- AJ Mass, Fantasy
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Our inaugural dynasty draft rolls on, and we finally have reached our halfway point. Teams are starting to take a much clearer shape. From this point forward, each owner is going to have to weigh the pros and cons as to whether he is better served by going for a bunch of prospects and playing for the future or trying to win it all today.
That's the beauty of a dynasty league format, a keeper league format taken to the extreme, in which once you draft a player, you can retain his services for the rest of his career if you so desire.
If you want draft results, round by round and pick by pick, click here. This page will be updated as the draft goes along.
The ESPN Fantasy staff has set out to select an initial set of 40-man rosters for this type of fantasy league, using a snake draft to choose whichever player we want when our turn comes up. Veteran players with years of experience, rookies we hope might be this year's version of Mike Trout, prospects in the minor leagues who are expected to make a splash in the next few seasons, foreign-born transfers-to-be, college standouts and even our own kids are eligible for the taking.
Analysis of our first 10 rounds appeared Jan. 14. Today we present you with the results of rounds 11 through 20. Rounds 21 through 30 will be unveiled Jan. 28. On Feb. 4, the dynasty draft wraps up with the reveal of rounds 31 through 40 and complete depth charts for each team.
Our participants, listed in our selected-at-random first-round draft order, are as follows: Nate Ravitz, Tristan H. Cockcroft, David Schoenfield, Matthew Berry, Eric Karabell, me, Pierre Becquey, Brendan Roberts, Keith Lipscomb and James Quintong.
Enough prelude; let the second-guessing begin. Here is a breakdown of each team's selections in rounds 11 through 20.
Nate Ravitz rounds 11-20
Ravitz kicked off the second hundred picks of the draft with Alex Rios, a player who was the No. 6 hitter on the ESPN Player Rater last season. You will see a lot of players coming off the board in these 10 rounds who will not fall this far in a one-and-done league, but given the frustrating nature of some of their careers, owners were less likely to "marry" these guys for the long haul.
You'll also see, with Ravitz's bookend picks of Nelson Cruz and Nick Swisher, that when you do have some roster flexibility given our bench of 17 players, you can attempt to combine multiple players into one lineup spot. Ravitz will be thrilled if he gets 55 home runs from those two guys, in whatever combination it occurs.
Dan Haren moves back to the National League, where he gets a lot more opportunity to take advantage of a pitcher being in the lineup rather than the DH. But as Ravitz says, "The move [to the NL] is nice, but this is really all about the health. If he's all the way back physically, Haren should have been selected 100 picks earlier. If the back/hip issues aren't resolved, he should have slipped another 100 picks."
Tristan Cockcroft rounds 11-20
Cockcroft needed to get on his horse and start collecting arms for his pitching staff, which is why the selections of Brandon Morrow, Brett Anderson and Anibal Sanchez are no surprise here. More pitching is surely going to be the focus of the next 10 rounds as well, at least until his rotation is complete.
Rafael Soriano was probably not going to be Cockcroft's pick at No. 179, until the news broke that the closer had signed with Washington. Given the size of contract he signed and the incentives for "games finished," one certainly can assume Soriano will get a chance to show off what Cockcroft refers to as "his elite closer skills" for the Nationals. His overall advice for those who might be drafting in dynasty leagues on when to draft closers can be summed up in three words: "Wait, wait, wait!" That is, unless you're taking a shot at a player, such as Soriano, with both elite skills and opportunity.
Mike Olt adds to Cockcroft's stockpile of players of the future. Although he doesn't think Olt will make the Texas Rangers at the start of 2013, "Lance Berkman played less than half of last year and is hardly a lock to stay healthy." He adds that the pick was "all about protecting the future at a position where I consider myself weak."
Dave Schoenfield rounds 11-20
The combination of R.A. Dickey's age and his move to the American League East certainly contributed to the Cy Young Award winner's fall to No. 118 overall in this draft. Not only did Schoenfield take advantage by getting the knuckleballer when he did, but he added one of the players traded back to the Mets for Dickey, Travis d'Arnaud.
How good can the young catcher be in 2013? "He tore it up in Las Vegas [.333/.380/.595], but, of course, everyone tears it up Las Vegas," Schoenfield points out. "Still, the power potential is there for 20 home runs, even playing in Citi Field. If he can keep his average in the .250 range, he should prove to be a valuable No. 2 fantasy catcher."
