I drafted in the NFBC Main Event the Saturday before the season started. Since the NFBC has no trading, the goal is to be as balanced as possible, while also knowing that in a 15-team league with excellent drafters, you are always going to leave the draft table needing something. I sat next to RotoWire's Derek VanRiper who drafted from the 9 spot and while he was fun to chat with during the draft, he did swipe some players from me, most notably Alex Rios who slipped all the way to the middle of the fourth round, but one pick short of getting to me.
After studying recent draft trends and drafting in the NFBC Primetime the day before, I knew the ace pitchers were flying off the board faster than ADP so I knew I had to get one of them by my third round pick and hoped one of them would make it to pick 3.8. Here is how the draft unfolded and what I was thinking before making each pick.
1.8. Bryce Harper.Pick 8 was my third choice in my KDS draft preferences, mostly because I had a top-8 players that I liked. With the murky injury news on Clayton Kershaw (and the fact that he was throwing 88 mph in his Australia start) at the time of the draft, that list had dropped to seven. I was worried I would have to go outside my top seven, but was happy to hear Kershaw go off the board at pick five. Harper is a risky pick, but with upside. I don't usually love that in the first round, but he was still good at age 20 in an injury-riddled season and there was no one beside him that I was super high on, so I went for the upside. My other strong considerations at this pick were probably Adam Jones or Hanley Ramirez.
2.8. Stephen Strasburg. No, I am actually not a Nationals homer; it just happened to work out that way. I was hoping for a top 20 bat to slip to me at this pick and wanted Carlos Gomez or Evan Longoria, but they both went before my pick. Without a bat that I truly wanted, aside maybe Dustin Pedroia, and fearing a big ace pitcher run, I opted to go with the pitcher who I think has the most upside in the league (Kershaw and Darvish were banged up at draft time) and one who feels like he is on the verge of a monster season.
3.8 Justin Verlander.This was the pick that really altered how the rest of my draft would go. I debated between Verlander and Jose Bautista with this pick and if I remember right, I actually used my whole clock to make the decision. In the end, I thought getting two aces would be a nice edge and I really like Verlander to bounce back to elite status this year. However, this strategy can make it tough to compile a high-end offense.
4.8. Adrian Gonzalez.Clearly, after two aces, I need to pound the offense for a few picks. I cringed here when Derek took Alex Rios the pick before me and ended up deciding between Gonzalez and Eric Hosmer. I decided to go with what I thought was the more stable guy, especially with a riskier player in the first round. Gonzalez is not especially exciting, but also has a very nice floor and I actually think he regains a bit of his past power.
5.8. Wilin Rosario.Without a huge power bat as of yet (well, hopefully Harper becomes one), I figured it would be good to get a power edge on the field at the catcher position with Rosario. I love his power combined with a solid batting average, especially with half of his games in Coors Field. I was between Rosario and Allen Craig, but the decision was made for me when Craig went 5.7. I considered Jose Abreu here also, but with a first baseman already on the roster, I decided to get an edge at a thin position.
6.8. Josh Donaldson.This was a bit of a black hole spot for me. There was no one that I loved on offense that slipped to me and a lot of pitchers were going at this time and I was not taking one here after taking two early. I am a huge A's fan and had Donaldson (26th round) last year in NFBC and wrote him up last year as a sleeper for RotoWire, but I thought that at his ADP this year, he was a touch over drafted. I took him a bit later than he had been going and decided to fill third base with a solid power bat with good batting average, but didn't love this pick. I also considered Josh Hamilton and Alex Gordon with this pick, but thought I might be able to get one of them back to me in Round 7.
7.8. Carlos Beltran.Josh Hamilton went two picks before me or he would have definitely been the pick here. Of course, that would have looked great until he tore ligaments in his thumb last week. Beltran is always an injury risk, but I love his chances at 30 homers with half his games at Yankee Stadium and felt like power was still a need at this point of the draft.
8.8. Desmond Jennings.Jennings was a target for me as I think this is finally his year to break out a bit and in the 8th round, I think he is a nice value. Speed/power combos are tough to find this late in the draft and he has the feel of a post-hype guy after he was drafted in the fourth round in 2012 and the fifth round in 2013. I really like getting a very talented guy a year or two after his star has dimmed a bit. If Jennings had been taken, I would have taken a closer, but there was a big group of closers since the top ones of the board and I figured a few of them would get back to me.
