Holy crap we have baseball soon! So soon! It’s funny, every season it’s almost bitter-sweet when opening day approaches because while yes we can’t wait to watch baseball – it also means the draft season is over. Boy do I love draft season.
As of right now, I am officially done with NFBC drafts. For those who don’t know what the NFBC is, it’s the National Fantasy Baseball Championships. The way these leagues work is, not only are you competing in a stand-alone league, but your team is measured against all teams in the same format. Thus providing an overall prize and allowing you to win more money. The Main Event which is their most prestigious league has an overall prize this season of $175,000.
Last season I decided to dive into the NFBC experience by competing in DC50s. These are only $50 to enter and are of the draft and hold variety. I did this because I wanted to start small, see if my process worked, and move up from there. Luckily overall I cashed out.
Since DC50s are 12-team leagues, I wanted to stick to that format this season while moving up to tougher competition, leading me to The Online Championships (OC). OC buy-ins range from $350 to $1500 with an overall prize of $150,000. I did two of them and the draft we will be discussing is the first one I entered.
Coming in, I knew I had to be prepared with how I wanted to attack the draft. I decided to seek advice from a very successful high-stakes player in terms of an overall strategy. His suggestion was pretty much in line with mine which made things much easier.
I got the fourth pick and with that pick, I wanted to target offense first. I wanted to draft two to three offensive players who provide both power and speed. After that, my focus shifted towards an elite closer and and catcher since it is a two-catcher format. Next, I wanted to take a bunch of starting pitchers in a row, really attack the position. A play off of Dalton Del Don’s yellow brick road strategy, I am deeming this the little yellow path strategy.
Without further ado here is my draft pick by pick, with my thinking and strategy behind each decision. Please note this draft happened on 3/21 so some players have had injuries since the draft, looking at you Castillo!
Round 1 Pick 4
Bo Bichette: The first three picks were rather typical in Turner, Soto, and Jose Ramirez so I went with Bo Bichette. Bichette is a no-brainer on so many levels. He plays in the infield, he has power, speed, and average, and he is in a fantastic lineup. I wanted speed/power guys to start and this was a good one to start with.
Round 2 Pick 21
Teoscar Hernandez: Apparently I am a huge Blue Jays fan. This pick was once again me targeting the two categories I wanted to hit on early, power and speed. Teoscar sits in the middle of a fantastic Bue Jays lineup and hit 32 home runs with 12 stolen bases last season. No brainer.
Round 3 Pick 28
Byron Buxton: Before the Main Events happened where people were grabbing him in the second round, Buxton was usually a fourth-round pick. I came into the draft knowing I would take him here. Buxton is a polarizing player and when playing for an overall title he is the type of player who can help get you there. Also, once again, a power and speed combination player.
Could I have gone a starter? Sure but reaching for Urias or Nola didn’t seem appealing to me. I truly think Buxton was by far the best option in this spot. This also left me with two outfielders which I typically don’t like doing, but sometimes you have to just roll with the punches.
Round 4 Pick 45
Raisel Iglesias: Back to the plan, I wanted a stud reliever and Iglesias is that. Hendriks and Hader both went in the third round and he was the best option left for me.
Round 5 Pick 52
J.T. Realmuto: So at this point, I have three hitters with power and speed and I have an elite relief pitcher. So what was left? Oh right, a high-end catcher. Realmuto has crazy good upside and is one of few catchers who are five-category contributors. Add in the amazing lineup surrounding him and he could be in for a fantastic season.
Round 6 Pick 69
Jose Berrios: And so the little yellow path begins. For the next four picks I wanted to establish a solid base of pitchers to anchor my rotation leaving me FAAB room to stream hitters and not pitchers (how on brand of me). Berrios is a solid anchor and while some think there is more upside to him I am okay if there isn’t. Just give me quality innings and that’ll get the job done.
Round 7 Pick 76
Dylan Cease: Cease was a bit of an upside play for me. His four-seam has so much potential and he really started to unlock his ceiling last season. I wouldn’t be surprised if we are all calling Dylan Cease an “Ace” by the end of the 2022 season.
Round 8 Pick 93
Charlie Morton: And so the yellow path continues. I know he is coming off of a broken leg but he has looked just fine in spring and if healthy he has an extremely high floor. Morton holds a 3.34 ERA in 732 innings over the last five seasons.
Round 9 Pick 100
Luis Castillo: Castillo has never really had injury concerns and of course the day after I draft him he goes down with shoulder soreness. Just plain bad luck. This was a solid pick at the time though as it was right at his ADP for the month of March. It is what it is! Worst case, we get to miss his typical terrible month of April.
Round 10 Pick 117
Ty France: I’m a Ty France lover and I took him here thinking he could give me stable power and average as my second baseman (1B/2B eligibility). I regret this pick. I didn’t realize that first base was about to dry up really fast. France ends up becoming my first baseman after it all and perhaps I should have gone a different direction?
Round 11 Pick 124
Keibert Ruiz: Ruiz was also a target of mine coming into the draft. I wanted two catchers I could rely on and Keibert seems to be the last one of that tier. Getting average and double-digit home runs from both of your catchers is huge.
Unfortunately, this did lead to a problem with my team. I should have grabbed a second closer here because a closer run happened shortly after which consisted of Melancon, Kimbrel, and Knebel. This forced me to settle for and take speculative saves later on in the draft. Back to back mistakes but I had to move on and recover.
