Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
The Fantasy Sports Trade Association's experts league held its fantasy baseball draft on Jan. 13, marking the unofficial start of the 2014 fantasy baseball season.
Here are my thoughts on some of the decisions:
1) No surprises with the top-four picks - Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Paul Goldschmidt and Andrew McCutchen are the consensus top four, and the order in which Goldy and McCutchen are drafted hinges on the personal preference of the person picking third.
2) Hanley Ramirez selected sixth overall - Taking Ramirez this early is a huge risk, one I wouldn't take. Yes, the 30-year-old hit .345 with 20 homers and a 1.040 OPS last season, but he played just 86 games. If you're going to gamble on a shortstop in the first round, go with Troy Tulowitzki. At least he has proven to be a guaranteed .300 average, 25 homers and .900 OPS when playing at least 120 games. Ramirez' numbers from 2010-13 were all over the place.
3) Robinson Cano is undervalued - Seattle's new second baseman was drafted eighth, after Carlos Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez and Bryce Harper. That's way too low for a player who has hit .314 with an .899 OPS and 142 home runs over the last five seasons while playing (and here's the most important part) at least 159 games in each of the last seven years. Cano's durability won't be affected by his move to the Pacific Northwest, and as I wrote in December when he signed with the Mariners neither will his production save for a few home runs. Cano wasn't just a product of Yankee Stadium, he hits everywhere (except the 2012 ALCS, ouch).
4) After Clayton Kershaw, no pitchers went until the third round - Kershaw went off the board 11th overall, and the next pitcher drafted was Yu Darvish with the 29th overall pick. Instead of taking an outfielder such as Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Gomez, Giancarlo Stanton or Alex Rios in the second round, I'd prefer to snag Darvish (13 wins, 2.83 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 277 Ks in 2013) there and grab one of the remaining outfielders in the third, fourth or fifth.
5) Jedd Gyorko selected in the fifth round and fifth among second basemen - This one was a big surprise. True, Gyorko hit 23 home runs and drove in 63 as a rookie last season, but he also batted .249 with a .745 OPS and needed to slug 15 home runs over his last 52 games to reach 23. Matt Carpenter and Aaron Hill were taken after Gyorko, but I'd rather have both of them over the Padres infielder. It will be easier to make up power at other positions if you take Carpenter than it will to recoup average and runs if you draft Gyorko.
6) Craig Kimbrel selected in the fifth round - Kimbrel was the first closer off the board (as he should be). The common fantasy owner's credo is "don't pay for saves," but throwing Kimbrel under that umbrella is ignoring everything else he provides. He's had a 1.11 ERA, a 0.77 WHIP and 214 strikeouts in 129 2/3 innings the last two seasons to go with 92 saves. The fourth round is too early to take him with pitchers like Jose Fernandez, Felix Hernandez and David Price still available, but the fifth seems just right for Kimbrel given the immense value he brings to the ERA and WHIP categories.
7) Buster Posey and Joe Mauer went back-to-back in the fourth round - Posey was the No. 1 catcher selected in most drafts in 2013, going as high as the first round in some leagues. However, he followed up his NL MVP 2012 campaign with a .294 average, 15 homers, 72 RBI, 61 runs and an .821 OPS despite playing the same number of games as the previous year. If you take a catcher in the fourth round when the rest are being taken in the sixth or later, you need your player to finish way ahead of the field to avoid falling behind the owners who waited. Taking Carlos Santana, Yadier Molina, Wilin Rosario, Jonathan Lucroy or Brian McCann from Rounds 6-8 is a better strategy.