Hey folks, while waiting for the World Series to start, here’s the List of 12 for 2014!
For the uninitiated, the concept of the List of 12 is that we look for starting pitchers who crossed the 500 career innings barrier during the previous season, and focus on them as breakout candidates for the upcoming season. The theory behind this is that it takes pitchers at least a couple of seasons to fully adjust to pitching in the Majors, so as fantasy owners we want to find guys who are ready to have breakout seasons but might still be a little under the radar. Some of these guys are already great, and some will continue to stink, but if you’re looking for guys who are ready to take the next step, this list is a good place to start.
The original list was only 12 guys – hence the name – but the filtering criteria sometimes produce more than that many, and this year we have 15. In case anyone would like to review the results from past seasons, here are the last four years’ worth:
As for this year…
Chris Sale – he’s already a stud, and in 2013 he increased his strikeout and ground ball rates while cutting his walks. Concerns remain about his durability, but he threw 214.1 IP last year and averaged over 7.0 IP per start, so expect to pay Ace prices for him in 2014.
Mike Minor – in 46 starts since the 2012 All-Star Game, he has a 2.90 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 7.6 K/9 rate. That may not make him an Ace, but if he’s your #2, you probably have the best pitching staff in your league. He should be able to maintain that level, or close to it, in 2014.
Kris Medlen – he didn’t match his 1.57 ERA of 2012 but then again a 3.11 mark is strong by any standard. His strikeout rate dipped slightly, not unexpected given the permanent move from the bullpen to the rotation, but he gets a ton of grounders and should top 200 innings for the first time in 2014, making him a very strong #2 or #3 starter.
Ivan Nova – he was outstanding after returning from Triple-A, scrapping his slider and relying more heavily on his power sinker to generate a career-best ground ball rate with strong strikeout numbers. He’ll be 27 this season and his rotation spot is now secure, so a career year could be in the offing.
Charlie Morton – he was outstanding after rejoining the rotation in the second half, with a career-best strikeout rate thanks to improved velocity on his sinker. His command can be shaky at times but I’m very intrigued about what he might offer in his first 200-inning season, if and when that time comes. I’m buying.
Chris Tillman – his strikeout rate went up in 2013, but his walks went up too, and he was very homer-prone due to an increase in his fly ball and HR/FB rates. Tillman doesn’t have jaw-dropping stuff, but he mixes and commands well, and gets good results with his fastball despite unspectacular velocity. Look for more of the same in 2014.
Dillon Gee – I liked him as a sleeper last year and was vindicated after his outstanding second half. He doesn’t throw very hard but has developed excellent command of all four of his pitches, though he can be homer-prone when he finds too much of the zone. There’s room for a little more growth here, but even without it he’s a solid mid-rotation option.
Jhoulys Chacin – he’s posted ERA’s of 3.47, 3.62 and 3.28 in his last three healthy seasons while pitching his home games in Coors Field, so he must be doing something right. His strikeout rate last season was mediocre, and he enjoyed some luck on his HR/FB rate, but he gets enough grounders to survive. Still, without more strikeouts, it’s hard to make him a buying target.
Travis Wood – doesn’t throw hard, gives up too many fly balls, puts up decent but not great strikeout and walk numbers, and hasn’t shown much growth in his last three seasons. But, he posted a 3.11 ERA in 200 innings last year and has a 3.83 mark in 564.2 career IP, so he must be doing something right. Smells like Buehrle in here.
Jeremy Hellickson – his results defied expectations for two seasons, but the opposite occurred last year, as his ERA spiked by two runs despite improvements in his strikeout and walk rates. The truth is probably somewhere in between, so bet on a rebound to middle- or end-of-the-rotation usefulness.
Jaime Garcia – a holdover from last year’s list, he was off to a strong start before shoulder injuries sidelined him for the season. I’m still a fan of his ground ball and strikeout rates though, so I’ll be monitoring his health and role in 2014.
Tim Stauffer – he was very effective in long relief after returning from Tommy John surgery, so effective in fact that he probably won’t get to compete for a rotation spot in 2014. Still, he’s one to watch during the season in the event he gets the chance to start in the second half, a la Kris Medlen in 2012.
Ross Ohlendorf – he showed improved velocity after recovering from shoulder woes, but not enough stamina to hold a rotation spot, so he appears ticketed for long relief in 2014. A potential Pitch or Ditch sleeper if he gets another crack at the rotation, though.
Wade Davis – he has a 4.57 career ERA as a starter vs. 2.24 as a reliever, with zero saves. Those three figures, combined, suggest that he will not have any meaningful fantasy value in 2014.
James McDonald – a holdover from the 2013 list, it’s unclear if he’ll be healthy in 2014 or where he’ll pitch if he is. He’s teased before but never delivered a full season of the goods, so he’s purely a lottery ticket even if you do buy in.
Enjoy the World Series!
Our five-round, 15-team mini-mock is in the books. 75 picks over e-mail took six days, which isn’t bad considering the snail-like pace of most e-mail drafts. You’ll probably recognize the names of all of the participants and I’d like to thank them for providing commentary to go along with their selection. Here’s the pick-by-pick analysis, and as always feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.
I’ll gather this same group sometime in December or January for a full 23-rounder.
# 1 : Fred Zinkie — Miguel Cabrera, 3B, DET
Easiest pick in the draft. I love Trout, but I can’t pass up filling my 3B spot and getting the most consistent hitter in baseball.
# 2 : Cory Schwartz – Mike Trout, OF, LAA
I was expecting Fred to take Trout #1 so of course I’ll take him here. He’s the five-category gold standard: a 30-30 threat who should compete for the league lead in steals and runs, and challenge for the batting title each season for the foreseeable future. With a full season in the #3 spot, he should coast past 100 RBI’s, too.