9.8. Joakim Soria.One of the closers I liked got back to me and it was the point in the draft to get my first closer, as 14 of them were already off the board. I either wanted to get a elite closer and a back end guy or two mid-range closers, so at this point, I was pretty committed to grabbing back-to-back mid-range guys and just hoped one I liked would get back to me in Round 10. I like Soria a lot and the Rangers should win a lot of games. He was an elite option when he was in Kansas City, but the knowledge that Feliz is lurking does worry me a bit.
10.8. Jason Grilli.I was very fortunate because at a time when closers usually fly off the board, exactly zero were taken between my two picks. Grilli is an injury risk and 37 years old, but I think when healthy, he can be a top 10 guy and I hoped to grab Melancon later in the draft to back him up. I never really considered anyone else here as I did not want to gamble and have to end up with a weak second closer since I wanted until round nine for my first closer.
At the first break I had two starters, two closers and six hitters, which was about what I had planned on. My main goal for the next set of picks was to grab a couple of starters to pair with my two aces and to get solid options for my middle infield spots that were still open.
11.8. Francisco Liriano. After ignoring starting pitching since my two aces early, I figured it was time to get some support for them. With my SP3 and SP4, I like to focus on high strikeout guys so I can grab starter targets later without having to worry as much about K's. I love Liriano in the NL Central and in PNC Park with his defense. His health is always a concern, but that goes for most pitchers and if healthy, should be good for 200 K's. I also considered Jeff Samardzija and Nelson Cruz at this pick.
12.8. Jeff Samardzija.I would have taken Cruz if he lasted to get some more power, but after he went I decided to grab another high strikeout guy to put with my other three. I think Samardzija pitched better than his numbers last year and while wins on the Cubs will be tough, I think the ERA will be solid and the strikeouts will be very valuable.
13.8. Howie Kendrick.After getting my fourth starter and already having two closers, it was time to focus heavily on offense for a while and fill in my empty positions. I was taking Andrelton Simmons here to fill shortstop, but he went three picks before me, so I went with the other middle infield slot. I think Kendrick is solid and will contribute a bit across the board without really dominating anywhere. Second base was a position that I thought had a significant cliff after about 15 of them and I wanted to make sure I locked one of those in and did not get caught without one. If I had one less pitcher, I would have taken Zack Wheeler here and also considered Nick Swisher for some power.
14.8. Ben Revere.Swisher went off the board three picks before me, so I decided I to add a speed source to my lineup. I like Revere a lot. not just because of the stolen bases, but also because he also can give you a solid batting average that some of the later speed sources struggle with. Revere was having a solid season last year before his injury and appears to be healthy. I also considered Asdrubal Cabrera and Yan Gomes in this spot.
15.8. Asdrubal Cabrera.This was a quick pick for me as I needed a shortstop and almost took him last round and only liked him and Jed Lowrie of the shortstops remaining. I have always liked Cabrera and think he is another guy that has value based on how far he has dropped after a rough 2013.
16.8 Miguel Montero. As I write this, it becomes very clear to me that I like to draft guys off bad years. Montero has been drafted much earlier for multiple years (his ADP was round even in 2013 and round 6 in 2012) and he plays in a great home park. With 30 catchers starting in NFBC, I wanted to get a solid one for my second catcher and avoid having to take a part-time guy later as my second catcher. I also wanted Dan Straily here, but took a shot that he would get back to me, as I wanted to fill my catcher slot.
17.8. Angel Pagan.Straily was taken so I turned my focus to one of my bigger targets this year. I love Pagan since his ADP has dropped after his injury from 2013. He will hit leadoff, steal 20+ bases, score a lot of runs and provide a solid average. He was a big target for me in all drafts and I did not want to gamble on waiting for him and have someone else who liked him snag him. I would have strongly considered Adam Lind here, but he went three picks before me in Round 17.
18.8. Adam LaRoche.This pick would have been Josh Reddick (hoping for a power bounce back), but he went three picks before me. I needed a corner infielder and I wanted to lock one in that had some power upside, as it was clear that while I have a lot of solid players, the home runs are not huge. LaRoche is another guy who struggled last year, but he is a year off a 33 HR / 100 RBI season and in the 18th round, I am willing to take a risk that he can get back to his 2012 ways.
