Captain's Log

Planning for NFBC Main Event Drafts PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 21 January 2015 00:00

I had mentioned last week that I would look at ADP this week but thought later that was putting the cart in front of the horse – that before we looked at draft positions and thus roster construction, we should spell out what you are trying to draft.

The generally accepted “target” level would be to try and finish in the top 20 percent of each category. Last year, there were 420 teams in the main event, so 84th in each category would get you 337 points or a total of 3370. That total would have finished in 11th place (10th was just a point more). You will obviously do better in many of the categories, so hopefully you have some upside, but it does validate our top 20 percentile aim.

Here is a comparison of those targets followed by the top mark in each category.

Cat 20% 1st
AVG 0.2674 0.2819
Runs 989 1115
HR 237 292
RBI 956 1121
SB 155 216
ERA 3.321 2.913
Wins 99 139
WHIP 1.191 1.067
K 1416 1588
Saves 90 163

The Main Event winners last year were Mastersball columnist Greg Morgan and his father Dale. Their total points were a very healthy 3643, more than 100 points better than the 2nd and 3rd place teams who had nice 3500+ totals.

But let’s look at the Morgans’ “Sons of Thunder” team and see how they did by category.

AVG 0.2776 416
Runs 1107 419
HR 247 376.5
RBI 1033 411
SB 186 410.5
ERA 3.278 358
Wins 106 383
WHIP 1.174 368
K 1503 401
Saves 50 100

They were so strong, especially in the offensive categories and with strikeouts, that they easily made up for the low saves total.

The reason you need to have the category targets in mind is so that you need to have a more balanced team because there is no trading and thus you can’t turn a surplus in stolen bases into points in any other category during the season. So you need to draft enough to try and finish strong in each category and then let your good and bad categories cancel out but still reach a competitive total score.

I will present current ADP next week but first, take this quiz – here is the first round from a 2014 league – Look at it and write down which players won’t be in the first round this spring and some other players you do expect to find in the first round.

1.01  Mike Trout

1.02  Miguel Cabrera

1.03  Paul Goldschmidt

1.04  Andrew McCutchen

1.05  Ryan Braun

1.06  Chris Davis

1.07  Carlos Gonzalez

1.08  Hanley Ramirez

1.09  Adam Jones

1.10  Clayton Kershaw

1.11  Bryce Harper

1.12  Carlos Gomez

1.13  Robinson Cano

1.14  Prince Fielder

1.15  Joey Votto

Teams could have won with several of those picks and clearly had an uphill battle with others. The winner in this league avoided Braun, Davis or Gonzalez because he picked tenth and Kershaw was still there for him.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 January 2015 11:40
Why You Should Join Some Early Baseball Leagues PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 14 January 2015 00:00

First, let’s be clear that I am not talking about mock drafting. I generally find those a true waste of time. Unless you have a very dedicated group of drafters who will be quick and attentive and you are using the exact format you are preparing for – and you rarely get that in free leagues or mocks.

But there are several places you can find $100 leagues that are drafting in January and February. The National Fantasy Baseball Championship in fact has two different ones and each has different advantages and disadvantages. So let’s look at both of those draft formats.

The Draft Champions format is very popular for several reasons. First, these $150 leagues WILL make you much more knowledgeable about the mixed league player pool. And knowing the “inventory” of players is a key ingredient to success in mixed league formats – especially those with deeper rosters. These drafts are either slow online exercises that will take several weeks (hopefully you will do two rounds or better each day but many get bogged down) or “express” versions in which you will draft all 50 rounds in around five hours. The 50-man rosters (as opposed to 30 roster spots in the regular NFBC leagues) is because there are no free agent pickups throughout the season. The 50 players you draft early in the year are your only players for the six-month season. One of the benefits of these leagues is that aside from setting your lineup on Mondays and Fridays, there is no in-season work – no FAAB to grind through each week (which is one of the downsides of doing too many leagues).

The other option is to wait for the NFBC satellite leagues to start up in late-February. Here you will draft 30 players for a $125 team in a regular 15-team mixed league. You will then have FAAB to add and drop players each week during the season. In essence, this is a cheaper version of the main event leagues and much better preparation for those leagues. You will also get a better return on placing in your league as it only pays three places with the prize pool while in the DC format the league payouts are smaller because a portion of the money goes towards the overall winners (which is very difficult to do). Another advantage is that these drafts are much quicker – done in less than three hours.