# 3 : David Gonos — Andrew McCutchen, OF, PIT
With Cabrera and Trout gone, the second tier is a little wider – and full of arguments on why I must be an absolute idiot to think this player is two spots higher than this player. (I love fantasy sports!) But I like McCutchen here for a few reasons.
-”Cutch” is my favorite nickname, and I’ve asked my loved ones to refer to me as such from now on.
-Cutch is one of just seven hitters to reach the 20-20 club in 2013.
-He stays healthy and has played over 150 games in each of the past four years, despite being a player heavy on the torso torque (also the name of my new death metal band) and speed on the basepaths.
-He turned 27 years old last week, and we get to hear E-Mack say, “Hayyyy, guess how old he is this season!?!!?! Twenty seven!!!”
-With the third pick, you want someone you can rely on and not worry about all season. “Cutch” is that man.
# 4 : Paul Sporer — Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, ARI
This is one of those situations where the player maybe “should” (insofar as anyone should go in a certain spot) go a few spots lower, but this is my only chance at him and I absolutely consider him an upper-first rounder. His power numbers stand alone at 36-125-103, but adding a .302 AVG and 15 SBs into the mix makes him just a phenomenal player. The SBs may continue to trickle downward (18 in 2012), but the power may have room to grow.
# 5 : Jason Collette — Carlos Gomez, OF, MIL
He’s Mike Trout ultra-light.
# 6 : Eric Mack — Chris Davis, 1B, BAL
# 7 : Lawr Michaels — Robinson Cano, 2B, FA
Kind of surprised he fell this far, and, not too concerned that he might switch uniforms. As in .314-27-107 at age 30? I suspect he is one of those guys who could come out of a coffin and go 2-for-3 with a double and a run after being undead for a few centuries.
# 8 : Joe Sheehan — Bryce Harper, OF, WAS
Every reasonable position-player choice here is an injury case to one extent or another, and all pitchers are injury cases whether we know it yet or not. I can make arguments for four or five players. (I’ll spare names because of future picks, as I expect all to be gone before 2.7.) I’ll take a small reach based on age and upside.
# 9 : Jeff Erickson — Carlos Gonzalez, OF, COL
Like Joe suggested, so many options here. If we were going purely on $ value, I’d go with a particular pitcher, but my teams that start with a SP almost uniformly stink. So instead I’ll go with a guy that’s been worthless the last two Septembers, yet has still gone .300/20/20 both of those seasons. One of these years he’ll play 150 games and we’ll have a good laugh. Crossing my fingers that he’ll be able to squeeze his fingers in 2014.
# 10 : Zach Steinhorn — Hanley Ramirez, SS, LAD
Yeah, there’s some injury risk here, but Hanley is an elite five-category producer at a thin position who is still just 29. Project his 2013 stats over a full season and we’re talking video game numbers: 38 HR, 107 RBI, 117 R, 19 SB. If he comes anywhere remotely close to those, he will be well worth this pick.
# 11 : Tim Heaney — Adam Jones, OF, BAL
His low walk rate bugs me, and he’s not an entrenched 20-steal guy, but he can improve both. He’s just 28 years old. Even if he’s reached his peak (I don’t think he’s maxed out just yet), his power and established accompanying stats elevate him above the fringe first-round options here.
# 12 : Todd Zola – Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, FA
Sure, he’s an injury risk, but we’re talking about a 35% success rate of drafting a player in the first round and having him finish the season with first round value. Four of six seasons Ellsbury has been worthy of this pick – the other two he’s been hurt. I’ll take my chances that he plays enough to warrant this pick. If you’re reticent to lock down steals early because they’ll be available later, check out the paucity of pilfers this season – steals way down.
# 13 : Nando DiFino — Albert Pujols, 1B, LAA
A rested, repaired, motivated Pujols — with a very solid lineup surrounding him — could be a scary thing in 2014. I don’t think there’s a slam dunk pick here, so taking a risk on someone who was so good for so long and has a valid reason (I doubt he played a game without pain in 2013) for a sudden downturn in his stats works at this point in the draft.
# 14 : Nick Minnix — Edwin Encarnacion, 1B, TOR
Do 10 GP equal 3B eligibility again? I’ll take him, even if not, because 35-homer, 100-RBI players have become a little rarer. Otherwise, I might get stuck with someone like Pujols later.
# 15 : Derek VanRiper — Clayton Kershaw, SP, LAD
# 1 : Derek VanRiper — Ryan Braun, OF, MIL
# 2 : Nick Minnix — Jason Kipnis, 2B, CLE
I can’t pull the trigger on Alex Rios just yet, so I’ll let Todd have him. I don’t think that there are too many concerns about Kipnis, who’s the most appealing middle infielder left, to me, for the 15-plus homers and 25-plus steals. Those marks go up if he doesn’t tank it in the second half this time around.
# 3 : Nando DiFino — Ian Desmond, SS, WAS
I flip-flopped between Tulowitzki and Desmond here, but decided to go with the 25/25 threat over the 30/2 threat. Desmond is also a better bet to stay healthy, and Washington isn’t afraid to bolster the lineup with some FA signings.
# 4 : Todd Zola — Prince Fielder, 1B, DET
A nice complement to Ellsbury both in terms of stats and reliability, Prince has missed one game the previous five seasons, including three 162-game campaigns in a row. I don’t see 2013 as the beginning of the slide, but rather a season at the low end of plausible outcomes. .300-30-100 is still a reasonable expectation.
# 5 : Tim Heaney — Alex Rios, OF, TEX
I’m buying the consolidation of Alex Rios’ skills, even if his swipes level off next year. He enjoyed hitting in Arlington — who doesn’t? — and, as has been noted by several participants in this draft at one point, he’s shedding the every-other-year label, thanks to alterations of both his mechanics and psyche. His age doesn’t scare me yet. I considered Jacoby Ellsbury last round but passed knowing I likely could nab a more balanced line in the second stanza from someone who puts the ball in play nearly as often. In Jones and Rios, I’ve pieced together two power-speed threats at the most insurable offensive position.
