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Saturday, September 13, 2014

2014 Louisville Sluggers

This is my (very late) annual post about the Louisville Sluggers of the Original Bitnet Fantasy Baseball League. We draft twice each season -- once prior to the regular season and again at the beginning of July. I didn't get around to putting this post together until now. Sorry, though I doubt anyone cares. I'll just report draft results and transactions for the second half season -- my A season did not go all that well.

Prior posts: 2013 20122011201020092008,  2007, and 2004.

Why do we draft twice each year? Well, the OBFLB crowns champions for both the "A" first half and "B" second half of the baseball season, divided by the All Star game. My team's most recent championship was in 2008B. The current team is all-but-assured a place in the 4 team playoff competition that begins Monday. I'll update this post as appropriate to provide results.

As I list the team's current roster, keep in mind that the OBFLB is a 24 team head-to-head fantasy baseball league using 10 categories: home runs, stolen bases, batting average, runs produced average (R+RBI/ABs), plate appearances, innings pitched, wins, saves, earned run average and "ratio."

Here are the 2014 B Sluggers (players in red were retained from 2014A). Since I kept 12 players, I started the draft in round 13. We use 28 man rosters, exclusive of injured players. Because Arenado and Profar were on the major league and OBFLB DL mid-season, I had 2 extra picks at the end of the draft.

For the B season, our league requires that a player appear 6 times at a position during the current year -- or once during the week when he is listed at a position.


 C:  Yasmani Grandal (SD) (22nd round)
1B: Joey Votto (CIN) DL 7/8 during draft; has not played in B season
       James Loney (TB) (17th round)
2B: Jason Kipnis (CLE)
3B: Nolan Arenado (COL) 
SS: Troy Tulowitzki (COL) DL 7/22 during draft; has not played in B season
       Jose Ramirez (CLE) (free agent)
OF: Corey Dickerson (COL)
OF: Oswaldo Arcia (MIN) (15th round)
OF: Ender Inciarte (ARI) (19th round)
DH: Chris Carter (HOU) (18th round)

SP: Alex Cobb (TB)
SP: Chris Archer (TB)
SP: Homer Bailey (CIN) eventually DLed and out for the season
SP: Tyler Skaggs (LAA) (13th round) quickly DLed and out for season
SP: Phil Hughes (MIN) (14th round)
SP: Jeremy Hellickson (TB) (16th round)
SP: Matt Shoemaker (LAA) (20th round)
RP: Francisco Rodriguez (MIL) 
RP: Edward Mujica  (BOS) (28th round)
RP: Kevin Quackenbush (SD) (free agent)


 C: Cameron Rupp (PHI) (30th round) released when sent to minors
 C: Rene Rivera (SD) (free agent)
IF: Wilmer Flores (NYM) (26th round)
IF: Charlie Culberson (COL) (27th round)
IF: Nick Franklin (TB) (free agent)
SS: Addison Russell (CHC) (minors)
IF: Jurickson Profar (TEX) DL missed entire 2014 season
OF: A.J. Pollock (ARI) (21st round) (DL for most of B season)
OF: Cameron Maybin (SD) (25th round) released
OF: Anthony Gose (TOR) (free agent)
UT: Daniel Nava (BOS) (23rd round)
OF: Byron Buxton (MIN) (minors)

SP: Chris Capuano (NYY) (free agent)
RP: Danny Farquhar  (SEA) (24th round)
RP: Kirby Yates (TB) (29th round) eventually released

I have felt strong pressure to trade current (or recent) top prospects, Russell, Profar, and/or Buxton all season because a team with Votto and Tulowitzki needs to win NOW and not build for the future. However, I resisted because I believe all three are going to be very valuable talents. Plus, my all-stars got hurt and I assumed the B season would be another bust.

In any case, Russell and Profar are very young middle infielders who can seemingly hit like outfielders and Buxton is an excellent young hitter, with tremendous speed and looming power. I did trade away top power pitching prospect Archie Bradley at mid-season in a deal that returned Bailey. I received Nolan Arenado of the Rockies in a separate deal. Also, I traded long-time DH Billy Butler for closer Rodriguez.

At season's end, the draft and trades clearly went very well. As of today, September 13, Carter has hit 17 HRs since the all-star break, which leads the majors. Newly acquired Arenado has been a top 10 player and has 12 homers. Arcia and Dickerson have 11 homers each. These are top 20 figures in all of baseball. Each of the power hitters except Arcia is in the top 15 in slugging percentage, though that is not a category this league uses. Plus, Arcia has slugged over .500 himself.

Inciarte and Ramirez have 8 steals each, which puts them in the top 30 in baseball post-break. Gose has 10 steals, though he rarely plays on my team. Kipnis has 9 thefts. The team has plenty of speed and power, really.

In a league that still uses batting average, Loney has hit .320, which is a top 15 figure for the second half. Only about 25 players have hit .300 or better. Arenado, Carter, Dickerson and Inciarte have all hit between .283 and .296, placing them among the top 55 hitters for average.

Among starters with at least 35 innings pitched, Cobb has the lowest ERA in baseball in the second half. Shoemaker is in the top 10. Hughes has also been terrific. Indeed, all three of those starters are among the top 20 second half pitchers in WHIP. Bailey (1.61 ERA) and Skaggs (3.18) pitched very effectively, but in only 7 total starts before being derailed by injury. Potentially, the pitching could have been even better as Archer and Hellickson have had ERAs between 3.75 and 4.00.

Thanks to trades and injuries, the Sluggers now have 3 closers in the bullpen.

Is this a championship team? Maybe. Surprisingly.

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