LABR Mixed League Draft Results

Spring Training is here and fantasy draft season is back!  It’s a great time to be a baseball fan, and especially one who participates in one of the many fantasy baseball leagues across America.  I pulled up a chair for a spot in the inaugural LABR Mixed League draft on February 25th.  Against a talented group of industry veterans that represented some of the best websites and publications around, I put my winter research to the test.  I came away with a group that I’m pretty happy to call my own, but I must say that Tin Heaney of KFFL and Drew Silva of Rotoworld sniped a few of my picks from me from the fourth and fifth slots!  Without getting into each pick, here are the ones I made that left the biggest impression on me:

Picks I Liked

Matt Kemp (Round 1) – Picked third and nabbed my top ranked player.  Yep, that’s a good way to start!  I love Kemp’s 50/50 prediction for himself this season.  Sure, he won’t come close to it.  But the statement shows that he’s still focused on improving and winning the NL MVP. I’m expecting something in the neighborhood of 35/35.

Ian Kennedy (Round 6) – Without a starter after the first five frames, I crossed my fingers that there would be someone I really liked left at the tail end of the sixth.  Kennedy fit the bill perfectly.  If he can come close to duplicating his ’11 ERA and WHIP, he should be able to win about 17 games on a talented D-backs squad.

Jason Motte (Round 11) – Another pitcher I crossed my fingers on.  When I picked in round 11, I gambled that one of the five or six remaining closers that interested me would still be there in 26 picks.  Motte was the only one to make it back, after Sergio Santos was taken shortly before my turn.  Pairing Motte with Craig Kimbrel gives me a great starting point in saves.  Motte’s a talented reliever and there is no reason to believe that he won’t hold down the closer job all season.

Doug Fister (Round 20) – I have to admit, I was surprised to find Fister on the board this late.  I don’t foresee owning the control specialist in a lot of leagues this year but he fell in my lap as a fifth starter.  Detroit’s shaky infield defense isn’t going to do him any favors but their talented offense and mediocre division foes should ensure that Fister wins around 14-15 games.

Alejandro De Aza (Round 19) – The rebuilding White Sox are expected to use De Aza on a regular basis this season and it looks like he’ll be their leadoff hitter.  From that spot, he should be able to exceed 20 steals and cross home plate 80-90 times.  Add in a decent batting average and you’ve got a great fifth outfielder for deeper mixed leagues like this one.

Picks I Worry About

Elvis Andrus (Round 3) – For ’12 drafts, I feel like the talent really drops off around pick 30.  So, picking 33rd in this league wasn’t a great spot for me.  I reached a bit for Andrus.  I don’t like a lot of shortstops this season, in relation to where I have seen them drafted.  Batting high in the Rangers lineup, Andrus is a candidate to hit over .280 with 40 steals and 90-100 runs scored.  I think his numbers will be very similar to Jose Reyes, with a lot less hype.  Hamilton, Beltre, Young, Cruz, Napoli – the list of talented hitters that follows Andrus seems to be endless.  Still, I’m aware that I did reach for the young speedster a bit and he was slated to go later in the third frame or early on in the fourth.

Brett Lawrie (Round 4) – Lawrie has the upside to be worth a second or third round pick in his first full season.  With good health, he could go 25/25 and put up strong numbers in the other three standard categories.  But, he plays the game so hard that there is a decent chance that the third baseman will wind up on the DL at some point this season.  I was able to add Martin Prado later on, so I won’t be left lacking at third base if Lawrie hits the DL at some point.

Mat Latos (Round 8) – With only two hurlers after the first seven rounds, I felt the need to grab one in the eighth.  Latos was the highest ranked pitcher left on my list but his bust potential is higher than most.  Combine his ’11 DL stint and offseason trade out of spacious Petco Park, and there are two significant reasons to doubt Latos.  If I had it to do over again, I might have dropped further down my list and picked up a more dependable hurler like Dan Hudson to go with Kennedy but I couldn’t resist Latos’ upside.

Carlos Quentin (Round 14) – I needed power and four more outfielders, so Quentin fit the bill at this point.  But, there is a lot of risk in drafting an aging, injury-prone slugger who is leaving The Cell and heading to Petco.  The park effect will cost him some dingers and the lack of a DH spot to nestle into when he has minor aches and pains could cost Quentin some playing time.  Since I didn’t draft any other pure power hitters, I need him to smack at least 25 homers this season.

Overall, I think this is a horse I can ride!  I expect to be among the league leaders in steals, runs and batting average, and I believe that my pitching will do well too.  There are so many variables at this point in the season that for now I just hope my roster is healthy on Opening Day.

You can check out the full draft results HERE.

And, here’s a link to Mike Podhorzer’s wrapup from the draft’s #1 spot.  You can also read recaps from Tim Heaney and Jonah Keri. 

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