Here is the recap of the second half of my recent TRAX Best Score draft, along with my thoughts on each pick. To read Part 1 of my recap, click here.
Round 21, Pick 242 – My pick: Felix Hernandez, SP
Felix Hernandez is no longer King, but there are worse best ball gambles. Hernandez’s productivity has greatly declined from his other-worldly 2014, but he’s still just 31 years old. Granted, he’s an “old” 31, but if he can cut down the gopher balls (his FB/HR rate in 2017 was double his previous career rate), then Hernandez should have something of a bounce-back year. He may never win another Cy Young, but he can eat innings as an SP4 or SP5.
Round 22, Pick 263 – My pick: Hanley Ramirez, 1B
Once upon a time, Hanley Ramirez finished as a top-30 hitter using this scoring system. That was way back in 2016. I don’t need Ramirez to regain that form for this to be a good pick. I also don’t expect him to make good on his promise to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases, though that would be nice. Ramirez’s biggest Achilles’ heel has always been his health, not his talent or opportunity. Hitting in the middle of a loaded lineup, Hanley Ramirez should put up huge numbers for however long he can remain on the field.
Round 23, Pick 266 – My pick: Tim Beckham, SS
I wanted some depth at shortstop because I am not in love with Paul DeJong. I’m not in love with Tim Beckham, either, but he is an intriguing option, particularly if he can hit near the top of the Baltimore Orioles’ lineup. His career 29.7 percent strikeout rate is disgusting, but Beckham showed pop last season, hitting 22 homers despite a flyball rate of just 29.5 percent. He is slated to play third base for Baltimore this season, which will hopefully keep his legs fresh throughout the season.
Round 24, Pick 287 – My pick: Yasmani Grandal, C
I wanted a solid alternative to Mike Zunino, and Yasmani Grandal fits the bill. By this point in most drafts, the catcher pool is almost exclusively timeshares. Grandal may never see 500 at-bats, but he has proven he can hit the ball out of the ballpark. Since 2016, Grandal has 49 home runs in just 828 at-bats. That type of production is more than enough at the catcher position, especially from a backup.
Round 25, Pick 290 – My pick: Cameron Maybin, OF
Cameron Maybin and Mallex Smith were two outfielders that I wanted to pluck well before he hit their “ADP range,” which was somewhere around 370-400 when this draft began. Players who can steal 30 bases do not grow on trees and are huge assets in this format. Unfortunately for me, Smith went in Round 22, right before my Hanley Ramirez pick. I probably would have taken Ramirez there anyway, but I was bummed to see Smith gone. I decided to pull the trigger on Maybin here. Maybin averaged 0.825 fantasy points per plate appearance last season, which is rare to find in this portion of the draft, much less 100 picks later. I love Maybin’s upside on a bad Miami Marlins team.
Round 26, Pick 311 – My pick: Blake Parker, RP (autodrafted)
A low-tier reliever who probably won’t even close. Ugh. So gross.
Round 27, Pick 314 – My pick: Mike Foltyniewicz, SP
I was aware going into the draft that I wanted to backload my roster with starters. As I discussed in my pre-draft strategy column, an average starter who starts twice in a week in this format is almost always better than an elite pitcher going once. Based on that, I wanted to finish with 12-15 starting pitchers. Mike Foltyniewicz was just my seventh starting pitcher selected, so I knew he would not be the last pitcher I took. I did not realize at the time that I was about to hit the “Mick picks a bunch of NL East starting pitchers” portion of the proceedings, but hey, maybe it will work out. As for Fottyniewicz, I’m hoping he can eat some innings and be a bit of a post-hype sleeper. Hopefully, his spring success translates into the regular season.
Round 28, Pick 335 – My pick: Steven Matz, SP
Steven Matz seems to be the frontrunner ahead of Zack Wheeler for the final spot in the New York Mets’ starting rotation. Matz has not been the same pitcher since suffering shoulder and elbow injuries, but I am hoping he can figure some things out and give me 150 innings worth of above replacement production.
Round 29, Pick 338 – My pick: Hyun-Jin Ryu, SP
Hyun-Jin Ryu missed nearly two full years and averaged just 9.5 points per game in 2017, but he also had a very palatable 3.77 ERA and 8.24 K/9. I expect Ryu to improve with another year under his belt. He may never approach the 13.8 points per start he averaged in 2013 and 2014, but as long as he can be a consistent double-digit performer, I can live with it.
Round 30, Pick 359 – Ketel Marte, SS
I was very pleased to see Ketel Marte still on the board here, especially considering what could be a precarious position for my team at shortstop. Marte has quite a bit of skill for a player going this low in drafts at a premium position. He has an elite contact rate of 83.2 percent for his career and drew a walk in a whopping 11.4 percent of plate appearances in 2017. The power and speed haven’t equated to homers and steals quite yet, but this is a player who can provide 10-15 home runs and 15-20 steals with a plus average at virtually no cost.
Round 31, Pick 362 – Jose Martinez, 1B
I would love this pick a lot more if Jose Martinez were listed as an outfielder. Then again, if he were listed as an outfielder, he probably wouldn’t be available with pick 362. You can argue that is the case regardless of position. Martinez averaged a healthy 0.865 points per plate appearance in 2017. The problem is that he only got 302 trips to the plate last season and does not have a clear path to consistent playing time in 2018. But he should get 3-4 starts per week and is always a slump or injury to another player away from becoming a full-time contributor. If that happens, Martinez should be a weekly starter.