19.8. Tim Hudson.It was time to get back to pitching after six hitters in a row. Hudson is one of my favorite pitchers and he is usually a solid ratio guy, but has a huge deficiency in K's. I like him moving to San Francisco and with my front four starters, I did not think K's were going to be an issue. I also considered Nate Eovaldi and Taijuan Walker at this pick.
20.8. Nathan Eovaldi. Walker went three picks before me so this one was a pretty easy call for me right before the second break. Eovaldi is one of my prime breakout candidates this year. The velocity is elite and he pitches in a nice home park. He needs work on his secondary pitches, but the ceiling here is very nice, especially this late. Reading Paul Sporer's SP Guide made this even more of a slam-dunk pick for me.
At the second break, I ran some numbers and realized I was looking good in most places, but that I was going to be a bit short on power. That is a big concern in the Main Event since it is very hard to find power in FAAB, but decided that since I was ok with my batting average, I would focus on getting some bats with power upside, even if the rest of their profile was sketchy.
21.8. Peter Bourjos.I can't seem to quit Bourjos. I see his speed and power combo from 2011 and think he could have some large value if he can stay healthy. This pick didn't really fit a need, but was a target and someone I want when he does have a healthy season.
22.8. Justin Smoak.Smoak was a late target for me and fits exactly what I need on this team. I think he has legit 30-bomb upside, but know he will be a batting average drain. I think I can support the average and I need the homers so he was a very easy pick here.
23.8. Hector Santiago.Needing to backfill my pitching staff, I took a stab on Santiago who has great stuff, but has control issues. Moving from The Cell to Angel Stadium should help and he has a nice strikeout profile that could come together nicely.
24.8. Carlos Quentin.This is a guy I don't love, but felt like he has power upside when healthy, which of course he never is. I found out 10 minutes after I picked him that he was going on the DL. I always look up injury updates before and during the draft and just missed this one. I will hold him for a couple weeks, but this pick was a flat-out mistake and he will likely end up being a drop. I should have grabbed Melancon at this pick as the gamble he would last failed when he went 24.10.
25.8. Jordy Mercer. I do not like this pick either. I was desperate at middle infield as I had missed 4-5 targets that went a pick or two before me multiple times and there was just about nothing left. I needed someone with a starting job to fill that slot and took Mercer even though he does very little for me. Middle infielder will be a slot that I will to study each FAAB period to try and find a full-time option.
26.8. Jesse Chavez.Big target for me here and I figured I better not wait anymore. I like him in the rotation and really liked how he pitched last year after he added a cutter. Combine that with pitching half his games in Oakland and he was a guy I wanted for the back end of my rotation.
27.8. Robbie Erlin.Erlin was another starter I wanted for the back end of my rotation. I love getting half of the games at Petco and while he struggled last year in Triple-A Tucson, he has possessed a nice strikeout profile in the minors. When Josh Johnson got hurt, he became a late round target for me and I hopefully can spot him in two-start or home weeks.
28.8 Jason Kubel.I had Kubel as a guy I wanted to take a shot on late in a draft and needing power he became a definite pick at this point for me. Kubel was brutal in 2013, but he is a year off a 30 HR / 90 RBI seasons and will hit in the middle of Minnesota's order against righties. I will have to watch his schedule as he will sit against many lefties, but he could be a nice late draft weapon in the periods where Minnesota faces multiple righties.
29.8. Luis Valbuena. Since I have nine starters, I kept trying to find late power. Valbuena has a lot of pop and is on the strong side of a platoon. I ended up dropping him after Week 1 for Jesus Guzman for his at Tor / at Texas Week 2 schedule.
30.8. Brian Roberts.With a weak middle infield, I decided to take a shot on Roberts at Yankee Stadium with the thought I would just play him until he gets hurt. He will get hurt and in the 30th round, I am ok dropping him once he does.
I like the pitching on the squad, with the knowledge that with only two closers that I will likely need to find one in FAAB at some point in the season and I am in big trouble if one of my two gets hurt or loses his job. I probably should have taken a shot on a closer in waiting, but that it is easy to say now considering 5-6 of those closers in waiting have already paid off. The offense will be a bit short in power, but hopefully between FAAB and the late round picks, I can make up that power during the year. My biggest regret was missing out on good middle infielder options as I had 3-4 of them targeted and either pushed them too far and missed them or just had someone else I needed to take at the time.