This past weekend saw the annual LABR AL and NL auctions, and as usual I participated in the American League setup, coordinated by our good friend Steve Gardner and hosted by USA Today.
It was a tough draft as usual, as drafting against solid players can be, so this year was no exception. I did, however, try to modify my strategy a little, for I usually like to build with a strong starting pitcher--like Chris Sale or David Price when there are no questions about his health--and then get hitters who in theory will give me numbers that will compete, but without dumping too much on any given player.
That is, I try to get good everyday players, something I did try to do this year, but without the benefit of a so-called ace, but also without spending more than $30 on a player so I would have largely $8-$15 everyday players everywhere. To augment this, I did try to make sure I had two closers and at least enough speed to put me in the middle of the pack.
And, the results are that I like my team, but as usual, ask me in October about "just how much?"
The highest-priced player was Jose Altuve, who went to Clay Link for $45, three more than Mike Trout fetched. See the full draft results here.
What does my roster look like, and what are my expectations?
C: Sandy Leon ($5): I did not want to dedicate much money for my catchers, so I am hoping Leon can simply hit .250-6-40. Of course, if he can do more, fine, but set the bar low.
C: Josh Phegley ($2): Everything I said about Leon applies here, but Phegley does crush lefties, and if he can hit that .250-6-40 line for $2, he might even turn a profit for me.
1B: C.J. Cron ($12): Cheap homers and as a full-timer all year, perhaps Cron can even get close to 30 big flies to go with the supporting stats.
2B: Dustin Pedroia ($18): In retrospect, I wanted Devon Travis or Jason Kipnis, but both went for more than I anticipated, so I held out for Pedroia and pretty much paid what I might have for Travis. Not a big loss, though, as "Laser" can still rake, even if he doesn't swipe much anymore.
3B Trevor Plouffe ($14): Saved my money for the end game and did get an everyday third sacker. I did want Nick Castellanos, but again, too rich for my blood.
MI: Eduardo Escobar ($2): Steady, flexible, and probably good for 350 important at-bats in the middle slot.
CI: Rob Refsnyder ($1): Corner infield crapshoot on a player I like and one who would have gone in the reserve draft for sure. Another flexible position possibility here, and player with pretty solid minor league totals on his side.
OF: George Springer ($27): My big gun, I had figured I would get Carlos Santana as my most expensive purchase at the $27 tag, so when Springer's bidding slowed around $24, I jumped in and changed paths.
OF: Khris Davis ($23): I don't think he will hit 40, but I do think he can hit at least 30, and check out his second half K/BB and on-base numbers last year. He's legit.
OF: Kole Calhoun ($17): No one really thought anyone else would get him, right?
OF: Steven Souza ($11): Some power and some speed possibilities here.
OF: Cameron Maybin ($9): Another good speed option.
UTIL: Colby Rasmus ($6): Some pop as a utility guy at a cheap price.
SP: Aaron Sanchez ($17): Since I tried to eschew the expensive pitchers, I hoped to build around Chris Archer and Danny Duffy, but they went for $25 and $17 respectively, and I had them pegged for $17 and $14. So, I targeted Sanchez, who is solid and should improve and is on a good team. I do think the gamble is a few bucks more than I might have imagined the hurler's value, but surely he can turn a profit. I needed someone as a sort of anchor, and within that context he was nominated.
SP: Michael Pineda ($11): Cheap price for whiffs and related wildness, but Pineda has the stuff, is now a veteran, and is in a contract year. I am hoping for a harmonic convergence of the three.
SP Marco Estrada ($10): Not much question anywhere how much I like Marco. Kind of like my affection for Calhoun, so his presence on my squad is hardly a surprise.
SP: Blake Snell ($9): A lot of strikeouts (98 over 89 innings) and a lot of walks (51) and not that many homers (5). Clearly, command is the issue, but the lefty gets the season to get the hang, and well, potential dominance is there.
SP: Jordan Zimmermann ($5): Remember last year when he was brilliant, then lousy, then hurt? Well, I am not sure he is brilliant, but if he isn't hurt, he surely is not lousy, and on a big hitting team. With his resume, Zimmermann makes for a nice bounceback investment.
RP: Roberto Osuna ($17): I like having two closers, and I like to try and get them for less than $45, so anything under $22 gives me some flexibility elsewhere, like even with a second closer.
RP: Cody Allen ($14): Closer II and again at a good price.
RP: Ryan Madson ($5): It never occured to me that I would have a third potential stopper. In fact, I thought maybe Ryan Dull would fill this slot for $3 or so. But when the bidding stalled at $4 on Madson, I figured very little was hurt by bidding one more on the likely Oakland closer to start the season. If Madson earns eight saves through the year, that is great coupled with Allen and Osuna's projected production. But, if the Oaklander really is the closer all season, that could give me some fabulous trade flexibility.
RES: Brock Holt: Valuable multi-position player who has some pop and speed. The big trick is making sure Holt is active when he is hot.
RES: Mikie Mahtook: Hot first start followed by a stall last year, I think Mahtook is lurking waiting for another chance, and ideally he has learned from the struggles.
RES: Peter O'Brien: Potential power source who could get his chance this year.
RES: Michael Bourn: He has a busted finger, but he also has some wheels and should get a chance to contribute some steals here and there.
RES: David Paulino: I really hoped Brent Honeywell would be available earlier, but Paulino is a pretty good prospect as well.
RES: Raul Alcantara: I like having a couple of hurlers on my reserve list, and this time I went with young guys, though Alcantara should have a chance at the rotation this season. Note that I had targeted Daniel Mengden for this last slot, thinking with his 6.50 ERA no one would touch him. But, Mengden did whiff 71 batters over the 72 innings he pitched in the bigs, and his minor league numbers were all great, all across the board. But, he was sniped. However, in your dynasty league, if you have a pitching slot you can gamble with, Mengden is a great gambit.
Hit me up @lawrmichaels.