Round 12 Pick 141
Justin Turner: Third base was about to dry up and Justin Turner was the last one I was comfortable with as my starter. The dude is a stud when he plays and I’m hoping he stays healthy for the season.
Round 13 Pick 148
Sonny Gray: If you read my stuff you know I love Sonny Gray. This is an upside play and at this point, I couldn’t be happier with my pitching staff.
Round 14 Pick 165
Kolten Wong: Once again first base dried up like crazy so I shifted France to first and knew I needed to add some speed again. Ruiz, France, and Turner provide zero bags so I had to get back on track and Wong was perfect for that. He will be leading off for the Brewers which should equate to a bunch of runs and his projections peg him to hit 14 home runs with 14 stolen bases.
Round 15 Pick 172
Robbie Grossman: Another hitter who will give you speed and some power. Grossman achieved a 20/20 season last year and I hope he does it again. I’ll take a 15/15 floor any day.
Round 16 Pick 189
Josh Donaldson: At this point of the draft I was left with two outfield spots, an MI, a CI, and a Util spot. With Turner’s injury history I decided to grab a CI to back him up early and what do you know, my man Josh Donaldson was there! Hopefully both stay healthy but worst case if one goes down I will have the other.
Round 17 Pick 196
Hyun-Jin Ryu: Ryu becomes my sixth starter and further cements my rotation. I wanted to come in and leave the draft not worrying about my rotation. A staff of Berrios, Cease, Morton, Castillo, Gray, and Ryu should be good enough. It has upside paired with high floor and if Castillo didn’t just go down I would be elated with this result.
Round 18 Pick 213
Enrique Hernandez: Filling out my outfield with what my team needed started to become a priority here. I needed runs and some power, who better than the hitter who will lead off for the Boston Red Sox? I have been a big advocate for Hernandez this season and I can’t wait to see how he performs.
Round 19 Pick 220
Steven Matz: This finalized my rotation. I know Matz doesn’t have a ton of upside but I think he will be a solid matchup play and landed in the perfect spot with that defense behind him. Plus he should get a good amount of wins.
Round 20 Pick 237
Mark Canha: There seems to be a lot of hate when it comes to Canha. I had several people question this pick when I sent them a picture of my team. I needed someone who could do a little bit of everything and that’s what Canha does. Some will speculate the stolen bases which I get but his projection of 18 home runs and 9 stolen bases can be useful as a plug-in player.
Round 21 Pick 244
Max Kepler: Another player to fill in my outfield. Kepler virtually didn’t change in terms of underlying metrics making me think his 2021 season was a bit fluky. I think we see over 20 home runs again.
Round 22 Pick 261
Tyler Naquin: Naquin kills right-handed pitching, last season he had a 120 wRC+, .853 OPS, and a .360 wOBA against them. Could he see a strong side platoon? Perhaps, but that’s okay with me because if he sees 500 plate appearances he could hit 24 home runs with five stolen bases.
Round 23 Pick 268
Rowan Wick: I decided to start hitting on my speculative saves here. A lot of people think the closer could be Robertson or Givens but we will see. I will admit once again, I really screwed up on not targeting another RP earlier and now I will have to find one through FAAB.
Round 24 Pick 285
Jesus Aguilar: People seem to forget that Aguilar had 22 home runs with 93 RBIs in 510 plate appearances last season. He is such a great late-round target for your bench or CI/UT position.
Round 25 Pick 292
Michael Fulmer: By the time this article is out FAAB will have run already and Fulmer won’t be on my team. Soto is erratic so I wanted to add Fulmer but Fulmer was successful last season due to an increase in velocity. That velocity seems to be gone in all of spring training so I will take a shot elsewhere.
Round 26 Pick 309
Ian Happ: I think between Canha, Kepler, Happ, and Naquin I can run a carousel with them and get good production out of them. I’ll be playing matchups and each of them should help me with power and speed.
Round 27 Pick 316
Zach Eflin: Eflin used to be the hot sleeper heading into 2021 but after an injury ended his season he became a forgotten commodity. If he clicks I will reap the rewards.
Round 28 Pick 333
Cesar Hernandez: Looking for a backup MI and Hernandez was sitting there. He is going to lead off behind some serious hitters in Soto, Bell, and Cruz so he should see a ton of runs. Tack on his 20 home runs and he’s a useful hitter.
Round 29 Pick 340
Brad Hand: I have a feeling he becomes the closer at some point. Just a gut feeling.
Round 30 Pick 357
Redi Detmers: This was the time to take a shot on a high upside pitcher and that man was Reid Detmers. Let’s see what he’s got.
Overall I am pretty happy with how this team was built. I did make the one notable mistake in the middle of the draft but I thought I rebounded nicely and figured it out. When I draft, like most people, I keep track of how my team is doing in terms of meeting the 80th percentile marks. This team came very close in every category except for stolen bases and saves. Even those marks aren’t too far off and are certainly obtainable. Wish me luck!
|CI||Josh Donaldson (3B)|
|UT||Tyler Naquin (OF)|
|P||Hyun Jin Ryu|
|BN||Jesus Aguilar (1B)|
|BN||Max Kepler (OF)|
|BN||Cesar Hernandez (2B)|
|BN||Zach Eflin (SP)|
|BN||Reid Detmers (SP)|
|BN||Brad Hand (RP)|
|BN||Michael Fulmer (RP)|