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I was privileged enough to be asked to join a secret cabal of really good, highly decorated fantasy baseball players to do a slow draft NFBC style “Commentary Mock” where the commentary is brutally honest, often biting but most importantly, always informative. The bad news for readers is that this “Dead Poets Society” of sorts took an oath to keep the picks, commentaries and even identities of the drafter’s secret. The good news is that there is one exception to the oath – I can tell you what I did and why I did it. So, in a series of a few articles, you can follow the mock NFBC style team built by the Colton & the Wolfman team sans Wolfman and the first lady of fantasy, Stacie “Charlie” Stern. In other words, you can follow me up the proverbial creek without the paddles.
The first 4 rounds for me went as follows: 1.14 Votto; 2.2 Kipnis; 3.14 Pence; 4.2 Gordon
Joey Votto – 1B – CIN - One is far more likely to lose a league in round 1 than win it. There are few more consistent, in their prime, players than Joey Votto. Leaving aside his outlier injury year of 2012, Votto's WORST stats since 2008 have been 24 HR, 73 RBI and a .926 OPS (if you take the worst from different years). Given that he is in his prime, hits in a great park and has no real health concerns right now, those numbers are a pretty good worst case scenario. Of course, there is also strong upside as well. Oh, ps - he will also likely add 5 or so SB which can come in handy.
Jason Kipnis – 2B – CLE - The truth is that I would have been happy with either Votto or Fielder in round 1 and either Beltre or Kipnis in round 2. You know why I went with Votto. Kipnis, on the other hand is like Beltre -- a scarcity play. Those of you who know me know that the S in SMART stands for Scarcity and I believe in paying for it. Kipnis provides not only scarce production at 2b but also scarce speed. Will he drop back to .270 or .275 instead of .285+? Probably. But, I can live with that as long as it comes with 15 HR and 25 SB -- numbers I believe are a floor for this experienced player in his age 26 season.
Hunter Pence – OF – SF - Wow, I have just learned that picking 14th stinks. I would have been very happy with most of the guys taken in the third round but do not like my choices here at all (actually I like them for 5th round choices, but alas, what can you do?). Enough whining! I narrowed the selection down to three OF - Pence, Gordon and Cespedes. That latter has the most upside but frankly, the most downside too. Pence is much better than people think, having averaged 24-100 with a .282 average and 11 SB over the last three years. That is pretty solid bankable production. Gordon too has been solid as his three year averages are 19-80 with a .287 and 12 SB. I see neither tailing off much nor having any growth potential. The Avg risk with Cespedes removes him from consideration here. The fact that the Royals may move Gordon around the order tips the scales in favor of Pence and that is who I selected.
Alex Gordon – OF - KC - See above – solid, reliable bankable stats from a guy in his prime.
Through 4 rounds: Four hitters in or reaching their prime who will all add value across 5 categories with minimal risk. Seems pretty SMART to me.
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