March 30, 2013
My Razzball Expert League Team
This season I’m participating in three notable industry leagues. For the fifth time, I’ll be in the Yahoo Friends & Family League (previous finishes: fourth, fourth, 12th, and sixth) and for the second year I’ll be competing in the Tout Wars Mixed League (previous finish: T-fifth). This year I’ve added to that slate the Razzball Expert League, in its second year of existence.
It’s a relatively tame 12-team mixer with one catcher, five outfield slots, one CI, one MI, one UTIL, and nine pitchers. As a slight twist, there’s a 180 games started limit, but that has relatively little effect given I wouldn’t plan to roster more than six starters anyway. With just three bench slots and one DL, there isn’t much leeway to mess around waiting for the Mark Teixeiras and Brandon Beachys to return.
Contrary to the setup, the participants are anything but tame. The lineup of course includes Razzball’s pseudonymed, avant-garde leaders Rudy Gamble and Grey Albright. Interestingly I drafted fourth, sandwiched between Rudy and Grey, so I got real comfortable with the hosts. Also participating were BP colleague Bret Sayre, former colleague Derek Carty, BP co-founder Clay Davenport, Yahoo’s Scott Pianowski, and last year’s champ, Ryan Carey, among others. A full list of the participants can be found here.
No draft or auction is left without at least one regret, but I’m happy to say that I’m fairly confident in this squad, provided a few current injuries to players prove minor. With that said, to the right you’ll find my team, and below I’ll go over the rationale behind some of my picks. Full draft results can be found here.
Round One (no. 4 Overall): Andrew McCutchen
Unfortunately, the random draft order generator stuck me with the fourth pick, not a spot you want to be selecting from this year given the clear triumvirate of Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, and Ryan Braun at the top. At four you should essentially be choosing between McCutchen and Robinson Cano in my opinion, and given Razzball’s noted love affair with McCutch, I pandered to the home crowd and let that essentially determine my decision. With McCutchen there’s close to zero injury concern, since he hasn’t hit the DL in his entire professional career. His average will likely regress to the .290-.300 range, but I believe in his 30-homer power and his explicit focus on stealing this year solidifies him as a true five-cat player.
Round Two (no. 21): Adrian Beltre
Grey’s love for particular players knows no bounds, apparently, as he was willing to reach right before this pick at no. 20 for Paul Goldschmidt. I won’t call it inexcusable, but it’s reaches like that that allowed the rock-solid Beltre to fall to me at 21. Given the mounting injuries to third basemen everywhere, I was thrilled to lock up the only other sure thing at third besides M-Cab.
Round Three (no. 28): Edwin Encarnacion
At this spot I was deciding between Encarnacion and another breakout player from last year, Adam Jones, who did end up going with the next pick to Grey. I suppose I believe in Encarnacion’s breakout a tad more and despite its reputation, I’m more concerned about fielding talent at first base than outfield this year. You gotta lurve the Jays lineup and the RBI potential for E5 as its cleanup hitter, should be through the dome (hangs head).
Round Four (no. 45): Jacoby Ellsbury
With a pretty safe first three picks, by the fourth round my appetite for a little risk and upside needed quenching. Ellsbury is a guy who certainly fits that mold, with the highest upside of the remaining players. If you don’t believe me, look up his 2011 line. For the lazy: 119/32/105/39/.321. I’m not expecting anywhere near those power and RBI numbers from him this year, but if healthy, his upside in the other three categories is what gets me rushing to box scores early in the morning.
Round Six (no. 69): Brett Lawrie & Round Seven (no. 76): Pablo Sandoval
Remember how I claimed to be happy in locking up Beltre and avoiding some of the third base scrum? Apparently not, as I chose a greedy path in taking another two hot-corner men in these rounds. I can best describe it as an ill-advised attempt to corner a market instead of addressing team needs. With my sixth-round pick I was really hoping Spring Swoon Freddie Freeman would fall to me—and he almost did, until Davenport snagged him two picks before. Recover from that queue swipe I did not, as I rashly jumped on the already injured Lawrie. With a healthy year, he’ll likely return at least even money here, but given his history, I’m sort of betting on clear skies in Seattle. The Sandoval pick doesn’t infuriate me as much, but his inflamed nerves could easily get on mine. Given that I certainly wasn’t in need of another third baseman, perhaps getting a middle infielder like Jimmy Rollins or my first starting pitcher would have been a better move.
Round Eight (no. 93): Johnny Cueto
Speaking of pitching, I did grab my first starter in Cueto the next round. I won’t claim to have gotten him at great value, since pitching was just taken late in general this draft. After loading up on hitting early thoughout (I was the last team to take a pitcher), I can’t say I find my rotation lacking in quality or depth. Jeff Samardzija, Matt Harvey, Mike Minor, Alex Cobb, Brandon McCarthy, and Hisashi Iwakuma round out the rest of my staff, composed of a nice mix of innings guys with some high-strikeout arms. Nabbing McCarthy in the 23rd round was particularly nice, considering he went after Shaun Marcum and Phil Hughes, whom I think are clearly inferior options. Just be sure not to tell him if you do pick him.
This write-up has already likely gone on longer than most people will care to read, so I’ll start to wrap things up. The back end up my draft was populated with a few clunkers in Tyler Greene (already lost the job), Tyler Colvin (poor spring led to demotion), and Bruce Rondon (probably a good thing he was sent down). No harm done; those players have already been replaced by Yunel Escobar, Andy Dirks, and David Phelps on my roster. Colvin is particularly disappointing, though, because he’s tailored perfectly for a shallow daily league like this, where I can rotate him in and out of my lineup fairly easily based on whether he’s home or not. A bit light on steals, my favorite pick this draft was Cameron Maybin at no. 220. He’s a great value that late and fit my team’s needs perfectly at the time.
I’ve yet to finish in the money of an “experts” league, despite having consistently finished in the top half of most. In addition to this squad, I feel good about the chances of my Tout Wars and F&F teams this year, and as always will put in tons of effort throughout the season to add the fresh blood in the second half that fuels championships. Hopefully I’ll be able to add at least one to my resume come the 29th of September. Feel free to follow along all season on twitter.