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Fantasy Reflections: Dumb Draft Decisions


2018 is shaping up to be my worst fantasy baseball performance of the decade. I’m on track to win my home league, but I’m doomed to finish in the bottom half of the standings in most of my entries this season. There are plenty of reasons why obstacles with which we’re all familiar. It’s frustrating, but sometimes it just isn’t your year.

A quick look at the draft results in each of my leagues reveals a common thread – my work in the room was subpar. You’ve heard the expression, “You can’t win your league on draft day, but you can lose it?” The latter happened in most of these situations. Even the league I’m going to win was due to the ludicrously strong group of keepers with which I entered the draft.

There’s another old saw: “No one cares about your fantasy team.” So while we’ll be looking at specific instances wherein I dropped the ball, our interest here is in the thought process and how we can all learn from the mistakes that were made. With that, here are my worst draft day blunders of 2018. Please stifle your laughter until the end.

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Multitudinous March Mishaps

Joey Votto, $47

The league: 12-team roto 6x6 (+OBP, +SLG, -AVG; +QS, +SVH, +K/BB, -W, -SV)

The thought process: Most of the top first basemen were kept, and my stacked core did not include a 1B. Votto and Edwin Encarnacion were the best available. I willingly overpaid for Votto because I could afford it and he is typically a monster in this format. He was also the fourth player nominated, so bidding was aggressive.

The mistake: This one’s not so terrible since Votto has still been a top 12 player at the position despite his power completely abandoning him. But I should have been willing to let him go once the bids surged past $40. A few picks later, Encarnacion went for $29. Making matters worse, I let myself get outbid on a waiver claim for Jesus Aguilar in late May.

 

Clayton Kershaw, $44

The league: 12-team roto 5x5 redraft

The thought process: The RotoBaller staff league, which I won in my first year but have finished fourth (i.e., just out of the money) in the last two seasons. I went into the draft knowing I wanted to nab both Kershaw and Mike Trout, and even managed to do so for roughly the amount I expected to spend.

The mistake: I picked the wrong pitcher. Any pitcher is an injury risk, given the deeply unnatural physical requirements of the job. But Kershaw had already missed significant time in both 2016 and 2017, which should have been enough to make me target one of the other aces. Meanwhile, Max Scherzer (who went for $39 several picks later) is closing in on his tenth straight season with at least 30 starts, and Chris Sale ($41) should make at least 29 starts for the sixth time in seven seasons. Both have been as dominant as ever. Kershaw has been great when healthy, but he hasn’t been transcendent.

 

Ender Inciarte, 110th overall

The league: 12-team H2H One-Win 5x5

The thought process: I had just taken Joey Gallo at 107, and the perfect symmetry was too alluring. I had visions dancing in my head of Inciarte nullifying Gallo’s likely anchor in batting average, while Gallo’s power perfectly complemented Inciarte’s speed.

The mistake: Getting too attached to the concept of pairing these players. Inciarte’s wild ways on the base paths in April represented an obvious sell-high opportunity. I was too enamored with the idea of my preseason dreams coming to fruition, though, and held on to him. He’s just 11-for-17 in stolen base attempts after going 13-of-15 in April, and his average fell below .250 after an 0-for-4 performance on Thursday.

 

Brad Zimmer and Garrett Richards, 150th and 151st overall

The league: 15-team roto 5x5

The thought process: This is one of the leagues in The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational, run by the one and only Justin Mason. I ended up in the same league as him, and we were 1-2 in the draft order. As such, I had back-to-back picks in between his, and 28 players would come off the board while I waited for my next choices. I knew how much he liked both guys, and still stinging from an earlier snipe, I pulled the trigger despite knowing the risk.

The mistake: Trolling against my better judgment. I also liked both players, and knew they were unlikely to still be on the board by the time pick 180 rolled around. Though the decision had its intended effect, Richards predictably got hurt and Zimmer’s contact issues predictably derailed his sophomore season. P.S. You’ll note from that Twitter thread that the aforementioned snipe I was angry about was Domingo Santana. I took Marwin Gonzalez instead. I can be shockingly bad at this game sometimes.

 

Basically everyone I spent money on

The league: 12-team roto 5x5 (+OPS, -AVG)

The thought process: Another keeper league. I had the choice between keeping Roberto Osuna, Edwin Diaz for the same price, or both. Diaz, at press time, had 762 saves while Osuna has missed most of the season after being suspended for a domestic assault charge. That I lucked out and dealt him for Matt Olson before the suspension is beside the point, and I had no such fortune on the avalanche of other bad investments I made in this league. Here’s a list of some players I paid at least $10 to acquire: Robinson Cano (PED suspension), Corey Seager (elbow asplode), Johnny Cueto (ditto), Garrett Richards (ditto), Miguel Cabrera (died of old age), Adrian Beltre (ditto), and Manuel Margot (is Manuel Margot).

The mistakes: Obviously you can’t see suspensions coming, but Richards, Beltre, and Cabrera were all obvious injury risks. There were plenty of reports of Seager dealing with arm problems in spring training, too. I built a roster with a shaky foundation and it crumbled.

 

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