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The #BADfantasy Experts League

Damn you, social media. I’ve tweeted and Facebook’d this league so much in the last two weeks, that I can’t even write the name of it without the stupid hashtag.

While the name of the league would probably have you thinking that Cameron Maybin was the first overall selection (too soon, Ray?) the word BAD is simply an acronym for Baseball Analysis Draft. The league, brought to you by the folks over at KFFL, is a 15-team (just expanded from 12 for this season) standard 5×5 roto league that has some of the finest fantasy baseball minds competing for the title and some serious bragging rights. It’s a two-catcher league with a middle and corner infielder, one utility player, five outfielders and nine pitchers. We do a slow snake-draft where every pick has a two hour limit and the clock shuts down during the late evening hours and over the weekend. After every pick we submit a small write-up detailing our thought process behind each selection, hence the BAD acronym.

It is not a mock draft. We play this one out. To use a phrase that always makes you want to slam Bud Selig upside the head with a tire iron, this time it counts.

For a complete look at the draft board, click here, and for a look at a round by round listing of explanations, you can click here. For here, I’m going to go through each of my picks and then share a few thoughts on some of the other picks from each round as well. Hopefully, you as the reader will pick up a few tips along the way and be able to take some of the lessons learned here and apply them to drafts of your own. If not, then at least sit back and enjoy the ride.

First, the participants (in draft order, so not to openly single out the guys I hate the most):

Mike Gianella and Paul Sporer Baseball Prospectus
Josh Shepardson The Fantasy Fix
Ray Flowers Fantasy Alarm/Sirius XM
Pasko Varnica Mastersball
Michael Stein Fantasy Judgment
Drew Silva Rotoworld
Tim Heaney KFFL
Rudy Gamble Razzball
Mark Bloom RotoExperts
Nicholas Minnix KFFL
Ryan Bloomfield Baseball HQ
Jeff Paur RealTime Fantasy Sports
Howard Bender FanGraphs
Andrew Martinez RotoWire
Steve Gardner USA Today Sports

 

Due to time constraints, I’ll go over just the first 10 rounds and then highlight a few other selections along the way. Sound good? Great. Let’s get to it.

Round 1

My Pick: Jason Kipnis, 2B CLE — After doing a ridiculous number of mock drafts, I was happy to settle in here at the 13th pick, fully expecting to have Prince Fielder fall to me and start things off with a bang. When he wasn’t available, I had to switch gears a bit and turn to man-crush No. 2. With Gardner on the wheel and knowing his preferences, I knew Kipnis wasn’t coming back to me in Round 2, so I grabbed him now as opposed to not owning him at all. Some might call it a bit of a reach, but based on my projections, he should be the top second baseman by year end, if he isn’t already.

Other Picks: It’s pretty tough to criticize any first-round pick, given the talent level, but I don’t mind saying that I would have taken Mike Trout first overall, I never would have taken a pitcher in the first round and I hope that Minnix’ team goes down in flames hard for swiping Fielder. As you can imagine, I had some choice words for him that I am not allowed to publish here.

Round 2

My Pick: Evan Longoria, 3B TB — Aside from the fact that I love his power (three 30-HR seasons in the last five) and believe that he will rein in those strikeouts again and bring his average back up to respectability, this position has a significant drop-off in talent after the top is gone. I’ll take the elite bat here and check off two infield spots with some good power and a bit of speed.

Other Picks: I probably would have taken Ryan Braun had Gardner not grabbed him and I thought about Joey Votto as well, but have concerns about the power. We’ve already covered my disdain for Yasiel Puig and lack of faith in Jacoby Ellsbury as second round picks so there’s probably no reason to go any further here.

Round 3

My Pick: Jean Segura, SS MIL — Given that it’s a 15-team league and knowing most of the opinions of my fellow competitors, I opted to stay in the infield and get some elite-level stolen bases. I don’t care about Segura’s power. Whatever he hits me in home runs is just gravy. This is about high-end speed at a very thin position. Yes, he slowed down in the second half of last year, but he’s spent ample time in the offseason working on his conditioning and stamina and should be more prepared for the rigors of a full MLB season this year.

Other Picks: Four starting pitchers gone here in the third round. Four. I don’t care if it is a 15-team league, starting pitching is crazy deep and with the number of guys who are available on the wire throughout the year, I just don’t see why you wouldn’t just stack your offense. “I never like to take starting pitching this early,” from a fantasy baseball expert is becoming as trite and untruthful a cliche as a player saying, “I’m in the best shape of my life.”

