It’s not a mock, it’s the real thing!!! (Part 1)

My first draft of the 2011 season started on January 3rd. It’s a 10 team OBP (sub for AVG) head-to-head keeper league (10 keepers). The draft has been ongoing through email and we’re already over 50 percent finished. Instead of waiting until the whole draft is complete, I decided to break it into halves. This article will feature analysis from the first 15 rounds with another article to follow with the final 15 rounds when we finish.

We’ll draft 30 players each. Rosters are: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, CI, MI, LF, CF, RF, OF (2), UT, SP (4), P (3), RP (4), BN (6)

 

I drew the seventh spot in the draft order. My picks are highlighted. Here we go…

 

Round 1 – Evan Longoria
1. Albert Pujols
2. Hanley Ramirez
3. Miguel Cabrera
4. Adrian Gonzalez
5. Troy Tulowitzki
6. Carlos Gonzalez
7. Evan Longoria
8. Ryan Braun
9. Carl Crawford
10. Joey Votto

I was more than happy to see Evan Longoria waiting there for me at pick seven. He is young, plays a thin fantasy position and has the potential to be a top five fantasy asset for years to come. 

Round 2 – Joe Mauer
11. David Wright
12. Buster Posey
13. Jason Heyward
14. Joe Mauer
15. Robinson Cano
16. Matt Holiday
17. Ryan Howard
18. Mark Teixeira
19. Felix Hernandez
20. Matt Kemp

In a regular fantasy league with AVG, I would not go for Mauer this early. However, even in a “down” year he held an OBP over .400 and scored 88 runs. The catching market is thin to begin with and even thinner when you count OBP.

 

Round 3 – Dustin Pedroia
21. Chase Utley
22. Prince Fielder
23. Josh Hamilton
24. Brian McCann
25. Ryan Zimmerman
26. Victor Martinez
27. Dustin Pedroia
28. Adam Dunn
29. Roy Halladay
30. Dan Uggla

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m focusing my early picks on some of the thiner fantasy positions. Not that I wouldn’t take Pujols at #1 just because he plays a deep position, but my choice between most other players usually ends up edging toward position scarcity. I feel at this point that I have a top three player at third, catcher and second.

Round 4 – Justin Upton
31. Andrew McCutchen
32. Alex Rodriguez
33. Kevin Youkilis
34. Justin Upton
35. Cliff Lee
36. Justin Morneau
37. Tim Lincecum
38. CC Sabathia
39 Jon Lester
40 Adam Wainwright

Here’s where the keeper value really plays a role. Upton is only 23 years old and has the potential to be a roto monster for years to come. As long as he can keep from missing time with injuries every year, he’s a good bet to be a top 2-3 round pick annually.

Round 5 – Nelson Cruz
41. Jose Reyes
42. Colby Rasmus
43. Adrian Beltre
44. Ian Kinler
45. Josh Johnson
46. Kendry Morales
47. Nelson Cruz
48. Rickie Weeks
49. Ubaldo Jimenez
50. Francisco Liriano

When healthy, Cruz is one of the best power hitters in the game. After going with Mauer and Pedroia early on, I wanted to add a big bopper. Cruz was the best power threat on the board and will add some speed into the mix as well. I made this pick assuming that he’ll spend at least some time nursing injuries, but in the chance that he actually stays healthy, look out.

 

Round 6 – Shin-Soo Choo
51. Clayton Kershaw
52. Mike Stanton
53. Jose Bautista
54. Shin-Soo Choo
55. Paul Konerko
56. Andre Ethier
57. David Price
58. Jimmy Rollins
59. Carlos Santana
60. Tommy Hanson

I was rather shocked that Choo fell this far, given his 20/20 potential and high-end OBP. At this point, I was starting to think of pitching, but couldn’t pass up Choo in the sixth round.

 

Round 7 – Mat Latos
61. Zack Greinke
62. Jay Bruce
63, Mariano Rivera
64.Jayson Werth
65. Justin Verlander
66. Yovani Gallardo
67. Mat Latos
68. Mark Reynolds
69. Coe Hamels
70. Carlos Pena

Selecting Choo in round six meant waiting 12 picks before I was up again. In the meantime, my top two pitching targets at that point, Tommy Hanson and Zack Greinke, were taken off the board. Next on my list was the young and electric Mat Latos. I loved Latos going into 2010 and I welcome him onto my team in 2011, especially in the seventh round. There are some worries about his big jump in innings, but it’s a risk I am willing to take.

 

Round 8 – Pedro Alvarez
71. David Ortiz
72. Roy Oswalt
73. Joakim Soria
74. Pedro Alvarez
75. Michael Young
76. Brett Gardner
77. Jacoby Ellsbury
78. Brandon Phillips
79. Ichiro Suzuki
80. Derek Jeter

Looking to add more power and with a chance to add another 3B — the 3B market is thining fast now –, I take the chance on Alvarez’s potential here. While I expect him to have his struggles as he adjusts to left-handed pitching at the big league level, I think his power potential alone is worth this pick.

