We just had our fantasy draft. There are 16 teams in our league and I had the 11th pick. There are 25 spots on each roster. Before I list my team, here are the categories that we have in our league:
Hitting categories: R, H, HR, RBI, SB, AVG, OPS
Pitching categories: W, CG, SHO, SV, K, HLD, ERA, WHIP
Round 1: Ian Kinsler 2B – Kinsler does it all and even drives in runs out of the leadoff spot (71 RBIs last season). He hits for a high average and steals bases.
Round 2: Lance Berkman 1B – He’s got a great bat as he can hit over .300 and get you over 100 RBIs and possibly 30 homeruns.
Round 3: Roy Halladay SP – The first starting pitcher I took. All the other studs were gone. I thought getting him was a bargain in the third round due to the fact our league uses complete games and shutouts as a category.
Round 4: Joe Mauer C – Catcher is a thin position. So I went with Mauer. Despite injury potential, you cannot argue with over a .300 batting average.
Round 5: Chris Davis 1B/3B – If you read my blog, you know that I’m all about this kid. He’s a big lefty and can hit and he had a great half a season last year. And especially in this lineup, he will drive in runs.
Round 6: Joakim Soria RP – I seemed to be at the end of the stud closer run and Soria was the last one left. I’m just hoping he can reproduce his 2008 totals.
Round 7: Rich Harden SP
Round 8: Chris Young OF – Young has that rare combo of power and speed.
Round 9: Mike Aviles SS – I’m hoping Aviles can build upon the great rookie campaign he had in Kansas City. (.325/10HR/51RBI)
Round 10: Josh Johnson SP – Did a nice job last season in his 14 starts (7-1).
Round 11: Clayton Kershaw SP – Would this be considered taking a gamble?
Round 12: Mike Gonzalez RP
Round 13: Adam Lind OF – This is another one of those players that, if you follow my blog, you know I like them. I assume he will be in the middle of this Blue Jays lineup this year.
Round 14: Joey Devine RP – Now, I’m hoping that Devine wins the closer job. Even if he doesn’t, we get points for holds — so I can’t be too concerned. I was suprised Devine went this late as well. Ziegler was drafted only a few picks before this.
Round 15: Jack Cust OF – I follow up one Oakland A with another. I needed some more power and production (even if Cust doesn’t post the average).
Round 16: Chris Dickerson OF – I’m hoping Dickerson will get at least some starts. He can steal and has been doing well this spring.
Round 17: Chase Headley 3B/OF
Round 18: Matt Thornton RP – He should help in the hold category (although I think the hold is a rediculous statistic — it exists).
Round 19: Casey Kotchman 1B
Round 20: Matt LaPorta 1B/OF – With so many roster spots — why not?
Round 21: Ryan Madson RP – The “bridge to Lidge” should get me some holds.
Round 22: Elvis Andrus SS
Round 23: Mark Teahen 1B/3B/OF – He’s eligible all over.
Round 24: Seth Smith OF – He probably isn’t drafted in some leagues but I like him.
Round 25: Josh Willingham OF – Finish this team off with “the hammer.”
I feel pretty good about my team considering the fact there are sixteen teams in the league. Last year I won, so let’s see if I can repeat.
Season Preview: Oakland Athletics
Projected MLB Rank: 18th — AL Rank: 7th — AL West Rank: 2nd — Record: (79-83)
The A’s improved the worst offense in the American League this offseason by bringing in outfielder Matt Holliday, shortstop Orlando Cabrera, and firstbaseman Jason Giambi. Oakland was last in the AL in runs per game (4.01), batting average (.242), doubles (270), on-base percentage (.318), slugging percentage (.369), and lead the AL in strikeouts (1226).
Here are the career numbers in some of those categories for the guys they brought in:
.319 BA — .386 OBP — .552 SLG
.286 AVG — .408 OBP — .534 SLG
.274 AVG — .322 OBP — .399 SLG
There’s no reason to believe the A’s offense will flounder as it did last season with the addition of Holliday, Giambi, and Cabrera. Also this season, Eric Chavez is healthy and should put up nice production numbers. A bright spot in the lineup last season is 24-year-old centerfielder Ryan Sweeney. In 115 games he hit .286 with .350 OBP. At worst, he will share a majority of the time in center.
Leftfielder/DH Jack Cust displayed some good power numbers for Oakland last season belting 33 homeruns and driving in 77 RBIs. He strikes out a lot and doesn’t hit for a high average at all, which seems to be the case with most of the A’s from last season. Averages under .250 last season came from Cust, Mark Ellis, Travis Buck, Bobby Crosby, Daric Barton, and others. I like the addition of Nomar Garciaparra as a righthanded bat off the bench here and Rajai Davis is a good fourth outfielder with lots of speed off the bench as well.
Pitching was a strong suit last year for this club and hopefully that continues this season if the A’s want to contend. Justin Duchscherer established himself as a legitimate top of the rotation pitcher last season with a 2.54 ERA in 22 starts. His season ended when his hip problems came back late in the season, so hopefully those problems stay away this season. Southpaw Dana Eveland is gaining more confidence at the big league level and should have a better season in 2009 at only 25 years old.
Young seems to be the trend in the rotation as the last three projected starters are no older than 25. But if we know anything about the A’s and pitchers, we know that they manufacture anyone into top pitcher. Sean Gallagher, 23, is nasty and may need a little more time to develop into the pitcher that help the A’s contend. Gio Gonzalez, 23, had a rough short stint in 2008 but has been a top pitching prospect for some time spending his minor league career with a few different clubs, his strikeout ability is above average. Look for him to develop. Dallas Braden, 25, needs to have a good start to the season if he wants to keep his spot in the rotation.
The bullpen is one of the best in the big leagues. Brad Ziegler had an unbelievable rookie campaign holding a 1.06 ERA in 59.2 innings. He only allowed seven earned runs all season with 11 saves and 9 holds. Whether it’s Ziegler, or Joey Devine closing out ballgames, the A’s will definately have one of the best set-up/closer combos in the league. Devine, in 42 games last season, had a 0.59 ERA (no I didn’t type that wrong), with over a strikeout per inning. My guess would be that Ziegler grabs this role as the season starts, but look for the A’s to switch it around to find out what works.
If the pitchers and the three offseason acquisitions can avoid injuries, definately look out for this team in the west. For my predictions though, the rotation is too young to put them in the playoffs just yet. Although I wouldn’t be suprised if they came out winning the division in 2009, I’ve learned to never doubt Billy Beane (read Moneyball).