For the last few months, I’ve served as the MLB analyst on Greg DePalma’s sports show found on Prime Sports Network. It’s a baseball show though, not a fantasy baseball show. So while the topics we discuss and the information we proved can be useful for those involved in the fantasy game, our primary focus is the real game and all things MLB.
But then Greg asked me about starting up a fantasy league so that he could include that aspect on his show. We would discuss the league, the draft, the trades, the strategies, you name it. In addition to that, Greg wanted to invite members of the league onto the air to discuss both the league and their specific teams. He wanted us to assemble a group of quality owners who would not only be competitive, but willing to to put their teams and fantasy managerial style through the rigors of public scrutiny. And so the RotobuzzGuy/Prime Sports Network Invitational League was born.
Here are the players:
|Player||Site Affiliation/Association||Follow Us on Twitter|
|Howard Bender||Writer at Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and FanGraphs; Host of the Fantasy Alarm Podcast||@rotobuzzguy|
|Greg DePalma||Owner/Radio Host – Prime Sports Network||@primesn|
|Dan Flaherty||Editor-in-Chief of TheSportsNotebook.com||@DanFlaherty|
|Dave Nichols||Editor-in-Chief of DistrictSportsPages.com||@DaveNicholsDSP|
|Dave Kerr||Editor-in-Chief of FantasySquads.com||@askROTObaseball|
|Michael Barr||Writer at FanGraphs||@michaelcbarr|
|David Wiers||Writer at FanGraphs||@davidwiers|
|Keith Giordano||15-year fantasy baseball veteran; close friend and fantasy rival||@Keith_Giordano|
|Drew Malakoff||15-year fantasy baseball veteran; close friend and fantasy rival|
|Jon Schwartz||15-year fantasy baseball veteran; close friend and fantasy rival|
|Dave Randolph||9-year fantasy baseball veteran; avid follower of RotobuzzGuy.com|
|Duran Spray||5-year fantasy baseball veteran; avid follower of RotobuzzGuy.com||@sprayD|
The league is a standard 12-team, 5×5 mixed roto league with each roster starting 14 batters and nine pitchers. Teams will have a four-player bench and waivers will be done on a priority basis which does not re-set each week. You simply go to the end of the priority list after winning a waiver claim.
The league is public and can be found on ESPN.com so that you can stop in and take a look any time you like. That should be good for following along, particularly when we start discussing things on the air.
For a full look at our draft, you can click here.
And now here’s my take on everyone’s team:
Obviously, this is the team to beat. What more can I say? I had the sixth pick in the draft which isn’t too bad, though I usually prefer to be closer to one of the ends (more time to search for hidden gems and less time spent replenishing the queue), but the big issue for me was that I was sandwiched between DePalma and Randolph. Both are way too familiar with who I like and who all of my late-round gems are, so I knew I’d have to do some reaching here.
I practiced what I’ve been preaching and my first five picks were four outfielders and one first baseman. Strategy-wise I was going to be set, but the players who fell to me — Ryan Braun (1), Adam Jones (2), Alex Rios (3), Mark Trumbo (4), Justin Upton (5) — were huge values too. I mean, come on…Rios in the third? A 27-year old J-Up in the fifth? Crazy. I grabbed an undervalued Starlin Castro in the sixth and then went to work on my pitching with James Shields, Masahiro Tanaka and Trevor Rosenthal. All in all, I was very happy with my draft. I lost out on some of my favorites as Dave and Greg continuously plucked some of my favorites right before I had the chance, but I have a great mix of power and speed with some very solid pitching.
Greg came out the gate with guns blazing and grabbed some big power and a big arm with his first four picks — Paul Goldschmidt, Giancarlo Stanton, Jay Bruce and Stephen Strasburg. Wisely understanding that power is at a premium this year, he continued to go for big bats while also adding in strong arms and great closers. Dee Gordon and Dexter Fowler should help him with the stolen bases but it looks like he may need a little help to stay in the top half of the pack. Can’t say that I’m a huge fan of Chris Young (OF) or Ryan Howard, but I like Mike Morse and should Kendrys Morales sign somewhere Greg will have even more power to trade if he needs to.
OK, so I want to be positive and I want to pat everyone on the back and say, “good job,” but I also have to be honest. Dan seems like a very nice guy, but I can’t imagine that he’s a big fantasy baseball guy at all. Justin Verlander with the fourth overall pick? Even if you’re the biggest Detroit Tigers fan in the world, even a quick glance at any fantasy rankings tells you that you could have Verlander at least three or four rounds later. And don;t get me started with the back-to-back catcher picks in Rounds 2 and 3. Nothing wrong with Buster Posey or Yadier Molina, but one would have sufficed at this point and Yaddy could have been had at least a few rounds later. The pitching staff is solid but this team is going to need some serious help in both the power and speed departments.
A real pitching heavy start here with three SP — Max Scherzer, Felix Hernandez and Madison Bumgarner — taken after he takes Miguel Cabrera with the second overall pick. The next few picks gave him a decent power/speed foundation, as Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers both being able to rake and Elvis Andrus can run, but we need a breakout year from Desmond Jennings to seal the deal and really make it work. Good picks with Brandon Moss and Michael Cuddyer, two underrated power guys, though my greed for homers and RBI make this offense look a little light. As for pitching, well the front end looks great with his big three, but could have been even better had he not opted to punt saves and has some question mark starters instead of tasty closers.
