162 Games of HATE: A fast-paced fantasy baseball draft with some shocking picks

My third and final fantasy baseball draft of the 2012 season was an interesting one. Candidly, I am not happy with the job I did in this draft overall, but I am ecstatic with a couple of my picks and where I was able to select them.

I have been in enough drafts of all types, so I’m not making excuses, but the majority of players in this league auto-drafted, so the pace was blistering, and I had trouble keeping up with it at times. Plus, one person’s selections in the first two rounds blew my mind more than any picks I can remember in a fantasy baseball draft for quite some time. Again, I have enough experience that I should have been able to overcome both of those factors, but quite a few of my picks were rushed. I hope they work out, but I’m not supremely confident.

162 Games of HATE, the 2012 edition:

Round 1, Albert Pujols, 1B, LAA: I know it seems unheard of to be disappointed after ending up with arguably the best player in the game over the past decade, but I had the third pick in the draft, and the two guys I would have selected ahead of Pujols went first and second: Miguel Cabrera and Matt Kemp. It’s hard to complain about Pujols, though. He’s a skilled enough player to ease my worries about his transition to the American League, and the Angels are loaded.

Round 2, Roy Halladay, SP, PHI: Are you fucking serious? Halladay lasted until the 20th pick of the draft? Holy shit! The two picks before Halladay were Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander. I would have taken Halladay over either of those guys, but I can’t really argue with either pick. The two picks I can definitely argue about, however, came from the same person: CC Sabathia with the No. 10 pick in the draft, and Johan Santana with the No. 15 pick. My jaw dropped after both of those selections. I am still shaking my head.

Round 3, Matt Holliday, OF, STL: He was the best hitter left on the board. I really wanted Ian Kinsler, but he was selected with the pick right before mine. I’m a little wary of the Cardinals’ lineup without Pujols, but Holliday has been a consistent performer over the years.

Round 4, Brett Lawrie, 3B, TOR: I may have made this pick a round or two early, but third base is an awfully thin position, and I love what Lawrie did in a couple of hundred at-bats last season. Plus, the Blue Jays’ lineup is stacked and should score a ton of runs. I thought about Shin-Soo Choo here, but I crossed my fingers and hoped he would fall into the next round.

Round 5, Shin-Soo Choo, OF, CLE: Holy crap, something actually worked. I like Choo a lot, and he was definitely the best hitter left on the board. I thought about another starting pitcher, but I decided to gamble that either Matt Cain or David Price would still be on the board with my next pick.

Round 6, Dee Gordon, SS, LAD: If Gordon can get on base consistently, he will lead the Major Leagues in stolen bases. And shortstop isn’t exactly a stacked position, either. I love this pick.

Round 7, Yu Darvish, SP, TEX: This pick was a gigantic gamble, and I’m really not sure why I pulled the trigger. Part of my thinking was that I wanted another starting pitcher, and none of the known quantities was really calling out to me. If he pitches anywhere near his potential, this could turn out to be a fabulous pick. But if the queen had balls, she’d be king.

Round 8, Matt Garza, SP, CHC: There was no doubt in my mind that I was picking another starting pitcher here, just in case Yu Darvish turns out to be the next Kei Igawa. Although the Cubs are awful, Garza was the best starter left on the board.

Round 9, Jemile Weeks, 2B, OAK: It was way too early for this pick, but the pool of second baseman was drying up in a hurry. This was a dreaded potential pick: If he reaches his potential, it will work. If not, I am hosed.

Round 10, Alex Avila, C, DET: I was thrilled with this pick. Avila is one of the few serious offensive threats at catcher, and he can be a force in the Tigers’ lineup.

Round 11, Sergio Santos, RP, TOR: The run on closers was in full effect, and he was the best one left.

Round 12, Brandon League, RP, SEA: Speaking of the run on closers …

Round 13, Jason Motte, RP, STL: OK, I think I can stop worrying about saves now.

