Yesterday marked the official end of the draft season, and so to usher it out, I’ll beg your indulgence for one last draft recap. While I was unable to play in the NFBC Main Event this year, I still longed for the challenge of an overall competition, so I turned my sights to NFBC Online Championship instead. I had scheduled this to be my final draft of the year months ago, wanting to have the maximum amount of information on hand for the draft. The Online Championship in some respects is a harder title to claim. While these are more shallow 12 team leagues, this year there are 72 full leagues, with 864 teams competing against each other in the overall. This was a huge increase from last year, and will result in the announced $50,000 being increased as a result.
When I sat down at my computer late Tuesday night, I had my Mastersball Tiers in hand, Mastersdraft running in the background to track my category targets and provide quick statistical reference, and the knowledge and experience gained from the dozens of drafts and mocks that preceded it. Having worked the Main Event just days before, I felt I had a good feel for the current marketplace and was ready for battle. I had the 4th pick of the draft, which suited me just fine. Here’s this year’s entry and some thoughts on how I got there.
1.4 Matt Kemp, OF – I came into the draft debating the merits of Troy Tulowitzki vs. Ryan Braun. After Tulo went #3, Kemp was an easy pick for me. My goal in the first round is to get a five category stud if I can and I decided to tab Kemp over Braun once again.
2.21 Ian Kinsler, 2B – You can never predict how a draft will unfold, but my absolute best case scenario had a top 2B option falling to me here. To say I was thrilled to see both Kinsler and Dustin Pedroia on the board when I picked was an understatement. I like both players, but went with the bigger upside in both power and speed in Kinsler.
3.28 Adrian Beltre, 3B – I was hoping either Hosmer or Brett Lawrie would make it around the turn to me, but instead I got a guy I liked more instead. This was my easiest pick of the draft as I found my 3B early and got a little batting average boost, which I considered a plus here.
4.44 Matt Holliday, OF – My original plan was to likely grab a pitcher here, but sometimes a guy like Holliday can slide and it can make you change your mind in a hurry. Felix Hernandez had also found his way back to me and under normal circumstances he would have been a slam dunk pick for me. I pondered my options and decided there was enough elite pitching still on the board for me to make the smarter play.
5.52 Jered Weaver, SP – Zack Greinke, David Price and King Felix were the next three picks off the board, which in my mind only served to confirm my feelings that there wasn’t another bat like Holliday’s left when I chose him. I was a little bummed to see Matt Wieters chosen, because my plan coming in was to grab either Wieters or Miguel Montero on the 6/7 turn. The surprise is that Brian McCann wasn’t selected. McCann and Weaver were the tops two players on my board. I decided to get my rotation anchor and stick with my original plan.
6.69 C.J. Wilson, SP - This was a tough pair of picks as there was a large group of players and directions in which to go. Nelson Cruz was the sexy name left, but I already had two somewhat injury-prone Rangers and didn’t really want to grab my third OF so early. Paul Konerko was there and he was perhaps the safest play. I wanted to have as close to double Aces as I could get, with the overall in mind, so I grab Wilson and wait.
7.76 Joe Mauer, C – Cruz goes next and Konerko follows right before this pick. I debated on whether to move on Cuddyer now or stick with the plan and get my first catcher. I surmised (correctly as it turned out) that if I didn’t take one here I wasn’t getting one I wanted. I drafted Joe Mauer for the first time this year, passing on Montero and Alex Avila, deciding that Mauer’s batting average upside had more value and would make it easier to take on some risk in that area later in my draft.
8.94 Michael Cuddyer, 1B/OF – The four picks following Mauer were all starters, which made it easier not to second guess my Wilson pick. Team’s 14 and 15 both doubled up on closer’s, which was surprising since neither team had drafted a starter to that point. I had hoped to wait on closers and this was earlier than I wanted to see any runs occur. Cuddyer was my target here, but if the next six jumped in, I would likely follow suit. When no other closers were chosen, I was briefly teased by the possibility of Adam Jones and Avila, but their selections made this an easy pick.
9.100 Brandon Beachy, SP – I will admit this pick was a reaction to the three teams between my picks scooping up their third SP’s in succession to end the eighth round. If Michael Morse wasn’t injured to start the year, I might have grabbed him here. There were a bunch of arms I considered here, some ranked higher than Beachy, but in the moment I went with a guy I hadn’t be able to land all year that really intrigued me. I almost took Joel Hanrahan here but was worried I would miss out on this tier of starters. Looking back, I misread the moment, as no others pitchers would be selected this round.
10.117 Paul Goldschmidt, 1B – This was the second time I got sniped in this draft as Hanrahan went right before my pick. At this point first base was thinning out and I decided I wanted to get as much power from my CI as possible. Adam Lind has been a common target of mine, but now he was having back problems. I hate when I hear a hitter has a bad back. Goldschmidt was a gamble here, but I felt it was time to risk some of my batting average cushion.
