From The Fantasy Oracle

2014 LABR Draft: The Oracle Dominates

Ray Flowers took on the best of the best in the 21st annual LABR Draft. How did his AL-only squad turn out?

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This is the third year that I've been invited to participate in the League of Alternative Baseball Reality (LABR). The event, in it's 21st year, is hosted by USA Today in Arizona (Steve Gardner is the point man for everything). In year one I was in the NL and I drafted what I was told was the worst team anyone had ever seen – literally everyone said it was horrible. I was tied for first place the last week of the season (I finished in second). Last year I was moved to the AL and finished in third place. Does that mean I will win gold in year three? One can only hope.

Here is the team I put together over the weekend. Let the critiquing begin.

12 team AL-only $260 5x5 scoring 14 hitters, nine pitchers six reserve rounds (the reserves are chosen via a snake draft)

* NOTE: Number in parenthesis is the amount spent to attain the player.

Catcher: Carlos Santana ($20), Jesus Montero (2)
First Base: Adam Dunn (8)
Second Base: Dustin Pedroia (27)
Third Base: Evan Longoria (30)
Shortstop: Mike Aviles (3)
Middle Infielder: Dustin Ackley (8)
Corner Infielder: Logan Morrison (13)
OF: Dexter Fowler (17), Austin Jackson (17), Michael Saunders (7), Daniel Nava (5), Dayan Viciedo (8)
Utility: Jemile Weeks (5)

Pitchers: James Shields (21), C.J. Wilson (17), Glenn Perkins (17), Nate Jones (9), Ubaldo Jimenez (7), Jake McGee (3), Brandon Morrow (9), Erasmo Ramirez (4), Sean Doolittle (4)

BENCH: Felipe Paulino (SP), Joel Peralta (RP), Grant Green (2B), Japhet Amador (1B), Daric Barton (1B), J.D. Martinez (OF)

HITTERS

First off, everyone needs to realize how auctions work. Just because Player A goes for more than Player B doesn't mean he's always the better player. A lot of the amount spent on a player depend directly on when a player is nominated (I always stress context, right?). You might see the $13 I spent on Morrison and think I'm an idiot when guys like James Loney and Mitch Moreland went for $10. The fact is that LoMo was the best option left to fill my CI spot so I had to pay a bit extra when Eno Sarris was also looking to fill the same spot late. If 2/3 folks are waiting on a player that is brought up toward the end of the draft he could easily end up going for more than the “book” says he should.

I love Santana for $20, three dollars less than Joe Mauer. Montero at $2 ended up being my only true mistake of the draft. He was nominated early and I thought, based on LABR in years past, that second catchers would be fairly expensive. I was wrong about that. Here is a list of other backstops I would have rather had that went for about the same (Pinto $3, Arencibia $2, Phegley $1, Hanigan $1). Montero could still earn $2, no doubt about that, but the other four I listed all have a bead on playing time right now, and they would have been better adds to my club.

Dunn has his faults no doubt, but I'm in love with the $8 bid. As long as he's healthy he will return at least 50 percent more than his cost.

Pedroia is a great player, a rock, and he went for $6 less than Robinson Cano and Jason Kipnis. I consider that a big win.

Longoria wasn't a target, and he did go for a dollar more than Adrian Beltre who came up later in the draft, but third base becomes a wasteland quick so I wanted to get one of the better options.

Aviles is my weak link. Still, a 10/10 season is doable and he also qualifies at third base.

Ackley is going to play in the outfield, but he also qualifies at 2B. At $8 he was well worth an add. Could he finally put it all together? I think he just might, or at least well enough to return $8.

My outfield lacks an elite player, but I'm a big fan of Fowler (Player Profile) and Jackson (Player Profile). The duo went for $34, one dollar less than Adam Jones. You may have forgotten that Saunders went 19/21 in 2012. Did you? Nava for $5 is outright robbery (Player Profile). Viciedo at $8 is likely the best 5th outfielder in LABR.

Finally, I needed some speed, so I added Weeks late. It's looking like he might earn some significant playing time with the Orioles this season, and there's even a chance he could end up as the starter at second base. If he gets 300+ at-bats this season this will be a great pickup.

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PITCHERS

As I've noted previously, Shields is always overlooked (Player Profile). All Wilson does it throw 200 innings with 170 Ks each season. Ubaldo has his warts (Player Profile), but for $7 he was well worth adding for his league average ratios with 175+ K stuff. That trio is a great start – three guys who could throw 200 innings with 175 or more punchouts. I took a shot on one of my favorites, Morrow, as a solid  fourth starting option (like LoMo on offense, Morrow was a little more expensive than hoped, but there was a bidding war for his services late as I wasn't the only one interested in adding him). I pushed Erasmo last year and it didn't happen. It looks like it might this year as the Mariners' rotation is beat up right now giving him a shot to start from week one. To balance out ratios that might be a bit elevated I added the dynamic setup arms of McGee and Doolittle. Love that twosome. I also added Perkins as my lock-down closer and Jones as a potentially dominating arm in the 9th inning for the White Sox. The assembled talent on this staff is pretty impressive if you ask me.

BENCH

Paulino has a dynamic arm and he could be starting for the White Sox early in the year. He shouldn't have fallen to the reserve rounds. Peralta won't get saves, but he's one of the best middle relievers in the Junior Circuit. Green --- hey, I needed some support up the middle just in case. I took two first sackers, not ideal, but I think there is a chance that Amador (the Mexican League superstar) or Barton could get some quality at-bats at some point. It wasn't that long ago that people were excited about Martinez.

CONCLUSION

Auctions are a blast. If you haven't done one try it. You will love it. So interesting the dynamics that it brings forth. Challenging too. Oh, and if you do it, please be in person. You lose the entire experience if you are only on-line.

I like my squad a lot, which likely means it will end up being awful. The offense has a couple top end options, and then lots of mid-range depth. If Weeks doesn't come through I might be a bit light on steals. On the hill, I love the assembled arms. I spent $10 more than my goal of $80, but when I look at the group of arms I was able to assemble, let's just say it was well worth the extra investment. I mean seriously... that group of arms could be special.

As always it will come down to the health of my players and making a few astute moves on the waiver-wire as the year progresses, but with this draft I believe I've put myself in contention for a run to victory.

Click here for a review of the entire AL LABR DRAFT.

Oh, and if you want to see the NL LABR DRAFT, there's the link for that too.


COMMENTS

  • 64x64

    Bob Jackowski 23 Mar 14:11 / Reply

    Ray I really enjoy your work I have listened to you and Kyle for the last 5years on siriusxm and would like your opinion on potential keepers... I am in a 9 team 6x6 o.b.p. Instead of average and holds and net saves for pitchers... We can keep 0-8 I have Smoak at $3, Pedroia for $30, Longoria for $35, A. Cabrera for $23, Moustakos $19, V. Martinez $13, Ellsbury $30, Brantley$1, Soriano $10, Lester $19 Rodney $13, Santos $5. Any thoughts?


  • 64x64

    03 Mar 17:18 / Reply

    Michael02 - Thank you good sir.


  • 64x64

    Michael 02 Mar 21:24 / Reply

    Well done Ray! You got your boy Big Game James!


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