Every December, Greg Ambrosius, founder of the National Fantasy Baseball Championship recruits 15 NFBC winners from the previous season. Greg also is the editor for Krause Publications Fantasy Sports Magazine and this draft gets published in their first fantasy baseball magazine. In addition, the league gets played out during the season under standard NFBC rules. I back-doored my way into this loaded field by winning a high stakes NFBC NL-only auction league. I readily admit I am not nearly as polished a drafter as some of the upper echelon gamers that field competitive teams year after year. But I believe I have finally cracked the code and plan to change that this season. We'll see.
I had the 12th pick and really was not targeting any one player, more hoping someone I liked in the top-10 would fall to me. I have already discussed my top-6 previously (Hanley, Reyes, A-Rod, Wright, Pujols and Sizemore). Braun and Miguel Cabrera are 7 and 8. After that I am still fuzzy, though I do not like Howard or Hamilton in the top-10.
1.12 Ian Kinsler - OK, I lied, there actually was someone I was hoping would be available for me and that was indeed Kinsler. Previous to his August sports hernia, he was the MOST VALUABLE player in all of fantasy baseball. The caveat of course is he has played only 120, 131 and 130 games the past 3 seasons -- not the pedigree of a first rounder. The good news is none of the injuries are chronic so while he has missed significant chunks of the past 3 seasons on the DL, he is not as "injury-prone" as others who have missed similar time. therefore, while I will not call the past injuries flukes (2006 - dislocated thumb, 2007 - stress fracture in his foot), there is reasonable hope he shakes the injury bug and plays upwards of 150 games. Also encouraging is he showed last season he is not entirely a product of the favorable Ballpark at Arlington. Healthy, Kinsler is a strong candidate to go .300-20-20 with a ton of runs scored and a decent number of ribbies for a table-setter.
2.04 Lance Berkman - For someone as hot as he was early in the season, some may be disappointed with Berkman's total of "only" 29 homers, but he did slug 46 doubles, considerably more than he did the previous couple of seasons so it may have just been a little bad luck. His excellent walk rate and very good contact rate limits his downside, which is necessary as I incurred some downside risk with Kinsler.
3.12 Ichiro Suzuki - Last March, I let myself be talked out of taking Ichiro on my main event team. While I am not saying I "regret" the decision to bypass him at the 15/16 turn (I named my team Ichi-no as a tribute), I still value him higher than most and will jump all over him in the third round where his ADP seems to be slotting him. His batting average allows you to make up for his lost power with any of a number of .260/25-30 types available at corner or in the outfield.
4.04 Kevin Youkilis - "Youk" as he is affectionately known in Boston (I refuse to call my hometown Beantown as only non-Bostonians refer to it in that manner)has the added bonus of dual 1B/3B eligibility. Truth be told, I think in general he has been over-drafted in the early mocks, going in the 3rd, and while his upside hence profit potential is limited as he does not steal bases and won't hit 40 HR, he is a good bet to break even at this point of the draft and I am still looking to balance some of the risk from going with Kinsler. If you have followed my other teams, I call the 4th round "The Dead Zone" as I have not liked the available hitters. In testament to what I just said about Youk's ADP, he was not available to me in the other drafts at this point -- and those were 12-teamers!!!!
5.12 Adam Dunn - Some will disagree with this selection, but it is a strict by-product of having a serious batting average foundation and the ability to pick up 40 HR is quite nice at the tail end of the 5th round. Dunn was available to me in the 12-teamers referenced above, but I did not feel I had adequate batting average base to take him.
6.04 Ryan Doumit - Just as I do not pre-determine a round to take pitching, I pick a tier and time it accordingly, I am doing the same with catching. My disdain of the back-end of the 2009 catching pool is well documented so I planned on getting someone of quality early. For the record: Martin-3.14, McCann-4.01, Mauer-4.08, Soto-4.11, VMart-5.01. I have Doumit and Soto about even so it was time to jump as there is no way he would have made it to me in the 7th. The other player I considered was Joakim Soria, replacing Jonathan Papelbon in the PAPELBON PLAN I outlined in an earlier post. I knew he would not be there in the 7th for me, but I am more confident finding adequate closers in a bit as opposed to decent catching options.
