Last week was the annual FSTA DRAFT in Las Vegas which is the first of many expert drafts that will begin to set the tone for 2015 Player ADP. With the likes of Steve Gardner, Ron Shandler and Ray Flowers, some of the greatest minds who cover the game are involved. However, they are not necessarily all that removed from you. Well maybe Ron Sandler. But their biggest advantage is that they cover the sport for a living. Every one of them have their own gut instincts on players, develop their own analysis and sometimes make the same mistakes. You see every league no matter how “EXPERT” has a loser, a cellar dweller, a last place team. Having played in many “expert” leagues myself over the years I can assure you my private home league I’ve run for over a decade can be much more competitive. Especially when people know your tendencies. Still, like every draft and mock draft, the 2015 FSTA offers a lot to learn from and apply to your upcoming drafts.
1. Steve Gardner, USA Today - Mike Trout
2. Colton & The Wolfman - Andrew McCutchen
3. Ron Shandler, Baseball HQ - Jose Abreu
4. Charlie Wiegert, CDM Sports - Paul Goldschmidt
5. Anthony Perri, Fantistics - Clayton Kershaw
6. Greg Ambrosius & Tom Kessenich, Stats Inc/NFBC - Giancarlo Stanton
7. Todd Zola, Master Ball - Anthony Rizzo
8. Dr. Roto, Scout Fantasy - Carlos Gomez
9. Christopher Liss, Rotowire - Miguel Cabrera
10. Jeff Paur, RT Sports - Adam Jones
11. Jeff Mans, Fantasy Alarm - Felix Hernandez
12. Ray Flowers, Sirius/XM - Robinson Cano
13. Mike Cardano, Roto Experts - Jose Bautista
The biggest surprise of the first round for me was Jose Abreu at #3 overall. Considering players in their second full season tend to experience an adjustment phase and that Paul Goldschmidt in a roto format (which is the style of format) has the ability to match Abreu’s power and drop 20+ steals is in my calculation a strange selection. Yes, Goldschmidt is coming off of an injury and Arizona isn’t the greatest lineup, but he’s still the better choice from my vantage point. I’m not smarter than Ron Shandler, but I do believe he had more to gain from Goldie. That might be the one and only time I disagreed with him the rest of the draft. In roto formats I'm also not a proponent of selecting a SP with a top five pick, even the great Kershaw. Although Kershaw is my overall #1 in points leagues as I discuss at length in the new Fantasy Black Book. But considering the lack of offense throughout the league, it's imperative to add elite offense early. Miguel Cabrera might not be 100% for the start of spring, but his falling to #9 is crazy. Even if he misses the start of the season, there are almost 6 months left of his elite production. For perspective, imagine he is healthy now and misses a week in June. Same thing, but it doesn’t make him less of a franchise player does it? Of course not!
I am as big an Anthony Rizzo fan as you will find, but there are other first basemen who offer similar profiles from an RPV standpoint and to pass on Gomez, Cabrera, Jones, Cano and Bautista who offer much higher RPV in this format. I think it’s a case of “over-drafting”. Felix Hernandez should also have lasted until the second round. Chris Sale and Max Scherzer are his statistical equal. Jeff was a tad lucky that Edwin Encarnacion fell to him the 2nd round and he was able to correct the path.
1. Mike Cardano, Roto Experts - Madison Bumgarner
2. Ray Flowers, Sirius/XM - Anthony Rendon
3. Jeff Mans, Fantasy Alarm – Edwin Encarnacion
4. Jeff Paur, RT Sports – Troy Tulowitzki
5. Christopher Liss, Rotowire – Yasiel Puig
6. Dr. Roto, Scout Fantasy – Jose Altuve
7. Todd Zola, Master Ball – Josh Donaldson
8. Greg Ambrosius & Tom Kessenich, Stats Inc/NFBC – Chris Sale
9. Anthony Perri, Fantistics – Hanley Ramirez
10. Charlie Wiegert, CDM Sports – Ryan Braun
11. Ron Shandler, Baseball HQ – Ian Desmond
12. Colton & The Wolfman – Justin Upton
13. Steve Gardner, USA Today – Buster Posey
Bumgarner is a great talent, but the 269 innings he logged last season give me pause enough to clearly draft Sale and Scherzer over him. I don’t know if I want to live in a world where Yasiel Puig get sdrafted head of Jose Altuve. Puig has yet to deliver anything above Hunter Pence-type production and Pence went 3 rounds later than this. You take potential, I’ll take production. Perri continued a downward trend for his team by selecting Hanley Ramirez to anchor his offense having drafted Kershaw in the first. You can see right away how that early SP selection came back to bite him. Hanley is rarely healthy, his production is sporadic when he is and he is switching leagues on top of it all. Braun or Upton would have been a better selection with the depth of OF needed in the format. Shandler begins a spectacular draft run from here on out proving the earlier mentioned fact he is MUCH smarter than me.
Some notable selections in the draft that may help you get a gauge on where some controversial players may be drafted:
Carlos Gonzalez went in the late 3rd round to Ray Flowers. Corey Kluber was selected in the early 4th by Shandler. Anthony Perri took Chris Davis in the 6th round. Masahiro Tanaka went in the 10th round to Christopher Liss which is a good risk/reward place for him. Javier Baez was selected in the 9th round by Colton and the Wolfman. Baez that early is a huge stretch considering his swing and miss rate and the fact he is not a lock to even start the year as the everyday second baseman in Chicago. Give me Josh Harrison a round later. But that wasn’t the worst pick of the day.
The worst pick in the draft in my opinion was Charlie Blackmon in the 4th round to Anthony Perri. His final counting stats belie the fact he was dreadful after the break and away from Coors. He doesn’t have the minor league track record (or major league track record for that matter) to maintain those numbers. With Matt Kemp and Hunter Pence still on the board, Blackmon was a huge reach. Never draft a team for "last year".
Whenever there is a worst, there has to be a best and that pick belonged to Ray Flowers who took Melky Cabrera in the 15th round. That’s a terrific value for a player with solid all around production who hits at the top of the order in a hitter’s park. Charlie Weigert made the best late round pick selecting Michael Saunders in the 25th round. Saunders has 20/20 potential albeit not yet fully realized. That makes him a great late round selection which is where you should leave upside players…the late rounds!
The elite closers predictably went in the 6th round including Kimbrel, Chapman, Holland and Jansen in that order. Closers in waiting went in the waning rounds along with young talent that will most likely not see the light of day until mid-June at the earliest, if all.
If you asked me who “won” this draft Ron Shandler stands out. With every pick he seems to find the best value and never seems to reach. His draft is a lesson in value and discipline that we can all learn from. His pitching staff is based on guys like Kluber and Arrieta building on successful breakout years, but he also drafted great underrated starters like Jose Quintana to back them up. Offensively, he leads the room in RPV and balanced his team with proven veterans (Lucroy and Desmond) and young studs with upside who came at exquisite value (Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez and Syndergaard all selected in the later rounds).