Last week I did the second of two “Beat Jeff Erickson” leagues in the NFBC’s RotoWire Online Championship. Like last year, in this second league I paired up with Vlad Sedler. As you may have read, Vlad had a pretty good 2015 NFBC campaign. Alas, I dragged him down on the one team we shared – and it was my worst team too. We weren’t totally in sync with our draft strategy or even the players that we liked as much.
This year felt a lot different. It started with our draft prep, where we had the exact same KDS preference (4-1, 12-5), and had a lot more players in common that we liked. We are both fans of landing two aces if possible. And we actually drafted against each other in a slow draft – not planned, I didn’t know that he was already in the league when I signed up.
The good news started immediately, when we got our first draft choice preference, the #4 slot. There’s a pretty well-established top four in the NFBC, in any order, including the following: Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Paul Goldschmidt and Clayton Kershaw. As it turns out, we got Harper, which I was thrilled with, having not landed him in any of my previous drafts.
We were exceptionally happy with our draft, following our plan closely and nailing a lot of our early picks. We addressed some speed in the second round with Starling Marte without completely abandoning power, and still got two aces in the third and fourth rounds in Madison Bumgarner and Noah Syndergaard. This was also the first league that I ended up with Marte and Syndergaard. In both cases, I liked the player, but not to the degree that Vlad did. And that’s one of the great things about pairing up with a skilled player – it pushes me out of my comfort zone, and leads me to a different way of building a roster.
Overall, we waited on middle infielders and catchers, and had good balance across each category. One nice little added touch was that we tied two of our complimentary players, Ben Revere and Daniel Murphy, to Bryce Harper, with the notion that when he knocks runners in, it’s most likely to be at least one of them. We called that our “Nats Stack.”
Here’s our full roster, with the rounds that the players were selected:
C: Travis d’Arnaud (13), Nick Hundley (20)
1B/3B/CR: Eric Hosmer (6), Matt Carpenter (7), Justin Bour (18)
2B/SS/MI: Daniel Murphy (15), Trevor Story (16), Josh Harrison (19)
OF: Bryce Harper (1), Starling Marte (2), Justin Upton (5), Ben Revere (9), Ben Paulsen (25)
UT: David Ortiz (12)
SP: Madison Bumgarner (3), Noah Syndergaard (4), Francisco Liriano (10), Raisel Iglesias (14), Wei-Yin Chen (16), Jose Berrios (21), Kevin Gausman (23), Juan Nicasio (26), Kris Medlen (27), Clay Buchholz (29)
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RP: David Robertson (8), Drew Storen (11), Jason Grilli (22)
Hitter Reserves: Howie Kendrick (24), Jonathan Villar (28), Chris Colabello (30)
Normally I’d prefer to have four hitters on my bench, but I’m ok with it here because we’ve built in a lot of redundancy with our hitters. Murphy can fill 2B/3B, Harrison 2B/3B/OF, Paulsen 1B/OF, and Colabello 1B/OF.
Our closers are a tad weaker than I’d like, especially for the 12-team event. But I think that we can successfully FAAB in this contest, more so than in the 15-team Main Event. Our starting pitching has a chance to be great if some our late picks pan out like I think that they can. And while I can’t completely speak for Vlad, I don’t think either of us forced on a player to the other that they didn’t like at all.
Here are the full draft grids: