You’ve perhaps seen it mentioned on Twitter, but I’m representing FanGraphs in The Dynasty Guru Experts League and we’ve been participating in a slow draft over the past five days. Check out the specifics here. The highlights: 20 teams, 40 players, major-league and minor-league players, standard snake draft, and owners will keep 35 players of their choosing from year-to-year with no contract or time restrictions.
We’ve gotten through 12 rounds to this point. Here’s how things have shaken out for me (full results here):
Pick 1.6 — OF Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies
Starting the draft in the sixth spot proved challenging. I had an easy top-five guys on my draft board, and if all were selected prior to my first pick — which they were — I wasn’t sure what direction I would choose between Carlos Gonzalez, Clayton Kershaw, and Giancarlo Stanton. Kershaw is special, but my strategy was to avoid high-priced pitching due to the natural volatility of pitchers more generally. In essence, the decision came down to Gonzalez or Stanton.
I opted to select Carlos Gonzalez fully cognizant of the injury risk. He’s 28 years old and hasn’t seen 600 plate appearances since 2010; however, CarGo is one of the few players who provide above-average production in all five standard rotisserie categories. He’s essentially a lock for a 20/20 season with ample runs and RBIs, while never hitting below .295 in a full season. Stanton doesn’t offer much in the stolen base category, nor is he guaranteed to hit for elite average. The power is monstrous, but CarGo is no slouch. He can hit 30+ annually if healthy.
Now, who can I pay to guarantee myself multiple seasons of 600 plate appearances from Carlos Gonzalez?
Pick 2.34 — OF Wil Myers, Rays
Considering this is a dynasty league with no contract restrictions, I was thrilled Myers got to me in the second round. For comparative purposes, Jay Bruce went a pick before at #33. Myers represents real value at this point, as he’s only 23 years old and could ultimately be a better fantasy producer than Bruce. He possesses enough power to hit 25-30 homers per season, but with a better average. Myers also projects to snag a few bases every year, which means I believe I grabbed a pair of under-30 outfielders with my first two picks without sacrificing production in a single category. That’s huge.
Pick 3.46 — SS Javier Baez, Cubs
Prospects went earlier than I expected, which was probably naive of me to think otherwise. Byron Buxton, Xander Bogaerts, and Oscar Taveras went early in the second round, and in a 20-team league, I committed to grabbing guys I coveted in the odd rounds because it would be almost 30 picks before I got to draft again. That’s my way of saying I probably reached on Baez in the third. However, I really wanted him. Shortstops who can hit 30+ homers are a rare commodity — only nine shortstops have done so since 2000 — and he’s only a “first half struggle from Starlin Castro” away from bringing his talent to the major-league level this season. And if he can eventually go 30/20 like he did last year in High-A and Double-A, this pick will look tremendous.
Pick 4.75 — SS Jose Reyes, Blue Jays
He’s older than I wanted at this point in the draft, but I saw value here. His 15 stolen bases should prove to be an aberration, as he swipes 30+ bags with a high average and double-digit homers. The injury risk is obviously present, but if I can get four or five solid years out of Reyes before he starts to drop off the table, this will be worth it. After all, competing for championships in the first couple of years matters, too.
Pick 5.86 — RHP Homer Bailey, Reds
Again, being an odd round, I couldn’t afford to wait on this pick. I wanted a starter who would be under-30 and could be a top-20 starter for the next handful of years. I almost selected Julio Teheran here — and would still have been happy — but I’m buying on Homer Bailey. It’s not just the increased velocity. His swinging-strike rate, O-Swing%, ground-ball rate, and strikeout rate are all trending in the right direction. In Cincinnati, he should have ample run support and a good bullpen, so I’m comfortable expecting the win total to rise above the 11 wins from 2013.
Pick 6.115 — C Wilin Rosario, Rockies
I may have reached a little in retrospect, but I wasn’t a huge fan of many catchers outside of Rosario and Perez. I opted for Rosario because he’s already good for 20+ homers and a good batting average. Many scoff at his abilities with the bat due to his minuscule walk rate. However, he was a top-three catcher last season and is 25 years old.
Pick 7.126 — LHP Gio Gonzalez, Nationals
Considering I thought about Gio Gonzalez when I drafted Homer Bailey forty picks ago, I jumped at the chance to grab the southpaw. He’s 28 years old and he hasn’t posted an ERA above 3.36 in the past four seasons. He’s proven durable and offers plenty of strikeouts. His perceived lack of value stemmed from his win total tumbling from 21 wins in 2012 to 11 wins a season ago. The Nationals should score plenty of runs, though, so I’m hoping that improves. I will readily acknowledge that Gonzalez will potentially hurt my WHIP.
Pick 8.155 — RHP Kevin Gausman, Orioles
He’s a year removed from being one of the hottest pitching prospects in the league. Unfortunately, a 5.66 ERA in his brief big-league debut muffled much of the hype, but the skills to be an extremely-useful fantasy starter are clearly present. He struck out over a batter per inning and had a better swinging-strike rate than Gio Gonzalez. He should eventually offer strikeouts and a low WHIP, as shown by his walk numbers last year and his career minor-league numbers. Some have been scared off by the home-run numbers. It wasn’t a problem in the minors and his ground-ball rate was roughly league-average last year. I’m willing to overlook them. Potential stud.
Pick 9.166 — OF Adam Eaton, White Sox
At this point in the draft, acquiring young major-league hitters became very difficult. I drafted Eaton and immediately had four owners drop expletives, so I’m pleased I didn’t try to let him squeeze through another round. In 2012, Eaton hit .381/.456/.539 with 38 stolen bases in Triple-A. An injury essentially erased last season. While obviously not expecting a batting average near .400, I drafted Eaton with the expectation that he’ll provide a high-average and 20+ stolen bases for the next 5-to-7 years. He’ll bat atop the White Sox order and have a perpetual green light on the base paths. I’m pleased with this pick.
Pick 10.195 — 2B Kolten Wong, Cardinals
I debated between Eaton and Wong in Round 9. Thus, it was an easy decision to select Kolten Wong when he was still available in Round 10. He’s not guaranteed to be the everyday guy in St. Louis right away, but he possesses the skill set to hit .285+ with double-digit homers and 15-to-20 stolen bases. Although he’s not going to carry my fantasy squad over the next half decade, he should fill in a couple holes quite nicely.
Pick 11.206 — 1B/OF Chris Carter, Astros
When I didn’t strike on any of the top-tier first basemen and missed on Brandon Belt in the sixth round, I had my sights set on Chris Carter. This was as far as I thought I could let him drop (once again, an odd round). Getting 30+ home run potential from a 27-year-old player at this point in the draft is not easy. I sacrifice average to get that power, but that’s one of the big reasons why I grabbed Eaton and Wong the previous two rounds. I had a plan in rounds 9-11 and executed it well.
Pick 12.235 — LHP Francisco Liriano, Pirates
In previous rounds, I made some picks with which I wasn’t thrilled. I’m skittish about Jose Reyes in the fourth and felt that I reached to get Baez in the third. I also didn’t love Rosario in the sixth. With that said, this was my first significant misstep. I long targeted Kyle Zimmer for this round and tried to get cute by letting him slip to the 13th round and getting more proven production in the 12th. Of course, Zimmer went a couple picks after I snagged Liriano. I swore loudly. Anyway, although the lefty is 30 years old and injury prone, he can also be a top-20 starter for the next few seasons. There’s obviously significant risk here. That’s why I’m kicking myself for waiting on guys I liked more to take a risk. Liriano could be a stud the next few years, though, and make me look smart. I’m hoping for that.