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Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Feeling a Draft

Next month the Sox will make their highest draft pick since 1967 when they picked third (Mike Garman so y’know it’s not an automatic).  Many names are flying around, some familiar (Jack Leiter, Kumal Rocker) others not (Henry Davis, Jordan Lawlar, Marcelo Mayer) but at draft time I always like to look to past as prelude to the future.  Rather than try to tell you something about players I have at best seen in passing I’ll tell you to go Sox Prospects or Baseball America for all the gory details about the various guys.  The MLB draft is a bit different from other sports with picks not allowed to be traded yet as this gander at projected Red Sox’ selections reveals.  Six “experts” and they’ve got four different guys going to the Sox at number four.

However, thanks to Baseball-Reference we can look back at the number four pick (and a couple others) to get some idea of what the Sox might be landing;

#4 Pick

Top Five:

Barry Larkin*
Kevin Brown
Dave Winfield*
Thurman Munson
Darrell Porter
* Hall of Fame

Average WAR per MLB Player - 13.0
Drafted Player Closest to that Number - Gregg Olson (Oriole reliever)
Positive WAR - 36 of 56
Red Sox picks - One (Ken Brett, 16.3 WAR, one Fantasy Island appearance)

So yeah an opportunity to land a superstar here exists.  In recent years the Sox have had a couple of high picks with one of them being a success (Andrew Benintendi) and one being a tremendous bust (Trey Ball).  On the Ball pick my recollection is not that the Sox went off the board but with the high school pitcher went with the highest variance option.  Without knowing much here and recognizing that the Sox may not have much say in the matter of the five guys I’ve seen bandied about it seems like Davis is the guy who might most fit that description.  Again, go to SP or BA for a LOT more detail than I can add.

#40 Pick

Top Five:

Kevin Tapani
Larry Gura
Jackie Bradley Jr.
Milton Bradley
Huston Street

Average WAR per MLB Player - 5.5
Drafted Player Closest to that Number - Luke Hochevar
Positive WAR - 10 of 56
Red Sox picks - Six (Jackie Bradley Jr., Kris Johnson, Steve Dillard, Brad Baker, Fred Wegner, Curtis Suchan)

Sox did well last time they picked here with Bradley being a very successful selection.  Already you can see how dramatically the available talent drops off but if the Sox can get any of those top five types that would be a huge win.

#75 Pick

Top Five:

Tino Martinez
Grady Sizemore
Yunel Escobar
Jason Thompson
Wade Davis

Average WAR per MLB Player - 6.3
Drafted Player Closest to that Number - Scott Radinsky
Positive WAR - 11 of 56
Red Sox picks - Four (Tino Martinez - unsigned, Brian Rose, Mitch Johnson, Frederick Marden)

I’m pretty surprised to see how productive this pick has been. Of that 1985 draft where the Sox selected Martinez only five players the Sox picked made the bigs.  Three of them (Tino, Ed Sprague and Lance Blankenship) were unsigned after the draft, one was let go by the Sox as a minor league free agent (Todd Pratt) and one was traded after just 41 games with the Sox (Brady Anderson).

#105 Pick

Top Five:

Cliff Lee
Hank Blalock
James Baldwin
Bo Jackson
Tom Murphy

Average WAR per MLB Player - 5.5
Drafted Player Closest to that Number - Bo Jackson
Positive WAR - 8 of 56
Red Sox picks - None

I should note here that the “Average WAR per MLB Player” is just that, it is not average WAR for everyone drafted in that spot.  While the average WAR is staying consistent through rounds 2 through 4 the number of players who reach the bigs is declining.

#136 Pick

Top Five:

Angel Pagan
Don Aase
Nick Pivetta
Trevor May
Luke Hudson

Average WAR per MLB Player - 1.4
Drafted Player Closest to that Number - Luke Hudson
Positive WAR - 6 of 56
Red Sox picks - Two (Don Aase, Harry Michael)

And in round five things go off the rails a bit.  At this point you are fishing and hoping. Not many players that find their way to the bigs go through the fifth round but every year someone decent gets picked.  Cavan Biggio and Rhys Hopkins are recent examples and you can go back for guys like Bret Boone and John Valentin.

