Articles by Nick Shlain

A listing of all the articles written by Nick Shlain for the RotoWire Blog.

FSWA Draft Review

Mock draft season is over, real drafts are in full swing, and I couldn’t be more excited for this. Last Monday night, I participated in the R.J. White Fantasy Sports Writers Association league. It’s a 12-team, 5×5 mixer with quality starts in place of wins and on-base percentage and slugging percentage in place of average and homers. The format is unique, but my goals heading into the draft were still the same. I didn’t want to leave any category behind and by the end, I felt like I was able to accomplish that with a balanced group of both hitters and pitchers. Without further adieu, let’s get into it.

Round 1

With the fourth pick, I assumed the choice between Andrew McCutchen and Paul Goldschmidt would be made for me by the team picking third. Never assume, kids at home. Joshua Kay jumped on Clayton Kershaw third, allowing me to grab McCutchen, and this wasn’t even the biggest surprise of the round. Troy Tulowitzki was picked sixth overall! I didn’t get that pick at all as the RotoWire custom rankings have Tulo ranked 32nd overall in this format, and it seems like a big reach even before considering Tulo’s durability problems. Joey Votto falling to 12th was somewhat surprising as it’s almost a forgone conclusion that he’ll lead the National League in OBP this year. I understand that Bryce Harper is young and missed time last year, but if I had a later pick he wouldn’t have fallen out of the first round. I’d definitely take Harper over Chris Davis and Ryan Braun in this format. Harper has the OBP advantage on Davis and I believe in his power more than Braun’s at this point.

2.21 Giancarlo Stanton

There weren’t any real surprises in this round, so I’ll just break down my pick. Having OBP as a category turns Stanton into a four-category player and he could be elite, with health. He’s missed a ton of games already in his young career, but I went for the upside play. As another owner said during the draft, ?No one remembers who finishes second in industry leagues.?

Six picks went by before my next selection and if Freddie Freeman (3.26) dropped I’d have considered him heavily, but he didn’t so I took Cliff Lee as the third pitcher off the board (Kershaw and Darvish 2.22). I did so with an eye toward grabbing another ace in the fourth round, double dipping just as I had done in a few mock drafts this year.

Here were the pitchers taken after I took Lee:

3.33 Max Scherzer
3.36 Felix Hernandez
4.39 Stephen Strasburg
4.40 Adam Wainwright
4.41 Chris Sale
4.42 Madison Bumgarner

So at 4.45 I was ecstatic to see Jose Fernandez still available. He’s an absolute stud and there simply wasn’t the appropriate boost to his value with quality starts replacing wins in this league. I think he has an argument to be the fourth pitcher taken after Kershaw, Darvish, and Lee. I was able to get him after six pitchers that aren’t quite as valuable in my mind. Do the happy dance, do the happy dance.

A couple surprises before we move on to the fifth round. Joe Mauer at 3.35? I just don’t see how he can return the value here. Sure, Mauer is an elite OBP guy and being able to have that at catcher sure is nice, but the Twins’ lineup is terrible and his run and RBI totals will suffer. Also of concern are his concussion issues, which aren’t to be taken lightly. Jay Bruce fell to 4.37 and with moving to the cleanup spot this year, I think that’s nice value. Carlos Gomez fell to 4.44. OBP is life.

5.52 Hunter Pence

Pence absolutely shouldn’t still be available this late and, yet, there he was sitting for me. The RotoWire custom rankings had Pence ranked 30th in this format. I don’t know what happened, scared of his not great OBP? Maybe the other owners don’t think he’ll continue to steal bases this way? Even a modest Pence projection would have him coming off the board 15 picks earlier, and he feels like a major steal here.

The first closers came off the board in this round: Craig Kimbrel 5.50 and Aroldis Chapman 5.56. That’s good value for each, but I’m never one to jump on closers.

6.69 Starling Marte

Another outfielder I just couldn’t pass up because he should’ve been taken already. Alex Rios was taken at 4.48 and his numbers are comparable to Marte, who I’m very happy to have 21 spots later. Even with BABIP regression from the .363 mark Marte posted in 2013, he should post an acceptable OBP and I believe in his .161 ISO.

Matt Carpenter fell to 6.62 and that seems like great value. He won’t steal bases, but with 73 extra-base hits in 2013, he does everything else in this league.

7.76 Brandon Belt

With McCutchen, Pence, and Marte already in the fold, I was able to hold off on the Billy Hamilton speed play here and finally address my infield. Belt is a nice get as a solid four category corner player. He showed legitimate power last year with 39 doubles and 17 homers. He’s also a good average hitter and he takes his share of walks.

