The granddaddy of all fantasy baseball expert leagues, LABR (League of Alternative Baseball Reality), held its annual auctions two weeks ago. It has taken me two weeks to actually sit down and write this review because the auction was so ODD, so far removed from any form of reality (alternative or otherwise) that I seriously thought I saw a rabbit run by, look at his pocket watch and yell “I’m late, I’m late, I’m late.” Every time I look back at the results a confused look crosses my face and all I can think is “wait . . . what?” No worries, I finally have overcome my fears and put virtual pen to paper to assess how we did in the oddity that was the LABR NL auction. (ps - those who want to read about our NL strategy, check out Rick Wolf’s great piece).
Jonathan Lucroy $19; Martin Maldonado $1 - Lucroy is one of my favorite players this year. He plays a scarce position, is at an age where growth should occur (27), plays in a good hitters’ park and posted strong numbers last year including a .280 average, 18 HR and 9 SB. Lucroy is the classic low risk with upside at right age type of player Colton and the Wolfman love to roster. Maldonado, on the other hand, is a product of the weirdness of the auction. No matter how unappealing the catcher nominated, someone bid $2 – such luminaries as Jose Lobaton, George Kotteras and Bryan Pena all would have cost us at least $3 to roster. So, we punted and grabbed Maldonado thinking that at least we had the Brewer catcher every single day. I would like to tell you we are optimistic about Maldonado because of his 12 HR in his last 416 AB but really he is a product of people having too much money and driving prices up beyond all reason.
Adrian Gonzalez $25; Juan Francisco $1; Mike Olt $2 - Wow, just wow. The good news is that I think we got a steal on AGonz. How many players in the big leagues are still in their prime, play on a very good team, have knocked in 99 or more runs 7 years in a row AND hit .290 or more 4 years in a row? There cannot be many. Francisco and Olt reflect the absurdity that was mid-draft valuations. We had planned on trying to get a decent 3B who will get playing time at around $10 because we really did not like ANY of the options that would cost more. What we did not know is that EVERYONE would cost so much more than their real value. Such players as Nolan Arenado $22; Chris Johnson $18; Todd Frazier $18; Cody Asche $12 stand little to no chance of even making back their cost. So, we punted. Francisco did hit 18 HR in just 338 AB last year so there is some hope. Olt had a year to forget last year but seems over his vision problems and has only Luis Valbuena to beat (who we picked in reserve just in case), so there is some hope there too. There is no getting around the fact that 3B will be a challenge for us but at least we saved money!
Neil Walker $17; Zack Cozart $15; Rafael Furcal $3 - If you think the bidding at 3B was filled with overpays, the middle infield really had us feeling like Alice in Wonderland. Jhonny Peralta went for $18 despite no one knowing what effects PEDs had. Andrelton Simmons went for $15 despite the fact that his SB success is only 50% and his 17 HR (after 6 in 230 minor league games) were like the rabbit with a pocket watch – a figment of our imagination. You get the point. So after letting middling player after middling player go, we gave in and grabbed Walker and Cosart. Frankly, both will be fine but are not likely to yield any profit. That will have to come from the outfield (Furcal was just a flyer as was a $6 hope that Stephen Drew signs in the NL and pays dividends).
Carlos Gomez $32; Jay Bruce $27; Justin Upton $24; Andrew Lambo $1; Travis Snider $1 - Gomez is a power speed stud in his prime. You can write down around 20 HR and 35 SB now. Bruce is as solid as they come and has room to grow. Despite being only 27, Bruce’s three year average performance has been 88 runs; 32 HR; 105 RBI and 8 SB. No risk with upside. Nice! Last year, Justin Upton cost $35+ to roster. At $24, he is practically risk free. He has averaged 100 runs, 25 HR and 14 SB over the last three years – all before his age 26 season. Once again, we rostered a player with high upside yet limited risk. As to Lambo and Snider, the pickings were slim but I figure there is a good chance one of them gets time in RF or at 1B where only the underperforming Jose Tabata and Gaby Sanchez stand in their way.
Given how hard it was to get hitting once the experts realized that there was not enough hitting to satisfy demand, I am pretty darn happy with this group of hackers. Our pitching staff is even better but that is for the next column. . .