On deck

The draft is tomorrow, so naturally I’m wasting most of my time in preparation. Tonight I’m looking at last year’s results to see how teams did and how players are rated last year as opposed to this year. What jumps out? 14 of the top 18 ranked pitchers were ranked lower (in most cases, a lot lower) last year. Pitchers are evil. I’ll keep saying it until someone pays attention.

As I reviewed player stats in the amazing Baseball Reference, I noticed nicknames. Position players get nicknames more often than pitchers. After all, pitchers are evil. Albert Pujols is my favorite, with four different nicknames listed. El Hombre is my favorite. Here are some of the others. Lance Berkman = Big Puma. Kevin Youkilis = Greek God of Walks. Dmitri Young = Meat hook. Adam Dunn = Big Donkey. Shane Victorino = Flyin’ Hawaiian. Pat Burrell = Pat the Bat (not Pat the Glove). Felix Hernandez = King Felix.

When Felix Hernandez made his major league debut, he was compared to Dwight Gooden aka Dr. K. Look at Gooden’s 1984 and 1985. That’s what people thought King Felix would do off the bat. Gooden had 744 strikeouts in his first three years. He had only one more 200 K season in a career cut tragically short. Maybe it’s better that Felix is making a more slow transition to superstardom.

I thought I’d get more mileage out of the nicknames. Perhaps I can look at my 2007 draft instead. First round = Johan Santana. He was selected fifth overall and finished 22nd overall. I went pitching early and often last year. Santana’s still a first-rounder this year, although more likely to be a late first rounder. Second round = Mark Teixeira. Spell that three times fast. He was the 20th pick and finished 47th. His numbers in Atlanta were better. B.J. Ryan and Chris Carpenter went in the second round, so I could have done worse.

In the third round I reached for Grady Sizemore. He was the 29th pick and finished 32nd. Sizemore is a 2008 second rounder. I took Carlos Zambrano in the fourth round. 44th overall, finished 137. He’s more of a 7th rounder this year. Let me list the rest.

5th round (53): Rafael Furcal (224 overall); sixth rounder this year
6th round (68): Hideki Matsui (59th overall); eighth rounder in 2008
7th round (77): Adam Dunn (35th overall); fourth rounder in 2008
8th round (92): Jeremy Bonderman (671 overall); 14th rounder in 2008
9th round (101): Bobby Jenks (73rd overall); 8th rounder in 2008
10th round (116) Josh Barfield (lost his job, is not a fantasy factor this year)
11th round (125) Ramon Hernandez (772nd overall, injury plagued); 21st rounder this year
12th round (140) Nick Swisher (167th overall); 9th rounder this year
13th round (149) Barry Zito (367th overall); 20th rounder this year, how on earth did the Giants think he was worth 18 million a year?
14th round (164) Ryan Freel (891st overall); no fantasy value
15th round (173) Andy Pettite (yahoo seems to think he doesn’t exist) 20th rounder this year
16th round (188) Javier Vazquez (58th overall): 9th rounder this year
17th round (197) Salomon Torres (lost closer job, useless this year)
18th round (212) Alex Gordon (355th overall): 11th rounder this year
19th round (221) Greg Maddux (208 overall); FA this year
20th round (236) Jonathan Broxton (158th overall); late rounder this year
21st round (245) BJ Upton (54th overall); second rounder this year
22nd round (260) Matt Murton (no hope this year)

The hard part about grading drafts is that in fantasy baseball, 750 players can be fantasy-relevant, while only half a dozen are so in football. Dunn, Jenks, Maddux, Broxton, and Upton were the only draft picks that outpunted their coverage, so to speak. In short, I shouldn’t sweat it tomorrow. After all, with this so-called crappy draft, I led my league from start to finish. I picked up two closers off waivers, along with 20-homer middle infielders Khalil Green and Dan Uggla late in the season. And after drafting Ryan Freel as my starting third baseman, I picked up Ryan Braun off waivers. Clearly it makes sense to not get too excited about the draft and pay attention big-time to the waiver wire.

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