7.12 John Lackey - He's in my second tier and the second tier is flying off the board as Liriano, Kazmir, Beckett, JShields, Harden, ESantana and Felix have all been drafted since my pick at 6.04.
8.04 Cliff Lee - Regression? Yes. A total collapse? No. At least I don't think so. His K-rate and BB-rate were not flukes, not with that many innings pitched. Even allowing for a small decrease in strikeouts and an uptick in walks with a HR-rate regression to the norm, Lee should warrant his 8th round status.
9.12 Brian Fuentes - I am counting on Fuentes signing on somewhere as closer. His skills are upper-tier worthy.
10.04 Orlando Cabrera - Part of the deal with re-launching Mastersball is I am contractually obligated to draft OCab, as he has been a favorite of myself, Jason and Rob for years. A good portion of that was due to his latent potential to swat double digit homers while stealing 20 bases. The power is now high single digits so I may be higher on him than I should be, but his selection was that of need and I need a SS and another handful of steals.
11.12 Chris Young P - I have talked about Young already, I like his stuff a lot, he just needs to stay on the mound for a full season.
12.04 Bengie Molina - There will be no fishing in the back-end catching cesspool for this guy, welcome Mr. Reliable.
13.12 Placido Polanco - Looking ahead, there are quite a few high power (or high speed) low average types still on the board, so I thought it best to add some batting average reinforcement and fill in my middle infield.
14.04 Derek Lowe - Another site and personal fave, downgraded in many eyes because he is not a flame thrower, but his K-rate is not horrible and he accrues a ton of innings. And I only have to sign him to a 1-year deal.
15.12 Casey Blake - A good example of a decent power, lower average type.
16.04 Manny Corpas - Sort of a gut feeling that Huston Street will be moved, giving Corpas the job, plus he is useful in this format when streaming starting pitching as he has a high K-rate.
17.12 Adam Jones - I have been fairly safe to this point, it is time to take a shot a potential profit pick.
18.04 Randy Johnson - I'm willing to bet with his landing in San Francisco, The Big Unit's ADP is previous to the 18th round.
19.12 Josh Willingham - We are at the fungible portion of the draft. Willingham is coming off an injury-riddled season and is on a new team with playing time a bit in doubt, so he is sliding in early drafts. With 500 AB, he more than earns 19th round value. If he struggles, I replace him.
20.04 Philip Hughes - Total upside pick as starting pitching is as fungible as 5th outfielders at this point of the draft and I like my fairly stable base of starting pitching so I can take some fliers.
21.12 Gary Matthews - Looking for some upside as he is not assured of regular at bats, though the Teixeira to NYY signing helps.
22.04 Jeff Francis - another flier on a guy coming off an injury-filled season.
23.12 Jack Cust - Getting 30 HR this late is fantastic and I should have the batting average to absorb the collateral damage.
24.04 Josh Fields - A possible utility option if I need pop.
25.12 Jamie Moyer - He won't be active all 26 weeks, but can be useful when deployed in favorable 2-start weeks.
26.04 Miguel Batista - Seattle closer? If not, bye-bye.
27.12 Juan Rivera - Hedging my bet with Matthews
28.04 Nick Punto - I have no plausible rationalization for this pick other than I wanted a backup MI and Punto will get full-time at bats.
29.12 Brad Penny - Why not?
30.04 Carlos Villanueva - Gonna be perfectly honest here, I totally spaced on Villanueva as I really like him as a bullpen option even if he does not find his way into the closing role. I probably would have taken him in round 26 had I not been doing an auction in a chat room simultaneous with this draft - oh, I failed to mention that earlier. About round 3, my buddy Jeff Erickson from Rotowire asked me to pinch-hit in their staff auction for their magazine. Good times.
C Doumit, Molina
CI Berkman, Blake, Youkilis (Fields)
MI Kinsler, OCabrera, Polanco (Punto)
OF Suzuki, Dunn, AdJones, Willingham, Matthews (Rivera)
SP Lackey, Lee, CYoung, Lowe, RJohnson, Hughes, Francis (Moyer, Penny)
RP Fuentes, Corpas (Batista, Villanueva)
I see this squad with enough power, but a little short on speed. I'll also need some help with back-end pitching and someone will have to emerge as a solid #2 closer. Where I finish may revolve around how effective I am at finding saves.
What do you think?