#166 Pick

Top Five:

Wade Boggs*
Steve Cishek
Mike Young
John Maine
Ron Roenicke
* Hall of Fame

Average WAR per MLB Player - 5.8
Drafted Player Closest to that Number - Mike Young
Positive WAR - 15 of 55
Red Sox picks - One (Wade Boggs)

I was going to stop after round five but the Sox huge success in round six made me add one more round.  Obviously Boggs is the exception in this round but this is why scouts and farm directors do what they do.  Finding a Boggs here is the kind of thing that makes a career.

One thing to remember as the draft rolls around is how hard it is simply to MAKE the big leagues. Twelve of the 56 guys picked #4 have never made it.  One thing I think the MLB Network does really well in their draft coverage is that when they talk about comps for the drafted players it’s not all superstars “oh hard throwing lefty who is tall, Randy Johnson.”  They aren’t afraid to make that comparison as “Mark Rzepczynski.”  Maybe that’s not the sexiest comparison in the world but it’s an accurate one that forecasts success (and man, I missed by only the second Z of spelling that correctly).

Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: June 09, 2021 at 03:21 PM | 36 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. villageidiom Posted: June 10, 2021 at 11:25 AM (#6023570)
#4 Pick

Top Five:

Barry Larkin*
Kevin Brown
Dave Winfield*
Thurman Munson
Darrell Porter
* Hall of Fame


Diving in a little further on these drafts:

Barry Larkin

3 picks before: BJ Surhoff (Brewers), Will Clark (Giants), Bobby Witt (Rangers)
3 picks after: Kurt Brown (White Sox), Barry Bonds (Pirates), Mike Campbell (Mariners)

All but Brown made the majors, and of the rest only Campbell had negative WAR. (Canton's Bobby Witt was next lowest, at +15 WAR.)

Kevin Brown

3 picks before: Jeff King (Pirates), Greg Swindell (Indians), Matt Williams (Giants)
3 picks after: Kent Mercker (Braves), Gary Sheffield (Brewers), Brad Brink (Phillies)

All of them made the majors, and only Brink had negative WAR. (Next lowest was Mercker at +12 WAR.)

Dave Winfield

3 picks before: David Clyde (Rangers), John Stearns (Phillies), Robin Yount (Brewers)
3 picks after: Glenn Tufts (Indians), Johnnie LeMaster (Giants), Billy Taylor (Angels)

Tufts and Taylor never made the majors, LeMaster had negative WAR, and Clyde was a replacement level pitcher. 1973 was a different time.

Thurman Munson
Darrell Porter

1968 and 1970 were a different time, too. After looking at those drafts I've decided they're not worth typing up. The only bright spot is STF's namesake. Instead I'll skip past the top 5 to the 6th best...

Ryan Zimmermann

3 picks before: Justin Upton (Diamondbacks), Alex Gordon (Royals), Jeff Clement (Mariners)
3 picks after: Ryan Braun (Brewers), Ricky Romero (Blue Jays), Troy Tulowitzki (Rockies)

All made the majors, Clement being the only one with negative WAR. (Next lowest was Romero at +10.)

It seems like the modern drafts are stacked enough that at #4 there are multiple players on the board who will eventually be top MLB players. Of course there's also a limitless supply of players who will never make MLB. These days it appears that teams are far better equipped to tell the difference between the two - at least when compared to 50 years ago or so.

Even without knowing much about the 2021 draftees I like Boston's chances at landing someone who will be a MLB contributor.
   2. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: June 10, 2021 at 01:23 PM (#6023589)
Jack Leiter, Kumal Rocker


If either one of these guys drops to the Sox the team would have to be crazy to pass on them, no? Are their onerous contract demands that would prevent a team from picking them?
   3. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: June 10, 2021 at 01:40 PM (#6023593)
If either one of these guys drops to the Sox the team would have to be crazy to pass on them, no? Are their onerous contract demands that would prevent a team from picking them?


