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)
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.
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.