Booms & Busts: Reviewing the 2017 SFRRC Fantasy Baseball League Draft

Felipe Rivero

Before embarking on the annual process of prepping for the SFRRC Fantasy Baseball League draft, I like to review the year before. Occasionally trends emerge that can instruct how I approach the upcoming draft. It’s also important to see how important a team’s draft was to how they performed during the previous season.

With that, here’s a review of the 2017 draft.

Warning Track Power

Warning Track Power finished 125-129-10 and missed the playoffs, finishing ninth overall. The final record was the team’s worst since 2014, when they went 114-148-24.

As drafts go, this wasn’t one of General Manager Mark Peterson’s best. It ranks fifth in team history and 68th in league history. Just two of the team’s five keepers finished 2017 ranked in the Top 80. Fifteen of the 26 draft choices ended the season ranked in the Top 416, giving them enough value to be above replacement level.

Peterson expected more from Josh Donaldson, Zach Britton and David Price. Injuries limited all three (Britton, forearm; Donaldson, leg; and Price elbow) to partial seasons. The one bright spot was Chris Sale, who finished as the team MVP, and ranked third overall at season’s end.

Third baseman Nick Castellanos had a breakout season and was a great bargain for Warning Track Power. The 25-year-old was drafted 317th but finished the season ranked 135th after setting career highs in homes, RBIs, runs and stolen bases.

The Bulls

In eight seasons, the Bulls have finished with a record over .500 three times. It’s no coincidence that each of those successful seasons was preceded by an excellent draft for General Manager Carolyn Greene. Unfortunately, 2017 wasn’t one of those drafts.

By average player value, it was the third-worst draft in team history and it ranked 120th out of 128 in league history. This led to a 108-146-10 record, second worst in team history.

What went wrong? Stephen Strasburg was the team’s only keeper to end 2017 ranked in the Top 80 and finished as the team MVP. Just 14 players drafted by Greene exceeded replacement level (Top 416).

Shortstop Jonathan Villar symbolized Greene’s season. Greene made Villar a keeper after his breakout 2016 season and then watched as he hit .241 with just 49 runs and 40 RBI. Is Villar a bounce back candidate?

Greene found a gem in veteran pitcher Gio Gonzalez. Drafted with the 233rd pick, Gonzalez was a workhorse, pitching 201 innings with 22 quality starts, a 2.96 ERA and 1.18 WHIP.

Stadium Mustard

A solid draft by General Manager Chris Frugiuele helped Stadium Mustard finish with the league’s sixth-best record and qualify for the playoffs in 2017. The team finished with the best regular season record in franchise history at 139-116-9 and Stadium Mustard pushed the eventual league champions, Everybody Hurts, in a tight quarterfinal playoff series.

The foundation for the team’s success was built in a draft that was third best in team history and 41st best in league history. Three of the team’s keepers ended the season ranked in the Top 80 and 16 of the 25 players drafted finished in the Top 416.

Five late-round choices – Shin-soo Choo, Alex Wood, Joe Mauer, Josh Harrison, and Josh Reddick – all had excellent seasons, though Wood and Mauer were waived by Frugiuele early in April. Choo tied for the team lead in runs scored with 96.

Relief pitcher Andrew Miller, chosen with the 86th overall selection, earned team MVP honors, tossing 62.2 innings with 27 net saves/holds, a 1.44 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 13.64 K/9.

A-Rod’s Mirrors

The third-best draft in team history ended with the third-best regular season record for General Manager Sean McKenna and the Mirrors.

Four of the team’s five keepers finished in the league’s Top 80 players at year’s end. Outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. was the lone keeper who struggled. Craig Kimbrel, one of the game’s elite closers, earned team MVP honors, finishing as the league’s 12th-rated player. Eight players, Aaron Judge, Travis Shaw, Jonathan Schoop, Kimbrel, Carlos Carrasco, Justin Verlander, Bryce Harper, and Manny Machado all finished ranked inside the Top 80. Fourteen of the 26 draftees finished the season at replacement level or better.

Young outfielder Aaron Judge was one of the steals of the 2017 draft. McKenna picked Judge with the 365th pick and he ended 2017 ranked as the 20th best player in the league.  Unfortunately, McKenna released Judge on April 6 to make room for reliever Felipe Rivera and Judge’s 1.049 OPS, 128 runs and 114 RBIs production pushed Everything Hurts to the league championship.

McKenna did grab Rivera from the division rival Lower Haighters and he went on to lead the team in net saves/holds, easing some of the pain.

Bacon at Mile 11

Late-round pitching bargains and productive keepers helped GM Eric Brown earn the second best draft ranking in league history.

Relief pitchers Nick Vincent, Will Harris, and Ken Giles were solid selections while starters Lucas Giolito and Lance Lynn provided pitching depth after Chris Archer and Danny Salazar failed to live up to their projections.

