Our annual fantasy APBA draft was today. To explain for those of you who haven't sat through this explanation before, this is an eight-team, superstar, continuous-ownership league drafting from all of MLB for a cards-and-dice game (also played on the computer) where the player cards are based on the previous season's results. So you can draft one-season wonders, prospects, or any combination thereof. Also, we have capped the quality starting pitching that is available (but not relief!), because otherwise the hitting would be more miserable than it already is.
Because of the starting pitching cap, there were only 2 and a fraction starting pitchers available in the draft. Blake Snell went with the first pick, Miles Mikolas with the second pick, and the fractional (because he had only 16 or so starts) Ryu went with the third. And that was the end of the starting pitching.
This did not disturb me greatly. I had 180 quality starts coming back this year, as my starting pitching staff had paid off in a big way with Greinke, Severino, Kershaw, Taillon, Carlos Martinez, and Wacha, plus lesser starters Gausman and Luke Weaver. Since we play 162 games, this is officially "more starts than I can use". I solicited trade proposals to move a starter and pretty much got crickets back, so I'll just keep them and hope that everyone comes back again next year (and four of this group is out with sore shoulders at the moment, so...).
Last year's team was thoroughly snake bit. I finished exactly at .500, 81-81, falling to fifth place and earning the fourth pick in the draft. I was also 20-38 in one-run games which -- based on sabermetric analysis that says a team's record in one-run games should be .500 barring luck -- means that had I had normal luck, I would have had 90 wins instead. Ah, well. The better to draft with, my dear.
I have had very little luck developing outfielders. This year's crop of returning outfield on my team was largely mediocre, despite including Bryce Harper, Dickerson, Gregory Polanco, Ozuna, and Almora. They could field. They mostly can't hit. (Oh, and then there was Byron Buxton who had a miserable 2018 season, but who keeps tantalizing with his talent.)
But this year, there were two talented young outfielders who finished one and two in the NL Rookie of the Year balloting: Ronald Acuna and Juan Soto. Adding one of them to my team would be a great thing. Adding two...
Weird things had happened to my infield this year. Two of my returning shortstops, Carlos Correa and Paul DeJong, had had miserable injury-ridden seasons. But both were worth keeping to see if they improved. And this was possible, because Xander Bogaerts had gone from unplayable in 2017 to have a monstrously good card in 2018. And Manny Machado had played a bunch of competent shortstop (and third base) as had Alex Bregman. I had a *lot* of shortstop.
As it happened, the fellow with the fifth draft pick needed a shortstop. And so Xander Bogaerts departed to the opposition, while the fifth overall pick came back my way. Moments later, both Acuna and Soto were on my team.
My work here was done.
Almost literally, to be honest. I needed to fill in the bullpen, I needed to pick up something resembling a backup catcher from the debris that was in the catcher pile, and I might pick up one other thing if I found something useful. But the rest of my draft was pretty much going to be "best available reliever". It's not very exciting.
The returning useful bullpen was excellent-but-innings-limited Sean Doolittle and not-nearly-as-good-but-can-pitch-a-lot Alex Colome. The monstrously good Blake Treinen had been drafted immediately after my outfield daily double, followed by second base prospect Gleyber Torres, with third baseman Suarez closing out the first round. By the time it got back around to me in round two, the best available reliever was LOOGY Oliver Perez.
In the third round, I added reliever Jared Hughes.
The bullpen was in tolerable shape in the fourth round and plenty of relief was still available. It was time to find a backup catcher, so I snagged Yan Gomes, who is good enough that he will probably play ahead of returning Yadier Molina.
The fifth round went back to the bullpen with Richard Rodriguez; the sixth round added Will Smith, giving me an unusual (for me) six relievers in the pen, three of them lefties.
I had one more player to draft. And when I was poking around, I noticed that there was a perfectly fine half-season of Robinson Cano available at second base. I'd checked and he was playing second for the Mets this year, so why not get him to play alongside my young second baseman Ozzie Albies?
And I was done.
We'll see how it goes.
(For completeness, the only players unnamed above who are on the roster for this year are first baseman Freddie Freeman, who looks just fine; and second baseman Jonathan Schoop, who had a terrible 2018. We'll see if his 2019 is better.)