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Pitch or Ditch for Tuesday, April 1

MLB: Spring Training-Detroit Tigers at Atlanta Braves

CORY’S PICKS

Sabathia @ Feldman – let’s see what the big fella has left
Hutchison @ Cobb – keep an eye on Hutchison
Burnett @ M. Perez
E. Ramirez @ Wilson – keep an eye on Erasmo
Kluber @ Kazmir
Greinke
@ Kennedy – keep an eye on Kennedy
Anderson
@ Eovaldi – in Miami, sure
A. Wood @ Lohse – blue plate special!
Cain
@ Miley

***ZACH SAYS “In deep mixed/NL-only leagues, I’d consider Eovaldi, pitching at home versus a so-so offense. Agree on rest.”

Inaugural Pitch or Ditch for 2014 + Two-Start Pitchers

MLB: Minnesota Twins-Photo Day

Hey all,

This one is pretty simple. Cory and I agree that you should pitch everyone with the exception of Nolasco (taking a wait and see approach) and Scheppers. After all, it’s Opening Day!

SUNDAY  (Bold = Pitch)

TBD (LAD) @ Cashner

MONDAY

Shields @ Verlander
Lee @ Scheppers
Lester @ Tillman
Nolasco @ Sale
Dickey @ Price
King Felix @ Weaver
Masterson @ Gray
Samardzija @ Liriano
Strasburg @ Gee
Teheran @ Gallardo
Wainwright @ Cueto
De La Rosa @ Fernandez
Bumgarner @ McCarthy

As far as two-start pitchers go, I’d pitch everyone with the exception of Nolasco, Scheppers, Erasmo Ramirez (like but don’t trust yet), Drew Hutchison and Scott Feldman.

I’d also be hesitant to start Wade Miley and Brandon McCarthy since one of their starts comes @COL.

Until Monday,

Zach

411 Listener League Draft Results

No respect for Goldy?

No respect for Goldy?

Zach here,

Ryan Braun 4th overall? Eyebrow raising but not shocking. Paul Goldschmidt slipping to 8th? WHAT? Here are the complete results from last night’s 411 Listener League draft. This is a daily transaction 12-team mixed league that’s been in business for quite some time and includes Mike (South Larson Hamptonians), Cory (Schwartzstops) and 10 of the longest tenured 411 fans. With only two bench spots, the waiver wire is always a busy place, and I don’t think there’s anyone in this league who does not play Pitch or Ditch.

Anyway, onto the results:

Round: 1
(1) Havalina Lumber Co – Mike Trout CF
(2) Bloo Meenies – Miguel Cabrera 3B
(3) KFred inCal – Andrew McCutchen CF
(4) mancrushes united – Ryan Braun LF
(5) South Larson  Hamptonians – Carlos Gonzalez LF
(6) Manhattan Marauders – Adam Jones CF
(7) The Canexicans – Jacoby Ellsbury CF
(8) Team Gluttons – Paul Goldschmidt 1B
(9) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Chris Davis 1B
(10) Nathan’s Dogs – Hanley Ramirez SS
(11) Schwartz Stops – Edwin Encarnacion 1B
(12) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Robinson Cano 2B

Round: 2
(13) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Clayton Kershaw SP
(14) Schwartz Stops – David Wright 3B
(15) Nathan’s Dogs – Bryce Harper LF
(16) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Prince Fielder 1B
(17) Team Gluttons – Jason Kipnis 2B
(18) The Canexicans – Evan Longoria 3B
(19) Manhattan Marauders – Adrian Beltre 3B
(20) South Larson  Hamptonians – Troy Tulowitzki SS
(21) mancrushes united – Joey Votto 1B
(22) KFred inCal – Dustin Pedroia 2B
(23) Bloo Meenies – Giancarlo Stanton RF
(24) Havalina Lumber Co – Carlos Gomez CF

Round: 3
(25) Havalina Lumber Co – Yu Darvish SP
(26) Bloo Meenies – Jose Reyes SS
(27) KFred inCal – Ian Desmond SS
(28) mancrushes united – Justin Verlander SP
(29) South Larson  Hamptonians – Yasiel Puig RF
(30) Manhattan Marauders – Freddie Freeman 1B
(31) The Canexicans – Stephen Strasburg SP
(32) Team Gluttons – Justin Upton LF
(33) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Adam Wainwright SP
(34) Nathan’s Dogs – Jay Bruce RF
(35) Schwartz Stops – Jose Bautista RF
(36) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Ian Kinsler 2B

Round: 4
(37) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Buster Posey C
(38) Schwartz Stops – Shin-Soo Choo CF
(39) Nathan’s Dogs – Albert Pujols 1B
(40) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Felix Hernandez SP
(41) Team Gluttons – Jose Fernandez SP
(42) The Canexicans – Mark Trumbo 1B
(43) Manhattan Marauders – Alex Rios RF
(44) South Larson  Hamptonians – Craig Kimbrel RP
(45) mancrushes united – Ryan Zimmerman 3B
(46) KFred inCal – Eric Hosmer 1B
(47) Bloo Meenies – Max Scherzer SP
(48) Havalina Lumber Co – Jean Segura SS

Round: 5
(49) Havalina Lumber Co – Matt Kemp CF
(50) Bloo Meenies – David Ortiz DH
(51) KFred inCal – Joe Mauer C
(52) mancrushes united – Jason Heyward RF
(53) South Larson  Hamptonians – Matt Carpenter 2B
(54) Manhattan Marauders – Cliff Lee SP
(55) The Canexicans – Adrian Gonzalez 1B
(56) Team Gluttons – Billy Hamilton CF
(57) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Elvis Andrus SS
(58) Nathan’s Dogs – Kenley Jansen RP
(59) Schwartz Stops – Greg Holland RP
(60) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Josh Donaldson 3B

Round: 6
(61) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Yoenis Cespedes LF
(62) Schwartz Stops – Trevor Rosenthal RP
(63) Nathan’s Dogs – Matt Holliday LF
(64) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Allen Craig 1B
(65) Team Gluttons – Alex Gordon LF
(66) The Canexicans – Joe Nathan RP
(67) Manhattan Marauders – Madison Bumgarner SP
(68) South Larson  Hamptonians – Ben Zobrist 2B
(69) mancrushes united – David Price SP
(70) KFred inCal – Carlos Santana C
(71) Bloo Meenies – Yadier Molina C
(72) Havalina Lumber Co – Chris Sale SP

Round: 7
(73) Havalina Lumber Co – Brandon Phillips 2B
(74) Bloo Meenies – Starling Marte LF
(75) KFred inCal – Wil Myers RF
(76) mancrushes united – Koji Uehara RP
(77) South Larson  Hamptonians – Carlos Beltran RF
(78) Manhattan Marauders – Hunter Pence RF
(79) The Canexicans – Josh Hamilton RF
(80) Team Gluttons – Gerrit Cole SP
(81) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Jose Altuve 2B
(82) Nathan’s Dogs – Wilin Rosario C
(83) Schwartz Stops – Kyle Seager 3B
(84) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Zack Greinke SP

Round: 8
(85) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Brian McCann C
(86) Schwartz Stops – Jonathan Lucroy C
(87) Nathan’s Dogs – Pedro Alvarez 3B
(88) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Starlin Castro SS
(89) Team Gluttons – Jose Abreu 1B
(90) The Canexicans – Masahiro Tanaka SP
(91) Manhattan Marauders – Homer Bailey SP
(92) South Larson  Hamptonians – Mike Napoli 1B
(93) mancrushes united – David Robertson RP
(94) KFred inCal – Pablo Sandoval 3B
(95) Bloo Meenies – James Shields SP
(96) Havalina Lumber Co – Martin Prado 3B

Round: 9
(97) Havalina Lumber Co – Anthony Rizzo 1B
(98) Bloo Meenies – Gio Gonzalez SP
(99) KFred inCal – Jayson Werth RF
(100) mancrushes united – Desmond Jennings CF
(101) South Larson  Hamptonians – Aramis Ramirez 3B
(102) Manhattan Marauders – Glen Perkins RP
(103) The Canexicans – Chase Utley 2B
(104) Team Gluttons – Sergio Romo RP
(105) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Everth Cabrera SS
(106) Nathan’s Dogs – Domonic Brown LF
(107) Schwartz Stops – Jordan Zimmermann SP
(108) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – J.J. Hardy SS

Round: 10
(109) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Jason Grilli RP
(110) Schwartz Stops – Shane Victorino RF
(111) Nathan’s Dogs – Daniel Murphy 2B
(112) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Aroldis Chapman RP
(113) Team Gluttons – Addison Reed RP
(114) The Canexicans – Aaron Hill 2B
(115) Manhattan Marauders – Grant Balfour RP
(116) South Larson  Hamptonians – Jeff Samardzija SP
(117) mancrushes united – Curtis Granderson CF
(118) KFred inCal – Matt Cain SP
(119) Bloo Meenies – Matt Adams 1B
(120) Havalina Lumber Co – Matt Wieters C

Round: 11
(121) Havalina Lumber Co – Ernesto Frieri RP
(122) Bloo Meenies – Jim Henderson RP
(123) KFred inCal – Anibal Sanchez SP
(124) mancrushes united – Alexei Ramirez SS
(125) South Larson  Hamptonians – Mat Latos SP
(126) Manhattan Marauders – Jonathan Papelbon RP
(127) The Canexicans – John Axford RP
(128) Team Gluttons – Steve Cishek RP
(129) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Shelby Miller SP
(130) Nathan’s Dogs – Jim Johnson RP
(131) Schwartz Stops – Wilson Ramos C
(132) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Joakim Soria RP

Round: 12
(133) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Bobby Parnell RP
(134) Schwartz Stops – Cole Hamels SP
(135) Nathan’s Dogs – Jered Weaver SP
(136) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Michael Cuddyer RF
(137) Team Gluttons – Julio Teheran SP
(138) The Canexicans – Victor Martinez DH
(139) Manhattan Marauders – Salvador Perez C
(140) South Larson  Hamptonians – A.J. Burnett SP
(141) mancrushes united – Jason Castro C
(142) KFred inCal – Hyun-Jin Ryu SP
(143) Bloo Meenies – Brandon Moss 1B
(144) Havalina Lumber Co – Casey Janssen RP

Round: 13
(145) Havalina Lumber Co – Evan Gattis C
(146) Bloo Meenies – Jed Lowrie SS
(147) KFred inCal – Brandon Belt 1B
(148) mancrushes united – Jedd Gyorko 2B
(149) South Larson  Hamptonians – Rafael Soriano RP
(150) Manhattan Marauders – Brett Lawrie 3B
(151) The Canexicans – Huston Street RP
(152) Team Gluttons – Andrelton Simmons SS
(153) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Michael Wacha SP
(154) Nathan’s Dogs – Leonys Martin CF
(155) Schwartz Stops – Jose Veras RP
(156) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Fernando Rodney RP

Round: 14
(157) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Ryan Howard 1B
(158) Schwartz Stops – Austin Jackson CF
(159) Nathan’s Dogs – Coco Crisp CF
(160) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Manny Machado 3B
(161) Team Gluttons – Nolan Arenado 3B
(162) The Canexicans – Brett Gardner CF
(163) Manhattan Marauders – Asdrubal Cabrera SS
(164) South Larson  Hamptonians – Nelson Cruz RF
(165) mancrushes united – Alex Cobb SP
(166) KFred inCal – Norichika Aoki RF
(167) Bloo Meenies – Xander Bogaerts 3B
(168) Havalina Lumber Co – Chase Headley 3B

Round: 15
(169) Havalina Lumber Co – Danny Salazar SP
(170) Bloo Meenies – Jon Lester SP
(171) KFred inCal – Nick Swisher 1B
(172) mancrushes united – Anthony Rendon 2B
(173) South Larson  Hamptonians – Mike Minor SP
(174) Manhattan Marauders – Andrew Cashner SP
(175) The Canexicans – Justin Morneau 1B
(176) Team Gluttons – Khris Davis LF
(177) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Alfonso Soriano LF
(178) Nathan’s Dogs – Doug Fister SP
(179) Schwartz Stops – Howie Kendrick 2B
(180) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – CC Sabathia SP

Round: 16
(181) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Hiroki Kuroda SP
(182) Schwartz Stops – Will Middlebrooks 3B
(183) Nathan’s Dogs – Sonny Gray SP
(184) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Will Venable RF
(185) Team Gluttons – Justin Masterson SP
(186) The Canexicans – Mike Moustakas 3B
(187) Manhattan Marauders – Carl Crawford LF
(188) South Larson  Hamptonians – Miguel Montero C
(189) mancrushes united – Nate Jones RP
(190) KFred inCal – Tommy Hunter RP
(191) Bloo Meenies – Christian Yelich LF
(192) Havalina Lumber Co – LaTroy Hawkins RP

Round: 17
(193) Havalina Lumber Co – Rex Brothers RP
(194) Bloo Meenies – Matt Moore SP
(195) KFred inCal – Tony Cingrani SP
(196) mancrushes united – Billy Butler DH
(197) South Larson  Hamptonians – R.A. Dickey SP
(198) Manhattan Marauders – Adam Eaton LF
(199) The Canexicans – Jonathan Villar SS
(200) Team Gluttons – Kole Calhoun RF
(201) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – B.J. Upton CF
(202) Nathan’s Dogs – C.J. Wilson SP
(203) Schwartz Stops – Brad Miller SS
(204) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Adam Lind 1B

Round: 18
(205) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Ben Revere CF
(206) Schwartz Stops – Marco Estrada SP
(207) Nathan’s Dogs – Brian Dozier 2B
(208) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Hisashi Iwakuma SP
(209) Team Gluttons – A.J. Pierzynski C
(210) The Canexicans – Zack Wheeler SP
(211) Manhattan Marauders – Erick Aybar SS
(212) South Larson  Hamptonians – Rajai Davis LF
(213) mancrushes united – Yan Gomes C
(214) KFred inCal – Johnny Cueto SP
(215) Bloo Meenies – Torii Hunter RF
(216) Havalina Lumber Co – Jimmy Rollins SS

Round: 19
(217) Havalina Lumber Co – Josh Reddick RF
(218) Bloo Meenies – Clay Buchholz SP
(219) KFred inCal – Neil Walker 2B
(220) mancrushes united – Lance Lynn SP
(221) South Larson  Hamptonians – Mark Teixeira 1B
(222) Manhattan Marauders – Alejandro De Aza CF
(223) The Canexicans – Francisco Liriano SP
(224) Team Gluttons – Todd Frazier 3B
(225) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Danny Farquhar RP
(226) Nathan’s Dogs – Matt Garza SP
(227) Schwartz Stops – Dexter Fowler CF
(228) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Andre Ethier CF

Round: 20
(229) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Nick Castellanos LF
(230) Schwartz Stops – Jake Peavy SP
(231) Nathan’s Dogs – Drew Smyly RP
(232) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Mark Melancon RP
(233) Team Gluttons – Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
(234) The Canexicans – Dioner Navarro C
(235) Manhattan Marauders – Russell Martin C
(236) South Larson  Hamptonians – Joaquin Benoit RP
(237) mancrushes united – Nick Markakis RF
(238) KFred inCal – Angel Pagan CF
(239) Bloo Meenies – Chris Archer SP
(240) Havalina Lumber Co – Alex Wood SP

Round: 21
(241) Havalina Lumber Co – Michael Brantley LF
(242) Bloo Meenies – Grady Sizemore CF
(243) KFred inCal – Eric Young Jr. LF
(244) mancrushes united – Yordano Ventura SP
(245) South Larson  Hamptonians – David Freese 3B
(246) Manhattan Marauders – Dan Straily SP
(247) The Canexicans – Michael Pineda SP
(248) Team Gluttons – Kolten Wong 2B
(249) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Carlos Ruiz C
(250) Nathan’s Dogs – Ervin Santana SP
(251) Schwartz Stops – Derek Jeter SS
(252) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Marlon Byrd RF

Round: 22
(253) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Dee Gordon SS
(254) Schwartz Stops – Wily Peralta SP
(255) Nathan’s Dogs – Yovani Gallardo SP
(256) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Derek Norris C
(257) Team Gluttons – Dan Haren SP
(258) The Canexicans – Melky Cabrera LF
(259) Manhattan Marauders – Kelly Johnson LF
(260) South Larson  Hamptonians – Ivan Nova SP
(261) mancrushes united – Corey Hart 1B
(262) KFred inCal – Chris Tillman SP
(263) Bloo Meenies – Jhonny Peralta SS
(264) Havalina Lumber Co – Chad Qualls RP

Round: 23
(265) Havalina Lumber Co – J.J. Hoover RP
(266) Bloo Meenies – Alex Avila C
(267) KFred inCal – Tim Lincecum SP
(268) mancrushes united – Dillon Gee SP
(269) South Larson  Hamptonians – Devin Mesoraco C
(270) Manhattan Marauders – Rick Porcello SP
(271) The Canexicans – John Jaso C
(272) Team Gluttons – Tyson Ross SP
(273) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Cody Allen RP
(274) Nathan’s Dogs – Chris Johnson 3B
(275) Schwartz Stops – Jonathon Niese SP
(276) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Josh Fields RP

Round: 24
(277) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Michael Bourn CF
(278) Schwartz Stops – Jesse Crain RP
(279) Nathan’s Dogs – A.J. Ellis C
(280) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Dustin Ackley 2B
(281) Team Gluttons – Carlos Martinez RP
(282) The Canexicans – Phil Hughes SP
(283) Manhattan Marauders – Corey Kluber SP
(284) South Larson  Hamptonians – Kendrys Morales 1B
(285) mancrushes united – Chris Owings SS
(286) KFred inCal – Colby Rasmus CF
(287) Bloo Meenies – Justin Smoak 1B
(288) Havalina Lumber Co – Juan Uribe 3B

Round: 25
(289) Havalina Lumber Co – Yonder Alonso 1B
(290) Bloo Meenies – Sam LeCure RP
(291) KFred inCal – Scott Kazmir SP
(292) mancrushes united – Wade Miley SP
(293) South Larson  Hamptonians – Tyler Clippard RP
(294) Manhattan Marauders – Michael Saunders CF
(295) The Canexicans – Chris Carter 1B
(296) Team Gluttons – Garrett Richards SP
(297) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Avisail Garcia RF
(298) Nathan’s Dogs – Mitch Moreland 1B
(299) Schwartz Stops – Carlos Quentin LF
(300) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Paul Konerko 1B

Zach’s Mixed Tout Wars Recap

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at St. Louis Cardinals

Coming out of the draft in my inaugural season in Mixed Tout Wars, I didn’t like my team at all. I had mismanaged my auction budget to the point where I was limited to $1 bids way too early in the proceedings. I ended up finishing in 10th place out of 15 teams. Last year, I did a better job showing restraint and left the Sirius/XM studios here in Manhattan relatively pleased with the roster I had assembled but not overly pumped. I ended up finishing in 11th place. Well, this year, I feel really good about my squad. I’ll probably finish in 12th place!

