Holding the 3rd pick in a year where there were at least 4 “elite” offensive weapons made me confident we would land a quality player. SO, a 4 horse race needed handicapping before we started. The “problem” was speculating on who would go 1-2? Pre-disk, Stanton was the flavor of the month, then…”Here come the Judge!” And as always Trout puts up MVP stats & wins spit cups, finally, Mr. Votto, who year in and year out impresses at the plate. I fully expected to have to decide upon a less than full season from Trout and whomever was left after 1-2. I truly was surprised when Trout went #1, but relieved that I did not have to make that call at three considering the deep pool of outfield options despite Trout’s clear-cut pedigree. Tonk took Judge #2, and then for me, I got the guy I pretty much wanted all along...VOTTO. The whole draft this year kinda played out similarly for the Taters.
I have never been happier with a team post draft than this year. (the 2015 Flushing Bombs went to plan but was a scary gamble at the time). For the first time, I had a draft that fell about as well as I could have hoped regarding getting who I wanted, when I wanted them. Klen’s pick of Kluber in round 2 changed my direction, as I was prepared to make a run at the daily double Kluber/Kershaw, but fate stepped in and we are more than happy getting a ? season from Harper (this seems like a yearly theme in my write up...Klen?!). This Boring Taters team has significant similarities to my 2014 Leisure City playoff team but with much more offensive potential. We assembled a bunched group of 14 grade starters that will have to go deep into games. If these guys collectively can produce (against a league that is offensively much better than 2014) comparably to the Leisure City staff, we should do just fine?!
OFFENSE- From the 3 slot we took Votto for all 162 games and is a high OBP/BA/Slugging machine. Nothing to worry about but put his name down in INK for 162 at the top of the order. Collectively, the Taters of 2018 are a high OBP group that can run, run well, and run fairly often. Power is there at all positions where power is needed, and even a few that its not always: (Lindor-ss-(33) Taters & Dozier-2b-(34) Taters). Biggest gamble we feel is giving up defense at the Catcher position for a fast, (super-human-fast for a catcher 15sp) in Realmuto 7+2. This is a diversion from the yearly reach I make at catcher trying to combine some offense with defense at the position that annually frustrates (see Posey ‘17 &’14). Yelich (+obp), Puig, & Encarnacion in rounds 14-15-16 mind you, fold nicely into the top end picks of Votto, Harper, Turner, & Lindor. We really like our offense. Biggest concern, PLATOONS, once again, I cannot seem to avoid guys with big platoon ratings from both sides of the plate. Austin Jackson slipped through an unintentional smokescreen ( I thought Graham took him too when announcing Pollack) and we were more than happy to grab him in rd 21?! for half a season and to fill in for the Harper sits, huge value pick. We really like our offense, which therefore means the potential for Yuge disappointment is lurking and a shirt ripping episode may be witnessed?!
PITCHING- As stated in the intro….this staff is similar to my 2014 playoff collection from Leisure City. Pre-draft evaluation concluded, a significant lack of quality top-end depth in starters headed into the draft, and just as importantly, the relief core in 2018 was unspectacular. So, we will call this the “Monkey’s Eyebrow Overcorrection Complex”, overpay and underwhelm in 2017? Ignore and hope in 2018. We will take our chances with FOUR starters rated at 14 (Z’s for 3 of those) and what we see as BiG strikeout pitchers in Sale/Ray/Severino. We rounded out the starting five with a “W” starter with a 15 grade in Peacock, his G allowed us to shrug off the W, and literally, his 15 rating ranks as the #5 highest graded pitcher available to start in 2018. The Taters will need the assembled starters to eat innings and win shootouts? We simply cannot go to the bullpen very often. The Bullpen! Ugh, shrug, and sigh. Thin in games, homer control, Innings, and quality. We hope to use the 40 games from our 19z Green to close 2 inning each appearance he enters with a late lead & took a flier at Tyler Olsen 24xH for only 30games/30 innings in round 25 (the guy did not give up a run all season!?! & he is the highest graded reliever in 2018). Olsen is also the Taters only Lefty in the pen. After that…its ”W” (stands for WINS right?) set-up guys in Wade Davis and Shawn GreenE for which we rationalized that higher grades (19/17) will lead to better results than much lower grade non-W guys that were options but left for others? I fall for this approach every year, I’m not sure I know how much this approach works or doesn’t? but we are ready to do it yet again. We also have 2 more Z’s in Warren 16zG & Hunter 15Z (our lowest rated reliever is a 15Z) that will have to be used selectively due to limitations in games or innings and possibly a court order or two. We have set ourselves up for a challenge going to the bullpen , but comparing these Boring pieces to Leisure City, we feel like this will not be a season killer...time will tell.
