Alan HarrisonFantasy BaseballUncategorized

2024 Fantasy Baseball: Mixed LABR Draft Review

If by chance you’re unfamiliar, LABR (League of Alternative Baseball Reality), is one of the oldest and highest-profile fantasy baseball leagues around. It’s apples-and-oranges with the NFBC Main Events and high-stakes leagues currently offered, which are probably considered more “high-profile” these days.

LABR started back in 1994 when John Hunt, a columnist from USA Today’s Baseball Weekly, would conduct the draft/auctions and publish the results in the Baseball Weekly fantasy baseball preview. Then, readers could use this benchmark data to drive their decisions in their own drafts.

Truth be told, this is how I began my love for fantasy baseball. I used to ride my bike down to the local deli and pick up a copy of the Baseball Weekly ritualistically. My friends and I used to conduct our own drafts by passing a notebook back-and-forth between classes and logging our picks. We’d then create the rosters and use box scores from the newspapers/Baseball Weekly to compile the statistics, convert them into points and generate standings throughout the year. It was a ton of work but so much fun and love for the game came out of it.

Needless to say, it’s been an honor to be invited to this room by Steve Gardner (USA Today), who is a fantasy baseball trailblazer in his own right.

Mixed LABR

15-team rotisserie – traditional 5×5 – snake draft

Hitting categories: batting average, runs, home runs, RBI, stolen bases

Pitching categories: wins, saves, ERA, WHIP and strikeouts

23-man rosters with six reserves (2 C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 5 OF, MI, CI, Utility, 9 pitchers)

$100 FAAB budget with no $0 bids allowed.

The room/draft order:

  1. Tim Mcleod (Prospect 361)
  2. Dr. Roto (Dr. Roto)
  3. Jeff Erickson (Rotowire)
  4. Fred Zinkie (Yahoo/Rotowire)
  5. Derek van Riper (The Athletic)
  6. Alan Harrison (@TheFantasyFix)
  7. Rudy Gamble (Razzball)
  8. Mike Podhorzer (FanGraphs)
  9. Ryan Bloomfield (BaseballHQ)
  10. Ray Flowers (Fantasy Guru)
  11. Scott Pianowski (Yahoo)
  12. Zach Steinhorn (Zach Steinhorn)
  13. Mike Gianella (Baseball Prospectus)
  14. Jenny Butler (FTN Fantasy)
  15. Paul Sporer (Sleeper & the Bust/RotoGraphs)

When doing our KDS, I selected the sixth spot because I loved all the players that projected to be available in the first round. More importantly, when looking forward, I liked the idea of picking from this slot for the players that could be available to me in the second and third rounds, respectively.

You can view the full draft board here.

Round 1:

Mookie Betts (2B/SS/OF) – LAD

Mookie Betts is one of the best baseball players on the planet. He hits at the top of the order for one of the best teams/lineups in all of baseball (by projections, anyway – they still have to play the games!). Although he doesn’t swipe bags at the rate he once did, Betts is still a five category contributor with multiple position eligibility. We could see a 30/15 season with 200 R+RBI and a .280 batting average. Starting with a high-floor, high-ceiling.

Also considered: Fernando Tatis Jr., Kyle Tucker, Freddie Freeman, Juan Soto

Round 2:

Elly de la Cruz (SS/3B) – CIN

Given what I perceived to be a high floor/high ceiling in Mookie Betts, I decided to go YoLo with Elly de la Cruz. With the buzz around his ridiculous speed, exit velocities, upside etc. last season and early on this Spring, I felt if I didn’t grab Elly in the second-round, he wouldn’t be available to me in the third.

Elly is probably one of the most polarizing players in the pool this year due to what some consider a low-floor and high-ceiling. Projections vary with de la Cruz, most peg him around 20-25 homers and 30-35 stolen bases, with a batting average in the .245 range.  Chasing the upside here folks. Leaving the first two-rounds with about 50+ homers/50 SBs felt like a pretty balanced start.

Also considered: Pete Alonso, Marcus Semien, Luis Robert, Gunnar Henderson, Zack Wheeler

Round 3:

Luis Castillo (SP) – SEA

This was a bit uncharacteristic of me. Typically I’ll stack bats early and fill out a starting rotation in the middle-rounds with steady veterans, upside arms and a few lottery tickets.

However, I didn’t expect Castillo to get back to me here. And it was too hard to pass on the Mariners’ ace as the anchor of my staff. I’m hoping for full, healthy season of 175-200 IP,  ~200 strikeouts, solid ratios and double-digit wins.

Also considered: Corey Seager, Bo Bichette, Pablo Lopez

Round 4/5:

Adley Rutschman (C) – BAL, Will Smith (C) – LAD

Sometimes you have to zig when others zag. Again, double-tapping top-tier catchers is not something I normally do or would generally advise in this format. I typically pick a few backstops in the middle-to-late rounds in two-catcher formats as passing on some of the starters or speed/power combination bats in this part of the draft is difficult to stomach.

In past years, when picking catchers later in Mixed LABR drafts, I’ve had a hard time selecting the right combination of players and almost found myself scouring the waiver wire each week for streamers. With $0 FAAB bids not allowed, I’ve used valuable FAAB money on catchers who didn’t get many at-bats had a poor batting average and failed to contribute to the overall cause.

