At the risk of tearing down the entire "fantasy expert" scam, we begin today with an admission: Occasionally, fantasy gurus get stuff wrong.
It's rare, but it happens. Back in March, it's possible that some of us led you to believe Roy Halladay was salvageable and that Adam Dunn was not terrible at baseball. We apologize for these misunderstandings.
With six weeks of MLB data in the books, it's time to reassess the player pool. We've assembled a group of 10 experts for an in-season baseball draft. The league settings are fairly standard: 5x5, mixed player pool, CI & MI, head-to-head, weekly lineups. Nothing too exotic.
[Yes, you can still own Goldschmidt! Sign-up today for Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball 2013]
These were our participants, listed in draft order with industry affiliation:
1. Alex Kantecki, Fake Teams
2. Dalton Del Don, Yahoo!
3. Andy Behrens, Yahoo!
4. Paul Singman, Baseball Prospectus
5. Brad Evans, Cat Fancy
6. Patrick Daugherty, Rotoworld
7. Michael Salfino, Wall Street Journal
8. Scott Pianowski, Glamour
9. Derek VanRiper, RotoWire
10. Brandon Funston, Golf Digest
You can find full draft results right here. Or you can keep scrolling for a round-by-round review, with commentary from our experts. Rounds 1 and 2 really didn't look all that unusual. The reaching began in the third...
Rounds 1-3: Nothing too crazy about the first round. Justin Upton slugged his way into the first pass, and apparently Joey Votto hasn't unslugged his way out. Everyone knows well enough to wait on pitching. The top-5 had a consensus feel to me, but maybe not in that particular order. Season to taste.
It takes a special kind of stomach to take a Matt Kemp or Albert Pujols in the second round. Is Kemp's shoulder going to come around? Is Pujols going to hobble around like Fred G. Sanford all year? Yu Darvish's wicked slider and strikeout upside make sense with the 18th pick.
Round 3 is where the owners let their hair down. Shin-Soo Choo's collection of skills pushed him to the 21st overall pick. Chris Davis, one of the X-factors of this experiment, goes at 3.03. Two positions of eligibility and reliable pop sounds good to me. Justin Verlander slides to 3.04 because if you can't find starting pitching in 2013, you're not trying. Stephen Strasburg is an interesting play at 3.07; I'd like to see him get someone out in an eighth inning someday before I'm scribbling that one down. But hey, it's a game of opinions. Yoenis Cespedes hasn't run (or hit a lot), but he was going in the top-4 rounds no matter what, and 3.09 doesn't seem out of place.
Top 30 breakdown: 13 infielders, 11 outfielders, four pitchers, one catcher, one 1B/OF. With only three outfielders required, I thought the infield slant might be a little heavier. -Pianowski
Rounds 4-6: We could talk about Giancarlo Stanton’s rough April and gimpy hamstring knocking him from a near unanimous top-15 preseason pick to the fourth round, but let’s start with a pair of Brewers: Jean Segura and Carlos Gomez. They were spring-time afterthoughts. Gomez the third outfielder you begrudgingly took, Segura the shortstop you threw a dart at in the 22nd round to handcuff Troy Tulowitzki. Flash-forward two months, and they’re being drafted as top-50 fantasy studs. That’s because they’ve produced like top-ten fantasy studs. Whether they can sustain it is anyone’s guess (read: probably not), but this is the kind of draft where actions must speak louder than words written in March.
Elsewhere, Adam Wainwright and his 55/4 K/BB ratio slipped to No. 35 overall, and Starling Marte came off the board before Jason Heyward. Carlos Santana fell surprisingly far (No. 55) considering his hot start, while Chase Utley rocketed from his mid-100s spring ADP to No. 51. It was an action-packed three rounds marked by the expected (Allen Craig, Starlin Castro, Ben Zobrist and Joe Mauer), the unexpected (Matt Harvey), and the crazy (Segura). -Daugherty
Rounds 7-9: My, how the mighty Josh Hamilton has fallen. Despite a three-year average of 33 home runs, 107 RBI and a .313 batting average, one bad month to open '13 was enough to drop him more than 50 spots from his preseason ADP. Looking under the hood at Hamilton's plate discipline breakdown, you can certainly see an argument for the steep discount.
But Cole Hamels, who went five picks after Hamilton, probably didn't deserve to be thrown on the same clearance rack. Hamels was the No. 7 starter drafted on average in the spring, but fell to No. 15 here because of, well, two bad starts to open the season. He's since rolled off six straight quality starts, and there's little reason to believe he won't be the same low-3s ERA, 200K pitcher that we've known and loved in the past. Score the Hamels pick in Round 8 as a bargain for Del Don. Finally, I'm not sure how we let Alex Rios, the No. 16 player in the Y! game last season (currently sitting at No. 38 this year) fall to Evans at No. 85 overall. Shame on us. -Funston
Rounds 10-12: This slice of the draft was heavy on second-tier closers (eight of the 30 picks). But those who waited for pitchers were rewarded. A half-dozen quality arms went off the board. Funston kicked things off with Gio Gonzalez, a pitcher as dominant as anyone when he's right — which he hasn’t been for most of the early going. Shelby Miller went to Del Don eight picks later, and the only possible argument against him, based on his electrifying 2013, is an innings limit. But that doesn’t seem likely when you read between the lines of Cardinals’ statements. Clay Buchholz, Anibal Sanchez and Jeff Samardzija are all having Cy Young-caliber seasons. Kris Medlen, the ninth pick in Round 11, seems over-drafted in context, until you remember his 2012 finish.