# 6 : Zach Steinhorn — Adrian Beltre, 3B, TEX
Beltre has reached the 30 HR mark in each of his three seasons with the Rangers and is coming off back-to-back .300 AVG campaigns. Age is my only concern but he’s showing no signs of slowing down and will continue to benefit from a friendly hitting environment in Texas.
# 7 : Jeff Erickson — Troy Tulowitzki, SS, COL
I debated between two players, neither of whom really run, which I don’t like. But given that I considered Tulo with my first-round pick, I’ll be riding the Rockies in this draft. Please, no fire sale with CarGo.
# 8 : Joe Sheehan — Giancarlo Stanton, OF, MIA
As a positional value honk, I don’t like taking outfielders early to the exclusion of players at other positions. When it looked like Tulo was getting to me, I was pretty happy. With him gone, I’ll take another strapping young power hitter who, if nothing else, locks down a ton of HR and RBI for me early. As with Harper, I suspect the injury-laden 2013 is making him seem more a ’14 risk than he is.
# 9 : Lawr Michaels — Buster Posey, C, SF
I had wanted to gamble on both Tulo and Giancarlo here. So much for the best laid plans. So, I’ll go in the direction of stats/position scarcity (though I don’t really believe in it) and take the guy who helped Z and I in the FSTA league. As Nate said (though I am paraphrasing) after LABR, “stats are stats, and it really does not matter where they come from.” Buster does produce stats. I will take them.
# 10 : Eric Mack — Justin Verlander, SP, DET
I hate being the guy that has to take a pitcher in roto.
# 11 : Jason Collette — Evan Longoria, 3B, TB
Homah, get your homah here. If they could only get a better leadoff hitter on in front of him.
# 12 : Paul Sporer — Joey Votto, 1B, CIN
Yep, two first basemen. Votto deserved a better fate, but an MLB-worst .281 OBP out of the #2 hole depressed his RBI. And yet he was still a top-25 hitter. This seems like taking Tim Duncan in fantasy basketball a few years ago (or hell, even now… he’s still awesome) where it’s just guaranteed production from an obvious star, but it doesn’t wow anyone like a Stanton or Longo pick (the two guys I hoped would fall).
# 13 : David Gonos — David Wright, 3B, NYM
Coming off a great (though injury-abbreviated) season, working out of a very thin position. And at 31, he still has plenty of years ahead of continued power. Had he stayed healthy in 2013, he would have been a candidate for a 25-25 season. I won’t be greedy, though. I’ll just take a 24-24 season from my third baseman.
# 14 : Cory Schwartz – Yasiel Puig, OF, LAD
Wow, just when I thought an erstwhile first-round caliber player was going to fall to me, they all just flew off the board one right after the other.
So, in a repeat of my 2nd round pick from last year’s exercise, in which I sparked considerable debate by taking a cocky 20-year-old who made the jump from Double-A to the Majors and posted very-good-but-not-great numbers while still earning universal praise for his overall game and immediate potential, I’ll take Yasiel Puig. Like Bryce Harper before him, Puig has major power upside, can steal some bags, and while his plate discipline is certainly weaker than Harper’s, he still managed to hit .319 this year (side note: given the ongoing offensive trends of the last few years, I am placing greater emphasis on the Triple Crown categories in the earlier rounds, over speed and/or positional scarcity, more than ever). To be fair, Harper didn’t justify a 1st round pick this season, but given that Joe just took him 8th overall — 8 picks earlier than I did last year, despite his disappointing season — I don’t feel too bad about this one.
Prediction: Fred takes Starling Marte with one of his next two picks.
# 15 : Fred Zinkie — Jose Bautista, OF, TOR
I’m pretty sure Cory is using reverse psychology on me with Marte. Or maybe it’s double reverse psychology! Well, it’s not going to work! Unless, of course your goal was for me to not take Marte. In which case it did!
I’ll take Bautista, even though it worries me that he hasn’t finished either of the past two seasons. He’s similar to CarGo, in that he can be a first-round value if he plays 155 games. He still has 40-homer potential.
# 1 : Fred Zinkie — Yu Darvish, SP, TEX
277 K’s is a lot. If he didn’t miss that start before the ASB he would have been around 285. I felt like grabbing an elite SP, and there are so many good ones. Darvish’s K’s made him stand out to me. The Astros are staying in the AL West, right?!
# 2 : Cory Schwartz – Freddie Freeman, 1B, ATL
Most of the players I like on the board right now are outfielders (Marte, Bruce, Pence, Werth, J-Up, Heyward), but I already have two of those. I’d like to get a middle infielder like Pedroia, but can’t give up that much power this early. So, I’m going to reach a little and take Freeman. I don’t think he’s really a .319 hitter, since his BABIP was ridiculously high this year, but I do expect .290-.300 with continued power growth and strong RBI numbers.
# 3 : David Gonos — Dustin Pedroia, 2B, BOS
# 4 : Paul Sporer — Jay Bruce, OF, CIN
Bruce is averaging 32-102-87-.257 the last three years with lows of 30-97-84-.252, which shows his incredible consistency. His teammate being on my team affords me the ability to take the batting average hit.
# 5 : Jason Collette – Matt Hollliday, OF, STL
There are a few guys I really like here, but Holliday’s incredible consistency is tough to pass on.
# 6 : Eric Mack — Jean Segura, SS, MIL
Everyone hates him for his second half, but I hate drafting steals or shortstops.
# 7 : Lawr Michaels — Matt Kemp, OF, LAD
Not sure I understand why Tulo and Cargo are worth the risk, but suddenly everyone is afraid of Kemp, but I am not.
