BY ROB SHAW
Bloomberg Sports Host Julie Alexandria is joined by Bloomberg Sports Analyst Rob Shaw to break down an expert’s fantasy baseball draft. The draft, which included fantasy experts from CBS, Yahoo!, and ESPN was a 28-round draft that consisted of additional positions such as Middle Infielder, Corner Infielder, and five outfielder positions. Additionally, the league includes more advanced statistics such as OBP and slugging rather than the typical batting average.
Here’s a look at the first 18 picks by Shaw:
1) Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
2) Roy Halladay, Phillies
3) Cliff Lee, Phillies
4) Eric Hosmer, Royals
5) Stephen Strasburg, Nationals
6) Adam Jones, Orioles
7) Howie Kendrick, Angels
8) Drew Stubbs, Reds
9) Derek Jeter, Yankees
10) Josh Johnson, Marlins
11) Adam Dunn, White Sox
12) Danny Espinosa, Nationals
13) Nick Markakis, Orioles
14) Salvador Perez, Royals
15) Sergio Santos, Blue Jays
16) Joe Nathan, Rangers
17) Chris Iannetta, Angels
18) Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays
Let’s pick up in the 19th round, already with Sergio Santos and Joe Nathan taken within the past four rounds, I added yet another closer in new Mets hurler Frank Francisco. It’s not that I see Francisco having much upside, but again the idea here is to merely win the saves category. With three closers I am now in a decent position to do so since I am usually quick acting off the waiver wire in the regular season.
Next, in the 20th round, I drafted Bryce Harper. Even though Harper will open the season in the minor Leagues, he is the exact type of high potential player to target in the later rounds of a fantasy baseball draft.
Additionally, in the late rounds you should target players with multiple position eligibility. Again, the point of late round picks is that they are backups for your fantasy team. A player like Ryan Raburn is an insurance policy at several positions. Furthermore, he also has some real potential and if he can finally get off to a hot start, he can put together a great season with 25 home runs and a .280 average.
In the next round, I drafted Braves southpaw bullpen ace Jonny Venters. Though he may not get many saves with Craig Kimbrel locked in at closer, Venters can certainly contribute in all other categories while picking up vulture wins.
In the 23rd round I added Andres Torres, who now plays with the Mets. I was looking to simply add a versatile outfielder who can offer some steals, but the problem here is that Torres has not been healthy and his production has taken a major dive, particularly against southpaws. He might end up getting dropped before the season even opens.
In round 24, I again made an investment in upside by drafting Mike Trout. The Angels phenom was not ready for the Big Leagues last season, but 2012 may be the year his career takes off. With Albert Pujols in the lineup there is a great opportunity for some serious run production.
Next, I brought in an extra arm for my starting rotation. Edwin Jackson is durable and is a cinch for 10 wins every season. I’m thinking that he may do a lot better than that this season. Now a full-time National Leaguer in a pitcher-friendly stadium, Jackson has the ability to approach 200 strikeouts with respectable all-around numbers.
In the 26th round, I was pleased to see Gordon Beckham still available. People have forgotten about his upside, but Beckham is a former top prospect with some power and speed who calls home to the middle infield in a hitter’s park.
Next, I picked up Blue Jays prospect Travis Snider. The power is real, but the consistency is lacking, which explains why he will open the season in the Minor Leagues. I’ll likely keep him stashed on my bench considering his upside.
Finally, in the last round of my fantasy draft I picked up A’s shortstop Cliff Pennington. Even in the last round of the draft, this was not a wasted pick. In fact, Pennington is one of the top shortstops in baseball when he escapes the Oakland Coliseum. He is a player to consider platooning for his road games.
Here’s a look at my 2012 Experts League Fantasy Squad broken down by position:
C: Josh Thole, Mets
C: Chris Iannetta, Angels
1B: Eric Hosmer, Royals
2B: Howie Kendrick, Angels
SS: Derek Jeter, Yankees
3B: Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays
MI: Danny Espinosa, Nationals
CI: Adam Dunn, White Sox
OF: Adam Jones, Orioles
OF: Nick Markakis, Orioles
OF: Drew Stubbs, Reds
OF: Ryan Raburn, Tigers
OF: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
UT: Gordon Beckham, White Sox
Bench: Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Cliff Pennington, Travis Snider, Andres Torres
DL: Salvador Perez, Royals
P: Roy Halladay, Phillies
P: Cliff Lee, Phillies
P: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals
P: Josh Johnson, Marlins
P: Edwin Jackson, Nationals
P: Jonny Venters, Braves
P: Joe Nathan, Rangers
P: Sergio Santos, Blue Jays
P: Frank Francisco, Mets
For more fantasy insight, visit BloombergSports.com
By Tommy Rancel //
Biggest Surprise: Alex Rios
Following last season’s mid-summer waiver claim by the White Sox, Rios hit just .199/.229/.301 for his new club for the rest of 2009. However, the 29-year-old rebounded to post numbers above his career average across the board in 2010. His .284/.334/.457 slash line slightly bests his career .281/.331/.446. More importantly from a fantasy perspective, he regained his great power/speed combo, smashing 21 home runs while stealing 34 bases. He also crossed the plate 89 times and added 88 RBI. With 2009 looking like the outlier, expect numbers close to career averages again in 2011.
