I've been fortunate to have fantasy sports in my life. This time of the year, after the extended family is gone and the post holiday blues are about to set in....there's fantasy baseball waiting in the wings. As tradition has it, the first industry draft of the season is the FSTA draft held in Las Vegas. It's a great opportunity to rekindle relationships with peers, and also to trash talk a little before the draft. Yep just like your typical local league... surely we're not the only league that has a character with frosted tips in their league?
2015 FSTA Fantasy Baseball Draft
The First round - Let the surprises begin
1. Mike Trout, Angels (Steve Gardner -
2. Andrew McCutchen, Pirates (Glenn Colton, Rick Wolf, Stacie Stern - Colton and the Wolfman)
3. Jose Abreu, White Sox (Ron Shandler - Shandler Park)
4. Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks (Charlie Wiegert / Vlad Sedler CDM Sports)
5. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (Anthony Perri - Fantistics Fantasy Sports)
6. Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins (Tom Kessenich and Greg Ambrosius - NFFC)
7. Anthony Rizzo, Cubs (Lawr Michaels and Todd Zola - Mastersball)
8. Carlos Gomez, Brewers (Dr. Roto Mark Bloom - Fantasy Scout)
9. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (Christopher Liss - Rotowire)
10. Adam Jones, Orioles (Jeff Paur - RT Sports)
11. Felix Hernandez, Mariners (Jeff Mans and Ted Schuster- Fantasy Alarm)
12. Robinson Cano, Mariners (Ray Flowers - SiriusXM radio)
13. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays (Mike Cardano - RotoExperts)
I think the first 2 picks are unanimous at this point in the preseason. USA Today's Steve Gardner (who also had a wonderful final round pick of Byron Buxton) selected Mike Trout and Colton & The Wolfman (with the uber Stacie Stern) selected Andrew McCutchen. Both of these players offer top tier production with consistency and as I scribe, both are healthy. The Wolf team has been hot of late in FSTA contests, so starting with a top tier player like McCutchen as the foundation for your team is an advantage. If you're reading this article in March or April, Miguel Cabrera might seem like the logical choice with the top 2 picks, but with his walking boot recently removed from his foot, there is uncertainty...especially if a setback derails his start to the season. Think back a few seasons when we expected Ryan Howard and Kendrys Morales to be healthy for the start of spring training after a foot/leg injury. Physics and history agree that big guys take longer with these types of injuries. Jose Abreu (Ron Shandler) was a bit unexpected at #3, but the Abreu can mash and the pick didn't come as a total surprise as Shandler has a respectable bravado in being a little unconventional during the first round. Whether or not Abreu can maintain a 27% HR/FB rate...is debatable. The 4th selection, Paul Goldschmidt, is an obvious and consensus top 5 pick. The Godfather (Charlie Weigert) and his drafting partner Vlad Sedler can count on .300/100/100/30 with a full season. As a Fantistics subscriber, Vlad was a little disappointed that we don't release our player rankings before the draft....but hey who would want their information used against them!
My Pick at #5
Anyone who knows me through Fantistics, also knows that I love elite pitching and wouldn't be surprised by my selection of Clayton Kershaw at number 5. Other than being a once in a generation type pitcher (yes look at his 4 year average numbers), Clayton completely dominates his categories...yes starting pitching has improved greatly since 2000....but there are still tiers that should be valued accordingly. All pitching is not the same and Clayton is in a tier by himself (Sub 1 WHIP, Sub 2 ERA, 230+ Ks, 17-20 Wins).
Additionally a starting pitcher's contribution factor offers 21% more incremental value than that of a hitter. Follow me here with some simple starting roster math: 14 hitters / 9 pitchers is the typical split in most formats. 14 hitters for 5 rotisserie hitting categories, 9 pitchers for 5 Rotisserie pitching categories. Of those 9 pitchers, 6 are typically starting pitchers with 3 dedicated to the relief role. Closers typically log 1/3 the innings of a starter, so it would take 3 closers to contribute the same way as a starter in terms of Wins/WHIP/ERA/K. So in total there are essentially 7 full role positions on the pitching side that contribute to 5 scoring categories. If we exclude Saves, we have 7 theoretical pitchers that contribute to 4 categories(4/7= .57), or on average each of the 7 pitchers contributes 14% (1/7) to each category. 14 hitters contribute to 5 categories (5/14 = .36), or on average each of the 14 hitters contributes 7% (1/14) to each category.
In other words it's a lot easier for a pitcher to influence one of the scoring categories than is it for a hitter...a lot easier. Using the simple math factor (.57 - .36 = 21%). Thus each pitcher's contribution factor accounts for 21% more incremental value than that of a hitter. Assuming health or at the end of the season, a dominant pitcher has more impact on your team than a dominant hitter. Now this doesn't mean that you chase 2nd tier pitchers, as they are more plentiful and some are more unpredictable. The price/drop needs to be right.
Giancarlo Stanton went 6th overall to the guys at Stats Inc., and that's just about the consensus of his NFFC ADP which Greg Ambrosius likes to adhere to. I would have considered Stanton at 5, but there is that small chance that the baseball imprint left on his skull may have some lasting effect....sure hope it doesn't, but unfortunately we've seen it before. Anthony Rizzo went at 7 overall, which is a surprise for what many expected to be a mid 2nd round pick. Lawr Michaels and Todd Zola have a penchant for making unconventional picks, but to their credit, they've also had success in the past. Rizzo made good on our increase in power production projection in 2014. However his 19% HR/FB ratio was a bit inflated based on his 104 BBS....which of course inflated his BA as well. What was underrepresented was his RBI totals, which were considerably less than they should have been. Most favorably was the way he started hitting LHP (.518 SLG), which makes his power potential legitimate and sustainable moving into the future....but I'm sticking with him as a second round selection this year.
Carlos Gomez went to new league owner Mark Bloom. While I don't hate the pick, I don't love it either. Gomez lost traction in his SB% rate in 2014...and that is a big part of his game. I do like the balanced approach that Bloom went with during the draft, as I also tend to use that methodology. Miggy Cabrera went to Chris Liss at 9th overall, and as mentioned it could be a boom pick in the late first round....the guy is a lock on a .320/100/100/30...IF healthy. Adam Jones was selected by Jeff Pair with the 10th pick. Jones is solid in the late first round. We believe he was shorted about 18 RBIs last season, so we're expecting a bump up from 2014.
The venerable Jeff Mans ("the guy with the frosted tips") and Ted Schuster made a selection that surprised me: Felix Hernandez. In the past Mans been critical of selecting pitchers in the first round. However the industry thinking is starting to shift slightly, as last year we saw many of the top teams winning with stud pitchers. I like Hernandez, but I think we will see some regression as his .258 BABIP allowed went a long way in helping that career low WHIP (.92) and the 5.7 HR/FB rate is not going to be sustainable. If there's any conciliation for Jeff, it's the fact that he and I were voted (by ourselves), as the best dressed with our matching sports jackets.
Robinson Cano made it back into the 1st round at 11, despite a lack luster (.316/77 R/82 RBI/14 HR) season. The Fantasy Oracle, Ray Flowers, is a believer strength at the weaker positions (position scarcity), and the middle infield is once again the weakness in this year's draft. With offensive totals on a continuing decline (Slugging % for the top 200 hitters last year was only .405, a drop from .413 in 2013), their has been a prominent shift towards defense, allowing for the weaker bats to man the core of the field. Cano was taken right were we value him, and although The Oracle was in a good spirits throughout the draft, we prefer the grumpy Oracle.
To finish up the first round, Mike Cardano from the RotoExperts took Jose Bautista. Other than the deficiency in stolen bases which is common with most power hitters, Bautista can be somewhat of a risk to the batting average category. It wasn't an outlandish pick by any stretch as the consensus has him as a top 10 pick...we're just a little more risk adverse because of the fluctuating BABIPs he's posted over recent seasons.
That covers round 1 of the 2015 SiriusXM FSTA Expert draft. Here's the rest of my draft and some of the Sabermetric notes that can be found throughout the 2015 Fantistics Player Projections/Draft software:
My Roster with Projections Software notes:
1 Kershaw,C. P Once in a generation type pitcher. 2nd consecutive season
where hi WHIP was under 1 and his ERA was under 2. The scary thing is that he
keeps improving every season. In 2011 he was averaging 14.9 pitches per inning
(16.1 is league average), and last year he averaged 13.7! In theory, he's worth
more than any hitter can possibly be worth, and must selection in the middle to
late first round. Still only 27 YO!