Predictably, most of the hitters selected have either been beset by injuries or had disappointing starts. The biggest exceptions are Nelson Cruz (10.7) to Singman and Hunter Pence (11.7) to me. Dexter Fowler (10.5) was drafted by Daugherty well ahead of his preseason ranking, due to a surprising start. Another solid 2013 producer, Carlos Beltran, fell all the way to 12.4 due to ever-present injury risk and the short (three-man) bench in this league. -Salfino
Rounds 13-15: These rounds brought runs of middle infielders, starting pitchers and relievers. Considering the late start of this league, Johnny Cueto may only miss one turn in the rotation. Even if he still needs another rehab start or two before returning, it's a worthwhile gamble for Mike Salfino at 13.7. Thanks to his eligibility at second base and shortstop, Martin Prado still provides late-round value with his versatility.
Yovani Gallardo tumbled nearly six rounds from his spring Yahoo! ADP of 89.7. Now 27, Gallardo is showing an average fastball velocity at 90.5 mph — down 1.3 mph from last season — and a 6.1 K/9 well below his career 9.0 mark. Hitters are making contact on Gallardo's offerings more frequently inside and outside of the strike zone, while his swinging-strike rate has bottomed out at 6.5 percent (his lowest since 2008). Still, if it turns out to be something as simple as a mechanical adjustment to get him back on track, he could yield significant value from this spot.
Since the start of last season (38 starts), Jake Peavy has a 3.32 ERA and 1.09 WHIP along with an 8.3 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9. He's a huge bargain at 140th overall. -VanRiper
Rounds 16-18: These rounds saw some of this year’s struggling arms finally get scooped. The ineffective R.A. Dickey went in the middle of the 16th round, while the ineffective and injured Jered Weaver fell to the end of the 17th, They were the 39th and 42nd starters taken respectively. Tony Cingrani, who’s been stellar in his 28 innings (2.89 ERA, 37 strikeouts), was the next pitcher taken even though he easily could find himself in the minors after his next start. The normally injury-conservative Pianowski selected Jose Reyes as his 17th rounder, not a bad idea given the shallow format. Even though Alcides Escobar has been in a mini slump (3-for-29 with no homers or steals the past week), I was surprised to see him fall as far as the 18th round, given his 35-steal speed and decent pop. Adam LaRoche, who tends to heat up as the weather does, was a solid pick at No. 154 to Salfino. With a current nine-game hitting streak, he’s already showing signs of outgrowing his April struggles. -Singman
Rounds 19-20: Thanks to a Hanley Ramirez injury, the speedy Dee Gordon has life once again. The shortstop looks like he has the chops to stick, and I expect him to stay on as a regular once Ramirez does come back. He’s a potential base-stealing, run-scoring machine atop L.A.’s lineup, making him a 19th round steal. He was nowhere to be found on preseason draft boards.
Back in March, I would have drafted Nolan Reimold over Nate McLouth without hesitation. Today, I weep because I actually did it. Neither McLouth nor Reimold were 10-team options in the preseason, but McLouth has since separated himself in Baltimore, literally stealing his way to the hearts of fantasy owners.
A recent string of solid starts probably saved Tim Lincecum from being excluded altogether, but in March he was a top-35 starter. Timmy now falls under the category of a "What the hell I'll give it a shot" pick in the 20th. Jose Fernandez was a surprise addition to Miami’s rotation and I was surprised he lasted as long as he did. He’s the prototypical high-strikeout arm you target late on draft day. No risk, all reward. -Kantecki
Rounds 21-22: In the final two rounds of this exercise, we find cheap speed (Adam Eaton, Will Venable, Brett Gardner, Shane Victorino), awful closers (Brandon League, Steve Cishek), and talented underachievers (Ike Davis, Brandon Morrow, Salvador Perez, Brett Anderson). In a mixer of this size/shape, steals are available very late.
*Whacks self in head for drafting Michael Bourn*
Wil Myers went to Salfino at pick 21.7, the only prospect snagged in this league's draft. Myers needs to be owned in nearly all formats, despite the sluggish start at Durham. He's coming off a 98-37-109-.314 season across two levels, so we know he can handle the high minors. Mark Teixeira was a nifty DL lottery ticket for Daugherty. He could potentially return in June if things go well. Or he could potentially not return at all, if things go not-so-well. But the upside is certainly worth a final-round flier.
League, we should mention, could lose his closing gig at any moment. He's given up at least one earned run in six of his last seven appearances. Kenley Jansen was selected eight rounds ahead of him in this re-do draft. -Behrens
And that's that. Draft complete. Please note any errors or omissions in comments, or simply praise our gurus for their insight and professionalism.
Also, feel free to mention your favorite un-drafted players below. We're playing this thing out, and Brad needs all the help he can get...