The Rotowire Dynasty Invitational has come and gone. In its inaugural season, each manager has laid foundation for the future, some shakier than others. Congratulations to Ryan Bloomfield of Baseball HQ, who claimed the first title in a heated three-way race that went down to the wire. A dynasty season with some of the industry’s brightest prospect minds and analysts isn’t an easy endeavor. Beyond the draft, it’s a race to see who pounces on the breakout prospects first and who makes the best deals while carefully managing a lineup and FAAB budget week to week.
At the conclusion of a fantasy season, it’s important to look back on your process, namely what went right and what went wrong. Everyone had a goal in mind. Naturally, issues like injuries or underperformance will present themselves, and you will need to deal with these issues if you want to continue succeeding. I reached out to each manager and asked them three questions: What was his or her goal, what went wrong and what went right.
If you’re feeling nostalgic and want to glance back at each manager’s first-round selection with blurbs on their reasoning, head here. The intro also breaks down the league settings.
The managers are listed in their order of finish.
1. Ryan Bloomfield (Baseball HQ)
What was your goal this season? My draft plan was simple: build a foundation of 26 to 30-year-olds that can compete both in 2018 and for the next 3-4 years. I followed that plan to a T; my first prospect was Jack Flaherty (15th round) and my first player over 31 years old was Nick Markakis (28th). I’d go with the exact same approach if I’m drafting a from-scratch dynasty team again.
What went wrong? Hector Neris was my only closer entering the season, so I fell behind early in saves. After a few failed FAAB pickups (Tyler Clippard, Bruce Rondon and Ryan Tepera), I ended up trading Flaherty, Luis Castillo and Jesus Aguilar to Matt Modica in a late-June deal for Edwin Diaz, Ian Kinsler and Nick Pivetta. Diaz’s saves and Kinsler’s bags helped me win the title, but I might regret that one over the next few years.
What went right? I hit my top three picks out of the park (Nolan Arenado, J.D. Martinez, Christian Yelich), picked up a couple aces later (Cole 6th round; Corbin 16th), and made a few big April FAAB moves (Jesus Aguilar, Marco Gonzales). I had AVG/HR/R/RBI locked up by July, which allowed me to trade for steals, saves and pitching ratios down the stretch.
2. James Anderson/Ian Kahn (Rotowire)
What was your goal this season? Our goal heading into the draft was to win the league in 2019. We didn’t want to draft all prospects, but we also didn’t want to put a heavy emphasis on competing this year.
What went wrong? A lot of small things went wrong, which I’m sure every owner would echo — that’s just the nature of a 20-team dynasty league with rosters this size. Two main things that really stand out: Chris Sale‘s usage/injury really hurt us down the stretch. We needed to be able to ride him if we wanted to win the league. We also were counting on around 40 combined steals from Ozzie Albies and Manuel Margot, and we’ll be lucky to get 25 from that duo.
What went right? As for what went right, we picked the right prospects/young players to part with and the right prospects to hold, for the most part. We held Bo Bichette and Royce Lewis all season and still almost won the league. We traded Lewis Brinson, Greg Bird, Jorge Mateo, A.J. Puk, Leody Taveras, Jhailyn Ortiz, Franklin Perez, etc. Guys like Austin Riley, Yordan Alvarez, Nolan Jones, Austin Beck and D’Shawn Knowles are still ascending assets that could sting in a few years, but we got major big-league pieces in all those deals that have us poised to enter 2019 as the favorites to win the league, so we’ll live with it. Tyler Glasnow in the 18th and Jurickson Profar in the 27th stand out as excellent picks.
3. Eddy Almaguer (Baseball Prospectus)
What was your goal this season? I pushed all my chips in when I sent away 18 of my 35 keeper slots for 2019 to land the rights to the first overall pick (aka Mike Trout). I wanted to compete for a title immediately. But I also wanted to build up 2019 picks here and there through prospect trades so I can lessen the blow once I lose more than half my team in the offseason.
