26 March 2011

Butch's 2011 Fantasy Draft Recap

Since I came back to fantasy baseball in 2007 after a twelve hear hiatus, I've had one semi-successful season and three straight clunkers. I've never been last, but I've never been first. I seem condemned to meddle in the middle. Why I find myself perpetually pursuing the prize is a matter of mere inertia as I truly don't have the time to mull over statistics and projections, let alone prepare a draft strategy contingent upon the rules and players in my particular league. But though I might lament my luck and I'm out more than a few hard-earned bucks, this little experiment has proven to be a healthy diversion from the more mundane aspects of my daily routine.

My preparation for this season's draft was virtually nonexistent and anecdotal at best. I watch enough of the MLB Network to have at least a peripheral knowledge of nearly every team in the league. I read enough Twitter posts to know who's out with a calf strain and who's suffering from mono. But mostly, I play it by feel. I like scrappy players, guys with a variety of talents, maybe not the best players on paper, but with the heart to make them stars. I also like players who fit the team name for the year. With that, I give you Team Tiger Blood:

1. (7) Evan Longoria (TB - 3B)
2. (16) Tim Lincecum (SF - SP)
3. (29) Kevin Youkilis (Bos - 1B)
4. (38) Ian Kinsler (Tex - 2B)
5. (51) Jimmy Rollins (Phi - SS)
Longoria's a repeat offender, having served last season on Team Hopey Changey. He was projected in the Top 5, but slipped to me with the seventh pick after Robinson Canó and Ryan Bruan jumped over him. I was happy to get a head start on my corner infielders as the crop tends to thin out fairly quickly. My top priority is usually up the middle (C, 2B, SS), but there was time to address those concerns, and with your first pick, the best available player is the best available player.

Timmy was a no brainer when he fell to me with the 16th pick, especially after someone took Roy Halladay late in the first round and started a run on starters. This makes three of his first four full seasons that he's played for one of my teams. Two years ago, I thought he'd still be on the board when I drafted in Round 2. He wasn't. So last year, I took no chances and made him the No. 2 overall pick in the draft. That was probably a little hasty, but the dude was coming off two Cy Youngs. This year, I figured his shitty August of 2010 would give some guys pause. I was right.

I kept the veteran affair going with Youkilis and Kinsler, both of whom have had monster seasons for me in the past. But I'd be lying if I said Kinsler was my first choice. I'm also a big Dustin Pedroia fan, but he went with the pick right before mine. J-Roll is a fantastic dude, and despite an off year in '10, I'm looking for big things. Also, he helped shore up my middle so I could look for a catcher...
6. (60) Carlos Santana (Cle - C)
7. (73) Drew Stubbs (Cin - OF)
8. (82) Mike Stanton (Fla - OF)
9. (95) Brian Wilson (SF - RP)
10. (104) Roy Oswalt (Phi - SP)
If Carlos Santana hadn't been hurt for a good portion of last year, I imagine I wouldn't have been able to snag him as late as the sixth round. Glad that I did, because after him, the backstop pool got very sparse. Stubbs and Stanton were enlisted to get my outfield rolling. My teams have suffered from a distinct power outage of late, and I was hunting for mashers. But since outfielders are a dime a dozen, there was no pressure to jump into that pool any sooner.

I'll admit to being a little worried about Weezy's oblique, but I'm confident that he'll keep himself in shape. Like Wilson, Oswalt is another Butch fantasy darling. This was a case of drafting the player, not the uniform. When it comes down to it, the dude knows how to pitch. And besides, there's really only one uniform I avoid on my fantasy teams, and we all know which one that is.
11. (117) Ben Zobrist (TB - 1B, 2B, OF)
12. (126) Ian Desmond (Was - SS)
13. (139) Brett Anderson (Oak - SP)
14. (148) Aubrey Huff (SF - 1B, OF)
15. (161) José Valverde (Det - RP)
16. (170) Adam Jones (Bal - OF)
17. (183) Carlos Peña (ChC - 1B)
18. (192) Rajai Davis (Tor - OF)
19. (205) Jaime García (StL - SP)
20. (214) Joel Hanrahan (Pit - RP)

With solid front liners at most positions, I was free to hunt around for bargains to fill out the roster. Zobrist can do it all at three positions, which makes him quite valuable in our league, where we have a limited number of free agent pickups and the draft is critical.

Desmond was an impulse buy, but I already had Rollins, so it seemed safe. Anderson and Huff were hometown picks, especially the Huff Daddy, who also has some versatility. Valverde's a serviceable compliment to Weezy. Adam Jones and Carlos Peña make return engagements with my team. I've always liked Raj Davis for his style, and now I can love him for his stats, too. Proud to say Jaime García was a midseason acquisition last season, and I'm stoked that I found him in the 19th round. Hanrahan makes three bona fide closers in my starting 25.
21. (227) John Buck (Fla - C)
22. (236) David Freese (StL - 3B)
23. (249) Freddy Sánchez (SF - 2B)
24. (258) Jorge De La Rosa (Col - SP)
25. (271) David Murphy (Tex - OF)
26. (280) Gavin Floyd (CWS - SP)
27. (293) Ty Wigginton (Col - 1B, 2B, 3B)
28. (302) Derek Holland (Tex - SP)
29. (315) Pat Burrell (SF - OF)
30. (324) Cliff Pennington (Oak - SS)
Didn't know John Buck was on Twitter, but I do now. A decent No. 2 to Santana. Took a chance on David Freese, but when Tony LaRussa's high on a young corner infielder, you tend to pay attention. Fred Sánchez was there to be had with Pick #249, so why the hell not? (He got kicked in the head about ten minutes later in the Giants-Reds game on NBC 11, but he looked okay.) Correcting my tweet, he was the 4th Giant I drafted for my starting 25. I got a feeling De La Rosa is gonna be quite the fifth starter. And David Murphy's got some pop for a sixth outfielder.

After that, it was all bench material. But even in the later rounds, there are some gems to be found that could provide an unexpected spark when the dog days inevitably arrive. From this group, I'm thinking Derek Holland could step out and be Team Tiger Blood's unsung hero. And even though he's reportedly a little douchy, I'll always pull for Pat Burrell because we used to have a few classes to together. There's nothing cooler than seeing a fellow Bell in the Show.

Unlike last year, I'll be sure to give you regular updates on our progress, and I'll see if I can even link you to some league stats as we go. Hope you enjoy the 2011 season, real and otherwise.

P.S. Just in case you're into that sorta thing, seven players from Team Tiger Blood are on the Twitter thing. Give 'em a follow.

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