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Sunday 25th Feb 2018

The draft seasons grow longer and longer, which actually is not such a bad thing, especially if you like drafting. I happen to, and so, among the mocks and mag drafts I have done thus far pointing to 2017, perhaps the most fun and interesting was the 50-man Draft and Keep sponsored by Tim Wagner and our good friends at Fantrax.

The league, comprised of a bunch of good and successful NFBC players, is essentially following their format: 50-man drafted roster, playing a 23-man, with two roster move slots per week and no waivers or free agent pool from here on out.

Now, I have only done a couple of leagues like this, and once I finished third (with 12 teams) and the second time, sixth (with 15 squads). And, my opponents are as noted, skilled guys like Dan Kenyon, Mike Diedrich, Bryan Vogel, and of course our host, Monsieur Wagner.

Because the emphasis on such a league is truly preparing for the marathon, as opposed to walking out of the draft room with a competitive team, and adjust from there, despite the proclamations of the great Satchel Paige, we must all draft looking over our respective shoulders, in fear of ineffectiveness, or injury, or God forbid, both.

I do tend to draft power light, so I tried to focus on homers and extra-base hits, also looking somewhat at saves, but at steals, but also thinking of playing time, opportunity and flexibility.

There is not much need for me to identify all 50 picks for sure, but here are some of the guys and rounds I either liked a lot, or who gave me buyer's remorse. Note that I drafted in the 13th slot, just far enough along to have to think when it became my turn, but not quite deep enough to double up picks effectively in my opinion.

Irrespective, here goes:

1) Starling Marte (OF, Pirates): Ack, I really wanted Anthony Rizzo here, but scrolled around and could not find him, so I made the dumb assumption he was gone. So, I went some power and a lot of speed with Marte. Mistake to start. Not good. No margin for error.

2) Freddie Freeman (1B, Braves): Dude had a monster season (.302-34-91) and is going into his peak seasons with a team that is indeed improving around him. If I missed it on Rizzo, I had targeted Marte for Round 2, so I am hoping the combination of Freeman and Marte is just as productive as Rizzo/Marte might have been/will be.

5) Julio Teheran (P, Braves): Great numbers for another youngin' who should emerge as the ace in this rotation. Actually, I had targeted Johnny Cueto with my fourth pick, but he was grabbed two picks before my turn. So, I went another round of hitting (I took Andrew McCutchen) before pitching, and once I hit the hurlers, I took one each round for the next nine rounds.

14) Devon Travis (2B, Jays): I love Travis covering middle infield, for I feel confident that should he get in a full season, he will give some great numbers. As in, over his career, Travis has played 163 games with a line of .301-19-85, and that I will take.

16) Jacoby Ellsbury (OF, Yankees): This could be a great pick, or last year was indeed a harbinger, and Ellsbury has lost it. In the 16th round, I can gamble and hope for .290-15-70 with ten swipes. He is getting paid the big bucks, so Ellsbury will likely play, so the question is what is left in the tank?

20) Jorge Soler (OF, Cubs): Certainly new toys lose some gloss if they don't live up to expectations, but Soler is still just 25, and his overall numbers last year were not so horrible at .238-12-41 with 31 walks to 66 strikeouts (.333 OBP). But, Dexter Fowler and Ben Zobrist are free agents, and however funky Soler's 2016 was, it was better than Jason Heyward's. I am thus guessing Soler will get every chance to play every day and show what he can do, and I think he makes the leap a la Javier Baez (who is decidedly not an outfielder). So, grabbing this potential this late seems too good to be true.

26) Kyle Barraclough (P, Marlins): In the 23rd round, I nabbed Ryan Dull with eyes on potential closers for 2017, but I think Barraclough, who whiffed 111 over 72.3 frames last year, might really be the guy who emerges with some saves.

33) Clay Buchholz (P, Red Sox): A possible starter with strikeout potential this late? Well, these later rounds are the campgrounds of uncertain arms, and guys like Jeff Locke, Ubaldo Jimenez and Buchholz fell to me after round 30 as crapshoots. Buchholz is a potential Saberhagen-metrics darling, and in 2015, he logged a 1.209 WHIP and 3.26 ERA, and in 2013, a 1.025 WHIP and 1.745 ERA, so this year must be it, right?

39) Brock Holt (Mult/Red Sox): Getting a solid multi-positional guy this late seems like a good thing.

46) Sam Travis (1B, Red Sox): Someone has to play first base for the Sox next year, and I am betting that Travis will emerge. The first sacker lost most all of last year with an ACL injury, but the 23-year-old has a .202-22-151 line across 245 minor league games with a .364 OBP, and that includes 47 games at Triple-A with a .272-6-29 line. He's as ready as anyone.

Don't forget you can hit me up @lawrmichaels.


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