Went ahead and did another snake draft Champions League on ESPN. Same as "Winner's Circle" league setup, but without the auction format. Here's my draft:
Round 1 - #6 - Chase Utley
No surprises here. Just about every draft seems to go Pujols-Hanley-Arod-Braun-Utley. Utley seemed to drop a spot to me, as Fielder was taken in the #5 slot. Utley is good, but I actually am not a huge fan of taking him in the first round. I think Aaron Hill will put up similar numbers for an investment 4 rounds later. Still, he's in that Phillies lineups, which makes it a no-brainer here. Only others I would consider here are Kemp and Mauer. But fortunately...
Round 2 - #15 - Joe Mauer
I got Mauer pretty late. A lot of people have him as a first rounder, and FBJ likes Mauer as a possible #1 overall pick because the dropoff from him to the next catcher is so steep. I'm not convinced it's THAT steep (McCann and V-Mart are pretty good), and I'm not convinced of Mauer Power yet. However, as a second round pick, I think I have R and BA pretty safe.
Round 3 - #26 - Ryan Zimmerman
There's really no excuse for Zimmerman to be around past the 3rd Round. The fact that I got him in Round 6 in my CBS league is insane. Because 3B is more shallow this year, Zimmerman is an important pick for me. I needed some power at a weaker position since my first baseman is
Round 4 - #35 - Joey Votto
Now don't get me wrong, Votto hits for power. But he's not Prince Fielder. Hopefully he has his troubles behind him, and he can extend his 2009 season to a full year of at bats. If that's the case, he can put up numbers like an Albert Pujols Light with a little less on the HR front. Look for .310-30-100 with upside for more HR. Votto is a nice pick in Round 4, and I've got BA locked up nicely with my picks so far.
Round 5 - #46 - Derek Jeter
If Jeter repeats last year, I'm looking at a great top 5 here. All these guys have solid numbers in all the categories (SB more so for Jeter and Utley). There's word of Jeter moving to the OF this year, which gives some interesting versatility. I passed on Jimmy Rollins in Round 3 and Jose Reyes in Round 4, so I'm glad Jeter fell to me here. I really wasn't expecting it.
Round 6 - #55 - Andre Ethier
I guess it's time for some real outfielders. I'm counting on Ethier keeping the 30 HR power in 2010 by picking him here. I'm not so certain he's going to do that, but he's someone who will likely hit .290 with 100 RBI in a nice lineup. I have solid hitters across the board.
Round 7 - #66 - Josh Johnson
This is the first time I've gotten Johnson. I'm pretty high on him this season, and my usual Round 7 pick of Yovanni Gallardo got taken a bit earlier.
Round 8 - #75 - Tommy Hanson
I'm a believer in Hanson. He burst onto the scene last year to put up numbers worthy of a fantasy ace. While he probably won't have a sub-2 ERA for his first full season, he'll likely give me solid K's and a nice ERA and WHIP to go along with Johnson.
Round 9 - #86 - Clayton Kershaw
I went with big strikeout, big upside players here that flirted with league leading ERA's all season (if it weren't for Tim Lincecum crushing everyone in the category). Kershaw is still so young, and he could give Lincecum a run for his money this year on the Cy Young. For some reason, ESPN has Kershaw with phenominal rate stats and huge strikeout numbers, but only 8 wins. Yeah, he didn't get many wins last year, but how long is that going to last on a Division Winner when you have a sub-3 ERA? Luckily for me, because of the projected 8 wins, Kershaw was lower on the ESPN ranking board than he should be and I snatched him up.
Round 10 - #95 - Adam Jones
Back to hitting. Jones trailed off quickly last year, but the upside is his HRs were hit harder and longer than they were the year before. He still has room to grow with his speed, and could see an increase in BA with a little more BABIP luck. Remember how young he is, and the sky is the limit.
Round 11 - #106 - Jose Lopez
I've stated before that I think Jose Lopez is one of the most underrated players in fantasy. He's a middle infielder with enough power to put up HR and RBI numbers like Chase Utley. If you're not in an OBP league, make sure to get Lopez. He'll almost surely drop below what his value is, and I'm still trying to figure out why.
Round 12 - #115 - Hunter Pence
My outfield is pretty boring across the board (as you'll see in the coming rounds), but it's also very solid at every stop. Pence is still young and has the talent to grow a little bit this season. He is a solid player that hasn't quite lived up to his potential yet. Maybe 2010 is the year. If not, a possible .280-27-100-10 season is nice to get out of Round 12.
