Twenty-six miles down, 385 yards to go. Good luck taking home the championship. Since this is the last time the Knights will be assembled until next spring, we'd thought we'd get a head start on next spring and conduct a 2014 mini-mock draft.
Representing the Knights will be Mastersball's Lawr Michaels, Brian Walton, Rob Leibowitz, Perry Van Hook, Zach Steinhorn, Greg Morgan, Don Drooker and yours truly. Nicholas Minnix and Tim Heaney will represent our gracious hosts from KFFL.
First pitcher off board is. ...
That makes 10 combatants. Ten-team leagues are among the more popular formats, but this is the last time we'll be together for awhile and we want to go out with a bang, so we invited a couple of our industry colleagues. Joining us from USA TODAY is Senior Fantasy Editor Steve Gardner and from RotoRob is Tim McLeod.
Twelve is nice. Many leagues have 12 teams. But this is our grand finale. I'm talking Breaking Bad finale and not Seinfeld finale. So we went to the Twitterverse and invited a couple of loyal followers, Tony Fox and Dave Morris. Finally, we extended a special invite to Dan Kenyon, a National Fantasy Baseball Championship veteran who has his forum on the NFBC boards, waxing poetic under the handle of Doughboys.
That's 15! What follows are the first three rounds of a 15-team mixed draft with some commentary. At the end, there are even a couple of bonus questions we posed to the assembly. Enjoy!
1.01 Lawr - Miguel Cabrera: Who is better? Although since I picked him, he will break his hamate, and be plagued by his hamstring all season.
1.02 Rob - Mike Trout
1.03 Tim M - Carlos Gonzalez: All I want is 500 at-bats and I'm betting we see it in 2014.
1.04 Greg - Chris Davis
1.05 Anthony - Paul Goldschmidt: Scary that he is just entering his prime. 2013 breakout season is just the first of many top-five seasons to come.
1.06 Don - Andrew McCutchen: NL MVP at age 26, he was #5 on my list.
1.07 Zach - Robinson Cano
1.08 Dave - Edwin Encarnacion: E5 backed up his 2012 season this year despite missing some time. He's an elite power hitter, with strong on base ability, which is something I prefer in the early rounds.
1.09 Brian - Joey Votto: This is an OBP league, right? Walks were way up and RBI down in 2013. Hoping for a better balance in 2014.
1.10 Nicholas - Prince Fielder: The tradeoff at 1B from here on out is either a .300 average and 20-ish homers or a notably weaker average and hope for more power. Now that Prince is on the free market -- a bachelor -- his mind will be free to belt 30-plus bombs again.
1.11 Perry - Adam Jones: Well after Miggy is gone what would you want from a first round pick? 100-30-100 and a BA at/near .300 is great - throw in double digit steals and you found your guy - well actually the two others (Trout/Goldschmidt) were already drafted. On top of that this guy just keeps improving ... yes sign me up for Adam Jones.
1.12 Steve - Bryce Harper: Played almost the entire season at less than 100% after running into a wall in April. He'll be older (21!), wiser and much better next season.
1.13 Todd - Jacoby Ellsbury: despite being injured more than you'd like for a first-round pick, Ellsbury os one of a handful of players to return first round value three time in the previous five seasons.
1.14 Dan - Clayton Kershaw: I didn't want to take him, but you guys made me. He's better than any position player left and I'd have taken him before others already chosen. It's never "fun" taking a pitcher with the first pick, some say not smart too. It's a good thing I'm grumpy and have never been known for intelligence.
1.15 Tim H - Hanley Ramirez: Though it was bloated this year, he's re-established his power base, and then some. Even with a BA drop-off, a 20-20 guy with his experience, and who's only turning 30, remains elite.
2.01 Tim H - Ryan Braun: Adrian Beltre will be 35. I don't need another SS yet. A few other OFers intrigued me. But Braun wasn't Brendan Ryan before he was caught using. As My Cousin Vincent queried, were these *magic* 'roids? Even with the increased boos, his conscience and punishment will be cleared. 80-ish percent of the stats he's posted in his last two full years will still turn a Heisenberg-esque profit and out-earn just about anyone who's left.
2.02 Dan - Jay Bruce: The most forgotten category for an offensive player is Runs. Bruce has scored 88 runs this year. Five straight years, Bruce has had over 80 runs. From hitting fifth and below, that is pretty darned good. Somehow, he's even scored 10 more runs than Brandon Phillips. And if I could pick a player to have a Chris Davis type year, it would be Jay Bruce.
2.03 Todd - Adrian Beltre: The numbers are there, the question is whether Beltre will continue to fend off the injury bug. Coming into this season, I was bullish on Aramis Ramirez since his recent health history was favorable and we all know how that worked out.
The rest of Round 2, the beginning of Round 3 and a teaser!
About Todd Zola, MastersBall.com
Focusing primarily on the science of player valuation and game theory starting in 1997, Todd Zola and Mastersball carved out an important niche in the fantasy industry. In 2006, Todd became the Research Director for fantasybaseball.com, and in 2009, he relaunched Mastersball and is now a managing partner.
Todd competes in Tout Wars and the XFL, and has been a multiple-time league champion in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has been a contributor to the fantasy content at MLB.com and SI.com, is a frequent guest on Sirius/XM and Blog Talk Radio and is an annual speaker at the spring and fall First Pitch Forum symposiums.
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