Before 2012, he did not play in less than 150 games, and he is still 29 (meaning I was three years older than he is now when he was born, which is really scary). Due for some solid health, and probably a more stable team behind him for a full year. But, if Hanley never dropped below a third rounder during his struggles, well…
# 8 : Joe Sheehan — Jose Reyes, SS, TOR
Combining the injury risk of Kemp with the speed and position of Segura adds up to my pick at 3.8. He’ll steal his age, more or less, and the runs scored upside if that whole lineup is working is huge. He’s always a health risk. This pick blends nicely with the two young power-hitting outfielders — I did not want a third OF here.
# 9 : Jeff Erickson — Allen Craig, 1B, STL
I thought about taking a SP here, but I’m going to hold out for at least one more round, and instead take one of the remaining “first basemen I’d take before Pujols” – that category is starting to dwindle.
The power dropped off this year, but I think it can come back, and I’m convinced that the batting average is rock-solid.
# 10 : Zach Steinhorn — Justin Upton, OF, ATL
Can’t go another round without taking an OF, so let’s just hope that this guy finally has the type of season I thought he’d have in 2012. And then in 2013. One of these years I’ll be right. Maybe.
# 11 : Tim Heaney — Shin-Soo Choo, OF, FA but hoping CIN
The CI lot … carbon copies of tepid or flawed players. I’m not ready to take a SP yet. I thought about taking my brother in Paleo, but man, despite how spritely I’ve run for the last 1.5 years, I’m not sure if Hunter Pence can swipe 22 bags again.
Alas, someone around his age that has rattled off 20-plus thefts and 16-plus homers in each of his last four full seasons is Shin-Soo Choo. I’m aware that wherever he signs may sway the runs or homers column, but fun fact: 11 of Choo’s 21 taters this past year came when he wasn’t playing in GABP. (I also now have 3 outfielders through 3 rounds. Times have changed).
# 12 : Todd Zola – Chris Sale, SP CHW
If there was a hitter I remotely favored over the others here I would take him and wait until round 4 for a SP since there are a bunch I still like as an anchor – but since there isn’t a hitter that I can distinguish from the rest I’ll take the SP I like the best and grab a bat in the 4th.
# 13 : Nando DiFino — Max Scherzer, SP, DET
Scherzer has improved in nearly every measurable category in each of his last three seasons. Even if he takes a minor step back to a happy place between 2012 and 2013, I’m still looking at some pretty sweet numbers across the board and a possible league lead in strikeouts.
# 14 : Nick Minnix — Elvis Andrus, SS, TEX
Elvis Andrus was a top-30 fantasy hitter this season, as far as I can tell. Seems like he’s been around for a handful of years — perhaps without impressing you — because he has been. Yet 2014 will be just his age-25 season, and there may be a 10- to 15-homer campaign, or at least a .400 slugging rate, hidden in there somewhere. But another year like this one will do juuust fine. That he’s a rock-solid shorty is the bonus, in my book. I’d take Reyes before him, but not Segura.
# 15 : Derek VanRiper — Adam Wainwright, SP, STL
#1: Derek VanRiper — Jose Fernandez, SP, MIA
To hell with hitting (more on this between now and 3/31/14). I’m taking Adam Wainwright and Jose Fernandez. The extra innings Wainwright typically gives compared to other top-tier pitchers helps offset potential limitations for Fernandez next year, while I feel as though Fernandez has the ability to maintain elite ratios thanks to the benefit of a very pitcher-friendly home park run environment on top of a dominant arsenal.
#2: Nick Minnix — Yoenis Cespedes, OF, OAK
Sounds as if there’s a good chance that Cespedes is traded this winter. Just about any other destination would represent an upgrade in offensive environment. Doesn’t matter to me where he is, though, his power plays. I think health (or lack thereof, and less than perfect plate discipline) is all that has stood between him and a big-money season in the States. He’s in the category of a number of other players who’ve already gone, in that regard. Something like 35 homers and 15 or 20 steals, possibly? Hate to pass up a number of other outstanding and perceptibly reliable players here, but won’t skip Cespedes’ upside.
#3: Nando DiFino – Jedd Gyorko, 2B, SD
I’m not sure if this is one of those “where he should go” or “where he should finish” formats, but Jedd Gyorko hit 23 home runs in just 125 games as a rookie, in a park that is still pretty pitcher-friendly, in a lineup that didn’t offer him a lot of protection, and while probably playing 20 of those games with his groin injury still bothering him. Gyorko’s minor league numbers suggest his average will rise, and I wouldn’t be surprised if his power takes a nice jump, too. It took Robinson Cano five seasons to hit 20 homers; it took Gyorko one. I’m all for a second baseman with that kind of pop.
#4: Todd Zola – Mark Trumbo, 1B, LAA
Don’t love this pick but at this point of my preparation, I don’t have anyone that sticks out. 30 HR with 95 RBI pretty bankable and a .250 BA isn’t as detrimental as it was a couple years ago. Positional considerations are way overrated – I’ll find viable middlemen later – I’ll take the reliability with the outside shot of a mini-Chris Davis like spike in power.
#5: Tim Heaney – Ian Kinsler, 2B, TEX
Had Trumbo all lined up. Thanks, Todd.
Other corner infield options still bore me. There’s one other MI that intrigues me, but I’ll continue with my power-speed game. I don’t want to bank on such potential from middle and late-rounders. Though he took a stats dip and might be leaving Arlington, as long as Kinsler is wearing a Rangers uniform, I’ll value him here. Ask me again in March, though.
#6: Zach Steinhorn – Starling Marte, OF, PIT
I’m light in speed right now so I’ll go with this 25-year-old OF who is a safe bet for 35-plus steals, a strong AVG and plenty of runs hitting atop an up and coming lineup. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a power spike as well.
#7: Jeff Erickson – Everth Cabrera, SS, SD
I would have taken Marte had Zach let him go.
