In all seriousness, I had entirely too much fun that night and hope you all enjoyed getting together to watch a little hoop, drink a little beer, and draft a fantasy team. It was a dizzying night of trying to cheer for the Orange, keep track of my sleepers, and not make a fool of myself and even though my memory of the night is pretty blurry, I’ll try to recap our rosters the best I can a few weeks after the fact. We’ll go team-by-team based on your draft order and I’ll toss out some predictions that you may scoff at now but will ultimately respect come late September.
Castillo has already finished first in two Shocker baseball competitions with hopes that it will lead to a first place finish in our final league standings. Castillo was first to show up at the commish’s house which meant he had prime seating to watch basketball and his draft board. Yo's spring training team finished first in the standings, which meant he could target whatever player he wanted in the draft pool when we kicked things off. Castillo went with Nolan Arenado, who is the new face of the Rockies and is going to put up some huge numbers for the Rox and Blacksox this season. Castillo should know what to expect from McCutchen, Price, Cain, and Rosenthal but it’s going to be interesting to see how Cano, Syndergaard, Gattis, and Hamilton end up. These four players can elevate Castillo to the top or have him struggling for a playoff berth all year long. Cano looks like he’s ready to move on from a rough 2015 and Syndergaard scares the poop out of me from my sofa, I can’t imagine how scary it would be to dig in against Thor in person. Castillo had some nice finds late in the draft as the Tar Heels were pulling away with Teixeira, Santana, Gio, and Span all capable of being contributors but also all capable of being on the DL at any point. Picking Trevor Plouffe with the final pick is only racking up the brownie points from me, which means the commish is pro-Yo when it comes to his 2016 Shocker predictions.
Last year Arch rode a strong draft and solid in-season management to the most successful regular season we’ve ever seen. It all came crumbling down in shocking fashion in the first round of the playoffs but Arch’s Supersonics-like collapse in the first round won’t deter him from becoming the one seed when we start the playoffs again this year. Even though the D-Backs have the shittiest baseball jerseys since the White Sox wore shorts, that doesn’t mean Arch won’t love watching Paul Goldschmidt put up eye pleasing stats every night. Arch has the best corner infielders in our league with Donaldson smashing fastballs at the hot corner for this team to match all the great numbers Goldy will provide. If that wasn’t a solid enough foundation, he got Mookie Betts at a good value with his second pick and has a nice mix of age and upside with Springer, Beltre, Brantley, Odor, and Salazar. I was not prepared for Arch to wait until the 7th round to pick his first pitcher but it looks like the days of Arch n’ Aces are behind us. With lesser names on the pitching side, Arch will still likely get quality returns but there’s definitely some risk involved with pitchers like Smyly, Verlander, Odorizzi, and Rodon. Arch will have to prepare himself for some bad nights from his pitchers but we all know that the daily preparation he puts in usually means Arch will be in fine shape at the end of the year. I wasn’t blown away with his draft but I’m not dumb enough to bet against our Shocker oddsmaker.
Zack Grienke is a phenomenal pitcher that many would be glad to call their fantasy ace but when looking at the other keepers in our league, I’m wondering if Grienke is the worst of the bunch. Whatever stink I want to put on Grienke won’t change the fact that Downs and Skul did a nice job of finding value in our draft which they will hope translates into a playoff run. When he’s not pissing off Goose Gossage, Jose Bautista will focus on socking dingers over the wall and then applying a little mustard as he exits the batter’s box. J.D. Martinez, Kyle Seager, Duda, and Neil Walker never get the respect they deserve but they should be solid, quiet contributors on this team. Downs and Skul will be watching a lot of Rockies games but mostly to see the opposing pitcher as this fantasy team has a real NL West flavor from the mound. I’m skeptical Cueto, Byung Ho Park, Andrus, and Joc Pederson will be difference makers which means I’m a little skeptical this is the year Downs finally makes some noise in this league. I was thinking of handing out a C- grade but anyone that brings over a huge pan of spaghetti gets an automatic letter grade increase for their effort. Spaghetti seems like an easy dish to prepare but there’s lots of ways to ruin the sauce, meatballs, and linguini, so we’ll see if Downs and Skul spend enough time watching over their boiling pots all season long in order to make a filling championship run this year.