Round 13 - #126 - Brad Hawpe
People haven't seemed to notice that Hawpe's splits against lefties aren't so terrible anymore. He still sits against them sometimes, which means he might only see crappy LHPs, but the guy can hit. He'll post solid OBP, AVG, HR and RBI numbers for your team, as long as Seth Smith isn't sniping playing time. Given Hawpe's terrible fielding, it might be best for him to go to the American League or move to 1B to get him in the lineup full time. Either way, he gets enough at bats to justify starting in the outfield and the upside for a .300-30-100 season.
Round 14 - #135 - Chad Billingsly
Getting back to pitching, I couldn't pass up another 200 strikeout potential this late in the draft. Billingsly has the making of an ace, and if he can get his BB rate down, he'll show it. Even with the high walk rate, he was posting great ERA's before 2009, when he had a rough year. I guess you can call it that...most guys would kill for pushing 200 K's and a 4-flat ERA.
Round 15 - #146 - Adam LaRoche
I needed to lock up my CI spot, and LaRoche has enough power to justify picking here. He's been pretty consistent over the past two years, and he's still relatively young. Could he be looking for a breakout this season? I dunno. He's already had a year where he hit 32 HR, and that's probably his limit. But I'll take that this late, considering I didn't get significant power out of my 1B position early on.
Round 16 - #155 - Johnny Damon
Yeah, I know. I'm not sure what he was doing still on the board either. But, since I needed more OF, I got lucky and grabbed him up. ESPN even has him as the #83 overall or something like that, so I'm not sure what everyone was doing. I'm more than happy with this pick, and continue my solid-but-not-super-fantastically-outstanding players across the entire roster (well, besides Mauer and Utley, of course).
Round 17 - #166 - Juan Pierre
There were a lot of options around the same value on the board here, so I decided to go with a guy that won't kill my BA, will likely get 90+ runs, and will definitely steal me a crap ton of bases. Considering Jacoby Ellsbury went as the #14 overall pick here (ahead of Mauer and Kemp...YUCK!), Pierre is a nice pickup super late. I should be able to contend with steals with Pierre teamed up with Damon, Utley, Pence, Jones, and Jeter. I don't ever feel the need to win steals anyway, as it's usually a huge drain on your power.
Round 18 - #175 - Mike Gonzalez
Gonzalez had a nice year last year, and now has a job as a definite closer for the Orioles (assuming Jim Johnson is out of the running). As usual, I wait for saves. In this draft, it worked out better than my CBS team, since there weren't any autodrafting fools taking 7 closers before Round 10. There's plenty of relievers to go around here.
Round 19 - #186 - Brandon Lyon
I covered Lyon in my last post. Rate stats will drop a bit, but he'll get me some saves. Given the other guys on the board, I didn't miss out on much with taking saves here. He's nothing special, of course.
Round 20 - #195 - Rich Harden
Lots of upside with Harden, and we all know about the K's. Obviously, I'm a LIMA guy. However, I really think that pitchers are so close in talent these days, there's no reason not to do it. While Lincecum and Grienke are good, we no longer are in the days of 300 strikeout Randy Johnsons and Curt Schillings. There's a huge plateau of pitching in the Gallardo-Johnson-Billingsly level, and I suggest sticking to that in any league you play.
Round 21 - #206 - Jason Frasor
Frasor was probably one of the best all around relievers last season. He got Wins, Strikeouts and Saves, and had a fantastic ERA and WHIP. There's competition for the closer role in Toronto, but Frasor is the frontrunner. If anything, he can help out my rate stats and probably get a few saves if he's not the true closer for the team.
Round 22 - #215 - Octavio Dotel
Dotel has a job as a closer and he strikes guys out. That's all I care about when it comes to cheap saves. Who's going to take his job in Pittsburgh? Ian Snell? Why not grab up Dotel late in a draft and add a bit to your saves. His walks can hurt a little in WHIP, but he won't throw too many innings, so not much to worry about here.
Round 23 - #226 - Phil Hughes
Hughes is the man. Joba can bite me. Give Phil a rotation spot. Period.
Round 24 - #235 - Nick Swisher
In the Yankees lineup, Swisher will get Runs and RBI. In the new Yankee Stadium, Swisher will hit HR. Swisher won't hit for average. That's why he's way down here. But don't be fooled, he's a decent power option in a potent lineup. Why not take him here?
Round 25 - #246 - Matt Thornton
Went with Thornton again. See my other posts for why. Solid K's, nasty ERA and WHIP. An outside shot at a closer spot if Jenks effs up. Easy to drop when someone breaks out big on the waiver wire.
I was pretty happy with this team. I think I'm a little low on power, but I should be able to finish in the middle, while getting lots of R, RBI and crush on BA. SB's should be solid as well. Pitching is always flexible in season, and if my drafted options don't work out, there's a plethora of talent on the waiver wire. I'll rate this an B++, but I think it has the ability to reach A+ level with the base of young players here.