With Rutschman and Smith, you’re arguably getting two of the top-five catchers in the pool. More of the “set it and forget it” approach. Rutschman will only swipe a few bags at best but the all-world backstop should provide steady contributions in the other four hitting categories in the middle of a potent Orioles lineup. Smith will lose some at-bats at DH compared to previous seasons with Ohtani in the fold but 20+ homers, a couple of bags and 150 R+RBI with a solid batting average should be possible.

Also considered: Royce Lewis, Grayson Rodriguez, Manny Machado, J.T. Realmuto, Jazz Chisholm

Round 6

David Bednar (RP) – PIT

Closers went early-and-often as to be expected. My goal was not to spend a third or fourth-round pick on a closer since they’re so volatile. In a coin-flip, I went with Bednar (over Seawald) who I felt was in the middle of that second tier of closers that could provide 30 saves and close to 80 strikeouts for a Pirates team that should get a bulk of their victories in close games.

Also considered: Jesus Luzardo, Paul Sewald, Alexis Diaz

Rounds 7-10

Alex Bregman (3B) – HOU, Evan Carter (OF) – HOU, Clay Holmes (RP – NYY), Justin Verlander (SP) – HOU

Bregman felt like the old, boring, steady veteran. Flat soda, per se. But he felt like that last formidable bat available at the hot corner to provide some balance/consistency/insurance should Elly de la Cruz not pan out. I really didn’t think Evan Carter to fall to me, so I couldn’t hit that “draft” button quick enough as my second outfielder. Carter showed pretty well in the short time he was up for the World Champions in ’23. A 15/15 season with a solid batting average near the top of the Rangers lineup should be in the realm of potential outcomes.

Clay Holmes also seemed to be a value for me in the ninth-round as my second closer. The likely closer for a solid Yankees squad felt like the last of his tier, so I wanted to secure another 30 saves, 70 strikeouts with decent ratios. I really wanted Hunter Greene here but he went off the board the pick before me to Rudy Gamble. Verlander fell due to a lingering injury. He may not be ready for Opening Day. But I was chasing some upside/strikeouts/wins here given his Hall-of-Fame career on an excellent Astros team that should win 90+ games.

Also considered: Seiya Suzuki, Andres Munoz, Jackson Chourio, Riley Greene, Bryce Miller

Rounds 11-15

Jorge Soler (OF/UT) – SFG, Wyatt Langford (OF) – TEX, Nathaniel Lowe (1B) – TEX, Gavin Williams (SP) – CLE

Jorge Soler found a new home in San Francsico. It’s a tougher park for bats so he may not provide as much power as he used to. However, I was chasing pop and trying to fill out my OF so he complemented the build.

With Wyatt Langford, I was chasing upside while continuing to fill out the OF. He’s young and may experience some growing pains in what many assume will be a full year in the Majors with the Rangers but the prospect pedigree with the opportunity to hit in the heart of the a strong Rangers lineup was too good to pass up. I’m glad we drafted when we did because he’s been having quite a strong Spring resulting in a skyrocketing ADP.  As of today, Langford has an ADP of 82 (max of 65!) in NFBC Main Event drafts. I was able to get him at 175 in Mixed LABR. Hoping for a nice blend of power/speed with a 20/20+ season and a .265 or better batting average.

With a need a 1B and the opportunity to stack up some Rangers, I went with Nate Lowe in the 13th round. He’s currently a bit banged up but the hope is he can return to full health, hit 20+ homers with a nice batting average.

Gavin Williams is one of those younger arms with a ton of prospect pedigree. I was looking for upside in the middle rounds, which I got at the time, but he’s also nursing an elbow injury and will likely begin the season on the IL.


Round 15 – Steven Kwan (OF) – CLE – Batting average, stolen bases and filling out the OF

Round 16/17 – Triston McKenzie (SP) – CLE/Brayan Bello (SP) – BOS – Upside arms with the ability to strikeout batters in an effort to fill out the rotation.

Round 18  – Carlos Correa (SS) – MIN – Felt like he fell too far. Some oatmeal for the middle infield. Low-risk this late in the draft.

Round 19 – Willi Castro (3B/OF) – MIN – Multiple position eligibility with speed. Fills a team need.

Round 21 – Carlos Estevez (RP) – LAA – Potential for saves in Anaheim.

Round 22 – Dean Kremer (SP) – BAL – Needed innings. Good team. Felt like a good value.

Round 23 – Kyle Bradish (SP) – BAL – Bradish is hurt but this was an upside play given we have unlimited IL slots. Low-risk, high-reward this late.

Round 24 – Jake Cronenworth (1B/2B) – SDP – Multiple position eligibility. Betting on a rebound.

Final Thoughts:

This is an extremely difficult league given the quality of players in the room. It feels like my offense is nicely balance dand I should be competitive in the saves category. I’m glad to have grabbed Luis Castillo early as the rest of my arms are a bit banged up. Hopefully the starters get healthy and I can hit on a couple of those lottery tickets (McKenzie/Bello/Kremer/Bradish). This is a trades league so I may need to be a bit aggressive in that sense to maintain balance between bats/arms throughout the season.

Outside of my team, I really like Mike Podhorzer’s, Dr. Roto’s, Rudy Gamble’s and Fred Zinkie’s teams.


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