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Integrating multiple new owners into an existing dynasty league presents a series of complex challenges for all of the parties involved in the transition. The most notable quagmire facing both incoming owners and grizzled veterans of the league is deciding on the best way to sort out the existing rosters of abandoned franchises. The only alternative that ensures new owners start out on a level playing field is to hold a dispersal draft. Instead of being forced to take over a current existing franchise, the old rosters are combined into a single pool and then selected, snake-draft style, by the incoming owners.

TDGX (The Dynasty Guru Experts League) is the Godzilla of all expert dynasty leagues. A 20-team, 40-man roster, keep-forever rotisserie dynasty league featuring experts from various outlets like BP, CBS Sports, Baseball HQ, MLB.com, and FanGraphs (and many more excellent sites), it’s been in existence for two seasons already. When a trio of vacancies opened up this offseason, the new blood on the BP fantasy team, George Bissell, J.J. Jansons, and Greg Wellemeyer, was given the opportunity to join the most competitive expert dynasty league on the planet.

What follows is an exclusive, unfiltered, behind-the-scenes look at the strategy, the selections, and the rationales from the recent TDGX dispersal draft, conducted in mid-December.

Strategy Session

A look inside the overall strategy and approach from each owner going into the draft.

Bissell: You don’t want to be rebuilding in a 20-team dynasty league. It’s the complete opposite of a DJ Khaled Snapchat. On the other hand, completely ignoring prospects is a mistake as well. Striking a perfect balance between the two should enable me to assemble a roster that’s not only in a position to compete right now, but down the road as well. Therefore, my strategic approach centers on acquiring either the most valuable present-day asset left on the board or taking the piece with the most trade value.

Wellemeyer: Claiming a vacated spot in a 20-team league can be a terrifying prospect. Most of the time the bottom feeders are the dropouts, leaving behind hideous rosters with long rebuilds ahead. I was pleasantly surprised to see plenty of established talent available for the taking here. Combined with the fact that the farm systems were generally poor, the clear strategy was to build a roster that could contend right away.

Jansons: Taking over more “abandoned” dynasty league teams (most of which are of the deeper variety) over the last few seasons than I would care to admit has taught me that competing for a title immediately (or even in the first couple of years) is not usually a realistic scenario. The pooled talent of the three teams features more established talent than is usually available in a dispersal draft, but due to the astute nature of the other managers (and the rosters they’ve already assembled) in this league, I have no illusions of competing for a championship right away.

Looking at the talent available, I quickly determined three things:

1) After the top seven hitters are off the board, the hitting turns ugly pretty quickly, so I felt it was crucial to avoid reaching for the next-available hitter simply to balance out my roster. My intention was to pick the best talent and worry about roster construction later, as most of these guys are probably going to end up getting traded anyway.

2) The starting pitching depth is robust. There are legit fantasy aces available, quality young arms with upside on the board, and a few enticing minor-league arms to be mined as well. I should be able to pluck more than a few arms that I can flip for hitting depth as needed.

3) The collective farm systems of these three teams are not exactly overflowing with talent to put it nicely. With 200 prospects rostered in TDGX, there are 6-8 players total that I would rank inside a top-200 list, putting further emphasis on acquiring quality trade assets.

The Draft

Pick

Owner

Player

1

Bissell

Carlos Correa – SS – HOU

2

Wellemeyer

Paul Goldschmidt – 1B – ARI

3

Jansons

Miguel Cabrera – 1B – DET

4

Jansons

Madison Bumgarner – SP – SF

5

Wellemeyer

Joey Votto – 1B – CIN

6

Bissell

Edwin Encarnacion – 1B – TOR

7

Bissell

Charlie Blackmon – OF – COL

Bissell: A clear-cut tier comprised of seven elite hitters (depending on how you feel about Carlos Gomez rebounding) were available in this draft class. Given where I was picking, and the premium I placed on grabbing as many hitters as possible early on, I was guaranteed to end up with at least three of them. As a result, I didn’t have to make any big decisions right out of the gate. After snapping up Correa, I would end up with whatever pair of bats remained after J.J. and Greg made their selections.

I know what you’re thinking: “Why not take a 22-year-old shortstop (Lindor) over a 29-year-old outfielder (Blackmon) in a dynasty league?” Fair question. I want to compete right now and Blackmon is simply a much better all-around hitter for at least the next few years than Lindor, who is getting a bit overrated right now. Seriously, he’s going no. 55 overall on average in early NFBC drafts. Did I consider it? Absolutely, but I couldn’t pass on Blackmon, who finished as a top-seven hitter, earning $33 in standard mixed leagues (according to Mike Gianella’s retrospective valuations) last season.

