KFFL's Fantasy Baseball Analysis Draft (BAD) and League is unlike most expert fantasy games. First, this isn't a mock draft. At end of the 2014 season, we'll crown a champion of this rotisserie baseball league. Second, our 15-team, 28-round fantasy baseball draft doesn't come with post-game summaries. It provides you with each participant's mindset at the time he selected.
1) 2B Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies
Paul Sporer and Mike Gianella, Baseball Prospectus | Roster
We still needed a second baseman, and I liked Utley a lot more than the other choices left on the board. Anthony Rendon might do better, but I didn't want to bet on the upside. Utley should be good for 120-130 strong games, and even in a deeper mixed league finding a replacement for 30-40 games who isn't a complete zero at middle infield isn't impossible.
2) 1B Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants
Josh Shepardson, The Fantasy Fix | Roster
Someone bets on Starlin rebound
Belt is one of my favorite middle-tier first base options. He had a huge second half of last season hitting .326 in 247 plate appearances, and he "Belted" seven homers. His run production should see a substantial boost this year as the Giants' No. 3 hitter, a spot he occupied from early August through the end of last season. A .290 average with 17-20 homers and 6-9 steals is well within reach.
3) SP Homer Bailey, Cincinnati Reds
Ray Flowers, Baseball Guys | Roster
Back-to-back pitchers after going hitter for the first seven rounds. Bailey has been extremely stable the last two seasons and last year he posted a 3.49 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 199 K's. All he needs to join the elite is to up his victory total.
4) SP Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Pasko Varnica, Mastersball | Roster
For the second straight season, Weaver's innings dropped, but at least the reason this time was a fluke injury to his non-throwing elbow in April. Once he returned, Weaver's peripherals matched those of 2012, suggesting he's established a new baseline. From a real baseball perspective, Weaver is still quite effective as he limits base runners by exhibiting excellent control and being a fly-ball pitcher in a big park.
5) SP Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox
Michael Stein, Fantasy Judgment | Roster
This pick caused me some angst as I was torn between Lester and Masahiro Tanaka. I assumed whichever one I passed on would not make it back to me, so I had to go with the devil I know versus the devil I don't know. Lester has a proven track record and is pitching for a contract this year. Tanaka may end up being great, but I had to feel comfortable with my third pitcher.
6) SP Michael Wacha, St. Louis Cardinals
Drew Silva, Rotoworld | Roster
I felt like I needed to grab a second starting pitcher here, and Wacha was my favorite of the available options. Including the playoffs, the 22-year-old right-hander posted a 2.74 ERA, 1.038 WHIP, and 88 strikeouts over his first 95 1/3 major league innings last season. I love an elite-level changeup.
7) 3B Aramis Ramirez, Milwaukee Brewers
Tim Heaney, KFFL | Roster
Wanted to take a much younger CI, but Ramirez's value, even at his age, was too much to pass up. The consistent BA and RBI stick is coming off an injury, which helps his price. He's not a 30-HR guy, but 20? He doesn't need a full season for it.
8) C Matt Wieters, Baltimore Orioles
Rudy Gamble, Razzball | Roster
I like to punt on catchers in a 15-team/2-catcher format unless I can get a guy at his '1 catcher' format. Wieters doesn't project for more than a .250 AVG but should be an above-average HR/RBI provider at catcher.
9) 1B Matt Adams, St. Louis Cardinals
Mark Bloom, RotoExperts | Roster
Sonny days or Gray clouds ahead?
By Round 9 I had to stop playing Russian roulette with my first baseman and finally selected Adams. Adams looks to get about 500 AB this season with the full-time job and should be a virtual lock to hit 30 HR.
10) SS Starlin Castro, Chicago Cubs
Nicholas Minnix, KFFL | Roster
I'd hoped that A-Ram would last until this pick (and still might not have taken him; only one team behind me needs a 3B). As such, I'm happy with one of a couple of 3B remaining, and SS is more concerning if I wait any longer. Oh, also, count me among the believers in a huge rebound for Castro. News or noise? There are an array of positives that lead me to side with "news."
11) SS Alexei Ramirez, Chicago White Sox
Ryan Bloomfield, Baseball HQ | Roster
Wanted to grab Starlin Castro here -- thanks, Mr. Minnix. Alexei isn't a bad consolation prize here as the SS pool is fading fast. Ramirez is coming off 30 SB, which I don't think he can repeat, but I am expecting 20+, and he's shown double-digit power before.
12) SP Mike Minor, Atlanta Braves
Jeff Paur, RTSports | Roster
I actually thought about taking him with one of my last two picks, so I was surprised to see him still available. Shelby Miller also was intriguing with this pick, but I just thought Minor was a tad safer since the Cardinals have so much talent looking to crack the rotation. I like Minor to improve on last season and approach 20 wins and 200 strikeouts. He is a young player on the upswing.
13) SP Sonny Gray, Oakland Athletics
Howard Bender, FanGraphs | Roster
There were some serious reaches with Gerrit Cole and Danny Salazar, so with my team in need of pitching, I reached maybe a round or two for my favorite young hurler here. With a low- to mid-90s fastball, an underutilized slider, a solid curve and a developing changeup, he's got a solid four-pitch arsenal to help keep both the strikeouts and ground-ball rate up. Could stand to refine his approach against lefties, but that will come soon enough.
14) SP Shelby Miller, St. Louis Cardinals
Andrew Martinez, Rotowire | Roster
I wanted to get a MI or SP here and considered Masahiro Tanaka and Julio Teheran, but went with Miller, who I have fewer questions about. I thought about a SS here, but am willing to wait for one to fall to me in the later rounds.
15) RP Rafael Soriano, Washington Nationals
Steve Gardner, USA TODAY/Sports Weekly | Roster
This was solely a pick based on need. I don't have a closer yet and it's time to get one. I think the Nationals will give Soriano plenty of opportunities to untuck his shirt this season. His strikeout rate was down last season and he still recorded 43 saves. I sense a nice rebound is in store.
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