Industry Draft Recap – BARF League
March 3, 2017 | gregsauce
For the second year running, I made the trek to San Francisco’s Wreck Room to draft fantasy baseball with eleven other Bay Area analysts. The league is organized by Justin Mason of Friends With Fantasy Benefits and the purveyor of the Wreck Room, Tod Alsman. BARF uses a modified 5×5 setup, with on-base percentage replacing batting average and quality starts replacing wins. The rosters are fairly standard: 2xC, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, CI, MI, 5xOF, UT, 9xP, 5xBN. Danny Zarchy took home the championship in our inaugural season on the back of a dominant pitching staff. I finished 3.5 roto points behind him in third place, with deficiencies in SB, OBP, and SV.
Here’s the full BARF League register and our draft order for 2017:
- “Angry” Mike Ulrich
- Howard Bender
- Greg Smith
- Lawr Michaels
- Justin Mason
- Ray Flowers
- Sammy Reid
- Danny Zarchy
- Doug Thorburn
- Khang Do
- Tod Alsman
- Joe Green
I tend to draft the same way every year, especially when I’m still acquainting myself with in-vogue drafting tendencies of the early preseason. I continue to hold power stats in high esteem and I don’t like to pay for pitchers or catchers. In recent years, I’ve started putting more stock in batting order and team situation for hitters. I want top-of-the-order batters in potent lineups. More at-bats equal more counting stats. It’s not rocket science.
Now that you understand my general mindset entering the draft, here’s how it all played out…
1.03 – Kris Bryant, 3B/OF, CHC
After Mike Trout is off the board at #1 (no surprise there in this particular draft), I count seven players with a legit claim to the #2 spot – Kris Bryant, Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, Jose Altuve, Mookie Betts, Bryce Harper, and Clayton Kershaw. Betts went second, so I opted for Bryant. Goldy and Arenado were close in my estimation, but Bryant’s supporting cast and dual-eligibility broke the tie.
2.10 – George Springer, OF, HOU
3.03 – Giancarlo Stanton, OF, MIA
I had hopes of Freddie Freeman sliding to me in the second round, but Lawr casually sniped him right before my turn to draft. With the last elite first basemen off the board, I pivoted to outfield, securing two more players capable of blasting 35+ homers. Stanton is certainly a health risk, but I have similar concerns about the older sluggers drafted after him like Yoenis Cespedes, Edwin Encarnacion, and Nelson Cruz. Besides, we have three DL spots, so I’m happy to own Stanton as long as his per-game rates stay in line with past seasons.
4.10 – Wil Myers, 1B, SD
5.03 – Gregory Polanco, OF, PIT
Jose Abreu and J.D. Martinez were on my wish list, but missing out on them might have been a blessing in disguise. I settled for Wil Myers, who gave my team a much needed boost in the steals department. After the 4-5 turn, I picked up more speed with Gregory Polanco. For the second year in a row, the company that printed our draft board misspelled his sticker with “Planco.” That’s almost as disrespectful as Howard taking Andrew McCutchen four spots ahead of Polanco. My guy doesn’t have an amazing nickname like the Dread Pirate, but Polanco led Pittsburgh’s outfield in extra-base hits last season and doesn’t turn 26 until September.
6.10 – Hanley Ramirez, 1B, BOS
7.03 – Addison Russell, SS, CHC
I started to consider starting pitchers in Round 6, but after Carlos Carrasco and Chris Archer landed on other rosters, I disengaged my turn signal and steered back into the hitting lane. Hanley vs. Carlos Santana was a tough call. Considering Santana’s youth and the upgrades Cleveland has made to their lineup, I may regret my choice. Boston’s lineup is equally imposing, though, and Hanley will chip in a handful of steals.
Russell was a reach, but he was the highest-ranked shortstop left on my board when no other players were really calling my name. I don’t regret picking Russell because there’s plenty of reason for optimism. His pedigree is legit, evidenced by 21 dongs in his age-22 season, and a full season in the Cubs’ lineup all but guarantees he’ll rack up 70+ runs and 85+ RBI. If he can take a step forward and start to creep up the batting order, look out.
8.10 – Kenta Maeda, SP, LAD
9.03 – Danny Salazar, SP, CLE
10.10 – Seung-Hwan Oh, RP, STL
Between the 7th and 10th rounds is typically when I cave in and start drafting pitchers. For the second season in a row, the BARF crowd went a little heavier on arms than I’m used to. My offense was off to a great start, so I couldn’t resist playing catch-up and chasing the K/9 siren song of Maeda, Salazar, and Oh.
11.03 – Devon Travis, 2B, TOR
Here’s the reason I didn’t draft Dee Gordon over Addison Russell back in the seventh round. Second base is deep. Mariana trench deep. Existential crisis deep. For reference, Jonathan Schoop went in the 25th round, Neil Walker went in the 26th, and Starlin Castro wasn’t drafted at all. Each one of them hit more than 20 homers last season. Looking at where those other keystoners went, I can safely say I was too high on Travis, but his potential to bat atop the Blue Jays’ lineup was simply too tantalizing to pass up.
