Tuesday evening found Lord Zola himself sitting next to me (or was it the other way around?) at the 2016 Fantasy Sports Trade Association's (FSTA) Experts Baseball Draft.
The draft is always part of the Association's Winter Convention, which was extra important as we work as both players and members of an industry to ensure the right and ability to play fantasy games while still keeping the contests transparent--and profitable--while being fair to participants.
In fact, if you are reading this, that suggests more than a passing interest in fantasy games. Please do write to your local lawmakers and tell them of your love of playing and desire to keep on playing. Visit the FSTA site for more information (and thanks).
OK, so going up against the likes of defending champs Steve Gardner and Howard Kamen, plus Ron Shandler, Glenn Colton and Rick Wolf and Stacie Stern, Jeff Erickson and on, who did we cop?
For some context, Todd and I drafted in the 12-slot of a 13-team standard 5x5 that allows a 29-man total roster. Injured players can be placed on IR, thus they don't count as one of the six reserve picks. The draft was carried on Sirius/XM, who does rebroadcast, but if you wish to see the pickings thus far, click here. We were able to draft 22 rounds live, and are completing the proceedings via e-mail. Note that as long as we can fill a roster by the 29th selection, we are good, so at press time, Todd and I still have a few picks to go.
1.12 Manny Machado (3B): Kind of a no-brainer at that spot. We truly had not anticipated Machado falling to us, and couldn't pass up a solid (162 games last year) potential 30/30 guy.
3.12 J.D. Martinez (OF): This came down to Charlie Blackmon and Martinez, and Todd lobbied harder. I actually liked Yoenis Cespedes a little better than either, but Todd's projections said one of the pair, and my nod went to Martinez.
4.2 David Price (P): True pitching is deep, but we knew the wait for simply our next pick was 22 players away, so Price was the strikeout option we preferred.
5.12 Xander Bogaerts (SS): 196 hits last year, and like Machado, he's just 23 yet going into a third full-time season. What is not to like? And, this one was my target (though Z put up no fight).
6.2 Carlos Carrasco (SP): Again, due to our draft spot, we felt we had to be a little aggressive nabbing this potentially dominant hurler. We knew Carlos would not be there when out next pick arrived.
7.12 Kolten Wong (2B): Some power, some speed, and a third year guy who ideally will come into his own as a vet.
8.2 Kole Calhoun (OF): Yet another third-year full-timer, coming off a 26-homer season. Not sure how he fell this far, and I admit to more of a mancrush than Todd, but again, this was not a hard sell.
9.12 Trevor Rosenthal (RP): Closers were starting to come off the board, so this was the best available at the spot at the time. And, it is not like he isn't good.
10.2 Russell Martin (C): 23 dingers and the hope that Martin hits up in the order prompted the selection (Z may have more to say on this).
11.12 Jose Quintana (SP): #3 starter ideally helps our growing whiff total.
12.2 Carlos Santana (1B): We missed out on the banger first basemen. We both like Carlos but are a little concerned at his ground ball rate for a power hitter.
13.12 Shawn Tolleson (RP): Closer the second.
15.12 Ketel Marte (MI): We love the Mariners' middle guy a lot so we were thrilled to get him here.
16.2 Ender Inciarte (OF): I made this push, but we agreed the new Brave could be a stolen base boon.
17.12 Mike Fiers (SP): Hoping for some more whiffs with Fiers on a good contending team and maybe some wins, too.
18.2 Scott Kazmir (SP): Neither of us sold, but on the Dodgers--who are good with pitchers--Kazmir will hopefully maintain.
19.12 Jhonny Peralta (UT): Everyday player with 20-homer potential.
20.2 James McCann (C): On-base numbers a little scary, but some home run potential, and on a team that should score a bunch of runs.
21.12 Anibal Sanchez (SP): A gamble, but one with strikeout potential, and Todd and I both like the whiffs.
22.2 Devon Travis (MI): Injured so we can stash him, but nice offensive potential when Travis is healthy, ideally come May. After this pick, it was pretty clear Travis would not have been there for our round 23 selection.
23.12 Martin Prado (CI): Everyday player who can do a little of everything.
24.2 Clay Buchholz (SP): Hopefully some strikeouts and no time on the DL.