So, how did I prepare this time around? Exactly the same as before. I allocated a certain amount of dollars for each position on the roster with specific players in mind who would fill those slots, making sure that the total dollar amount was roughly $260. If the bidding for my top choice at a given position exceeded the amount I had predicted, I would turn to my second (preferably slightly cheaper) choice, and then my third choice, and so on, redistributing my budget allotment accordingly. The main difference this year is that I wanted to spend a bit more on pitching than usual. In a weekly lineup league that is deeper than 12 teams, I think it’s important to draft at least one sure-fire ace along with a #2 with ace potential. Instead of my usual 180/80 hitting/pitching split, or even 185/75 distribution, I was planning on something closer to 170/90, with approximately $25 earmarked for my ace and $25-30 reserved for two closers.

Anyway, enough buildup. Here’s the roster I ended up with, in the order I purchased the players.

Freddie Freeman ($29)

Prince Fielder and Joey Votto were my top two choices for my 1B slot, and I was willing to spend 34, maybe 35 bucks for either of them. Note that this is an OBP league, so both Fielder and Votto carry even more value than they would in a standard AVG league. But when I got a chance to grab Freeman for what I thought was a fair price, I pounced, fearing that Fielder and Votto would match or exceed my $35 limit (they went for $35 and $38 respectively). Freeman was #3 on my list, and I figured that the $6 savings could come in handy later in the auction. Oh, and the Braves’ first baseman is no OBP slouch either.

Chris Sale ($24)

I had budgeted $23 for my ace and hoped that I could land King Felix for that amount. Nope. I reluctantly went to 24 on him but when Tim Heaney said “25” I bailed. Just four players later, Sale was nominated, and since he was among my fallback option group, I was willing to go to the same $24 level that I hoped would be enough to win King Felix, and I’m fine with this. Sale is already a legit ace, and entering his age-25 season, I think the best is yet to come.

David Robertson ($17)

A little more than I wanted to spend for my top closer, and there’s some risk attached to Robertson since he’s new to the stopper role. But he has all the skills to thrive in the ninth inning. Don’t be surprised if he’s a no doubt top-5 closer by this time next year.

Gio Gonzalez ($16)

An ideal #2 SP. The ratios aren’t quite ace-caliber but I’ll take the 190-plus strikeouts along with the chance that he can pitch more like the 2012 Gio than last year’s version, which was still pretty good.

Ryan Braun ($38)

I had my heart set on Andrew McCutchen and was fairly confident that I could get him for no more than $38 being that he went for $35 in NL LABR. Not quite. I even went out of my comfort zone, going as high as $40, but that was it, and he was sold for $41. So I had this open $38 slot and wanted to use it on an elite OF. I was rather surprised I had to go the full $38 for Braun, but if he turns out to be the old Ryan Braun, he’ll earn this price. If not, well, I might regret this purchase.

Addison Reed ($13)

Reed was actually the final guy in my RP1 tier, so I was thrilled to get him as my second closer. His control could still use a little work, but for 13 bucks there’s definitely some upside to be had.

Wilson Ramos ($14)

A popular “sleeper” backstop choice this spring, and for good reason. 16 homers in 78 games last year. All he needs to do is finally stay healthy for a full season.

Doug Fister ($9)

Exactly the price I paid for Fister last year and now he moves to the NL, which is never a bad thing for any pitcher, and his strikeout total should benefit. It sounds like the elbow inflammation is no big deal, as he’s scheduled to make his first regular season start on April 6th.

Desmond Jennings ($18)

I’ve owned Jennings on at least one of my fantasy teams in each of the last three years, anxiously awaiting for that breakout season. It would be nice if it comes this year. Is a 20/30 season truly out of the question?

Chase Headley ($15)

Kyle Seager and Pablo Sandoval were my top two choices at 3B but both exceeded my $15 limit, so I opted for Headley. Not expecting a 2012 repeat but not expecting a 2013 repeat either. The bottom line is that he played hurt for much of last season, so at least a partial mulligan is warranted. Headley also walks quite a bit, which will help his OBP, and he can also contribute double-digit steals.

Jose Altuve ($16)

A personal favorite who still has room for growth (no pun intended), particularly in the walks department, But you’re not drafting Altuve for his OBP. You’re drafting him because he’s 30-plus steals in the bank, and still just 23, he has the potential to improve in all other facets of his game. Plus, he’s flat out fun to watch.

Asdrubal Cabrera ($12)

Cabrera is coming off arguably the worst season of his big league career that included a woeful .299 OBP, but he still managed to slug 14 homers in 136 games. If you miss out on the elite choices at the shortstop position, Asdrubal makes for a nice fallback option. A bounce back season to the tune of 18-20 homers, double-digit steals and an OBP in the .330 to .340 range is well within reach.

Chris Carter ($10)

This is where the OBP factor becomes important. While Carter is a major liability in leagues that use AVG, his high walk rate results in an OBP that, while not particularly helpful, isn’t overly damaging. So I’ll enjoy the homers without having to stress over the AVG.

Nelson Cruz ($10)

Aside from Texas, Cruz could not have possibly landed in a better spot than Baltimore, where he should take advantage of the cozy confines of Camden Yards to at least reach the 25-home run plateau. My ideal OF3 choice was Nick Swisher, and I really could have used the OBP boost, but Cruz was nominated a few minutes before Swisher, so I had no way of knowing that Swisher’s winning bid would also be $10. But I’m not beating myself too much over this, as Scott Swanay, the owner who bought Swisher, ended up leaving more than 60 bucks on the table, so there’s a pretty good chance he would have bid me up on Swish.

Dan Haren ($5)

Will we ever see vintage Dan Haren again or are his days of ace-level production officially over? He struggled for much of last season before finding his groove down the stretch. Pitching on a good team and in a favorable home park, maybe he will return to ace form. Or maybe he won’t. For a mere five bucks, it’s worth it to find out.

Alcides Escobar ($3)

A low-risk, high-reward pick to fill my MI slot. Best case scenario, he repeats his breakthrough 2012 season of 35 steals and a .331 OBP. Worst case scenario, he puts up a stat line similar to last year’s .259 OBP and 25 steals, which would be kind of depressing. I’ll gladly take something in between. By the way, age-27 season alert!

Mark Melancon ($2)

Arguably the most valuable setup man in fantasy. Melancon is one Jason Grilli injury away from becoming a high-end saves source, and do you really think that the 37-year-old Grilli will stay healthy all year?

Wade Miley ($2)

Nothing special but a serviceable back end of the rotation type who will give you innings without hurting your ratios.

Denard Span ($1)

Underrated source of runs and steals. A safe fifth outfielder.

A.J. Ellis ($1)

Why not? A regular starter who will hit double-digit homers, and the OBP factor helps his value.

Nathan Eovaldi ($1)

Young with upside. Eovaldi’s minor league strikeout numbers suggest that we could see some improvement in that area as well. Health permitting, he should be a mainstay in the Marlins’ rotation this year. I’ll start by pitching him in favorable matchups. If that doesn’t work out, I can just cut him and pick up a boring Mark Buehrle type.

Matt Dominguez ($3)

Unable to land a legitimate OF4, I instead chose to shift Chris Carter from CI to OF and draft Dominguez to serve as my CI. He needs to improve his OBP skills but the power seems to be legit. Plus, his above average defense at the hot corner will keep him in the lineup every day.

Dayan Viciedo ($1)

Cheap power to fill my UTIL slot. It’s as simple as that.

RESERVES: Justin Smoak, Phil Hughes, Kris Bryant, Jason Kubel

Either Smoak or Kubel could end up supplanting Viciedo at UTIL. Hughes should benefit from a fresh start in Minnesota and a move away from home run friendly Yankee Stadium. Bryant ranks among the game’s top prospects but now it sounds like he has virtually no chance of being called up before September, so he will be my first cut.

OBP could be a major issue for this team, and from the projections, I really don’t see any way that my current roster can produce an OBP higher than .330, and it will probably be closer to .320. But outside of OBP, I should compete in every category. Maybe my OBP deficiency will keep me from winning the league, but there’s no way I’ll finish lower than last year’s 11th place. But then again, last year I thought there was no way I’d finish lower than 10th, so who knows.

Six months is a very long time.

As always, your comments and questions are welcome.

CLICK HERE to view the complete rosters of all of the Tout Wars teams.

Zach

Mock Madness Recap

Hey everyone,

Late last week, in honor of the start of March Madness, MLB.com gathered a group of fantasy writers, reporters and show hosts in addition to longtime 411 fans Neighbor Steve and Scott to participate in a 10-team mixed league blitz of a mock draft. The picks were coming in so fast that I actually had to charge my phone multiple times during the Thursday afternoon to Friday evening period, as I was constantly checking my e-mail inbox in order to update our Google spreadsheet and tweet the latest picks.

When it was all over, I asked each of the participants (or at least one representative from the team) to answer the following:

-General strategy going into the draft

-Best pick

-Worst pick

And here’s what I got. Teams are listed in order of draft position.

-Zach

***Also note that the Jurickson Profar pick was made before he tore his right shoulder muscle. At the time, getting Profar at 17.6 looked like a fine value pick for Todd Zola.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 ZACH STEINHORN (Fantasy 411 blogger/Mastersball writer) @ZachMLB

General strategy: The classic Fantasy 411 approach of loading up on bats early and waiting on starting pitching. I figured that this strategy would be even more effective in a 10-team mixed, as there would be plenty of high-upside starting pitching options available in the mid to late rounds. I ended up drafting five hitters before taking my first pitcher and was quite pleased to find that Justin Verlander was still available at 6.10. This is a guy who is just two years removed from a Cy Young and MVP season, but injury concerns combined with a somewhat disappointing 2013 campaign have dropped his price tag to a level that makes him an excellent value pick. Another longtime 411 mantra is to draft at least one and preferably two elite stoppers. Rosenthal and Perkins fit that description and getting Cishek as my third closer rounds out what looks to be a dominant bullpen trio.

Best pick: Yeah, the ninth inning sample size is rather small, but from a statistical perspective, Glen Perkins has pitched at a top-5 closer level ever since taking over stopper duties for the Twins midway through the 2012 season. So to get him as my #2 closer in the 11th round seems like a steal.

Worst pick: I like Matt Wieters this year and do consider him to be a tad underrated. But, as many of my league mates will point out, waiting as long as possible to draft your first catcher in a 10-team mixed, one-catcher format is probably the smarter route. Instead of drafting Wieters in the 14th round, I could have gone with Jason Castro in the 21st.

DYLAN HIGGINS/STEVE ADAMS (MLB.com fantasy writers)

General strategy: Steve and I are both pretty happy with our team. We prioritized hitters, especially power and corner bats, waiting until the middle rounds for pitching and the later rounds for middle infielders and closers.

Best pick: Our favorite picks were Zack Greinke in the 9th, Gerrit Cole in the 10th, and Sergio Romo in the 13th, all of which we felt give us elite upside at their positions despite being drafted much later than their talent peers. Our best pick might be Jose Abreu in the 11th, however, as he brings big power upside to our roster late, sliding into our utility slot after we already put solid bats at 1B and CI.

Worst pick: Our weakest pick might be Everth Cabrera in the 12th, despite being a very solid player that we both liked at that value. We were waiting on middle infielders and while we don’t think we overpaid on him at all, there were other perfectly solid shortstops and middle infielders that we could have waited even further on and been happy with.

DAVID LAHTI (MLB.com fantasy writer)

General strategy: Started out wanting to go with best available offense early (got my target guys in Goldy/Kipnis), filling in pitching in the mid-to-late rounds. But I decided to change course in the 3rd/4th rounds with Darvish and Wainwright still available. I had them as the #2 and #4 overall SPs, respectively.

Best pick: Yu Darvish, K leader in 3rd round.

Worst pick: Starling Marte, possible reach in 6th round.

BILL PASSONNO/EVAN BRUNELL (MLB.com fantasy writers)

General strategy: Waiting was the name of the game for us — especially when it came to starting pitching. With no shortage of pitching depth this season, including a treasure trove of young arms still floating around in the later rounds, we focused on securing our position players first. Our top four picks have all recorded at least 30 homers and 95 RBIs in a season at least once in their careers and remain heavily entrenched in their prime. Sure, Troy Tulowitzki is a constant injury risk, but it’s hard to pass up arguably the top player at his position, which is notoriously one of the thinnest in fantasy baseball. We planned to continue building the offensive side in the fifth round. However, Price was simply too good to pass up at that spot. Now healthy, he should have no problem returning to his Cy Young-caliber numbers from 2012, and is a lock for 200-plus strikeouts and possibly 15-plus wins. We returned to shoring up the everyday lineup in the next five rounds, grabbing three guys with eligibility at multiple positions in Zobrist, Santana and Prado to give us additional flexibility. And Mauer will add first-base eligibility in the first week of the season. Afterward, we turned our attention to power arms, grabbing Latos — who is still only 26 years old and has four consecutive 180-strikeout seasons on his resume — and Cobb. Adding Cashner, a popular breakout candidate, in the 15th round was a symbol of the tremendous depth on the mound this year.

Best pick: Carlos Santana

Worst pick: Fernando Rodney

ZACH FINKLESTEIN/FRED ZINKIE (MLB.com fantasy writers)

General strategy: Team Zink/Fink drafted Clayton Kershaw (first round) and Craig Kimbrel (fifth round), arguably baseball’s No. 1 starter and reliever, respectively. Around those selections, we mostly prioritized hitting. In a 10-team league, we thought we could build a formidable pitching staff late in the draft. With that said, getting Kershaw and Kimbrel provides us with a pair of impressive pitching-staff anchors.

We felt we were able to capitalize on this strategy, scooping up Sonny Gray in the 18th round and Lance Lynn with our 21st pick. It is much tougher to acquire high-level hitters late.

One hitting position we waited on was catcher. In a one-catcher league, we felt we could be patient on the backstop position, as there is not much difference between Wilson Ramos (our pick in the 16th round) and some of the receivers who went several rounds before.

Best pick: Team Zink/Fink picked Billy Hamilton in the 10th round of the draft. This is the pick we are most excited about, as Hamilton has a chance to produce first-round-pick value. Keep in mind Hamilton stole a professional-baseball-record 155 bags in 2012. And though he swiped “just” 88 bases during a 2013 season spent mostly in the Minors, the speedster is the only player in baseball with the ability to win an entire fantasy category by himself.

Hamilton is highly unlikely to hit as well during the regular season as he has during Spring Training, but even a .300 on-base percentage would give the speedster ample opportunity to run.

Worst pick: Matt Carpenter probably has the best chance of underperforming his draft spot. He doesn’t have much power or speed, and two of his best skills – hitting doubles and drawing walks – tend to play out better in real baseball than rotisserie fantasy.

Also, if the Cardinals regress in terms of their ability to hit with runners in scoring position in 2014, Carpenter will be all but ensured to watch his runs total drop from its big league-best mark in 2013 (126).

TODD ZOLA (MLB.com/Mastersball writer) @toddzola

General strategy: Balanced hitting, two top SPs to avoid middle tier and top-5 closer.

Best pick: Mark Trumbo – Needed to address power and should have 35+ HR in the desert.

Worst pick: Brian McCann – No need to take a catcher in a 10-team league until the end — NONE. I panicked a little thinking I needed just a little more pop.

MATTHEW LEACH/DEAN CHIUNGOS (MLB.com fantasy writers emeritus)

General strategy: I’m basically a best-available guy. Fairly conventional strategy – hitters before pitchers, unless there’s a pitcher you just can’t pass up.

Best pick: Might be our first one. Getting Braun at #7, to me, is great value. In my previous draft, I had the No. 3 pick, and I almost took him. I would definitely take him at 4. So 7 is a win.

Worst pick: I’m not crazy about taking a closer as high as we took Uehara, unless it’s somebody really elite, and he makes me a little bit nervous. I don’t hate that pick, but I don’t love it either.

CORY SCHWARTZ/MIKE SIANO (Fantasy 411 hosts) @schwartzstops, @thecapt23

General strategy: Our shared Fantasy 411 strategy is governed by three basic principles: get as many big bats as you can, get a killer bullpen, and downplay starting pitching. Check, check and check.

Best pick: We love getting Kenley and Holland back-to-back, especially with the injury to Aroldis Chapman thinning the ranks of the elite closers. We’ll have the best bullpen in the league with this tandem, setting the stage for an above-average pitching staff in general.

Worst pick: We really loved each of our picks!

PETE McCARTHY (MLB.com studio host) @mlbpetemccarthy

General strategy: I try not to pigeonhole myself into having a strategy for the draft. I have my ranked list and I’m going to take the best player available and the structure of my teams will vary from league to league. Generally, I like to find starting pitchers late and don’t take more than one above average closer. If pitchers are flying off the board, it’s possible I’ll fill my entire lineup before drafting a single pitcher. But that’s not the way this draft turned out, as I grabbed Felix Hernandez in the 4th and Jose Fernandez in the 6th.

