Sunday, March 30, 2014

Your 2014 Lucky Numbers: The Batters

Yesterday it was time for that surest sign of spring: the fantasy baseball draft. I've been in a mixed head-to-head league on CBS Sports since 2005. That would make this my tenth season! I've missed the playoffs a few times, but overall it's been a success. I've been runner-up twice and won the whole thing in 2012! Now that the draft is complete, let's take a look at the Lucky Numbers' batting lineup.

2013 Topps #418 Evan Gattis (RC)
Catcher: Evan Gattis, Atlanta Braves (13th round)

This year, I found myself picking a lot of players that have multiple-position eligibility. This is always nice to have in case of injury. I was hoping for Carlos Santana here but he was selected just a pick or two before I could draft him in the 6th round.

2014 Topps Opening Day Blue #78 Chris Davis /2014
First Baseman: Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles (2nd round)

Guy hit 53 home runs last year. Given that a HR is worth 9 points in my league (5 for the HR, 2 for the run scored, 2 for the RBI), Davis could put up some serious points if he repeats that feat. He does strike out a lot though.

I pulled this card out of a blaster of 2014 Opening Day that I bought at Target a week or two ago. Expect a post on that soon. And it's a serial-numbered card in a lovely blue! This is #1145/2014. That foil date on the card is today, even! Apparently those two Australia games don't count in Topps' eyes, nor do they count in my fantasy league. However, rest assured that the Dodgers are already ahead in the standings. Even better, the D-backs are in last. I wouldn't mind them staying there well past Friday, when I'll be at the Rockies' home opener.

2013 Topps #15 Dustin Pedroia
Second Baseman: Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox (4th round)

I suppose you need to have one crazy beard in the lineup.

2012 Bowman Gold #146 Martin Prado
Third Baseman: Martin Prado, Arizona Diamondbacks (10th round)

Another player with multiple-position eligibility. Prado can be played at 2B, 3B or OF. And as he is a D-back now, I'll have a Lucky Number playing when I'm at Coors Field on Friday.

I don't have a whole lot of super-recent cards, and I didn't want this post to be all Topps 2013 base, so you get a card of Prado in his earlier days as a Brave.

2013 Topps #581 Andrelton Simmons
Shortstop: Andrelton Simmons, Atlanta Braves (14th round)

Simmons only had his first full season last year, but he finished surprisingly high in MVP voting and has plenty of upside. You could do worse in the 14th round.

2013 Topps #151 Alex Rios
Outfielder: Alex Rios, Texas Rangers (6th round)

Here's another out of date card; this time it's Alex Rios in an odd White Sox retro jersey. Apparently they wore these jerseys on Sunday home games in 2012, a throwback to their early 1970s uniforms. I don't have a card of Rios in a Rangers jersey yet. Who can keep up with all the transactions? Topps barely can.

2011 Topps Chrome Refractors #96 Hunter Pence
Outfielder: Hunter Pence, San Francisco Giants (5th round)

Not 100% sure on this guy. He's always been good, but he's never really had that superstar year. Puts up a .280 avg and 25 HRs rather consistently, but if he doesn't have his big year soon, I don't think he'll be a huge force in Fantasy.

And here he is pictured two teams ago, before he was a Phillie. When I was younger, I organized my collection by the team the player was currently on. It was a monster to keep up with, and involved a lot of shuffling cards around. I gave up on that goal after the Padres and Astros had that monster trade when they swapped Caminiti, Finley, Shipley, Bell, and 8 other guys.

2012 Topps Gypsy Queen #33 Ben Zobrist
Outfielder: Hunter Pence, Tampa Bay Rays (9th round)

When you do this for enough seasons, you tend to keep drafting the same guys over and over. This is at least the third time I've had Zobrist on my squad, and with eligibility at OF, 2B, and SS, he's definitely Mr. Versatility. Sort of like Chone Figgins but with better batting stats.

And just check out those shades in this HDR-crazy card brand. He needs those shades to shield his eyes from the hyper-real imagery in Gypsy Queen.

2011 Topps Chrome #46 Billy Butler
Designated Hitter: Billy Butler, Kansas City Royals (12th round)

Butler doesn't have 1B-eligibility anymore, and David Ortiz previously held this slot in the Lucky Numbers roster. Obviously that's a downgrade, but Butler is usually pretty consistent; sort of like Pence, but with lower expectations and thus can be had with a lower draft pick. I've had him three years in a row, and if he plays 10 games at 1B, he'll gain that eligibility back.

It's another card from 2011 Chrome, the year they finally figured out how to produce these nice, shiny cards without that abominable curl.

2014 Topps Opening Day #178 Xander Bogaerts (RC)
Bench Guys: 
3B Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox (18th round)
1B Mike Napoli, Boston Red Sox (17th round)
1B Mark Teixiera, New York Yankees (20th Round)

This Bogaerts guy was pretty interesting to watch in the postseason last year. I figured he'd be worth a late-round pick. And that is a great baseball name. Napoli and Teixiera aren't expected to be great, but both of them are Major League veterans on strong teams, and are capable of putting up a great year.

Coming up later, the pitchers!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

A conversation at Fleer, 1989

"Bob, check this out! I put the player's head outside the frame so you get this nifty 3D effect!"
1989 Fleer #480 Jack Howell

"Nice, Fred, but you really should put the bat outside the frame, too. It looks silly getting cut off like that. Here, let me show you."

1989 Fleer #322 Marvell Wynne
"See? Doesn't that look better? Let's pick it up again tomorrow."

1989 Fleer #523 Pete Incaviglia
"Fred, That's not what I had in mind. Remember what we talked about yesterday? Try it again."

1989 Fleer #97 Jim Rice
"How's that, Bob?"
"Well, it's better, but the bat is cropped at the top of the frame. Looks a little odd, don't you think?"

1989 Fleer #581 Juan Samuel
"Bob, I'm just not feeling this whole 'bat outside the frame' thing. I just put it behind his head so you can't see it."
"Good enough. Hey, can you do the Billy Ripken card real quick before you go to lunch?"