That, but mainly TINSTAAPP. Look at the names surrounding these picks, listed above. You've got Swindell, Romero, Witt...but then everybody else who really succeeded was a bat: Braun, Upton, Gordon, Tulowitzki, Porter, Munson,Zimmerman, Matt Williams, Surhoff, Will Clark, Bonds, Sheffield, Yount, Winfield..there are a ton of All-Stars, and several HOFers, in that group. It is just a lot easier to project a bat than to project (and then develop) an arm.
   4. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: June 10, 2021 at 02:31 PM (#6023604)
If either one of these guys drops to the Sox the team would have to be crazy to pass on them, no? Are their onerous contract demands that would prevent a team from picking them?


I don't know what's going on with Rocker. He has been dropping regularly. I don't know why but just about every mock I've seen the last month and a half has had him going 5th or 6th. Leiter seems a virtual certainty to go 1 or 2 with Callis reporting yesterday that the Pirates are going to go with a hitter.

It's tough. From a fan perspective Rocker/Leiter are the "names" but pretending I know a damned thing about these guys is not something I'm prepared to do. If Bloom takes Davis (who Callis says will be there for the Sox if the Bucs don't take him #1) I can't say with any real confidence that it's a "bad" pick. In the NFL if you wanted Davis over Rocker you'd trade with the Orioles at #5, let them take their guy (who Callis says is BC outfielder Sal Frelick) and then take Davis at 5 and improve yourself elsewhere. That's not an option so you take the guy you think is best.
   5. SandyRiver Posted: June 10, 2021 at 03:34 PM (#6023615)
Finding a Boggs here is the kind of thing that makes a career.

Didn't some other local pro team make out decently with a 6th rounder?
   6. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: June 10, 2021 at 04:18 PM (#6023623)
I guess? I mean Mike Krushelnyski had a nice career but most of his best years were after he was traded to the Oilers.
   7. villageidiom Posted: June 10, 2021 at 04:19 PM (#6023625)
Didn't some other local pro team make out decently with a 6th rounder?
Before that he was an 18th rounder, but he didn't sign.
   8. Darren Posted: June 11, 2021 at 10:52 AM (#6023760)
If either one of these guys drops to the Sox the team would have to be crazy to pass on them, no? Are their onerous contract demands that would prevent a team from picking them?



That, but mainly TINSTAAPP.


I thought it had more to do with their performance. There are concerns over Leiter's control and his giving up long balls; Rocker's velocity has been inconsistent.

I always feel excited for the draft but at the same time sort of at a loss. I mean, we have so little information compared to what the teams have, I can't ever feel like a certain pick is a good or bad one. (Except for Trey Ball, I really didn't like that one.)
   9. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: June 11, 2021 at 02:11 PM (#6023791)
I follow baseball more closely than any of my friends, and am the "go to" person when there is a big trade, or a prospect is coming up for the Red Sox from the minors, etc. We all have friends like that for different things (politics, hockey, the best way to visit Europe, whatever), but here's the thing: I know nothing about any of these high school and college players. I wish I could generate 1/20th of the excitement for the baseball draft that I do for the NFL draft, or even the NBA draft. But I cannot, because these are all just...names.

So it comes down to this: If my Red Sox take a pitcher in the first round, I'm probably disappointed with the pick. If they take a college bat, I'm probably fine with it. If they take a high school bat, I'm skeptical, but shrug my shoulders, knowing that unless the pick becomes a successful major-leaguer, I'll have long forgotten who they drafted back in the day.
   10. Bad Fish Posted: June 12, 2021 at 11:20 AM (#6023892)
The draft for both football and basketball are meth, the baseball draft is silo weed (wild hemp or marijuana, I guess. I graduated from high school in Vermont a zillion years ago, I had a friend who would collect it by the trash bag full, worked ok in cookies and brownies, you had to be a pretty dedicated stoner to smoke it). Or maybe, FB and BB are Gamestop and bitcoin, and baseball is an indexed fund?