Carlos Santana was taken two spots ahead of me in this round and he was the best player taken in the round. Yadier Molina was taken right before Santana and that was a questionable decision. Molina isn’t likely to match Santana in any category this year and Santana will likely play more as Cleveland’s regular designated hitter.

8.93 Jose Abreu

I haven’t seen much of Abreu this spring as it seems like every time he’s been in the White Sox’s lineup the game isn’t televised, but I’m a big believer and there’s room for upside getting him here. With Belt and Abreu, I’ve locked in power and OBP at the corners.

Alex Gordon was another pick in this round that I liked. His BABIP dropped to .310 after two straight seasons close to .360 and he saw his OBP fall to .327. If that’s what you get in his down year, it’s safe to expect an OBP in the .350s with positive regression. He’s hit at least 20 homers in two of the last three years and moving into the fifth spot in the order this year should boost his RBI total into the 90s.

9.100 Brett Gardner

Mike Gianella, of Baseball Prospectus and Roto Think Tank fame, once had a really good comment about Gardner that I almost remember. I’m paraphrasing, but he said players like Gardner and Angel Pagan are the type of speed-only players that you can wait on in mixed leagues but are essential in ?only? leagues. This absolutely holds in leagues that use batting average, but using OBP helps out Gardner (career .352 OBP) quite a bit. Gardner only stole 24 bases in 2013, but remember he was the only non-Robinson Cano hitter worth anything in the Yankees’ lineup last season. Joe Girardi’s club cherished every baserunner they had last year and this limited Gardner’s stolen-base attempts considerably. In his prior two full seasons (2010-2011, he played just 16 games in 2012 due to an arm injury), Gardner stole 49 and 47 bases, respectively. Look for Gardner to get back to his stealing ways and he could even be a major runs scored threat if the Yankees go with my brilliant top of the order idea (Gardner-Jeter-Ellsbury). I don’t want to see Gardner buried in the order, but even if he is, he’ll likely get to lead off when Ellsbury inevitably misses some time.

The fifth and sixth closers to come off the board did so in this round in Koji Uehara and Trevor Rosenthal. I still won’t take one for another two rounds.

10.117 Chris Carter

This is probably my riskiest pick of the draft due to the strikeout rate, but I’m a believer in Carter. There’s plenty of room for improvement from his .223 average in 2013 and with 70 walks I can bank on at least a decent OBP. We know he has crazy power, plays in a bandbox, and will hit cleanup all season. With good speed on my team already, I wanted to boost my power here and I did so with Carter.

Brandon Moss came off the board seven picks before Carter and I’d have preferred him, but that’s the way she goes.

11.124 Casey Janssen

I have a closer and in my estimation the last elite closer available with Craig Kimbrel, Kenley Jansen, Greg Holland, Koji Uehara, Aroldis Chapman, and Trevor Rosenthal off the board. Joe Nathan was also selected, but I’m not sure I consider him elite at this stage of his career. I’m a big David Robertson fan, but Janssen’s 0.99 WHIP in 2013 tips the scales in his favor. Robertson’s control issues give me slight pause as he walked 6.9|PERCENT| of batters last year and 7.7|PERCENT| in 2012. He came off the board four picks later.

Chase Headley was the steal of this round and could be the steal of this draft depending on how far he bounces back. He dealt with regression and injuries in 2013, but when healthy he does a little bit of everything and with the dearth of good third basemen this year he’s potentially a very nice value at this point. Of course, he’s yet to see any game action this spring as he’s dealing with a calf strain.

12.141 Andrelton Simmons

I’m about to sound like a broken record because everyone already knows I adore Simmons. I think the average comes up this year after a .250 BABIP last year and that will boost his OBP and SLG. He can also steal a few more bags, a skill he displayed in the minors.

Alex Cobb and Jason Castro were both picks in this round that I happened to like. Cobb is a good pitcher with an excellent defense behind him in Tampa and you have to like Castro’s spot in the Astros’ lineup, especially with the addition of leadoff man Dexter Fowler. That should help boost his RBI total.

13.148 Michael Wacha
14.165 Steve Cishek
15.172 Hiroki Kuroda
16.189 Nate Jones

I had to make a pitching run at some point and I did. I was thrilled to get Wacha, a WHIP master and strikeout pitcher. I secured two more closers in Cishek and Jones and was able to grab Kuroda, a durable and underrated pitcher with good ratios.

17.196 Jed Lowrie/Trade

Ever make a trade during a draft? Well, I have now. I selected Lowrie and heard grumbling in the chat room from the owner picking behind me about missing out. Then he took Sonny Gray, who I thought was already taken thanks to a mistake by either me or the ESPN search function, and quickly a deal developed. Straight up for Lowrie, Sonny Gray was now finally mine. I feel pretty great to add this young stud with two plus pitches pitching in that ballpark to my already nice staff. Plus, he brings another upside arm to go along with Wacha.

