Preamble: We've had a lot of power the last few years, but that can sometimes lead to a lot of standing around. I went into the draft with a loose plan to try to excel in AVG/OBP, and sacrifice power if needed.
Pre-Draft: Someone drew the ace for me at halftime of a girls basketball game. CF3.33 Mike Trout joined the team.
Draft: Trout gave us a cornerstone for a good offense, and I went more or less all-in on AVG/OBP. I sweated a long time over my 2nd/3rd swing, with LeMahieu vs. Dozier and Belt vs. Rizzo. A lot of me wanted to go power, but I also loved a strong AVG/OBP team. I was up nearly to 2am, finally went to bed on the clock, had a terrible night of thrashing in bed, then woke up at 545am and somewhat confidently made the AVG/OBP pick with 2B9 LeMahieu/1B5 Belt. Initial responses from the rest of the league were fairly negative, so I started feeling bad about my picks. Ken later said he thought it was a good swing, so I felt a little better, but I still had my doubts.
My other draft plan was basically to draft guys who would produce. I didn't care about the shape of production, or that much about stealing, as long as they could hit. So I put a little more stock in my card projections and preplay numbers than in the past. I tried to avoid reaching for guys who had power. With my next swing, OF2.30 JD Martinez and OF2.33 Tyler Naquin joined the team. They both had very good cards and preplayed well, and they were good players in a weak OF pool. Naquin added the bonus of 90+ CF games, taking care of my backup CF needs, as I needed 14+ starts behind Trout. The move cemented a weak defensive OF, but that was a risk I was willing to take.
We swung next with C8+3 Wilson Ramos and 3b5ss72b6of2 Jose Ramirez. Ramos was good overall value, and Ramirez gave me my first flexibility pick, both defensively and in the lineup, with some steal ability. I closed out my offensive focus by taking SS72b6 Diaz (to DH) and 3b42b7 5-power Ryan Schimpf. Another couple of guys who preplayed well for me. After 9 picks, I pretty much locked in my offensive starters other than SS. After that, I finally started building a pitching staff. I didn't plan on avoiding starters so long, but every time I considered one, another player seemed to offer better value. I did snag 12zz Bartolo Colon amidst 6 straight pitcher picks in rounds 10 thru 15, compiling the bulk of my relief staff.
My 16/17 swing is where things got dicey. I was happy to get 3B5 Kyle Seager, who I thought was great value at that point. I needed quite a few OF games, and the OF pool was weak. Taking Seager here allows me to start OF2.32 Jose Ramirez in the OF most of the time, pushing some OF2.30 JD Martinez games to DH. Seager will start around 100 games at 3B, and be our first guy off the bench. The second half of the swing was C34 Rajai Davis. I was hoping to get Billy Hamilton here, and maybe I overreacted a bit in taking Rajai. In the end, the Rajai pick was basically wasted, as my rotation disaster forced me to trade Rajai for lesser value later in the draft in order to create another roster spot.
Yes, the starting pitching disaster. I was thinking I'd get a 12zz-12-12-8z-8z rotation. That would be tolerable, and combined with my deep bullpen, good defense, and good offense, I thought it'd be good enough. The next swing, I took SS9 Crawford who I really wanted, and solidified my defense. P*L14 134i Brad Hand was the last straw in screwing up my rotation. The 12non-Z starting pitching run occurred before it got back to me, and I was basically out of options at that point. So I doubled down with two more relievers on my next swing, giving my team an 8-man bullpen, going one above my usual 7-man bullpen. This created the roster crunch where I still had needs to fill, and Rajai Davis was the odd man out. I traded him to Keith in my next swing, while picking up backup catcher C7+4 Jeff Bandy and key bench backup 1b3/3b3/of1/2b6 Steve Pearce. Pearce is another bat who preplayed well, I didn't have a backup 1B at that point, and he has just enough flexibility to be an asset on my extremely short bench.
I ended my draft by taking the four worst starters in the league. :(
Offense: I really like my offense. Just a lot of guys who can produce. My lineup goes 6+ deep pretty much every game. Trout/LeMahieu/JD/Belt/Naquin/Diaz/Schimpf/Ramirez. Wilson Ramos should provide good catcher production near the bottom of the order. Crawford ain't great, but a solid number 9 hitter. My steal ability is weak, my power is just ok. But I think we will produce. Commissioner Ken thinks we'll produce, I hope he is correct. He usually is.
Defense: Our infield is 3b5-ss9-2b9-1b5, which is great. C8+3 is good enough, although towards the weak end of this year's strong catching pool. OF is kind of weak at LF2.32/CF3.33/RF2.33. But there will other marginal OFs this year, so it doesn't stick out too badly. We need this defense to support our rotation.
Pitching: 12zz-10-8gz-8z-8z. Ugh.
The bullpen should break the SL relief innings record, which I believe is Bob's 2005 Coulee Dam Whiners with 792 IP. We have roughly 870 innings available. While not a great pen, we did get a couple top guys in L20WH Jennings and 18H Jeffress. Barnette's 17GZ is solid, and we complimented with another H in 15H Familia and a ZZ in 14gzz Herrera. L14 Hand, R15 Blanton and R14 Torres provide innings.
Roster flexibility: Very little. An 8 man pen will do that. Ramirez, Schimpf and Pearce are key. Diaz will DH, but his ss7/2b6 provides a warm body to stand in the middle infield. Basically no pinch running off the bench, other than Samardzija's 13 speed once in a while.
Best picks: I liked a lot of my early picks. Good hitters that should produce. JD Martinez has a great card for the end of the 4th. Diaz and Schimpf should hit well for 8th/9th picks. Seager was good value in the 16th. Crawford was great to get in the 18th, I started considering guys like him many rounds earlier.
Worst picks: Rajai, in that it helped ruin my rotation. Same with Brad Hand. Any other reliever pick that prevented me from taking a starter.
Expectations: I thought I had a very good team until my pitching disaster. After the draft, I thought I had a team that could compete. I think we will hit. I'm writing this after a 14-6 start. My offense is producing, and we have gotten more power than expected, which will probably fall off a bit. My rotation has been tolerable, which may be a mirage. I have underused my bullpen so far, those innings will definitely be needed. Once again, there seem to be a lot of early schlizes this year.
Good luck to all! Go SL!