Best pick: Love me a late-round high risk/reward selection and Josh Hamilton in the 11th round is my kind of gamble. 2013 was a rough year for him but he still hit 21 HRs with 79 RBIs and a .250 average. In the 11th round, I wouldn’t be terribly disappointed in those numbers and his ceiling of AL MVP candidate makes him a potential bargain. That’s how you win leagues.

Worst pick: It’s a bit difficult to say already but I was pretty conservative with Adam Jones at #12 overall. While Jones has been mighty consistent to begin his career with the O’s, he might have passed the point where we can expect that major jump in HRs or SBs. Was very tempted to take Hanley Ramirez, who would have been more boom or bust. I suppose having a steady player like Jones allowed me to take some chances with Giancarlo Stanton and Josh Hamilton later, but he’s not the kind of home run pick that can win a league.

STEVE COZZOLINO/SCOTT GILROY (Fantasy 411 fans)

Steve says:

General Strategy: Always go for a balance of power and speed early and five-category contributors where possible. By the end of the first 10 rounds, draft three pitchers: 2 SPs and 1 RP. During the mid to late rounds, address needs and go for high upside late in the draft.

Best pick: Matt Holiday 6.01. Never the sexiest pick, but very consistent and reliable. A great value that late in the draft where OFs of equal or lesser value such as Pence, Heyward and Bruce went more than a round or two earlier.

Worst pick: Overall, we’re very pleased with our draft, but the reach for Kung Fu Panda was our worst pick. A bit of a panic move with how thin 3B was getting plus our target, Kyle Seager, was already nabbed. A-Ram was our other option. Hopefully a major weight loss translates to a major increase in production reminiscent of his 2011 days.

Scott says:

General strategy: Get several elite players at several positions to start and one top-10 SP and get several guys from the 2nd tier later. In a 10- teamer, we knew the #5/6 SP would be easier to fill with a solid option.

Best pick: I was happy to get Harper at 10 but Holliday in the 6th I felt was solid value.

Worst pick: Jose Reyes could turn out to be a bust again but was hard to pass at that spot. I guess Allen Craig concerns me more. I’ve been staying away in most of my drafts.

2014 Composite Projections

Hi folks,

Attached is the first draft of this year’s composite projections, representing the average projection from 14 different providers. We’ve had as many as 16 in a season but only had 10 last year, so that’s a step up!

2014_composite_projections_021814

Please make sure to read last year’s release notes (as well as those from previous seasons) for an explanation of how these are created, and the resulting caveats and limitations, BEFORE asking any questions in the comments area!

http://fantasy411.mlblogs.com/2013/02/19/composite-projections-are-here-2/

http://fantasy411.mlblogs.com/2012/02/18/composite-projections-have-arrived-2/

http://fantasy411.mlblogs.com/2011/03/03/2011-composite-projections-update/

http://fantasy411.mlblogs.com/2011/02/19/2011-composite-projections-1-0/

http://fantasy411.mlblogs.com/2010/03/07/updated-projections-372010/

http://fantasy411.mlblogs.com/2009/12/22/building-better-player-projections/

http://fantasy411.mlblogs.com/2009/02/19/2008-gxp-and-2009-projections/

http://fantasy411.mlblogs.com/2008/02/15/composite-projections-are-here/

A few other notes beyond what’s explained in those posts:

* This includes all players who were projected in at least half (7) of the 14 systems, plus about two-dozen “name” prospects who appeared in only 5 or 6 projections. The more projections, the more confidence you should have in those numbers.

* The POS column is based on NFBC position eligibility rules: http://nfbc.stats.com/baseball/leagues/rules/nfbcclassic.asp?id=1300

* Teams listed are as of yesterday, February 17. Free agents are indicated with “FA” in the team and league columns. Ages are as of July 1 of this year.

* Dollar values are provided courtesy of our friend “Lord” Todd Zola. Please follow him on Twitter (https://twitter.com/ToddZola) and check out his work at www.mastersball.com. Thanks for sharing LZ!

* I’ve made some preliminary playing time adjustments, but mostly to hitters. Adjust playing time as you see fit, pro-rating all the other stats on the line to match.

* Runs and RBI’s are calculated as described in past posts on this topic, and saves are my own back-of-the-envelope projections based on team and bullpen strength.

* I’ve also projected steals based on a weighted three-year average of stolen base opportunities ((SB+CS)/(1B+BB+HBP)) and stolen base percentages. But, I had to throw a dart with Billy Hamilton…there’s no way he can possibly maintain his minor league rates, is there?

I hope everyone finds this useful on a cold winter day…only a few more days before spring training games start!

Thanks,

Cory

2014 Expert Mock

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Tampa Bay Rays

Zach back here,

It began early yesterday morning and should last a couple of weeks, at the very least. Time for our annual full 23-round expert mock draft! We’re conducting the draft through e-mail, so I’ll be routinely updating the results as they come in. Here are this year’s participants, in draft order:

Paul Sporer – Baseball Prospectus

Lawr Michaels – Mastersball

Tim Heaney – KFFL

David Gonos – DavidGonos.com

Nando DiFino – CBS Sportsline

Jason Collette – Rotowire/Fangraphs

Ryan Carey – Mastersball

Todd Zola – Mastersball

Zach Steinhorn – MLB.com/Mastersball

Joe Sheehan – Sports Illustrated

Nick Minnix – KFFL

Jeff Erickson – Rotowire

Mike Siano – MLB.com

Cory Schwartz – MLB.com

Derek VanRiper – Rotowire

And here are the results, along with a short comment from the owner. Also keep in mind that this is an NFBC-style 15-teamer with weekly lineups, so pitching and ditching becomes less of a factor. As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ROUND 1

#1: Paul Sporer – Mike Trout – Miggy/Trout is still a major debate for me, but in the end I couldn’t pass up the exemplary all-around production.

#2: Lawr Michaels – Miguel Cabrera – Sooo good, sooo consistent, and ideally more durable at first base.

#3: Tim Heaney – Paul Goldschmidt – Goldy steals enough bags for me to value his power advantage over Andrew McCutchen’s in SB.

#4: David Gonos – Andrew McCutchen – Actually dropped a little in some categories from 2012, but improved BB/K ratio and has a great chance at back-to-back NL MVP awards.

#5: Nando DiFino – Robinson Cano – “Lineup downgrade” is a myth, considering last year’s Yankees lineup, and all of Cano’s 2013 homers would have gone out in Safeco.

#6: Jason Collette – Clayton Kershaw – As if taking Gomez 5th overall in our last draft wasn’t crazy enough. I’ll take Sandy Koufax Jr.

#7: Ryan Carey – Carlos Gonzalez – At this point there are plenty of options, all with some degree of risk. Hoping he can continue the trend of staying healthier in even numbered years to tap into his upside. But .300/20/20 is a nice floor.

#8: Todd Zola – Jacoby Ellsbury – He’s accident prone, not injury prone. Not saying Ellsbury will pop 32 bombs but he’ll enjoy the short porch. And oh yeah, 40-plus steals doesn’t suck.

#9: Zach Steinhorn – Adam Jones – Durable and consistent five-category production.

#10: Joe Sheehan – Bryce Harper – Less downside risk than the other options, and a good bit of upside. Curious whether he runs under Matt Williams.

#11: Nick Minnix – Prince Fielder – I like home runs, RBIs, average and dudes who hit at The Ballpark in Arlington.

#12: Jeff Erickson – Hanley Ramirez – With the understanding that this pick is super-volatile, I’ll go with the guy that really was the catalyst for the Dodgers’ second-half turnaround. Besides, almost every pick in this range is volatile, there are few safe-havens.

#13: Mike Siano - Troy Tulowitzki – One part Coors and one part SS hopefully overcomes one part missing too many games lately. When he plays over 140 games he’s special. Not dead yet.

#14: Cory Schwartz - Edwin Encarnacion – Pains me to spend a first round pick on a guy I used to get 10+ rounds later just two years ago, but in that time he’s proven he’s a legit slugger, and those are increasingly rare these days.

#15: Derek VanRiper – Ryan Braun – Can’t pass him up here.  Braun hit .306/.396/.579 with 8 HR, 26 RBI in his first 32 games last season (40 HR pace) before a thumb injury surfaced in mid-May. I am attributing his pre-suspension power outage to playing through that injury rather than some post-PED issue. Contact trends even during that early-season stretch of production hint at potential decline in AVG.

ROUND 2

#16: Derek VanRiper – Adrian Beltre – Even factoring in possible 15-20 point drop from AVG, very stable batted ball profile suggests 25 HR, 100-RBI with potential for more. Also like that he’s not just a product of Arlington.

#17: Cory Schwartz – Carlos Gomez – I expect some regression but even at 80% of last year he should hit .260 with 20 HR’s and 35 SB’s. (Thanks to Jason Collette for the inspiration.) I would’ve taken Votto or Chris Davis here but I don’t need two 1B’s with my first two picks.

#18: Mike Siano – Chris Davis – Davis or Votto won’t make it back and seem to be standouts who can return big value at #18 overall. I went Davis over Votto for counting stats, age and the fact he owes me after screwing me in my AL only keeper for four years while in Texas.

#19: Jeff Erickson – Joey Votto - Davis vs. Votto was my decision coming before Mike’s pick, so he made it for me. I’m at risk in power, but between Hanley & Votto I have a good start in BA … hopefully.

#20: Nick Minnix – Jose Reyes – Same kind of risk as Hanley and Tulo, prettier smile. 15+ HR, 35+ SB … if. …

#21: Joe Sheehan – Giancarlo Stanton – Because he’s going to hit 45 homers and you’re not. Again, though, I’m taking the lowest downside of my options.

#22: Zach Steinhorn – Jason Kipnis – Still finished with 17 HR and 30 SB despite a mediocre second half and is young enough to improve. Plus, the 2B position is very weak this year.

#23: Todd Zola – David Wright – I sort of wish he’d swing more and walk less with RISP, and stay healthy, and rescue dogs, and buy my subscription but other than that I really like him.

#24: Ryan Carey – Yasiel Puig – After seeing both my targets go before this pick, I surveyed the landscape and decided to swing for some upside here on a player who has the tools do deliver more than the numbers might suggest. I can play it safe next round.

#25: Jason Collette – Shin-Soo Choo – Was hoping Kipnis would make it to 25, but I’ll will Choo Choo choose Choo

#26: Nando Di Fino – Evan Longoria – The only downside here is injury. And then maybe a lackluster lineup around him. But it’s 30 homers and a .290 average at the end of the second round.

#27: David Gonos – Dustin Pedroia – I’ll fill a tough middle infield spot with ol’ reliable hitting third in an old but still very good Red Sox lineup, and curse Nando for teasing me with Longo. I have a few outfielders I’m hoping will swing around to me for the next pick.

#28: Tim Heaney – Matt Kemp – Abundance of options for my next pick. Ample risk, yet the waning pay-off of top-flight bats justifies this gamble. A healthy Kemp should go 20-20, or at least 20-15. I dream of his stud upside, though.

#29: Lawr Michaels - Yoenis Cespedes – Kind of like the Kemp pic. Power and speed, for sure, but can he control his swing and adjust? I am banking his third season in the Show will show us just how good he is.

#30: Paul Sporer – Alex Rios – He went earlier the last time we did this, but now he’s part of a much better lineup with Fielder and Choo so I’ll jump on board.

ROUND 3 

#31: Paul Sporer – Freddie Freeman – He’s gotten incrementally better in at least a couple of areas in his first three years which were ages 21-23. That’s very promising. I’ve never been a huge fan, but I’m coming around.

#32: Lawr Michaels – Buster Posey- Maybe early for a backstop, but dude can seriously rake. And drive in runs. I will take that behind the plate risk (plus, all the other names popping up were so boring in comparison).

#33: Tim Heaney – Justin Upton – Sort of insurance for the Kemp pick. Expecting something similar to last year along with a push back toward 20 SB. He’s “baseball old” but still only 26.

#34: David Gonos — Jose Bautista — Would’ve loved to see either Upton or Kemp fall to me here, but Mr. Heaney is evil. Big bat has to stay healthy, obviously, for this pick to really pay off. If I can get 140 games from him, that should be at least 30-plus homers. Hoping for 150 games and 40 homers tho!

#35: Nando DiFino — Albert Pujols – I’m chalking up his 2013 shortcomings to playing a full season with injury, after pushing too hard, too fast to get back for the early part.

#36: Jason Collette — Yu Darvish — And with that, I’m done drafting pitchers for eight rounds.

#37: Ryan Carey — Ian Desmond — I was targeting a SS with this pick and happy to snag Desmond’s 20/20 here. Adds to my power/speed opening.

#38: Todd Zola — Hunter Pence – I’ve done more drafts so far than I care to admit and there is a common theme throughout. Round 3 sucks monkey balls. I’m by no means a slave to ADP or market perception, but I know I can get all of the guys I have ranked in this range later. My normal means of countering this is to take a pitcher in this spot. Keeping in mind the majority of my drafts have been NFBC related, more pitchers are usually already drafted so I’m comfortable taking a guy I have ranked as a top 2 or 3 as the 6th or 7th SP off the board at this spot. But I don’t want to take my 2nd ranked SP as the 3rd off the board when I know I can get him (or someone similar to anchor) later. So I’ll take a little leap of faith that Pence retains some of the steals he added last year and bank on his durability.

#39: Zach Steinhorn – Jay Bruce – He’s a little boring but boring is good when you’re a virtual lock for 30-100 and can even steal a few bags.

#40: Joe Sheehan – Joe Mauer – Joe Mauer’s stats, a catcher’s eligibility, a first baseman’s playing time. Three great tastes that taste great together.

#41: Nick Minnix – Matt Holliday – He’s become kind of boring. FB%, ISO in decline. But he’s pretty much chalk.

#42: Jeff Erickson – Stephen Strasburg – This worked out so well last time – why not? Actually, there are some good reasons, like his elbow procedure, but I’m going for ceiling here. And I hate the remaining hitting pool. Will almost certainly take another SP next round too.

#43: Mike Siano – David Ortiz – A theme has been how aggravating it is to find bats already which is true as I agonized over this pick until I realized I could get a monster if I took the bullet and clogged DH, since its Ortiz it’s a flesh wound instead of a gut shot.

#44: Cory Schwartz – Starling Marte – I already have one high-SB/low-AVG risk guy in Gomez, but I perceive Marte as being the best player on the board right now so I’ll take him anyway. His age and athleticism offer plenty of upside, and with him and Gomez I don’t have to sweat speed very much for the remainder of the draft.

#45: Derek VanRiper – Jose Fernandez – The more I review Fernandez’s rookie campaign the more I think he’s a once-in-a-decade level talent. He just kept getting better throughout last season both at putting hitters away and limiting the walks. To me, he’s the young pitcher currently in the big leagues that is most likely to push his way into Clayton’s Kershaw’s tier.

ROUND 4

#46: Derek Van Riper – Adam Wainwright – 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. 

#47: Cory Schwartz – Ryan Zimmerman – It’s awfully tempting to take Josh Donaldson here but he basically had the season in 2013 that Zimmerman has had in every healthy season of his career. He was healthy again in 2013 and raked down the stretch, so I’m expecting his typical .285-25-85-5 season in 2014.

#48: Mike Siano – Matt Carpenter – Wanted a 2B and in the process got a guy who can also play 3B, score mucho runs and hit .300. I’m going to scramble for speed later but also OF so I should be OK. This felt right.

#49 Jeff Erickson – Cliff Lee – I know that the ADP data suggests that I could have waited until the fifth round to get him, but my alternatives to taking him were (a) other starting pitchers, or (b) hitters that I don’t have valued that highly to be taken here. So I’ll take the ratios and K’s, hope the wins come or that he gets dealt at the deadline to a better run support environment.

#50: Nick Minnix – Madison Bumgarner – Great pitching environment, great pitching, great reliability. I prefer to wait to take pitching, even if it makes me a dinosaur, but I don’t view any particular bat I’d select here as one that’d provide me with an advantage, and Mad Bum is one of the few remaining who’s the sort of comfortably projected pitcher who’ll earn his roto salary with relative ease.

#51: Joe Sheehan – Felix Hernandez – Best remaining starter, and one I like a bit more than the last couple taken. He’s moved past the young fireballer role into something more mature, and I think the Mariners’ failures around him have leached into his standing in fantasy. A candidate to be the best pitcher in the AL in any season.

#52: Zach Steinhorn – Craig Kimbrel – My first thought was to go SP here but there are some starters that I like who are bound to last at least another round. Went with the guy who I feel is the surest thing still left on the board.

#53: Todd Zola – Chris Sale – My credo for drafts is draft the pitcher, not the round. I identify a tier of starters from which I want to build my staff and time it to procure one on that tier. As such, I am thrilled to be adding my 6th ranked starter but the 9th one off the board in this pretend draft. Sale’s skills are already top-5 worthy. All he needs to finish there are a few lucky wins or adding a handful of innings to his total.

#54: Ryan Carey – Max Scherzer – Can’t really complain with getting last year’s Cy Young award winner as the 10th SP off the board. Finally put it all together last year and led the league in wins (21) and WHIP (0.97). Even with a little regression to his ratios, he’s still going to rack up a boatload of K’s and be a threat to win 20 games once again this year.

#55: Jason Collette – Josh Donaldson – Come back home to Papa. Need the pop after taking just one batter in the first three rounds.

#56: Nando DiFino – Justin Verlander – Something was way off with him last year. And I don’t mean to be “that guy” drafting all these rebound candidates, but if Verlander is sitting there at 56 — and we’ve gone a full off-season without any word of rehabbing, rest, or minor procedures — you’d have to lean on the “he’ll be fine” side and snag him here.