Draft night was a lot of fun for the commish but it was also pretty dang humbling. My Syracuse Orange got ran off the floor in the final four, I lost in Griffey and Tecmo Super Bowl, and my fantasy team looks like dried snot early in the year. Keeping Edwin Encarnacion isn’t a tremendous start but overall there wasn’t too much to complain about when it was my turn to pick a player. I was pretty much sick and tired of the Carlos Correa hype machine in the offseason but as soon as I saw him ricochet a baseball off the bar over dead centerfield at Yankee Stadium, I was ready to call him a no-doubt hall of famer. Chris Sale and Kluber can look like future hall of famers most innings but there always seems to be a couple times a game where they are a mess on the mound. Miguel Sano is looking a lot like 2015 Chris Carter which means he’s going to swing and miss way too much and make me regret that pick by mid-May. This should actually be a fun team to watch with young potential stars like Correa, Sano, Corey Seager, Polanco, Maikel Franco, Severino, and Raisel Iglesias who all have yet to tap into their full potential. I’m either going to love the shit out of this team or propose a redraft at the all star break like last year. Either way, I think I will be humbled yet again in about six months when this team is eliminated from the playoffs early.
I always give Kevin a hard time for reaching in the draft in order to fill out his bullpen but this year I’m going to hop out of the dugout and call for a solid right hander so I can give Kevin a firm handshake of approval on his bullpen construction. Trying to pick the best reliever on this team is like trying to pick your favorite Seinfeld character, they’re all great and there’s no wrong answer. Kimbrel, Chapman, Familia, and Jepsen all throw fastballs harder than most of us have ever driven an automobile and they should give Kevin plenty of reasons to check his phone in bed as he cheers for the SVHD stat to update while the ERA and WHIP decrease. Petty’s keeper and first pick, Davis and Abreu are gigantic humans who will be hitting big flies for Mr. Big Time early and often this year. Nelson Cruz, Upton, and Kemp are also big boys that do big damage in the batter’s box. The pitching staff is Jon Lester and a bunch of #3 starters which pretty much falls in line with every team Kevin has ever assembled and will probably look much different throughout the season. I think Ian Desmond is going to drive Petty insane before he drops him in a month and Kevin took a risk and lost on A.J. Pollack’s elbow but overall it’s hard to quibble with a lot of these picks. There is a definite need for speed on this team but I’m guessing Kevin will be able to fill that void at some point in the season when he grabs an unknown base stealer from the free agent pool. An owner’s job has just begun after a fantasy baseball draft but we know Kevin will put in the time to succeed and I think he gave himself a head start on draft night. It’s all these reasons that Kevin will return to the throne as our 2016 Shocker Fantasy Baseball champion.
Jeff Petty is always guaranteed to provide the league with an incredibly juvenile team name but it’s very fitting this year as the talent on this roster is young, dumb, and full of cum. Bryce Harper broke out in a big way last year and Jeff will get at least one more season of watching his keeper bruise baseballs. Kris Bryant is the next in line of future mashers and if he can cut down on his propensity to strike out, he can be this year's breakout superstud. Buster Posey has probably peaked already, which is fine because he’s still the best catcher in the game and that’s not even up for debate. The pitchers on this team are going to be a joy for Jeff to watch with Carrasco, Fernandez, Carlos Martinez, and Tyson Ross all so close to becoming the top shelf starters we’re waiting for. They can also get themselves in plenty of trouble on the mound, which is why there will be some growing pains throughout the year from these young flamethrowers. 2016 is already injury filled for this team and slow starts from Fernandez, Wade Davis, and Khris Davis isn’t helping pick up the slack. Of course it’s early and there’s no need to panic and that’s doubly true when a young man by the name of Trevor Story comes out of nowhere to carry your team early on. Story’s historic home run pace to start his career was incredible to watch and it was almost enough for the Denver media to stop talking about whoever the Broncos starting QB is going to be for half a minute. He will likely cool off considerably the rest of the year but you have to wonder if Trevor’s neverending story of home runs is going to take Jeff to wondrous new places this season.