Whichever you choose, these early leagues will really get you ready for whichever leagues you will be drafting in March or April. And there are no bots or players that will disappear after a few rounds.

Next week we will look at some early Average Draft Position data from these leagues.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 January 2015 12:18
Fantasy Football Playoffs Are Here PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 03 December 2014 00:00

It seems like just yesterday we were at our fantasy football draft tables or at our computer drafting online. And in the big picture that is true. If you drafted in early September, it was just three months ago.

But this week is the first week of the playoffs for many leagues or in some of the national contests the first week of the “dash for cash” where teams start with their regular season weekly average and add on their scores in weeks 14/15/16 to get the overall champions.

In mid-September, I wrote about a team that Greg Morgan and I drafted to try and “grab the FF brass ring” – one of 7,000 teams drafted in the Football Guys Players Championship, so I thought as we enter those critical final weeks, we should take a look at how that team fared.

Here is the team we drafted online on September 3:

QB – D. Brees

RB – D. Murray, M. Jones-Drew, D. McFadden, D. McCluster, B. Cunningham, I. Crowell, J. Grimes, D. Archer

WR – A. Johnson, M. Floyd, M. Colston, E. Decker, A. Boldin, A. Dobson, J. Jones

TE – J. Graham, T. Wright

K – J. Tucker

DST – Houston Texans

Eleven of those players remain on our championship bracket roster which now looks like:

QB – Brees and Bridgewater

RB – Murray, Crowell, D. Robinson, L. Murray, B. Oliver

WR – Johnson, Floyd, Boldin, Decker, Ch. Johnson, M. Bryant

TE – Graham and Wright

K – Tucker and Sturgis

DST – Texans, Cardinals, Rams

We went 10-1 in the 11-week regular season in this contest to get the number one seed for the league playoffs and get into the championship bracket. We had added running backs throughout the season and were early on Oliver (when he was playing), Murray, who had his career game on our bench, and fortunately Bryant as he became the number two receiver for the Steelers. At the end of the season, we needed a sub for the Texans and Tucker and the Cardinals were excellent for that game and Sturgis was adequate for his one week. Going into the playoffs, we needed to add a quarterback – yeah I know we are playing Brees every week but what would happen if we had two really good scores in Weeks 14 and 15 and then Brees was sitting in the last game? So in the last week of free agent pickups (Week 13 for the four teams in the league playoffs), we wanted to get a backup passer. I also wanted to get the Rams defense and Greg wanted to get Charles Johnson, hoping his role would continue to grow in Minnesota. We were fortunate to have $117 of FAAB remaining and our LCG opponent had $105 so we bid $106 on the Rams D, $10 on Johnson and Stedmon Bailey, and then one dollar each on Bridgewater, Mettenberger and McCown. Giant success – our opponent bid a lot (but not max) on STL and we got all three of our first choices. That was huge because in the Week 13 game for first place in the league, while Jimmy Graham got zero targets, the Rams scored a monstrous 34 points as we won by about eight points.

Now on to the three-week lottery for the BIG money – yes we are 30 points back of the leader but three really good weeks can propel any team to the winner’s circle and $300K.

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 December 2014 00:56
Why Did You Bid on Him? PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 05 November 2014 00:00

Another look at last Friday’s 2015 XFL auction draft but through a different prism.

If you took a lot of English classes or were involved with speech or debate programs or even some writing courses, you no doubt learned the different meanings of the same sentence by emphasizing one word over the others – the classic years ago was “How many can we squeeze in here?”

Let’s look at the XFL draft noting using my title:

WHY did you bid on him? – what was the reason

Why DID you bid on him? – similar but slightly different question

Why did YOU bid on him? – personal question, perhaps why did YOU need/want him?

Why did you BID on him? – as opposed to draft or trade to acquire

Why did you bid on HIM? – in particular why THAT player?

Pre-auction background for my team heading into this 15-team mixed keeper league that uses OBP instead of AVG: I kept 11 players and four minor leaguers (max 15 keepers). The hitters were:

C – Evan Gattis, $7 (also qualifies at OF)

1B – Mark Trumbo, $13 (also qualifies at OF)

3B – Trevor Plouffe, $6

MI – Dee Gordon $6 (qualifies at both 2B and SS)

OF – Starling Marte, $10

So yes, I needed to buy a lot of hitters and some very good ones to supplement a cheap base which probably has 100-plus stolen bases.