#57: David Gonos – Elvis Andrus – With Kinsler gone, there’s a little more room in the middle infield, and now Elvis bats behind Shin-Soo Choo, and ahead of Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre. Also, at just 25 years old, he’s still on the rise.

#58: Tim Heaney – David Price – I’m not typically one to scramble for a big arm, but here, that’s where the best value appears. I see a significant drop-off after the next few SPs. I don’t care what uniform he wears, and I won’t allow the two bad months he displayed last year to alter my view that he’s a fantasy ace.

#59: Lawr Michaels – Wil Myers – Lots of upside on a good team that is generally good at making their young-ins successful. And, well, it will be fun to watch him.

#60: Paul Sporer – Cole Hamels – I’ll get in on the pitcher party with a bona fide ace of my own. I think topping those 8 wins from 2013 is a rather safe bet. I think he is one of the more underrated aces in the game. He is just so good.

ROUND 5

#61: Paul Sporer – Allen Craig – He’s adding games yearly, maybe this is the year he gets a full season!! I’m not betting on another .454 AVG w/RISP, but I’d gladly take the .400 he posted in 2012. While I’m definitely betting on a drop in RISP AVG (and thus the RBI), I’m also betting on a jump back up in HRs. I also just love Allen Craig, so it was easy to pick him.

#62: Lawr Michaels – Ian Kinsler – New park, new season, new division, and Miggy hitting behind him (I am guessing). Dude is due to play full and healthy season. Just please deliver.

#63: Tim Heaney – Jean Segura – Here, I value my eyes more than the indicators. Segura’s rise to the bigs hid his power base, which is better than most think thanks to the same lower-body strength that drives his steals prowess. His fade probably had to do with his DWL play extending his season and producing fatigue. Most importantly, this price alleviates his bust risk. I’m counting on 30-plus SB, 7-10 HR (which still separates him from E-Cab in my book) and another reasonable if not excellent BA.

#64: David Gonos – Mark Trumbo – Entering his prime power years, Trumbo moves to the NL and while changing addresses is generally not a good thing for a hitter, especially in recent years, I like this move for him. Hitting in the heart of the Diamondbacks lineup with Paul Goldschmidt is a good thing, and 35-40 homers is a possibility.

#65: Nando DiFino – Jedd Gyorko – He hit 23 home runs in just 125 games last season (some which he played hurt), without much help in the lineup…as a rookie. This comes after three minor league seasons in which Gyorko hit .319 with a .900-plus OPS.

#66: Jason Collette – Carlos Santana

#67: Ryan Carey – Eric Hosmer – Hosmer certainly looked like he turned the corner the last four months of last year. Obviously I am betting that he can continue to display those skills and tap into his emerging power even more and top 20 home runs for the first time. His .300 batting average and 15 steals help make up for his lack of big power numbers.

#68: Todd Zola – Brandon Phillips – The new Ray Durham with maybe a little more power and a little less speed. I’m still playing chicken with a couple of guys high on my board. I got burned hoping Trumbo would fall here. I’m on record as saying I’d prefer Trumbo over Bruce.

#69: Zach Steinhorn – Everth Cabrera – Not expecting another .283 AVG but he did significantly cut down on his strikeouts last year, so something around .270 with 40-plus steals is a real possibility. Oh yeah, and the SS position is paper thin.

#70: Joe Sheehan – Billy Hamilton – I punted speed (and protected against downside) for four rounds, so while I probably can wait a little longer, the downside risk of doing so is high. I took Hamilton here in the October mock, and the Reds have done nothing to dissuade me from the idea that he’s going to play, and probably bat leadoff. If he plays, it’s 80 steals and 100 runs, even at a .300 OBP.

#71: Nick Minnix – Wilin Rosario – I think he’s the third best backstop this year. In a 15-team, two-catcher setup, I prefer to have one very good one. If he adds another 50 ABs, like he did last season, could easily mean that 25 or 30 homers accompany that .270 average. I’d like to fill my empty 2B or 3B spot, but the available players at either position don’t stick out quite as much.

#72: Jeff Erickson – Kenley Jansen – Ugh, not exactly happy with how this went. There are a handful of SPs I like here, but not so many bats – at least, those available are pretty fungible at this point. So I’ll take #1A among closers in my book. Jansen has improved across the board each of the last two years, and no longer walks the park. Let’s see what the next six picks bring.

#73: Mike Siano – Aroldis Chapman – I’ll keep the CL run alive I think. This has some Chirs Sale intrigue to it but that worked out just fine as well. On paper right now, it looks like the Reds have five starters and some SP depth in the Minors, so I’m feeling good Chapman will be #1A as well or maybe a #1A.

#74: Cory Schwartz – Jayson Werth – I would’ve taken Kenley here had he fallen; I passed on Kimbrel with my last two picks in hopes that he would. Oh well, got close. I’ll take Werth instead, who I considered with my last pair of picks. He’s been up and down over the past three seasons but I’ll pencil in a .280-25-80-8 season and hope he stays healthy enough to achieve it. Lots of 8’s.

#75: Derek VanRiper – Jason Heyward – The end of the fifth round seems like a great time to draft a guy who earned just $5 in this format last season, but he’ll be long gone before my Round 7-8 picks. Heyward never seemed like a great leadoff option to me, but he drew more walks last season and cut his strikeout rate significantly, while maintaining an ISO (.173) that is close to his career mark (.184). Same sample size caveats apply, but he improved his marks against LHP after being dominated by them previously. I see 20/20 with the possibility for more in both categories, and the improving eye bodes well for strides in his AVG as well.

ROUND 6

#76: Derek VanRiper – Adrian Gonzalez – Boring, but he’s consistently a $20 player and I think there are enough high variance CI options left on the board to potentially land one next time through. Steady contact rate keeps his AVG floor high, and continues to fuel his RBI counts. Even if he’s permanently a low-20s HR guy, there is room for a slight profit here.

#77: Cory Schwartz – Zack Greinke – If given the choice between Aroldis and Greg Holland, I might just take Holland anyway, and while I do expect Holland to regress somewhat this year, I doubt it will be so much that he won’t be solidly in the elite (non-Kimbrel) tier and safely earn this pick. That said, I’m taking Greinke instead. I view him as being not dissimilar from the starters taken in the previous round, and while in a “real” draft I would almost never take my SP1 over my CL1, I’ve always viewed mock drafts as a time for experimentation. So let me experiment and see if I can get another closer I like with my next pair of picks.

#78: Mike Siano – Greg Holland – Was sitting pretty on Greinke until I wasn’t so I’ll take Holland, combine him with Chapman and hope on 80 saves and 200 strikeouts plus more. My favorite part about my strategy and the draft itself is now that I’ve waited on SP, it’s time to start finding them because they are out there.

#79: Jeff Erickson – Josh Hamilton – Is this B.J. Upton 2.0? Possibly. But power is in short supply, especially for me given that I already have three pitchers, which is nearly uncharted territory for me by this spot. But I think he’s got the highest ceiling of those in the next tier of hitters. My alternatives were a handful of starting pitchers or catchers.

#80: Nick Minnix – Koji Uehara – Normally, I’d go vanilla and, for the 67th time in a row, end up with the most boring team of a mock draft. (That’d have meant Jose Altuve or Alex Gordon here). I don’t know if this pick diverges much from convention, but Uehara deserves mention among the few “unrivaled” closers. I think he’s better than all of ‘em except Kimbrel (entering the year, anyway) and maybe Jansen. There’s no question that it’s his job, and I think he’s at no greater risk for injury than the rest, especially because of how Boston manages him. Beyond sick ratios, tons of K’s, great save total.

#81: Joe Sheehan – Ben Zobrist – Trapped in a spot where I don’t like my options, in part due to taking three outfielders in five rounds, I fall back to an unsexy player with downside risk due to his age, who at least gets me started on my infield and locks in playing time and roster flexibility.

#82: Zach Steinhorn – Gio Gonzalez – Was not quite as dominant last year but the overall numbers were still borderline ace material. I’d usually try to wait another round before taking my first SP but they’re flying off the board now and I don’t pick again for awhile.

#83: Todd Zola – Jose Dariel Abreu – Need some power and since I’ve been quite conservative so far and it’s time to let what’s left of my hair down and take a chance. Especially with the help of The Cell, Abreu’s power should translate, so it comes down to contact and patience. There’s some other intriguing options at this point but I’ll refrain from dropping names.

#84: Ryan Carey – Trevor Rosenthal – I labored over this pick more than I thought I might, but in the end decided the strongest play for my squad was to grab what I view as the last potentially elite closer option on the board. Rosenthal throws 96-98 gas, plays for a team that will provide ample opportunities and could easily put up numbers on par with Kimbrel in his first full season in the gig.

#85: Jason Collette – Carlos Beltran – I normally don’t go this late into a draft without a second outfielder, so I’ll grab the guy moving to a park tailor-made for him and allowing me to complete my back to back Carlos play.

#86: Nando DiFino – Mat Latos – After last season, I’m working on a mini-theory of “avoid players who had bone chips removed from their elbows”, but I have to compensate for Verlander’s mystery surgery now, and I might as well go all-in on talent and just hope these procedures fixed whatever was wrong.

#87: David Gonos – Yadier Molina – I rarely take a catcher this high, but Molina’s consistency over the past few seasons (leading all catchers over past three seasons with a .313 batting average) convinced me to go after him nearly 90 picks in.

#88: Tim Heaney – Pedro Alvarez – Batting average? Who cares, especially at #88. Gotta load up on power in this format, and Alvarez boasts the steadiest thump available among third basemen, if not all positions, having proven that GB won’t cripple his HR total. With the right breaks, 40 HR and even a capable BA are more than possible.

#89: Lawr Michaels - Mike Minor – This draft is making me actually think pretty hard about strategy and future “real life” (as in real drafts) due to players who seem fun and attractive (Myers and Posey, for me) as opposed to a real gamble but worth it at the time (Kinsler). And, there is a lot of pitching out there, and it is time to commit. I recognize that not all of you play fantasy football, but in a way, the pitching slot reminds me of quarterback last year as it seems the category is deep. OTOH, if you drafted Matt Ryan in the sixth round of a football draft operating on that premise, like Todd and I did in the FSTA, you might recognize that “deep” and “productive” are not necessarily synonymous. So, I am biting, going with youth, and upside with my sixth round pick here, looking at a solid WHIP, almost a whiff an inning and a team that generally wins more often than not. The fact that Ryan and Minor both play in Atlanta is simply a geographical coincidence.

#90: Paul Sporer – Gerrit Cole – Yeah, yeah, beware the ides of young arms and whatnot. I’m well versed, but not all young arms are created equally. And not all young arms go number one with good reason. He has plus pitches for days, elite velocity and a great frame for all of it. After just an 11% K rate in his first month, he ramped it up to 24% in the final three, giving everyone a glimpse of the ace-level pitcher he can be at his best. As a 23-year-old, he may well still have some ups and downs, but I’m happy to take a boatload of Ks and solid ratios with the potential of much, much more.

ROUND 7

#91: Paul Sporer – Aaron Hill – I think he is getting pushed down because of volume from last year as he played just 87 games, but he was excellent in them. He didn’t run, in fact he was a horrid 1-for-5 on the basepaths, but if I can get a healthy .290-20-80, then I’m fine giving back the speed.

#92: Lawr Michaels - Jordan Zimmermann – Arm #2 is not that far off from Minor in numbers, with a little less pop. Still, pretty good, pretty consistent and still learning his craft.

#93: Tim Heaney – Anthony Rizzo – I thought about another CI here, but Rizzo is one of my favorite breakthrough candidates for 2014. He’s finding his power wheelhouse, notably to the pull side. His eye, if not BA, improved drastically against southpaws last year; he also was one of the leaders among LHB in HRs vs. southpaws last year. He has had enough exposure against them to take another step forward. He’ll be among the cheapest 30-homer sources you’ll find this spring.

#94: David Gonos – Anibal Sanchez – Yeah, drafting last year’s numbers is never good, but a small regression still gives him a great chance of being a big roto helper in Round 7. He posted 200-plus, strikeouts, 14 wins and a WHIP of 1.138 last season, and while the Tigers have a different look this season, he should continue to succeed in the AL. Side note: He really should consider changing the pronunciation of his name, so he can have the “Anibal the Cannibal” nickname when he mows down hitters. Makes me wanna rap.

#95: Nando DiFino – Curtis Granderson – There’s a massive dropoff coming at outfield, so this is part being ahead of the curve, and part having faith that Granderson, in a normal stadium, can get back to having that decent average, while maintaining power and speed.

#96: Jason Collette – Jose Altuve – Need more speed, as well as someone up the middle. This solves both issues.

#97: Ryan Carey – Jonathan Lucroy – I thought about grabbing my second starter here, but there is a large enough group of guys that I can live with as my SP2 that I am willing to wait a bit longer. This seems like the sweet spot to dip into the next wave of catchers on the board, and I’m going to take the guy I have rated above the rest at this point. His power is trending up, so I think he tops 20 homers this year, with the outside shot at 25. He led all catchers in RBI’s last year and even chipped in 9 SB’s, which is always a bonus from this position. Throw in the potential to hit .300 and we have a winner folks.

#98: Todd Zola – James Shields – I usually look for a better SP2 (not that Shields isn’t worthy). What this means is I’ll probably have to make sure I get who I want (or the tier I want) for SP3 and SP4. Shields is solid, a little Greinke-like in that you need to focus on the skills and hope the outcome is favorable. My one concern is he’s a volume guy – always near the league lead in innings. His K-rate is OK but his K-total is better than OK because of all the innings. At 32 YO, how long can he keep up 220+ frames?

#99: Zach Steinhorn – Kyle Seager – Two straight 20-plus HR seasons to open his big league career and still just 26, there’s room for growth. The additions of Cano, Hart and Morrison should only help his overall numbers, and there’s double-digit SB potential too.

#100: Joe Sheehan – Masahiro Tanaka – I landed on the wrong end of a starting pitcher run — man, I wanted Sanchez here — and gambling on Tanaka feels better than taking one of the MLB options here. Encouraged by reports that SEA, LAA and LAD are on his short list, as all are good to great places for a starting pitcher to land.

#101: Nick Minnix – Alex Gordon – His numbers in the HR and SB cats fall just short of the ceiling of Jason Heyward’s, but Gordon, whose average should rebound (even if he sacrifices a few HR), gives me a good bit less to worry about.

#102: Jeff Erickson – Salvador Perez – The only thing keeping him out of the catcher elite is the lack of power, and that could still come.

#103: Mike Siano – Domonic Brown – Could be a great value here if he takes the next step. The quiet second half is a little concerning but the potential to get the Tony Campbell stats for an old Phillies team. Without question the latest I’ve ever waited for my OF1. Will be interesting to see how it plays out.

#104: Cory Schwartz – Glen Perkins – Not sure what it says about this draft or my selections so far that I really don’t like any hitter enough to take here, so I’ll take Perkins. Of course I would rather have Holland, Rosenthal or one of the other near-elite closers, but Perkins doesn’t suck either, and I’m not worried about him getting traded into a setup role. He’s solidly at the top of the non-elite tier.

#105: Derek VanRiper – Desmond Jennings – I am hoping for 15/30 with a lot of runs scored. Perhaps a little more is within reach if he gets better against RHP.

ROUND 8

#106: Derek VanRiper – David Robertson – Unless the Yankees sign Grant Balfour, which seems highly unlikely, Robertson has very little to push him away from the ninth inning. Fearing a nasty closer run before my next picks.

#107: Cory Schwartz – Julio Teheran – Lemme stick with this pitching thing and take Julio Teheran. Increased reliance on his 2-seam fastball combined with his new slider led to a breakthrough season at the ripe old age of 22, with even greater improvement in the second half. He barely topped 180 innings, so I don’t have any health concerns, and with his skills he could take another big step forward this year.

#108: Mike Siano – Homer Bailey – Will go with the Veteran for SP1 over some of the other potential high ceiling guys still out there, mainly as a security blanket and the fact that Homer is still on the right side of 30 and is I think a 200 K guy again.

#109: Jeff Erickson – Hisashi Iwakuma – I actually thought about Iwakuma two rounds ago, but already had three pitchers. I’ll take the
plunge here – he’s one of two SPs I have on this tier.

#110: Nick Minnix – Danny Salazar – If this weren’t a mock draft, then I imagine I probably could’ve waited a little. But I considered him two rounds ago in this one, and people should be moving this guy up. I’m looking at Stephen Strasburg’s 2012 without the hype preceding it.

#111: Joe Sheehan – Chase Headley – At Shandlerfest 2012, I think we all said the 31 homers were a fluke, but he suffered such a fall-off across the board that he’s gone back to being undervalued. PETCO was a good park for LH power last year, and with health the whole lineup should be better around Headley.

#112: Zach Steinhorn – Matt Cain – Following a rough first half during which he was plagued by the home run ball, Cain looked like his old self in the second half (2.36 ERA, 1.12 WHIP). Even if he puts up a stat line somewhere in between the 2012 and 2013 versions, he will outperform this draft position. I’m targeting Cain in all of my drafts this year.

#113: Todd Zola – Alex Cobb – Other than being contractually obligated, while I try not to get caught up in chasing the hype, this is hype worth chasing. The Rays have the magic touch with arms and Cobb has a live one. I like how Cobb ramped up the K’s while keeping BB’s below average. Another modest bump in innings and Cobb should be in the 180 range, which is fine for my SP3.

#114: Ryan Carey – Kris Medlen – I am pretty happy to land Medlen at this point. He will be another year removed from his TJ surgery and I
am more bullish on his prospects apparently than some of my competitors. I think his lack of big strikeout numbers is suppressing the value he brings in other areas, and a closer look shows his K% was trending upward in the second half.

#115: Jason Collette – Brandon Belt – Would have happily taken Iwakuma or Cobb had they made it back, but since neither did, I will delay
taking another pitcher because I can’t get the ones I want. I like Belt’s upside best of the remaining 1B out there.

