Updated: Apr 4, 2022
The inaugural season for Ultimate Fantasy League Baseball is just days away. Rosters have been drafted, trades have been made, players have been added 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.
Today we look at the Vin Scully Conference, featuring the Mickey Mantle, Al Kaline and Ken Griffey Jr. 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 comes from the 2022 Fantrax projections.
Check out the UFLB league page where you can see each franchises' roster through the standings page.
“I’m fascinated by how different franchises build their rosters,” said Millard, who is familiar with the process having ownership in three different hockey franchises on the platform. “Some want to win it all this year, others are building for the next few years, and there are those taking a long-term approach. I don’t think any of them are wrong, it’s all up to the franchise and the people running them. It’s all about asset management in a dynasty league of this magnitude!”
Soren, who also has managerial experience within the UFFS platform as GM of the UFBA’s Arctic Wolves, brings real world baseball experience as a Philadelphia Phillies draft pick in 2013 and knows how rosters are built from being inside the game.
“Overall, I see the league split into 3 tiers,” said Soren. “There’s a clear, small, bottom tier, looking towards the future. Lots of young guys who are being relied on.
“Then there is a clear top tier, of a few franchises that have the combination of stars and top prospects that make them a force for years to come. And then there a large middle tier with about 20 franchises in. This should create some great parity every season for the playoffs. And we can then see, who is the best owner/GM combo to try and knock off some of these juggernaut franchises.”
Without further ado, let’s dive into the Vin Scully Conference preview:
Mickey Mantle Division
Top Projected Hitter: Juan Soto – RF – Washington – 662.5 points
Top Projected Pitcher: Josh Hader – RP – Milwaukee – 332. 5 points
-Lineup Depth (strong in the weak positions, C & 2B)
-Best Bullpen in the League
-Strong Top of the farm system. Can turn Julio Rodriguez into a star at the deadline
-1B could use an upgrade
-Stability in the rotation
Star to watch- Juan Soto
Sleeper- David Price
On the farm- Julio Rodriguez
Projection- Division Favorite (1st: Mantle)
The Eagles had the 2nd overall pick and were very happy to snag Washington right fielder Juan Soto, who is projected by Fantrax to lead the league in fantasy points with more than 660. There’s a big drop off until the next big hitter when it comes to projections, with Eddie Rosario plugged in for almost 220 points thanks to Fantrax believing he will reach triple digits in RBI for the second time in his career. Veteran catcher Yasmani Grandal could be key for the Eagles, who don’t have another catcher on the roster and are hoping the 33-year old’s body holds up. Kyle Schwarber’s 40 home run outlook is offset by his high strikeouts. Whit Merrifield will be a solid starter each day from his base-stealing ability to his durability — he played all 162 games last year for the second time in his career — to his position eligibility at 2B and RF.
On the mound, the cold weather birds will feast, starting in the bullpen with some terrific late-game stars. Josh Hader, the top closer in the game, will pile up points, as will Craig Kimbrell and Liam Hendricks, both White Sox, and the yet to be signed Kenley Jansen. They also have some relief pitchers on the bench that they might be able to use to add pitching if they want. In the rotation, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw and new St. Louis Cardinal Steven Matz anchor the top two spots.
Top Projected Hitter: Jose Ramirez – 3B – Cleveland - 422 points
Top Projected Pitcher: Anthony Bender – RP – Miami – 267.5 points
-Sleeper Bullpen to watch
-Aces of the future/Rock solid rotation
-Looking towards the future, might be a couple years away from playoffs
-Outfield lacks thump/reliability
Star to watch- Jose Ramirez
Sleeper- Aaron Hicks
On the farm- Tigers’ Top of The Rotation, Mize & Manning (no protected players)
Projection- Fighting out of the cellar (5th: Mantle)
Jose Ramirez, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Randal Grichuk will lead the way when it comes to power, but the latter two need to cut down on their Ks to be an effective middle of the order duo. Shortstop Tim Anderson has the makings of a 20-20 season (home runs and stolen bases) for the second time in his career, and the Caiman will be hoping Zach McKinstry is the second coming of Kike Hernandez with the Dodgers and gets enough playing time to be valuable as he qualifies at 2B, 3B, LF and RF for now — and who knows how many more positions with the way L.A. moves players around. 31-year-old Jace Peterson does the same for Milwaukee and adds 1B to his versatility. Central Caiman could also have something special on their roster if Jarren Duran pans out for the Red Sox. Known for his speed, he added power to his game last year in AAA.