What went wrong? Yu Darvish and Stephen Strasburg missing a large amount of time was a pretty big hit, especially when I finished so low in the Wins column. Kevin Kiermaier and Marwin Gonzalez vastly underperformed. That’s four of my first nine draft picks that hindered me.
What went right? I combated the loss of Strasburg and Darvish with profitable trades for Charlie Morton and James Paxton. I also landed Trevor Story in a trade in early-June. I hit on late picks like Zack Wheeler, Johan Camargo and Shane Greene. Bud Norris and Dereck Rodriguez were great FAAB acquisitions. And I landed a 2nd, two 3rds and a 5th round pick in next year’s draft, which will be crucial in rebuilding my roster. I’m optimistic about keeping a strong core of 17 players and then using my extra picks in the 2019 draft to make sure I can make another run.
4. Rob Silver (2016 NFBC Main Event Champion)
What was your goal this season? My goal was to draft the oldest team imaginable in a dynasty league and hope that at least half of them don’t break and/or retire so that I could coast to victory in the first season.
What went wrong? When you go all in and your second and third round picks are Josh Donaldson and Madison Bumgarner, a lot went wrong. Looking back at my draft, I don’t know what I was thinking through much of it.
What went right? Taking Trea Turner over Carlos Correa raised some eyebrows at the time but I stand by that even stronger now. Justin Verlander had a tremendous season. Picking up Franmil Reyes for nothing off FAAB gives me warm feelings.
5. Bret Sayre (Baseball Prospectus)
What was your goal this season? I’ve been pretty honest that my goal this year was to build a young team that was a potential dark horse contender in 2018 with the ability to be a strong contender in 2019 and beyond.
What went wrong? My biggest weakness coming out of the draft was saves, and that was purposeful since I had assumed that if I found myself contending, I could pick up a few closers relatively easily. Those trades/waiver adds were harder to come by than I anticipated, and while I ended the season with three closers (Cody Allen and Shane Greene via trade and Wily Peralta via FAAB), it wasn’t enough to prevent me from being in the bottom third of the category. Also, with Buster Posey disappointing and guys like Yoan Moncada, Rafael Devers, Kyle Schwarber, Billy Hamilton and Justin Smoak all failing to hit .250, my batting average suffered. The guy with the highest average on my team? You guessed it: Joey Wendle.
What went right? Grabbing Francisco Lindor with my first-round pick worked out pretty well. Grabbing Juan Soto with my ninth was even better. My offense is young and well-rounded—I will only have three players over the age of 28 in my lineup next year, and more than half the group is under 25. On the pitching side, I ended up finding my ace in Blake Snell and pairing him with two top-30 starters in Kyle Hendricks (acquired via trade) and Trevor Williams. Add in a few high-upside arms who could easily jump into that range like Eduardo Rodriguez, Jon Gray, Rich Hill and Tyler Skaggs, and it’s a pretty deep pitching staff as well, at least on the starting side of things. Categorically, with Lindor, Hamilton and Adalberto Mondesi (the #SORBOR), I stand a good chance to finish first in steals again—and as I’m well aware from TDGX, steals are pretty hard to come by in a competitive 20-team dynasty league.
6. J.P. Breen (Milwaukee’s Tailgate)
What was your goal this season? My goal this year was to establish a young core of big-league position players and to finish in the middle of the league. I feel I accomplished that goal.
What went wrong? Nothing particularly went “wrong” at the big-league level other than injuries. I wasn’t the best team in the league this year, and the results showed that. However, on the minor-league side, I had some disappointing performances from guys who fell a bit in the draft, despite pop-up performances in 2017 — guys like Monte Harrison.
7. Matt Winkelman (Phillies Minors Thoughts)
What was your goal this season? The goal was to try and be competitive this year while not going fully all in and having some future value.
What went wrong? Corey Seager got hurt. That kind of ended any real hope. Marcell Ozuna, Tommy Pham and Michael Conforto (my top three outfielders) had down starts to the year. I was buried pretty early.