The pick of Tom Wilhelmsen surprised me a bit, because I don't think he's a name many people are targeting, especially as high as pick No. 158. Schoenfield explains what he thinks is so special here: "His average fastball clocked in at 96.3 mph. But he mixes in a hammer curve as well, giving him a true two-pitch closer's arsenal." He also cautions not to be fooled by the fact that Wilhelmsen is 29, as the pitcher left the game for a few years and does not have as much wear and tear on his arm as you might think.
Matthew Berry rounds 11-20
Picks 1-10: 3B Miguel Cabrera, 3B Evan Longoria, SP Stephen Strasburg, SS Elvis Andrus, 2B Jason Kipnis, OF Curtis Granderson, 1B Paul Goldschmidt, 1B/OF Mark Trumbo, C Jesus Montero, SP James Shields.
Berry continues to build his team with the idea of erring on the side of playing for today rather than tomorrow because "so much can change year to year with players." Certainly, it's a very valid strategy to go with in a dynasty draft, as talented players like Carl Crawford and C.J. Wilson can easily drop a long way when a lot of owners are skewing young with their picks.
It's because of that philosophy that I was a bit surprised at the pick of Delino DeShields Jr. at No. 184. Don't get me wrong. I love the pick and was hoping to grab him myself, but not for a few more rounds. That's the gamble you take in a draft such as this, and one Berry was unwilling to make.
"Frankly, I had him ranked a bit higher than this, so [I was] surprised he was still there given the way some prospects were flying off the board," Berry said. "DeShields has a chance to really be something special [101 minor league steals in 2012], and there was no one else at that point who I felt was a significant cut above the rest in terms of current major leaguers, so I went for a stud prospect at a scarce position."
In short, if you really want somebody, it's better to take him one or two rounds too soon than to miss out on him altogether, especially when this could be your only chance to draft him for the rest of his career.
Eric Karabell rounds 11-20
Pitching? What's that? Karabell has all but ignored the position thus far in his draft, although he does have a No. 1 in Zack Greinke and a few potential aces-to-be in the fold in the form of Jarrod Parker and Trevor Bauer. It's clear he's going to have to load up on arms in the next set of picks, but that's just fine with Karabell. It's the strategy he wanted to pursue heading into the proceedings.
Karabell already had a veteran middle infield in place when Round 19 came along, so he doubled down on young shortstops Dee Gordon and Jean Segura. "There's little harm in securing both, and keep in mind how much in demand Gordon [with his steals upside] was just a year ago," he said. "It's funny how player value can change so drastically in just one season."
He might well have been talking about Trevor Bauer with that last comment. In four starts, Bauer seemingly went from Strasburg-sized hype to being kicked to the curb by Arizona. "[Four bad starts] shouldn't turn him from top prospect to John Lannan. Bauer might need more development time, but that's something Cleveland should provide. In a dynasty league, be patient. New team, new league? No worries. The kid is so talented," Karabell said.
AJ Mass rounds 11-20
Speaking of being patient, it's shocking how quickly people have written off Tim Lincecum. We're talking about a guy who finished sixth in Cy Young voting in 2011, and although his ERA was 5.18 last season, his second half of the 2012 season was a respectable 7-5 with a 3.83 ERA. I'll sign up for that with a 16th round pick, and I'm expecting a whole heck of a lot more.
Normally, I don't subscribe to the whole "contract year" thing, but in the case of Chase Utley, consider me sold on the concept. This is the last chance he'll have to prove his talents have not been eroded by time and that his injury history shouldn't prevent him from signing one last multiyear deal. He's going to want to be out there every day, and Philadelphia is likely to let him do so, squeezing every last bit of juice out of their veteran. At No. 195, this is a steal.
Kyuji Fujikawa will be closing games for the Chicago Cubs, of that I have little doubt, as I've seen enough Carlos Marmol implosions to expect a changing of the guard will not take long in that bullpen. Japanese pitchers who come to the States tend to start strong, faltering only after hitters see them a few times. With Fujikawa used as a one-inning specialist, few players should get enough looks at him to adjust to his stuff as quickly as they might have done with Yu Darvish.
Pierre Becquey rounds 11-20
Timing is everything, and perhaps Becquey would not have selected Drew Storen had he known for sure that Rafael Soriano was joining the Washington bullpen, news that broke after he made that pick. That said, it's not like Storen isn't a quality arm, and there's no reason to believe he might not get his share of saves at some point over the next five seasons, be it with the Nationals or someplace else.
