This season, I’m trying to really expand my fantasy baseball competitive landscape. I am in a number of leagues with industry experts, and this one is no different. I jumped at the opportunity to compete against Bernie Pleskoff, founder of ClubhouseCorner.com and co-host of the Short Hops podcast with RotoWire’s own Derek Van Riper.
This league is a 14-team rotisserie format with a pair of notable differences. Rather than batting average, on-base percentage factors into the standings. Pitching stats also gets a small modification, as quality starts replaces wins in the standings calculations.
Here’s how my roster shook out after the auction:
Right out of the gate, I aimed to get a stud hitter and starter. I accomplished this with Paul Goldschmidt and Clayton Kershaw, though the price for Kershaw surprised me. It’s hard to talk about value with a top-tier player, but I got Kershaw for $36 in this league. Not only is that a very reasonable price in my mind, but this also made him just the third-most expensive pitcher in the auction. Both Max Scherzer and Corey Kluber went for more than $40, so I feel like I got some great value out of landing Kershaw for $36.
The fact that on-base percentage replaces batting average as an offensive category dictated many of my decisions throughout the draft. First off, my outfield is filled with high walk rates. Although he batted just .211 last season, Kyle Schwarber walked 12.1 percent of the time, giving him a .315 OBP. If he improves his batting average at all this season (which I think is pretty likely), he could provide some nice cheap power without sacrificing the OBP category.
Another high-OBP guy is Eric Thames. His playing time situation is a bit murky due to the potential move to first base for Ryan Braun, but Thames walked 13.6 percent of the time last season. He’ll be on the roster for sure, so as long as he gets semi-regular at-bats, his power and ability to take walks make him pretty appealing to me.
One final hitter I’d like to highlight is Russell Martin. Going along with the theme, I focused on him due to his high walk rate. He walked 13.7 percent of the time last season and produced a walk rate north of 10 percent every year since 2007. He was hampered by injuries last season, so if he can bounce back and get anywhere near the 20-homer plateau again, I think he’s a steal in an OBP league.
On the pitching side of things, one player I’m very excited about is Jon Gray. People tend to shy away from Rockies’ pitchers due to the thin Colorado air, but Gray appears to be an ace in the making. He’s toying with some new offerings this spring, and actually produced a 3.13 ERA in 46 innings pitched at Coors Field last season. In my mind, getting Gray for less than $10 is a great value play. He has front-line starter upside with pretty low risk given the price he’s going for.
Feel free to send me your thoughts on my draft via Twitter (@IsaacButtke). Good luck to everyone this season!