As much as I enjoy participating in all different types of fantasy baseball drafts, the days immediately following the drafts are rough, especially industry drafts. In addition to second-guessing myself on some of my picks, I cannot help but search the Internet for every draft review I can find. And, with each draft review comes the possibility that someone else will be second-guessing my picks as well, which makes things even worse. Industry owners simply cannot be overly sensitive to criticism. Unfortunately, this is something I still need to work on. And, for this reason, I always try to avoid being too harsh in my reviews of other industry drafts. After all, these guys know their stuff, and I’m sure there was a well-researched explanation for every one of their picks.
This past Thursday night, representatives from 13 different prominent fantasy sites (Lawr and Todd represented Mastersball) convened in Las Vegas for the annual Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) draft, a 13-team mixed league snake draft that uses the standard 5x5 categories with a 29-man roster (6 bench). Studying the FSTA draft results is always educational since it is usually the earliest non-keeper industry draft of the season, so it’s nice to finally have non-mock draft data to sift through.
Anyway, here are some of the picks that surprised me.
DRAFTED EARLIER THAN EXPECTED
Anthony Rizzo (Round 1, Pick 7) – I’m very high on Rizzo this year. With power becoming harder and harder to find these days, how can you not be high on him? There’s legitimate 40-home run potential here to go along with a solid batting average. This could very well work out for my Mastersball mates, but I wonder if they could have taken him in Round 2. Drafting the Cubs first sacker ahead of players like Carlos Gomez, Adam Jones, Jose Bautista and even Miguel Cabrera (despite the health concerns) is a rather bold move.
Jason Heyward (Round 4, Pick 3) – Yes, he’s still only 25, but what has Heyward done at the big league level to warrant this high of a pick? Through five seasons, he sports a career .262 batting average and has reached the 20-home run mark just once. Maybe the change of scenery will do him some good, but Heyward is coming off a rather uninspiring 2014 campaign and will need to at least match his career-best season stat line of .269-27-82-93-21 to earn back this price. I wouldn’t bank on it.
Mookie Betts (Round 7, Pick 6) – A quick glance at the draft results reveals that speed was at a premium, and perhaps no other selection illustrates this more than Betts, who swiped 33 bags in 99 minor league contests last season and stole another seven bases in 52 games for the Red Sox. But Betts was more than a one-category contributor for Boston, as he also launched five home runs and batted .291. That said, with the Red Sox Opening Day outfield projected to include Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino and Rusney Castillo, Betts is hardly guaranteed a spot on the 25-man roster to start the season. Brett Gardner, Shin-Soo Choo and Matt Holliday are just a few of the quality outfielders that were taken after Betts.
DRAFTED LATER THAN EXPECTED
Jacoby Ellsbury (Round 3, Pick 10) – I’m still not sure if I will actively target Ellsbury this year, but what I do know for sure is that if he’s still on the board at Pick #36, I would not hesitate to draft him. The Yankee offense was absolutely dreadful last season, but a healthy Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira (healthy at least for now) should make a significant difference. Don’t be surprised if Jacoby bounces back with a .290 AVG, 20 HR, 40 SB, 90 R campaign, a stat line worthy of a top-15 pick.
Jason Kipnis (Round 5, Pick 13) – Last year at this time, Kipnis was a no doubt top-25 guy, and I even remember reviewing NFBC draft results and seeing his name in the top-10. But after a disappointing and injury-marred 2014 season, this is what happens. I still believe that a 20 HR/30 SB season is in his immediate future and I’m willing to give him a mulligan for last year. There’s no way he should fall outside of the top-50.
Desmond Jennings (Round 15, Pick 11) – Here I go with Jennings again! After vowing to never again own him, the fact that he lasted until Pick #193 in this draft has me reconsidering this. It would be a real shame if Jennings finally breaks out right after I cut ties with him. Maybe I’ll give him another chance. Maybe I’ll draft him in one of my leagues.
Or maybe more than one.
CLICK HERE for the complete FSTA draft results.