That said, there are still plenty of SP’s I like, and while a bunch of them will surely fly off before my next pick, I still feel good with who will be left in the 5th, if not even the 6th, or both.
Hopefully I’ve addressed BA with my first three picks, so for this one I wanted to tackle either HR or SBs. I decided to go with SBs, which may have a better chance of getting some help with BA too. He’s a risk given his return from suspension and ballpark. The funny thing is that I’m not a huge positional scarcity honk, yet I now have two SS’s.
So I guess this is where I go off the rails.
Billy Hamilton stole 13 bases in 13 games, 22 plate appearances. He was caught once, and that required a pretty perfect pitch, catch and throw.
As I see it, there are two ways that taking him here can be justified, and one in which it is not. One, he starts for the Reds, playing CF with a .300 OBP and at least 85 steals. I think as an everyday player, Vince Coleman’s 1986 or 1988 is about Hamilton’s 40th percentile projection — 80-100 steals, 80-100 runs. Two, Hamilton is the world’s greatest pinch-runner, not good enough to start but so valuable tactically that he stays on the roster all year. He stole 13 bases in that role in one month — that’s 78 in a full season, with 60 runs scored.
The downside is that he’s not good enough to be a regular, and the Reds decide to let him have a second year at Triple-A. It’s actually become unusual for good prospects to repeat Triple-A, so I’m betting that the trend continues. I’m passing up starting pitchers here, but I can find starting pitchers elsewhere. I can’t find 80 steals in one roster spot anywhere else.
Hamilton is nearly impossible to peg right now. I believe that if he looks at all like a regular on February 15, though, no one will get him at anything like 4.8 in March.
#9: Lawr Michaels – Madison Bumgarner, SP, SF
Boy, I am confused.
And, I suspect you guys are in the same boat. I will preface by saying that the reason I love mocks like this are because we do take chances (eg, Hamilton and Marte are chancy to me at this point). And I don’t mean that as a slight: as Cory will confirm and I figure you know, I never try to get too locked down into who to pick when for what. It is more a case of I understand I need to build a team and as long as I walk away with competitors, it doesn’t matter how or where I get my production as long as the pieces add up to solve the equation.
That said, I had four different picks in my head for this round (and the next, I suppose). Anyway, I am going with a pitcher since I really am not happy unless I have a foundation of something on my team. 24, killer year last year, great park, oddly seems to have inherited the #1 mantle from two extremely good arms. Plus at 25, I think he could really get better.
#10: Eric Mack – Jason Heyward, OF, ATL
I debated between him and Wil Myers. I’ll take the higher ceiling.
#11: Jason Collette – Josh Donaldson, 3B, OAK
I have an irrational love for this guy. I was a cheerleader for him last offseason and took him everywhere for $10 or less and watched him return a huge profit. His numbers have been incredibly consistent since being recalled from the Minors in August 2012.
#12: Paul Sporer – Domonic Brown, OF, PHI
Brown burst onto the scene with his hot May, but he stayed strong throughout the remainder of the year, too, with 12 HR, 47 RBI and a .272 AVG (not to mention a 9% BB rate) which yields about a 24-90 full season. I’ve always been a fan and I was banging the “change of scenery” drum pretty fiercely, but he overcame and had success with Philly. The skills could dip back a little and we might still see a bottom line improvement just by his staying healthier (139 GP).
#13: David Gonos – Yadier Molina, C, STL
Going against my normal drafting plans and taking a catcher early – mostly because I’m not crazy about what’s left. Molina will help with batting average and possibly power from a position that usually hurts those categories. He also has averaged over 490 at-bats over the past four seasons, which ranks among the top three at the position in that span. High batting average plus high at-bats equals me saying, “Hi, Yadier Molina!” … I need coffee.
#14: Cory Schwartz – Hunter Pence, OF, SF
Not sure I like having three outfielders in the first four rounds – OK, I definitely don’t – but in my opinion Hunter Pence is clearly the best player left on the board, so I’ll take him… by 2013 stats alone he was a borderline first-round value. But, I don’t feel like I’m buying a career year with this pick, as his AVG, OBP, walk and strikeout rates, SLG, ISO, etc., were all nearly dead-ringers for his career averages. The only outlier in his 2013 line is the stolen bases, but even with regression he should provide double-digits in that category, and I’m still more focused on power than speed right now anyway.
#15: Fred Zinkie – David Ortiz, DH, BOS
I was watching something called the World Series last night, and I noticed that this Ortiz guy is pretty good. He was terrific this year after missing the first couple weeks of the season. His skills could fall off quickly at any time. But there don’t seem to be many signs of that happening right away. Great talent, great supporting cast — I’ll live with having my utility spot tied up.
#1: Fred Zinkie – Craig Kimbrel, RP, ATL
I’m fine with taking a closer early, and Kimbrel is certainly deserving of the spot. He is as talented and consistent as any player.
Kimbrel and Ortiz were both in the top-20 in the ESPN player rater last season. They could both drop off a bit and still be worth picks 60 and 61.
#2: Cory Schwartz – Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, WAS
A few ways I could go here… Matt Carpenter, Ryan Zimmerman or Jonathan Lucroy to start filling in some positional needs, Kenley Jansen or Aroldis Chapman to make sure I get an elite CL now that Fred has popped the seal on that need, or another “best available” OF like Alex Gordon. I guess I’ll take Zimmerman, who seems to be the least likely of this bunch to be around at my next pick, or is at least the one with the least obvious comp of who might be around 26 picks from now. Zimmerman seems to have overcome his shoulder issues (at least from an offensive standpoint) and is a solid five-category contributor at a position that doesn’t have many of those. He’s still in his (late) prime, and the Nationals’ offense should be stronger next year, so there’s still time for him to put up a career year, although something like the last two years’ production would be perfectly fine too.
