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On Tuesday night, I drafted in the Tout Wars 15-team mixed league. I won the championship the last two seasons and had first choice of where to pick. I took the No. 1 spot. This is a 5x5 roto league with on-base percentage instead of average. Here are my thoughts as I made my picks.
Round 1: OF Mike Trout, LOS ANGELES ANGELS
He's the consensus pick in almost every draft. He's only 25 and hits all five categories. He had a .441 on-base percentage. After not reaching 20 steals for two seasons, Trout had 30 last season and has mentioned he wants to run more. The high on-base percentage allows me to take chances later in the draft with some players that don't excel in the category.
Round 2: OF Nelson Cruz, SEATTLE MARINERS
It feels like many people don't believe in Cruz every year yet all he does is crush the ball. He has three consecutive seasons of at least 40 home runs and 93 RBIs. He has an on-base percentage of at least .360 the last two years. The only risk with Cruz is age since he turns 37 in July, but there have been no signs of skill decline. Cruz hits cleanup in a good lineup and being the designated hitter will hopefully help him remain healthy.
Round 3: SP Corey Kluber, CLEVELAND INDIANS
Kluber has been a workhorse, throwing at least 215 innings in three straight seasons. His WHIP has been 1.09, 1.05 and 1.06 the last three years. He averages more than a strikeout per inning and has good control. The plan was to get a starting pitcher here if I felt there was one worth drafting. There were no offensive players that stood out, so I went with an ace.
Round 4: 3B Kyle Seager, SEATTLE MARINERS
Seager is as stable as they come. He's not flashy, but stays on the field and produces solid numbers. Third base is deep, but getting consistent players in the early rounds is beneficial and picking on the turn, a run can happen at any time. Seager has always been over 40 percent for his fly ball rate and had a career-high 38.7 percent hard hit rate last season. I expect 25-30 home runs with 85-90 RBIs.
Round 5: OF Yoenis Cespedes, NEW YORK METS
Not sure why Cespedes lasted until pick 61. He has hit at least 30 home runs in two straight seasons and had 86 RBIs in 132 games last season after topping 100 the previous two seasons. Cespedes also improved his walk rate to 9.4 percent producing a .354 on-base percentage. He likes playing in New York and can handle the pressure. I know I have four players that could all hit at least 30 home runs.
Round 6: OF/SS Jose Peraza, CINCINNATI REDS
This was all about roster construction. Peraza has seen his stock rise after the trade of Brandon Phillips opened an every day job for Peraza. He had 21 stolen bases in 72 games last season. He makes good contact and will hit for average, but doesn't walk often. I typically don't draft players just for steals, but with the power I built early and only Trout of the group that will contribute in steals, I thought Peraza fit really well with the rest of my squad. If he hits second in front of Joey Votto, that should help the runs scored.
Round 7: 3B Alex Bregman, HOUSTON ASTROS
Bregman becomes my corner infielder and is one of the best young hitters in the game. Bregman started 1-for-32 last season and didn't sulk or allow his confidence to shatter. Bregman finished strong and is in a very good lineup.
Round 8: RP Kelvin Herrera, KANSAS CITY ROYALS
I wanted to get at least one solid closer in this format. Herrera is a Top 10 closer for me. After struggling with walks, he had a 1.5 BB/9 last season and a 10.75 K/9. He showed he could handle the ninth inning last season and averages 97 miles per hour with his fastball.
Round 9: SP Julio Teheran, ATLANTA BRAVES
After getting an ace, I planned to wait on pitching unless someone really stood out. Now, it was time to get a few pitchers. Teheran had a 3.21 ERA and a WHIP of 1.08 or fewer in two of the last three years. He had a 7.99 K/9 and 1.96 BB/9 last season.
Round 10: SP Danny Salazar, CLEVELAND INDIANS
This is a risky pick for sure, but that's why he lasted this long. In the first half last season, Salazar had a 2.75 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 10.15 K/9 and a 3.96 BB/9. Then he had a forearm strain and his numbers declined. He has been pitching in the spring and is ready to start the season. He has to cut down on the walks, but we have seen what he can do when healthy. I was going to take Keon Broxton here, but was sniped one pick before.
Round 11: 1B Eric Thames, MILWAUKEE BREWERS
Thames is also a risk. I needed a first baseman and all I need from him is 20 home runs. Thames is 30 and previously played in the majors with Toronto and Seattle. He had a .348 average over the past three seasons for the NC Dinos in the Korean Baseball Organization and had a 40-40 season there. Thames hit 40 home runs and produced 116 RBIs last season. Of course, we don't know how that will translate to the majors, but he's in a hitter's home ballpark.
Round 12: SP Kevin Gausman, BALTIMORE ORIOLES
The home runs are still an issue for Gausman and Camden Yards doesn't help, but he had a good second half and has the arsenal to be successful. In 93 innings over the second half of 2016, Gausman had a 3.10 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 8.9 K/9 and a 2.71 BB/9.
Round 13: 2B Jonathan Schoop, BALTIMORE ORIOLES
I had an opening at second base and two late round targets of mine, Logan Forsythe and Neil Walker, were gone. Schoop lasted longer in this one likely due to his low on-base percentage. I have enough OBP built up early that it won't crush me. I'll take the 20-25 home runs.
Round 14: RP Adam Ottavino, COLORADO ROCKIES
Greg Holland could close, but I think it will be Ottavino. Ottavino returned late in the season after having Tommy John surgery, pitching 27 innings in 34 games. He had a 2.67 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and a 35/7 K/BB radio. He's a ground ball pitcher and has a career 29.9 percent fly ball rate.
Here's the rest:
- Round 15: C STEPHEN VOGT, OAKLAND ATHLETICS
- Round 16: OF JASON HEYWARD, CHICAGO CUBS
- Round 17: SP MARCO ESTRADA, TORONTO BLUE JAYS
- Round 18: SS ASDRUBAL CABRERA, NEW YORK METS
- Round 19: SP DYLAN BUNDY, BALTIMORE ORIOLES
- Round 20: OF JOSH REDDICK, HOUSTON ASTROS
- Round 21: SP MIKE FOLTYNEWICZ, ATLANTA BRAVES
- Round 22: OF MANUEL MARGOT, SAN DIEGO PADRES
- Round 23: SP LUIS SEVERINO, NEW YORK YANKEES
- Round 24: SP ERVIN SANTANA, MINNESOTA TWINS
- Round 25: 1B/2B/OF STEVE PEARCE, TORONTO BLUE JAYS
- Round 26: RP KODA GLOVER, WASHINGTON NATIONALS
- Round 27: RP DREW STOREN, CINCINNATI REDS
- Round 28: C JASON CASTRO, MINNESOTA TWINS
- Round 29: SP NATE KARNS, KANSAS CITY ROYALS
I am happy with this team. It has a good foundation with proven players and some younger players with high ceilings. This team is a contender with good balance. I don't see a glaring weakness. Working the waiver wire will be key and if there's an area to be improved it's the pitching. That was the case last season and picking up Matt Shoemaker and Danny Duffy were key. How did I do?