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2012 FSTA Experts Fantasy Baseball Draft

Let’s see if there is any truth to “beginner’s luck.” In
my eighth year of fantasy baseball competition, I do not consider myself novice
or a beginner. However, I was given the opportunity to represent the Fantasy
Sharks by participating in the Fantasy Sports Trade Association’s (FSTA)
fantasy baseball expert draft. I was no longer pitted against friends and
relatives, but rather experts of the industry. Even ESPN’s Nate Ravitz made a
brief appearance to wish a few managers the best of luck. The FSTA league is comprised of 13 teams in a 29-round
serpentine-style draft, which lasted around four hours.

In a draft selection show earlier in the week, I drew the fifth pick. I had
choices between fifth pick, or any pick between 7 and 13, but preferred to
draft one of my Top 5 targets. This Top 5 consisted of Albert Pujols, Troy
Tulowitzki, Miguel Cabrera, Matt Kemp and Jose Bautista. I knew Pujols would be
history by my pick, but the others seemed like realistic options. Surprisingly,
Tulowitzki was first off the board, followed by Pujols, Kemp and Cabrera.
Although I considered Robinson Cano and Jacoby Ellsbury briefly, I felt
Bautista would be the best choice at the somewhat scarce third base position
and has led the league in home runs two straight seasons. Although his .302
batting average may not be repeatable, I anticipate at least 40 home runs, 100
runs, 100 runs batted in, and a few steals.

In the second round, I had my eyes on second basemen Dustin Pedroia and Ian
Kinsler due to position scarcity, as well as outfielders Mike Stanton and
Curtis Granderson. I figured one would be left my next pick at No. 22, but they
all were drafted. I felt the best offensive player available was Pittsburgh’s
Andrew McCutchen, who should be a lock for 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases
with a higher ceiling. I could have drafted a pitcher, but quickly noticed that
this was a very “offensive-minded” league. Greg Ambrosius used pick No. 23 on
Clayton Kershaw, who became the first pitcher taken off the board. I only had
to wait a few turns until my next pick. After 2011 Cy Young and MVP winner
Justin Verlander was drafted, I felt I needed to take my ace next if I planned
to land one. With pick No. 31, I drafted Roy Halladay. With an average draft
position of 13.95 per Rotowire and at least 17 wins, 206 strikeouts, and a
mid-2 earned run average over the last four seasons, this seemed like an
amazing value that I could not pass.

With limited offensive production projected at catcher this season, I was hoping
Mike Napoli, Brian McCann or one of the other elite catchers may be available
by my fourth pick, which was a false hope. However, the highly talented yet
injury-prone Nelson Cruz was, so I chose the Texas outfielder with my fourth
pick. Cruz’s injury history is no secret, but he is still a surefire 25 home
runs and 10 stolen bases with potential for much more. I am crossing my fingers
that his recurring leg issues may be history. I was able to draft catcher Joe
Mauer with my next pick, who should be a guaranteed rebound after a variety of
ailments hampering his 2010 season, especially since Minnesota will also rotate
him as first baseman and designated hitter to keep him healthy. Middle infield
was beginning to draw thin, so second basemen Rickie Weeks was my next pick. With
Ryan Braun likely out 50 games and Prince Fielder looking at other destinations
not named “Milwaukee,” Weeks is poised to hit cleanup and anchor the Brewers’
offense.

Feel free to review the rest of my draft picks. I believe my first few picks
are very solid and low-risk. Picks 4-9 include several former stars looking to
rebound from injury or simply getting closer to applying for AARP membership,
but may have one last hurrah. My pitching staff appears relatively solid with
high hopes for Adam Wainwright’s return. Over half of my team is on the “wrong”
side of 30, which may be relatively risky. However, several of them seemed like
a potential steal, including Alfonso Soriano in the 22nd round. Even if he hits
24 home runs with a .250 average, he may end up leading the team in home runs
and bat higher in the lineup after the Chicago Cubs’ offseason moves.

Since the draft is in January, there will still be question marks regarding
role clarity, free agent status, and certainly a few more trades that will
affect my team that I will closely monitor. From a power standpoint, I believe Jose
Bautista, Andrew McCutchen, Nelson Cruz, Rickie Weeks, Lance Berkman, Young, Mark
Trumbo, Josh Willingham and Alfonso Soriano will hit 20-plus homeruns. Although
I did not draft any exclusive speed producers, I anticipate stolen base contribution
from McCutchen, Weeks, Cruz, Chris Young, Desmond, Davis, and a few others. My
rotation is led by ace Roy Halladay, Adam Wainwright, Daniel Hudson, Hiroki
Kuroda, Colby Lewis, James McDonald, and hopefully role clarity for Alexi
Ogando and Javier Vazquez. For relief efforts, I am putting my faith in Boston
newcomer Andrew Bailey as well as Kansas City’s Joakim Soria and Baltimore’s
Jim Johnson.

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