That's the beauty of dynasty leagues. You don't have to feel snake-bit by a real-life transaction that throws your player projections into disarray. You also can choose to try to build a team for tomorrow, as Becquey has started to do with the additions of Shelby Miller and Miguel Sano.
Miller is one of Becquey's favorite prospects; he calls Miller "a guy I think will be a high-K quality starter at worst, with ace upside." Even if Miller doesn't make the 2013 rotation in St. Louis, Lance Lynn can provide this team with innings in the interim. "I like Lynn's performance arc to be positive over the next few years as opposed to, say, Dan Haren, whose body [hip] and fastball [under 90 mph for the second season in a row] have started to betray him," Becquey adds.
And of course, as Becquey correctly points out, "prospects are currency in dynasty leagues." Once the season starts, he can easily leverage players with "promise" in exchange for players who had already been taken off the board by the time he claimed these youngsters.
Brendan Roberts rounds 11-20
Roberts seems to have found his goal of "looking for players in their prime that give me the best chance to win over the next 3-4 years" very easy to achieve, as the owners around him in the snake have placed an emphasis on the very young as well as not showing an aversion to the "oldies."
Howard Kendrick seems like one of those oldies, but as Roberts is quick to point out, he's only 29 and "his best years are still ahead of him." Certainly the fact Kendrick will be hitting in a lineup that includes Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton won't hurt his value any, and by pick No. 133, second base was pretty much picked clean.
Chris Davis had only his second season of at least 400 plate appearances, and along with the playing time came the stats. Davis hit 33 home runs in 2012, and while some think it might have been a fluke, Roberts is not in that camp. "I acknowledge Davis has, ahem, holes in his swing, and I see him hitting more in the .250 range next season, not .270. But he should play closer to 150 games this season. He's not even 27, and I think 2012 was just the start of a nice run of power numbers from him. Not bad for a 15th-round pick," Roberts said.
Keith Lipscomb rounds 11-20
After going "tried and true" with the first 10 picks of his draft, Lipscomb turned a bit more to the prospects side of the ledger with the selection of unprovens such as the San Diego duo of Yasmani Grandal and Jedd Gyorko. The PetCo factor doesn't scare Lipscomb off one bit.
"Whenever possible in drafting hitting prospects, I like to target guys who I think can hit in any surrounding and I think both of these guys fit the bill," he said. "Gyorko strikes me as someone who can hit in the .290 range when he gets his chance. The Padres will have to find a place for him in the lineup, even if the team takes a bit of a hit defensively."
Catcher is a position where youth is perhaps more of an asset than at other lineup spots due to the wear and tear that comes from donning the tools of ignorance. So Lipscomb was pleasantly surprised to see Grandal fall to him at No. 132, adding him to Yadier Molina to form a potentially deadly "Y2C" backstop bonanza.
Brandon Belt, in Round 20, is the perfect example of a player who might have come to the majors with unrealistic expectations and found his fantasy value subsequently go absurdly low after a season that seems "bad" only because of those expectations. Lipscomb points to Belt's .315 batting average at home versus .237 on the road as a reason to believe this is a nice value pick at this point of the draft.
James Quintong rounds 11-20
Last, but certainly not least, we come to Team Quintong. Perhaps by coincidence, Quintong's draft slot resides at the extreme end of the snake draft, and the age of his players over the past 10 picks seems to be living at the extremes as well.
Victor Martinez and Mariano Rivera are not only two of the most senior citizens in all of baseball, but are both coming off injuries that prevented them from participating in 2012. So what? "Just because they're older doesn't mean their stats don't count the same," Quintong is quick to point out. "Does Rivera only get credit for 60 percent of a save because he's over 40? Does a .320 average from V-Mart only count for .295 because he's over 30? Is there some age/stat conversion rate I'm not aware of in this league?"
While those players need to contribute immediately, on the other end of the spectrum, you have Jonathan Singleton. The first-base prospect hit 21 home runs last season in Double-A, so he was already unlikely to make the Houston Astros' roster this season. Then news came out that he was being suspended for 50 games as a result of testing positive for marijuana use.
That puts his future even more into the future than most prospects, but when you're already peering into a crystal ball to try to guess what might be down the line, what difference do those 50 games really make?
As for what that crystal ball has in store for the next 10 rounds of this dynasty draft? You have to wait only one more week to find out what the next hundred picks look like. Stay tuned.
15hMichael C. Wright