I’m the (un)lucky one in this league that gets to cast judgement on the entire league on a monthly basis based on the fact that I was the (un)lucky one to ask if you dudes wanted to play keyboard baseball in a league with me. I’d like to think that I’m a stern but fair evaluator of our teams but I’m at a crossroads with Matt Suer and the team he assembled. On the one hand, I am not a big fan of this team as a whole. On the other hand, Matty just reeled off two straight championships and probably is much better at this game than anyone else. So how can I give Matty a stern but fair evaluation? I’ll start by saying that his keeper (Kershaw) and fist pick (Machado) are awesome and will help his quest at a three-peat. I’ll follow that by saying that I’m not a huge fan of Matty’s deGrom, A-Gon, Big Papi, and Freddie Freeman picks that immediately followed. deGrom showed a few warning signs in spring training and while it’s not a horrible strategy to go 1B-DH-1B in the opening rounds, it does mean that Billy Burns was the highest drafted outfielder on this team, which is a major problem. Power in the infield and speed in the outfield should at the very least be fun to monitor this year to see if it can work. The pitching is solid enough with Cole Hamels, Wacha, Matz, and Maeda but this bullpen is worse than the bullpen that resides at 20th and Blake. Matty's strategy ultimately resulted in a team that has a few more weak spots than I would personally like to have. Again, Matty probably knows exactly what he’s doing and I know he’s going to make a lot of smart moves during the year but I have to wonder if he outsmarted himself on draft night and that will make his run at title #3 harder than it needs to be.
Last year was a rough one for our expansion owners, Colin and Jon, who started slow and ended slow for a mostly forgettable 2015. They were trying to learn on the job and a handful of poorly timed injuries helped make their first season of fantasy baseball about as underwhelming as the first season of Parks and Recreation. The good news for these showrunners is that the people at Parks and Rec learned from their first season mistakes and went on to produce top quality entertainment for many years to come. That’s what Colin and Jon are hoping for as they mixed up the cast in season two with the hopes that a new attitude will earn them a playoff spot and some dollar bills. Unfortunately, I’ve seen the first couple of episodes and I think these guys are doomed for another down season. Votto, Harvey, and Tulo are all very good baseball players but their own fans seem to hate them more than anyone else, which means they will probably pull some dumb stuff and piss of their fantasy owners this year, too. King Felix does not have the same electric arm that he used to but nobody throws a better changeup as much as Hernandez does and he’s still pretty good at retiring batters. The Kyle Schwarber injury was a very Cubs thing to happen and also was a solid gut punch to these fantasy owners who could use some good luck. Overall, I’m seeing a lot of players with too many warts but there is some promise that sleepers will emerge with Puig, Yelich, Quintana, and DeShields all looking good early. I’m not sure exactly what the lines of communication were between Colin and Jon on draft night but it doesn’t appear they had a solid connection most of the night and they will have to do some real work to make sure 2016 doesn’t end like 2015 did.
One of the more absurd offseason storylines was the Drake LaRoche clubhouse drama that played out for the White Sox. Every single day was Take Your Kid to Work Day with the LaRoche’s and young Drake was around the team so much that it became a huge distraction that tore apart a team and ultimately forced a man to walk away from 13 million dollars this year. Lance has admitted more than a few times that his son, AJ Perez is the brains behind the Arvada Astros organization and even though young AJ has joined our men's club with all of us dads, it can only be seen as a positive development for our league. Now that AJ is an official member of the league, he has forfeited all child protection services and is eligible to be judged and ridiculed by anyone in this league. It is obvious that AJ knows his baseball but taking a harder look at this draft, it’s also obvious that he highlighted the guys he wanted and pounced on them a little earlier than needed. I am all in favor of grabbing the guys you want, it makes the season much more fun, but the early rounds saw the Perez duo grab Cespedes, Keuchel, and Fielder a round or two before they needed to. Gerrit Cole was a great pick in the 4th and Pence, Sal Perez, Papelbon, and Pillar will give this team some nice depth. The stains of the elder Perez are on this draft as his old ass seemed to want a lot of old MLBers with the pickup of not one, not two, but three DH only players. The Perez’s were quick to remedy this mistake but once again it looks like they didn’t maximize value when it was their turn to pick a player. This team surprised everyone last year and there’s no reason why they can’t be very good again this year but it looks like AJ just added another chore to his list around the Perez house and that chore is to keep this team above .500 all year.