Four of the team’s five keepers finished in the league’s top 80 players by season’s end. Archer was the lone struggler. Brown drafted five players that ended the season in the league’s Top 80. Anthony Rizzo and Nolan Arenado both finished in the Top 20 and 20 of the players drafted finished at replacement level or better.

Nolan Arenado edged Mike Trout for team MVP honors.

While Brown’s draft was excellent, the team’s final winning percentage of .563 was just the fifth best in franchise history.

Everybody Hurts

The 2017 draft by Everybody Hurts ranks as the seventh best in league history and provided a base for the team’s eventual championship run. This is amazing considering just one of GM Andy Berlind’s keepers, closer Kenley Jansen, finished the season in the Top 80. In fact, just three of the players drafted by Berlind ended up in the Top 80.

What Berlind did well was draft depth. Eighteen of the 26 players he drafted finished better than replacement value and 10 ended the season inside the Top 200. Jansen was the team MVP, ranking 13th overall.

Berlind did an excellent job of in-season managing, adding outfielder Aaron Judge, first baseman Cody Bellinger, first baseman Rhys Hoskins, and pitcher Lucas Giolito. All four players were instrumental in helping the franchise win last year’s championship.

Hapamon

Starting pitchers Jameson Taillon, Adam Wainwright, Anthony DeSclafani, and Joe Ross sabotaged GM Robert Kirkbride’s 2017 draft. And when ace Clayton Kershaw pitched just 175 innings because of injury, the season headed south.

The 2017 draft ended as the second worst draft in team history thanks to the underperformance of the starting pitching, but Kirkbride managed the team to its fifth best record overall. Kershaw, second baseman Dee Gordon, and outfielders Charlie Blackmon and Christian Yelich kept Hapamon competitive.

Kirkbride added reliever Chad Green late in the season while infielder Alex Bregman earned keeper status after being drafted 115th overall. A big addition to the team was Archie Bradley, who became a dominant relief pitcher after Kirkbride added him as a free agent in late April.

Not surprising, Kershaw again earned team MVP honors for Hapamon

High Cheese

A bad draft left General Manager Matt Patchell in a hole that led to the worst record in team history. Co-manager Zach Patchell was busy scouting players in Cuba for the entire 2017 season and his absence was felt.

None of Matt Patchell’s keepers finished the season ranked in the Top 80. Starting pitcher Jon Lester and shortstop Trevor Story finished outside the Top 300 but their failures paled in comparison to slugger Kyle Schwarber, who ended the season ranked 539th, lower than a simple replacement player.

Reliever David Robertson, drafted with the 187th pick, was the only High Cheese player ranked in the Top 80 at season’s end. Robertson earned team MVP honors. Another reliever, Addison Reed, was picked 262nd and finished 89th.

In a season full of busts, the biggest of them all was Bartolo Colon, who was picked with the 283rd pick and ended the season ranked 1,357th. He would have been ranked in the short-season Class A minors.

This was a season to forget for the Patchells.

Home Run 101

The most important players on any team in any given season are the five “keepers”. They are the biggest investment a team makes and in 2017 they let Home Run 101 General Manager Bailey Penzotti down.

Starting pitcher Johnny Cueto, catcher Jonathan Lucroy, and outfielder A.J. Pollock were all keepers and none finished the season ranked in the Top 80. Cueto was the biggest disappointment, finishing the season ranked 856th as he battled blisters from the juiced baseballs.

Second baseman Jose Altuve and first baseman Jose Abreu performed like keepers with Altuve earning team MVP honors.

Penzotti did uncover a gem in veteran shortstop Elvis Andrew, who was drafted 175th and finished 23rd. Veteran pitcher Rich Hill also performed well as he finished the season ranked 77th after being drafted with the 111th pick.

Overall, only eight players drafted by Penzotti ended the season ranked in the Top 200 while 13 draftees ended 2017 with less value than a replacement player.

JetSetters

To finish with the third best regular season record in league history you have to do something right in the draft. JettSetters General Manager David Kahn turned three mid-round picks into keeper-level talent.

Reliever Ryan Madson, starting pitcher Zack Greinke, and infielder Jose Ramirez were tremendous value picks. Ramirez was chosen with the 156th pick of the draft and finished the season ranked 8th. Madson was picked 261st and finished 60th while Greinke was chosen 101st and finished 29th.

The JetSetters had six players ranked in the Top 80 at the end of the season and 10 ranked in the Top 200. Nine players were ranked lower than replacement level.

First basemen Joey Votto barely edged Ramirez for team MVP honors. Second baseman Whit Merrifield was a brilliant free-agent find, as Kahn added him in June and he finished the season ranked 35th. Veteran infielder Jose Reyes was a tremendous value pick as he finished the season ranked 132nd after being chosen with the 380th pick.

Land Shark

In the last draft for General Manager Meredith James, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.