On the bump is where things shouldn’t be bumpy for the Caiman. Logan Gilbert at almost 25 years old will be fun to watch — especially pitching for Seattle, which picked up some bats to help with the run production. Anthony Bender should contribute with saves and holds from the bullpen, and Garrett Whitlock will begin in the bullpen but could end up a starter for the Red Sox and Central Caiman. A healthy Spencer Turnball, out with Tommy John Surgery, will help down the road, as will some young and maturing arms, but will it be enough for the Caiman to find a playoff spot this year? Magic 8 Ball says, ‘outlook not so good.’ What will help GM Simmar Nanda is having 3 pitchers who qualify for the starting and relief positions in Nestor Cortes, Zach Thompson and Caleb Smith.
Top Projected Hitter: Byron Buxton – Minnesota – 223 points
Top Projected Pitcher: Walker Buehler – Los Angeles Dodgers – 335.5 points
-Rock Solid (no glaring weakness)
-One of the best outfield trios in the league (Conforto, Buxton, Eloy)
-Wherever Gleyber doesn't play (2B/SS could use an upgrade)
-Rotation has some risk if Nate Pearson and Sixto Sanchez aren’t ready
Star to watch- Walker Buehler
Sleeper- Roberto Osuna
On the farm- Sixto Sanchez/Nate Pearson (no protected players)
Projection- Fighting for a Wild Card (2nd: Mantle)
Gleyber Torres playing both middle infield spots gives the Orbit some versatility, as do both Castros — Willi plays 2B, SS and LF — and Harold, who plays all four infield spots, but whether they get enough at-bats is still a question. There is potential for some long balls and stolen bases, but unless the strikeouts come down, it might not make a big difference. Right now, the only triple-digit RBI man projected is Eloy Jimenez and I think 100 might be low on the projection.
Pitching is what will push Orbit to new heights, starting with Dodgers ace Walker Buehler and John Means, who threw a no-hitter last season for Baltimore and was traded to the Padres. Veterans Madison Bumgarner and Kenta Maeda will give the Orbit innings and youngsters Nate Pearson of the Blue Jays, Vladimir Guttierez of the Reds and Sixto Sanchez of the Marlins will fight for rotation spots. Saves and holds could be hard to find unless a deal is made to shore up the bullpen.
Top Projected Hitter: Ozzie Albies – 2B – Atlanta – 224 Points
Top Projected Pitcher: James Karinchak – RP – Cleveland – 306.75 points
-Strong Bullpen (closers aren’t necessary?)
-Deep Bench (will be able to field full lineups daily)
No true Ace (the rotation isn’t great, but it can keep them in contention)
Lack of Star Power
Star to watch- Ozzie Albies
Sleeper- Andrew Vaughn
On the farm- Gabriel Moreno
Projection- Middle of the pack (4th: Mantle)
Not a ton of power and the OPS numbers need to increase ahead of Fantrax’s projections for the Moonshots to live up to their name. Ozzie Albies could outhit his projections when it comes to home runs and RBI, and there is quite a bit of speed on the Moonshots. What they do have in abundance is players who can move around the diamond, with 5 players who can play at least 3 different positions, which will help when injuries inevitably happen during the baseball season.
The Moonshots do have an attractive stable of pitchers, starting with Zac Gallen of Arizona and Drew Rasmunssen of the Rays, who also qualifies as a RP. Ryan Yarbrough, a fellow Ray, can also pitch from the rotation and bullpen, and Zac Plesac of the Guardians should outpitch his projections. The bullpen lacks saves but does have some holds — projected by Fantrax to be rock solid — and dealing a reliever for a bat may be in the club’s future. James Karinchak of Cleveland will likely get more end-game opportunities if he starts well.