We started the FSTA Experts draft Tuesday, broadcasting the first 10 rounds on SiriusXM Fantasy at the FSTA conference in Tampa. It’s a 14-team, 5×5 league with basic rules – trading is allowed, there’s no larger contest, and we draft full rosters. The only thing unusual about this draft was that I was broadcasting and drafting at the same time. It’s not that difficult to do, actually – it’s a snake draft, not an auction, and I was on one of the ends, giving me plenty of time to plan for my pair of picks. Moreover, because this was on air, and there was no clock between picks, each player in the league took their time with their picks. We knew in advance that we wouldn’t finish the draft live, completing it instead via slow draft.
(Full results after the jump)
Oh yeah, I was lucky enough to get first choice of draft slots, and went ahead with the obvious first overall pick. There’s no third-round-reversal in this league, so there’s quite an advantage to starting out with one of the first two picks. I think it’s pretty clear that Mike Trout and Mookie Betts are 1-2. I prefer Trout, and my projections have him worth a couple more dollars than Betts. But Betts out-earned him last year and in 2016 – plus, he’s in a much better lineup, so I can see the logic in preferring Betts. Nonetheless, I took Trout.
That was the last time on Tuesday that the duo of Steve Gardner and Howard Kamen from USA Today/Sports Weekly didn’t impact my draft choices. I had Steve on the show before the draft Tuesday, and we spoke a little about the dynamics of the second pick, and how it could help him on 50-50 decisions to look at my roster and see what I have and don’t have. I don’t attribute that factor to any of his early picks, but it sure felt like he and Howard were living in my head (and I feel sorry for them for that) on their even-round picks Tuesday. Four of his five even-round selections were direct swipes – I would have taken them but for his selection: Nola, Vlad. Jr, Seager, and Gallo. And the fifth, Sean Doolittle, would have also been a target had I planned on taking a closer there. Losing Nola wasn’t too harmful and definitely not unexpected – his ADP was higher, and he usually goes above Carlos Carrasco and the other SP’s that were available to me. Vlad Jr. only hurt because I convinced myself I had a chance to get him at pick 56, a veritable windfall when his NFBC ADP is 39.33. Corey Seager is one of a handful of guys I liked at the 6-7 turn, but I would have taken him ahead of Josh Donaldson had Steve not taken him. And Gallo was a perfect fit for my team – power at first base was right up my ally, and a clear tier above the remaining first basemen.
Despite Steve and Howard’s ruthless swiping, I persisted. Here’s my reasoning behind the other selections:
2.14 Carlos Carrasco – I knew at the beginning of the draft that I’d take a starter at the 2-3 turn, and that I’d likely take second hitter with the third pick. Unfortunately Nola went right before me but Carrasco is a pretty nice consolation prize. He has back-to-back seasons with 225+ strikeouts and appears to be past the injury nexus that so many younger starters are still going through, which is why I gave a slight nod to him ahead of Blake Snell and Luis Severino.
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3.1 Juan Soto – I’m giving Soto a nice power bump from Year 1 to Year 2, and a full year in the middle of the Nats lineup should produce healthy counting stats to boot. The only downside with this pick is that he won’t run much, and perhaps Starling Marte might have made more sense from that point of view. I avoided Charlie Blackmon there because he’s starting to decline in stolen bases and is at an age where they could completely disappear.
4.14 Mike Clevinger – This pick raised a few eyebrows, but the strikeouts tell the tale. Clevinger struck out 207 in 200 innings last year and has four plus-pitches, so I think there’s a good bet of a repeat in 2019.
5.1 Ozzie Albies – Albies was a bit of a fallback after seeing Vlad Jr. get swiped from in front of me. I wanted to get some speed, and I wanted it from an infield position. The second half for him is a little worrisome, but his youth works in his favor. I think that there’s another step up from him coming.
6.14 Josh Donaldson – Donaldson is the riskiest pick of the bunch given the last two years. I like the ballpark, the lineup, and that he’s on a one-year contract. I thought that this was much riskier than my next pick, given the quad injury, though this pick didn’t draw much critique online.
7.1 David Dahl – Interestingly enough, this pick did draw more scrutiny. I’m buying into the pedigree, his last two months with the Rockies and the spot in the order in Coors Field. At pick 85, it was also 16 picks after his NFBC ADP.
8.14 David Price – With this draft I decided to wait longer on the closer pool – though I’m not punting the category, instead I’m trying to find better values. Price seemed like that sort of value, as I’m buying his second half adjustment.
9.1 Charlie Morton – Taking both Price and Morton here is risky strategically, but I’m more comfortable finding bats that I like in the middle rounds than I am potential aces. Morton gives me a third pitcher that notched 200+ strikeouts last year. Some post-Houston regression is justifiably expected, but as always the question is “regress to what.” (H/T Scott Pianowski) I’ve baked that regression into the projection, giving him only 27 starts and 154 innings, and bumping up his ERA from 3.13 last year to 3.51 this year, and still this strikes me as value.
10.14 Arodys Vizcaino – This was the last pick of the live draft on Tuesday night – I would have taken Joey Gallo here but for the nefarious duo of Steve and Howard. But I’m putting my draft currency where my mouth is on Vizcaino. I think he’s the most under-drafted closer in the bunch, and I waited long enough to take my first closer.
From this point on we’re doing a (very) slow draft to fill out our rosters. You can follow along here. We’ll probably finish in 2022.