2011 was a pretty frustrating fantasy baseball season for me: I drafted what I thought was a terrific team, and then got slammed by injuries and slumps (such as Albert Pujols’ ineffective-then-injured first half, Rafael Furcal having nothing left, and Chad Billingsley turning into a pumpkin) and struggled to cover for the pieces, ultimately finishing 8th out of 16 teams. On the bright side, finishing 8th gave me the first overall pick for 2012, so I decided to come back for my 20th year of fantasy baseball.
My keeper roster was tough to figure out, since Albert Pujols and Cliff Lee seemed clearly better than anyone else I had to keep, but they also used 3/4 of my keeper years. I considered not keeping Pujols and drafting him with the first pick, but I had trouble figuring out how to turn James Shields (or Ryan Zimmerman) + 5 more years into something equivalent to the guy I was planning to take, Roy Halladay. So ultimately I traded Lucas Duda and Jamile Weeks for a 3rd and a 7th round pick, and kept Pujols. I tried mightily to acquire enough years to keep Shields, but couldn’t do it, alas.
I went into the draft with two solid starters – Lee and Jordan Zimmermann – and with Halladay I figured I’d start working on hitters. A good strategy, since the pitching pool felt quite deep this year. But the hitting pool seemed so shallow that this year really tested my maxim that you can always draft hitting.
Here’s the team I drafted:
|C||Miguel Montero||ARI||2/17||28||I took him in the 4th round last year, and he had a breakout season. I sure hope he can do it again.|
|1B||Albert Pujols||LAA||Kept||32||Let’s see whether moving to the American League perks up his bat this year.|
|1B||Ryan Howard||PHI||14/209||32||Taking a gamble that he’ll play this year and hit a bit.|
|2B||Neil Walker||PIT||Kept||26||Another guy I’m hoping will repeat his 2011.|
|3B||Ian Stewart||CHN||12/177||26||Whether he’s really my third baseman remains to be seen. I have other options as backups.|
|OF||Nick Markakis||BAL||3/43||28||Another year, another weak outfield.|
|OF||Alfonso Soriano||CHN||8/113||36||Drafted purely for his power.|
|C||Tyler Flowers||CHA||24/373||26||Marginal backup catcher, maybe Pierzynski will get hurt and he’ll break out.|
|C||Gorman Erickson||LAN||25/400||24||Might get called up if the Dodgers can’t stand their current options.|
|1B/3B||Mat Gamel||MIL||10/145||26||At least, I hope he plays enough – and plays well – to qualify at 1B this year.|
|SS||Clint Barmes||PIT||23/361||33||Another guy I just hope plays and hits some dingers.|
|SP||Roy Halladay||PHI||1/1||34||I don’t think there was anyone else available who was clearly a better choice for the first overall pick this year.|
|SP||Cliff Lee||PHI||Kept||32||I was surprised he fell to me with the 8th pick. Taking him was a no-brainer, as Halladay and Sabathia had already been picked.|
|SP||Ryan Dempster||CHN||9/129||24||How did I end up drafting so many Cubs?|
|SP||Josh Tomlin||CLE||20/305||27||There wasn’t much left in starting pitchers at this point.|
I’m definitely gambling on a few players coming through rather than washing out (Mat Gamel, for instance), and as often happens I hate my outfield. But it could be much worse, and I do have quality starting pitching. It’s not a world-beating team, but it has potential.