The inaugural season for Ultimate Fantasy League Baseball is upon us. Rosters have been drafted, trades have been made, players have been signed from scouts, and now it’s time to see which franchises have made the best moves and positioned themselves for a SCORE Coin Series title run.
We recently previewed the Vin Scully Conference and today we’re taking a look at the Harry Caray Conference, featuring the Babe Ruth, Vladimir Guerrero, and Roy Halladay divisions. UFLB co-commissioner Matt Soren chimes in with Matt’s Musings while UFFS Head of Baseball and UFLB co-commissioner Dean Millard provides a general overview of each roster. The points projected for players reflect the 2022 Fantrax projections.
Check out the UFLB league page where you can see each franchises' roster through the standings page.
“I’m really interested to see if there is a true frontrunner in either conference or the league, and what kind of styles of franchises there are in UFLB,” said Millard. “What I mean by that is, will one conference be dominated by a few categories and the other is more spread out, like the AL and NL used to be when people cared more about home runs. I’m also curious to see how the league unfolds in general, will there be appetite for change in the offseason or will owners and GMs like the baseline we’ve given them. We’ve seen in other leagues where the owners take charge and mould things through offseason voting.”
All UFFS leagues, in essence, are in the owners’ control. Other than some major platform fundamentals and core concepts, nearly anything can be proposed in the offseason. If it makes sense (only one proposal didn’t make the agenda the first time around), they go before the owners to vote, with a 2/3 majority (20 of 30) required to implement changes.
“I definitely see the tougher road being in the Vin Scully Conference, and this will be for a decade,” Soren said after comparing and contrasting all the opening-day rosters. “You have multiple franchises built for now and the future. You’ll have to really hit on your sleepers to have a chance to make it to the SCO Series in this conference.”
Do you agree or disagree with the co-commish? Draw your own conclusions based on this Harry Caray Conference preview.
Babe Ruth Division
Top Projected Hitter: Jose Abreu – 1B – Chicago White Sox – 211.75 points
Top Projected Pitcher: Joe Musgrove – SP – San Diego – 276.50 points
-One of the most complete offenses in the league.
-Shohei!! Getting a top 20 hitter and pitcher is an advantage no one else can match.
-Solid and deep bullpen. No all-star closer but 5 above-average relievers.
-Rotation after Ohtani has some age/injury risk. But is one of the strongest weaknesses in the league.
Star to watch- Shohei Ohtani
Sleeper- Joe Musgrove
On the farm- Jaden Hill
Projection- Going for the crown (1st: Ruth Division)
Power and run production will not be an issue for the Reapers, who took the reigning MLB MVP Shohei Ohtani first overall in the Veteran Player Draft. Can he repeat his effortless swing and eye-popping numbers (46 HR, 100 RBI, .965 OPS) again? If he can, he’ll join Jose Abreau and Max Muncy, along with some very consistent bats like Justin Turner, Austin Meadows and Mike Yastrzemski. A healthy Muncy will mean low strikeouts and high OPS points, as Muncy is almost patient to a fault at the plate. Yadier Molina behind the plate is decent but having a backup for the 39-year-old would be wise.
Ohtani will pitch every sixth day for the Angels and will give the Reapers the bonus they outbid everyone for in the franchise auction in November. While he might not start as much as some other aces, he’ll strike out his share of batters and is a good bet to rack up quality starts. Joe Musgrove will be a solid No. 2 starter, and the Jacob deGrom injury in New York opens the door for David Peterson to get a rotation spot to start the season. The bullpen will live off holds and strikeouts, led by Houston’s Ryan Tepera, while Jose Suarez of the Angels has starter and reliever eligibility.
One other bonus, Charlie Blackmon, just for the fact of watching Rockies’ games, you get to hear his awesome walk-up song.
Top Projected Hitter: Freddie Freeman – 1B – Los Angeles Dodgers – 433.75 points
Top Projected Pitcher: Chris Bassitt – SP – New York Mets – 235 points
-Farm System!!! The deepest system in the league, with 14 guys on protected.
-Best IF in the league? Anchored by Freeman, Arenado and Seager.
-Depth. This lineup is deep and able to combat a possible injury.
-The rotation isn’t quite ready to compete, even if Severino returns to his ace form. But the arms coming up to help in the farm system should make this weakness a strength over time.
