NFBC Draft Champion leagues are filling about one every other day. Fifteen teams, fifty rounds, 5x5 roto, no in-season transactions outside movement between your 23 active and 27 reserves. $150 /team, $1,000 league prize, and a 10k prize for finishing first overall. I drafted four teams in 2012 and managed to win twice, with one team managing a top-12 finish, overall. I have five teams this year.. so far. One draft completed a week ago. Drafts are online, and each owner is allotted eight hours/pick. Most picks are made well inside of an hour. The drafts are a great warm-up to the big money live NFBC drafts later this Spring.
The Joe Hill Bums. Pre-draft, I aimed to acquire premium power early, and protect my batting average, in order to spend late on more cheap power. For the most part, I figured to ignore speed and saves until late in the draft and rely on my deep research to snag these commodities in the reserve rounds, where power is scarce. I set my draft targets at .275 1050 285 1030 185 3.55 105 1.20 1385 70. The first nine totals represent top 30% finishes among the entire draft population (2012, 1050 team ), and 70 saves is projected finish just over 55%. This semi-punt of saves assumes most weeks I will go with seven starters and two closers. This decision is a reflection of extreme volatility at closer.
Post draft, somewhat satisfied. I waited too long on starters, made a couple panic bullpen moves, but think the reserve squad has excellent potential to shore weakness.
I luck into third pick and am delighted when Trout goes first leaving me either Braun or Miggy. I get Braun. Pedroia is an easy choice for me, late round two, and I think long about Harper vs Heyward in round three. I go with Harper, because I am concerned about Heyward’s low contact rate and the batting average ceiling that represents. Also, Harper has much better speed scores. I think Heyward’s stolen base total from last season, 20, will be at or near a career high. Harper will steal that many in an off year.
I plan to draft my first power arm, round four, but when Jay Bruce falls all the way back to me, from an ADP of late round three, I can’t resist all those homers. Three outfielders in four rounds is a reach, and I am concerned that I may come up short in Ks. I anticipate making Darvish my round five pick, but he is snagged one pick prior. Second time already, as that owner drafted also Price, my preferred choice, just before my Harper pick. Mauer is still available, so he becomes my round five, and offers some healthy batting average cushion.
Unable to put off building a staff any longer, I draft Gallardo over JZim, because I really am in danger of coming up short in Ks. I hate gambling that Zimmermann would slide back to me in round 7, but I think that I need to. This time the finesse is successful, and JZim becomes my #2. I reluctantly draft Peavy at the end of round 8, and fill out my top three.
I like Ike Davis in round 9, several spots ahead of his ADP, and before Chris Davis or Adam Laroche. I am bullish on Ike this season. He had a very unlucky BABIP in 2012, and perhaps a lingering hangover from the Valley Fever... I see continued power growth in 2013 and a positive regression of his average. Once again, I am leery of poor contact skills, see C. Davis, and, at the time of the draft, Laroche had not yet re-signed with the Nats. Markakis is my choice in round 10. I’m looking for all-around numbers, and more batting average prop. Mark Reynolds’ ADP is very late and I plan to draft him and his 35-homer potential. Also thinking of drafting Plouffe for my 3B, so I will need at least one more boost in average to cover that risk.
Round 11, I make my first stab at a closer, when Nathan falls several picks. He was near Kimbrel-like 1H of 2012, merely closer-worthy over the 2H. Hanrahan and Wilhelmsen (?!) are picked just prior, and signal the start of the closer run. I can either grab Nathan now, or pick from the dregs, in rounds 12 and 13. In all, ten closers come off the board in rounds 11 and 12. I hadn’t considered drafting Lester at any point, but one advantage of anticipating the closer run, is the odd player falling a couple rounds and, you not needing a closer, are well positioned to take advantage. Last year was Lester’s first truly terrible season. Valentine is gone, and Farrell was Lester’s pitching coach during his high K, developing years. I talk myself into taking a gamble on the rebound.
I planned to snag my second closer in round 13, but Neil Walker has also dropped, and there is a big drop off in skill at 2B after Walker. There are several closers still available, including many I like in 2013, Cishek, Perkins, Grilli, Perez, and Broxton. I gamble on one of them falling to me at 14. Damn. All snagged. Chastened, I draft Crisp, another faller in this draft, reasoning, who couldn’t use 40 stolen bases?
At round 15, League is still sitting there, and I compare him, Marmol, and Frank Francisco. I feel queasy. Hey, perhaps Mattingly is planning to go with Jansen as his high leverage seven/eight inning, damage control guy, and use the less skilled League with bases empty in the ninth. Sure. Hating the alternatives, League becomes my Cl2.
I look at pitchers in round 16, and happily anticipate choosing between Carpenter or Ogando, with Fujikawa as fallback. Nope. Three whiffs. I do some quick research and decide Estrada makes for a reasonable gamble in this spot. Plouffe is there at 17, and I like the power at 3B, this late. I reach on Hammel at 18. He was very strong in half a season, 2012, before scuttled by his balky knee, and then reach about half a round again to nab Reynolds at 19. I am confident that I am close covering my power targets.
I conclude my starting roster with Cozart, Jaso, Mastroianni, and Benoit. I’m concerned whether I have sufficiently bolstered all the batting average risk the bottom end of my draft presents. I scour the undrafted roster of starters, because my staff has three relievers, and that isn’t good. I wonder how in hell I ended up with three Twins.
No surprise, three of my first five reserves are starters, Tilman, Gee, and Bundy. I am especially pleased to get Gee, as I think he has good potential to produce positive numbers across the board in 2013. Moreland and Parmelee are the two hitters I grab, because I just had to have another Twin.
I draft mostly hitters from that point forward. In this format, covering each position with multiple options is crucial. You can’t afford to have zero production at any spot, and nearly everyone misses time at some point. I had planned on drafting Josh Fields, the Houston rule 5 bullpen arm, really late. Minutes after I take Eric Chavez in round 39, Rotoworld posts an article touting Fields as one of their key bullpen sleeper targets. Merde. No fun sweating near two full rounds, waiting, hoping. He slides back to me at 40. Hope he was worth the indigestion. I also draft Carter Capps, O’Day, and Kontos. All repercussions of the Brandon League pick. 70 saves looks awfully distant. This spring, I will not be rooting for Bruce Rondon.