Round 4

My Pick: Mark Trumbo, 1B/OF — I love Trumbo for this year. Love him. Two straight 30-plus home run seasons after a 29-homer rookie season all with cavernous Angel Stadium as his home park. I’m doing a full write-up on him for Wednesday so I won’t detail too much else here, but let’s give a nod to the dual-position eligibility here. He makes for an outstanding power-hitting first baseman and if some other power first baseman falls to me later in the draft, I will happily shift him to the outfield where the number of consistent 30-home run guys out there are few and far between.

Other Picks: Five more starting pitchers taken here. Five. Are you kidding me? And Craig Kimbrel? I am flummoxed. Definitely some good arms taken but I have to say that the pick that stands out like a turd in a punchbowl has to be a fourth-round selection of Gerritt Cole. Listen, I like him too. I think he’s got great stuff. But this pick is even 30 picks earlier than his NFBC ADP and that league forbids trading so pitcher ADPs are typically higher overall. Maybe because it’s an expert’s league and every expert is apparently the driver of his favorite players’ respective bandwagons, but for me, this was a serious reach.

Round 5

My Pick: Anthony Rizzo, 1B CHC — If you believe in the plate discipline, the notion that his BABIP will not stay at .258 again and that he is primed for a 30-home run season, all of which I do, then he’s a solid choice whether I put him at first or leave Trumbo there and hold that power in my corner infield spot. I also have a little something up my sleeve for my next pick which is another reason I opted for Rizzo here.

Other Picks: No real surprises here as those who were selected were, in my opinion to be expected. I’m not a big believer in a repeat performance for Josh Donaldson, but I can understand why he was taken. One thing I did notice was that another closer went, but so did three catchers. My plan for my next pick, though, was still looking good.

Round 6

My Pick: Salvador Perez, C KC — Well, before I explain this pick, allow me to say, “Damn you, Steve Gardner! Damn you!” I had Jose Abreu, who I am all-in on this year, queued up for my next pick. I was going to push Trumbo to the outfield and with the first base/corner infield looking like some crazy old gypsy man touched its cheek and whispered “thinner,” I was going to steal some killer power and screw over the rest of the owners who failed to secure a quality first baseman. I consider this a complete betrayal of friendship on his part. Nonetheless, I had to make a pick here. I looked at the field and debated which it would be this round, a closer run or a catcher run. Given that the top four backstops were now off the board, it being a two-catcher league and most of these guys proclaiming that you can always find cheap saves on the waiver wire throughout the year, I went catcher. I love Perez’ developing power and my team could certainly use a guy with a strong batting average.

Other Picks: Well aside from Gardner and his ridiculous reach for Abreu, I was left sweating as three closers came off the board to just two catchers. With each ninth-inning specialist that came off the board I kicked myself for taking Perez. I still love him, especially in a two-catcher league, but my love for high-end closers is a bit stronger. As for other picks, maybe it’s just me, but I’m hesitant to believe that Xander Bogaerts will hit for power in the big leagues. I’m not saying he isn’t capable of a dozen home runs, but I think we’ll see a continued rise in strikeouts from his minor league totals and those who draft him early could be headed for some disappointment.

Round 7

My Pick: Joe Nathan, RP DET — Ugh. So upset here. I totally called it wrong and it’s evident that this so-called group of experts with whom I am drafting is nothing but a bunch of liars. Saves during the season, my ass! Another two closers off the board to just one catcher and I’m stuck grabbing Nathan as my top guy. Yuck. It’s not that I don’t think he’ll have a good year, because pitching for the Tigers should help him keep the ball in the yard and allow him to just throw strikes without too much corner-nibbling, but he doesn’t thrill me much and I’m sorry, but expert’s league or not, I like drafting guys I want to root for. It’s still a stupid game, after all, isn’t it? Yeah, I’m throwing a little tantrum here….so what?

Other Picks: No need to acknowledge the closer picks. You know I begrudgingly approve. With another three starters off the board, I am finally going to have to turn my attention to more arms than just Nathan. I was hoping that Jordan Zimmermann would still be on the board at this point but that just gives me reason to egg Pasko’s house on Halloween.

Round 8

My Pick: James Shields, SP KC — Not a bad way to start off your pitching staff, even though the ‘Big Game James’ moniker tends to be wasted on a guy whose playoff performance is lacking just a bit. But he’s a rock solid place to start with decent ratios and quality strikeout numbers. The improved Royals offense should provide him with some much-needed run support, so that should aid in his wins totals as well.

