pretty well in his few appearances at the end of last season, I probably wouldn’t have taken this chance.
Round 12, Brett Anderson, SP, OAK: A solid, young starting pitcher who put up good numbers last season.
Round 13, Alex Rios, OF, CHW: Yes, I have Rios on my other team, as well. I’m counting on this guy to have a serious bounce-back season, because he was terrible last year after being excellent in the past.
Round 14, James Loney, 1B, LAD: I need someone to plug in at the 1B spot when Howard goes into his two or three deep funks every season, and Loney is solid.
Round 15, James Shields, SP, TB: I went with a really young group of starting pitchers. The good news is that they show potential for improvement and are promising. The bad news is that young pitchers are always risky.
Round 16, Erick Aybar, SS, LAA: I liked him as much as Andrus, for pretty much the same reasons, and I couldn’t believe he was still available this late in the draft.
Round 17, Kurt Suzuki, C, OAK: He was the best catcher left at this point.
Round 18, Jaime Garcia, RP, STL: Yahoo! has him listed as a relief pitcher, but he won the No. 5 starter job for the Cardinals and has been one of their most highly touted prospects, so I figured I’d rather gamble with him in round 18 than waste a pick on an average veteran.
Round 19, Brian Matusz, SP, BAL: What I wrote about Shields applies here, and also some of what I wrote about Garcia. This guy has been a highly touted prospect and, if Garcia and/or Matusz fail miserably, serviceable veteran pitchers are always available.
Round 20, Juan Pierre, OF, CHW: Good backup outfielder with speed, and I think he will be a good fit with the White Sox.
Round 21, Joba Chamberlain, RP, NYY: This was the Yankee fan in me taking a shot that Joba regains his bullpen dominance and becomes a premier set-up man. And if he doesn’t, it was a 21st-round pick.
Round 22, Alex Gordon, 3B, KC: I’m pretty sure I drafted him in round three a few years ago. He’s been disappointing and hasn’t lived up to his “next George Brett” hype, but in the last round, I thought he was worth a flyer.
I think I have a decently balanced team, but I’m relying on a lot of young pitching, which can be scary. I’ve struggled the past few years in this league, and I’m just hoping to get to the All-Star break somewhere in the top five and in striking distance of money.