On Sunday Morning, at the Stewart hotel, catty-corner to Madison Square Garden, I drafted my $150K grand-prize, 15-team Main Event squad. I drew the eighth pick. Here are the results:
1.8 Jose Ramirez – I initially thought I’d take Ronald Acuna at eight, but I knew I needed to get a pitcher in the first two rounds (I doubted an ace would be there at 3.8), and it made sense to take an elite one in Round 1 and come back with a solid hitter in Round 2. So I was set to take Jacob deGrom as I sat down at the draft table and opened up my 60/20/20 cheat sheet (which has deGrom at six overall.)
But an odd thing happened. Team 5 took Aaron Judge, Team 6 took Christian Yelich and Team 7 took Acuna. Surprisingly, Ramirez (who is typically the third player off the board) was still available at eight, and I had to pause and at least consider him. I looked down at my cheat sheet, which is decidedly ace-heavy, thanks to Steamer and The Bat pushing them up, and Ramirez was No. 5, one spot ahead of deGrom.
2.8 Gerrit Cole – I knew I was taking a pitcher here no matter what. It was just a matter of which one would fall to me. When Justin Verlander went at 13 overall, I thought maybe there would be an epic run early in the second round, but only Aaron Nola and Trevor Bauer went after that. I took Cole, given the park and Astros’ magic touch, without much hesitation.
3.8 Kris Bryant – Had Noah Syndergaard (3.1) or Carlos Carrasco (3.2) fallen to me, I would have taken a second pitcher, but it wasn’t close. I was deciding between Bryant and Starling Marte, and I went Bryant due to the better team context and non-SB counting stats.
4.8 Yasiel Puig – When Xander Bogaerts (4.2) and Carlos Correa (4.6) went, I didn’t love my options. I considered Daniel Murphy in Coors, but Puig is younger, less injury prone and steals a few bags.
5.8 Corey Seager – I considered Jonathan Villar here for the steals, but I settled on the better talent, albeit one coming off a serious injury. I also like to get batting average early because it gives you options later.
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6.8 Gleyber Torres – After I took Seager, I was hoping to get a star closer on the way back. My first choice was Kenley Jansen, but I would have settled for Aroldis Chapman, Roberto Osuna, Brad Hand or even Felipe Vazquez. All were gone by the time it got back to me with Vazquez going to Team 9, one pick before me. I could have taken Kirby Yates, but I like closers with more experience on the job, so I kept stacking hitters with Torres.
7.8 Justin Turner – Yates, Sean Doolittle and Corey Knebel went, so closers would have to wait. As I said earlier, batting average and four-category production buys you options later.
8.8 Joey Gallo – He was by far the highest remaining player on my board, and I felt I had enough of a batting average base (Ramirez/Seager/Turner) to pay the price. My offense (aside from speed) was loaded now, though I had no saves and only one starting pitcher.
9.8 Luis Severino – It was time to gamble. I wanted two aces, and if he’s himself in May (and who knows?), I got them.
10.8 Mallex Smith – Eloy Jimenez went two picks earlier, and it was probably for the best as I already had Severino on whom I’d have to wait, and Jimenez didn’t have the speed I needed anyway. I typically don’t draft one-dimensional steals guys, but Smith was sticking out on my board as a value, and he fit my team well, especially with Gallo on the roster.
11.8 David Robertson – The saves were getting thin, so I took a good pitcher who could get most of them in Philadelphia. Gabe Kapler says he won’t use Robertson as a traditional closer, but that might just be “coach-speak,” given the contract and Robertson’s experience. Or it might not.
12.8 Miguel Cabrera – He’s my most owned player so far. Cabrera is raking in spring training and appears healthy for now. Hall of Fame bats usually hit in their mid-30s when they’re healthy.
13.8 Hyun-Jin Ryu – It was time to get some pitching. Ryu was great when healthy last year, and he was the top starting pitcher on my board.
14.8 Alex Colome – I’m hoping manager Rick Renteria puts him in Column A rather than Column B.
15.8 Michael Wacha – Another starting pitcher who looks healthy and was high on my board.
16.8 Arodys Vizcaino – When you go ugly on closers, you need more than two.
17.8 Sonny Gray – I don’t know what happened in New York, but his velocity was fine, and he was ostensibly healthy. I think there’s upside for him in the NL.
18.8 Julio Urias – I have no idea how many innings he’ll be able to pitch or in what capacity they’ll be, but he was a top prospect, and he had his velocity back at the end of last year.
19.8 Steven Matz – He was healthier than ever last year (30 starts) and he hasn’t lost any velocity.
20.8 Touki Toussaint – A good prospect who has a chance to win a rotation slot on the Braves.
21.8 Wade Miley – File this one under “the Astros are magic.” Miley was the ninth straight pitcher I’d taken, something Team 12 (Ariel Cohen and Jeff Zimmerman) were marveling at before doing the same thing later in the draft.
22.8 Tyler O’Neill – I had two empty outfield spots, but swung for the fences (literally) here with a prospect that crushed Triple-A, but whose path to at-bats isn’t entirely clear.
23.8 Jose Martinez – If Dexter Fowler is done (and he looks it), either O’Neill or Martinez would have to play regularly.
24.8 Josh Reddick – Another OF with potential playing-time issues. I’m throwing volume at the problem now.
25.8 John Hicks – My first catcher. Hopefully, he gets some work at first base with Cabrera at DH.
26.8 Raimel Tapia – Another outfielder without a job yet, but with Carlos Gonzalez and Gerardo Parra gone, Tapia’s ostensibly the fourth OF in Colorado, and the three guys ahead him are not paragons of durability.
27.8 Joe Jimenez – I have three shaky closers, so Jimenez, who could take over for Shane Greene at some point, was the pick.
28.8 Taylor Rogers – He might not yet be the front runner for saves on the Twins, but the skills are good, and the job isn’t settled yet.
29.8 Orlando Arcia – He’s my starting middle infielder who should play full time for a good offensive team in a good park.
30.8 Elias Diaz – I discovered a few seconds after drafting him he’s likely to start the year on the IL. No big deal, he was my last pick, and I can drop him for another bad catcher if that’s the case.
Roster By Position
C John Hicks/Elias Diaz
1B Joey Gallo
2B Gleyber Torres
3B Jose Ramirez
SS Corey Seager
CI Justin Turner
MI Orlando Arcia
OF Kris Bryant
OF Yasiel Puig
OF Mallex Smith
OF Tyler O’Neill
OF Jose Martinez
U Miguel Cabrera
P Gerrit Cole
P Luis Severino
P Hyun-Jin Ryu
P Michael Wacha
P Sonny Gray
P Steven Matz
P David Robertson
P Alex Colome
P Arodys Vizcaino
R Julio Urias/Wade Miley/Joe Jimenez/Taylor Rogers/Raimel Tapia/Josh Reddick/Touki Toussant