A whopping 20 of the team’s 26 players drafted by James finished the season ranked outside of the Top 200. Unbelievably, 16 of those had less value than a replacement-level player.

What started as a colossal failure on draft day mercifully ended in September when Land Shark finished with a league-worst 103-149-12 record.

Veteran first baseman Ryan Zimmerman was the one draft day success for James. Zimmerman was chosen 414th overall and ended the season ranked 50th. Another first baseman, Paul Goldschmidt, earned team MVP honors, ranked ninth overall.

Veteran third baseman Adrian Beltre and starting pitcher Felix Hernandez were protected by James prior to the draft and both ended the season ranked outside of the Top 200.

Las Estellas Rojas

In her first fantasy baseball league draft, Las Estellas Rojas General Manager Jen Valdivia acquitted herself quite nicely.

She stole reliever Sean Doolittle with the 362nd pick and he finished the season ranked 80th. Doolittle led a bullpen that featured Pedro Strop, Hunter Strickland, Brandon Kintzler and Koji Uehara. All were chosen after the 250th pick and all performed better than their draft slots.

For an encore, Valdivia needs to identify more Top 200-level talent. Her first draft produced just eight players at that level. She also needs to limit the number of “busts” – players that finish the season ranked below replacement-level value. She had 10 in her first season.

The Rojas also failed to find an elite player to carry the team. Outfielder Justin Upton was the team MVP and he ranked 48th overall.

Besides the draft, Valdivia needs to become a better “hands-on” manager in 2018. The Rojas were the only team in the league that didn’t make a player transaction in 2017.

Let’s Play 2

Led by league MVP Corey Kluber, Let’s Play 2 played in its first league championship series in 2017. Despite the loss to Everybody Hurts, General Manager Louie Bottaro has plenty of talent to stock his 2018 squad.

It all started with an excellent draft in 2017. It ranks as the 17th best draft in league history and the second best in franchise history. Three players chosen after the 200th pick in the draft – reliever Carl Edwards, outfielder Brett Gardner, and starting pitcher Robbie Ray – all finished the season ranked 90th or better.

Twelve players drafted by Bottaro ended the season ranked in the Top 200 while just eight players finished less than replacement level.

The successful draft allowed Bottaro to remain quiet in the free agent market during the season. Let’s Play 2 made a total of 12 free agent moves in 2017.

Lower Haighters

The Lower Haighters had the 18th best draft in league history but it ranks just fifth in team history. This is a team with high standards.

While the Lower Haighters ended 2017 with the fourth best regular season record in league history, the team failed to make the championship series. Fail. General Manager Robert Hood did, however, find some draft day bargains.

Reliever Felipe Rivero, chosen with the 386th pick, finished ranked 25th, while starter Luis Severino was chosen with the 319th pick and finished 16th. Hood’s impatient ways led to the release of Rivero early in the season but Severino finished just behind outfielder Giancarlo Stanton in the team MVP race.

First baseman Carlos Santana joined Rivero, Stanton, and Severino as keeper-level players for the Lower Haighters in 2017. Nine of the team’s draftees ended 2017 ranked in the Top 200 while just seven players finished below replacement level.

While the Lower Haighters finished with the second best record in the league and played in the championship semifinals, leaving 2017 without a championship trophy will be considered a failure.

Marin Menehunes

The 2017 season was a disaster for the Menehunes and led to the resignation of long-time General Manager Elizabeth Gravely. Heading into spring training, the team is still searching for a replacement.

Gravely’s 2017 draft was the worst in team history and the sixth worst in league history. Starter Max Scherzer finished as the team MVP and was the league’s second ranked player but outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Marcell Ozuna were the only players to join Scherzer as keeper-level talent.

Just eight Menehunes draft choices finished 2017 ranked inside the Top 200 while 14 failed to reach replacement level.

Midtown Marsupials

Co-managers Charlie and Allen Bush completed their first fantasy baseball league draft in 2017 and finished with six keeper-level players.

Twelve players in that first draft finished in the Top 200 while 11 players failed to reach replacement level. Starting pitchers Matt Harvey, Alex Reyes, outfielders Tyler Naquin and Adrian Gonzalez and catcher Devin Mesoraco all finished outside the Top 1,000, a major reason the team’s draft was ranked 103rd in league history.

There were also some victories on draft day. Reliever Chris Devenski was chosen with the 309th pick and emerged as one of the league’s premier relievers, finishing 2017 ranked 57th overall. Devenski, pitcher Raises Iglesias, and third baseman Anthony Rendon were all chosen outside the 100th pick and returned keeper value.

A pair of keepers – pitcher Carlos Martinez and and Kelvin Herrera – and shortstop Xander Bogaerts were designated keepers by the Marsupials and failed to reach keeper-level status.

With a year under their belt, the Marsupials are looking for better draft results in 2018.

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