Last year at this time, I wrote about a little league called BARF, which is the Bay Area Roto Fantasy league. For those of you not in the know, this is an industry league that I helped organize with my friend RBar Tod owner of the Wreck Room in San Francisco. The idea was to bring together a collection of analyst from the San Francisco Bay Area for a live competitive draft and league.
Year One was a raving success, outside of the fact I finished in fourth place. Danny Zarachy of Giants Pod won on the last day of the season by half a point, but most importantly, the participants really seemed to want to do it again.
Year Two brought in some new blood. Here is the lineup and draft order for this year’s league:
1 – Angry Mike, The Wreck Room
8 – Danny Zarchy, Giants Pod
12 — Joe Smith, The Wreck Room
— Ray Flowers (@BaseballGuys) February 25, 2017
Due to the fact that Howard Bender had to draft remotely because of his radio show on Sirius XM, I was forced to set up and operate an online draft room so he could participate in the draft. This was beneficial for people in the Twitter-verse wanting to watch the draft live, but put me at a detriment in terms of keeping up with the official draft board and my own team. You can see the entire draft board here.
— The Wreck Room SF (@theWreckRoomSF) February 26, 2017
RBar Tod attempting to take a picture with the “Great” Howard Bender
Traditional roster positions with five bench spots. 5 x 5 roto with OBP and QS instead of Avg and Wins. 20 game positional eligibility. We moved to ESPN from Yahoo this year to avoid Kyle Schwarber getting to pick his eligibility.
I’ll be honest, I had none this year. While I hoped to land Altuve with my #5 pick, I wasn’t sure he’d be there. I knew that most likely I would end up with either Kris Bryant, Jose Altuve, or Clayton Kershaw, but each has their own individual strategy once drafted, so I made the decision to take the best overall player each subsequent round.
Round 1, Pick 5- Jose Altuve: Altuve is my #2 player this year for a number of reasons. No hitter has been as reliable as Altuve as over the course of the last three years in terms of fantasy dollars earned. He has stolen at least 30 bases every year in the last five and considering the current climate in terms of lack of speed, getting him at five felt like a steal.
2.20- Max Scherzer: I don’t know whether it is because of the finger issue or people just pushing down starting pitching, but I was stoked to land Mad Max here. Is the injury scary? A bit, but it also means he probably won’t pitch in the World Baseball Classic, which I would prefer anyways. I should be able to easily pencil in 250-275 strikeouts and a sub 3 ERA. There is no real rationale to allowing Scherzer fall to this point, so he was an easy decision.
3.29- Edwin Encarnacion, 1B: I have been ranting since October that first base is easily the shallowest position that we care about in fantasy this year. I fully expect the E-5 will be a stud in the Indians lineup as he has been in Toronto.
4.44- Buster Posey: Here is where my draft starts to come off the board. Maybe it is my Giants homerism or maybe I am just too high on Posey, but last year he was a top 25 pick in NFBC and this year everyone is acting scared. I love that the Giants are going to play him more at first! I feel like he is a bargain at his current value. Not to mention in his “down year” last season, he still had a .362 OBP with good enough counting stats at the catcher position. I feel pretty confident that the power bounces back for him as well. I probably could have waited until the fifth to take him, but it all worked out because I got the guy I would have taken anyhow.
5.53- Brian Dozier: I came pretty close to grabbing Dozier in the fourth round, but decided against it because I love Posey and I already had a second baseman in Altuve. I was surprised to see him still around with this pick. While he tends to have poor averages, Dozier gets a bump in OBP formats. I am not expecting him to hit 42 home runs again, but I think 30/15 is pretty likely.
6.68 & 7.77- Kenley Jansen & Carlos Martinez: Jansen is my #1 closer this year and I feel like Martinez gets a bit undervalued, especially if he can ratchet up those strikeouts closer to the 9.22 k/9 we saw in 2015. Either way, I ended the first quarter of the draft with a start to a pretty strong rotation and the building blocks of a nice offense.
In between picks: I was staring at the draft board, salivating over the fact Miguel Sano was potentially going to drop into my lap. However, it was not meant to be, as Sammy Reid sniped him from me even though I had called dibs during the internal monologue within my head. At the end of the article you can hear me berate Sammy repeatedly on my podcast. Over this and other injustices.
8.92, 9.101, & 10.116- Lorenzo Cain, Stephen Piscotty, & Adam Eaton: I became a bit worried about the fact my team did not have an outfielder after the seventh round and made a conscious decision to address that with these picks. Last year, I was a huge proponent of Cain. While that was a whiff, I like the discount hye offers this year in drafts, especially in shallower formats like these where there is decent replacement value on the waiver wire. Piscotty is one of those guys no one is going to get high-fived over during the draft, but he is a steady, unsexy contributor that is a tad bit underrated considering he is only 26 and could take another step forward. I love Eaton and his price this year. Just batting at the top of that Nationals lineup should be enough to justify where he is going, not to mention the Nationals showed last year they will push it on the basepaths, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him with a 25-30 stolen base season in 2017.
11.125, 12.140, & 13.149- Matt Harvey, James Paxton, Carlos Rodon: After addressing my outfield pretty well with the prior three picks, I felt it was time to address my rotation some more. I know that many people are afraid of Harvey this year, but I am less worried about his short term health than his long term health. Last year, he was going inside the top 35 picks so, I am ok with a 90 pick discount given the offseason surgery. If he can return to form, the league might as well ship me the trophy and the check. Paxton and Rodon are trendy guys to take a leap forward this year and I am on board. They fit well as my fourth and fifth starters and having listened to Doug Thorburn’s and Sammy Reid’s recent podcasts, I knew they wouldn’t be around much longer. Both should rack me up a fair amount of quality starts and around 170 strikeouts.