12.10 – Ryon Healy, 3B, OAK
13.03 – Jameson Taillon, SP, PIT
I fell in love with Healy’s pants-evaporating swing down the stretch of last season and will likely end up owning him in too many leagues as a result. In the moment, I was torn between Healy and D-Backs masher Jake Lamb. Ultimately, Lamb’s struggles against lefties scared me off. On the other hand, Taillon was an easy choice because I needed a good walk rate to offset the damage Danny Salazar is sure to inflict on my team’s WHIP.
14.10 – Adam Duvall, OF, CIN
15.03 – A.J. Ramos, RP, MIA
Yes, Duvall is an on-base black hole, but 30-homer bats don’t grow on trees. #WellActually, bats are made of wood, which comes from trees, but you know what I mean. My team was already solid in power, but I don’t mind overloading on certain stats in the draft. Whether by injury or plain old bad calls, some players won’t pan out. Having redundancy insulates against those worst-case misses, and if things somehow pan out, I’ll have extra power to trade away for help elsewhere. Perhaps I’ll need to trade for a closer when walk artist A.J. Ramos eventually implodes.
16.10 – Tommy Joseph, 1B, PHI
17.03 – Michael Pineda, SP, NYY
In the 16th round, I really wanted to shore up my lack of speed by drafting Elvis Andrus, but I saw that the two drafters picking at the turn were both full-up on middle infielders. With needs at other positions, they would surely pass on Andrus, which gave me the opportunity to pounce on one more 30-dinger guy. I didn’t consider Angry Mike’s willingness to move Daniel Murphy to first base, and he was quick to pilfer Andrus for a suddenly open middle infield spot. In hindsight, this was the biggest mistake of my draft. My team was already loaded with power hitters, and I still had middle infield spots to fill. Andrus was an ideal statistical and positional complement to the team I had constructed, but I got greedy and chased a second instance of Adam Duvall. Fancy drafting syndrome strikes again.
18.10 – Dansby Swanson, SS, ATL
19.03 – Joe Ross, SP, WAS
20.10 – Tom Murphy, C, COL
21.03 – Travis d’Arnaud, C, NYM
These are roster-filler picks. I think I was still on tilt from missing on Andrus when I picked Swanson. I wanted a middle infielder with some speed and OBP potential. Swanson’s 2016 stats fit the bill, but they’re buoyed by a .383 BABIP in a small sample size. If I had been thinking clearly, I would have taken the aforementioned Neil Walker. The Mets’ second baseman doesn’t swipe bags, but he will probably bat higher in the order than Swanson and is generally a more trustable roto commodity.
In Murphy and d’Arnaud, I simply want at-bats. They’re both talented enough to provide good per-appearance stats, but Murphy is slated to platoon, and d’Arnaud is about as sturdy as wet paper bag. I’ll be pleased if one of them comes through. Acknowledging the risk tied to these two, I uncharacteristically drafted a third catcher later in the draft. Chekhov’s catcher!
22.10 – Shawn Kelley, RP, WAS
23.03 – Travis Jankowski, OF, SD
Saves and steals are necessary evils in rotisserie leagues. I likely won’t win either category, but I refuse to punt anything in the draft.
24.10 – Andrew Triggs, SP, OAK
25.03 – Zach Davies, SP, MIL
26.10 – Blake Treinen, RP, WAS
27.03 – Yan Gomes, C, CLE
28.10 – Collin McHugh, SP, HOU
I rounded out my pitching staff with three young starters and the closer handcuff for Shawn Kelley. Triggs is intriguing, but he needs to earn a rotation spot for his pick to hold water. Davies and McHugh are solid inning-eater types who still provide enough strikeouts to remain fantasy relevant. Both profile more as match-up plays than must-start fantasy arms.
Cleaning up the BARF
This year’s squad is eerily similar to last year’s. It probably has everything to do with my own stubborn drafting sensibilities, but I wonder how much drafting with the same folks drove me down a similar path. All in all, power-related counting stats will not be a problem, but I’ll need to manage my OBP carefully and seek out steals via waivers and trades. Still, I should have enough incidental speed from my sluggers to supplement my primary base stealers and stay out of the basement in that category.
I’m more concerned about my pitching staff. It feels worse compared to last year, when my rotation was anchored by Noah Syndergaard. I also had the good fortune of Kyle Hendricks breaking out as a secondary ace in 2016, despite being drafted as my sixth starter. This year’s team will need a similar ascension from someone like Taillon, Ross, or Triggs to contend. If my hurlers don’t deliver on their upside, figuring out where to focus my trading efforts — OBP/SB vs. pitching — will be a challenge. On the plus side, I feel safer with this year’s crop of closers than the not-so-dynamic duo I drafted last year (Shawn Tolleson and Fernando Rodney).
With all that said, the draft is only 5-15% of the battle. The league will be won during the season, and my squad should be competitive. Big thanks are due to Tod for hosting the draft at the Wreck Room. If you’re ever in San Francisco, stop by and discover the therapeutic value of alcoholic beverages plus skee ball and pop-a-shot. Big thanks are also due to Justin for rounding all of us up and making the draft run smoothly. Be sure to give him a follow, and feel free to tune in to @BARFLeague on Twitter to keep up with league happenings throughout the season.