On Monday night, Lawr and I represented Mastersball in the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) fantasy baseball draft. We were joined by twelve of the industry’s finest. Defending champs Howard Kamen and Steve Gardner from USA Today won the draft lottery--as well as the league last year--and chose first. The entire draft is available HERE.
Here is a complete list of the participants and their first round selection.
1.01 USA Today: Howard Kamen and Steve Gardner - Ryan Braun
1.02 Fantasy Alarm: Jeff Mans - Miguel Cabrera
1.03 Head to Head Sports: Glenn Colton, Rick Wolf & Stacy Stearns - Robinson Cano
1.04 Fantasy Sharks: Mark Griffis & Tony Holm – Mike Trout
1.05 Fantistics Insider baseball.com: Anthony Perri – Matt Kemp
1.06 SiriusXM Fantasy Drive: Ray Flowers - Andrew McCutchen
1.07 Stats Inc/NFBC: Greg Ambrosius – Joey Votto
1.08 CDM Sports: Charlie Wiegert – Albert Pujols
1.09 RTS Sports: Chris Thompson & Jeff Paur – Prince Fielder
1.10 RotoWire: Chris Liss & Derek Van Riper – Giancarlo Stanton
1.11 Baseball HQ: Ron Shandler – Carlos Gonzalez
1.12 Mastersball: Lawr Michaels and Todd Zola – Buster Posey
1.13 KFFL: Tim Heaney – Jose Bautista
Before revealing the rest of the Mastersball squad with some commentary, I’m guessing a few of you are scratching your heads at the selection of Posey. Here’s what went down. I was at the draft table; Lawr was with me via g-chat. We had a list of 5 or 6 players that routinely are available at this spot. We expected at least one pitcher and Posey himself to be off the board. So mucn for the best laid plans.
When it was our pick, everyone from the list was gone so we had to scramble a bit. It came down to Posey and Adrian Beltre. Another time, another place. I may have lobbied harder for Beltre. But ultimately we opted for Posey because of something we often forget in this game. We opted for Posey because neither of us are going to own the reigning NL MVP in any other league, he’s just not our style, so we figured what they hey, let’s have some fun.
That said, from a numbers standpoint, there is nothing, absolutely nothing wrong with that pick. Platinum subscribers know we have Posey ranked even higher than twelve. My philosophy is every draft spot has an expectation associated with it. The idea is to get a positive return on investment at as many spots as possible. If everyone produced as we project, Posey is the player that offers us the greatest return on investment at that spot.
Of course, this is only part of the equation. A projection is not static. There is an upside ceiling and downside floor that needs to be considered. Perhaps this is rolled into the downside, but the health and durability of the player needs to be incorporated into the decision. Then there is the general game theory aspect of the pick – how does the pick set up future picks and their prospective return on investment?
Those in the draft room that questioned the pick cited the injury risk. And of course it exists. It’s too easy to say Posey will play first in a lot of games so he is less of a risk, he’s really not. We accepted that risk primarily because all of the players in this range also had a health risk. To wit, directly following the pick was Jose Bautista (coming off surgery to repair the sheath on his wrist), Dustin Pedroia (missed time the past two season), Adrian Beltre (missed time two of the past four seasons), Evan Longoria, Troy Tulowitzki, Josh Hamilton and Hanley Ramirez - each one being a potential AFLAC customer. Other than the argument that it would be harder to replace Posey than the others, is he really any more of a risk? Personally, I don’t think so.
The argument I can make against Posey relates to the return of investment mentioned earlier. Given that I already stated that Posey’s expected ROI was maximum for that spot, my sense was this would be true of catchers throughout the draft, and it was more giving up the opportunity cost to get a huge ROI relative to a later spot we could have taken a receiver. Case and point is Ron Shandler getting Yadier Molina in round five – locking in a similar ROI we enjoy with Posey. But on the other and, I was already wrong once, anticipating the first round picks, so taking Posey was also a bit of bird in the hand. What if we planned o taking Yadi in the fifth? Ron would have snaked us.
Bottom line? We are both perfectly fine with Posey and if I wasn’t fighting off a head cold, I’d be sleeping like a baby.
Here’s the rest of the squad.
2. Justin Upton – go big or go home pick. JUp has flashed the ability to warrant this spot, but it isn’t like his numbers put him here, there is a bit of a leap of faith he takes a leap up.