We’re about 5% done with the baseball season and we’re at a point where owners start panicking if their early round players start slow or their sleepers look like they’re on Ambien. Last year Jeff Meyer was not pleased at all by the first couple of weeks and subsequently traded or dropped a handful of players that he was bearish on after a slow start. Jeff also finished dead last in 2015 so I don’t need to tell you that most of his post-draft roster moves didn’t work out. We’ll see if Meyer has an itchy trigger finger again this year but by the looks of the players he picked up on draft night, I think he should trust his draft decisions. Dee Gordon might win the SB category each week by himself, Starling Marte is a breakout candidate, and maybe this is the year Strasburg stays healthy (probably not). This looks like a deep team to me with undervalued players like Brandon Crawford, Pujols, Francisco Liriano, Osuna, and Jay Bruce all being unsexy picks but wise ones. It’s a must to have at least one player from your favorite team and Meyer reached a bit too early for Adam Jones and Jeffrey might pay the price if Jones fights this lingering injury for a while and also cannot lay off of any slider thrown in his direction. Whatever Meyer does with his players, they can’t be as dumb as the Korean import the Orioles brought in and immediately wanted to return with proof of purchase.
The Peppel’s know what they’re in for in trying to play fantasy baseball in this league and we did our job of warning them on draft night about the learning curve for everyone when it comes to fantasy baseball. It’s very hard to jump into a fantasy baseball league and win immediately, especially if you don’t really play much so watching the Pep’s make a couple mistakes on draft night and early in the season is probably expected. Things started out well enough with Giancarlo as a keeper and Rizzo, Frazier, and Bogaerts were all decent enough early picks but there’s no defending their reaches for Wong, Cishek, and Iwakuma. If there was one move that exposed the fact that these two might not be ready for The Show quite yet, it was their selection of fuckin’ Dustin Ackley in the 11th round. Dustin Ackley in the 11th round is like picking Bennie Fowler in the 6th round of your fantasy football draft. Dustin Ackley is the fifth outfielder for the New York Yankees, he cannot be the fifth outfielder on your fantasy team. Dustin Ackley has 5 at bats in 10 games this year. Not only could the Pep's have waited another 10 rounds to take him, they could've waited another 10 months before any other owner considered adding Ackey to their team. Go drop Dustin Ackley before you read another word.
I’ve probably said this a few times on here but a successful fantasy baseball formula is usually 40% draft, 40% in season moves, and 20% luck. This compares to the 40/20/40 split that fantasy football has, which means the Pep’s probably need to get in the habit of checking their fantasy baseball roster more often than they tend to their football rosters. It’s going to take some time and with the Foot Pussy stench still wafting above this organization, it’s probably time Michael and Brian have a meeting of the brothers and figure out how they intend on not embarrassing themselves in their inaugural season. Inspiration lies at the top as Matt Suer was once a wide eyed rookie that got steamrolled but has now evolved into a back-to-back juggernaut that wins championships like he’s Tom Emanski. It can be done but it might take a year or three.
Zach is probably awake later than the rest of our league and I think Zach did his best work later than the rest of us once again in our draft. I’m sure he was giddy to be reunited with Miggy Cabrera and his Max Scherzer pick was a good value for someone that seems to flirt with a no-no at least once a month. I’m not totally on board with his Archer and Braun selections and I cannot back anyone drafting Jacoby Ellsbury, especially when Zach took him in round 5. It seemed like Zach needed a small bucket of draft picks to loosen up his muscles and start getting his draft picks closer to the target but once he got in a groove, he started gaining on the field. I’m a fan of his David Robertson pick and Dickerson, Belt, and Jake McGee were all taken at a nice price. My favorite pick was A.J. Ramos, which gives this team potentially our best bullpen at a very reasonable price. Late rounders like Castro, Soler, Corbin, Nola, and Ramos have contributed already or looked primed to contribute this year. Suer has one of the most maddening keepers possible in CarGo, which is probably more risk than anyone would want in a keeper but if he gets hot and this team stays healthy, there’s no reason why Zach can’t be awake and active later than the rest of us when the Shocker Series begins.
I’m also not all that bad at predicting player awards: