A Tale of Two Teams | Perry Van Hook
I spent the weekend in Las Vegas trying to put together a team that could win the World Championship of Fantasy Baseball. One I drafted last Friday night where I had the first pick and took Albert Pujols. The second team will be drafted tomorrow, Saturday morning, and I will have the eighth pick, so as I write this intro on Friday, after the first draft, I have no idea who I will get. So let's see how these two rosters took shape.
Friday night - "Captain Morgan," the team name for myself and partner Greg Morgan, will start the draft of 32 players with Cardinals 1B Albert Pujols. That part is easy: waiting two full rounds to see who this league leaves us at 2.14 and 3.01 is torture.
BTW: The format for WCOFB teams is 24 active players (14 hitters and 10 pitchers) with eight reserves. The 10 pitchers each period (two lineup periods each week, M-TH and F-SU) must have six starting pitchers, two relievers, and two "free pitchers" - FP, which means starters or relievers. This change gives more importance to your pitching staff in total as you will be efforting to maximize your starts and in addition maximizing strikeouts with your non-starter and non-closer pitchers.
I'll take it: Hellickson times 2
So what did they leave us after the first 27 picks?
A set of choices I had not seen before or even thought of, largely because the first pitcher taken off the boards was Roy Halladay at 2.12. When the pick at 2.13 was Andrew McCutchen, what was left was second baseman Ian Kinsler and pitchers Felix Hernandez AND Tim Lincecum. We briefly flirted with taking both pitchers but decided on Kinsler and King Felix. On the 4/5 turn we got pitcher Dan Haren and took a slight gamble, but one with a lot of upside, in outfielder Drew Stubbs.
Here is the final team with rounds in parentheses:
C - Mike Napoli (7) and Jake Fox* (24)
CI - Albert Pujols (1), Ty Wigginton (17), and Aubrey Huff (8)
MI - Ian Kinsler (2), Rafael Furcal (10), and Danny Espinosa (11)
OF - Drew Stubbs (5), Manny Ramirez (9), Austin Jackson (13), Peter Bourjos (14), and Juan Rivera (22)
UT - Kila Ka'aihue (15)
Reserves - Mike Moustakas, Dustin Ackley, John Jaso, and Kevin Kouzmanoff
*Last year Fox played 19 games at catcher and 13 in the outfield and 10 at first base. So in leagues where position qualifications are 20 games or most games played, Fox may qualify at catcher if they don't count games at DH (and many mixed leagues don't). Now I don't think Fox is moving Wieters aside, but I do think Buck Showalter is a smart enough manager to not sit down the spring training leader in home runs while Fox is that red-hot. Maybe it is a game at catcher and a game at DH and a game at first base and a game in the outfield. With that kind of power I would be happy if he were in the lineup four days a week. And perhaps Derrek Lee is not ready to play at first base on opening day. But I added a third catcher that would be playable just in case the Fox cools off.
SP - Felix Hernandez (3), Dan Haren (4), Jeremy Hellickson (12), Rick Porcello (20), Brian Duensing (21), and R.A. Dickey (23)
RP - Neftali Feliz (6), Jonny Venters (16), Hong-Chih Kuo (18), and Jose Contreras (??)
Reserves - J.A. Happ, Clay Hensley, Jon Garland, and Dennys Reyes
It looks like the team has plenty of power and speed but batting average could be an issue. I like the starters and we will have to supplement them depending on how Happ looks, how long Garland is out, and whether former Atlanta Braves prospect Jo-Jo Reyes can continue to pitch as well in the Toronto rotation as he has in spring training. His first two starts are home vs. Minnesota and Oakland, so that looks favorable, and then we see how he does and when Brandon Morrow comes back.
Saturday morning - This draft would be from the eighth spot and perhaps a slightly tougher field. Again the first two pitchers (Halladay and Lincecum) were taken at 2.13 and 2.14. But from there more were taken earlier than the previous day.
We started with Miguel Cabrera and were happy to select Nelson Cruz in the second round. I was slightly startled but very happy to have Felix Hernandez slip all the way to 3.08 and join us again. In the fourth we got Hunter Pence and in the fifth shortstop Alexei Ramirez. In the sixth round I was very happy to have Dan Haren fall into my lapů..are you sensing something here? Those picks were followed by Pedro Alvarez, Mike Napoli (more than a round later), Gordon Beckham, and then as fate or my man crush would have it - Jeremy Hellickson.
Maybe we should change the team name to the "Three H Club"?
So here is that team:
C - Mike Napoli (8), and Jake Fox (18)
CI - Miguel Cabrera (1), Pedro Alvarez (7), and Adam LaRoche (14)
MI - Gordon Beckham (9), Alexei Ramirez (5), and Danny Espinosa (15)
OF - Nelson Cruz (2), Hunter Pence (4), Andres Torres (12), Peter Bourjos (16), and Jason Kubel (22)
UT - Juan Rivera (24)
Reserves - Julio Borbon, Reid Brignac, and Jonathan Lucroy
SP - Felix Hernandez (3), Dan Haren (6), Jeremy Hellickson (10), Tim Stauffer (17), Derek Lowe (18), Aaron Harang (23), and Kyle McClellan (20)
RP - Huston Street (11), Drew Storen (13), and Clay Hensley (21)
Reserves - Evan Meek, Kyle Lohse, Jordan Lyles, Nick Blackburn, and Jordan Walden
Again it looks like a solid team. Several shots at additional saves and we will have to be vigorous in the pursuit of pitchers who become closers or starting pitchers who were undrafted who could improve the team - but that is the case no matter what league you play in.
Hernandez, Haren, and Hellickson. I wouldn't have planned on it - but I like it. It does give us a solid core for the starting pitchers and a common ground so that if they are as good as I think they are the other differences in the roster will decide which team might make a solid push in the overall standings.