Mock Draft: Experiment #1 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Pasko Varnica   
Wednesday, 28 January 2015 17:32

   Mock Draft was held on 1/27. Snake, 12 teams, mixed league, 5x5 Roto

   I am not a big fan of a mixed league with only 12 teams. Nevertheless, being this my first mock draft of the season, it has helped me ease into 2015.

   It is our objective to use each mock draft as an experiment and then report the results in this column. A word about experiments: in order to be valid, an experiment ought to test the real waters and not be bizarre. For example, if you have the first overall pick, you should always pick Trout. Anything else would be crazy. As far as a 12-team mixed league, delaying to draft a pitcher is a valid strategy this season. Rumors are that pitching is abundant. We set out to verify this theory with this mock draft. An alternative strategy would be to pick Clayton Kershaw immediately and then wait several rounds before getting the next pitcher.

   I had the 10th pick and since Kershaw was gone by my turn, I decided to get hitters the first six rounds.

   In the seventh round, I picked the next best pitcher according to the Mastersball projections, which was Sonny Gray. I followed that in the eighth round with Hisashi Iwakuma. The draft results are HERE

Take a look at the spreadsheet. The mere fact that 17 of the 24 spots of the last two rounds went to pitching tells me that indeed a mixed league with only 12 teams has plenty of reasonably good hurlers.

That being said, how good is my team’s pitching staff (my team was #10)? Looking at the draft results makes me wonder if it would have been better to pick a pitcher in the fourth round instead of getting Hunter Pence. After all, several valid outfielders were left on the table. In my opinion, the way Lawr drafted was the most appropriate for this league: two hitters followed by one pitcher, repeat (see team #12). Another personal observation: I do not think that getting Kershaw in the first round worked well (see team #7). What do you think? Your thoughts and comments are welcome.

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 January 2015 19:21
Mock Drafts – 2015 Season PDF Print E-mail
Written by Pasko Varnica   
Tuesday, 20 January 2015 15:05

In the 2015 edition of BaseballHQ’s Baseball Forecaster & Encyclopedia of Fanalytics, Lord Zola wrote that “the more mock drafts you do, the better you are at assembling your fantasy baseball squad” and that “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

I am not going to add to this well expressed sentiment.

Disclosure: Last year, we experienced problems filling the draft rooms because we limited the participation to Mastersball readers.

This season, we have teamed with Fantasy Alarm ( to expand the field of participants. Howard Bender of Fantasy Alarm is the mock draft organizer. His list already has over 100 names. If you are interested in participating, send an e-mail to Howard at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Identify yourself as a Mastersball reader and ask him to put you on his distribution list.

Howard runs multiple mock drafts per week and fills the draft room half with writers/broadcasters/experts and the other half with super-eager readers like you. Once you are on his distribution list, you will receive an e-mail at the start of the week informing you of the mock drafts scheduled for that week. If you're interested in taking part that week, please reply to him and let him know which draft works best for you. Mock drafts will be held whenever possible, likely two or three times a week. They are not locked into any specific times but will try to accommodate different time zones and schedules.

If you join a mock draft, please, do not abandon it halfway and do not put your team on auto-pick. Also, if you signed up at the beginning of the week and your real life rudely interferes with your fantasy one, please, inform Howard immediately to remove your name from the draft room. Send me an e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it should you have any questions about mock drafts.

Mastersball staff will join several drafts. To test the waters, our plan is to use different strategies, e.g.:

  • next best player as per Mastersball projections
  • pick Clayton Kershaw first
  • wait on pitchers
  • use scarcity method

   and so on. After each mock draft, we will publish in this column the results with comments, observations and recommendations.

   Do not procrastinate. The time to get ready for the 2015 season is now.

Last Updated on Thursday, 22 January 2015 09:37
Another Martinez Waits for the Hall of Fame Voters PDF Print E-mail
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Sunday, 11 January 2015 00:00

There are always arguments – especially on internet message boards – when the Baseball Hall of Fame votes are released. People on opposite sides of “How did he get in?” and at the same time “Why didn’t he get in?” (There are multiple names even in the same year although the two most prominent this year were Craig Biggio and Curt Schilling.)

But, there was an interesting byproduct of all the interviews the four newest members of the Hall of Fame did last week. When Pedro Martinez was asked who the toughest hitter he ever faced was, he replied that it was Edgar Martinez of the Mariners.

In a later interview, Randy Johnson said that if he had a HOF ballot (not a bad idea for those elected to the Hall to vote on potential new members of the fraternity), the first person he would vote for was former Mariner teammate Edgar Martinez. "The first person that comes to my mind was a teammate of mine for 9½ years and the greatest hitter I ever played with," Johnson said Wednesday. "I've faced a lot of Hall of Fame hitters, and my gosh, Edgar is the best hitter that I ever saw.”

