I can’t believe it is this time of year again. My fantasy baseball draft with the FF crowd is an annual rite of spring; however, living one degree north of the equator makes it easy to forget about the seasons (not that I am complaining; instead of throwing out my back shoveling snow the past few months, I’ve been shocking the fine residents of Singapore with my ghost-like pasty white skin while enjoying the sun and sand). Not to make excuses before the season has even started, but this draft really snuck up on me (much to my surprise I even forget about March Madness, which one would think would be impossible given it has March in its name). By the time the draft was over I realized that my team may end up resembling my current favorite television program, The Walking Dead. I have way too many injury risks and there is nothing worse than having big names rotting away on the DL or having to make that agonizing decision to cut an early pick loose in order to grab a replacement (sometimes I wish I had Shane’s single-minded ruthlessness, like when he sacrificed the chubby redneck to the walkers in season two). Here’s hoping my players have Herschel-like resiliency (and let’s hope they keep all of their limbs attached throughout the season).
Here are your 2013 Cereal Killers (in draft order with the overall selection in ( ))(standard ten team 5×5 roto league with OBP instead of batting average):
1. Ryan Braun (1) This came down to Trout vs. Braun. Ultimately, I went with the safer of the two. Braun is a rare five category stud. He has delivered a 100/30/110/30/.390+ line each of the past two seasons. While Braun still has a PED cloud hanging over him, there were some question marks about Trout as well. Was his power surge legit (he averaged roughly a dong per 48 at bats in the minors)? Plus, he arrived at spring training weighing 241 pounds. Two-hundred and forty one pounds–Trout has 24 pounds (and one inch) on Adrian Peterson! How will the added weight impact his SB totals? Will the weight gain make him more injury prone?
By the way, I have a Trout confession to make. Last year I made the worst fantasy baseball move of all time. We are talking Darko bad. No, it was worse than that, it was Sam Bowie bad. On April 29, 2012, I picked up Trout and on May 7, 2012, I dropped Trout. There, I said it. I missed out on one of the most historic fantasy seasons ever. After May 7, Trout was the best player in fantasy baseball by far. For those wondering why I would drop Trout, this was my thought process: I needed saves and steals, so (i) I dropped Trout and grabbed Steve Cishek who some thought would supplant Hells Bell as closer for the Fish and (ii) selected Brett Gardner off the waiver wire, as he was expected to come off the DL in mid-May. Alas, my grand plan was an epic failure. Gardner never played a game for the Killers and Cishek picked up one solitary save while posting an ERA of almost 4.00 and a WHIP approaching 2.00 for the Killers before being unceremoniously dumped for speedy Ben Paul Revere. By the way, I ended up tied for first last year and would have won running away had I kept Trout (and a big *^%* you to Ichiro (on the last day of the season Ichiro stole second base in the bottom of the sixth inning with the Yanks leading 7-1 against the Red Sox and with that steal another team caught me in SBs causing the Killers to lose a precious half point and the league crown—who steals a bag when up 7-1 in a game that does not mean anything???)).
2. Adrian Beltre (20)
3. Josh Hamilton (21)
I must admit that I am not too enamored with these picks.
I preferred Wright to Beltre; however, the day this pick was made Wright had already been yanked from the WCB with a rib injury and was being flown back to NYC to be evaluated. So Beltre it was. Even though the past three seasons have seen Beltre put up excellent numbers, his Seattle days always provide me with a moment of pause. Beltre won’t have the benefit of having Hamilton hitting in front of him but I think Big Puma will be just as effective in the three hole (and should get on base with greater frequency than Hamilton). Cruz will still be protecting Beltre (we shall see if the loss of Young and Napoli impact Beltre at all). Am hoping for a repeat of last year’s numbers (95/36/105/.359).
Hamilton has appeared on quite a few bust lists this year given his change in scenery and injury risk. Moving out of Arlington may impact Hambone’s HR totals (although it should be noted that he hit 21 of his 43 dongs on the road last year (that said, he did not go yard at all in his 31 plate appearances at Angel Stadium)); however, batting in the four spot behind Trout, Aybar and Pujols should give Hamilton many RBI chances (I would love to see Pujols in the two spot and Hamilton in the three). If healthy, Hamilton should rake, but that is a BIG if. Maybe I should make a bet, if Hamilton has 600+ at bats I will get a sweet flaming forearm tattoo sleeve.
4. Cole Hamels (40)
5. Ben Zobrist (41)
Going into the draft, Hamels was my fourth ranked SP (along with Lee and behind Strasburg, Verlander and Kershaw) so I was pleased that he was still available after nine other pitchers were taken off the board. Hamels is usually good for a K an inning and ratios of 3.00 and 1.10, all over 200 innings. Plus, it looks like he borrowed his new stache from Ron Burgundy.
And who can cheer against a man who commandeered a hot dog t-shirt launcher?
The Zobrist selection was motivated primarily be position scarcity (2B and SS looked a bit thin). That said, he is the Jason Clarke of fantasy baseball (Clarke was totally under-appreciated in Lawless and Zero Dark Thirty, where he made crazy look natural in both roles, and Zobrist is consistently overlooked by fantasy experts). A potential 90/20/100/20/.370 line from a middle infielder is great, especially when such production comes after Cano, Pedroia, Kinsler, Kipnis, Tulo, Han-Ram, Reyes and Castro had been selected.
6. Adam Wainwright (60)
7. BJ Upton (61)
Wainwright vs. Sale. Difficult choice. I ended up taking the easy way out and followed ESPN’s cheatsheet. Not very scientific here.
