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I’ve been participating in Mixed Auction Tout Wars since 2012. I’ve played in several NFBC leagues in recent years. But this past Tuesday night was a first. My first year in Mixed LABR would also be my first true industry non-auction draft. And I learned quite a bit from the experience. The biggest takeaway was that even though the auction is perceived as being geared towards more advanced players, as auctions tend to require more preparation time than standard snake drafts, at the highest level, snake drafts might actually be more challenging. In auctions, if you’re willing to spend the most money on a certain player, you’re going to get him. If you overpay by too much, you might end up regretting the buy, but the bottom line is that you have total control, at least when it comes to the core of your roster. That’s obviously not the case in snake drafts.

Knowing ahead of time that I’d be drafting out of the #5 slot, I mapped out a general plan of which players and/or positions I’d be targeting in each of the first seven or eight rounds, with contingency plans in mind. My first two picks went as scripted, but when Starling Marte was taken two picks before my turn in the third round and Lorenzo Cain went off the board one pick before my turn in the fourth round, the best laid plans were no longer a reality. I think I did a decent job of adjusting, but it was frustrating nonetheless. I was able to secure several of my targets, but there are also some players on my squad (most notably Ender Inciarte and Shin-Soo Choo) who I drafted purely from a category and/or position need standpoint. They could turn out to be quality choices, but I’m just not all that excited about them. Here’s a round-by-round recap with accompanying commentary. Keep in mind that Mixed LABR is a 15-team, standard 5×5 Roto league with 23 starters and six bench spots.

My Mixed LABR Draft (by round)



Nolan Arenado Wanted Arenado and got Arenado, who offers an elite four-category floor. I considered J.D. Martinez but Arenado’s durability was the deciding factor.


Gerrit Cole Was hoping that one of Kluber, Verlander, Cole or Nola would be available here. Cole and Nola were available. I slightly prefer Cole. With SP innings trending downward, I think it’s important to draft a true ace this year.


Anthony Rizzo My Plan B if I missed out on Marte. The high-end 1B pool isn’t very deep. I think Rizzo will return to the 30+ HR level this season.


Jean Segura May have taken him a round too early but after missing out on Cain, I needed that SB/AVG combination and I doubted that Segura would still be available when I picked in the fifth. Aimed for two of Marte/Cain/Segura. Got only one.


Justin Upton A longtime favorite of mine as he’s continually underrated. Might have been able to get him in the 6th but with no outfielders on my roster, I needed to pounce now.


Madison Bumgarner Maybe the most popular bust pick for 2019 but I couldn’t let him fall any further. As an SP2, I think he’s worth the risk.


Brad Hand Targeted a high-end closer and with Osuna and Chapman being taken earlier this round, I was pretty sure that all of the remaining top-10 guys would be gone by my next turn. I was right.


Ender Inciarte Without question my least favorite pick. I was short in both speed and outfielders and he was the best remaining player who checked both boxes. His value would take a hit if he bats near the bottom of the order. He might have still been available two rounds later.


Kirby Yates Planned on drafting two reliable closers and Yates was the best one still available when factoring in both talent and job security.


Tim Anderson Needed more speed and Anderson provides power too. He’s more appealing in AVG leagues than in OBP formats as he won’t be a huge drain if he can get back up to .250.


Jose Quintana Previously a model of consistency, Quintana was consistently inconsistent last season. Banking on a rebound at a significantly discounted price.


Hunter Renfroe 30-HR threat could prove to be a bargain if he can at least hit .250.


Asdrubal Cabrera Now playing half of his games in Texas, this overlooked veteran is poised for another 20+ HR season and his multi-position eligibility boosts his value.


Welington Castillo Potential 20-HR backstop who won’t hurt your average in the 14th round? Sign me up.


Zack Godley Needs to be more consistent overall but the strikeouts are nice. Would have liked him more as my SP5.


Peter Alonso My most exciting pick. Tremendous power upside. Hoping that he can be a mainstay in my CI slot for the majority of the season.


Shin-Soo Choo Maybe my most boring pick? Choo has stayed healthy in each of the last two seasons and should at least be a 20+ home run source with 80+ runs. He’s much more exciting in OBP leagues though.


Julio Teheran Signs point to an imminent collapse, but the SP pickings at this stage of the draft were slim, so I’ll believe in the solid track record and hope that Teheran has one more quality season in him.


Manuel Margot Fits the post-hype sleeper mold. Hasn’t stolen as many bases as we once thought, but he’s still just 24. There’s 15/20 potential here if all goes right.


Mitch Garver The best available backstop. Should post respectable counting stats without hurting my AVG.


Brandon Belt Placeholder at CI if Alonso doesn’t open the season in the majors but I’ll play Belt at Utility if he’s producing. Still waiting for that breakout. Staying healthy would help.


Adam Ottavino ERA/WHIP stabilizer with elite K rate.


Michael Wacha Was pitching well last season before getting hurt. Injury risk but I don’t mind 23rd-round injury risks. Wacha carries mid-rotation fantasy potential.


Ian Kinsler Power/speed bench bat who should get regular playing time until Tatis Jr. is ready, and if the Padres don’t land Machado, Kinsler might still play nearly every day even after Tatis Jr. gets the call.


Anibal Sanchez Cautiously optimistic that last season wasn’t a fluke.


Dustin Fowler Needs to win starting job but young power/speed guys aren’t easy to find this late in deep-league drafts.


Joe Ross Health is always a question but I’m betting on the skills. If it doesn’t work out, I could easily cut bait early in the season.


Willie Calhoun Another post-hype sleeper dart throw. There’s a reason why he was viewed as one of the game’s top prospects at this time last year, and the rebuilding Rangers will give him every opportunity to claim a starting job to begin the season.


CC Sabathia Final-round sentimental pick as he heads into his final season. Oh, and CC was pretty good last year.

All in all, I like this team but don’t love it. My strength is clearly in the infield and the bullpen while the outfield is in need of another legitimate top-30 option and the starting pitching is high-risk/high-reward. I’m glad that this is a trading league because an infielder-for-outfielder swap might be necessary. From a category standpoint, the power is strong and the batting average should at least be middle of the pack. Steals are my biggest weakness on the hitting side but if either Fowler or Margot can swipe 20 bags, I could be competitive.

But ultimately, while it can be fun to closely evaluate your newly-crafted fantasy roster and stack it up against the rosters of your league mates, this isn’t really a meaningful exercise, especially when your draft is in mid-February. Still, it’s only natural to partake in this “meaningless” exercise. So, all of us in Mixed LABR will now have six weeks to stare at our rosters, knowing that we can’t do anything to change them. This is going to be tough.

Special thanks to Steve Gardner for the league invite. To view the complete draft results, CLICK HERE

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Robert Thompson
I had the same analysis on the Infield for Outfield swap. I think I'm learning that of is not deep like I always think it is.
Zach Steinhorn
Yup. I didn't consciously wait on outfield. It just turned out that way. But definitely don't hesitate to draft two even in the first three or four rounds.