There's a reason people don't draft actual Fantasy Baseball teams in December.
Too much is left to speculation.
Particularly given the way this offseason has (or, more accurately, hasn't) progressed, every pick is made through a haze, merely assuming rosters will look a certain way come opening day.
The winter meetings were supposed to resolve much of that. They did not. Apart from the Marcell Ozuna trade, which impacted few players of Fantasy consequence, most of what happened amounted to window dressing. In fact, you could argue the meetings introduced more questions than they resolved just from the volume of rumors that came out of them.
One of the biggest: The Orioles are dangling Manny Machado, and he'd like to go somewhere he can play shortstop. I have no doubt that little tidbit influenced Adam Aizer's selection of Machado at the end of Round 1. As purely a third baseman, Machado should go after Kris Bryant and probably Joey Votto and Freddie Freeman as well, but as a shortstop? Well, he'd probably be No. 1 at the position.
Likewise, rumors of the Yankees pursuing Gerrit Cole inspired me to select the right-hander as my third starting pitcher at the end of Round 10. I actually rank both Jon Lester and Johnny Cueto, who each went two rounds later, ahead of Cole, but the effect the Yankees' lineup and bullpen could have on Cole's win potential would certainly change things.
The uncertainty is most felt at relief pitcher, where role is everything in this format. Those who get saves are scarce and perpetually in demand. Those who don't are practically worthless. We still don't know who's closing for the Cubs, Diamondbacks and Mets, to name a few, which forces those of us drafting now straddle the fence with relievers like Brandon Morrow and Archie Bradley. Morrow could be the Cubs' answer to the ninth inning and Bradley the Diamondbacks', and if they are, given their abilities, they should go as much 10 rounds earlier. But as far as we know, the Cubs and Diamondbacks are still shopping for relief help, so none of us wanted to invest too much.
A few other observations:
- Our first draft with Giancarlo Stanton in pinstripes saw him go in the middle of the first round, ahead of Bryce Harper (which I didn't like) and Mookie Betts (which I did like). Despite how far he slid , he deserved to be a first-rounder even with the Marlins, but joining a loaded lineup in a smaller park gives him a legitimate shot at 60 homers.
- Our first draft since the Shohei Ohtani decision saw the two-way player go with the first pick in Round 9. My assumption right now is that his Fantasy owner will rarely if ever elect to start him as a hitter, so assessing him just as a pitcher, the pick is a little high for me. In order to play both ways, he'll have to work in a six-man rotation, possibly with additional rest here and there, so I wouldn't count on him throwing more than, say, 160 innings. Inning-for-inning could be great, but it's kind of another Rich Hill situation.
- Mr. Irrelevant was of an unusually high profile. Yes, Chris Davis -- normally a fixture in the early rounds for this particularly format, where his strikeouts aren't as limiting -- nearly went undrafted. True, he's coming off a down year, but he averaged 39.4 home runs over the previous five and is still only 31. The strikeouts have always made him a high-variance play, so he's a reasonable bet to bounce back. Then again, him slipping so far kind of speaks to the depth in the infield. I wouldn't want to give up who I drafted at first base, corner infield and utility for a shot at Davis.
But it's not all about me, of course. Here's who else took part in this draft:
- Kerry Klug, Razzball
- Ralph Lifshitz, Razzball
- Scott White, CBS Sports
- Justin Mason, FanGraphs
- Jeff Tobin, CBS Sports
- Lawr Michaels, Mastersball
- Jeff Zimmerman, FanGraphs
- Tim McLeod, Patton & Co
- Lance Brozdowski, BigThreeSports.com
- Chris Towers, CBS Sports
- Sergio Gonzalez, CBS Sports
- Adam Aizer, CBS Sports
The format is Rotisserie, standard 5x5 (batting average, home runs, RBI, runs and stolen bases for hitters and wins, ERA, WHIP, strikeouts and saves for pitchers).