18.213 Brian Dozier

Dozier is pretty underrated as a decent power and speed combination play in the middle infield, although his OBP won’t be an asset here.

19.220 Todd Frazier

Frazier is similar to Dozier in that he’ll provide power at a premium fantasy position and won’t have a good OBP. Still, at this point, there’s not a lot of OBP left, especially at third base. Worst case scenario is I’ll have power to trade at a time when power is scarce.

20.237 Ivan Nova

Remove last April from Nova’s 2013 and this is what you get: 122 IP 2.64 ERA 98:36 K:BB .245/.310/.332. Pretty decent. He’s only gotten better since ditching his slider and throwing his curveball a lot more. With health, this could end up being a very nice pick.

21.244 Howie Kendrick

Sonny Gray is going to make up for the difference between Lowrie and Kendrick provided Kendrick stays healthy. The only reason Kendrick got hurt a bunch of times in the second half last year was because I owned him in the Rotowire Staff Keeper League 2.0 and my entire team did (Stanton, David Wright, Asdrubal Cabrera, Joe Mauer, and the list goes on). I threw Kendrick back in the pool this offseason, so hopefully the curse is lifted and he can actually have a healthy career year, which he was on his way to having before, well, you know.

22.261 Oscar Taveras

Allen Craig can’t stay on the field and Taveras should be in the Cards’ plans very shortly despite having to begin his season in the minors. Did you think I wouldn’t jump on Taveras? I am a prospect analyst after all, you guys.

23.268 A.J. Griffin

Give me all of the Oakland pitchers, all of them I say! Great park to pitch in, I really like the entire rotation this year. (Editor’s Note: This piece was filed before news of Griffin’s arm injury broke.)

24.285 Nick Markakis

He’s my extra outfielder, but I see a bounceback year coming for the O’s leadoff man. It’s a contract year, for whatever that’s worth.

25.292 Alex Avila

He has a good eye at the plate and carries some power, so with some average regression he has some decent upside. I faded catcher hard, but I guess I’m happy that he was still available.

26.309 Dan Straily

I said all the Oakland A’s pitchers and I wasn’t joking. Straily arguably has more upside than Griffin with his strikeout stuff.

27.316 Nick Franklin

Worth a shot this late as a power speed combination in the middle infield. Of course, he’ll need a trade or an injury to see consistent playing time, but there are still two weeks for that to happen.

28.333 Russell Martin

Martin is solid and unspectacular. I hope he doesn’t hit in the .220s again, but he has decent power and even stole nine bases last year. Not bad for my second catcher, really.

Well, that’s all folks. I had a blast doing the draft and feel like I came out with a nice squad where no category was left behind. I may have to watch some of my lower OBP guys early in the season to avoid some major slumps, but it looks like I’ll have power to trade and a good speed team. My pitching staff is headed up by two aces in Lee and Fernandez, three closers, and enough upside in young pitchers (Wacha, Gray, Nova, Straily) that I feel pretty good about it. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Summer League: Monday Recap

Bobcats 84 – Knicks 71

New York’s first round pick Tim Hardaway Jr. did not play in this game as he sat with a splint on his bruised left wrist. He suffered the injury reaching for a loose ball on Sunday. X-rays came back negative and the injury doesn’t seem series as the Knicks are calling him day-to-day. Knicks guard Iman Shumpert also missed the game to attend an NBA event in China. He also missed Sunday’s game. Metta World Peace also didn’t play, but he did confirm on the MSG telecast that he signed a two-year deal with New York. Oh, and as the Knicks were leaving they told reporters that J.R. Smith had knee surgery and won’t play for possibly four months. It was pretty much classic Knicks.

But, enough about Knicks who didn’t play in this game, there were players on both teams that showed up for this one. The Bobcats first round pick Cody Zeller led the way with 18 points (10 in the first half) on 7-of-11 shooting including an and-one on a pass from Patrick Ewing Jr. early in the second quarter. Zeller also stepped out and hit a jumper just inside the arc in the third quarter and even attempted a three pointer in the fourth. He played well offensively and was able to hang in on defense. Zeller should improve his defense and rebounding as he fills out his frame in the next few years.  

Bismack Biyombo made his presence felt on the boards as he finished with nine rebounds (eight on the defensive end). Rookie Jeffrey Taylor had 20 points on 6-of-14 shooting, but went 7-of-10 from the free throw line. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist did just a little bit of everything as he had nine points, three rebounds, two steals, and one assist. He’s very athletic, but he’ll need to hone his skills on offense to be a guy to target in fantasy.

