Welcome back fellow Horsieys! (copyright Nate Sturm on that spelling . . . it still makes no sense, but I love it). I’d give you some long-winded intro about how much I loved the draft and how much I love the HSL and how excited I am about this season, but we’ve already made so much history this year that I’m losing track. Let’s catch up on the fun that’s already happened.
For the first time, someone:
Kept a minor leaguer (Sickness, Kris Bryant);
Kept a middle reliever (Miracle, Kevin Gausman);
Inexplicably did not keep their best player (Horsiey, Michael Brantley);
Inexplicably one-yeared their best player (East Coast MAV, Carlos Gomez);
(Wait, T Herd just did that last year with Stanton? Whoops – scratch that)
Kept a mediocre catcher coming off Tommy John who will start the year on the DL (Stallions, Matt Wieters);
Kept an oft-injured 40-year old closer who lost his job at the end of last year and will start the year on the DL (Stallions, Uehara);
Won and lost the same trade in the same day, and vice versa (Horsiey, Ecker).
Whew. It’s hard enough to preseason power-rank 16 teams with 20 players each (roughly 1/3 of which will be dropped during the season), and with so much insanity going on, this year’s rankings will be especially tough. I don’t think I’ll be able to match my performance from last year, when I correctly predicted 5 out of the 6 playoff teams (swap fellow Stallions #5 Cody with #15 Curt for 100%. Wait a second . . . good god I just saw Curt’s team coming out of last year’s draft and I STILL hate it!). So let’s just remember this is mostly for fun, as you may remember one Mr. Mark Friedrich sending some expletive-laden emails after I ranked him 13th last year (which turned out to be pretty spot-on).
Also, just to take another shot at another friend from Greathue, last year O’Con told me he doesn’t like my power rankings because “you rank yourself too highly.” I had attempted to describe the difficulty in ranking myself in last year’s preseason rankings like this:
“I enjoy ranking myself about as much as I like ranking the bottom seeds. I mean, if I don’t like the players I drafted, then I’m an idiot. And since I like them, it’s hard not to rank myself pretty highly. But ranking yourself highly just feels like the ultimate D-Bag move. I guess I could rank myself lower just to have faux-modesty, but then I’m not being genuine. So basically I feel like a D-Bag no matter what I do.”
Apparently O’Con doesn’t like my power rankings because he doesn’t actually read them.
Also, I suppose I could point out that I have the 2nd highest winning % in HSL history, so ranking myself highly is usually justified, but that would presuppose O’Con listens to reason and wouldn’t just resort to petty, ad hominem attacks like calling me fat.
Cody, don’t feel left out. You’ll get dropped in a couple of minutes.
Now, onto the rankings . . .
16. Big Brown Horsiey. I want Brown to succeed, I really do. I thought this might have been his year to break through after winning the Giancarlo Stanton sweepstakes. But then he inexplicably forgot to keep Brantley. And then he stayed home to work on his basement instead of coming to the draft party. And after swindling Ecker in the draft-day Stanton trade, he used his first pick on Hisashi Iwakuma instead of Hanley Ramirez, his 4th pick on Chris Tillman, etc. etc.
But hey, let’s look at the positive here: I liked James Paxton at pick #232!
15. Hinsch’s Stallions. This pitching staff is comically bad. Ryu, Cobb, and Uehara are on the DL. Tanner Roark is a middle reliever, CJ Wilson is awful, and Josh Collmenter? What????
Shit, I already have no idea who to put next. Eenie Meenie Miney . . .
14. Fort Morty’s Miracle. I like a lot of these young, unproven players, and I can even envision a scenario in which the Miracle make the playoffs, but there are just a lot of bets on guys who haven’t done it before, and probably 50-60% of those bets end up busting out. Odor, Bogaerts, both keeper pitchers (Gausman, Odorizzi), Eovaldi, Tomas, Heaney . . . just too many wild cards.
13. The Neighsayers. Turns out I don’t really have any zingers for Cody . . . I kinda like this team! When Rendon gets healthy, this is a really good offense. There are no closers, and Neshek is kind of a zero, and I don’t even know who Asher Wojimikowski is . . . wait, this pitching staff is awful! Kaaaaaaaaaaaaaaape
12. Red Destroyers. Pitching staff is shallow – best starter is Samardzija, with lots of interesting young guys after that, but some are sure to bust out. Castillo in the minors, Wade Davis is a middle reliever, Smyly has an ailing shoulder.