#3: David Gonos – Wil Myers, OF, TB
Just to prove I’m not homer-phobic, I’ll take Myers here. Produces across the board, and as long as the BoSox fans didn’t screw up his psyche too bad, should be an RBI machine next to Longo for years to come.
#4: Paul Sporer – Matt Carpenter, 2B, STL
I wasn’t sure Carpenter would make it back to me. I was on board with the preseason love for Carp, but unfortunately I saw him going into that “such a sleeper, he’s now overrated” bin that I didn’t get him in too many leagues. My loss. He exceeded even the wildest expectations with a huge season atop a potent lineup. His runs will likely drop as I doubt STL hits .912 w/RISP again, but I’ll take .280-100-10-65 as a floor.
#5: Jason Collette – Daniel Murphy, 2B, NYM
Go on, steal my pick, it’s your birthday. Plan B for me as I go for the rare undervalued player in New York.
#6: Eric Mack – Stephen Strasburg, SP, WAS
#7: Lawr Michaels – Leonys Martin, OF, TEX
Hmm. Well, I had both Donaldson (as noted) and Carpenter on my “I’m confused” list. I would have probably gone Carpenter here due to position flex, had Paul not beat me to the punch.
So, I will go with the last guy on my list (for now).
I am kind of surprised he lasted this long, by the way, in deference to the general love for Marte. But, that guy is Leonys Martin, whose numbers across the board are in line with Marte, but who is on a better hitting team, in a better home yard for hitters.
#8: Joe Sheehan – David Price, SP, TB
I knew taking Hamilton that I’d be taking the best available starting pitcher here. I didn’t know it would be such a tough call. I am sure, however, that this pitcher is a better pick than some of the starters already taken, his 2014 ranking depressed by two lost months at the start of 2013 — ineffectiveness and injury that I do not think will have much bearing on his 2014 performance. I think I’m getting the guy with the 102/13 K/BB.
#9: Jeff Erickson – Cliff Lee, SP, PHI
While the team context is bad, it’s hard to hate on getting Cliff Lee in the fifth round. I know I’m getting good ratios and Ks; I’ll cross my fingers and hope he gets 13-15 wins. Also considered King Felix and a couple of hitters here.
#10: Zach Steinhorn – Felix Hernandez, SP, SEA
And I’ll go with King Felix. I rarely draft starting pitching this early but I think there’s a good chance at least one of the hitters I have in mind (A-Gon, Hosmer, Carlos Santana, among others) would still be around by the time I’d make my next pick and consider Felix at #70 to be pretty solid value.
#11: Tim Heaney – Pedro Alvarez, 3B, PIT
It’s approaching my wheelhouse for pitching, but not just yet. I’ll tolerate Alvarez’s plate-discipline flaws at Pick 71 because he arguably holds the best established power left. I would’ve taken Mark Trumbo last round had he been available. I’ll repeat that philosophy for someone with eligibility at a position with numerous intriguing fliers left but, in my opinion, drops off in tangible offerings after Alvarez. Expect 30ish homers. Pray to the cruel fantasy deities for a .250 BA. Celebrate anything above that. Time to build up BA in my subsequent picks!
#12: Todd Zola – Cole Hamels, SP, PHI
I realize that this is not an NFBC draft and sometimes I stray too NFBC centric, but when I see 15 teams, I tilt to that format and there you need to draft pitching earlier than most suggest. To that end, I’ll continue the 5th round theme of “what have you done for me lately” and take Cole Hamels. I find it interesting that perhaps only Zimmerman was ranked in this area code last season; everyone else was higher or lower. I realize that sounds like a “well duh” statement implying that I don’t realize the rankings of players change, it’s just my experience that there are usually a stable of typical “fifth round players” that are always taken around now. But not this year.
#13: Nando DiFino – Josh Hamilton, OF, LAA
I’m going with Josh Hamilton. I figure he got his “play like crap under a large new contract” season out of the way, and he’ll spend the entire offseason focused and ready to prove 2013 was a fluke.
#14: Nick Minnix – Ben Zobrist, 2B, TB
Well, it’s kind of a boring pick, but I think it was just another one of those down years in the HR department for Zobrist, who puts up Alex Gordon’s numbers in a normal year but provides that ridiculous flexibility, too. I have a couple of speed providers already, or I might have thought harder about Michael Bourn, whose depressed SB number may be health-related more than anything else, because I don’t think his speed would decline so sharply and stay there for his age-31 season.
#15: Derek VanRiper – Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, LAD
Gonzalez was among the hitters considered when I opted to take a third pitcher to begin Round 4, and while the ceiling isn’t as high as it was during his power peak, the team context is excellent and the floor is such that I feel he’s a nice value in this spot. On the surface, Gonzo looks like a top-50 player again in 2014 — with the chance to hit in a lineup that gets something closer to 162 games from Hanley and Puig plus any potential free agent additions.
What would the 2013 standings look like if all 30 MLB teams had competed in a 5×5 roto league? Read my latest Mastersball column to find out!
And, for those of you suffering from a serious bout of fantasy baseball withdrawal, stay tuned for early 2014 mock draft results and commentary. Today, Cory and I along with 13 of the industry’s brightest minds kicked off a 15-team slow mock. We’ll go at least three rounds and quite possibly more. I’ll be posting regular updates right here on the blog.
With the 2013 fantasy season officially in the books (congrats to those of you who won your league thanks to Evan Longoria’s performance on Monday night), I just wanted to thank everyone for participating on the blog throughout the year in addition to contributing some outstanding questions to the podcasts. Hopefully, we gave more good advice than bad advice, but hey, none of us have crystal balls on our desks! As the old 411 saying goes, “Don’t confuse the outcome with the decision.” All you can do is use all the information you have at the time to arrive at the best decision possible.