C.J. Leslie led the way for the Knicks with 15 points (13 in the first half). Leslie stood out in this one for creating plays with the ball in his hand and two put-backs off of his own misses. Point guard Toure Murry, who coach Mike Woodson mentioned as a possible camp invitee over the weekend, followed up a nice outing on Sunday with a bit of an inconsistent performance. Murry had eight points on 3-of-7 shooting, one assist, three steals, and two turnovers. He didn’t play as much as he did on Sunday, but he still helped. Jeremy Tyler hurt his ankle before he was able to have an impact. Jerome Jordan, who played for New York during the 2011-12 regular season, chipped in with 12 points and nine rebounds off the bench, but it looks like his defense has declined.

Despite the loss, the Knicks (1-2)  will have at least two more games in the Las Vegas Summer League. Both teams have an off day on Tuesday.

Pelicans 66 – Cavaliers 62

Dion Waiters had a solid game with 16 points on 6-for-15 shooting, two assists, and five turnovers. Tyler Zeller was everywhere as he had a double-double with 15 points, 12 rebounds, two steals, and a block. Zeller is fighting for more playing time like most players in Summer League and he helped his cause with this performance today. Jermaine Taylor had 10 points and hit two shots from long range in 21 minutes.

Austin Rivers had 12 points on 5-for-12 from the field with two assists. Rivers is quick enough to get his shots and he also shows his speed on defense. Brian Roberts ran the point and had 12 points on 5-for-12 and six assists. Roberts contributed some last year, but he’ll need likely injuries to clear the way for playing time this season as the Pelicans retooled. Lance Thomas, from Duke, had 14 points, 10 boards, and a steal.

Suns 91 – Timberwolves 89

Kendall Marshall was efficient as he had 13 points, six assists, no turnovers, and made three shots from downtown. Marshall made the most of his minutes, which is nice to see after battling injury during his last year at North Carolina. The Morris twins were active in this game combining for 40 points. Marcus Morris had the game-winning jumper as time expired. Dionte Christmas, a rookie from Temple, had 16 points in 29 minutes off the bench. The Suns were able to mount a comeback after Minnesota led 49-31 at half.

Robbie Hummel impressed once again for the Timberwolves. After a stellar college career at Purdue, Hummel has opened some eyes here in the Vegas Summer League. He had 18 points on 6-for-8 from the floor and seven rebounds. He also made both of the three pointers he attempted. Shabazz Muhammad chipped in with eight points and two boards in 22 minutes. He’s obviously one to keep an eye on. Muhammad showed a lot of athleticism on a breakaway dunk.

Lakers 77 – Clippers 65

Clippers first round pick Reggie Bullock led Los Angeles in scoring with 12 points on 5-for-16 from the floor. He also hit two shots from behind the line, including one from the corner. Not his most efficient game, but he still made two shots from deep. Bullock is one of the best if not the best shooter to come out of the draft this year. With Chris Paul back in the fold, Bullock should see his fair share of open opportunities from downtown.

Marcus Landry, from Wisconsin, led the Lakers with 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting. Chris Douglas-Roberts had 12 points and four assists in 26 minutes.

Warriors 80 – Kings 66

Former Michigan State Spartan Draymond Green led the way in the Golden State victory. Green poured in 18 points (5-9 FG, 8-8 FT). After what he did in the Warriors’ playoff run last season it wouldn’t be a surprise for Green to see an expanded role for them this year. Kent Bazemore had 15 points of his own and he also chipped in six rebounds and five assists.

Ray McCallum stole the show both offensively and defensively in the Kings’ loss. He had six steals to go with 23 points (7-10 FG, 9-12 FT). First round pick Ben McLemore was far from as efficient as he had 14 points in 31 minutes, but he has the potential to be one of the best offensive players from this draft class.

Spurs 96 – Hawks 87

Nando De Colo led the way for the Spurs as he had 19 points (8-12 FG, 2-3 3PM). He showed a little of everything today as he was able to step out and hit shots and he also moved the ball to create opportunities for teammates as he had eight assists. Aaron Baynes was also a dynamic force in this game as he had 19 points and 15 rebounds for San Antonio.  

Bulls 93 – Nuggets 81

Andrew Goudelock was straight up cooking soup for the Bulls in this one. He poured in 31 points (10-13 FG, 5-6 3PM, 6-6 FT) as he hit shots from all over. Goudelock has been known to be able to give a team a lift. He carried the College of Charleston when he was in college and made an impression with the Lakers last year. Goudelock is a very talented shooter and he’s very tough to stop when he’s hot.

Evan Fournier stood out for Denver with 20 points (7-15 FG). It was more of a volume effort in this game, but his shot looked good, and he had three makes from downtown. Jordan Hamilton, from Texas, had 11 points and made three shots from behind the arc. Darius Johnson-Odom came off of the bench and had 10 points and six assists.