I’ve never been a fan of Upton and have never had him on any of my teams before. His OBP can be a killer and I am concerned about his counting stats as he slides down to the sixth spot; however, 30/30 upside in the seventh round is difficult to pass up, especially when adding 100+ RBI potential. Here’s hoping his OBP returns to at least .330. I have to confess that I feel the same way about this pick as I did when I grabbed Carl Crawford in 2009 (before 2009 I never drafted Crawford)—not too confident, but hopeful (Crawford ended up with solid numbers in ’09 and my fears about his OBP were unfounded as he had a career best of .364 (he also swiped a career season high 60 bags that year)).
8. Jimmy Rollins (80)
9. Victor Martinez (81)
Let’s cue the Hot Tub Time Machine for 2007! At this point in the draft, Rollins was the best of the rest at SS and Martinez offered the best upside at C given he sits in the heart of a jacked line-up and will not have the wear and tear associated with time behind the plate.
10. Matt Harvey (100)
11. Houston Street (101)
Not sure what happened here with Harvey. Really can’t explain it. I made this pick at around 11:00 pm without the benefit of an internet connection after spending the entire day at Universal Studios Singapore. Sun stroke maybe? Disorientated from the Transformers ride, which was absolutely awesome? Mild concussion after riding the Battlestar Galactica coaster? Don’t get me wrong, I really like Harvey (and his 2012 numbers), but not quite this much. Peavy, Josh Johnson, Lester and Morrow were all still available. I am going on a limb here and am predicting a line on a per inning basis better than any of the names listed above.
With Street, I was caught at the end of a closer run (ten had been selected) and looking at 19 picks before my next selection, so I had to grab someone (good thing I grabbed Street here as six more RPs went off the board before my next pick). I like Street more than some RPs that went before him. Pitching in SD is a huge perk, plus he had great ratios last year. Of course, he is a huge injury concern.
12. Josh Johnson (120)
13. Adam Dunn (121)
I am curious to see how this JJ pick pans out. In 2010, he led the NL in ERA and always seemed to have ace potential. The AL East does not look to be the beast that it once was and having the Jays stacked line-up backing him, his Ws should increase (he had 14 quality starts where he did not get the W for the Fins last year). Unfortunately, his ERA outside of the Miami was atrocious (4.94!!). Like most of my team, he is a huge injury risk (he has only pitched more than 200 innings once in his career).
ESPN ranked Dunn as the 36th best fantasy first baseman this year. Thankfully, our league uses OBP instead of BA so Dunn’s Mendoza-like average is not the liability it would be in a standard league. Aside from his historically disastrous 2011 campaign, Dunn is consistent to the tune of 80/40/90. That will work for me (but just in case, I added an insurance policy with pick 16).
14. Bobby Parnell (140)
15. Steve Cishek (141)
For some reason, RPs get selected really early in this league. By the time my 14th and 15th picks rolled around, 24 RPs had been taken. Parnell and Cishek could actually be decent; although, I was slightly reluctant to take Cishek given his role in last year’s epic Trout debacle. It may be wishful thinking but I am hoping for sub-3.00 ERAs, sub 1.20 WHIPs and a K per inning from these two.
16. Lance Berkman (160)
17. Ben Revere (161)
I like these two picks. I look at Berkman as ass insurance (meaning if the Big Donkey hits like it is 2011, I can start Berkman at first base (and if Dunn hits like 2011 this year, I will need Berkman to play near his career norms so that I don’t look like an ass for totally botching one of the deepest positions in years)). Fat Elvis should thrive in Arlington where he will slide into Hamilton’s number three spot in the line-up (behind Kinsler and the real Elvis).
I first drafted Berkman way back in 2001 (and his 110/36/126/7/.430 line only cost me a 16th round pick that year) and have had him on my team more years than not (that said, last year I drafted him with my 67th pick and only got 32 games out of him). 25+ bombs and 100+ RBI would be music to my ears.
“The Phillies are coming, the Phillies are coming!!” I am confident in my offense’s power, but needed some more runs and SBs. Ben Paul Revere’s value maybe tied to his spot in the Phillies line-up. If he is sitting atop the order, 100 runs and 50 SBs are possible. If he is in the seventh slot, he may be one of the first Killers dropped.
18. Julio Teheran (180)
19. Alex Cobb (181)
I have to admit that my rotation was looking a bit suspect at this point. While I like Hamels, Wainwright is only a season away from Tommy John surgery, Matt Harvey has not proven himself over a full season and JJ has plenty of question marks. Teheran has always been a top prospect and was lights-out in spring training. TB cranks out awesome young SPs (I highly recommend the article on the Rays pitching found in SI’s baseball preview) and Cobb is the next one in line (his second half ratios were 3.40 and 1.20). If one of these two pitches as well as advertised, it will go a long way to stabilizing my rotation.
20. Carl Crawford (200)
21. Justin Morneau (201)
Much like my 16th-17th swing picks, I was looking for speed/runs and power/RBI potential. Both Crawford and Morneau have plenty to prove and at this point in the draft I am happy to take a flyer on both of them.
22. Brandon Belt (220) Mr. Irrelevant 2013. Belt tore up the Cactus League with eight HRs and an on base percentage of .459. Also, I was heading to the beautiful Singapore Zoo the morning I made this pick and my daughter’s favorite animal is the baby giraffe, so selecting The Baby Giraffe seemed fitting. The biggest question I have about Belt is not whether he will live up to his hype or if he will be the first SF first baseman to go for 30 dongs since Will the Thrill; what I want to know is whether his neck is longer than Willie McGee’s?