While you wait for your drafts to roll around, doing a draft-and-hold league is one of the best ways to prepare for Fantasy Baseball. It gets you familiar with the player pool while giving you a chance to win money.
The strategy is slightly different since the draft is critical with no waiver wire moves, trades or transactions. All you do is draft and set a weekly lineup.
You can jump in a draft here.
Here are my thoughts on a MLB 44 I did from pick 11. These are 12-team leagues with slow drafts and 44 rounds.
Round 1, Pick 11: Jacob deGrom (Mets)
Last season was a dominant season for deGrom, and he won the National League Cy Young despite getting only ten wins. Don't expect a 1.70 ERA again, but he's been one of the better pitchers the last few seasons.
Round 2, Pick 2: Manny Machado (Padres)
I was sniped on Aaron Judge one pick before. The pick was made before he signed with San Diego. The park isn't as bad for right-handed power in San Diego as most think. Machado will be fine, and the Padres have been aggressive on the base paths. Machado can get 10-15 steals.
Round 3, Pick 11: Trevor Bauer (Indians)
Bauer was on a lot of my teams last season. Despite never having an ERA below four until last season, the signs were there for a breakout and Bauer did. An injury late in the season prevented him from reaching 200 innings. I wasn't planning on him making it back, but when he did, I didn't hesitate.
Round 4, Pick 2: Rhys Hoskins (Phillies)
Hoskins had a good season in 2017, and there's still upside. The Phillies improved the lineup and Hoskins will hit in the middle of it. It wouldn't be a surprise to see 40 home runs.
Round 5, Pick 11: Anthony Rendon (Nationals)
Rendon isn't a flashy player and doesn't excel in any one area. He's solid across the board, and these type of players tend to be undervalued. He's hit over .300 in two straight seasons, and that allows a lot of flexibility later in drafts. He will bat third in a lineup that's still good without Bryce Harper.
Round 6, Pick 2: Tommy Pham (Rays)
I wanted to get some speed with this pick and Pham has 40 stolen bases over the last two seasons. He also has some power.
Round 7, Pick 11: David Dahl (Rockies)
Dahl is going to have a breakout season. He has struggled to stay healthy and get consistent playing time, but he exploded last September with nine home runs and 27 RBIs. He can steal bases and playing half the games in Coors Field is a big boost.
Round 8, Pick 2: Jose Peraza (Reds)
Peraza batted .288 with 85 runs, 14 home runs, and 23 stolen bases last season. My concern is he might hit at the bottom of the order instead of leadoff. Either way, he has some pop and will steal bases. He can get to 35-40 steals.
Round 9, Pick 11: A.J. Pollock (Dodgers)
Pollock is a health risk, but it's reflected in the price. If healthy, he can go 20-20 in a good lineup. I will take the shot in this range.
Round 10, Pick 2: Nicholas Castellanos (Tigers)
This was a tough call. Castellanos was a great value and the best player on the board. The other option was to get a closer. All of the closers I wanted went before my next pick, so it didn't work out.
Round 11, Pick 11: Cody Allen (Angels)
This isn't the closer I wanted but needed to get one since there are no waiver wire moves. It's more imperative to take a closer in this format and Allen should have high job security. I am concerned with his finish to last year where he struggled with walks and home runs. He could have been pitching through an injury.
Round 12, Pick 2: Willson Contreras (Cubs)
I figured a catcher run would start soon and decided to take Contreras, who is coming off a disappointing season. He will bounce back and is much cheaper than last season. Four more catchers went in the round.
Round 13, Pick 11: Cole Hamels (Cubs)
Hamels was awful in Texas, but after being traded to the Cubs, he was excellent. He's durable and is an undervalued pitcher in this range.
Round 14, Pick 2: Eduardo Rodriguez (Red Sox)
Rodriguez improved last season and allowed very little hard contact with a 27.9 percent hard-hit rate. Injuries have limited his innings, but he turns 26 in April and will excel.
Round 15, Pick 11: Yoan Moncada (White Sox)
I needed a second baseman, and Moncada was the best on the board. He led the majors in strikeouts, but he has power and speed. He draws walks, so if he can chase fewer pitches out of the strike zone, there's profit here.
Round 16, Pick 2: Kenta Maeda (Dodgers)
The Dodgers have a lot of depth on the pitching staff, and there will be injuries. Maeda isn't a lock to start all season, but he's really good. He had a 28.8 percent strikeout rate last season and had a 14.4 percent swinging strike rate.
Round 17, Pick 11: Paul DeJong (Cardinals)
For a detailed look at DeJong, click here.
Round 18, Pick 2: Shane Greene (Tigers)
I needed a second closer, and he has the job going into the season.
Round 19, Pick 8: Hunter Renfroe (Padres)
Wanted some more power and Renfroe has a lot of it. He could hit 30-35 home runs if he plays every day.
Round 20, Pick 8: Collin McHugh (Astros)
McHugh pitched out of the bullpen last season and moves into the starting rotation. He's had success as a starter and is on a good team; I like him a lot this season.
The rest of my picks:
- Jackie Bradley
- Jesus Luzardo
- Alex Wood
- Hunter Strickland
- Marco Gonzalez
- Yonder Alonso
- Cedric Mullins
- Ross Stripling
- Niko Goodrum
- Carson Kelly
- Wilmer Flores
- Anthony DeSclafani
- Trevor Cahill
- Avisail Garcia
- Ty Buttrey
- Merrill Kelly
- Mark Trumbo
- John Hicks
- Eric Lauer
- Ji-Man Choi
- Raimel Tapia
- Robbie Erlin
- Jung Ho Kang