#116: Nando DiFino – Leonys Martin – Here’s an example of knowing your opponents. If Lawr didn’t have two picks before my next one, I would have waited on Martin. But I know he’s also a fan. And OF is getting thin, and I only have one other OF right now.

#117: David Gonos – Matt Moore – Had two pitchers in mind for this spot and will go with the homer pick, of course. A drop in value due to some elbow issues makes this a dangerous pick, but he has 20 win/200 K upside on a team with a great pitching coach in Jim Hickey. I hope the six picks before my next one are all designated hitters.

#118: Tim Heaney – Brian McCann – Hard to pass him up when you add a short porch and some DH ABs, perhaps, to his stalwart run production from a shaky position.

#119: Lawr Michaels – Michael Wacha – Great potential on an excellent team now very good at advancing and supporting prospects to success. And with Cole and Salazar gone, next guy on my radar.

#120: Paul Sporer – Andrew Cashner – I always enjoy watching the maturation of a pitcher within a given season. He started off just fine in the rotation, but he was giving up too many hits and not getting strikeouts commensurate with his talent. The FB/SL command really ticked up over the summer and he closed the season brilliantly including a stretch of 7+ IP in his final seven starts with exactly 7 Ks in six of them. There’s a reason they had to give what many believe can be a cornerstone hitter in Anthony Rizzo.

ROUND 9

#121: Paul Sporer – Andrelton Simmons – His defense ensures his spot in the lineup daily, which guarantees decent counting numbers. The 17 HRs were nice and a repeat would be wonderful, but I’d trade some of them for a better approach fit for batting average like he had in 2012. Gimme 12 HR instead, but with a .280+ AVG. An extra hit a week gets him to .290, half that is more palatable .269 compared to last year’s .248. He might’ve been a bit of an overdraft, but I like his upside best of the remaining SS.

#122 – Lawr Michaels – Sonny Gray – No secret I love the guy, and I had imagined grabbing Wacha and Gray as these picks a while back. I actually think among Gray, Wacha, Cole and the other young great arms that Sonny is the most polished at this juncture. And, as noted, his ball has killer downward break and he can both keep the ball down, and is very efficient with his pitches. I am grabbing him now, as in the FSTA draft I thought Todd and I could cop him in the 11th round or so, and Charlie and Vlad from CDM nabbed him in the 8th round. I went over to them and asked what prompted them to take Gray so soon, and Charlie replied, “On the plane to Vegas, I read your assessment of him.” Nuff said.

#123: Tim Heaney – Starlin Castro – Nice being able to pick him in Round 9 and not Round 3. Too many skills not to rebound, in some form of power-speed combo. Maybe last year’s struggles will light a fire under him. Happy to have such depth at both CI and MI already.

#124: David Gonos – Shelby Miller – Entering his second year, he should be allowed to top 200 innings, as long as his shoulder doesn’t give him too much more trouble. Hoping it’s just a sign of rookie season fatigue, which would mean I’m getting a top-25 pitcher on one of the top teams in the Majors once again.

#125: Nando DiFino – Jered Weaver – After Weaver (and maybe Liriano — and, for the optimists, Dickey), I think there’s a bit of a tier drop-off here. So I’m just taking the best pitcher available. And hope Liriano/Dickey fall back to me next round.

#126: Jason Collette – Addison Reed – It’s about time I take another pitcher, even if it has to be one of those dirty closers. Love what Reed did last year with his skills and expect him to continue things in Arizona.

#127: Ryan Carey – Hyun-Jin Ryu – The flashier, younger names went ahead of him here, but he had a great debut season a year ago. He actually even got better as the year went along, demonstrating elite control in the second half. He slots in nicely in the middle of a great Dodgers rotation, and I think there are a few more K’s in store for this year. Regardless, it’s the stellar ratios that I’m counting on here.

#128: Todd Zola – Aramis Ramirez – While healthy, Ramirez’s skills did not display any real slide last season. And before last season, he had played more innings at the hot corner than anyone the previous two campaigns. Letting Ramirez slide is a bet against health and with this much of a discount, I’ll happily take the plunge and hope for closer to the 149 games of ’11 and ’12 as opposed to the 92 of ’13.

#129: Zach Steinhorn – Matt Wieters – A safe bet for another 20-HR season, and though he disappointed in the AVG department last year, an unlucky BABIP was at least partly to blame. If he can get his AVG up to the .250 level, he could turn out to be a nice value pick. Whereas in past years, he might have been a little overrated, I view him as underrated this time around.

#130: Joe Sheehan – Chris Carter – First base got ugly fast, with guys like Abreu, Belt and Rizzo all gone already. So this is, in part, is a position pick. I do not like the options if I let Carter get past me. It’s also a lot of faith in his power, which should be good for 35 homers, although the rest of his game is problematic. I’m not sure I buy a 45-pick gap between Abreu and Carter; they’re not that different.

#131: Nick Minnix – Daniel Murphy – The PT projections I’ve seen for Murphy forecast a decent dip in PAs. I see no one on that team more qualified to bat second, and he hits southpaws well, despite some fairly ill indicators. Most potential volume left at the keystone, as long as his knees hold up. Hope he keeps running. And I figure I can’t bitch if he’s traded to a better club.

#132: Jeff Erickson – Michael Cuddyer – If you use three-year weighted averages, Cuddyer is going to appear to be overrated by last year’s .385 BABIP, except he’s still playing in Coors Field. And at first I thought that he wouldn’t get any time at first base (thus hopefully preserving his health) with Justin Morneau there, but Morneau is like a baby-seal vs. a club when he faces left-handers, so I could still see Cuddyer getting plenty of time at first base. It’s a health gamble to be sure, but I think that this is where he should be taken at worst.

#133: Mike Siano – Jeff Samardzija – Following the strikeouts as I build my rotation. Anticipating another 200 innings and Ks and hoping for the wins to increase while the ERA goes down. Could be a steal.

#134: Cory Schwartz – Asdrubal Cabrera – Shortstop gets thin quickly, so I’ll take a shot on Cabrera, whose plate discipline cratered last year and took his batting average with it. On the bright side, his power was consistent with recent seasons and he added nine steals, and he’ll be 28 this season. If he can regain his form from 2011-2012 then this will be a strong value pick, and if he only repeats last season, at least I won’t get totally ripped off.

#135: Derek VanRiper – Joe Nathan – I was considering him when I took David Robertson last time through, when Robertson’s potential for a heavier workload and more strikeouts served as the tie-breaker. As a second closer especially, Nathan fits my roster well as someone with a lot of job security.

ROUND 10

#136: Derek VanRiper – Wilson Ramos – Had a few different directions to consider here, but there seemed to be more of a drop-off behind the plate than at the other positions I was considering. Love the potential for more playing time now that Kurt Suzuki is gone, and his numbers from last season’s share are very good across the board.

#137: Cory Schwartz – Jurickson Profar – Would’ve gone for Joe Nathan here but DVR tanked that plan so I’m going to kick my CL2 decision down the road and take Profar instead. I don’t know if this is too early for him or what his true value will be, but with his pedigree, unthreatened playing time this year and coming off a strong winter league season (http://mlb.mlb.com/milb/stats/org.jsp?id=tex), I’m hoping that a combined 25 homers + steals isn’t an unreasonable expectation.

#138: Mike Siano – Brett Gardner – Need speed and another outfielder. Thinking he can do better than 2013 and maybe flirt with 2011.

#139: Jeff Erickson – Brandon Moss – In an environment where we’re craving power, Moss makes a good amount of sense here, having done it two years in a row. Batting average is a risk, but hopefully between Hanley/Votto/Salvy I should have a good base.

#140: Nick Minnix – Mike Napoli – I feel about Napoli the way Jeff does about Moss. I don’t have any concerns about his health, but I accept that the BoSox will rest him regularly. Good BA environment there in Boston, and 30 homers is still doable.

#141: Joe Sheehan – Sergio Romo – I have been blowing off closers for a few years now in both mocks and real drafts, and have concluded that  it’s too risky to do so completely. You have to be too perfect in the
later rounds and on the waiver wire. So I’m taking one here. Romo’s velocity isn’t necessarily closer material, but he eats righties alive with his slider and he has the command to not get killed by lefties. He’s not
threatened by anyone else in that pen for saves.

#142: Zach Steinhorn – Kendrys Morales – Can’t wait any longer for my starting 1B. If he does what he did last year, I’d be fine with it, but I think he’ll do more, especially if he moves to a more hitter-friendly park and into a better lineup.

#143: Todd Zola – Alexei Ramirez – Not counting on a repeat of the steals spike but he’ll help supplement what Ellsbury gives me. I’ll take the consistency, reliability and durability.

#144: Ryan Carey – Matt Adams – One thing I don’t really have on this team is a true slugger, so I will grab the Cardinals new everyday 1B and hope that he can find enough AB’s to tap into his power potential. At this point in the draft guys who can potentially give you 30+ homers are in short supply, so I am willing to take a chance that Adams cracks 500 AB’s. If he does, the counting stats will follow.

#145: Jason Collette – Shane Victorino – With most teams only having two outfielders drafted thus far, I sense a run on third outfielders is about to begin. I’ll take the guy I like best that is still on the board, even if he is a stinky Red Sox player.

#146: Nando DiFino – R.A. Dickey – While last year may have looked like age and the AL East getting their comeuppance, I think Dickey was pitching hurt for most of the season, and toughed it out because of the
massive amount of injuries the Blue Jays pitchers encountered the last couple seasons. With the power knuckler velocity back, Dickey could be in line for a huge bounce back season.

#147: David Gonos – Manny Machado – October knee surgery pushes Machado out of the top five or six at his position, but now it appears he’ll be ready for Opening Day. As a roll of the dice in Round 10 (or what would be close to Round 13 in a 12-team league), I’m fine with this gamble. Insignificant side note: He injured the left knee, which is not his plant/pivot leg at the plate, which makes me feel five percent better.

#148: Tim Heaney – Johnny Cueto – Hesitant to make a “Nando stole Dickey” joke, so I’ll just talk about my hope that Cueto logs at least 170 IP of high-level numbers (also that he sticks at this price through March).

#149: Lawr Michaels – Jed Lowrie – Had a breakthrough in 2013 mostly because he was able to stay healthy all season. I am not sure he will finish the season at short–pending the ascent of Addison Russell–but I think Lowrie can easily duplicate his .290-15-75 totals of last year, providing health is in tact.

#150: Paul Sporer – Brett Lawrie – We’ve seen the downside with Lawrie and it’s still yielded $16 and $11 seasons despite no more than 125 games played. The skills are there and the upside is still a 20-20 season. While health is no certainty and maintaining it can definitely be a skill, I’d much rather bet on someone whose baseball skills are already present with health as the missing piece as opposed to someone who you’re hoping to have 2B into HR or batting average improvement, etc.

ROUND 11

#151: Paul Sporer – Doug Fister – I had Fister for a big season even before the trade. Detroit has revamped their infield defense and he stood to be the biggest beneficiary (maybe second to Porcello). Instead, he moves to the NL, which is a bonus and gets a shiny new IF defense. The Nats D isn’t insane, but it’s a vast improvement from last year’s Detroit IF D. Throw in a surge in Ks with facing pitchers and good things are on the way.

#152: Lawr Michaels – Casey Janssen – Joining the grab a closer brigade with one of the more efficient AL closers of last year with 37 conversions. Closer is so up in the air, with a bunch of last year’s leaders in question, so at least Casey will face at-bats at this juncture.

#153: Tim Heaney – Hiroki Kuroda – I’ll spare everyone that annoying song lyric. I’m expecting similar numbers to last year, and a tiny ERA bump isn’t a deterrent as I try to grab more IP stability. That second half decline was a correction to his norm, not a harbinger of a more disastrous future. Dude is steady.

#154: David Gonos – Rafael Soriano – He has three 40-save seasons in the past four years, and he’ll be working the back end of innings with a Nationals rotation that had a 3.60 ERA (top seven in the majors) last season.

#155: Nando DiFino – J.J. Hardy – Lots of home runs, he can have a decent average, the Orioles will still score this season. And there’s still some sleeper talent in the positions I need to fill (OF/3B/P) far enough down to the point where I wanted to fill this scarce position first.

#156: Jason Collete – Tony Cingrani – Finally adding my 3rd starting pitcher. All K’s, all day.

#157: Ryan Carey – Martin Prado – Prado’s calling card is his versatility as well as being able to deliver a solid average along with decent counting stats for a MI. His playing time seems safe again in Arizona, and he is quietly coming off a season in which he drove in a career high 82 runs. The 17 steals from ‘13 look like an outlier, but he will still chip in a few.

#158: Todd Zola – Jason Grilli – When you wait this long for a closer, they’re going to have one wart or another. I’ll take the guy with elite skills but with an injury concern.

#159: Zach Steinhorn – Alfonso Soriano – Age is an issue but he’s coming off back to back 150-plus game, 30-plus HR seasons. That type of power production is tough to find this late in the draft. I can live with the low AVG.

#160: Joe Sheehan – Ernesto Frieri – I know the strikeouts will be there, as well as some three-week period when I have to consider the existence of Dane De La Rosa.

#161: Nick Minnix – Pablo Sandoval – I ignored third base for too long, and I’m not sure that I’d get away with such an option were this not a mock draft. Cross fingers, hope he stays healthy. The Panda kind of stands out among hot corner men remaining. And I do mean hot, because he apparently (for the seventh or eighth winter in a row) dropped 40 pounds or so.

#162: Jeff Erickson – Coco Crisp – He ran much less often in 2013, and if that’s the new version of him, I’ll be disappointed. But a 15-30 season is also well within the range of potential outcomes for him.

#163: Mike Siano – Jon Lester – Hard to believe he’s 30 but he’s also been an innings guy who can bring enough of everything to make him a solid pick here.

#164: Cory Schwartz – Jarrod Parker – Cons: his K/9 and K/PA dropped last year, and he started and finished the season poorly. Pros: his swing-and-miss numbers were virtually unchanged, he handled a carefully-managed increase in his workload, and at one point went 19 consecutive starts without a loss. Kill the win category all you want, but that doesn’t happen by accident. I think some of his early-season struggles were due to a neck strain, and that with age and experience he’ll continue to improve. He’s only in his age 25 season, so I’m still bullish on him.

#165: Derek VanRiper – Patrick Corbin – The late-season fade might be a concern for some, but the uptick in velocity last season paired with good control over his first two seasons in the big leagues should make his 2012-2013 rates a baseline. I still think there’s another level here, but even if he doesn’t reach it, profit is still possible if not likely.

ROUND 12

#166: Derek Van Riper – Xander Bogaerts – His path to the big leagues reminds me of Manny Machado and maybe he has a season that resembles Machado’s 2013. I think his plate discipline is more refined than the scouting reports might lead us to believe, and a scenario where the Red Sox bring back Stephen Drew seems much more likely to squeeze Will Middlebrooks than XB. With that 9-8 split between 3B-SS last season in Boston, he’s 3B-eligible only to begin the year and has to go to my CI spot, but he could be SS-eligible after the second week of the season.

#167: Cory Schwartz – Danny Farquhar – I kicked my CL2 decision down the road with my last pair of picks, and most of the options I was considering are still on the board. Jim Johnson is tempting right now but also uninspiring (and uninspired) so I’ll take Farquhar. I assume we’ll know by draft day if he’s really going to be the Mariners’ opening day closer, or if they try to acquire a veteran somehow, but he demonstrated top-shelf, closer-worthy skills in the second half last year after claiming the job: 44-12 K-BB in 32.1 IP, a 35.2% K/PA rate, and zero homers allowed.

#168: Mike Siano – Will Venable – 20 homers , 20 steals, bats leadoff, hits lefties and a very nice second half to close 2013. Not an inspiring pick but a solid one that fits some needs.

#169: Jeff Erickson – Austin Jackson – I’ve argued against positional scarcity for anything besides catcher for the last 2-3 years, so my draft is the logical extension of that. I still don’t have a 2B, MI or 3B, and while I’m seeing some guys I like go off the board, they’re still 2-3 rounds later than my top available guys overall. Jackson has hung around near the top of my queue for a couple rounds now, and understandably after last year’s mediocre season and brutal playoffs. But he’s in the prime of his career, batting atop a strong lineup. I just don’t know how much he’s going to run, but I’ll gamble that he gets me 13-17 stolen bases, with a potential for more.

#170: Nick Minnix –  Francisco Liriano – He’s never pitched 200 innings in a season, and he throws sliders more than a third of the time, so health forecasts can’t be on his side. His historical performance warns that his BB/9 and HR/9 could go off the rails at any time. But there aren’t too many pitchers left who may rattle off 200 K’s. I think the Pirates’ process is far better than most other teams when it comes to the evaluation of pitchers and fixing things like their mechanics. Liriano has the most repeatable delivery of his career — which is saying something — and it’s not by accident. Not much risk in such upside at this point. And PNC Park doesn’t hurt for that HR/9 thing.

#171: Joe Sheehan – Matt Garza – I don’t care much for the SP options, but I have just two rostered, one of whom is a non-power-pitcher RHP in Yankee Stadium. Watch the Yankees sign Garza now. Choice between two here, and I’d be stunned if the other one survived the round.

#172: Zach Steinhorn – Jonathan Papelbon – A strategic gamble being that the eight owners making two picks before my next turn all have zero or one closer. The declining velocity and increased hit rate makes Papelbon risky but the overall numbers last year were still pretty good. Concerns about him losing his job or getting traded are overblown. The Phillies don’t have an obvious ninth inning alternative and his contract makes him virtually untradeable. As my CL2, I think he’ll do just fine.

#173: Todd Zola – Drew Smyly – Probably like him more than I should but even after applying the rule of 17s to convert him to a starter, the peripherals are strong.

