(Click here for the first “Beat Chris Liss” League)
I drew the second pick, but once I saw who drew the first – Eric Heberlig who won the overall contest a couple years ago and always goes pitching-heavy early – I knew I would again be denied Clayton Kershaw. So at 1.2 it was Mike Trout.
In Round 2, I wasn’t sure what I would do – I considered taking a pitcher (I had settled on Madison Bumgarner once Max Scherzer and Chris Sale were gone), but Buster Posey fell all the way to 2.11, and I thought getting him in a 12-team mixed league, where scarcity at catcher is real (as opposed to an only-league where there’s scarcity everywhere) was a good deal. Plus, Heberlig *might* go hitter-hitter with Kershaw, though I wouldn’t have been surprised to see him take one pitcher. Even so, there was a decent chance he took someone other than Bumgarner, and even if he did take Bumgarner, there were a lot of similar guys in that tier.
Of course, he did take Bumgarner, and that left me with a choice. The pitcher I really wanted to take was Noah Syndergaard, but I thought there was a small chance he’d fall to me in Round 4, so I took Jose Fernandez instead. Syndergaard went at 4.1, so he wasn’t even close to making it back.
In fact, Chris Archer, Dallas Keuchel, and even Jon Lester and Felix Hernandez went, so there weren’t any pitchers I was dying to get. I figured I’d get Johnny Cueto (just like Beat Chris Liss 1) in Round 5, so I took Yasiel Puig on the way back and Cueto at 5.2.
In Round 6, the hitters seemed to plateau, and there were no more high-K starters who jumped out, so I went with Zach Britton, both for the reliable saves and to bolster my Ks from a staff that was a little light. I took Eric Hosmer at the turn as first base drops off, and I like getting steals from a lot of different spots and avoid burning a pick on Ben Revere or Billy Hamilton if possible.
In Round 8, I snagged Michael Brantley – Stephania Bell assured me he’ll be fine once he returns, and there’s an outside chance he’ll be there on Opening Day. More steals and batting average from a team with Hosmer, Puig and Trout.
In Round 9, I took Adrian Beltre who performed serviceably with a bad thumb last year and isn’t done at age 36. Closers started flying off the board the next two rounds, so I secured a second reliable one in K-Rod at 10.11.
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My team was nicely balanced, but besides Trout, I didn’t have a big-time power hitter (though Posey is a nice leg up at catcher, and I think Puig will hit between 25 and 30 this year), so I picked David Ortiz at 11.2.
After Ortiz went, some starting pitchers flew off the board, and I had only Cueto and Fernandez, so I resolved to take two in Rounds 12 and 13. I also wanted to grab Byron Buxton, but decided I had to wait until Round 14.
When it got back to me I took Luis Severino and agonized between Jeff Samardzija (who I don’t like) and Drew Smyly. I went with Samardzija because the park is so good, and he can strike out 200 if he’s right. Of course, Buxton went at 13.9, and in retrospect, I could have waited another round to take my fourth starter because at 14.11 I got Wei-Yen Chen and 15.2 Smyly.
At 16.11, I took Marcus Semien (another 15 steals with some pop) and 17.2 Devin Mesoraco to pair with Posey. I still had holes in two OF spots and CI, but I’d have a nice edge at catcher.
At 18.11, I went with Kevin Gausman even though I had plenty of middle-tier pitching. Only some of them will pan out, and I wanted to maximize my upside the rest of the way. In Rounds 19 and 20 I took Will Smith and Jeremy Jeffress to lock down a third closer and have a player to drop before Opening Day.
In 21, I took a shot on another bench pitcher, Scott Kazmir. His velocity’s been down this spring, but I like the upside in Los Angeles. In Rounds 22 and 23 I took my two other middle infielders, Javier Baez and Jose Peraza. There’s a good chance I drop at least one of them, but Peraza could win a job, and Baez has 20-20 upside if someone gets hurt or he sees 450 at-bats in a super-sub role.
I still had two holes in the outfield and one at corner, so I resolved to take Carlos Beltran and Aaron Hicks, but screwed up taking Beltran first because Herberlig took Hicks on the turn. I settled for Domingo Santana instead.
In Round 26, I took Jedd Gyorko who qualifies at second base (Peraza and Baez might not play) and could hit 20 HR. In 27, I finally filled my corner with Brandon Moss who’s a 25-homer guy should he stay healthy and see all the at-bats against right-handed pitching.
In Round 28, I took Jayson Werth (actually I considered taking Joaquin Benoit to block Heberlig from pairing him with Steve Cishek) but forgot at the last second, and he took Benoit with the next pick. Not that I really needed a potential fourth closer. In 29, I took Rich Hill, another upside starter, and with the second to last pick in the draft I took Mark Canha, in case Moss doesn’t pan out.
In the end, I’m pleased with the team. I think with the high-end catchers, I’ll make up for the weakness at the corner, and in the 12-team, it’s not that hard to acquire a corner who can go 20-70-.270 from that slot over the course of the year. Between Beltran, Santana, Werth and Canha, I have enough options at the back end of my outfield, and like corners, they’re not too hard to acquire.
My starting pitching is risky with Fernandez and Cueto at the top end, but should those two largely pan out, I feel good about the army of high-upside arms I got in the middle and late rounds.
This team also has a lot of overlap with Beat Chris Liss 1. Yasiel Puig, Johnny Cueto, Adrian Beltre, K-Rod, Wei-Yen Chen, Marcus Semien and Kevin Gausman.