Potentially Meaningless Draft Recap: TGFBI (Rounds 21-30)

Well… this all feels sort of pointless now. But if you need a distraction from any coronavirus-induced anxieties, let this be a brief respite.

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You can catch up on the first 10 rounds here and middle 10 rounds here. I’ve beaten to death the term “threading the needle” throughout these posts, but it’s an apt description for what I feel like I’ve had to accomplish with my particular strategy. “Walking a tightrope” is another.

The more time I’ve had to sit with my team, the longer I’ve had to disabuse myself of the notion that my team is any good. I still think it is, at least on the hitting side of things, but the pitching is as weak as it has been my last two seasons — or, if not as weak, at least as shallow. Most likely, I’ll be spending most of my FAAB (free agent acquisition budget) chasing pitching replacements, which is what I’ve done most of the last two years, too. Oh well.

Through 20 Rounds
Pos Player Pick #
C Christian Vazquez 13.189
C Tom Murphy 17.249
1B Edwin Encarnacion 11.159
2B Ozzie Albies 3.39
SS Trevor Story 1.09
3B Alex Bregman 2.22
CI Renato Nunez 16.232
MI Elvis Andrus 9.129
OF Jeff McNeil 6.82
OF Oscar Mercado 7.99
OF Justin Upton 14.202
OF Trent Grisham 20.292
UT Nelson Cruz 5.69
P Aaron Nola 4.52
P Carlos Carrasco 8.112
P Hyun-Jin Ryu 10.142
P Joe Musgrove 15.219
P Alex Wood 18.262
P Keone Kela 12.172
b Ross Stripling 19.279

Let’s wrap this sucker up, stream-of-consciousness style.

21.309 Tony Watson, SFG RP

Min: 286 / Rank: 340 / Avg: 329.4 / Max: 398

This is a slight reach, per ADP, but I was sweating Watson’s availability outside the top 300. At this point, all signs point to Watson beginning the season with the closer role, and he faces little danger of being usurped. He’s also not terrible! I’d be willing to wager half a dozen other closers drafted before Watson lose their jobs before him.

22.322 Mike Tauchman, NYY OF

Min: 240 / Rank: 317 / Avg: 311.8 / Max: 373

What more needs to be said?

Truthfully, I don’t think Tauchman is the best option left on the board by virtue of him simply never being guaranteed full-time reps in a loaded and talented Yankee outfield. But the injury bug has already bit Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, and Tauchman had a foreseeable role (given Aaron Hicks‘ prolonged absence) prior to their woes.

Even if Stanton and Judge were healthy, hey — let’s have some fun with this, being a public league on all. Get your guys!

(My starting lineup of hitters is officially complete.)

With the delayed start to the season, this pick could wind up much less useful. 🙁

23.339 Travis Shaw, TOR 3B

Min: 276 / Rank: 334 / Avg: 321.5 / Max: 379
Considered taking: Chris Bassitt (24.350)

I should be taking pitchers, and yet I can’t pass on a guy who has top-100 upside when right. He changed his swing last year, and it went horribly. He’s going back to his old swing. Seems like a perfect flier to take, even though I’m brimming with hitting at this point.

The opportunity cost of Shaw: missing out on Bassitt, whose profile surprised me. His last season and a half completely slipped my attention — it’s actually quite impressive, given his lack of fanfare. With A.J. Puk on the mend, Bassitt will be valuable in the short-term and could stick for the long-term. I may kick myself later for this one.

With seven picks left, I wager at least five, if not six, will be arms.

24.352 Miles Mikolas, STL SP

Min: 239 / Rank: 308 / Avg: 305.0 / Max: 383
Considered taking: Hunter Harvey (25.369)

This doesn’t solve my immediate need for starting pitchers who will actually be available Opening Day, but Mikolas should be good enough all year as a back-of-the-rotation guy for me to not regret waiting a couple of weeks for him to heal up. His ailment has caused his ADP to slip, so at least I didn’t have to pay full freight for him.