What we hear from a lot of the BBWAA writers who actually discuss who they did or did not vote for and why, is that Edgar Martinez does not get a lot of votes because he was a designated hitter. Well, let’s get something drilled into those writers' brains – Edgar did not establish the DH in the American League. He came up as a third baseman and had a couple of .300+ batting seasons there before he was moved to the new DH position that the owners and MLBPA voted in. It’s not Edgar’s fault that the Mariners complied with the new rule by finding a better position for his bat while at the same time improving their defense.

Edgar Martinez had a Hall of Fame career with his batting numbers, unless the writers believe that they should not even think about voting for David Ortiz someday.

Last Updated on Sunday, 11 January 2015 18:33
Salt River Wins AFL Championship PDF Print E-mail
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Sunday, 16 November 2014 11:19

Saturday’s AFL LCG would pit the team that gave up the fewest home runs this year, (the Salt River Rafters surrendered only eight round trippers in 32 games), against the team that hit the fewest home runs (the Peoria Javelinas knocked only 11 balls over the fence).

Yet ironically, after the top half of the sixth inning, the Javelinas had hit five home runs, including three solo shots in the fourth inning: back-to-back shots by Hunter Dozier and Justin O’Conner, and another three batters later by Kes Carter. O’Conner then knocked his second homer--a two-run shot in the fifth inning-- and the fifth home run was a screaming line drive over the left field bullpen by Bubba Starling.

Still, after Ryan Casteel hit a two-run shot for Salt River in the bottom of the sixth inning, the game was tied at 7-7. Casteel’s shot was the second and final Rafter home run of the day. The first was a solo blast over the right field bullpen in the first inning by left fielder Eddie Rosario, who was the Salt River hitting star of the day, going 4-for-5 including a double and the home run, scoring two runs while driving in two.

The close hitting contest was put to rest in the bottom of the seventh inning when Salt River scored seven runs on four walks and four hits to take the final 14-7 score.

Prior to the game, there were two special AFL awards presented.

The first was the Dernell Stenson Award presented each year to a player who exemplifies teamwork and leadership and the 2014 winner was Patrick Kivlehan, who said "You want to be known for something that's more than being a baseball player. It's how you treat people on and off the field. I definitely think that from playing football and being a special-teams guy, you learn that you have to do whatever you can do to help the team win and do your part."

Kivlehan didn't just distinguish himself as a team player this fall -- he was also one of the best players in the AFL, leading the circuit in RBI (22) and finishing third in runs scored (18). Perhaps more importantly, the former outfielder rounded out his play at first base -- which could be his permanent position.

Receiving the Joe Black Award, the AFL’s most valuable tribute, was Gregory Bird, who hit a 450-foot home run to center field in the Fall Stars Game two weeks ago and was tied for the league lead in home runs (6) and led the league in runs scored (21). Bird was also second in hits (31), RBI (21) and total bases (55), third in extra-base hits (12) and slugging (.556) and sixth in batting (.313). He opened the season with a 16-game hitting streak and was also named MVP of the Fall Stars Game.

Last Updated on Sunday, 07 December 2014 08:27
AFL West - Won by Just One Percentage Point PDF Print E-mail
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Friday, 14 November 2014 00:00

The Peoria Javelinas and Surprise Saguaros were virtually tied going into the last game of the Arizona Fall League season on Thursday with Surprise in front by just one game at 16-14 with a .533 winning percentage.

But Peoria’s 5-2 win put them at 15-14 and Surprise at 16-15 with Peoria’s winning percentage at .517 just one thin point ahead of Surprise, who finished at .516 – enough to claim the West Division championship and earn a spot in the league championship game against the East Division Salt River Rafters (17-11, .607).

It is a long way from where Peoria was early in the season, 3-10 and in danger of setting AFL record lows in batting average and runs scored. They finished the season on a 12-4 run to win the West.

"Obviously, we got off to a poor start. We didn't drive the ball out of the park," said Peoria manager Vance Wilson (KC). "To see them come together -- pitching, defense and the fundamentals -- in all the things that we teach in pro ball that wins championships, I couldn't be more proud of 36 guys."

Down 1-0 after four innings, the Javelinas got the first two runners on via singles and then had three RBI singles from Jacob Wilson (STL), Kes Carter (TB) and Breyvic Valera (STL) that all scored the runner from second base and left runners at first and second. The 3-1 lead would have held, Surprise scoring their second run in the bottom of the eighth, but Tampa Bay catcher Justin O’Conner hit a two-run homer to right field in the top of the ninth to widen the lead and allow Atlanta relief pitcher Brandon Cunniff to have a more comfortable save.

Javelinas starting pitcher – another young Brave, Aaron Northcraft went the first five innings, allowing just one run on three hits with no walks while striking out four.

The league championship game will be played at 3:08 ET Saturday afternoon at Scottsdale Stadium and will be shown live on the MLB Network and streamed on

Last Updated on Monday, 17 November 2014 08:01
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