When last we left our intrepid adventurers, we were wrapping up the 11th round, and I was in need of three hitters and two pitchers.
My 12th round pick was 166th overall. After losing out on Cameron Maybin, I was sure to take my other sleeper, Jemile Weeks. My competition was somewhat unimpressed with my willingness to draft an A’s hitter, who’s not likely to drive in or score many runs, but I like Weeks’ hitting, baserunning, and defensive potential. I wasn’t done with A’s hitters, but my next pick, Coco Crisp, is a free agent, and as such may benefit from a friendlier home park next year. Crisp may be on the decline, but fantasy teams need stolen bases, and until Weeks and Crisp, mine didn’t have many.
With pick number 194, I filled my utility slot with Josh Willingham, another 2011 Athletic, but one who will play for the Twins in ’12. Here’s hoping the Twins proceed with their plan to move the fences in, which may help Willingham improve on the 28 homers he hit last year. Offensively, Willingham’s probably a better player than Crisp, but I wanted my team to have a true center fielder, since I wouldn’t build a real team with three corner outfielders.
Most players were grabbing second closers in the 14th and 15th rounds, and I’d planned to do the same, but my top choices- Sergio Santos and Jordan Walden- were gone before the Willingham pick, and by #199, even backups Brandon League and Kyle Farnsworth were gone, so I took a gamble on Johan Santana. Even before injuries cost him a full season and then some, Santana’s strikeout rate was in decline, but he was the best pitcher in baseball less than a decade ago, so I’m hoping he has something left in the tank.
For my last pick, the 222nd overall, I was required to take a reliever. Kevin Gregg was the only true closer left on the board (though someone will eventually emerge as the Astros’ closer), and I think Jim Johnson will assume Baltimore’s closer role early in the season, so I went rogue and took Daniel Bard. The Red Sox plan to make a starter out of Bard this year, so he may not earn any saves, but he’s a better relief pitcher than most of the available relief pitchers, so I took a real world guy over a fantasy guy.
In previous posts, I’ve praised my five favorite picks of each day, but the last five rounds weren’t exactly loaded with star power. Jeremy Manning got Johnny Cueto 162nd overall, which is a steal if Cueto stays healthy. Perhaps the most impressive pick of the last rounds was an autodraft. Jon McMahon let the computer fill his utility spot, and it drafted Derek Jeter for him with the 224th and final pick. I don’t expect much out of Jeter in 2012, but for a guy making $17 million this year to sneak past the first 223 pickers, something had to break Jon’s way.
In real life, I’d line my team up as follows (fangraphs’ projected WAR in parenthesis)
1. Jemile Weeks, 2b (2.9)
2. Troy Tulowitzki, ss (7.7)
3. Mike Stanton, rf (5.7)
4. Pablo Sandoval, 3b (5.8)
5. Brian McCann, c (5.0)
6. Carlos Beltran, lf (3.4)
7. Josh Willingham, dh (2.5)
8. Freddie Freeman, 1b (2.4)
9. Coco Crisp, cf (2.8)
1. Felix Hernandez (5.7)
2. Madison Bumgarner (5.0)
3. Matt Garza (5.0)
4. Yovani Gallardo (3.7)
5. Daniel Bard (3.1)
Fangraphs doesn’t make a projection for Santana, and they give my closer, Joel Hanrahan, 2 projected WAR. That gives my team 61.7 projected WAR. Add a 48-win baseline and assume a bench full of replacement players, and my team could be expected to win about 110 games in 2012. Of course, a fantasy team in a 14-team league doesn’t compete against real teams, so the replacement level would be very different if I wanted to project my team’s fantasy results. I’ll leave that to the guys who write about fantasy all the time.
I really enjoyed this exercise, but it did nothing to mask my distaste for fantasy sports. I truly don’t care how many games any of my pitchers “win” or “save” next year. I don’t care how many runs my hitters score or drive in. I’d love to see my pitchers prevent runs and my hitters help create them, of course, but if there are WAR leagues or runs created leagues out there, I’ve yet to find one.