Here are a few useful season wrap blog links as we head into the postseason and eventually the off-season. Cory’s annual List of 12 (or 16, or 21 or whatever it’s going to be this year) will be posted right here on the blog in the coming weeks.
And a special shout out to our listener league winners:
411 League – Michael Sharzer (by 3.5 points)
Ron Cey League – William Howell (by a mere 1.5 points)
Paul C. Smith League – Commish Dean says “Winner of the league this year, and defending champ, was Jayson Panetta. Back to back champ and it wasn’t even close this year as he won by 26 points over second place.”
Marzano League – Commish Joe says “Johan Weidolf of Sweden held off Ivo Bolech of the Netherlands by two points on the final day to defend his Marzano League title. Very nice race. It came down to two stats — one win and one HR.”
AL – Larry Schechter (winningfantasybaseballthebook.com)
NL – Tristan Cockroft (ESPN)
Mixed Auction – Fred Zinkie (MLB.com)
Mixed Draft – Mike Podhorzer (fangraphs.com)
Unfortunately, my Mixed Tout season was an incredibly frustrating one, as after occupying 6th or 7th place for much of the year, a late-season cold spell dropped me down to 11th, so it’ll be back to the drawing board as I try to figure out how to finish in at least the top-5 in my third year.
Keep checking back here throughout the off-season, as I’ll be posting my fantasy-angled thoughts regarding all the impact trades and free agent signings. I’ll notify the masses through Twitter when a new post goes up.
In all my years of following baseball, I’ve never seen a stranger no-hitter than the one Henderson Alvarez threw yesterday. Thanks to his offense in the bottom of the 9th, he escaped from what would have been an incredibly frustrating situation of tossing nine no-hit innings only to be rewarded with a no-decision. Then again, Alvarez’s pitch count through the nine innings was a modest 99, so it would not have been surprising to see him out there in the 10th. I was very high on Alvarez heading into the season and I’m still a fan of his going forward. The 23-year-old definitely carries some upside for 2014. Yeah, the K rate is mediocre, but the walk rate is miniscule, which usually leads to good things. All he needs to do is stay healthy. NL-only leaguers could do a lot worse than shelling out a couple bucks for him in drafts next spring. Even in deeper mixed leagues, he’s worth a dollar as an endgame flier.
Back in May, Jim Johnson was likely one more poor outing away from losing his closer job, but he ended up righting the ship and was outstanding in the second half of the season, pitching to a 1.69 ERA in 27 appearances. Johnson picked up his 50th save of the season yesterday and still finished with a sub-3.00 ERA. Just goes to show how long the baseball season really is.
Steve Cishek is another closer who was on thin ice at one point, even landing on the waiver wire in some mixed leagues, due in large part to the perception that closers on bad teams don’t get saves. Not true. Well, all Cishek did was post a 0.96 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in the second half while converting all 17 of his save chances. The bottom line with closers is that it usually pays off to grab an elite one, but if you pass on the top-tier guys, it doesn’t make much of a difference if you draft the #17 ranked closer or the #25 ranked stopper. They’re all gambles, so you might as well go the cheaper route.
Hunter Pence has been one of the most underrated fantasy commodities for quite some time now. Yeah, he’s a little streaky, but for Roto purposes he’s about as consistent as they come. Pence’s ridiculous month of September (.293 AVG, 11 HR, 32 RBI, 1.060 OPS) resulted in a career single-season high 27 homers, and he fell a mere one RBI shy of posting back-to-back 100-RBI seasons. Oh, and he even swipes some bags as well. I’d be perfectly happy drafting Pence as my #2 OF in a 12-team mixed league. And he’ll be a lot more affordable than most #2 outfielders.
I was slow to come around on Jedd Gyorko, but I’m starting to gravitate towards the bandwagon. Yesterday’s grand slam upped his rookie season home run total to 23 (in just 125 games), and he’s hit 15 round trippers in 243 second half at-bats. Pretty good. Gyorko still strikes out too much and is a liability in the batting average department, but the 25-year-old’s minor league numbers suggest that he could improve significantly in both areas. And we all know that middle infielders with 30 HR type power are extremely hard to find. I’m liking Gyorko a lot for 2014.
Andy Pettitte couldn’t have asked for a smoother final outing of his big league career, as he hurled a complete game gem on Saturday night in Houston. As a Yankee fan, I’ll always remember Pettitte as a guy who would deliver when you needed him most and wouldn’t cave under the pressure of a postseason start. But he’s also a guy who has been a far better real-life pitcher than fantasy pitcher, certainly worth a roster spot but rarely dominant. Pettitte’s finest statistical season came in 2005 with the Astros, when he went 17-9 with a 2.39 ERA and 1.03 WHIP, but that was clearly the outlier, as his career 3.85 ERA and 1.35 WHIP are nothing special.
But sometimes it’s best to not think about everything from a fantasy perspective. Fantasy baseball is fun, but it’s no substitute for the real thing. Andy will be sorely missed, especially around this time of year.
Here’s what the 411 powers that be (well, basically Cory and I) have come up with. Obviously, it’s extremely early to think about 2014, so we’ll make sure to post an updated version at some point during the off-season.
With 45 MLB games remaining in the 2013 fantasy season, I’ll wish you one final “Good Luck!”