11.124 Sean Marshall, RP –My top closer’s left on the board at this point were Jason Motte, Huston Street, Rafael Betancourt and Marshall. I can’t really explain why in the moment I went Marshall, other than I often go with my gut in instances like this. My gut said Marshall had the best shot to shoot up the ranks from this group, so I took the plunge.
12.141 Derek Jeter, SS – A mini-run on MI helped me decide it was time to finally pull the trigger on Jeter. I was perfectly happy to get the Yankee captain at his point and didn’t want to press my luck any further with my fallback option at SS.
13.148 Mat Latos, SP – I thought about picking another closer here, as Motte and Street were still around, but so were Latos and Cory Luebke. Had I not have felt the need to lock up Jeter I honestly think I would have drafted them both. In the end I drafted Latos, telling myself there were more W’s and K’s waiting there.
14.165 Kenley Jansen, RP – Well I gambled on closer’s making it around, but didn’t bank on one Team 14 grabbing their third and fourth closer. He started a run that depleted the ranks and left me to go with my gut again. I passed on Grant Balfour, Joe Nathan and current Dodger closer Javy Guerra. I will either be right or be wrong here, but I’ve bet on Jansen in so many leagues, it didn’t feel right to chicken out now.
15.172 Jeff Francoeur, OF – In addition to missing out on the closer run, I also saw my top three remaining OF targets come off the board. I was sitting on Coco Crisp or Lorenzo Cain as the last quality speed guys on the board, but they were gone before my previous pick of Jansen. Delmon Young was the next in line, and I was sure I had my guy, only to see him as well get snatched away. Francoeur brings less upside, but more balance than Young. I will need whatever speed he can bring this year.
16.189 Colby Rasmus, OF – I had my sights on grabbing J.P. Arencibia here, but I was off by a round and had also missed out on Wilson Ramos, Geovany Soto and Ryan Doumit. I shifted gears and decided to take a shot on the enigmatic outfielder. They can’t all be safe picks, right, and when I do gamble I try to do it on players I think have the biggest upside.
17.196 – Chris Sale, SP – I missed out on Kyle Fanrsworth , but really I wanted another SP who could deliver some K’s anyway. I’m a big Sale fan and like him as my SP5.
18.213 – Brennan Boesch, OF – When this round started I decided I would take a shot on either Mark Melancon or Greg Holland, but they both got snagged right before I picked. Scambling a bit, I closed out my OF with another balanced player with upside. It wasn’t who I came in targeting necessarily, but in spite of not landing a true speed guy; I felt I had assembled a pretty solid group.
20.237 – Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C – I was looking for speed and watched as my Fowler, Tabata and Ben Revere were drafted. It was time to get sniped again as Ajejandro De Aza just eluded my grasp. I settled on Salty’s power instead, not a bad C2 behind Mauer.
21.244 – Jason Kubel, OF – I got sniped coming back again after lasering in on Alex Presley. I didn’t have a strong Plan B in place, so I went with the best guy (by far) on my sheet and got some reliable power for my UT spot instead.
22.261 – Alfredo Aceves, P – I was trying to grab another closer before this draft was up, and had Matt Capps and Jim Johnson and was trying to wait as long as I could to get one of them. I waited too long. Aceves was another gut call, as some were saying he would be in the mix. It was announced the next day that he would open the season as the BoSox closer. A share of the Boston job is better than nothing.
23.268 – Chris Carpenter, SP – Looking at my board, I decided to gamble that Carpenter will pitch again this season. If he does, he’ll be a huge edge over anyone else’s SP 6. If he doesn’t , I’ll be no worse off than anyone else.
24.285 Addison Reed, RP - Hedging my big bet on Jansen with my other top closer-in-waiting.
25.292 Michael Brantley, OF – Speed was a need and Brantley has more upside now that he’s leading off.
26.309 Ricky Nolasco, SP – Need someone to rely on while I stash Carpenter.
27.316 Bartolo Colon, SP – Week 1 win already in hand, he’ll be useful matchup play out of the gate.
28.333 Chone Figgins, 3B – Cheap speed gamble.
29.340 Tyler Pastornicky, SS – More cheap speed, potential first cut.
30.357 Dayan Viciedo, OF – As Todd said earlier in the week, a site fave and OF depth.
C: Mauer, Saltalamacchia
1B/3B: Cuddyer, Beltre, Goldschmidt (Figgins)
2B/SS: Kinsler, Jeter, Scutaro (Pastornicky)
OF: Kemp, Holliday, Francouer, Rasmus, Boesch (Brantley)
UT: Kubel (Viciedo)
SP: Weaver, Wilson, Beachy, Latos, Sale, Nolasco, Colon (Carpenter)
RP: Marshall, Jansen, Aceves (Reed)
My offense has a solid core, and I like the balanced approach I ended up with. Speed is perhaps light, and I’ll be on the lookout for more. My starting pitching is pretty solid. If Carpenter returns, this unit is tough to beat. My bullpen admittedly is a pretty big gamble. It was partly the result of a couple teams extreme strategies affecting the flow of talent, but also a choice to embrace possibly a little too much risk. I will either be right or wrong here and I will likely have to spend a large chunk of FAAB on whoever else emerges.
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