Biggest Bust: Gordon Beckham
Beckham impressed in his first 400 major league plate appearances by hitting .270/.347/.460 as a rookie second baseman. In nearly 500 PA this year, he hit just .252/.317/.378. His home runs dropped from 14 to nine and his RBI from 63 down to 49 – despite playing in 28 more games. There’s nothing that screams fluke in either season, which leaves Beckham’s owners scratching their heads moving forward. If he’s valued as a .250 hitter with light power at the draft table next year, though, he’s well worth grabbing at that price.
2011 Keeper Alert: Dayan Viciedo
A Cuban defector, Viciedo showed some of the power the White Sox hoped to see when they signed him. After hitting 20 home runs in 86 games at the Triple-A level, the 21-year-old was promoted to the big leagues. There, he it .308/.321/.519 with five home runs in just 106 PA. His average is fueled by a rather unsustainable BABIP (batting average on balls in play) and his plate discipline leaves much to be desired (two walks and 25 strikeouts). But with plus power at the hot corner, the Chicago third baseman of the future is one to keep.
2011 Regression Alert: Paul Konerko
Konerko has been one of the most underrated hitters of the past few seasons, but pardon me for being a little wary of a 34-year-old posting a career-best .977 OPS. While playing in one of baseball’s home run havens, nearly 20% of Konerko’s flyballs hit went over the wall. In addition to a favorable home run rate, his BABIP .326 was well above his career .285 level. A free agent this off-season, Konerko’s next destination is unknown. But it is very unlikely his OPS approaches 1.000 again next year. Don’t overbid.
For more on Alex Rios and the Chicago White Sox lineup, check Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy Kits.
By Tommy Rancel
It didn’t take long for Gordon Beckham to prove to the White Sox that he was ready for the major leagues in 2009. The eighth-overall pick in the 2008 draft (second Beckham overall, behind Tim) made his major league debut just 364 days after being drafted.
The University of Georgia product didn’t disappoint, as he hit .269/.347/.460 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 14 home runs and 63 RBI in 103 games. He was named American League Rookie of the Year by The Sporting News and the Major League Baseball Players Association.
Beckham, a shortstop in college, played third base exclusively at the major league level. If we stretched his 14 home runs and 63 RBI over a 162-game schedule, we get a projected total of 22 home runs and 99 RBI. Those numbers are not bad for a third baseman, but fall well below the top producers at the position like Evan Longoria and Alex Rodriguez.
With the acquisition of Mark Teahen this off-season, Beckham will try a new position in the majors; second base. If we take those same 22 home runs and 99 RBI, and apply them to second base, only Aaron Hill of the Blue Jays topped those numbers at the AL keystone position last season.
Looking back at some batted-ball data from 2009, we can get a feel for Beckham in 2010. Among numbers we like to look at as “fluke” stats, namely batting average on balls in play (BABIP) and home run-to-fly ball ratio (HR/FB), Beckham scores well. His .290 BABIP was slightly below average, and could jump over .300 with more line drives (16.6% line drives last year). This would bring his batting average closer to the .280 mark.
Beckham will play a full season at U.S. Cellular Field in 2010. The home of the White Sox had the fourth-highest home run rate in 2009. Because of this, it’s possible that Beckham’s HR/FB rate could move up, placing him among the league’s top power-hitting second basemen.
Another good sign from Beckham was his patience at the plate. He struck out 17.2% of the time last season, but he also walked nearly 9.5% of the time. For reference, Evan Longoria walked 9.1% of the time as a rookie, but struck out 27.2%. With a sharper batting eye, Beckham could increase his walk total, bump up his OBP, and create more run-scoring opportunities.
Beckham’s average draft position (ADP) was 88.2 before Opening Day, which would rank sixth among AL second basemen behind Ian Kinsler, Brian Roberts, Dustin Pedroia, Ben Zobrist and Robinson Cano. He’ll need to meet your league’s in-season eligibility standards first – but that’s impressive company. Looking at Bloomberg Sports’ projections, Beckham’s .864 OPS in 2010 is projected as second-highest figure for AL second basemen.
Because he played third base last season, Beckham will carry multiple position eligibility that Kinsler, Roberts, Pedroia, Cano, and Hill don’t have. Though your draft has ended and the season has begun, see if you can pry Beckham loose from a leaguemate with a well-timed trade offer. The move could prove a big help to your 2010 fantasy team.
For more on Gordon Beckham and other players switching positions in 2010, check out Bloomberg Sports’ fantasy kits.