Having done at least a half dozen mock drafts with Dave this spring, I was pretty wise to his player preferences. He was very offense-oriented with hitters in his first six picks, covering the middle infield (both 2B & SS), first base and three outfield spots. Smart. Very smart. He’ll need B.J. Upton and Alejandro De Aza to both have big seasons on the basepaths to stay competitive on that front, but he’s got gobs of power. His power got even better with a fantastic ninth-round grab of Jose Abreu and then Billy Butler just two rounds later. There’s some upside on his pitching staff, but I’m not in love with his starters beyond Alex Cobb. If you’re going to go offense-heavy, you have to watch how the starters are coming off the board and maybe act a little bit quicker.
A similar offense-heavy strategy was implemented here as the first six picks covered the middle infield (both 2B & SS), first base, two outfielder and then another second baseman in Ian Kinsler. Perhaps he saw it as a value play given that it was the sixth round, But I’m not high on Kinsler at all this season. Gio Gonzalez, Shelby Miller and Homer Bailey with his next three picks gave him a solid foundation for his pitching staff. Good power, good speed, solid rotation, mediocre relievers and one Tulo injury away from stomping his feet like a petulant child.
When I realized that 12 rounds into the draft Wiers had just one starting pitcher, I knew it was time to start targeting some of his favorite starters. Having read most of what he has posted on FanGraphs, I knew exactly who I was taking and where I was taking them. His frustration with me was felt with every message he wrote in the chat box. There’s nothing I don’t love about his team’s offense, but the pitching…the starting pitching that is…is in need of some serious help. He’s going to be a force on the waiver wire and I could see him doing a lot of second-half streaming, but he’s going to need to make a trade as well. I hope he comes-a-knockin’!
Keith and I have been playing fantasy baseball every year for the last 15 years but this was actually our first snake draft together. I was curious to see how he would fare as I know he tends to do more auction drafting and while I did a quick double-take at the CarGo pick at No. 3 overall, I reserved judgment until I saw where he went with it. He finished the first five rounds with first, third and the outfield covered as well as two strong aces in Adam Wainwright and Cliff Lee. I was ready to throw some praise his way in the chat room until he snagged Greg Holland in the sixth. Then it didn’t matter. Upside pick of Matt Kemp in the seventh? Nope. Pick sucked. Wilson Ramos in the 10th? The worst. Ivan Nova in the 19th? Good luck with that. Overall, I could say there’s a good blend of both power and speed with strong pitching, but I won’t.
With Edwin Encarnacion and Jacoby Ellsbury taken with his first two picks I knew that I was buying him tongue depressors and gauze bandages for his birthday. To add injury to injury (you see what I did there?), Drew thought he was being slick and drafted some hurt guys like Jurickson Profar, Hisashi Iwakuma and Doug Fister so that he could DL them and pick up some extra players on waivers, but the league is on ESPN and none of us realized that their settings were so strict/limited that even the commish couldn’t override the locked rosters in Week 1. How you don’t offer some flexibility what with a week between Australia and Opening Day is beyond me, but what can you do? Guess that should have been investigated prior to drafting. But even without that hiccup, his team could look like the Walking Dead with the likes of Josh Hamilton, Carl Crawford and Chase Headley. Assuming full health, he’s got a strong, competitive squad, but we all know what happens when we assume…
He had the first overall pick in thee draft and it’s real hard to argue any of his first four picks — Mike Trout, David Wright, Bryce Harper and Jose Reyes. Power and speed, for sure. He then built a good foundation for his pitching staff with Jose Fernandez and Anibal Sanchez with his next two picks, but I’ve actually got a bad feeling about Sanchez’ shoulder. Nothing concrete, but a bad gut feeling; like when you eat a bunch of Indian food and wash it down with a quart of whole milk. He’s got a couple of old guys on offense like Chase Utley, Torii Hunter and Alfonso Soriano who need to play well, but I think his real shortcoming is going to be in the bullpen. Fernando Rodney is ok, but many pundits are saying Jason Grilli will be the first closer to lose his job and Jose Veras is a few steps below meh. It might not be too bad in the long run so long as he stays active on the waiver wire. Chasing saves with a FAAB budget is a lot more difficult.
Nothing better than drafting seventh and having Andrew McCutchen fall to you, right? I thought it was a gift as I let him go by, but then Dave slapped me in the face by taking Prince Fielder right before me in the second round. He grabbed an ace in Chris Sale, then a soon to be 3b-eligible Carlos Santana and then a high-end closer in Kenley Jansen. A solid core group. But then Dave’s heart took over with a Xander Bogaerts reach in the sixth. Not that I don’t like Bogaerts, but I really love value and that might limit his return on the season. He’s got big power but might need someone else to complement Everth Cabrera in the stolen base department. As for pitching, what’s not to love about three solid closers and then lots of upside in Danny Salazar, Michael Wacha, Michael Pineda and Yordano Ventura. Yeah, he freakin’ took Ventura from me too.
Picking on the wheel can be tough sometimes and not a lot of people like doing it. Thoise first four picks are tough as there are a lot of guys off the board initially and then even more so the next time you end up picking. Adrian Beltre and Joey Bats are solid and the whole foursome would have looked a lot better had both Clayton Kershaw and Yu Darvish not started the season on the DL. I’m not concerned with Darvish who will be back over the weekend, but Kershaw could be a much different story. He’s got great power with Bautista, David Ortiz, Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward and solid speed led by an eager fifth-round pick of Billy Hamilton. Some question marks in the pitching, but some great upside too. Could need to go saves-hunting on the wire.
Obviously, predicting how we’re all going to finish — and by that I mean 2 through 12 as, again, I’ll be sitting pretty stop the mountain — tends to be too difficult so I’m just see how things develop and maybe do a mid-season prediction. We’ll see which one of these guys does the best at fixing up those jalopies they call fantasy teams.
I’ll be doing updates throughout the season right here but you can also catch everything that’s going on in the league by listening to Greg DePalma’s show on Prime Sports Network every Friday at 1pm (ET) on Fridays. Enjoy!