#174: Ryan Carey – Steve Cishek – Cishek’s overall numbers were marred by a lousy six weeks to start the year. After that, he was one of the best closers in the game, striking out more than a batter an inning while displaying improved control. He is a groundball machine, and while lefties sometimes give him problems, his home ballpark helps mitigate the damage they can do.

#175: Jason Collette – Grant Balfour – My favorite closer is back with
my favorite team. Oy Oy Oy! Team lines up to be very good on paper and
Joe is loyal to his closers. Baflour, if he stays healthy, gets 35 saves with good ratios and K’s.

#176: Nando DiFIno – Evan Gattis – It’s kind of tough to take a catcher this early — especially one who could lose some at-bats to Doumit and Laird — but Gattis hit 21 home runs over 354 mostly-intermittent at-bats last season, and his average is due to rise.

#177: David Gonos – Jim Johnson – Taking my second closer at this point, and going with any of the remainders is a gamble. But I’ll take a gamble with proven ability, like Johnson, who will close out games in Oakland this season. Probably fewer chances, but maybe that’s a good thing. With all of that said, he could coach the hell out of some Dallas Cowboys.

#178: Tim Heaney – Bobby Parnell – As I write this, he’s expected to start camp on time. His blossoming peripherals, in a full season, will play nicely at this price. The Mets could shop him soon, and readers should watch his health this spring, but here, there’s little about which to be frightened.

#179: Lawr Michaels – Jason Castro – Since all the closers I would covet are gone, let’s go with an up-and-comer behind the plate with the Stro who hails from the bay area (Castro Valley, appropriately) and went to Stanford (like Richard Sherman) and hit .276-18-56. I think he will improve upon that.

#180: Paul Sporer – Huston Street – Surely that 99.5% LOB will hold, right? Hopefully, the inevitable dip in LOB rate will be mitigated by a commensurate drop in a 16% HR/FB rate. He isn’t special, but I can’t go entirely closer-less.

ROUND 13

#181: Paul Sporer – Anthony Rendon – I could’ve gone catcher here, but I already ate a little value by catering to my saves need. Instead I’ll go for a breakout player who offers MI/CI flexibility, too. Health is the big question here, but it was with another MI-eligible guy I looked at and Rendon’s upside was higher.

#182: Lawr Michaels – Rex Brothers – Closer #2. A bit of a reach, and maybe a tad premature, but I do like to have a nice pair, and Brothers should indeed fill the bill. At least I have more faith in him than LaTroy Hawkins. That is assuming I have still been paying attention and he wasn’t already grabbed by one of you, my brothers…

#183: Tim Heaney -  B.J. Upton – I’ve collected the entire set! Still don’t care much about BA, and a la “Workaholics,” the outfielder pool is getting weird. I like the faint possibility of 50 HR+SB, though I’m realistically aiming for 30. A correction of his absurdly high infield-fly rate would restore his pop and at least push him above the Mendoza Line.

#184: David Gonos – Christian Yelich – Wasn’t overwhelmed in his stint in the Majors last season, and could be hitting in the two-hole in front of Giancarlo Stanton this season. Plenty of upside with a chance to develop without the major media spotlight. He needs to head over to the “Taste of Miami” section of Marlins Park and eat some chicharones in order to fill out that 6-foot-4, 197 lb. frame, though. Currently speedy, with untapped power. Papi like!

#185: Nando DiFino – CC Sabathia – The photos of a skinny CC from a few days ago really clinched it for me. Full off-season regimen, stronger lineup, blah blah blah. It feels good getting him here.

#186: Jason Collette – Brad Miller – I’ve put off SS long enough and I don’t want to get stuck with Derek Jeter. Miller has double-digit/double-digit potential, and is the second most famous Orlando area HS product behind me.

#187: Ryan Carey – Dan Straily – Acquitted himself very well in his first full season in the Majors, and I think he is being slightly underrated due to his lower than expected K-rate. Better stamina should help him pitch a little deeper into ballgames this year, rack up more K’s and tap into his true breakout potential.

#188: Todd Zola – Miguel Montero – This time last season we were talking top-ten. In this what have you done for me lately landscape in which we live, I’ll take a chance we were right this time last season. Montero did fan more than usual but he also hit into some bad luck and he’ll be hitting high in the order,

#189: Zach Steinhorn – C.J. Wilson – Was hoping CC would fall to me here but Wilson is probably the safer pick anyway. The walk rate is higher than I’d like out of my #3 SP but C.J. will give me plenty of innings and K’s to go along with a solid ERA. Not much downside at all.

#190: Joe Sheehan – Yan Gomes – I’m not as high on him as some, but this gives me two pretty good bats behind the plate, with roster flexibility as well.

#191: Nick Minnix – Neil Walker – This is mostly a strategic pick; I doubt that the four drafters behind me will choose the player I’m considering, for now, my next target, based on the construction of their rosters. I probably wouldn’t have to take Walker here ordinarily, but he’s Chase Utley (the grind of the routines to which he must adhere to remain healthy concern me more than his actual health, at this point), minus maybe a handful of stolen bases…and about seven years on the calendar. Plus, the switch-hitting Walker could easily improve on his 2013 struggles against southpaws.

#192: Jeff Erickson – Billy Butler – Again, going with the top guy on my board without worrying about position. I’d do this in most cases, but I think it’s mandatory when you take four pitchers early like I did. Butler is a good Last Year’s Bum. I think that the batting average recovers, if not the power.

#193: Mike Siano -Josh Reddick – Going to roll the dice that the wrist surgery is effective and that he will be 100% in his age-27 season. As Melvin said recently, he may not hit 30 again but he can still get better.

#194: Cory Schwartz – Howie Kendrick – This is an unsexy pick but everyday MI options are starting to get thin, and with DVR still needing three, I didn’t want to take the chance that he’d grab a pair on the turn and leave me with a much less appetizing menu of options. So I’ll pencil in Kendrick for his usual 20-25 homers + steals, and a solid AVG that should help counterbalance some of the early risks I took with Gomez, Marte, Werth, E42, etc. Plus, he gives me 2B insurance in case Profar needs more seasoning in the Minors.

#195: Derek Van Riper – Alex Guerrero – Why not? I don’t view Dee Gordon as a threat to push him for playing time and the intriguing mix of on-base skills and power he displayed during his final season in Cuba leads me to believe that he might be a reasonable bet to exceed slot value here. A .270-.280 average, with double-digit homers and steady RBI/R counts seem like a reasonable expectation.

ROUND 14

#196: Derek Van Riper – Jhonny Peralta – I don’t like the way he spells his first name, or the team he plays for. The Cards rarely make mistakes, and if he is anything close to the 2011 or 2013 version, there’s moderate profit potential here. If he’s closer to his three-year average line, I’m still in good shape. Most likely, he’s a $10-12 player in this format at the equivalent of ~$8 price.

#197: Cory Schwartz – Marco Estrada – In nine starts after returning from a strained hamstring, he posted a 2.15 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 8.6 K/9 and 26.3% K rate, while allowing a .165 average and only 5 HR in 58.2 IP. I’m extremely confident he’ll be able to put up a full season of those numbers in 2014 (wink), but even if not, those numbers serve as a strong indicator that he should be able to match or exceed his 2012 numbers (3.64 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 9.3 K/9 and 25.4% K rate). Solid stuff for my #4 starter.

#198: Mike Siano – Jarrod Saltalamacchia – There are only two more catchers left I could possibly stomach as my “#1” and the chances they both make it back seem slim, so I’ll take Salty and most likely punt C2 if need be. Salty had a big jump in average while taking a dip in power. He’s not in Fenway anymore but maybe can be Stanton’s caddie and rack up some counting stats that help me at a Round 14 price.

#199: Jeff Erickson – Jonathan Villar – Of course, this is a gamble, but Villar has 40-SB upside which makes him worth it to me at this stage in the draft, when I’m low on speed.

#200: Nick Minnix – Victor Martinez – Change of plans. V-Mart is easily the best player left on my board. Bit of a gamble, considering my needs, but I had no desire to pass up a player who should easily earn $15 or $20, even if he’s only eligible for my UT spot. I’m eager to see how my couple of areas of need will shape up, but options are plentiful for now.

#201: Joe Sheehan – Justin Masterson – Injury concerns have dropped him lower than is justified by his 2013 line. They also may be keeping him from a long-term deal. I’ll roll the dice in part because of the innings and strikeouts, and in part because the AL Central will probably be the weakest-hitting division in baseball this year — and he doesn’t have to face the second-best lineup.

#202: Zach Steinhorn – Jimmy Rollins – Not sure how many more fantasy caliber seasons he has left but the remaining MI pool is becoming scary bad and J-Roll’s terrible 2013 wasn’t as terrible as it looks. GB/FB rate has remained constant over the past three seasons yet his HR/FB rate plummeted last year. He still ran a decent amount and with better luck in the power department, he could easily get back up to the 12-15 HR range. Add in 25 steals and I’m fine with him as my MI.

#203: Todd Zola – Neftali Feliz – I think it’s fair to contend that if Feliz were already named closer that he’d be off the board by now. I’ll take the chance he wins the gig. There are some decent examples of closers having success after TJS so that isn’t a huge concern. Worst case is I need to find another closer in season. If you’re going to miss, it may as well be on saves.

#204: Ryan Carey – Chase Utley – I didn’t plan on selecting Utley until this pick arrived and I saw his name still on the board. It is understandable with his injury concerns that he would tumble a bit here. However, he bounced back last year with his best season since knee injuries knocked him off his perch atop the 2B rankings. As a MI on this squad, I will take the across the board production he will give me in his 400-500 AB’s.

#205: Jason Collette – A.J. Griffin – Would have taken Estrada had he made it to me. He was on my list of three, so I went with the remaining one that I trust to work more innings. Home runs are an issue, but I’ll take the guy putting up pre-Shields breakout numbers and hope he doesn’t go Shields 2010.

#206: Nando DiFino – Carl Crawford – Crawford managed a .283 average and 15 steals last season. I don’t know where I was going with that. But take his 2010 (.307, 19 homers, 47 steals) and cleave 25 percent off his counting stats (I think that’s a fair assessment for a healthy Crawford in a favorable situation). I’ll still take .280 with 14 homers and 35 steals at pick No. 206.

#207: David Gonos – Clay Buchholz – Oft-injured, but oft-pretty good when he’s not injured. His off-season has been without much noise, which is a good thing for now.

#208: Tim Heaney – Ben Revere – Cue the Beas…tie…Boys. The best value of several options I considered; hopefully another will fall back to me. Revere is young and fast, with a hitting and running profile that makes the most of those two conditions. I wasn’t keen on tabbing a steals- and BA-centric asset, but you can’t beat this round as a place to get around 40 swipes.

#209: Lawr Michaels – Michael Brantley – Brantley is of the Rodney Dangerfield “can’t get no respect” ilk, but at age 27, he has scored double digits in homers and swipes, hitting over .280 the last two seasons, and seriously improving his presence at Mr. Dish (40 walks to 67 whiffs last year). I can easily live with .280-15-65-15 from my #3 outfielder.

#210: Paul Sporer – Nolan Arenado – His debut was far from special. He was horrid against righties and didn’t really leverage his wonderful home park. I think he takes some steps forward in 2014. I’m not seeing a power beast, but a great line drive swing should yield a strong batting average and batting atop the order should bring good R/RBI. I’d be thrilled with 15 homers, but 11-12 would be fine with an AVG approaching .300.

ROUND 15

#211: Paul Sporer – Fernando Rodney – This is another need pick. Once he finalizes somewhere, one of you vultures would surely scoop him so I’ll complete my duo of super stable, fun-to-own closers with he and Street. Joking aside, he had a 2.45 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 53 K in 44 IP from June on so I’m not worried about him being abysmal.

#212: Lawr Michaels – Angel Pagan – Hurt last year but he still went .282-5-30 with nine swipes over half the season. Which suggests like Brantley, he is a .280-15-65-20 guy and since he leads off, he could similarly cop 90-plus runs. I love guys like this, especially when they deliver.

#213: Tim Heaney – Jim Henderson – At this point, getting any CL holds little risk. His K/9 is nice, at least, and makes up for his flaws with hard and deep contact. The news that has developed since I took Bobby Parnell prompted me to switch gears a bit to back him up. Gotta love slow drafts.

#214: David Gonos – Chris Archer – Flame thrower already proved he belongs in the bigs, and now should settle in as a Rays’ rotation regular to start the season. Few teams handle young pitchers as well as the Rays, I believe, and Archer shouldn’t be any different (although, Archer is actually a year older than Matt Moore). Archer won’t post a strikeout-per-inning this year, but I should be able to get close to 200 innings, a helpful ERA and a dozen wins out of the super-soph.

#215: Nando DiFino – John Axford – I buy the argument that he was tipping his pitches the last couple years — something fixed by the Cardinals after the deadline deal (these are Axford’s paraphrased words, and there are stats to back it up). We were looking for what went wrong, and there it is on a silver platter. Great closer value this late if that theory holds up.

#216: Jason Collette – Khris Davis – Still not sure exactly what this kid is, but I liked what I saw last year and feel he can hit .260 with a 20/60/60ish line with enough PT.

#217: Ryan Carey – Will Middlebrooks – I tried to sneak Arenado another round and got burned, then was all set to scoop up Davis only to be skunked by Jason. So, we will go with a need pick and grab Middlebrooks to fill my vacant 3B slot. He had a rocky season a year ago, including a trip to the Minors, but I will buoy myself with the fact that he bounced back pretty well in the second half. If Boston re-signs Drew, then he takes a hit, but I think that downside is factored into this price. I still like the power potential and Prado provides insurance if he crashes and burns again.

#218: Todd Zola – Erick Aybar – YAWN. 7-10 HR. YAWN. 18-21 SB. YAWN .270-.280. YAWN 70-80 runs. YAWN 55-65 RBI.

#219: Zach Steinhorn – Dan Haren – WHIP and K/BB remained strong despite mediocre ERA. He seemed to figure things out in the second half (3.52 ERA, 1.02 WHIP) and is now in an ideal environment for a bounce back campaign.

#220: Joe Sheehan – Oscar Taveras – There’s still some chance the Cards will do something silly with Allen Craig, I guess, but I expect Taveras to get at least 450 PA, and he’ll hit.

#221: Nick Minnix – Michael Bourn – I haven’t done much to address my serious lack of speed. Because of that, I’m thankful that folks don’t think much of Bourn anymore. Not that I do, but I think he earns more than this draft slot just by stealing his 30 or 35 bases. Cross fingers that he’s ambitious at age 31 (had hoped for Ben Revere, those young guys can still move).

#222: Jeff Erickson – Brian Dozier – I was as surprised as any to see at the end of the year that Dozier had 18 HRs and 14 SBs last season. I’m not as confident as most that his low BABIP portends a batting average recovery, not with his high pop-up rate, but if he somehow does hit for even decent average, his ability to rack up counting stats will be a big boost, especially on a team that has a solid BA base.

#223: Mike Siano – David Freese – Need pick and a man crush hopefully equals 2012 type value. I don’t mind Freese and would prefer to guarantee I get him, so I’ll take the plunge now since Arenado and Middlebrooks went off the board a little earlier than I expected.

#224: Cory Schwartz – Dexter Fowler – Is it just me or does everyone else pick a lot of the same guys year after year, patiently waiting for them to become what we thought they could be? Call it the Curse of the Encarnacion. Anyway, for a guy who’s viewed as a perpetual disappointment, Fowler managed 12 homers and 19 steals last year despite an injury-plagued second half, while improving both his walk and strikeout rates, and will be in his age-28 season this year. He’ll miss Coors Field a little bit, but Minute Maid Park is a pretty good consolation prize, too. #GoldsteinEffect

#225: Derek VanRiper - Zack Wheeler – I’ll take the chance on Wheeler in this spot. There are control issues to iron out, but his trends between the first half and second half last season are encouraging. Some hope in this corner that his September woes were just a matter of fatigue at the end of the season. With experience, I am also looking for upward movement in his swinging-strike rate (just 8.8% in his debut).

ROUND 16

#226: Derek VanRiper - Kolten Wong – Had a few different directions I could have gone here. Wasn’t overwhelmed by any of the remaining options to cover MI. The Ellis signing feels like a platoon option/insurance plan mostly to start against LHP. Banking on Cards’ long development plan with him in the Minors bearing fruit with a quick adjustment to being a 4-5 day per week guy in his first full MLB season.

#227: Cory Schwartz – A.J. Pierzynski – He certainly does seem like a giant douche but our rules dictate we need two catchers and I don’t want to get any closer to the bottom of the barrel. His 27-homer season was a fluke but he’s generally been good for 15 or so every other year and doesn’t hurt the batting average. There’s been no decline in his offensive profile despite his age and career workload behind the plate, and I’m hoping the move to a tougher hitters’ park is offset by being in a better lineup (filled by several other fellow douches).

#228: Mike Siano – A.J. Burnett– OMG back to back A.J. picks, what are the chances? Rooting hard for him to have a big old P on his uni instead of an O. 9.9 K/9 rate would be tasty.

#229: Jeff Erickson – Todd Frazier – I debated between Frazier and Matt Dominguez as the last of the remaining third basemen that I wanted to own (leaving Chris Johnson to find his rightful place on Collette’s team), ultimately going with Frazier because of a slightly better team context and because he might at least get me 5-6 SBs, rather than 0-1. I have just two hitting spots left after this – second catcher and either CR or OF, depending on what I do with Moss. That’s fine by me, almost all of the top remaining players on my board are P’s or OF’s.

#230: Nick Minnix – Lance Lynn – I’m not too concerned that Lynn won’t end up in the rotation (if he doesn’t end up elsewhere), between some corrections due Joe Kelly as well as the pending detachment of Jaime Garcia’s left arm. The Cards should bring Carlos Martinez along as a middle reliever, at least in the early going, and once the season begins, someone usually ends up missing time anyway. Lynn has been one of the club’s most dependable starters for two years. Hey, if Lynn’s workouts with Carp included some mentoring about how to retire LHBs, add the 200 K’s and this pick is gold. Gimme those strikeouts, I always replay in my mind Jeff saying at FP L.A.