Anyway, The payoff is years away, if at all. It's hard to get excited about it. Also baseball, unlike other sports, have other business considerations regarding player staffing of their minor league teams that football or basketball don't have to worry about because their minor leagues are subsidized by taxpayers at state colleges all across the country. There is little excitement about drafting semi-pro guys who have almost no shot of making the big stage.

I'm actually surprised to see such positive MLB impact for the high draft picks, and I find it interesting that there seems to be almost no variability from 40 - 100 in the overall quality of the average pick, but after around 100 the draftees are basically semipro players whose prime function is to fill out minor league teams.
   11. Darren Posted: July 07, 2021 at 12:12 PM (#6028061)
Most recent mock draft at Fangraphs has the Sox taking college catcher Henry Davis, but as they note, there's still a lot of doubt about where Leiter (and others) will go, due in part to his bonus demands.
   12. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 11, 2021 at 07:17 PM (#6028652)
Holy ####, every mock had the Sox taking Davis and he just went 1 to Pittsburgh. Maybe the mocks forgot that Cherington wasn't our GM any more.
   13. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 11, 2021 at 07:36 PM (#6028657)
Marcelo Mayer!!!!

#2 prospect on Baseball America's big board. HS Shortstop, sounds a bit like Bogaerts at the same age with the caveat that Mayer is supposed to be an elite defensive player. Jonathan Mayo says he definitely will stay at shortstop but "worst case scenario he moves to third base and wins a gold glove there." Seems like if he pans out Arenado is the dream scenario.
   14. Darren Posted: July 12, 2021 at 11:26 AM (#6028739)
And he's #1 on the Fangraphs board. Weirdly, though, they don't like his defensive anywhere near as much as others do. They call him a "waist bender" and say he only has a chance to stay at SS.

Drafts always twist my mind into a bit of pretzel. With Mayer, for example, he seemed like the best player in the draft, and then somehow the Red Sox got him! Yay! But for that to happen, 3 other teams decided to pick someone else, so... maybe he's not as good as everyone thought. Maybe he's a waist bender after all! But maybe it was the money? But if he was a true consensus #1 talent, wouldn't one of the other teams have taken him? Oh well, let's wait 7-10 years to sort of find out.
   15. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 12, 2021 at 01:16 PM (#6028756)
Second round pick is Jud Fabian, Univ. of Florida OF. Per Baseball America he sounds like a 21st century player, lots of power but also trouble making contact. Athletic and should be able to play center field. Jim Callis notes he's one of the younger college players on the board but also might be a bit of a project for that reason.
   16. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 12, 2021 at 01:18 PM (#6028757)
Drafts always twist my mind into a bit of pretzel. With Mayer, for example, he seemed like the best player in the draft, and then somehow the Red Sox got him! Yay! But for that to happen, 3 other teams decided to pick someone else, so... maybe he's not as good as everyone thought. Maybe he's a waist bender after all! But maybe it was the money? But if he was a true consensus #1 talent, wouldn't one of the other teams have taken him? Oh well, let's wait 7-10 years to sort of find out.


It's not like he dropped to the third round. The MLB draft is such a weird animal, without trade options teams have to take the guy they want. Jobe at 3 to the Tigers looks like a signability pick and Davis and Leiter are pretty reasonable to go ahead of Mayer. What I liked about what I heard yesterday is the expectation that Mayer's bat is enough to move to third and Mayo says he could be a Gold Glover there.
   17. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 12, 2021 at 02:16 PM (#6028765)
3rd Round - 2B Tyler McDonough - NC State - BA has him 127th overall (drafted 75) so a bit of a signability pick here which explains Fabian a bit. "McDonough controls the zone well, doesn’t swing and miss much and takes his share of walks, and this season he hit a career-high 15 homers. Scouts have said those homers have come with a longer swing and more aggressive hacks, and his 17% strikeout rate was the highest of his career, which shows a slight shift in his approach. " They also note that he was an outfielder mostly at NCSU (CF mostly) but can play anywhere so it's a bit telling that the Sox announced him as a 2B.

