Despite being a pro football fan for over 50 years, the Old Duck is pretty much fed up with NFL / ESPN “Hooker – Pimp” relationship that has evolved over the years. From the Brett Favre comeback to the Ray Rice elevator cage match to Tom Brady’s deflation issues, one ugly perception emerges…instead of reporting the news, ESPN is very often attempting to create the news. The ultimate example is the annual NFL Draft, which draws a huge audience and generates lots of dollars for the league and the network. Maybe the most telling fact is that when they moved the Draft to Chicago for the past two years, people were paying scalpers $1,500 for a ticket to get inside the venue. Think about that for a moment. Paying an exorbitant amount of money to sit in an auditorium for a couple of hours to hear 64 names being called. If that is considered exciting, imagine going to your child’s High School graduation with hundreds of names being called. And guess what? You’ll recognize more names at the graduation. Seriously, after Goff, Wentz & Elliott, the average fan would have been stumped by the other 61. So, in my small way, I’ve started protesting this school of sports reporting by boycotting the NFL Draft…and any other ESPN football programming prior to at least one exhibition being played. It might not seem like much in the big picture, but at least the TV in my house won’t add to the ratings.
These thoughts lead to baseball’s “First Year Player Draft” held this past month. While MLB certainly would like to have the same level of fan enthusiasm as the NFL, the harsh reality is that it never will because the players chosen won’t have an immediate impact on a fan’s favorite team. The advent of the MLB Network, however, has now made the Draft a little more relevant and for Fantasy Baseball players, it has become worthwhile viewing. If you play a keeper league format, especially with deep rosters, the names announced could be important to your success. If you like looking toward the future, the names Mickey Moniak, Nick Senzel & Corey Ray could be meaningful to you in 2017.
Let’s take a look at some picks from the past decade and how they’ve panned out for Fantasy players.
If your current pitching staff is based on this Draft, you’re in pretty good shape. 1st round selections included Clayton Kershaw (#7), Max Scherzer (#11), Andrew Miller (#6), Jeremy Jeffress (#16) & Ian Kennedy (#21). Of course, other hurlers taken in the 1st round included Greg Reynolds (#2), Brad Lincoln (#4) & Kasey Kiker (#12).
David Price was the #1 pick and he’s turned out OK. So has the #10 choice Madison Bumgarner. Everyday players from the 1st round include Mike Moustakas (#2), Jason Heyward (#14), Ben Revere (#28), Todd Frazier (#34) & Josh Donaldson (#48).
#1 pick Tim Beckham is still trying to make it but Eric Hosmer (#3) & Buster Posey (#5) are household names. Lots of marginal major leaguers were sprinkled throughout the first round like Pedro Alvarez (#2), Yonder Alonso (#7), Gordon Beckham (#8), Justin Smoak (#11) & Brett Wallace (#13)
All things considered, the top selections from this Draft haven’t been top-notch. Stephen Strasburg went #1 and after that, many of the names are forgettable…Dustin Ackley (#2), Donovan Tate (#3), Tony Sanchez (#4) & Matt Hobgood (#5). There was one fairly good player named Mike Trout, who was taken with pick #25.
Starting a Fantasy squad with Bryce Harper (#1), Manny Machado (#3), Drew Pomeranz (#5), Chris Sale (#13) & Christian Yelich (#23) would make you smile.
Some good results already with Gerrit Cole (#1), Anthony Rendon (#6), Francisco Lindor (#8), George Springer (#11) & Jose Fernandez (#14). The jury is still out on Dylan Bundy (#5) but Danny Hultzen (#2) & Bubba Starling (#4) look like wasted picks.
Carlos Correa (#1), Addison Russell (#11), Corey Seager (#18) & Michael Wacha (#19) have already had success while time will tell on Byron Buxton (#2) & Lucas Giolito (#16).
Kris Bryant (#2) was the first to emerge at the major league level by winning the NL ROY in 2015, but watch for Clint Frazier (#5), Austin Meadows (#9) & J.P. Crawford (#16)
Only a year removed from amateur status, Carlos Rodon (#3) and Brandon Finnegan (#17) had already pitched in “the show” during 2015. Now, we’ve also seen Aaron Nola (#7), Michael Conforto (#7) & Trea Turner (#13).
Lots of potential stars in this group and the top three picks were all SS…Dansby Swanson, Alex Bregman & Brendan Rodgers.
Check the results for 2016 and target the prospects now for future success.