2 Ramirez,H. SS Going to explode in the power categories with his move to the AL east. His BBS of 107 on his HR's was muted during his tenure in LA and Miami. His 11% HR/FB rate can easily be pushed to 16 or 17% which will push Hanley into the low to mid 20 HR range in 2015. Look for a climb in RBIs as well.
3 Beltre,A. 3B His Speed of batted balls on HRs is still elite (104.6 MPH) despite his advancing age (36), so there is the expectation that his HRs will creep back into he mid 20s, as his HR/FB rate of 11% was uncharacteristically low. Also his RBIs appear to be underrepresented last year by 15. There is value if you can buy him at his discounted 2014 rate.
4 Blackmon,C. OF Almost even GB/FB rate makes him a flyball hitter with above average Contact rate (85%) with above average power (averaged 400 Ft on HRs) makes him a worthy candidate to increase his SLG from a season ago. Needs to be moved out of leadoff slot to fully maximize his RBI potential.
5 Pence,H. OF Pence had a down year in 2014, and most of that centered around his power numbers. He's still swinging with an elite bat speed (106 BBS), so that 11% HR/FB rate should be closer to his historical norm of 15-16% in 2015...which should mean 7-10 more HRs and a pickup in RBIs.
6 Davis,C. 1B/3B Davis had what we term an unlucky season last year. It wasn't the HR totals that were disappointing (as his HR/FB ratio has remained constant at 24%), rather his Singles % of .196 was 50-75 points less than his typical...and that destroyed his BA and subsequent RBI and RS count. Look for a nice rebound this season, but don't expect to pay for his 2013 campaign.
7 Perez,S. C There was a significant regression in his batting average, but that can be explained away by an unlucky .231 Singles%. A world of talent at the catchers position, could easily become a breakout player as he enters his prime years.
8 Harvey,M. P Harvey is returning from TJS (10/2013), and should be close to 100 percent for the start of the season. Latest news feed had his fastball back in the 95 MPH range, so that's certainly a good sign. What stood out about Harvey was his command on his slider and change, which helped him achieve a 12.5% Swinging Strike rate. Lots of upside for the 26 YO.
9 Doolittle,S. RP Doolittle's 89/8 strikeout-to-walk ratio led all relievers and was a big reason why he was so successful when he took over the closing role for the A's mid-season. His batted ball splits aren't ideal (59% flyball rate vs 23% groundball rate) but his great 37.7% strikeout rate limits base runners. He'll be one of the first closers off the board this spring. UPDATE: Doolittle has been diagnosed with a tear in his rotator cuff, and that's why you don't draft in January!
10 Gordon,A. OF Above average Batted Ball Speed (104.8), still offers us hope that we'll see a pop in his league average 11% HR/FB ratio. We should also see a bump up in his RBI totals, as our expected RBI indicator says he should have registered 90 last season instead of 74.
11 Carrasco,C. P Superior 95 MPH average fastball, but it's his other pitches that are considered + pitches (Slider and Change up). Racked up an amazing 13% Swinging Strike rate last season because of the move away from the fastball, seeing his pitches per inning to an elite 14.6. The 7% HR/FB rate was a little deflated so there should have been a higher ERA, but there's lots to love here.
12 Wheeler,Z. P The good news is that all of Wheeler's underlying indicators were in line with category norms. Wheeler's 10% Swinging Strike rate of 10% was very impressive, and his heavy 54% GB rate allows Wheeler avoid disastrous outings. Wheeler is finding success with his Slider and Curveball which offset his 95 MPH fastball. Wheeler still has plenty of upside as he refines those secondary pitches..
13 Tomas,Y. OF Being a Cuban export, we really don't have much hard data to go on other than the comparisons. Most agree that he's clearly not the polished power hitter than Jose Abreau was coming into last season, and some are comparing him closer to Cepedes....The only stat line I found on him was in Baseball America, which said "He finished the season at .290/.346/.450 with six home runs, 21 walks and 46 strikeouts in 257 plate appearances." it went on to say the power numbers were disappointing because of an injury he suffered early in the season when he crashed into an outfield wall. That said, there's got to be a pretty strong consensus and rational behind the $68 million/4 year deal.
14 Benoit,J. RP Joaquin Benoit was great in the 9th inning for the Padres after taking over for Huston Street last season. Unfortunately, San Diego had the second fewest save chances in the MLB last season so save volume was not there. Looking forward into 2015, the Padres have transformed their lineup and the improvements should create more late inning leads for Benoit to protect.