Per Alex Speier he went to Moeller HS in Ohio where Griffey and Larkin went so that's not bad.
   18. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 12, 2021 at 03:00 PM (#6028780)
4th round - RHP Elmer Rodriguez-Cruz - Puerto Rico - Unranked by MLB or in the BA top 500 database so presumably that's a signability pick. There are four high schoolers in BA's top 50 still on the board. All committed to colleges and expected to go but if the Sox have some money that might be a place to splash it.
   19. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: July 12, 2021 at 03:22 PM (#6028784)
They also note that he was an outfielder mostly at NCSU (CF mostly) but can play anywhere so it's a bit telling that the Sox announced him as a 2B.


Hmm, short, skinny 2B doesn't really scream OF to me. Can't imagine that's a position move that's ever really made. *Runs off crying*
   20. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 12, 2021 at 03:42 PM (#6028786)
5th round - C Nathan Hickey - Florida - Sounds like he's not a catcher long term but the Sox will give him a go there. Baseball America quote; "A good feel for the strike zone and a willingness to take walks should take some of the pressure off of Hickey’s pure bat-to-ball skills. A team that thinks Hickey can stick behind the plate might like his bat among the top-50 picks in the draft, but most of the industry seems to think he’ll have to move off the position at the next level. His arm is more serviceable than above-average or plus and he needs plenty of work as a receiver and blocker to get to even fringe-average defensive ability." Dicey arm, only 6'0", not sure what position there is for him. Sounds like a 2B if he's got the quickness or maybe a corner outfielder if the bat plays. Serviceable arm doesn't scream third base to me and I'll assume he's not got the wheels for center.
   21. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 12, 2021 at 03:54 PM (#6028791)
6th round - UT Daniel McElveny - HS - Not top 500, utility as his position, forgive me for thinking this may not be a pick to get too worked up about. I assume he'll sign for $10,000.
   22. TomH Posted: July 12, 2021 at 04:04 PM (#6028792)
"waist bender" means_______?
   23. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 12, 2021 at 04:28 PM (#6028796)
My understanding of the term is it is someone who doesn't use their legs enough. Rather than crouching for a ground ball and keeping a stable center of gravity they just lean over for the ball. This makes the player less able to adapt to a funny hop and also makes it take longer to make a throw as well.
   24. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 12, 2021 at 04:30 PM (#6028798)
7th round - RHP Wyatt Olds - Oklahoma - #420 on the BA top 500 (commence the jokes). Per BA hard thrower with a good fastball/slider and a funky arm slot. They say he was slotted as Oklahoma's Friday starter* but couldn't hold the job.

* College teams typically play Friday-Saturday-Sunday series so the "Friday starter" is a term you'll hear referring to the putative ace of a college staff. Conversely offensive performances against Friday starters tend to be more predictive than others. I have a vague recollection of JBJ being someone who performed well in those games.
   25. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 12, 2021 at 04:51 PM (#6028804)
8th Round - RHP Hunter Dobbins - Texas Tech - Not listed on MLB or BA lists so another signability guy. Sox seem to be banking money aggressively. A few guys out there of some interest. Two names striking my interest right now; Will Tayler (BA #21) who is a Clemson two sport commit (Football also). Athletic outfielder who BA says is in everyone's top 50 and they clearly are high on him. The other is SS Alex Mooney who is committed to Duke. They describe him as a "tough sign" but reading between the lines of their comments he can be bought out. Seems to be as much a cerebral guy as athletic. Taylor is a South Carolina kid so he may just want to go to Clemson. I don't know if Duke has the same cache that Clemson does so Mooney might be gettable.
   26. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 12, 2021 at 06:29 PM (#6028819)
9th Round - 1B Tyler Miller - Auburn - BA has him 397th so being drafted at 256 isn't that out of reasonableness. BA says he is very improved over last year but strikes out a lot and doesn't walk much.