Wellemeyer: The first pick was pretty straightforward: Take whichever one of Correa or Goldschmidt George left for me. I would have popped Correa first too, but I’m certainly not disappointed about building around the game’s best five-category stud in the middle of his prime. Starting with Goldschmidt instead of the 21-year-old shortstop only reinforced my commitment to build a present-day contender.

My next pick came down to the pair of 32-year-old first basemen and you could make a good case for either one, but ultimately I didn’t feel compelled to chase power with Goldschmidt already signed up. After an injury-plagued and unproductive 2014, Votto put to bed any notion of a premature decline phase with a vintage performance in 2015. I expect his skill set will age gracefully and he’ll make for a light version of my first pick for at least a couple more seasons.

Jansons: Since my attempt to remove Correa (or Goldschmidt) off of the list of available players to draft before Bret sent it over to George and Greg was foiled, I simply wanted to take what I felt were the two best players on the board, and for me they were Cabrera and Bumgarner. If this were an OBP league, I’d probably have taken Votto, but Bumgarner’s age gave him a slight edge over Votto, whose Reds figure to be horrific over the next couple of years, and Encarnacion, whose dynasty value could take a dip if he leaves Toronto at the end of the season. It sucks having only two of the first eight picks in a draft like this, so I guess I’m happy that I secured an elite hitter and one of the bonafide aces (Bumgarner or Strasburg) with my first two selections.

Pick

Owner

Player

8

Wellemeyer

Francisco Lindor – SS – CLE

9

Jansons

Stephen Strasburg – SP – WAS

10

Jansons

Carlos Gomez – OF – HOU

11

Wellemeyer

Kyle Seager – 3B – SEA

12

Bissell

Carlos Carrasco – SP – CLE

13

Bissell

Marcus Stroman – SP – TOR

14

Wellemeyer

Dallas Keuchel – SP – HOU

Wellemeyer: I was thrilled and surprised when Lindor came back around to me with the eighth pick. He’s going to man short and hit at the top of the Indians’ lineup for a decade, and he’s going to run. Lindor needed less than 100 games to turn in a top-six performance at the position in 2015. At age 21. Heading into 2016, Lindor has all the makings of a player who is so overrated in unsophisticated leagues that he’ll be underrated by the sharps. It’s not incorrect to point at the 13 percent HR:FB rate and the .313 batting average and comment about the unlikelihood of a repeat, but fantasy value is dictated by placement relative to your positional peers. Even after Lindor backs up, who is going to overtake him? He’s a cornerstone player for my franchise’s future, and also a big part of my present.

I was thinking about my empty rotation at 11, but felt there was still plenty of depth there and didn’t have strong feelings about anyone in the group. Okay, fine, I have strong feelings about Stroman. Nevertheless, Seager was a notch above any of the remaining offensive players and fits what I’m trying to do. He’s durable and bankable and should have a few more productive seasons that line up with my competitive window.

After George took two more starters at the turn, it was time for me to join the pitching party. Oh looky there, the AL Cy Young winner is still on the board. I’ll take him, thanks. I don’t really expect him to repeat the 2.48 ERA and 1.02 WHIP he offered up in 2015 but I’m absolutely okay with Keuchel as my ace in a 20-teamer. The fact that he’s thrown 200+ innings in each of the last two seasons, including 232 in 2015, is a huge bonus. I like George’s pair better on skills alone but I’ll sacrifice upside for volume given my overall strategy.

Jansons: Waiting …… waiting …… waiting …… is it my turn yet? Good grief that seemed like it was forever. I’m heartbroken (but not surprised) that Lindor didn’t fall to me, but adding Strasburg is a nice consolation prize. Gomez was viewed a top-20 dynasty asset heading into this season, making his selection as the eighth hitter off the board a good value if he can stay healthy, especially in a league that starts five outfielders. He stole more bases (10) in 41 games with the Astros than he did with the Brewers (seven in 74 games), so hopefully he keeps running in his first full season in Houston. Wake me up when it’s my turn to pick again.

Bissell: Why doesn’t anyone give Keuchel the respect he deserves? I knew this was going to be a controversial decision, but I opted for the more desirable trade asset in Carrasco, who I subsequently dealt for another much-needed stud hitter (Corey Dickerson) just a few days after the draft wrapped up. I have zero doubt that taking Stroman over Keuchel was the correct decision. He’s just 24 years old and barring injury, he will be the centerpiece of my rotation for the next decade. He wasn’t going to make it back to me and if you’re going to anchor a dynasty rotation with a single young starter, he’s right at the top of a very exclusive list for me.