11. East Coast MAV. Have I mentioned I’m throwing darts here? Idk, I’m not a huge fan of Beltran, Neil Walker, Aybar, I think Machado is a better real-life player than fantasy asset, and after Scherzer, I don’t love the starters . . . but 3 nice closers. I like the team, but I gotta split hairs.
10. Twinkies Time. Sure, Ecker might win two more Cy/MVP $50 trophies with Kershaw and Stanton. And he might even hang in the race all year on the backs of those horses. But Choo/Granderson/Crawford feels old and creaky, there’s still no shortstop on roster (Javier Baez!), not sure where Semien plays, I don’t believe in Bradley/Graveman/Miley, there’s sort of 1 closer combined between Mujica/Andrew Miller, and, let’s face it, Ecker has already burned through 4 transactions and will be petitioning to increase the limit to 100 by May 1st because he’ll already be at 40.
9. Sturm’s Team. Whoa! Wasn’t expecting this because the offense looks spectacular (Wil Myers – back in the saddle!). But Erv Santana’s suspension was a legitimate blow – Greinke/Cole is cool, Cashner-if-he’s-healthy is cool, but Rodon is in the minors, Brett Anderson will be healthy for maybe 2 starts, Kenley Jansen is hurt, Clippard will probably lose the closer gig when Doolittle returns, blah blah blah. Good team with chances, but pitching is currently weak.
8. The Cam’s. Sort of an opposite team – I really like the pitching staff, although Tanaka’s elbow would scare the bejeezuz out of me if I were Kurtis. The “old-and-creaky” offense worked for Kurtis last year, but I expect major regression from V-Mart and Danny Santana, Pedroia’s on his last legs, Cuddyer’s not in Colorado, and as much as I love David Ortiz, this could be the year he breaks down.
7. Got Dropped. Can O’Con make his first return to the postseason since winning the 1st HSL title? It’s possible, although O’Con-with-a-girlfriend worries me as an in-season manager. As long as Miggy-Cano-Ellsbury stay healthy, in addition to Hamels-Gio-SONny-Porcello, that’s a nice foundation.
6. The Sickness. Starting pitching after David Price worries me. Well, it doesn’t actually worry me, but it should worry The Sickness. The news that Andrew Miller will get saves in New York hurts Betances a little, and I’d be worried about Addison Reed. The big question, though: when does King of Spring Training Hype Kris Bryant come up, and how will he perform?
5. ‘T’ Herd. Last year’s runner-up should be in the running again, although the offense is definitely shakier than last year sans Stanton. Not a fan of Rios and Teixeira, and if Todd Frazier comes back to earth, that could be a problem. Sale-Strasburg-DeGrom is a filthy top 3, but I don’t love the guys after that, and Feliz-Joel Peralta is like, 1.25 closers.
4. C’BON’S NUTS. Good-but-not-great offense that’s kinda sorta lacking in power, I think – Lorenzo Cain & Matt Carpenter are low-power, and there really aren’t any elite power bats besides McCutchen (total bases power). After Bumgarner/Wacha, I see the rotation as very average, and Fernando Rodney/Santiago Casilla are middle-of-the-road closers.
3. Tony Gwynn. Always scary to put defending champ and dedicated in-season manager like Big Mistakey any lower than yourself, and this is another very good team loaded with horses. BUT . . . Altuve slides back a little, Joe Nathan is the #1 candidate to lose his job, and I really don’t like the bench. #3 is certainly no insult, though. Strong team.
2. The Not Quites. Yes, I’m an egotistical maniac who cannot get over myself. Plus I’m fat. My offense has almost no speed, but should be contending to lead the league in the other 4 categories. Trout, Tulo, Chris Davis, Brandon Moss, and Pujols have all hit 30+ homers before, and several should do it again. I have put a lot of faith in Drew Hutchison as my #3 starter, and if he comes through, I’m sitting pretty with 2 good closers and 1 in waiting in Ottavino. I’ll take my chances with this squad.
1. Jay Dot Sea Dots. JC entered the draft with an absurd collection of high draft picks, and he exited with an absurd collection of talent. Healthy Goldschmidt + Harper, Posey, Seager, plus speed in Billy Hamilton and Brett Gardner = best and most balanced offense in the league. I think Matt Harvey is ready to dominate immediately, Garret Richards will horse shortly, and Kimbrel-Britton, with Doolittle waiting in the wings, is strong. Sea Dots are the team to beat!