3. Edwin Encarnacion – when I suggested Encarnacion, Lawr asked, “Do you think he can repeat?” I typed back, “No, but I think he can get 35 and 35 ain’t bad.”
4. Brandon Phillips – for those new to the site (and if you are here due to our sponsorship of the draft on SiriusXM, welcome!), we are contractually obligated to take Phillips. All good teams feature balance: power versus speed, hitting versus pitching, strikeouts versus saves, and risk versus reliability. We have some risk that Phillips help mitigate, plus he hits near the top of a potent lineup, so the runs and RBI should be there.
5. Yu Darvish – another go big or go home selection. Darvish is a little like Upton in that in order to earn this spot, he needs to pitch better than he has shown in the bigs thus far, but we both feel he can take that step, and he racks up the whiffs, a philosophy Lawr and I share when it comes to chuckers.
6. Adam Wainwright – further removed from TJS, Wainwright should be ready to assume his place among the elite in the Senior Circuit.
7. Matt Moore – this was a matter of if we don’t do it now, we weren’t going to get him and Lawr and I both see Moore as ready to dominate. The other option was Scherzer, someone I really like and it was pretty much a coin flip, with the tiebreaker being that whole fun thing as Lawr and I enjoy watching Moore toil.
8. Alex Rios – we’re a bit short on speed and although we are not averse to getting someone like Ben Revere, we wanted to start to chip away and get some bags. Plus, I think Rios is underappreciated. Pitchers get cut some slack when they are unlucky. Rios had some ill fortune and is still paying for it perceptually. His skills are solid.
9. Salvador Perez – another example of decent ROI for a catcher. Perez should hit for a little more pop.
10. Erick Aybar – more steals, but also contributions elsewhere. If he carries over his second half success, he should be fine.
12. Kyle Seager – there’s a bit of a back story to Seager. Last spring, Lawr was all over him, but I was skeptical and wasn’t sure he would even keep the job. Mainly because I am such a huge fan of Felix Hernandez, I caught a bunch of Mariners’ games and developed a bromance on Seager. The guy hits line drives in his sleep. The new dimensions at Safeco Field will surely help, but I don’t care, line drives play anywhere. Lawr tends to be wary of sophomores (rightfully so, ask 2012 Eric Hosmer and Brett Lawrie owners). But we felt this had enough of a built in discount to take him here.
13. Jake Peavy – with Peavy, it’s all about the health. He showed us last season that his skills are back. I’m less concerned about injuries in a rather shallow 13-team league feeling we can find support if needed, so here the reward trumps the risk.
14. Ichiro Suzuki – taking Ichiro probably locks us out of Revere, a fave of Lawr, but we both like the average and steals which put us in a position to pound up the bombs without worrying about average.
15. Josh Reddick – yes, he’s going to regress (so will 70 percent of all the players). But his defense will keep him in the lineup despite the Athletics having 17 outfielders on their roster. Plus, he was a 50/50 pick.
16. Dayan Viciedo – the other half of the 50/50. What I mean is we are hoping that one of two hits 25 homers. If the other one struggles, we’ll get a replacement.
17. Yonder Alonso – the plan is to take a speculative corner in reserve, so we wanted someone a little safer here to fall back on.
18. Steve Cishek – saves is saves. Cishek’s got the job, just a matter of how many opportunities the Marlins give him.
19. Matt Harrison –go Rangers! Watching Harrison is sort of like watching a knuckleballer. You never feel comfortable, but by season’s end, the numbers are there.
21. Drew Smyly – a bit of a speculative pick as right now, Smyly is odd man out. But Porcello is rumored to be on the block and smoke usually means fire.
22. Carlos Quentin – when he plays, he hits homers. When he’s hurt, we use someone else.
24. Steve Lombardozzi – could be a steal or could be our first drop. Lombardozzi is slated to be a super-utility and as such, would not get the AB necessary to be active. However, an injury to one of about four players (or a trade) and we have our steal.
27. Adam Lind – and here’s the corner with upside.
28 Will Venable – worthy of this spot on merit, but Venable also makes a nice hedge for Quentin.
29. Trevor Rosenthal – love the arm, we’ll see about the role.
Please feel free to comment or ask question. Lawr and I will do our best to address them.