This article is part of our Rounding Third series.
In last year's guide, I discussed whether it made sense to join the crowd in drafting starting pitching early. Baseball is in an era where run scoring is way down – in fact, MLB teams averaged 4.07 runs per game in 2014, which was even lower than in 2013, which in turn was the lowest level since 1992. If starting pitching is less volatile, why are we avoiding it early on in our drafts?
Many of my competitors in the NFBC arrived at the same conclusion and drafted even more aces early on (defined here as the first five rounds in a 15-team mixed league format). My Main Event league featured 12 starting pitchers going in the second and third rounds combined, and 20 through the first five rounds. Keep in mind that the NFBC does not permit any trading, so there's a greater impetus for locking up the elite starting pitchers than there would be in other leagues. How did those pitchers work out? Here are those 20 pitchers drafted in the first five rounds and their value earned according to our in-season auction values generator, which assumes a 70-30 hitter/pitcher split.
Round 2 – Clayton Kershaw ($38), Stephen Strasburg ($19), Justin Verlander ($-2), Adam Wainwright ($27), Yu Darvish ($7), Max Scherzer ($20)
Round 3 – Cliff Lee ($-8), Madison Bumgarner ($22), Jose Fernandez ($-2), Felix Hernandez ($34), David Price ($23), Chris Sale ($22)
Round 4 – Zack Greinke ($20), Michael Wacha ($-2)
Round 5 – Anibal Sanchez ($3),