Editor's note: The League of Alternative Baseball Reality (LABR) is one of the premier expert leagues in the industry, along with Tout Wars. Fred Zinkie took the LABR mixed-league crown in 2013 and was the Tout Wars mixed-league champion in '11, '13 and '15.
Expert-league drafts are always difficult, and the 2016 LABR mixed-league selection process was no exception. Drafting from Pick 14 in a 15-team group, I was not excited about my early-round options. In the end, I was happy to secure the services of Jose Altuve and Mookie Betts with my initial two picks. Altuve is a safe source of five-category production at a premium position, and I believe that Betts is ready to improve on his impressive '15 results.
I hoped that one of my preferred aces would fall to my spot in Round 3, but that did not happen. Instead, I opted to snag Lorenzo Cain in the third round before anchoring my rotation with Dallas Keuchel in Round 4. I followed the Keuchel pick with the selection of Sonny Gray in Round 5, which gives my team a nice one-two punch in the rotation. Eric Hosmer would follow in Round 6. Although he will not produce a lofty homer total, Hosmer followed my theme of selecting hitters with the ability to help in all categories.
In most leagues, one of my goals is to own two productive catchers. I struggled with the decision to pass up on Buster Posey in Round 2, but I was able to land Russell Martin and Matt Wieters in the eighth and ninth rounds, respectively. I also try not to get cute with the closer position, as subpar stoppers are inevitably a source of frustration. By selecting Jeurys Familia in Round 7, Shawn Tolleson in Round 11 and Drew Storen in Round 16, I believe that I built a suitable base of saves to open the season.
I took a couple risks, most notably with Wieters in Round 9 and Yu Darvish in Round 10. But if Wieters plays a full season and Darvish meets his mid-May return date, these choices could turn out to be wise ones.
Apparently, I believe that the Royals' lineup can continue to excel in '16, as I selected Cain, Hosmer, Alex Gordon and Kendrys Morales. Specifically targeting Kansas City batters was not my intention going into the draft, but I do not have a problem with loading up on players from a quality lineup.
On the whole, I am happy with my draft results. I will need to use the waiver wire to improve my pitching depth, but my propensity for trading virtually ensures that my roster will regularly change shape throughout the season.
Check out the full results from the 2016 LABR mixed-league draft here.
Fred Zinkie is the lead fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FredZinkieMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.