#231: Joe Sheehan – Kevin Gausman – Probably a reach, but variance swamps the differences among pitchers at this point, and I want to make sure I get him. Tremendous K/UIBB, most of which was compiled in the bullpen, but still. He’s ready to make the leap Tillman did last year, but has better raw skills and a higher ceiling.

#232: Zach Steinhorn – Norichika Aoki – Kinda surprised he’s still available at this juncture being that I’ve considered him for each of my last three picks. His ability to consistently make contact ensures a high AVG floor and considering his first two MLB seasons, he will steal anywhere from 20-30 bags. He’s a nice fit for my OF group, which is lacking in the speed department.

#233: Todd Zola – Hector Santiago – The idea of taking those peripherals and putting them in a good pitcher’s park is a nice idea.

#234: Ryan Carey – Torii Hunter – He’s old and kind of boring, but keeps getting it done. Hitting in front of Miguel Cabrera ensures another season of pitches to hit, and runs to score.

#235: Jason Collette – Alcides Escobar – I need some more team speed and would have taken Aoki here had he made it to me for the same reason I’m taking Escobar = Ned Yost. Yost has a lead foot that Yasiel Puig can appreciate and loves to run. Escobar is 25 steals in the bank with Yost at the helm.

#236: Nando DiFino –  Ryan Howard – If you believe in Howard, this could be a .265 AVG/30 homer season = one that is a full year removed from surgery. Throw in what should be an improved lineup, and the RBI totals should soar as well.

#237: David Gonos – Adam Eaton – Eaton’s 2013 season was sidetracked by an elbow injury in Spring Training, but he’s healthy now – and expected to bat leadoff for the White Sox. He scored 40 runs in one-third of a season in Arizona, and while the White Sox will be lucky to score 40 runs over a full season, he should be able to swipe 30 bases and hit .275-.285.

#238: Tim Heaney – Ian Kennedy – Can’t quit him, especially now that he’s in SD. I know PETCO is becoming a touch friendlier to bats, but it’s still not Yankee Stadium. Plus, the work Darren Balsley did with Kennedy’s location and approach post-deadline should carry over. Kennedy has a legit shot at delivering 180 quality frames; that’s hard to find at this stage.

#239: Lawr Michaels – Kole Calhoun – Since I think my oldest player is Ian Kinsler, why ruin things by adding a savvy vet who knows how to hit (Matt Stairs, anyone?) So, we will LA SoCal youth. If he can keep the full-time gig, another guy who could reach double digits in dingers and swipes.

#240: Paul Sporer – Chris Tillman – He probably didn’t deserve his All-Star, but he sorta retroactively “earned” it with a big second half. Until he starts cutting the HRs, he will always have a 3.70-3.90 ceiling despite 3.20-3.40 talent. And it might feel like he’s older, but this is just his age-26 season. Not bad at all for a fifth starter and 16th round pick.

ROUND 17

#241: Paul Sporer – Alejandro De Aza – Almost went SP-SP here, but I had so many guys I liked that I decided to wait and go with a do-a-bit-of-everything OF. Is the power real? It came with a 10.8 HR/FB which is hardly ridiculous. Even if he goes back to 2012′s production, he should still be very valuable.

#242: Lawr Michaels – Corey Kluber –  I guess he is the Kole Calhoun of the pitchers at this point: nice first splash last year, goes into a potentially full-time gig, and hopefully will establish himself.  And no, Kluber is not a spoonerism of Luebke.

#243: Tim Heaney – Devin Mesoraco – I’ll get a jump on my C2 with a personal favorite, now free from Ryan Hanigan and Dusty Baker. His power has stalled in his early MLB years, as is the case with most backstops. He has plenty of plate flaws, but I’ll take a chance that the HRs go up with the benefit of full-time work and Great American Ball Park.

#244: David Gonos – John Lackey – Great first half in 2013, bad second half — hoping fatigue set in after missing a season with Tommy John surgery in 2012. Looking for 200 innings and over a dozen wins from him in 2014. There are plenty of other gambles out there, but after nearly 250 players are off the board, this seems like a good one.

#245: Nando DiFIno – Avisail Garcia – I don’t get why everyone went nutty over Wil Myers last year, but they’re passing over Garcia. He has average, homer, AND steals potential. Plus, he’ll start the season in the Majors, playing in a hitter-friendly home park.

#246: Jason Collette – Rick Porcello – Went 12-6 with a 3.77 ERA and 1.23 WHIP after May 1 last season. More importantly, K/9 jumped to 7.7 while walk rate was just 2.1. With the new and improved infield defense in Detroit, this has the potential to be fun in 2014.

#247: Ryan Carey – Nelson Cruz – Ugghhh! My entire queue of picks got wiped clean, so I am going to take the red-headed stepchild who has fallen far enough, thanks in no small part to lingering questions about his PED use, that he actually is kind of a bargain at this point. Cruz should land somewhere soon and he should be able to produce well enough to more than justify this price.

#248: Todd Zola – Nick Markakis – He’s just old, he hasn’t passed away or anything, right? Actually, he’s not even that old.

#249: Zach Steinhorn – Tim Lincecum – At this stage in the draft, I’ll take the 190-plus K’s and hope that he can knock the ERA down closer to the 4.00 level. It might be unrealistic hope, but I’m willing to roll the dice on Tiny Tim as my fifth starter.

#250: Joe Sheehan – Nick Franklin – It appears I waited too long in the middle infield. That said, I just can’t see a scenario where Franklin doesn’t play. He’s too large an asset for the Mariners to just squander. I think he gets traded in March and exceeds his projections.

#251: Nick Minnix – George Springer – What the hell. I still really need pitching, but I also need stolen bases (and some upside, because maybe in this theoretical league I end up trading for a pitcher). I don’t expect Springer to make the OD roster, but I don’t think it’ll be more than a couple of months afterward — and perhaps considerably sooner than that. I don’t think that Springer, 24, will bat .265 or so, but if he plays with Houston for four months, he goes at least 20-20.

#252: Jeff Erickson – Nate Jones – I have one, count ‘em, one hitter remaining in my original top 200, but he’s so boring that instead I’m going to go outside my carefully constructed box and take someone else outside it, and hope I get him later. Instead, because I avoided the closer run to grab my second closer, I have to take a few educated guesses on job battles, and now seems like a good time for that. Nate Jones is my bet to win the White Sox job. His September was pretty gruesome, but his June-through-August were spectacular and he pitched well enough in the late innings to earn a certain amount of trust. Plus, the current alternatives in the White Sox bullpen are uninspiring.

#253: Mike Siano – Wellington Castillo – Thought I was punting C2 and who knows maybe I still am, but Castillo hit for average, the job is his and he could develop some power in the friendly confines.

#254: Cory Schwartz – Matt Dominguez – I think he can get that .241 average up into the .250-260 range or maybe even a little better, and the 21-77 power is solid. Plus, I took so many AVG risks in my early picks that I might as well tack on another here in exchange for the production.

#255: Derek VanRiper – Alex Wood – One of those guys who might just be underrated for reasons I can’t figure out. Gavin Floyd is working his way back from TJS, Brandon Beachy had a setback last year, so his path to starting all season isn’t all that unrealistic.

ROUND 18

#256: Derek VanRiper – Travis d’Arnaud – Waited one turn too long on Devin Mesoraco, but have to wonder if d’Arnaud gets a more prominent place in the Mets’ batting order and makes up some of the gap by driving in a few extra runs over the course of the season.

#257: Cory Schwartz – Tyson Ross – Taking Dominguez last time was a tactical error because there are two guys I want now and I don’t think either of them will get back to my next pair of picks, whereas Dominguez might have. So, I’ll take Ross and hope the other guy hangs around for 26 more picks. Ross posted a 2.93 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 3.7 K/BB and 9.6 K/9 (27.3% K rate) in his last 13 starts, allowing only a .201 average and four homers in 80.0 IP. The storyline is that cleaner mechanics allowed him to gain velocity on his fastball and movement on his slider, but I’m not a scout so I don’t know if that’s true or not. However, as Tim noted a couple of rounds ago, Darren Balsley seems to be pretty good at his job, so I’ll believe Ross’ breakthrough is for real.

#258: Mike Siano – Ervin Santana – I CAN’T TAKE IT ANY MORE!!!!!! BIG ERV!

#259: Jeff Erickson – Joakim Soria – He’s my bet to win the Rangers’ closer job over Feliz – better pitcher, more of a track record, albeit not with the organization. If we were playing this out and drafting reserves, I’d make sure to draft at least three starting pitchers among my six reserves to account for taking three relievers in the draft.

#260: Nick Minnix – Taijuan Walker – I was torn between a few pitchers at this spot. I’m opting for the one that seems least likely to make it back to me, because of the allure of his talent. Because the depth of my pitching staff will be questionable, I’d like to roll the dice on some serious upside.

#261: Joe Sheehan – Justin Morneau – I’ve taken a lot of playing time question marks in this draft, and I want to lock in someone who is likely to play in 150 games. Morneau isn’t what he was before the concussion, but against RHPs at Coors he should be an acceptable corner.

#262: Zach Steinhorn – Nick Swisher – Dealt with a nagging shoulder injury last year but still managed to surpass the 20-HR mark for the eighth straight season. Swish is consistent yet underrated and I’m happy to pencil him into my CI spot.

#263: Todd Zola – Alex Avila – Let’s pair up underproducing backstops in the hopes one hits. Avila is a tough read as his performance against LHP is hideous. I suppose by taking him I’m hoping for a bounce-back against southpaws, though in reality I’m hoping they sit his ass on the bench when a lefty is on the hill.

#264: Ryan Carey – Mike Zunnio – We are down to the lower tier of C2′s, so I am going to grab the guy with the best profile and the most upside in my eyes. He is one of the future stars at the position and I expect him to take a nice step forward this year.

#265: Jason Collette – Chris Johnson – The guy has a .360 BABIP over the past four seasons so his baseline for regression is slightly higher than the norm. He’s not a pull hitter, so the overshift that helps accelerate regression isn’t present. His BABIP over the past four seasons is second only to Joey Votto.

#266: Nando DiFIno – Jake Peavy – I know the numbers aren’t encouraging, but he’s only 32 (so it’s unfair to use the “he’s old” argument) and remains wonderfully effective when he’s healthy. This late in the draft, I’m willing to take a risk on him not being hurt, as he has arguably the most talent of any player left.

#267: David Gonos – Josmil Pinto – I lost four catchers this past turn around the draft and was hoping to get just one of Zunino, D’Arnaud, Avila or Castillo. No dice. So I’m going with a rookie backstop, which I’d normally stay clear from. But he gets on base, and there’s not many other options here.

#268: Tim Heaney – Scott Kazmir – Little concern about whether he gets injured again here. His velocity and swinging-strike recovery now get the O.co as a backdrop. An output somewhere between the ERAs and K/9s
of his first and second half will do just fine.

#269: Lawr Michaels – Derek Norris – Considering the dearth of backstops, sort of surprised Norris has hung this long. At least in deference to the catching gambles I see so far. But, Norris is set to be the starting guy, and if he stays healthy, he is good for a .260-11-55 line with maybe even ten swipes (he stole five last year and as a Major Leaguer has only been caught once in 11 tries). This does mean I get to slot Buster in at first, by the way.

#270: Paul Sporer – Hank Conger – Probably should get a catcher at some point. What is there really to say? I think he should start to flip the split volume between he and Iannetta.

ROUND 19

#271: Paul Sporer – Nate Eovaldi – Elite velocity and a prime wipeout pitch (slider) offer the foundation of a very intriguing pitcher. Much more thrower than pitcher right now, but the flashes are very impressive.

#272: Lawr Michaels – Kevin Siegrist – So many choices. So tough,  but I will take a guy who is probably a reliever, and probably setting up for Trevor, but, should there be an injury, who knows. But, man, his numbers last year beg for opportunity. He doesn’t even need to do much, but if I get 80 innings even close to what he did last year, well, a slot well spent.

#273: Tim Heaney – Josh Johnson – Again, at this point, when it comes to health grades, I’m flipping the bird. He’s an advanced metrics poster child for extreme regression. Even with some statistical evidence that may soften its reputation, PETCO remains a fine place for a pitcher to rebound. ‘Tis why I’m taking two of SD’s candidates.

#274: David Gonos – Mike Moustakas – We’re at the point of the draft where we’re either taking unknowns with promise, bounce back has-beens, and perennial breakout candidates that refuse to break out. Moustakas is of the latter group, and he’ll fit finely as my corner infielder for now.

#275: Nando DiFIno – Marcell Ozuna – See Arcia.

#276: Jason Collette – Ryan Hanigan – Passed on both Pinto and Conger during the last round because I figured at least one of them would make it back to me on the short turnaround. Oops. I’ll go with Hanigan as he should see 110 games this season, and is better than he was last year at the plate.

#277: Ryan Carey – Yovani Gallardo – WIth most of the sexy young guns off the board, I am going to hold my nose and roll the dice on Gallardo at this discounted price. He is the poster boy this year for diminished K-rate, which dropped from 9.0 to 7.7 last year. But, perhaps the WBC took a toll on him and I am willing to bet that he can get the K-rate over 8 at least.

#278: Todd Zola – Mitch Moreland – I could use the pop and unless Texas signs another stick, Moreland should see enough at-bats to hit 20+ HR. He fits in nicely position-wise since he’s an Abreu hedge and a backup to the aging Aramis. He should pick up OF eligibility as well, which could help since it appears I’m going to deploy the vaunted shitty outfield plan made famous by Jeff E. to round out the position.

#279: Zach Steinhorn – Russell Martin – The AVG will probably be terrible but I’ll take the 15- plus homers with a few steals thrown in from my C2.

#280: Joe Sheehan – Gregory Polanco – This is a bit of a reach, but there’s buzz on him after his winter league MVP, and the approach he showed at the upper levels last year marks him as someone who might be able to make the leap as soon as this spring. Not sure Jose Tabata would hold him back.

#281: Nick Minnix – Ivan Nova – I’m kind of a believer. A great
curveball has turned him into a pretty nasty pitcher. Sinkers help him
to keep the ball out of the air at The Stadium. I won’t rule out another ERA near 3.00 at some point down the line, but I’ll take some bumps and bruises for the 27-year-old and call it 3.75 with upside. If you wait on pitching, then it would definitely help to hit on an arm or three like this. Hope he’s not a “No go.”

#282: Jeff Erickson – Adam LaRoche – After passing on Alex Avila last round, thinking I might get him back and instead seeing him and the rest of the viable catching pool pass by, I’ll wait for the 23rd round for my second catcher. Instead, I’ll go with LaRoche, who is pretty much the definition of old-and-boring. But he’s still got 25-homer power and is in a lineup that should be better than last year’s dumpster fire.

#283: Mike Siano – Derek Jeter – Keeping the my guys who fit a need streak going, I’ll take the captain. Did you hear? He was hitting the crap out of the ball. I do think he has at least one more year in him and regardless of where Sheehan thinks he should hit in the lineup, he should have plenty of scoring chances if healthy. A decent lottery ticket this late cause you never should count out Derek Jeter.

#284: Cory Schwartz – Jose Veras – I usually take a third closer/short reliever around the 18th or 19th round and nearly took Veras with my last pick — I figured he wouldn’t get back to me, since Nando and Nick only have one closer each — but just couldn’t pass on Tyson Ross. So, I’m very happy to get Veras here, 26 picks later. His strikeout rate dropped last year, but 8.6 K/9 and 23.6% K/PA are still very strong numbers, and he also cut down his walks, leading to a career-best 2.7 K/BB ratio. His .241 BABIP suggests some good luck but it’s not out of line with numbers he’s posted before, so I don’t expect a ton of regression. Veras should be good for 20-25 saves and a strikeout per inning, without killing my ratios, a perfect #3 closer.

#285: Derek VanRiper – Colby Rasmus – He strikes out too much, but it’s the end of Round 19. I can deal with a 29.5% strikeout rate if there is improvement over the course of the season (there was) and if sacrificing some contact leads to a career-best .225 ISO. Rasmus is still just 27 years old, somehow, and of course the home park and lineup around him are both favorable.

ROUND 20

#286: Derek VanRiper – Rajai Davis – I can get 40+ steals from a platoon player? Sign me up. There should be plenty of runs scored here too, but given that the roster I’ve built to this point has more of an emphasis on power than speed, he fits very well as my fifth outfielder. He’s bounced around enough and piled up steals everywhere, so I don’t have any concerns about Brad Ausmus’ tendencies as a manager leading to a decline in Davis’ value.

#287: Cory Schwartz – Jon Niese – This is exactly where I like to be with my last four picks: OF5, C2, UT, SP6. All of the remaining bats I’m considering fall into the “upside dart-throw” category so I’ll finish up my pitching staff with a guy I actually like this year, Jon Niese. He was terrible in the first half but very effective after coming back from a lengthy DL stint to rest his shoulder tendonitis: a 3.00 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 3.7 K/BB, 7.6 K/9 and only 5 HR allowed in 66.0 IP. All of those numbers are comparable or even better than his 2012 breakout, so I think he can perform at that level again. He’s not an ace but he’s exactly the type of guy who fits my staff…an SP3/4 type who I can use as my SP6.

#288: Mike Siano – Joaquin Benoit – My CL 2.5 or high K vulture is usual for me here. My last two picks have social security officials nervous but they also have upside. Any issues with Street we know who slides in and he’s in the right park and league for me.

#289: Jeff Erickson – Kyle Lohse – Old and Boring, 2.0. Kyle Lohse isn’t anyone’s idea of a breakout guy, but he’s had three years in a row with a sub 3.40 ERA and 1.17 or lower WHIP. I think we can stop calling him a fluke now.

