Prior to this draft, I had completed five drafts over at the NFBC.
All but one of those were Draft Champions leagues – 50 rounds, no in-season pickups. So while strategy is a bit different in that format, I had a good idea of what I wanted to do heading into my first industry league draft of 2021.
This is my first year in any FSGA league. Jeff Erickson offered up the spot and I was happy to accept. However, I know I have my work cut out for me in a group of great players. A majority of the teams in this league have co-managers – 8 of 14 teams – and more managers mean more eyes on the waiver wire and an even greater degree of difficulty to win the league.
It's a 14-team roto league with the classic 10 scoring categories. Each roster has 14 active hitters and nine active pitchers, with six bench spots.
1.8 Jacob deGrom, P, NYM
No-brainer here. I had a Top 8 – once a Big 5 hitters and a Big 3 pitchers, now a Big 6 hitters and Big 2 pitchers. Shane Bieber is the one out of the mix in the Top 8, leapfrogged by Trea Turner, but Bieber is still a first-rounder for me. There have been whispers that deGrom could be a sneaky injury risk this year, although it can be argued that's an oxymoron with any pitcher. He showed up to camp throwing 99 mph (lol), and I just have to hope that rubber arm doesn't snap this season.
2.7 Lucas Giolito, P, CWS
A fundamentally different pitcher than he was in 2018, Giolito is a clear ace. He's not what he once was. Many people are reliant on projections, and projection systems are designed to remove bias, incorporating essentially the full track record. Projection systems are fantastic and I look at them all the time to sober myself on a player one way or another, but you have to know when to override those projection systems. I haven't typically liked going pitcher-pitcher to start drafts, but this combination was too good to pass up and we know elite starting pitchers move the needle more than any other players when things are going right.
3.8 Ozzie Albies, 2B, ATL
This pick I came to regret. I like Albies a lot, but I feel like I ultimately wasted his speed. I drafted him over some more potent bats (George Springer, Rafael Devers and Marcell Ozuna to name a few) because I wanted to get some sort of speed base started. In the end, I didn't add enough to that base. In a standalone league like this, it's not nearly as big a deal as it would be in the NFBC where I'm chasing an overall prize, and Albies and a guy like Ian Happ will help me fill out the runs scored category (an under-discussed category in fantasy baseball). However, I almost wish I had just punted speed entirely since I don't see myself finishing higher than 10th in the category as is. I could have sacrificed those four standings points and made them up and then some elsewhere. I could perhaps trade for some speed as this is a trading league.
4.7 Vladimir Guerrero, 3B, TOR
I feel like we may look back and say people who drafted Guerrero got a first-round hitter in the fourth or fifth round of 2021. Granted I've been saying that for a while now. Yes, he's in the Best Shape of His Life, but more than that, he's an elite baseball talent who has held his own in the majors at ages 20/21. Rocket boosters. This is the year.
5.8 Michael Conforto, OF, NYM
I was a big proponent of Conforto's last season and that prediction looked good after the short season. The question is, how much would he have regressed over a larger sample? There would have been some valleys, but Conforto is now a little better than league average against lefties and he crushes righties. The team around him is better and I feel confident saying the landing will be softer than his draft price right now suggests.
6.7 Zach Plesac, P, CLE
While I'm not interested in getting involved in the Zach Plesac Twitter War of 2021, I guess it's pretty clear which side I'm on. He's a legitimately good pitcher, if somewhat boneheaded. He flashed ace upside and seems to be slipping right now, so I expect to end up with more Plesac this draft season.
7.8 Yoan Moncada, 3B, CWS
With Moncada, I desperately want to throw out last season entirely. My brain tells me it may not be so simple. It's troubling that he's already slow out of the gates in camp:
However, he is an international music superstar now, so we have to balance these factors.
8.7 Nelson Cruz, UT, MIN
J.D. Martinez went shortly before Cruz, making it an easy choice in the eighth round. We all know the cliff is coming eventually, but once again, it does not appear to be on the horizon in 2021.
9.8 Trevor Rosenthal, P, OAK
I asked Todd Zola on last Friday's RotoWire Fantasy Baseball Podcast if Rosenthal signing with the A's made him a Top 10 closer and Todd said "no...it makes him a Top 5 closer." Lord Zola made a strong case and I moved Rosenthal up my board* in subsequent days.
*This Cheat Sheet is separate from Jeff Erickson's official projections-driven site ranks, which are customizable for your specific league settings.
10.7 Willson Contreras, C, CHC
At this spot, I just wasn't in love with anyone else, and I felt Contreras was the best catcher available. In a 14-team, two-catcher league, I felt it made the most sense to just suck it up and fill the C1 spot with a legitimate player. We'll see how much longer he's in Chicago.
11.8 Craig Kimbrel, P, CHC
Begrudgingly, I find myself coming back around on Kimbrel. He's got the job and his performance improved greatly down the stretch. Kimbrel was almost a laughing stock early on last season as it seemed like he was almost intentionally trying to give away games, but he rebounded to such a degree it makes me think the once All-World closer has one more decent year left in that right arm.