Some folks have prioritized Michael Pineda (22.324) over Mikolas, the former of whom projects to miss significantly more time — and might not be significantly better, if at all. Not sure what that’s all about, although I do understand his modest appeal. Just know his issues with contact management still exist despite leaving hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium.

Shouldn’t miss any time, now. Even better, but I fell ass-backwards into this one. Thanks, pandemic.

(Also: don’t take the pandemic lightly. Please. Social distancing is real. If, in hindsight, it feels like it was a waste of time and effort, that means it worked.)

25.369 Hunter Harvey, BAL OF

Min: 276 / Rank: 387 / Avg: 376.7 / Max: 439
Considered taking: Matt Shoemaker (25.372), Yusei Kikuchi (26.387), Marco Gonzales (26.382), Domingo German (26.389)

After an endorsement from the Orioles skipper, Harvey’s stock will only rise. Thing is, colleague Jeff Zimmerman, in his mining the news column, noticed rumblings of Harvey being the closer long before some video footage circulated Thursday afternoon. I had been biding my team in this league — it was clear folks still thought Mychal Givens would be the incumbent by default — and I have collected multiple other dirt-free Harvey shares. I’m glad I didn’t wait any longer here.

To be clear, I don’t actually expect Harvey to be any good. His last 100+ innings the minors before his debut were downright atrocious, and he pitches in one of MLB’s hitter-friendliest parks. Still, at least I have a possible third closer to begin the season in a format where each team is expected (implied) to have two. What if he pulls a 2019 Shane Greene? Anything can happen.

26.382 Marco Gonzales, SEA SP

Min: 311 / Rank: 369 / Avg: 364.3 / Max: 406
Considered taking: Josh Rojas (27.399)

We’re in the endgame, and I’m taking this draft one pick at a time, as you can see from my “considered taking” queue the past few picks. Gonzales is nothing special, and it’s discomforting that he took a small step back last year. However, he has proven himself durable and halfway decent — something I desperately need at this juncture.

Effectively my SP6 to begin the season, Gonzales should provide me a low-4.00s ERA, potentially across 200 innings or something close to it. The volume alone, if he achieves it, will almost ensure he returns top-200 value (as long as that low-4.00s ERA is as advertised, which I’m not sure it is). I’ll cherish that kind of stability when the injury bug inevitably comes for my team, as it will of everyone’s.

27.399 Josh Rojas, ARI OF

Min: 336 / Rank: 436 / Avg: 431.0 / Max: undrafted
Considered taking: Cameron Maybin (28.409)

Josh Rojas is my Jeff McNeil for this year. I was extremely bullish on McNeil despite indications that he might be used in a utility role. The situations, and even the skill sets, run so strongly parallel that I’m struggling to not have déjà vu. Even just 450 to 500 plate appearances could yield a 15-15-.270 season, and I’m optimistic that all his tools have a higher ceiling than that. Even if they don’t, I’m paying effectively nothing to find out.

I would argue Rojas’ path to playing time might be more clouded than McNeil’s was, but I also think the Diamondbacks did not acquire him from the Astros for no reason. Moreover, David Peralta, Starling Marte, and even Kole Calhoun are all liable to miss a month of time this year, which will either open up an outfield role for Rojas or push Ketel Marte into center field, thereby possibly enabling Rojas to earn 2B eligibility.

28.412 Randy Dobnak, MIN SP

Min: 354 / Rank: 471 / Avg: 465.9 / Max: undrafted
Considered taking: Danny Duffy (29.427), Griffin Canning (undrafted), Deivi Garcia (29.425), Austin Pruitt (29.429), Hanser Alberto (29.434), Hunter Pence (undrafted), Kyle Lewis (30.437), Tyler Beede (undrafted)

(My queue has exploded now that I’ve finally acquired all my prioritized late-round targets.)