THE BENCH- We really like what we able to do here. Needed to grab fill-in starters for the short- in-games Harper-(OF 111g) and Turner-(3b 130g) & feel like getting excellent start-worthy guys in Austin Jackson and Travis Shaw will weather the loss in games from those top picks required to sit in bulk. Taters will have epic speed off the bench in Dee Gordon AND Byron Buxton both offering 20 speed & available for the vast majority of games all season to go along with hearty steal attempts and success expectations=SEND HIM!!. Roberto Perez backs up Realmuto and must start for 21 of his 73 available games bringing little more than his 8+5 defense and charming personality. We had been targeting 9+3 Maldanado, but he went one round higher than his defensive only rating warranted for the Taters brass, so Perez was the reactionary pick. Roberto will have to do, and will need monitoring due to only being available for 52 late inning lead related replacement games of a scary C7(yes, an area of concern). Finally, in round 26, we re-singed Carlos Santana as insurance at 1b late but also available to pinch hit with some pop and the potential to draw a walk.
DEFENSIVELY SPEAKING: Every season there is some give & take regarding balancing offensive prowess to defensive liabilities. This season, the Taters are strong defensively with the noted exception at Catcher. Live and learn on this one I guess. For the first time ever, we have 9’s up the middle infield for a combined 152 games, both can run and hit, and therefore more often than not play all 9 innings+. Votto is a 5 @1b for 162 but is a late inning PR candidate pending score. Both Turner and Shaw are decent @ 3b4’s, while Shaw qualifies at 1b. The outfield actually has me excited. Puig is merely Okay offensively, but separates himself from many as the 3/38 defensively which will deter the faint of heart from even trying to score and will throw out several that do feel a little gutsy, or may be on their third Hopslam of the night...making an opponent get an additional hit to score a run is Yuge (pay no attention to the 7 behind the plate and the multitude of wild pitch 3 hurlers wearing Tater unis). Yelich in CF is an unspectacular 3/31 but for 155g possible, and Harper rates only a 2 defensively, but w a 36 throwing arm will man LF as Puig gets Right, so we like our deterrents in the OF. Buxton 3/33 will boost the arms when Yelich is considered a liability in CF late in games as well as Austin Jackson’s 3/34 for 41 starts (38 in CF). Shaw covers both CI positions and Dee Gordon gets 10 starts as an 8 @2b and only 3 needed as a 7ss. Passed balls and wild pitches will be commonplace so its going to be a matter of timing with those. Roberto (pronounced like Bobby Boucher’s mother would say it) Perez 8+5 will upgrade the catcher position for 21 mandatory starts and late inning lead holds, assuming we have any leads, but will have to monitor usage as he does have games limited to 73.
HOPES AND DREAMS- We hope our starting 5 are not completely overwhelmed. We dream of a season where our #1 pick not named Grienke or Altuve actually dominates. We hope our bullpen is nothing more than a formality. Our Nightmare is that the starters cannot get out of the 3rd inning?! We hope for a return to relevance after a couple of struggles. We really hope we are right in our analysis...the Taters are contenders! We hope to see all you guys have some fun, play in public and F2F and we dream of the day we hoist the spit cup in Tonks basement because we dominated on the computer, not because we generated a written rule change, although, we will take it! We dream of a season where the TATERS get the rollZzz.
Thanks boys! Lets play 5!