1. Buster Posey
2. Carlos Santana
3. Yadier Molina
4. Jonathan LuCroy
5. Joe Mauer
6. Wilin Rosario
7. Matt Wieters
8. Salvador Perez
9. Wilson Ramos
10. Brian McCann
Honorable Mentions: A.J. Pierzynski, Jason Castro, Evan Gattis, Miguel Montero
1. Chris Davis
2. Paul Goldschmidt
3. Joey Votto
4. Edwin Encarnacion
5. Prince Fielder
6. Freddie Freeman
7. Allen Craig
8. Adrian Gonzalez
9. Eric Hosmer
10. Mark Trumbo
Honorable Mentions: Mike Napoli, Albert Pujols, Brandon Belt
1. Robinson Cano
2. Jason Kipnis
3. Dustin Pedroia
4. Matt Carpenter
5. Ian Kinsler
6. Brandon Phillips
7. Ben Zobrist
8. Chase Utley
9. Jose Altuve
10. Jedd Gyorko
Honorable Mentions: Daniel Murphy, Howie Kendrick, Aaron Hill
1. Hanley Ramirez
2. Troy Tulowitzki
3. Jose Reyes
4. Ian Desmond
5. Jean Segura
6. Elvis Andrus
7. Everth Cabrera
8. Starlin Castro
9. Alexei Ramirez
10. J.J. Hardy
Honorable Mentions: Andrelton Simmons, Jimmy Rollins, Jed Lowrie, Asdrubal Cabrera
1. Miguel Cabrera
2. Adrian Beltre
3. David Wright
4. Evan Longoria
5. Ryan Zimmerman
6. Brett Lawrie
7. Manny Machado
8. Pedro Alvarez
9. Pablo Sandoval
10. Josh Donaldson
Honorable Mentions: Kyle Seager, Martin Prado, Will Middlebrooks, Nolan Arenado
1. Mike Trout
2. Andrew McCutchen
3. Jacoby Ellsbury
4. Carlos Gonzalez
5. Bryce Harper
6. Adam Jones
7. Ryan Braun
8. Jay Bruce
9. Jose Bautista
10. Matt Kemp
11. Giancarlo Stanton
12. Carlos Gomez
13. Starling Marte
14. Alex Rios
15. Shin-Soo Choo
Honorable Mentions: Jayson Heyward, Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig, Hunter Pence, Matt Holliday, Jayson Werth, Justin Upton, Alfonso Soriano, Michael Cuddyer, Carlos Beltran
1. Clayton Kershaw
2. Yu Darvish
3. Max Scherzer
4. Adam Wainwright
5. Felix Hernandez
6. Cliff Lee
7. Madison Bumgarner
8. Chris Sale
9. Zack Greinke
10. Jose Fernandez
11. Justin Verlander
12. Stephen Strasburg
13. Cole Hamels
14. David Price
15. Jordan Zimmermann
Honorable Mentions: Anibal Sanchez, James Shields, Gio Gonzalez, Matt Moore, Jon Lester, Mat Latos, Francisco Liriano
Injury Watch: Matt Harvey
1. Craig Kimbrel
2. Aroldis Chapman
3. Kenley Jansen
4. Greg Holland
5. Joe Nathan
6. Sergio Romo
7. Rafael Soriano
8. Jonathan Papelbon
9. Fernando Rodney
10. Jim Johnson
Honorable Mentions: Grant Balfour, Glen Perkins, Edward Mujica, Koji Uehara, Jason Grilli
Kazmir @ De Vries
Archer @ Happ
Parker @ Maurer
Lester @ W. Chen
Ventura @ E. Johnson
Pettitte @ Clemens
Richards @ Holland
Morton @ Arroyo – would you trust Arroyo with your season on the line?
Stults @ Petit
Nelson @ Harang
TBD (PHI) @ Minor
An. Sanchez @ Eovaldi
Jackson @ Kelly
Haren @ McCarthy – risk/reward on both. Pitch if you are chasing wins or K’s, but not ratios
Nicasio @ Greinke
Moore @ Redmond – I don’t trust Redmond vs. good offenses, unless desperate for K’s
Lackey @ Tillman – Tillman will probably be scratched anyway
B. Chen @ Quintana
Jimenez @ Diamond – huge second half for Ubaldo
TBD (NYY) @ Bedard
Vargas @ Darvish
Gray @ E. Ramirez
Cole @ Cueto
Estrada @ Niese – great matchup to finish great 2nd halves for both
Verlander @ H. Alvarez
Miner @ Teheran
Samardzija @ Wainwright – put Shark on ice for the winter
Ross @ Cain
Chatwood @ Ryu – Ryu will be on a short leash
G. Gonzalez @ Miley
***ZACH SAYS “I just wanted to point out how fitting it is that Pettitte’s final career start comes against Clemens!”
Today marked our final podcast of the 2013 season, so it was only fitting that we dedicated it to the fans, answering a plethora of listener questions (11 to be exact) in addition to unveiling our All-Fantasy team. Here’s the All-Fantasy roster, and good luck to all of you in your quest to take home a fantasy title!
C – Y. Molina (honorable mentions to W. Rosario, J. Lucroy)
1B – C. Davis (honorable mention to P. Goldschmidt)
3B – M. Cabrera
2B – R. Cano (honorable mentions to J. Kipnis, M. Carpenter)
SS – J. Segura (honorable mentions to I. Desmond, E. Andrus)
OF – M. Trout
OF – A. McCutchen
OF – J. Ellsbury (honorable mentions to A. Jones, H. Pence, A. Rios, C. Gomez)
SP – C. Kershaw
SP – M. Scherzer (honorable mentions to Y. Darvish, J. Fernandez, A. Wainwright)
CL – C. Kimbrel (honorable mentions to G. Holland, M. Rivera, A. Chapman)
FANTASY MVP: Miguel Cabrera, with Mike Trout and Chris Davis close behind
Buchholz @ Feldman
Hellickson @ Dickey – Dickey is finishing strong, it appears
Wilson @ Ogando
Shields @ Sale
Kluber @ P. Hernandez
Warren @ Oberholtzer
Colon @ King Felix
Burnett @ Bailey – NL Wild Card preview!
Gallardo @ Torres – nice matchup to finish disappointing year for Gallardo
Alvarez @ Koehler
Lee @ Medlen
T. Wood @ Lynn
Strasburg @ Corbin
McHugh @ Kershaw – can Kershaw finish with a sub-2.00 ERA?
Smith @ Vogelsong