I froze the following pitchers – Doug Fister ($12), Mike Fiers ($10), Wily Peralta ($6), Jesse Hahn ($4), Aaron Sanchez ($4) and Neftali Feliz ($10). My plan for three pitchers was a Tier 1 starting pitcher and a second closer, and the last pitcher could be a closer, high strikeout reliever who might inherit a job or a starter as long as it was for a very low cost. I entered the auction with 172 available dollars, not the most, but I was one of three teams that had more than $170.

So, Why Did I Bid on Him? [players, position, team, amount paid, and rationale]

Rusney Castillo, OF, Boston, $21 – Castillo is still a somewhat unknown commodity since we saw only a month of minor league numbers and four games in the majors. I think others in this “expert” (I prefer the term “industry”) league may have been wanted their first look at him last week but he had injured his hand and was no longer on his AFL team. I think Castillo, like fellow Cuban Yasiel Puig, has a very high ceiling of both power and speed although I expect his first year in Boston will approach a 20 HR/20 SB season. He does not have as much power as Puig and may not be as fast but appears to be more athletic. Don Drooker and I had a pre-conference side bet on Castillo’s auction price in this league, Don thinking it would be $27 while I thought closer to $21 so I won a diet coke in addition to the player.

Yadier Molina, C, St. Louis, $19 – I wanted one of the two top catchers available (Molina and Russell Martin being far more valuable than the next tier available in Wilin Rosario and Dioner Navarro) and thought this was a very reasonable price for Molina.

Adrian Beltre, 3B, Texas, $44 – yes I know it is a lot but I thought the top power hitters available (Beltre as well as Miguel Cabrera and Troy Tulowitzki) could all go for close to fifty dollars (Cabrera went for $60 and Tulo for $45) and Beltre again put up very good numbers at the hot corner in 2014 even though the team’s struggles depressed his R/RBI numbers (387 OBA, 19 HR, 79 R, 77 RBI).

Jordan Zimmermann, SP, Washington, $25 – JZimm, Cole Hamels, and Zack Greinke all went for relatively the same amount – 25/26/27 respectively, and I was happy to land Zimmermann – and yes have my second Nationals starter.

Ian Kinsler, 2B, Detroit, $28 – the market price for the best middle infielder below Tulowitzki and Robinson Cano in my opinion – and I still had the money left despite the previous $109 spent.

Russell Martin, C, FA, $18 – yes I already had two good catchers but no matter where Martin lands next season if the Pirates can’t resign him I expect him to have a great on base percentage and good contributions in all the other categories. I felt both Molina and Martin should have gone for $20-25 and I would rather move Gattis to an outfield slot and have the luxury of a good third backstop (they do get hurt back there) than have Martin in a competitor’s lineup at $17. I doubt I would have bid again but really don’t know.

I now had $17 for my last six players. But as I remarked to Gene McCaffrey who was seated to my immediate right, most of us were now in trouble because three players still had north of seventy dollars, more than the other twelve combined. So we would have to hope they found players they liked quickly, whether they fought over a Jayson Werth to a $37 price or just filled a roster spot for a few dollars – if we really wanted a player it was hard to bring them up just to feed the big dog$.

I likely pushed nominating another catcher since several teams still needed one or two a little too far because I got crickets after nominating Baltimore’s likely opening day catcher Caleb Joseph for $1. Personally I don’t think Matt Wieters catches a lot next season coming off the injury with the Orioles who are likely to lose Nelson Cruz to free agency and having seen Joseph’s nine home runs in just more than two hundred at bats with very good play behind the plate. Still as my utility player I can easily replace him in our March supplemental draft and have another catcher in reserve (although yes, his OBP is well below my other options).

It was awhile before there was another player I wanted to bid a significant part of my sixteen dollars on, but as the prices got lower Andrelton Simmons was I thought the best available middle infielder and I landed him for $7. From there on I rostered the following end game players:

Michael Morse, OF, San Francisco, $1 – very surprised to hear crickets on Morse as he had the most power of end game hitters. But I was very happy to land him for that dollar regardless of where he plays.

Adam Lind, 1B, Toronto on draft night, since traded to Milwaukee, $1 – Obviously I thought Lind might still be in Toronto and thus fighting for at bats at 1B and DH. In Milwaukee he will lose the DH opportunities (aside from inter league games in AL parks) but should have at least all the LH at bats at first base and frankly I am fine if they platoon him as he doesn’t do well against LHP. Still a 380 OBP plays just fine and the Brewers’ yard will see plenty of his fly balls clear the fences and send Bernie Brewer down the chute.