What started as an infatuation with Dobnak as one of my favorite Peripheral Prospects has become a legitimate love affair. Dobnak’s remarkable accomplishments — a combination of some of the minors’ best strikeout minus walk rate (K-BB%) and ground ball rate (GB%) — is the kind of underrated skill set that could quietly translate to the big stage.

Dobnak is in the running for the Twins’ last rotation spot, although they seem intent to give Jhoulys Chacín a shot at it. It’s a half-baked idea, to say the least. Accordingly, I’m optimistic that Dobnak might see starts as early as mid-April, if not sooner, if he wins the job outright. He could hold it until Michael Pineda and/or Rich Hill return — and perhaps hold it for longer if he earns the right, or someone else goes down with injury.

In other words, there are a lot of different paths to playing time for Dobnak, and I anticipate him accruing something like 18 starts in a swing-man role, the way Ross Stripling might. And I anticipate those starts being fairly high-quality, all things considered (e.g., he is basically free in all mixed-league formats).

29.429 Austin Pruitt, HOU P

Min: 413 / Rank: 510 / Avg: 498.3 / Max: undrafted

The longer Houston goes without naming Josh James the fifth starter, and the more the Astros entertain the idea of Pruitt rounding out the rotation, the more this pick makes sense. His profile and minor league numbers actually intrigue me, although one should always be skeptical when the Rays part ways with a pitcher. (Then again, the Astros tend to have their own black magic, legal or otherwise.)

If James gets the nod, then whatever — the 29th round in a 15-team league is a throwaway pick nine times out of 10. If Pruitt does make the Opening Day rotation, there could be something to it (that is, a method to the Astros’ madness) that is interesting in and of itself. Again, I’m not holding my breath, but at this point, I could use any semblance of league-average innings.

30.442 Dee Gordon, SEA 2B

Min: 276 / Rank: 322 / Avg: 327.2 / Max: 442(!)
Considered taking: Alex Dickerson (undrafted), Hunter Pence (undrafted), JaCoby Jones (undrafted), Myles Straw (undrafted)

The longer the Mariners go without naming a starting second baseman, the more this pick makes sense. (See what I did there?) Shed Long is not a lock to win the starting role at Seattle’s keystone, and, if I’m being honest, I’m not overly thrilled with his profile. Then again, I’m not overly thrilled with Gordon’s, either — but what if the team decides Long needs more development?

Moreover, what if Gordon begins to run again? (He probably won’t.) What if early 2018’s toe injury is what has slowed him down the last two years? (It’s probably not.) What if he recaptures the magic of last April (.306, 8 SB) and sustains it for all of 2020? (It’s highly unlikely.)

Still, there are worse dart throws to make at this point, and, hey, I set the max pick. Hard to argue with that!

Through 30 Rounds (Complete)
Depth Charts 8,664 353 1,147 1,162 150 .262 1,537 94 1,462 4.05 1.24 67
Mine 8,771 377 1,190 1,166 149 .272 1,517 117 1,434 3.58 1.17 75

As I highlighted in the previous installment, my projections began to deviate from the primary projection systems later in the draft. That was to be expected; the most bankable hitters and pitchers are probably the easiest to project, outside of the Fernando Tatises and Luis Roberts. By the time I filled out my entire 30-man roster, I projected my team to hit for 10 more points of batting average, prevent an additional half of an earned run per nine innings, and prevent one more hit or walk every 14-or-so innings. (I’m extremely unconcerned about the Wins column; statistical wins are a sh*tshow.)

It remains fascinating to me that my projections closely line up to FanGraphs’ Depth Charts, which are a blend of Steamer and ZiPS with staff-allocated playing time estimates. My projections are bullish on power, too, but I think that may be a matter of weighting recent performance more highly (in other words, believing more in the breakouts from last year on whom I’m gambling again).

For transparency: I have made assumptions about how many plate appearances and innings I expect to accrue from each roster slot. For each slot in which I fell short of expectation, I added in a weighted average of the statistics compiled by my bench players. That way, I am not over-counting the metrics I compiled on draft day and, thus, over-valuing my draft relative to my categorical targets.