10th Round - RHP Matt Litwicki - Indiana - BA has him 213th so that looks like a bit of a get for the Sox here. Only 31 innings in three years but BA says he throws 96-98 so presumably a bit of a project but a fairly interesting one.
   27. Bad Fish Posted: July 12, 2021 at 09:47 PM (#6028874)
MLB draft is all-the-way political. Defined bonus pool, multi-year ROI, high school vs. college, college underclassman vs graduating senior, value to the big league team. It's not unlike the plays team have to make regarding salary caps, team control, budget, free agent fliers, big-time free agent signers. If part of what makes the game interesting, in my opinion.

I think prospects are obscenely over valued, but without them you die. If the consensus #1 drops to you, you have to pick that guy. Great job.
   28. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 13, 2021 at 01:01 PM (#6028942)
11th rounder for the Sox is Niko Kavadas of Notre Dame. Slugging first baseman who is a bit older (almost 23) and slow. But led the Cape league in homers in 2019 and is ranked 135 by BA. Seems to be incredibly slow, kind of a Kendrys Morales vibe to the write ups.
   29. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 13, 2021 at 01:04 PM (#6028943)
Sorry, MLB has him 135, BA has him 158. Still, that's fifth round talent in the 11th.
   30. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 13, 2021 at 01:16 PM (#6028944)
Interesting one in the 15th, shortstop Payton Green. This is what BA (who have him 113th) have to say about him;

Green has been one of the more difficult players to place in the 2021 class, because the industry seems to have as wide a split on him as any player in the class. There are teams who view him as a top-50 player in the class and others who think he needs more time to refine and develop his game and would prefer to see how he performs in college at North Carolina State...

The teams that like Green are buying into his improved swing this spring and believe he has the skill to turn into a solid-average or better hitter, while those that are more skeptical saw a lot of swing and miss last summer on the showcase circuit, with a bat path that was too steep at times. Green has a solid tool set and enough teams seem to be on him that he could be selected in a signable range among the first few rounds.


So that's an interesting one. Some of the pool money banked may be going here.
   31. Darren Posted: July 13, 2021 at 05:13 PM (#6028962)
Seems like a lot of the pool money will go to Mayer, right? The #1 slot bonus is around $8.4 mil and #4 is around $6.7 mil. Even if they meet in the middle, that's a fair amount to make up.
   32. John DiFool2 Posted: July 13, 2021 at 06:02 PM (#6028968)
At any rate cool to see a Gator taken in the 2nd round. [Class of 1996]
   33. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 14, 2021 at 08:14 AM (#6029007)
Seems like a lot of the pool money will go to Mayer, right? The #1 slot bonus is around $8.4 mil and #4 is around $6.7 mil. Even if they meet in the middle, that's a fair amount to make up.


Mayer has said he's going to sign quickly and I have to assume the Sox have a deal in place.
   34. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: July 14, 2021 at 09:11 AM (#6029018)
BA picks one player from each team's draft as the underrated pick they like;

Red Sox: Niko Kavadas, 1B — Calling Kavadas underrated seems odd considering he was one of the best and most successful players in college this year. But he was an 11th round pick, so he fits the bill. Kavadas has massive power and he draws walks. That’s pretty much the extent of his plus tools, but it’s a very important skill and one that can carry a player all the way to the big leagues.
   35. CFBF's Results are Certified Posted: July 14, 2021 at 11:44 AM (#6029033)
Like 32, I'm a Gator. I'd be pretty stunned if Hickey stuck at catcher. He was kind of pressed into service at the position at UF, and while he wasn't catastrophically bad (in the sense that he was able to squat behind the plate and mostly catch the pitches thrown to him for nine innings, which is not nothing), he was pretty terrible. Threw out just two of 39 base stealers last year and zero of eight in 2020. That's why you have the minor leagues, of course, and there's no harm to seeing if you can make it work, but I kind of suspect he'll be off the position by next year.

Love the bat, though. He has a bit of a Max Muncy vibe, and I don't think he needs to play a premium defensive position to stick.
   36. Darren Posted: July 23, 2021 at 12:49 PM (#6030167)
Looks like Sox have signed Mayer for slot.

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