Now down to seven dollars for my final two players I was forced to nominate my cheap save play, so

LaTroy Hawkins, CL, Colorado, $2 – Knowing the Rockies had picked up his $2.5 million option; I nominated Hawkins at two and was delighted to get crickets. He is not a closer who will manicure ratios or strike out a lot of batters but I only paid two dollars and will be very happy with another twenty three saves for that investment.

Now with five dollars left for my last pitcher I was happy to roster:

Jarred Cosart, SP, Miami, $1 – I doubt my league mates would look only at Cosart’s 2014 ERA of 3.693 and WHIP of 1.364, but perhaps some of them are not in NL only leagues or weren’t looking hard for pitchers in September when Cosart was pitching in Miami instead of Houston. In his ten NL starts in August and September, Cosart had (rough) numbers of 2.42 ERA and 1.19 WHIP and six of his ten starts for the Marlins were PQS of 4 or 5 with none at 0 or 1. So YES I was very happy to land him for just a dollar which with another good season in the NL would make him a keeper for 2016 at $6.

Hopefully I answered all the different questions contained in my title. I will update this team after I add thirteen players in our serpentine supplemental draft next March when I will start with one pick in each of the first two rounds and three picks in the third round.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 November 2014 01:27
The Weather is Here, I Wish You Were Beautiful PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 00:00

My team in the Tout Wars Mixed draft league feels much like Jimmy Buffet’s lyric – the points are there for me to get but will I be able to do it?

Here are the current standings with less than two weeks left to play:


Tim McLeod 13 10.5 13 10 7 6.5 8 15 14 13 110 0.5
Perry Van Hook 14 14.5 15 15 15 9.5 5 9 11 1 109 2.5
Brent Hershey 12 13 14 1 14 6.5 3 13 13 10 99.5 -7.5
Ray Murphy 8 14.5 8 7.5 9 15 10 4 6 12 94 1.5
Adam Ronis 5 3 11 7.5 8 12 11 11 9 11 88.5 -3
Anthony Perri 6.5 12 9 14 5 9.5 15 7 3 3 84 -3.5
Tom Kessenich 11 5 3 13 10 13.5 3 6 7 9 80.5 0
Charlie Wiegert 10 2 7 12 6 11 6.5 5 4 14 77.5 3
Paul Greco 9 9 10 9 3 2.5 9 10 10 6 77.5 3
Scott Engel 1 1 1 4 2 13.5 12 12 15 15 76.5 -0.5
Grey Albright 3 7.5 5 2 1 6.5 14 14 12 4 69 7
Paul Sporer 2 4 2 5 13 6.5 13 8 5 8 66.5 0.5
Nicholas Minnix 15 6 6 11 12 2.5 3 2 1 7 65.5 1.5
Greg Ambrosius 6.5 10.5 12 3 11 4 1 1 2 5 56 -1.5
Eno Sarris 4 7.5 4 6 4 1 6.5 3 8 2 46 -3.5

I can easily pick up that last half point in home runs – I had 12 dingers last week while Ray Murphy had nine. The point in Runs is a little iffy – I have 950 and Nick Minnix has 959 but I did have eight more than he did last week. And sure I have to maintain in RBI and OBP but I have a huge lead in steals.

The categories where I will likely get the points to overtake my Canuck friend Tim McLeod are Wins and Saves. I am not sure why so many writers tell you not to chase wins – invariably that single category leads to more wins or losses than any other. Today I have 86 wins, tied for sixth for 9.5 points, so there is the easy half point and there is an 87 above me. I will send Jered Weaver, Doug Fister, Jarred Cosart (two starts), Danny Duffy and two new recruits for this week, Cory Rasmus (two starts) and Brad Peacock (was scheduled for two starts but now looks like just one assuming his back is okay) to try and get the Wins.

In the Saves category, I have 55 for five points but there are two teams with 56, each of whom had just one save last week while I had two, with Casey Janssen, Neftali Feliz and LaTroy Hawkins in my bullpen.

And I need nine more strikeouts to overtake Eno Sarris and add another point.

It would be great to bring this title home to Mastersball, so if my hurlers aren’t costing you money in your league, I could always use a few extra cheers.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 September 2014 00:14
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