12.7 Josh Bell, 1B, WAS
Bell seems like a nice target if you go with a couple pitchers early. He fills out a fantasy baseball offense nicely with increased counting stats in the Nationals' lineup propping up his floor. We know he has a respectable ceiling. In the 12th round, you're not reaching for that ceiling. I just feel like it's going to be hard to go wrong with Bell batting behind Trea Turner and Juan Freaking Soto.
13.8 Ian Happ, OF, CHC
Manager David Ross' leadoff hitter, Happ can do a little bit of everything albeit with a middling batting average. Before I drafted Happ, I had three outfielders back-to-back-to-back in my queue. I ended up getting all three.
14.7 Kyle Schwarber, OF, WAS
I considered jumping Jarred Kelenic here, but I rolled the dice and got both of them. Schwarber is another batting average drain, but BA is a volatile category and a little variance in the right direction could propel Schwarber to a Top 100 overall finish since he can crush the power categories.
15.8 Jarred Kelenic, OF, SEA
Pronounced KELL-nick. See Baseball Reference. We'll all know exactly how to say it soon enough.
16.7 Chris Bassitt, P, OAK
Bassitt is a guy who just falls and falls in most drafts. I let him fall in most drafts; he's usually the top starting pitcher on my board remaining for about 2-3 rounds before I seriously consider taking him. Thankfully I usually end up with him regardless. He's kind of a throwback as a heavy-fastball hurler, and the strikeout upside isn't great, but last I checked we're still counting wins in fantasy baseball and Bassitt should get his taking the ball every fifth or sixth day for Oakland.
17.8 Paul DeJong, SS, STL
Not much to say here. He's a boring compiler in a bad park but with near-everyday playing time. I was hoping to get Jorge Polanco here to add just a little bit of speed, but he went a few picks before me.
18.7 Kolten Wong, 2B, MIL
Love the setup for Wong this year, but like with Albies, I'm wondering if this pick was wasted since the speed isn't really helping me here. Immediately following the draft, it popped into my head that maybe I will end up playing my last pick (Jonathan Schoop) in the middle-infield spot over Wong if I feel like it's better to bully the other categories.
19.8 Brady Singer, P, KC
Upside, upside, upside, and Singer has some upside pitching in a generally weak division. He's probably not going to end up a late-round gem in the same vein as Walker Buehler or Jack Flaherty a few years back, but he held his own making the jump from Double-A. A strikeout rate around 25% combined with all those groundballs in that park is a recipe for success.
20.7 Yusei Kikuchi, P, SEA
Kikuchi is perhaps the most obvious "sleeper" in recent memory. It feels like almost everyone has him on their sleeper list, but Kikuchi is still freely available late in most drafts. He added velocity last season and could take a sizable step forward in 2021. He's buried by ADP – scroll down and add him to your queue early so you don't forget about him.
21.8 Jake McGee, P, SF
Manager Gabe Kapler has been somewhat unconventional with his bullpen usage, but he seemed to tip his hand as to his No. 1 choice early in camp:
22.7 Adam Ottavino, P, BOS
Like McGee, Ottavino is an under-the-radar closer candidate that I like at cost. He's probably got the best stuff in that bullpen and manager Alex Cora has seemed reluctant to commit to Matt Barnes. He's an easy drop if he's not in the mix early on.
23.8 Adam Duvall, OF, MIA
This is a boring pick, but I'd argue there is actually some upside here. Duvall has finished with a double-digit barrel rate four of the past five seasons and I have to imagine the Marlins will play him close to every day and not just on the short side of a platoon. The DH in the National League, which I'm stubbornly holding out hope for, would help a lot.
24.7 Cal Quantrill, P, CLE
Please read his 2021 outlook on his player page. His showing down the stretch with Cleveland is being treated as fool's gold by the market. It goes without saying that level of success will be difficult to sustain, but I like Quantrill to emerge as a viable, regular streamer and maybe more.
25.8 Avisail Garcia, OF, MIL
When you're chasing at-bats late in a draft, Garcia is a prime target. He should be on the field close to every day in Milwaukee and he's a "first-pager" among outfielders when you run Derek Carty's THE BAT X through the auction calculator on FanGraphs.
26.7 Edwin Rios, 3B, LAD
This is an upside pick all the way. If we knew there would be the DH in the National League, Rios would go maybe four or five rounds higher. The guy can crush a baseball. Check out his 2019 minor-league batted-ball data here.
27.8 Elias Diaz, C, COL
A catcher I hope can do enough at Coors to be a slight net positive overall. Simple as that.
28.7 Lucas Sims, P, CIN
The reports of elbow trouble have scared off many, evidently. That's understandable, but Sims' MRI was clean, he says he'll be ready for Opening Day and the stuff is off the charts. I have Amir Garrett getting the first shot to close for the Reds, but Sims is a threat to wrestle the job away and run with it at any time.
29.8 Jonathan Schoop, 2B, DET
Schoop was buried in this draft's specific software and I was glad to get him to back up my middle infield. He's an underrated player who could hit as high as cleanup in the Detroit order.
Go here to view the full draft results. Questions? Let me know in the comments.