Round 32, Pick 383 – Jose Urena, SP
It’s not often you can get an Opening Day starter in Round 32 of a draft. The reason for this, of course, is that Jose Urena is not your typical No. 1 starter. The Miami Marlins are just really bad and do not have a ton of options. Urena’s career 1.69 K:BB ratio and his 5.12 xFIP don’t exactly inspire confidence. However, he has dramatically improved his opponents’ batting average and he does a decent job of keeping the ball on the ground. I’m not expecting ace numbers, but Urena can be another decent source of volume in 2018.
Round 33, Pick 386 – Jason Vargas, SP
I picked Jason Vargas here because he made 32 starts last season and figured to be in line for another 180-200 innings as a member of the New York Mets. Vargas also showed promise with a stellar first-half last season, and I was hoping for a couple of months of similar production. However, Vargas has since fractured his hand, leaving his status in doubt. I am hoping that when he returns, he can be a solid innings eater who should maintain an ERA below 4.00 and about 7.0 K/9.
Round 34, Pick 407 – Jed Lowrie, 2B
I was not initially planning on taking three second basemen, but I have concerns about uber-prospect Scott Kingery taking playing time away from Cesar Hernandez. I still think Hernandez will be fine, but I wanted to protect myself in case he loses playing time and Dee Gordon gets injured (or worse, suspended again). Jed Lowrie is not a sexy name, and if he shows up too often in my starting lineup, I have probably gone terribly wrong. But he did score 427 points in this format a year ago, and I would not be surprised to see him come close to that number once again this season.
Round 35, Pick 410 – Curtis Granderson, OF
Curtis Granderson is no longer the player he was at the beginning of this decade (a trend among many of my draft picks if I’m being honest), but he was severely undervalued by my projections. I’m guessing this is because he was a free agent for so long. Yet another example of ADP being skewed, but I digress. Granderson hit a woeful .212 last season as a member of the Mets and Dodgers but still managed 400 points. He figures to hit near the top of the lineup as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays and should see a slight uptick in home runs as a result of the move. Granderson may sit against lefties, but he can be a 20+ point player in certain weeks. I like him quite a bit as my OF7.
Round 36, Pick 431 – Chris Stratton, SP
Chris Stratton is another solid mid-tier starter who I am hoping will eat some innings and provide solid numbers. He walks too many hitters, but he does a good job of keeping the ball on the ground and in the ballpark. He incorporated more curveballs in 2017, which was his best pitch. I’m hoping he can continue that trend and be a solid source of production in two-start weeks.
Round 37, Pick 434 – Brandon McCarthy, SP
Health has been Brandon McCarthy’s biggest nemesis in recent years, as he has made only 29 starts combined in the last three seasons. But he has shown flashes. He allowed just five home runs in 92.2 innings pitched last year, which is extremely impressive considering the rate at which homers were being hit. As a member of a rebuilding Atlanta Braves squad, McCarthy should be allowed to make as many starts as his body will allow.
Round 38, Pick 455 – Zack Wheeler, SP
I probably would not go near Zack Wheeler in a standard league, given his injury history and his position in the pecking order among New York Mets’ starters. But Wheeler does have a career 21.9 percent strikeout rate and has the upside to make some noise in certain weeks. Wheeler may have just secured a starting role, as Jason Vargas, whom I also drafted, is out 4-6 weeks. Wheeler should start the season in the rotation as a result. We will see how it shakes out, but hopefully, I can get some decent production from my trio of Mets.
Round 39, Pick 458 – Raimel Tapia, OF
I have to admit that this pick makes me feel quite uneasy. Raimel Tapia was already blocked in the Colorado Rockies’ outfield, and the recent signing of Carlos Gonzalez only made Tapia’s path more difficult. I probably should have taken Teoscar Hernandez as insurance in case Curtis Granderson is completely terrible and/or gets traded. I also could have taken Howie Kendrick or another utility type player. But I can’t shake the possibility that Colorado moves Charlie Blackmon down in the order. In that scenario, Tapia would likely lead off. If that happens, a .300 average with a full-year pace of 100 runs and 20 steals is within range. I decided it was worth the risk; time will tell.
Round 40, Pick 479 – Collin McHugh, SP
I achieved my goal of selecting a lot of starting pitchers, but the quality of said starters leaves quite a bit to be desired. Collin McHugh is arguably better than half of my pitchers but currently is on the outside looking in in terms of a rotation spot with the Houston Astros. I’m hoping that at some point, McHugh will get a chance, be it via injury or trade. Even if he ends up stuck in the bullpen, he can still provide 10-15 points in good weeks, which will likely play in this format.
Overall, I think my hitting is elite and should keep me in the running. The pitching is quite suspect, but I am hopeful that the volume of pitching will negate the lack of effectiveness to some degree. The average team drafted just over eleven starting pitchers. I drafted fifteen, although you can argue thirteen if we remove McHugh and one of the Mets from the equation. Zack Greinke is also a question mark heading into the season. Still, I’m hoping an extra start or two each week can keep me afloat. I think this team would be an absolute train wreck in a Roto league, but this is why it is so important to go into the draft with a clear understanding of rules, rosters, and scoring system. I am very interested to see how this team performs in TRAX Best Score.