Round 14, David Ortiz, DH, BOS: I hate this guy’s guts, but this was a great value pick. The only bad thing about him from a fantasy baseball standpoint is a complete lack of flexibility, as he only fits into the utility spot. But his season last year was one of the few bright spots for the Red Sox, and if I can get 30 home runs out of a pick in round 14, that ain’t too shabby.

Round 15, Delmon Young, OF, DET: He did not have a great season last year, but I’m hoping for a bounce-back and some decent power numbers.

Round 16, Brandon McCarthy, SP, OAK: I can’t believe he was still around this late in the draft. Oakland sucks, but he is a quality starting pitcher and, with the way his ball club cleaned house during the off-season, my hunch is that he will be traded to a contender at some point.

Round 17, Sean Marshall, RP, CIN: Yes, I know, I said I was done with closers, but Marshall puts up fantastic numbers year after year as a setup guy, and I couldn’t pass him up here.

Round 18, Daniel Bard, SP, BOS: This pick was a bit of a risk, much like Boston’s decision to convert a reliever with closer stuff to a starter is a bit of a risk, but none of the “safe” picks at starting pitcher excited me in the least. Plus, if the experiment fails and Bard goes back to the bullpen, I will have some serious trade chips for teams that are short on closers.

Round 19, Edwin Encarnacion, 1B/3B, TOR: He is an excellent backup at both corner infield positions, hitting in a stellar lineup.

Round 20, Phil Hughes, SP, NYY: I try not to let spring training play a big role in my drafting, but he looked like the 2010 Hughes in spring training, so I took a shot with this pick. Hell, it’s the 20th round.

Round 21, Austin Jackson, OF, DET: Depth, speed, and the leadoff hitter in a good lineup. He needs to get on base more. If he does, I will find a way to start him.

Round 22, Aaron Hill, 2B, AZ: I would like to say that I’m hoping for a repeat of the one fantastic year Hill had with Toronto, but truthfully, this was a backup pick, barring unforeseen circumstances.

Round 23, Alcides Escobar, SS, KC: A solid, under-the-radar, backup pick.

Round 24, Ben Revere, OF, MIN: If he is ever in my starting lineup, I am in a heap of trouble. Still, his potential was worth the risk of a final round pick.

Ticketless Basterds: Trying to draft my way out of the fantasy baseball second division

I had my draft Sunday for the fantasy baseball league that I’ve been in the longest. Unfortunately, it’s also the league I’ve had the least success in. And I’m already starting at a disadvantage because we keep three players every season, and my keepers are absolute garbage.

I’m trying to reverse season after season of bad decisions, decisions that seemed good at the time but backfired, injuries, and just about any other form of bad luck that can inflict a fantasy baseball team.

I think I did a better job than last year, but looking back at last year’s draft, I am amazed I didn’t finish in dead last. What a shit show. What the hell was I thinking with some of those picks?

Josh Johnson

Without further ado, I present the 2011 Ticketless Basterds:

Round 1 (keeper): Josh Johnson, SP, FLA: Johnson is the only one of my three keepers who could remotely be considered someone who might be selected in the first three rounds. I traded for him late last season with an eye toward keeping him, and he proved that he belonged on my team by immediately being shut down for the rest of the season. All reports indicate that he’s healthy. He’s a top-level pitcher. Can the Marlins score enough runs when he pitches?

Round 2 (keeper): Alex Rios, OF, CHW: Rios has power and speed, but he is by no means a player who belongs in the first three rounds. Neither was my other keeper (below). My team was so bad last year that, Johnson aside, I was basically choosing from the best cat turds in the litter box.

Round 3 (keeper): B.J. Upton, OF, TB: If potential ever became reality, he would be a legitimate keeper. He has great speed and has shown some power. I’m hoping that being surrounded by a decent Rays lineup will help, and that he finally takes that last step to stardom.