What went right? The hitting improved once I traded away some players. The team isn’t that old.
8. Clay Link (Rotowire)
What was your goal this season? Build a sustainable winner by loading up on young, MLB-ready talent.
What went wrong? Ian Happ and Delino DeShields were big busts, and to a lesser extent Carlos Correa and Ryan McMahon. Injuries to Franchy Cordero, David Dahl and Avisail Garcia hurt. Look no further than my 44.5/89.0 hitting/pitching point split for the story of my RDI season.
9. Derek Van Riper (Rotowire)
What was your goal this season? Given the extremely knowledgeable prospect analysts in the league, my goal was to compete for a title immediately, build around a core of reliable veteran pieces and take several shots in the draft on very young, high-risk, high-reward prospects in hopes of landing a few blue-chip long-term pieces at a discounted price.
What went wrong? I ended up getting stuck in the 6-10 range for most of the year, in part because of injuries, but also because I failed to get aggressive on the trade market in June and July. Kris Bryant’s shoulder injury, Jose Abreu’s disappointing first half and Brian Dozier playing through a knee injury throughout the season dragged down my offensive production. In a league this deep, you simply can’t afford that many foundational pieces coming up short. I also whiffed badly on Dexter Fowler as an undervalued old player, and absorbed a horrendous start from Kole Calhoun before he showed signs of putting it back together after returning from the DL in June. All told, several holes in my lineup kept me from contending for the title in the end.
What went right? I’m on track to finish second in the league in pitching points, but considering the lack of youth in my core, this roster could age poorly in 2020 and beyond. Some of the prospects I waited on took big steps forward in the early stages of their development — Hudson Potts, Ke’Bryan Hayes and Ronaldo Hernandez look like excellent long-term pieces to build around. I may have found a few surprisingly useful players over the course of the year on the waiver wire depending on the Yankees’ plans for Luke Voit in 2019 and Ty Buttrey’s projected role in the Angels’ pen.
10. Josh Katzenstein (The Times-Picayune)
What was your goal this season? Our goal this year was to contend in a lot of hitting categories while hoping to be middling in pitching categories knowing we had Mike Soroka and Forrest Whitley coming soon.
What went wrong? Unfortunately, our pitching was an absolute train wreck.
What went right? We made the move to acquire Luis Severino, which should help next year, and with our other young talent, I expect us to do much better in 2019.
11. Justin Mason (FWFB)
What was your goal this season? I approach dynasty leagues like I do redraft leagues. I want to win now. My strategy coming into the season was to play for Year 1.
What went wrong? I spent a lot of my keepers for Year 2 on the second pick. Unfortunately, Jose Altuve really let me down. I also was not as aggressive on the trade market as other people. I didn’t realize teams would sell as early and as cheaply as they did.
What went right? After I decided I couldn’t win the first year, I made some nice trades that will hopefully put my team in a good position for next season or in position for a full rebuild.
12. Chris Welsh (In This League)
What went wrong? Injuries killed me. I had depth and solid starting pitching, but injuries continued to kill me all year long.
What went right? Jacob DeGrom went really right. The elite SP drafting in a big league allowed me to pull off a few trades, and I go into Year 2 with Kershaw and deGrom. I’m still built to win now.
13. Matt Thompson (FWFB)
What was your goal this season? Our plan in RDI was to balance youth and taking the best player available.
What went wrong? What went wrong was the Brewers wrongly trading for an outfielder from Miami after they already had Domingo Santana. Even if Christian Yelich wins the MVP, they shouldn’t have done that (kidding obviously). I also decided to zig when others zagged in the draft and took some pitching prospects when the bats came off the board earlier than expected, so the Michael Kopech and Alex Reyes injuries hurt.
14. Craig Goldstein/Ben Carsley (Baseball Prospectus)
What was your goal this season?
CRAIG: It was a bit of a hedge between competing immediately and building for the long-term. Never expected to win this year but somewhat of the equivalent of shooting for 84 wins and seeing what happens, maybe?