Other Picks: Another hefty reach for a young and unproven starting pitcher as Danny Salazar goes about 20 picks ahead of his NFBC ADP to that Minnix character. Not as bad a reach as with Cole, but a reach nonetheless. He’s another young hurler of whom I am a fan, but not enough to start reaching for him like this. The problem though, is that this reaching is now making me adjust my strategy because there are some youngsters I want to get a hold of and apparently, I’m going to have to act sooner than I originally planned.

Round 9

My Pick: Sonny Gray, OAK — Sigh. With five more starters off the board, one of whom was Michael Wacha, I knew I was going to have to move on Gray now if I wanted to own him in this league. What’s not to love about his talent? Between the strikeout rate, the ground ball rate, the velocity and the pitch mix, I put him right in line with the rest of the hot up-and-comers that everyone is freaking out over.

Other Picks: The Wacha pick and the Shelby Miller selection right after my pick were to be expected and I feel like Alexi Ramirez could have been had several rounds later. There was never really a big rush on middle infielders and with shortstops like J.J. Hardy and Andrelton Simmons still on the board, I would have grabbed someone else.

Round 10

My Pick: Masahiro Tanaka, SP NYY — When everyone was discussing the changes made to posting for Japanese players, Tanaka was the best thing since sliced bread. Everyone was loving this guy and he was going to be a game-changer for any team who ended up signing him. Well, the Yankees won and now Tanaka is a bum apparently. His strikeout rate is meh, he’s going to give up a ton of home runs and he apparently couldn’t hold Yu Darvish‘s jock on his best and Yu’s worst day. You gotta love the hate. For me, he is a slightly unknown commodity who, as a 10th round pick, could be the steal of the draft. I have faith in the Tanaka we looked at before all the Yankee-hate took over.

Other Picks: The second tier of closers started coming off the board which means I’ll likely be one of those guys chasing saves on the wire all year (yuck) and as much as I like Nolan Arenado, I think he’s a bit of a reach here. Had the Rockies actually committed to him being in the two-hole this year, I would be fine with it, but it’s back to the bottom half of the order for him which obviously limits some of his production.

As for the rest of my team, I grabbed a solid mix of power, speed and upside for my outfield with Kris Davis, Oswaldo Arcia, Ben Revere, Denard Span, Lorenzo Cain, and Marcell Ozuna. I picked up another closer, albeit a risky one, in Tommy Hunter and rounded out my pitching staff with Chris Archer, the hope of a Josh Johnson rebound in San Diego, the potential of a healthy Michael Pineda and then Phil Hughes and Jason Vargas for the tail-end of the rotation. I grabbed more infield power from Todd Frazier, Matt Dominguez, Devin Mesoraco and even a little bit from Zack Cozart. Joe Girardi says that he’s trucking Brian Roberts out there every day, so I grabbed him for a bit of depth and an easy drop once he gets hurt and finally, one hopeful bat in Jonathan Singleton who should get his call-up midway through the season.

As for some of the other picks we saw from the rest of the field…

A big 15th round reach for reliever Nate Jones put Josh Shepardson on my sh*t list and then his grab of Byron Buxton in the 25th solidified his place on said list. A solid but underrated catcher tandem of Yan Gomes and Travis d’Arnaud for Gianella and Sporer makes me feel bad about myself even more for grabbing Perez over Greg Holland and for that, they too find themselves on the list. Not sure I’m going to have much success chasing saves on the wire with Ray Flowers cornering the market on save vultures, but at least he’ll suck in wins and strikeouts….and saves if none of them pan out. It should be interesting to see where Stephen Drew ends up because it looks like Pasko is going to need him given his other shortstops. Stein has more than my criticism to worry about as that’s Flowers sneaking up behind him with a baseball bat for poaching Tim Lincecum. I had Alexi Ogando marked as a strong first-half sleeper, but Drew Silva wisely poached that pick from me, so add him to the list. I’d laugh at Tim Heaney, but owning B.J. Upton will be punishment enough. Gamble takes advantage of the slow draft and with news of Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker, swipes James Paxton in the 25th round which….guess what….puts him on the list too. Bloom steals my Kole Calhoun and my Jonathan Villar, Minnix is the reason I started the list (and taking George Springer doesn’t help), Jeff Paur takes Dexter Fowler the pick before me, Martinez does the same with Tyson Ross and Gardner……well, I’m still reeling from Abreu in the sixth. The only guy who doesn’t seem to be on the list here is Bloomfield, but that’s because I don’t like anyone he took after Round 13.

All in all, it was a great draft despite the lies and pick-sniping, and I look forward to watching how all of these guys look in my rear-view mirror as they compete for second place. Thanks again to KFFL for the league. Please make sure you spell my name right when engraving the trophy.