14.164- Jake Lamb: I grabbed Lamb here mostly because I was starting to hate the remaining third base pool. I personally don’t get the why he is being taken so low in drafts this year. I know he struggled in the second half and against lefties, but the fact he injured his hand should be considered as a contributing factor in his late season struggles. I would love to see him improve against lefties, but even if he doesn’t I can easily use a bench option in a daily moves league when he is facing a lefty. He hit .291/.371/.612 with 20 bombs in the first half. This is a lot upside here.
15.173 & 16.188- Yasiel Puig and Keon Broxton: There are a lot of people out on Puig this year and for good reason. However, you might as well consider me the conductor of his bandwagon this season. I see a guy that can go 20/10 pretty easily if given the at bats. While the Dodgers are deep in the outfield this year, I think this is the year Puig reclaims some of that promise we saw when he broke into the league in 2013. The question is not about talent. It is about whether or not he is given an opportunity and if can not blow it. Broxton is another trendy player this year that I also believe in. While he strikes out too much, he walks enough to offer OBP player and his team enough value to keep him in the lineup. In less than 300 plate appearance he hit 9 home runs and stole 23 bases with a .354 OBP. While I am not crazy enough to extrapolate over the course of a full season’s worth of PAs, I do think he has 15/40 upside, in that Brewers offense. While Lewis Brinson is waiting in the wings, it’s in Milwaukee’s best interest to keep him down and gain that extra year of service time. That should give Broxton plenty of time to establish himself.
17.197- Marcus Semien: Can someone explain to me why everyone seems to hate Marcus Semien? His current ADP in NFBC is 207.37 and he is going after the likes of Tim Anderson and Dansby Swanson. Semien went 27/10 last year. Yes the average and OBP suck, but the counting stats are there. It is not like Oakland’s offense got worse this year. If anything, it got better. I am getting him in just about every draft around pick 200 and it feels like grand larceny.
18.212- Mike Moustakas: I have been a huge supporter of Moose since he was drafted. While the star power has never shown, he is a nice value coming off the injury this season. While people maybe afraid to buy in to him and the Royals this year, I think they are a bit better offensively than most people think. Even if the Royal do suck, Moustakas would be one of the first players moved and any park change would most likely benefit him.
19.221, 20.236, & 21.245- Jim Johnson, Dylan Bundy, and Jharel Cotton: Taking Kenley Jansen earlier in the draft allowed me to wait a bit on closer the rest of the way. Maybe I waited a bit too long, but I think Johnson is a pretty safe bet considering the contract the Braves gave him in the offseason. I was impressed by what I saw last year out of Bundy. Add in the Orioles are letting him throw his cutter again, which was once considered his best pitch, I am buying especially at the oddly low price. Jharel Cotton:
22.260- Cameron Rupp: Rupp hit 16 home runs last season in 389 at bats and while he faded a bit in the second half, I believe a previously unreported arm injury may have been part of the reason. He hits the hard and should get a lionshare of the work behind the plate this year. I think he is a 20+ home run guy if healthy. If not, he can be easily dropped for an emerging guy at the position. I think we will know pretty quick into the season if the first half was a mirage or the truth.
23.269 & 24.284- Corey Dickerson & Jorge Soler: With these two picks, I should have at least found my last starter. I was a big proponent of Dickerson last year and while that may have been foolish, he was better in the second half after adjusting to the American League and away from Coors. Soler is finally getting his shot to be an everyday player now that he has left Chicago. While Kauffman Stadium isn’t great for power, Soler has the type of power that should play anywhere. Both these guys should hit for 20-25 home runs each, it is just a matter of the ratios they give while doing it.
25.293- Lucas Duda: To be honest, I hadn’t seen the injury news on Duda when I made this pick. However, so far the Mets are making this sound like it may not be as big of a deal as first reported. Worst case scenario, I stash him on my DL or drop him. Best case, I’ve got a 25+ homer guy with strong OBP.
26.308, 27.317, & 28.332- Tyler Skaggs, Michael Wacha, Matt Bush: I took some gambles with some high upside pitching for my bench. Skaggs showed some promise returning from a lost year in 2015. Steamer appears to love him even more than I do. I don’t expect a ton of innings from him, but if he can get me 130-150 quality ones for me, I’ll be stoked. With the injury to Alex Reyes, Wacha is the clubhouse leader to get a rotation spot. If he doesn’t, I will cut him for someone on the wire, but remember how good he was in 2014 and 2015? Paul Sporer does. The Matt Bush pick is partly a emotionally pick for me and partly revenge on Sammy Reid. I have been a supporter of Matt Bush since his return to baseball and hope that he succeeds in turning his life around. I also knew that Sammy drafted Sam Dyson and might be annoyed that I grabbed his handcuff. I do think Bush could be first man up if Dyson falters, however.
I feel pretty good about my team. I think it has an opportunity to compete like my team did last year. A lot will depend on health in my pitching staff, which killed me last season and whether or not my trendy guys take a step forward that a lot of people are predicting. If groans and profanity are any indication, than a lot of other guys in the league consider my team a contender as well.
Big thanks to RBar Tod for hosting and for all the participants for making it an extremely enjoyable day. Except you Sammy.
— #BARF League (@BARFLeague) March 1, 2017
Other articles and podcasts on the draft:
Baseball-a-Holics Podcast (Explicit)
Justin is the co-host on The Sleeper and The Bust Podcast and writes for Rotographs covering the Roto Riteup as well as random topics that float into his juvenile brain. In addition to his work at Rotographs, Justin is the lead fantasy writer/analyst and co-owner for FriendswithFantasyBenefits.com, owner of The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational, and a fantasy football and baseball writer for Fantasy Alarm. He is also a certified addiction treatment counselor. Follow Justin on Twitter @JustinMasonFWFB.