#290: Nick Minnix – Jesse Crain – Doubts about his health will scare off most bidders, but he’s making slow but steady progress toward availability sometime shortly after Opening Day since he finally opted for surgery to fix the biceps strain etc. in October. If and when he’s good to go, he’s Houston’s guy in the ninth. And the rate marks, including the K%, will be good. Of course, I have to throw this dart because I didn’t fire any surface-to-air missiles several rounds earlier.

#291: Joe Sheehan – Omar Infante – A hedge against some of my younger upside plays, Infante is more or less the new Placido Polanco. I know he’ll play.

#292: Zach Steinhorn – Wade Miley – I was hoping to get either Nova or Niese here, but I’m OK with Miley as my SP6. He settled down nicely after an up and down first half, posting a 2.93 ERA and 1.24 WHIP following the All-Star break. The K rate won’t help much but it won’t hurt either. Still just 27, a 2012 repeat isn’t so far fetched.

#293: Todd Zola – Charlie Morton – We’re into the fungible portion of the draft where I look for pitchers to stream. Ideally, I lean to NL guys in pitcher parks so Morton is two-for-two. I know he very well might wake up and remember he’s Charlie Morton, but he showed me enough later last season to at least hope some of it is real (increased mph?)

#294: Ryan Carey – Brandon Beachy – Well, there are nothing but risky bets left in the SP pool, so I will go with Beachy, and hope that he takes another step in his recovery from TJS. There is plenty of risk here, but his rotation spot is assured and if he doesn’t have any setbacks I think he offers more upside than anyone else in this tier, particularly when it comes to ratios. As an SP6, this seems like a worthy gamble.

#295: Jason Collette – Wily Peralta – Several guys I like here at SP6 or even RP3, so I’ll go with the guy I feel has the best upside in 2014. Second half: 3.15 ERA, 7.7 K/9, 1.23 WHIP. Go Big Wily Style!

#296: Nando DiFIno – Oswaldo Arcia – I’m not seeing too much of a gap between Arcia and Marcell Ozuna. There’s power (more with Ozuna), the hope of some average (more with Arcia), unfriendly home parks (both), and maybe even some steals (probably more with Ozuna). In the end, it all kind of evens out, and both Arcia and Ozuna make for nice upside plays this late in deeper drafts.

#297: David Gonos – Nick Castellanos – Castellanos has a great chance to start the season with one of the best offenses in the Majors, as he gets to play third base now that Miguel Cabrera heads back to first base. He’ll have 3B/OF eligibility within a week of the start of the season.

#298: Tim Heaney – Mark Teixeira – Heck, I know the wrist may be an issue throughout 2014, but I’ll take the chance he reaches 25 HR and sees a big RBI bump with an improved lineup.

#299: Lawr Michaels – Yordano Ventura – Live young arm, who if he gets a chance, is of the Jose Fernandez ilk. And, on the Royals, I suspect he will get a chance this year.

#300: Paul Sporer – John Jaso – My catchers are so sweet.

ROUND 21

#301: Paul Sporer – Dayan Viciedo – I could use some pure pop. There isn’t a ton of 30-HR potential out there, but he definitely has it.

#302: Lawr Michaels – Jason Kubel – Like Paul, I can use a bit more pure pop (I referred Paul to this, btw: http://www.amazon.com/Pure-Pop-People-Nick-Lowe/dp/B000008HY0). and, well, Kubel’s body is no more stable than Michelle Bachman’s brain, but, when he plays, he can hit. And, I am guessing/hoping a return to the Twinkies will foster some health and a return to form. He is due, if nothing else (even Milton Bradley managed a full good year once later in his career). The drag is this plugs my UT slot. But, in looking at what I still need–MI and CI–all the dregs are pretty much the same, so grabbing what I can, when I can.

#303: Tim Heaney – Junior Lake – .284 BA? He hacks, so I’m not expecting a repeat. But he’s a toolsy 24-year-old that logged a near 30% LD rate last season and boasts more speed than last year’s MLB stint showed. If he can do something along the lines of 10 HR and 20 SB, the pick won’t be a waste. If he can’t, whatever. It’s an OF5.

#304: David Gonos – Martin Perez – Still a young pitcher, owns a rotation spot on a winner, wrapped up 2013 nicely.

#305: Nando DiFIno – Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez – I’m not sure anyone can confidently say they know anything about him, but the scouting reports are positive, and this could (COULD) end up being a Jose Fernandez-style bargain. He’ll definitely get the opportunity in Philly, and it seems like a bargain pick this late.

#306: Jason Collette – Tommy Hunter – Now that the O’s are out of options, they’re going to have to give this guy the closer role even though he is as bad against lefties as he is great against righties.

#307: Ryan Carey – Cameron Maybin – This team is a little light on speed, so I am going to take a shot on Maybin staying healthy enough to contribute at the very least in that department. I am not extremely optimistic about him performing above expectations, but mine are just a .260/8/25? I think he can give me that at least with potentially more speed.

#308: Todd Zola – Matt Joyce – It’s all about expectations and we’re at the point where expectations are low and the players are fungible or you screw expectations and just go all upside. I’m going to pretend/assume this league has something more than weekly transactions. In a format like the NFBC where you can make hitting moves on Friday, players like Joyce can be paired with other Joyce-like players (I know, but you say it without dropping names) to maximize at-bats and/or match-ups. Whichever has the more favorable 3/4 game stretch is active. You turn .250-17-65-65-5 for each player into .265-20-75-75-8 for the roster spot.

#309: Zach Steinhorn – Denard Span – I’ve taken him at around this stage in a number of the mocks I have done so far, so I might as well do it again. Far from exciting, but Span should be good for an AVG in the .280 neighborhood to go along with 20 or so steals and a useful number of runs. That’s decent production from an OF5.

#310: Joe Sheehan – Sean Doolittle – There’s no way I’m buying on 30 saves from Jim Johnson. Doolittle has the best arm in that A’s bullpen and has, at times, been completely unhittable in his short relief career.

#311: Nick Minnix – Alexi Ogando – Had a bit of trouble deciding between Bartolo Colon and a few other SPs and a shot in the dark on Ryan Madson (and cross fingers that he’d sign with Baltimore or the Muts, because I could use another closer). Colon is sexier, but I’ll attach my hopes to Ogando’s shoulder and plead that his supposed winter workouts make a difference, including in his K/9 as a starter, which I’d like to see make it above 7. There are at least a dozen other SPs left whom I’d love to draft, which suggests that reserve rounds would still be fun in a league this size.

#312: Jeff Erickson – Dillon Gee – He doesn’t strike out as many as I’d like, but he got better as he used his knuckle-curve more often, and had a 2.77 ERA and 1.14 WHIP over the last 60 days of the season. I’m a little wary of his road numbers, but the implication here is that I’d try to stream his home starts anyhow.

#313: Mike Siano – Lorenzo Cain – I was on the Cain bandwagon big time last year due to the power and speed potential but as we all know it was a big old bummer of a season. Hoping I was a year early and can cash in on a post hype guy who has the tools and still has time to make it rain.

#314: Cory Schwartz – Dioner Navarro – He’s got a a pretty well-established track record of not being very good, but he hit the shit out of the ball last year and is only 30, so maybe he’s about to enjoy one of those late-peak catcher power spikes that LZ and Lawr discussed convincingly last year? He’s got an everyday job in a solid lineup in a good hitters’ park, without any meaningful competition for playing time, so I expect he’ll get 450+ AB’s to show if last year’s breakout was real.

#315: Derek VanRIper – Charlie Blackmon – A chance to play regularly in Colorado, or at least to be on the larger share of a platoon. Who leads off for the Rockies in 2014? Maybe it’s more of a 15-15 type ceiling, but a good average and a ton of runs scored would follow if he landed in that role.

ROUND 22

#316: Derek VanRiper – Jose Quintana – Nobody seems to like him, but there was a nice skills growth here last season as he pushed his way to a 19.7% K% and 6.7% BB%. The home park probably scares most people away, although I think the discount that is built in overcorrects for that.

#317: Cory Schwartz – Carlos Quentin – I need an OF and feel a little short on pop so I’ll take Carlos Quentin. He’s totaled 29 HR, 90 RBI and 86 runs over his last 168 games, the only problem being that it took him two years to do that. But, he’s only my 5th OF and I’ll hedge him with my UT spot, so whatever power I get from him will be useful.

#318: Mike Siano – Noah Syndergaard – Once he clears super 2, the Mets probably call him up and he sticks. Mets have electric arms and collecting them now for later is not the worst use of a 22nd round pick in a 15-teamer.

#319: Jeff Erickson – Brandon Morrow – I’m just trolling for upside with the last pitcher spot, fully knowing that I’m going to stream the bottom spots anyhow. Only 10 starts last year because of his arm issues, but the interesting thing is that his velocity has remained constant the last four years. I’ll take the gamble that this is the year he becomes the guy that everyone was drafting him as the last two.

#320: Nick Minnix – Carlos Ruiz – I’ll take it, considering that I passed up my few potential No. 2 catchers for players at other positions whom I figured have more upside than a backstop will in these stages. Chooch should register 350 to 400 ABs and produce at least enough to make the heart monitor beep regularly.

#321: Joe Sheehan – Andre Ethier – I’ve taken a lot of playing time gambles in the outfield, so this works as a counter to that, a low-upside, low-floor player who is going to play. Still some chance, IMO, he gets traded into a better situation. I don’t love this pick, but I’ve trapped myself into it.

#322: Zach Steinhorn – Corey Hart – Another guy who I’ve been taking a lot in mocks. Averaged 29 homers a year from 2010-2012. As long as he’s healthy, playing time will not be an issue.

#323: Todd Zola – Jackie Bradley Jr. – Throwing a dart, admittedly. Plenty of help in reserve or on waivers. It’s not like I’m taking a chance on Grady Sizemore.

#324: Ryan Carey – Bartolo Colon – Well…here he is as the #92 SP off the board…and he will likely figure out a way to finish inside the top-50 yet again. As a final P grab, he actually looks pretty damn solid. Double-digit wins are likely as are solid ratios. The K’s won’t be there, but that’s okay. He is a guy you can stream with another arm from the reserve rounds and likely get really good production. Plus, you get to make all of the fat jokes throughout the season.

#325: Jason Collette –  Kelly Johnson – Matt Joyce would have been my 5th OF, so I’ll take his clone that qualifies at two spots and has a new cozy short porch in right field to exploit.

#326: Nando DiFIno – Michael Pineda – The last time we saw him, he was a stud in the making. and his fastball was hitting 95 in the Minors before shoulder soreness shut him down in August. But with a full off-season and loads of talent, Pineda could be a great late-round steal at this point in drafts.

#327: David Gonos – Adam Lind – For my UT pickup, I’m adding Lind, who I actually like a lot more than this slot. He’s coming off one of his best seasons yet, and the Jays should be better offensively after a sub-par 2013. He could hit cleanup for them again.

#328: Tim Heaney – Jake Odorizzi – An initial look at the Rays’ schedule says he may not be needed much with Jeremy Hellickson out, but I’ll take the chance of Odorizzi holding off JH or another spot opening up later in the season. The Rays know how to cultivate pitching, and Odorizzi’s typically slow but promising progress whenever he’s repeated a farm level has me thinking he could do big things this year. At #328, why not?

#329: Lawr Michaels – Dustin Ackley – A #1 pick who has hit at every level as well as last August. This year we find out whether he is Quad-A or maybe the real deal. I fear the shadow of Gordon Beckham, but Ackley is not so far gone that I am willing to take one more chance.

#330: Paul Sporer – Phil Hughes – I love Hughes this year. I think Hughes/Yankee Stadium was one of the worst fits for a skill set in the entire game. Target Field will fit him much better. This is still a talented arm.

ROUND 23

#331: Paul Sporer – Josh Willingham – Willingham is a year removed from a 35-homer season and 29 the year before. He’s got a dodgy health record obviously, but I’d gladly take 20 HRs.

#332: Lawr Michaels – Alberto Callaspo – Callaspo is sort of a hybrid of Rodney Dangerfield (no respect) and Mark Kotsay lite (he does a bit of everything, but not as well as Kotsay). Still, he manages 400 at-bats every year, hits a handful of homers and steals a handful of bases and does not destroy your average. And, some position flex as well. Oh yeah, at this moment in time, he is the Opening Day second sacker in Oakland.

#333: Tim Heaney – Josh Rutledge – Grasping at second base straws. A year ago, he was a popular sleeper pick — this season, likely starting as D.J. LeMahieu’s backup. I think he will usurp him, eventually, and net double-digit HR and SB with 400 ABs. Of course, that Tulo guy has trouble staying healthy, so SS reps are in play, too.

#334: David Gonos – Jose Iglesias – Not much left among middle  infielders, so I’ll go with one on one of the highest scoring offenses in the Majors last season, and hope he can come close to 90 percent of his .300 batting average last season.

#335: Nando DiFIno – Geovany Soto – He’s a starting catcher, there isn’t much left, I could see 20-plus home runs here. What more could you ask for from the 335th pick?

#336: Jason Collette – Robbie Grossman – Grossman should have that starting left field job and his skipper is a huge fan of the skills. He was too timid last year before his demotion and did nothing at the plate. Came back up, hit .322/.351/.466, swinging at more pitches but not sacrificing contact in doing so and has the ability to run well. Double-digit homers and steals potential here and he should be their leadoff hitter.

#337: Ryan Carey – Marlon Byrd – This late I don’t have to worry that he won’t repeat last year’s numbers. He is moving to a hitters’ park and will be in the middle of a solid, if aging, offense. There were more options that I liked here, so I agree that the reserve rounds actually have a fair share of decent dart throws this year.

#338: Todd Zola – Brad Peacock – Interesting skill set, better team than most think, so why not?

#339: Zach Steinhorn – LaTroy Hawkins – Last I heard, he’s opening the season as the Rockies’ closer, and though it’s really only a matter of time before he loses the job to Brothers, maybe I can scrape together a few saves before the inevitable happens. Worth a shot with my final pick.

#340: Joe Sheehan – Henderson Alvarez – Lots of my late-round SP picks have been taken, but not this one — power stuff, groundball/contact tendencies, some Chien-Ming Wang in his game. I’m a fan.

#341: Nick Minnix – Eric Young Jr. – I really need another source of stolen bases. EY Jr. doesn’t necessarily have a place to play, but Terry Collins says he thinks Young is NY’s best option to lead off. Sandy Alderson says his club will use their three best offensive players in the outfield. I wouldn’t expect the Muts to care much about defense, so it sounds as if Juan Lagares is screwed. There are about 6 1/2 weeks until Opening Day and several ways Young gets in the lineup. If he went undrafted and then backed into PT, he’d be a hot pickup for the speed. Pretty good deal here.

#342: Jeff Erickson – A.J. Ellis – Because the world needs ditchdiggers, too.

#343: Mike Siano – Matt Davidson – Why not roll the dice?

#344: Cory Schwartz – Justin Ruggiano – He provides a nice combination of power and speed at my UT spot, with 31 HR and 29 SB in 712 AB’s over the past two seasons, and provides OF5 insurance against Quentin’s inevitable injuries. I don’t think he’ll hit .313 again like in 2012 but I think he’s better than last year’s .222. Look at the Cubs outfield, too…he’s going to play a lot, so the counting numbers will be there.

#345: Derek VanRiper – Archie Bradley – He only needs a Brandon McCarthy injury to get into the rotation and I feel like he’s going to stick if he gets the opportunity. Skills wise, Bradley could immediately become the D-Backs’ best starter. Thought about Carlos Martinez here, but feel like Bradley has a better path to a rotation spot.

***CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL DRAFT GRID

Happy Holidays from the 411

Zach here,

With the fantasy football season coming to a close (I made the semifinals in three of my four leagues but lost in all of them), I’m already starting my baseball draft prep. And I’m sure that many of you, frustrated by the fluky nature of head-to-head football, feel the same way. Actually, writing the relief pitcher profiles for the 2014 MLB.com Player Preview, which is set to launch in early February, has nudged me to get a head start on draft preparation.

MLB: Seattle Mariners-Robinson Cano press conference

Speaking of drafts, we’ll be conducting a full 23-round expert mock draft right after the new year, so check back here for the results, which I’ll be updating after each round or two. I’ll also send out a tweet every time there’s an update. Is Robinson Cano still a top-10 pick now that he’s a Mariner? Is Prince Fielder the Ranger a no-brainer top-10 guy? We’ll just have to find out!

Happy Holidays to all, and keep an eye out for more blog posts once the calendar turns to 2014.

-Zach

2014 List of 12

***COMPLETE 5-ROUND MOCK DRAFT RESULTS + ANALYSIS

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees

Hey folks, while waiting for the World Series to start, here’s the List of 12 for 2014!

2014 List of 12

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:

2013: http://fantasy411.mlblogs.com/2013/02/11/2013-list-of-12/

2012: http://fantasy411.mlblogs.com/2012/01/27/2012-list-of-12/

2011: http://fantasy411.mlblogs.com/2011/01/07/2011-list-of-12/

2010: http://fantasy411.mlblogs.com/2009/10/14/2010-list-of-12/

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!

Thanks,

Cory

411 Mock Draft Results + Analysis

Hey everyone,

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.

-Zach

                                                                                                                                                  ROUND 1

# 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.

MLB: Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals

# 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

                                                                                                                                                  ROUND 2

# 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.

MLB: NLCS-St. Louis Cardinals at Los Angeles Dodgers

# 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.

                                                                                                                                                  ROUND 3

# 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.

MLB: Texas Rangers at Kansas City Royals

# 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

                                                                                                                                                  ROUND 4

#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.

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Houston Astros#8: Joe Sheehan – Billy Hamilton, OF, CIN

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.

                                                                                                                                                  ROUND 5

#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.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Los Angeles Angels

#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.

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