BEN: My primary goal was ensuring we ended up with Xander Bogaerts, and in that I succeeded, so the rest is a wash.
What went wrong?
BEN: Let’s focus on what’s not our fault — all of the offensive injuries! We couldn’t have seen those coming. On the other hand, I suppose you could say that just not building a pitching staff at all was a mistake. Also, we could never find a rebuilding trade offer we liked enough to pull the trigger on.
What went right?
BEN: Xander! Also we were so utterly and completely out of it by the sixth week of the season that I was able to relax.
15. Matt Modica (CTM Baseball)
What was your goal this season? To be competitive with the best mix of young MLB players and veterans.
16. Ralph Lifshitz (Razzball)
What was your goal this season? To acquire as many keeper players as possible. I have my full set of keepers, and knew I didn’t have the squad to compete. Did I achieve this? Maybe. I did add some excellent prospects in Brendan McKay, Everson Pereira and Tirso Ornelas as well as Brandon Lowe and Chris Shaw, who should help to fortify a major depth weakness in my outfield.
What went right? My pitching isn’t bad. Bauer, Folty and Lucchesi were good picks. I added Shane Bieber from the wire, and my top two pitching prospects, J.B. Bukauskas and Hans Crouse, looked solid. Not a lot went right. This team is bad. All the more fun to fix…for the next decade.
17. Wilson Karaman (Baseball Prospectus)
What was your goal this season? I took over a terrible, abandoned team with almost no FAAB in July, so I had no goals whatsoever.
What went wrong? I wasn’t able to move some other veterans, guys like Justin Turner, Chris Taylor, Evan Longoria. And whoever I took the team from apparently bid like a dozen keeper spots for his draft position, which I didn’t realize until after I’d made a couple deals.
What went right? I was able to make a couple trades and acquire some okay prospects.
18. Chris Blessing (Baseball HQ)
What was your goal this season? My goal this year was to put a competitive team on the field and see where it took me. It took me to a dark place.
What went wrong? Where to start? I prepared a game plan prior to the draft to focus on the best hitter available and then immediately go after pitching in rounds 3-5. My 2nd round pick was foolish and showed my inexperience in the format, selecting Willson Contreras over several hitters I had higher because I panicked, missing out on several better bats. My lineup never recovered.
What went right? I took heat from my fellow competitors and others on Twitter for throwing in the towel so early. However, I didn’t believe in the players on my roster. I acquired several prospects who I feel could put me in a great position. Sure, I could have waited for better offers. However, I acquired players I feel good about moving forward. After a bad draft, that’s all I could ask for. I feel good about this team’s future.
19. Melissa Lockard (The Athletic SF)
What was your goal this season? My goal was to put together a young roster that would mature together in 1-3 years. My active roster includes several young position players I think will reach their prime together in a couple of years, while my pitching focused more on prospects on the cusp of the big leagues who will be leading staffs in 2-3 years.
What went wrong? Injuries, and a couple of more established young players who took significant steps backwards.
20. Tom Trudeau/Greg Wellemeyer (Dynasty Guru/Baseball Prospectus)
What was your goal this season? Our goal in the first year was to maximize the value of our picks (tank), opportunistically buy distressed assets (Lewis Brinson, Corey Seager), invest all meaningful assets in bats, unearth some pop up prospects with long-term value and sell off pieces for picks in a deep draft that we felt we could backfill on waivers.
What went wrong? Our biggest misstep of the year was on draft day when I chose Yu Chang over Wander Franco.
What went right? Our prospects developed nicely, particularly our top picks: Acuna, Vlad and Tatis. We also were able to add valuable prospects, such as Nathaniel Lowe, by being active on waivers. Short of even better prospect luck and maybe a little more attention paid to pop up teenagers during the month of August, we couldn’t really have asked for a better first year. As it stands, we think we have the most talent, but we will likely wait another year before fully optimizing (read: pay for pitching) for a stretch of dominance.
Thank you for reading
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