To be the best, you have to beat the best. That’s a major philosophy that drives what I do in life, so I thought I should also apply that to my fantasy baseball portfolio. Just before the new year turned, I joined a “Beat Todd Zola” league that slow drafted over the course of roughly two weeks. With 15 teams, 50 rounds and no trades or drops during the season, this was certainly going to be a change from other drafts I had done before.
Below is a summary of my selections in the draft:
I had the second overall pick in this draft, so I basically decided I would go with either Mike Trout (who was taken first overall) or Jose Altuve. Both of them are great options to start off a draft, so I was pretty happy with my location on the draft board.
After that, I focused on pitching. I value pitching very highly, so I double-dipped with Stephen Strasburg and Noah Syndergaard on the turn. I also filled out my pitching staff much faster than my lineup of hitters, hopefully giving me plenty of viable options in case of injuries or demotions.
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Of course, leagues aren’t won in the early rounds of the draft. Value picks late in the draft are of utmost importance if you want to defeat seasoned veterans in fantasy baseball. My favorite pick value-wise has to be Jeimer Candelario. The Tigers moved Nick Castellanos to the outfield to pave the way for Candelario at third base. Plus, Detroit is gearing up for a rebuild, meaning that the youngsters like Candelario are going to get plenty of chances to shine throughout the season. I see a lot of upside in him this season, and getting him in the 22nd round feels like a steal to me.
Another value pick that stood out to me is Nathan Eovaldi. Landing anyone in the running for a rotation spot in the 45th round, and Eovaldi certainly has a higher ceiling than most of the other veterans available at this stage of the draft. He missed all of last season due to Tommy John surgery, but with a clean bill of health and decent peripherals, I believe he could make a legitimate impact for my squad this season.
Naturally, there are some things I would’ve done differently. Billy Hamilton in the fourth round feels like a reach to me, but it was too hard to pass up such a big contributor in the steals category. I also am kicking myself a bit over taking Zach Britton in the 10th round given his ruptured Achilles, but I think I made up for it with Andrew Miller, AJ Ramos and Koda Glover after the fact. Beside, as long as my other arms keep me in the hunt for the first two months of the season, having Britton rejoin an already formidable pitching arsenal could be what I need to top the leaderboard. Julio Urias and Joe Ross also fall into that category in a way, but given how late I got them both in the draft, I thought the potential late-season reward was too good to pass up for the low price.
Regardless, I’m excited to compete against some of the best players fantasy baseball has to offer. May the best man win!