Pick

Owner

Player

15

Jansons

Danny Salazar – SP – CLE

16

Jansons

Carlos Martinez – SP – STL

17

Wellemeyer

Adam Wainwright – SP – STL

18

Bissell

Alex Reyes – SP – STL

19

Bissell

Tyler Glasnow – SP – PIT

20

Wellemeyer

Jung-Ho Kang – SS – PIT

Jansons: No surprise that George took Stroman; that’s the least surprising thing that’s taken place to this point. Salazar, Martinez, and Kang were the next three on my board, and were I trying to compete this season, I would have taken Kang, but I couldn’t resist the upside of Salazar and Martinez. Of course Martinez’s shoulder is a giant red flag, but it’s the Cardinals, so I’m sure everything will work out fine and I have these two both firmly inside the top-30 starters. I don’t feel great about passing on Kang, who I know won’t last to my next pick, but if healthy (and granted that’s a huge if) I’d put Martinez as the third- or fourth-best available pitcher in this draft. I’ve already received quite a few solid trade offers for Salazar, so I’m confident that he’s a guy who can provide the young hitting that isn’t left the rest of the way.

Wellemeyer: The cluster of pitchers that were somewhat indistinguishable to me at 11 was down to just Adam Wainwright by pick 17. The next two pitchers on my board were Patrick Corbin and Kyle Hendricks. I like both of those guys in the right spot, but in need of pitching, this was an easy pick. 34-year-olds coming off Achilles injuries are scary, but not as scary as Kyle Hendricks as my no. 2. It’s too bad that taking Waino here means I won’t get Kang.

Wait, what? Who stole George’s computer? After his excellent call on Kang at mid-season (please don’t read my blurb while you’re there), I was certain that George would nab Kang here. He was a .310/.364/.568 hitter in the second half and while that average isn’t going to hold, the power is a huge competitive advantage at short. I’m not worried about the knee injury, I’m just glad MLB immediately implemented the Coghlan rule so that role players who occasionally play a poor second base can’t take out their more relevant counterparts at a critical juncture of the season.

Bissell: It’s no surprise that all three of us placed a premium on gobbling up as many elite hitters as possible, but the drop-off that occurred after Gomez and Seager went off the board 10th and 11th overall, respectively, is stunning. The next nine picks were all pitchers, which tells you everything you need to know about what types of hitters were left to choose from. Frankly, I was a bit surprised to be in a position to steal a pair of the most electric arms in the minors in Alex Reyes and Tyler Glasnow here. In a deep dynasty league like this, these two prospects are either cornerstone pieces to rebuild around (along with Stroman) or if I’m in contention right out of the gate this season, the perfect trade chips to deal off for an asset that can help put me over the top.

What’s Next?

This concludes part one of a three-part series, which will continue over at our satellite institution The Dynasty Guru over the next few weeks in January. Happy New Year!

Thank you for reading

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jonkk1
12/31
Very interesting read, with great commentary on everyone's plans, thoughts and adjustments. Thanks!
sam19041
12/31
Fun read! Always curious about dynasty league dynamics, so this is helpful and interesting.
DoubleT8600
1/01
Jeez, all those 30+ hitters over Lindor don't seem appropriate for dynasty IMO.
GeorgeBissell
1/01
No doubt, Lindor had one of the best rookie seasons by a shortstop in major league history, racking up 4.6 WAR (Baseball-Reference) in 99 games: http://bbref.com/pi/shareit/1swUf

With that being said, a lot of that value was driven by his unbelievable defense. He's the classic example of a franchise cornerstone real-life player whose not worth nearly as much as a fantasy asset. The power (12 HR in 438 PA) was a bit surprising given what he showed as a prospect in the minors. I won't speak for everyone, and i'll even acknowledge that Lindor is a phenomenal player, but he's getting a bit overrated right now in fantasy, as evidenced by the fact he's currently going #55 overall (4th Round) on average in early NFBC drafts. The potential upside (his offensive ceiling) is already built into his draft day price in both re-draft and dynasty right now.

As I wrote in the piece, Charlie Blackmon was a top-10 fantasy hitter last season and hasn't turned 30 yet. I think where he went in this draft was just about right given the other names that were available (and clearly better fantasy hitters right now).
brucegilsen
1/03
I'm surprised you guys aren't discounting much for the chance that dickerson or blackmon get traded.