Star to watch- Freddie Freeman
Sleeper- Seiya Suzuki
On the farm- Anthony Volpe
Projection- Wild Card hopeful/Division in sights (2nd: Ruth Division)
The Woodpeckers were thrilled to draft Freddie Freeman and had to be even more elated when he signed with the Dodgers. Not only will Freeman have some great protection in an already dynamite lineup, but L.A. is the closest thing to a lock for a postseason spot, especially now with the new format. Cardinals third baseman Noland Arenado and new Texas shortstop Corey Seager are both guys who hit a lot of categories and don’t strike out often, and the Woodpeckers paid more than $2,700 USD worth of SCORE (SCO) Coin for Seiya Suzuki in a free agent auction. The bird is the word, and the word is competitive. They mean business. They also know how to play the game, with a lot of guys who can play multiple positions, meaning they can have more players in the lineup each night earning points. Jonathan Villar is a perfect example, and he can steal bases.
Chris Bassitt anchors a decent pitching staff, and a lot could depend on Zac Greinke’s 38-year-old arm in a new home with Kansas City. Luckily the Woodpeckers loaded up during the Top Prospects Auction — filling all 14 spots — so they will have plenty to work with when it comes to injuries or making deals. Milwaukee’s Adrian Houser could be a difference-maker in the rotation, while Dustin May recovers on the 60-day IL. The bullpen is built for holds.
Top Projected Hitter: Cedric Mullins – CF – Baltimore – 222.50 points
Top Projected Pitcher: Scott Barlow – RP – Kansas City – 340 points
-Solid Lineup with a deep bench (hoping 2021 was the baseline for most of his offense)
-A fearsome fivesome (No true ace, besides maybe Rodon, but 1-5 are reliable)
-Staff depth (Corbin and Martinez are 2 of the best 6/7 starers in the league)
-Bullpen (outside of Barlow, I have questions)
Star to watch- Cedric Mullins
Sleeper- Patrick Corbin
On the farm- Jordan Walker
Projection- Division cellar, with middle of the pack upside (5th: Ruth Division)
Cedric Mullins is one of the most exciting players in the game to watch and became the first Oriole in history to record 30 home runs and 30 steals last year. The Outlaws will be thrilled if he does it again. Marcus Semien also having a repeat of last year, where he set an MLB record for most longballs by a second baseman — 45 home runs with Toronto — will help the Outlaws get the loot they are after. The rest of the lineup has potential, nothing spectacular but some solid players who could punch above their weight.
Houston’s Framber Valdez anchors the rotation with Carlos Rodon, now of San Francisco, and Washington’s Patrick Corbon will follow up. The bullpen is a nice mix of saves from Scott Barlow of Kansas City, holds from Tyler Duffey of the Twins, and innings with strikeouts and low WHIP from Connor Brogdon of the Phillies.
“The Outlaws are looking forward to the first season of UFLB. We are excited where Cedric Mullins, Marcus Semien, and a combination of some youth and experienced veterans will take us. We wish everyone luck and beware of the Outlaws!”
Chris Goudey – GM
Top Projected Hitter: Bryce Harper – RF – Philadelphia – 377.75 points
Top Projected Pitcher: Edwin Diaz – RP – New York Mets – 308 points
-Outfield (Strong trio of McCuthen, Nimmo, Harper)
-Bullpen (Diaz, Lugo, Rogers, Trivino is a strong stable in the pen)
-Starting rotation (Morton is the ace, which you don’t love at age 38, injury concerns elsewhere)
-Corner IF (the Choi/Diaz corner combo is barely the starting duo for the Rays)
Star To Watch- Bryce Harper
Sleeper- Chris Paddack
On the farm- Calvin Ziegler
Projection- Division cellar, potentially middle of the pack (4th: Ruth Division)
I think the projections are way too low for a few guys and one of them is their top player, Bryce Harper. Last year’s MVP having suited up for 10 years makes me feel older than Benjamin Button at the start of the movie. Harper, at times, doesn’t get enough respect and we might see him hit 45-plus home runs this year. I also think his Phillies teammate JT Realmuto is due for a bounce-back season. Sal Perez took the mantle as best fantasy and offensive catcher last year but JT will be motivated to try and get it back. Xander Boegarts’ production will also increase with the signing of Trevor Story in Boston. The Cavalry also have some speed that could rack up points in the stolen bases category.
Miami’s Trevor Rogers, at 24 years old, and Atlanta’s Charlie Morton, at 38 years old, are at the opposite end of their careers but both could be excellent for the Cavalry. Chris Paddack could be a difference-maker if he gets enough starts in San Diego. Edwin Diaz of the Mets will contribute saves, strikeouts and low WHIP numbers, while the rest of the bu