Round 4: Ryan Howard, 1B, PHI: Welcome back, big fella. Players can be kept for three seasons in this league, and I had Howard for almost three, as I traded him late last season. His power numbers will always be there, but, as I’ve learned with Howard, you have to really pay attention when he starts slumping, and you can’t be afraid to bench him. When he hits one of his two-week ruts, they are really, really bad ruts, and production is nonexistent. But when he’s hot, he can carry both the Phillies and the Ticketless Basterds.

Round 5: Jered Weaver, SP, LAA: I have never had elite pitching in this league, and one of my goals coming into this draft was to change that. Johnson and Weaver represent a formidable one-two punch, with strikeouts galore.

Round 6: Pedro Alvarez, 3B, PIT: I probably took him about two rounds too early, but according to my value sheet, he was the only decent third baseman left. He showed a lot in a half-season with the Pirates last year, and I’m banking on continued progress.

Round 7: Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, BOS: Ellsbury, Rios, and Upton should keep me at the higher end in the stolen base category. Ellsbury doesn’t bring too much else to the table, but I really didn’t like the other outfielders available here. As evidenced in my other draft this season, I seem to be allergic to drafting outfielders.

Round 8: Kendrys Morales, 1B, LAA: I generally don’t like taking another player at a position I already have covered (Howard), but he was by far the best player left on the board. I just hope that when Morales added an “s” at the end of his first name, he also added the common sense to not break his fucking leg by jumping into the celebratory pile after a walk-off home run. He’s a great power hitter, and I will plug him into my infield or utility slot, as well as using him to replace Howard when he slumps.

Round 9: Clay Buchholz, SP, BOS: I wanted a strong rotation, and this pick was a big step toward achieving that goal.

Round 10: Brian Roberts, 2B, BAL: His spotty health scares me, but I needed a second baseman, and 75% of Roberts was better than 100% of anyone else left on the list. Of course, he’s already hurt.

Round 11: Phil Hughes, SP, NYY: I didn’t think any of the remaining shortstops or catchers were worth burning a pick for, and I am a big fan of Hughes and believe he gets better with every start.

Round 12: Joe Nathan, RP, MIN: The inevitable run on closers began, and the healthy elite closers were gone by the time I picked, so I opted for gambling on a previously elite closer returning from an injury, rather than a closer with a spotty hold on the job.

Round 13: Josh Beckett, SP, BOS: Beckett cannot possibly be as bad as he was last year, could he? I thought a pick in round 13 was worth finding out.

Round 14: Starlin Castro, SS, CHC: I had him during the latter part of last season, and he was a surprisingly strong producer on a scuffling Cubs team.

Round 15: Joel Hanrahan, RP, PIT: Some reports have him closing, while some lean toward Evan Meek. I needed a second closer, and he was the best of what was left, as long as he gets the job.

Round 16: Edwin Jackson, SP, CHW: He put up very solid numbers last season, and I was surprised he was still available. Granted, he’s not a big-name guy, but I was very happy to get him this late in the draft.

Round 17: Aroldis Chapman, RP, CIN: His talent is unquestionable, but this pick could backfire because it doesn’t look like he’ll start or close. But if he throws a bunch of innings out of the bullpen, the strikeouts will come, along with an occasional win or save.

Round 18: Grady Sizemore, OF, CLE: A pick in round 18 was totally worth gambling on this guy getting healthy. He’s likely starting the season on the DL, but I’m not concerned, yet.

Round 19: Kurt Suzuki, C, OAK: Another returnee who performed very well for my squad last season.

Round 20: Tsuyoshi Nishioka, 2B/SS, MIN: I made this pick based on potential (his only stats are from Japan) and on the fact that I can plug him in for Roberts or Castro. I just hope he’s more like Ichiro and less like Kaz Matsui.

Round 21: Austin Jackson, OF, DET: More steals, and a solid backup outfielder.

Round 22: Koji Uehara, RP, BAL: Another potential closer, and his numbers were excellent last season.

Round 23: Alfonso Soriano, OF, CHC: How the mighty have fallen. I remember when he was actually in the mix for No. 1 overall pick. With Sizemore starting off the year on the DL, I wanted some power to plug in. Hell, it was round 23!