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NFBC partners with FantasyPros to “grade” every team in every draft. It provides a letter grade (A+ through F), a percentage grade (0 to 100), a projected rank (1st through 15th), and each team’s strengths (for example, home runs) and weaknesses (saves).

This is partly a brag, yes, but I was astonished to learn FantasyPros gave me the coveted [A+, 98, 1st] combo, although I have been downgraded slightly to [A+, 99, 1st] since the draft finished. I wish I wrote down last year’s results; I want to say it was an 85, but I think it was actually higher — an 89 B+ — but it hadn’t accounted for Salvador Perez’s UCL injury. It was the first of many things to go catastrophically wrong last year. This time around, I’m only one of two owners with a score above 90 (there’s a [A+, 97, 2nd] right behind me), and my only “weakness” is saves (which, duh).

Of course, with the late start, this could all mean nothing, especially because all the cheaply bought injured guys may be healthy by the time the season starts. It’s… bleh. The whole season will have an asterisk, win or lose.

Here’s my final roster:

Full roster (with my projections)
Pos Name Pick # PA AB R HR RBI SB AVG
C Christian Vazquez 13.189 488 454 58 18 62 5 .272
C Tom Murphy 17.249 483 445 57 23 73 3 .244
1B Edwin Encarnacion 11.159 567 499 78 35 94 1 .251
2B Ozzie Albies 3.39 684 636 97 26 81 15 .286
SS Trevor Story 1.09 682 620 103 35 96 23 .283
3B Alex Bregman 2.22 669 582 95 30 94 6 .289
CI Renato Nunez 16.232 609 560 73 30 95 1 .254
MI Elvis Andrus 9.129 635 591 81 13 60 25 .281
OF Jeff McNeil 6.82 642 603 92 21 69 9 .302
OF Oscar Mercado 7.99 643 591 88 17 62 22 .278
OF Justin Upton 14.202 610 537 78 30 93 6 .252
OF Trent Grisham 20.292 530 461 77 24 65 10 .259
OF Mike Tauchman 22.322 468 407 69 19 58 11 .277
UT Nelson Cruz 5.69 609 542 89 41 110 1 .287
Pos Name Pick # IP W K ERA WHIP SV
P Aaron Nola 4.52 198 14 217 3.34 1.17 0
P Carlos Carrasco 8.112 171 12 199 3.60 1.13 0
P Hyun-Jin Ryu 10.142 155 13 142 3.14 1.10 0
P Joe Musgrove 15.219 161 12 144 3.88 1.20 0
P Alex Wood 18.262 136 11 125 3.57 1.18 0
P Marco Gonzales 26.382 184 12 145 4.02 1.26 0
P Keone Kela 12.172 50 3 60 3.04 1.12 30
P Tony Watson 21.309 60 4 53 3.26 1.10 30
P Hunter Harvey 25.369 50 3 50 4.31 1.29 15
b Ross Stripling 19.279 76 9 78 3.62 1.17 0
b Travis Shaw 23.339 602 530 75 27 84 3 .247
b Miles Mikolas 24.352 154 10 119 3.99 1.21 0
b Josh Rojas 27.399 426 380 58 14 48 14 .274
b Randy Dobnak 28.412 62 7 53 3.73 1.16 0
b Austin Pruitt 29.429 60 7 49 4.15 1.27 0
b Dee Gordon 30.442 391 377 42 2 33 19 .276

Hope whomever enjoys draft recaps finds this helpful, interesting, whatever. A penny for your thoughts? To view all data TGFBI-related, click here. I’m in League 18, FYI.

Currently investigating the relationship between pitcher effectiveness and beard density. Two-time FSWA award winner, including 2018 Baseball Writer of the Year, and 8-time award finalist. Featured in Lindy's magazine (2018, 2019), Rotowire magazine (2021), and Baseball Prospectus (2022). Tout Wars competitor. Biased toward a nicely rolled baseball pant.

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