 

Round 9 – Brian Wilson
81. Carlos Marmol
82. Chone Figgins
83. Josh Beckett
84. Adam Lind
85. Billy Butler
86. Alex Rios
87. Brian Wilson
88. Elvis Andrus
89. Martin Prado
90. Curtis Granderson

At this point, I am thinking a closer run is inevitable and I jump at the chance to select my number one ranked closer.

 

Round 10 – Ben Zobrist
91. Jered Weaver
92. Hunter Pence
93. B.J. Upton
94. Ben Zobrist
95. Delmon Young
96. Brian Roberts
97. Neftali Feliz
98. Matt Cain
99. Heath Bell
100. Chris Carpenter

There is some risk involved in Zobrist, but if nothing else he has very good on-base skills. If the power returns a bit, I could have some nice value and be looking at a .360-plus OBP with 15-plus homers and around 20 stolen bases. Zobrist is also eligible at a bunch of positions for this league (1B, 2B, CF, RF).

 

Round 11 – Max Scherzer
101. Jonathan Papelbon
102. Ian Stewart
103. Clay Buchholz
104. Andrew Bailey
105. Dan Haren
106. John Axford
107. Max Scherzer
108. Francisco Rodriguez
109. Joe Nathan
110. Geovany Soto

Having only selected one starter, I am completely looking to take a pitcher with this pick. Like the last time I was targeting a starter, my top two targets, Dan Haren and Chris Carpenter, were snagged ahead of me. Max Scherzer, who had a great bounce-back after a horrible start to the 2010 season, has the strikeout potential that I look for. With an improved offense and bullpen, this could be Mad Max’s best season yet.

 

Round 12 – Craig Kimbrel
111. Juan Pierre
112. Chris B. Young
113. Colby Lewis
114. Craig Kimbrel
115. Chris Perez
116. Shane Victorino
117. Jonathan Sanchez
118. Dainel Bard
119. Shaun Marcum
120. Nck Markakis

With all of the top-end closers gone and the closer market being a bit thin in general, I wanted to grab Kimbrel for his huge upside. I examined his pros and cons in this article. No matter if he starts the season as the Braves closer or not, I don’t think it will be long until the job is his for years to come.

 

Round 13 – Stephen Drew
121. Aramis Ramirez
122. Drew Stubbs
123. Jose Valverde
124. Trevor Cahill
125. J.J. Putz
126. Kelly Johnson
127. Stephen Drew
128. Chad Billingsley
129. Drew Storen
130. Alexei Ramirez

Shortstop is one of those positions I see as much more thin in an OBP format than a regular league that uses AVG. Not having a shortstop at this point, I decided to go with Drew, who hasn’t been great over the past couple years, but his rates have stayed somewhat steady with a chance to improve even further.

Round 14 – Jonathan Broxton
131. Jeremy Hellickson
132. Daniel Hudson
133. Corey Hart
134. Jonathan Broxton
135. Brad Lidge
136. Wandy Rodriguez
137. Ian Desmond
138. Neil Walker
139. Starlin Castro
140. Bobby Abreu

 

If Broxton bounces back to his pre-2010 levels, he’ll be a steal in round 14. The risk is in his drop in velocity last season and the presence of Hong-Chih Kuo as a ninth inning option. Reports state that Broxton will head into spring training as the closer, but he may not get much leeway if he struggles out of the gate. This is one of the biggest downsides to drafting so early. There are some bullpen battles that won’t work themselves out until spring training is well on it’s way. In round 14, I’ll take the risk on a potential top five closer.

 

Round 15 – Nick Swisher
141. Houston Street
142. Francisco Cordero
143. Rafael Soriano
144. Casey McGehee
145. Denard Span
146. Rafael Furcal
147. Nick Swisher
148. Brandon Morrow
149. Vernon Wells
150. Michael Bourn

After going with pitchers in three of the last four picks, I decided to get back to offense. Swisher is no sure thing in terms of AVG, but he should put up a solid OBP, along with the runs and RBI that come with being a part of that stacked Yankee lineup.

 

My team so far
C Joe Mauer (2)
1B
2B Dustin Pedroia (3)
3B Evan Longoria (1)
SS Stephen Drew (13)
CI Pedro Alvarez (8)
MI Ben Zobrist (10)
LF Nelson Cruz (5)
CF
RF Justin Upton (4)
OF Shin-Soo CHoo (6)
OF Nick Swisher (15)
UT
SP Mat Latos (7)
SP Max Scherzer (11)
SP
SP
P
P
P
RP Brian Wilson (9)
RP Craig Kimbrel (12)
RP Jonathan Broxton (14)
RP

Rounds 16-30 will be posted as soon as the draft is complete.

 

Your thoughts on the draft so far? Reaches? Values?