15 Duda,L. 1B Continues to struggle against LHP (.259 SLG), but when you hit 30 HRs on a below average team, you don't platoon. That said, the 16% HR/FB rate appears inflated based on his 104.4 BBS average, making a repeat unlikely.
16 Richards,G. P Richards was on his way to a Cy Young type season before a knee injury (torn left patella tendon) cut his season short. He's expected back this spring training, but he could be pushed back. Highlights from last season include an average 96.3 MPH fastball, a 11% Swinging Strike rate, and of course the 2.61 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and a 8.8 K/9. Negatives include his .264 BABIP allowed and 4% HR/FB rate....both are likely unsustainable in 2015.
17 Peralta,J. SS Peralta flashed back to his 2011 form in 2014. As good as his numbers were last year, they could have been better. Our Expected Runs scored indicate that he should have posted 74 runs instead of 61, and his expected RBIs should have been 86 instead of 77.
18 Phillips,B. 2B A healthy season will bring Phillips back as a top 12 option at his position, but don't overpay and expect him to return to a 100 RBI season, no matter where he hits in the order.
19 Mauer,J. 1B Mauer saw his BABIP drop about 20 points less than his typical, but that could well be explained by the drop in bat speed. He as also overmatched by left handed pitching (.290 SLG), but at still a relatively young 32 YO, there'll be a bounce back this season.
20 Jackson,A. OF Only 4 HRs in 2014! After a poor start to the season, Jackson gave up his first half upper cut for a more level stroke in an attempt to lift his overall production....and although he hit .271 BA, he only hit 1 HR in the 2nd half. Jackson posted a 2.30 GB/FB rate in the 2nd half, while he's historically been averaging a 1.30 GB/FB. I don't like Jackson in fantasy circles as a ground ball hitter and neither should you. Historically he's shown a BBS that is well above average (104+), so his team advisors would be foolish not to coach him back to his natural swing. I'm projecting that he shifts back to his normal stroke, but if I see differently this spring, I'm going to knock down the power production.
21 Vogt,S. C/1B Nice contact rate (88%), but heavy fly ball rate, makes him a risk to maintain his .280ish average from a season ago. Although he has league average speed on his batted balls, his heavy FB rate will propel him into the high teens to potentially 20ish HRs with/if regular playing time.
22 Santana,E. P Started off very well, but some of the bounces went against him as evidenced by his .320 BABIP against. His Strand Rate went down to .72 (from .79) despite the increase in his k/9 from 6.9 to 8.2. Should come back in with a better season.
23 Soriano,R. RP Fastball has lost about 1 MPH over the last 5 years. His Blown saves have been creeping up over the last 3 years 4,6. He's is looking for a new team now...and may not have the closers role.
24 Hill,A. 2B Aaron, what happened to the power production?! There's some upside to the average and the 6% HR/FB rate under represented his HR totals, so there'll be some bounce back in his numbers...but that 26 HR/85 RBI season fro 2012 is a distant memory.
25 Hawkins,L. RP It might not have been the prettiest, but Hawkins had a solid season last year in Colorado. Succeeding by keeping the ball on the ground and out of the light Colorado air, Hawkins earned another one-year contract in 2015. With Rex Brothers struggling with his control, Hawkins will continue to be a low end closing option given the low number of closing opportunities and very low strikeout rate.
26 Hudson,D. P After back to back TJS, Hudson is expected to start season in the bullpen as he slowly makes his way back to the rotation. May be worth a flyer in deeper leagues.
27 Brown,D. OF As expected his unsupported 19% HR/FB rate from 2013, took a regression to 8% in 2014, and the HR totals dropped from 27 to 10. Expect that rate to climb back to 10-12% in 2015, but although his BA will improve, it's still a liability with his 81% contact rate and 1.52 GB/FB rate/. His Slug against RHP of only .366 will improve as well.
28 Cabrera,E. SS PEDs aside, I think we going to see a decent bounce back from Cabrera this season. Power was never in the cards, and I don't think that much of the increase we saw in contact rate was directly related to the PEDs use. A return to 30 Sbs is well within reason here. Status uncertain at the time of draft.
Here's the draft board in it's entirety: http://www.rtsports.com/siriusxm
The first "Official" draft of the 2015 season is in the books, but there's a few million equally important drafts ahead with the start of the 2015 MLB season right around the corner. Come on in and get ready for Spring.