We had the first “Beat Chris Liss” NFBC Online Championship draft early this year. As always, it’s a 12-team standard 5 x 5 format that’s both an individual league and part of an overall contest, the first prize for which pays $100K. I drew the seventh pick, and, as always, I’ve already spent the money.
Here are the results:
1.7 Clayton Kershaw – This is how I was hoping it would fall. I was prepared to take Giancarlo Stanton if Kershaw were gone, and if both were gone, Trea Turner or Bryce Harper. (I would have passed on Paul Goldschmidt.)
2.6 Freddie Freeman – I missed Manny Machado by one pick, and this was a tough call. I considered Noah Syndergaard, but ultimately figured I’d get an ace pitcher in Round 3 while the hitting would be worse. I also thought about Josh Donaldson, but he’s a couple years older.
3.7 Josh Donaldson – I didn’t expect to see him here, and I snap called it. I had planned on taking a starting pitcher, but thought maybe one of Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco, Luis Severino or Justin Verlander would make it back, and in any event, the value was too good to pass up.
4.6 Craig Kimbrel – Verlander did in fact make it back, but Kenley Jansen was gone, and I had to choose between the other rock solid closer or the last ace. I went with the former because I had Kershaw already, and I decided to wing starting pitching. Plus, Kimbrel and Kershaw provide a nice ERA and WHIP base.
5.7 Byron Buxton – I was nervous in a “BCL” league filled mostly with people who listen to me on the radio that someone would grab him, but there he was. I needed speed, and he was a perfect fit and at a fair value.
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6.6 Buster Posey – Edwin Encarnacion was hanging around forever, and even though I didn’t necessarily want to fill all my corner spots so early, I nearly pulled the trigger. Ultimately, I opted for Posey who provides a massive boost in batting average relative to other catchers. (Encarnacion didn’t go until 7.3, and I would have had to take him had he made it to 7.7.)
7.7 Jean Segura – I was working off my own cheat sheet, and he stood out to me. A nice source of steals and batting average with non-negligible pop. I was bummed to see Lorenzo Cain go one pick later, but he’s basically Segura in the outfield.
8.6 Yasiel Puig – I don’t know what went down with his agents, but assuming it’s nothing important, Puig has major upside as a 27-year old. I think there’s a 30-15.290 line among his not-too-implausible outcomes.
9.7 Robinson Cano – Maybe he’ll fall off the cliff this year, but Hall of Fame bats usually produce so long as they’re healthy. At this price, it was an easy call. I was getting a little antsy watching so many closers fly off the board, but once you get away from the top few, they’re usually not worth the going rate. Moreover, in the 12-team, FAABing one closer isn’t that difficult.
10.6 J.T. Realmuto – I punted catcher last year, but it seemed like everyone was doing it here, and I grabbed the value. A handful of steals and solid batting average set him apart at the position.
11.7 Javier Baez – I was really playing chicken with starting pitching and closers, but Baez was by far the top player on my board, and none of the pitchers jumped out at me. Baez went 23-10 last year in 505 at-bats and just turned 25 in December. People are worried about his playing time, but if he takes one more step forward, the roster will adapt to him and not the other way around.
12.6 Lance McCullers – I finally caved and took a second starter. Everyone raves about McCullers’ elite arsenal of pitches and worries about his health. I’ll take 170 good innings here no problem.
13.7 Gregory Polanco – I read a tweet by someone (sorry, honestly, can’t remember who), saying Polanco was playing hurt last year, is just 26 and one year removed from a 22-17 season. I actually was tempted to take him in Round 12, but didn’t in part because I needed a pitcher and in part because I’m determined not to let Twitter push me off my rankings. But by Round 13, he was actually the top OF on my board, and I had only Buxton and Puig there.
14.6 Miguel Sano – The starting pitching and closers were flying off the board at this point, but I played chicken for one more round. I honestly wasn’t that set in power (Donaldson and Freeman are good, but they’re not Harper and Stanton), and my other bats were hybrid power-speed-average types, not pure mashers like Sano. Of course, there’s a good chance Sano gets suspended for some duration due to off-field allegations, but at this price, it was worth a gamble.
15.7 Taijuan Walker – Walker was the top remaining starting pitcher on my board. Decent year, top-prospect pedigree, pitching in the NL, and it’s possible the humidor tames Chase Field.
16.6 Blake Parker – He was my top remaining “closer” assuming he’s even named to the job. I took him over Shane Green and Brad Brach because his team might actually win some games.
17.7 Dinelson Lamet – I like the K rate and the park. I actually had Michael Wacha higher, but I’ll admit I peaked at ADP to see which one I had to take first.
18.6 Michael Wacha – Another pedigreed pitcher who had a good year in 2017. He was also throwing harder than ever and pitches in a good park. I like him far more than Lamet and in retrospect should have taken him a round earlier and not risked it.
19.7 Aaron Sanchez – Another big-time prospect who throws in the mid-90s. Hopefully his finger is better.
20.6 Sean Manaea – I was loading up on starters with upside, and Manaea is another one. Apparently, he was on the wrong meds or something. The why isn’t that important.
21.7 Chris Davis – He’s only 32, so there’s no reason he shouldn’t hit 40 homers if he can stay in the lineup. Plus, I have a lot of batting average, and if Sano is suspended, I’ll need the power,
22.6 Victor Robles – He has nowhere to play right now, but it only takes one injury, or Michael Taylor falling on his face.
23.7 Max Kepler – Robles is unlikely to break camp with the team, so I needed a starting OF. “The Astronomer” might have another level in his age 25 season.
24.6 Seung-Hwan Oh – I imagine he has a good chance to close in Texas if he still has the goods. Alex Claudio throws less than 87 mph and probably isn’t suited to the job.
25.7 Felix Hernandez – Maybe he’s done, but I thought that about Zack Greinke last year, and I was wrong.
26.6 Eduardo Rodriguez – Great strikeout rate before being derailed by a knee injury. He could start the season late, but he’s finally healthy and throws unusually hard for a lefty.
27.7 Yoshisha Hirano – If Archie Bradley doesn’t close for the Diamondbacks, Hirano has as good a chance as anyone.
28.6 Brandon Woodruff – A hard thrower who could win a rotation spot for a decent NL team. He had good Double-A numbers before getting knocked around in the PCL.
29.7 Jackie Bradley – I need another OF to start the year with Robles likely down, and Bradley’s essentially a 20-10 guy whose defense keeps him in the lineup no matter what.
30.6 Andrew Heaney – Another pedigreed starter coming back from an injury. He got bombed in September, but he’s healthy now.