The National Fantasy Baseball Championship Classic was held on Saturday, March 26 of this year. This is a 15-team, 5x5 mixed league with an individual league champion and then all players in all leagues are thrown into the same giant pot to determine the overall victor and winner of 100K dollars. I drafted out of the lucky-13 hole. Here is a brief synopsis of the squad.
R1 David Wright: I was hoping to exit the first round with one of the top three third baseman and I got my wish with Wright. I actually could have opted for Alex Rodriguez but took the younger New Yorker.
R2 Matt Holliday: This is not a secret to anyone following my writing this spring. I will gladly sacrifice some potential upside for Holliday's reliability and still solid production emanating from the bat of the St. Louis left-fielder.
R3 Brandon Phillips: I am going to be completely honest here. As the third round unfolded, I tried to talk myself out of Phillips. But when Shin-Soo Choo, Clayton Kershaw and Jon Lester all came off the board in the latter half of the round, I fell back to my old buddy.
R4 Jered Weaver: This is exactly the tier where I wanted to pick up my first pitcher and Weaver was towards the top of the tier. I prefer National League aces, but I am banking the improved control Weaver displayed last season carries over and he continues to miss a ton of bats.
R5 Chris Carpenter: So close but yet so far. I had my cross-hairs on Dan Haren. Tommy Hanson or Max Scherzer for this pick, but they all went earlier in the round, with Scherzer teasing me until the pick right before mine. There are two small warts with Carpenter. First, he is in the twilight of his career and coming off a 234 inning campaign so he is a bit of a health risk. Second, while Carpenter's K-rate is acceptable, it is not exceptional so he will need to pile up the innings again to give me the same number of whiffs as other number two starting pitchers. On the plus side, the ratios are usually exceptional, so I should have a little more leeway in streaming in extra starters to make up the strikeout deficit.
R6 Paul Konerko: I know he will regress, but Konerko still plays in a favorable park in a lineup that should lead to serious run production, so I will add another veteran to the squad.
R7 Mike Napoli: Decision time as I wanted Napoli and a closer with my next two picks and since there is only one Napoli and a handful of top closers left, I chose the Rangers’ new utility hitter.
R8 Heath Bell: Maybe he fell because of the possibility of being dealt into a setup role, but I gladly took Bell as the sixth closer off the board.
R9 Torii Hunter: I really was hoping for Ted Lilly here, but as with Scherzer earlier, I was sniped just before my pick. So, I grabbed a perennially undervalued guy that will help across the board in Hunter, primarily because I saw three pitchers I considered equal at the top of my board and I knew I would get one next.
R10 Madison Bumgarner: I am going to be honest, by the time I uttered the last syllable of Bumgarner’s name, I had picker’s remorse. I jumped him over, albeit slightly, Colby Lewis and Jeremy Hellickson. My regret revolved around being light on whiffs and ruing not taking Lewis. I got scared off by the park and the limited track record of just a single year of post-Japan success. Bumgarner is a very good pitcher, but may have his innings tempered, reducing his strikeouts. I should have called upon Carpenter’s ratio buffer to pick up the slightly risky Lewis.
R11 Colby Lewis: PHEW! And realize I had to sweat this out an extra 15 minutes as we break after ten rounds. However, the reason I got Lewis was there was a closer run and I decided to take the Rangers’ ace and go a little ugly with my second closer.
R12 Andres Torres: The first commandment of fantasy baseball is “Trust thy rankings” and my rankings had Torres the best player on the board and I had waited long enough.
R13 Adam LaRoche: There were actually some first baseman left I could have dealt with later, but there was no one else I really like at this spot, so I went with value and filled my corner with LaRoche, again the highest ranked player left on my board.
R14 Jake McGee: Will he get 5 saves? Maybe 20? Even 30? I am obviously hoping for the latter but with take 20. He has the stuff, now he just needs to be afforded the chance and to take advantage. If this pick hits I will save FAAB to address other are of needs which could be crucial.
R15 Peter Bourjos: Something I have noticed coming out of my mocks is I am short on speed. My usual plan is to get a speed only guy later, someone I can float in to pump up the steals if necessary. In this draft, I decided to get that guy a little earlier and am intrigued by Bourjos.
R16 Danny Espinosa: Time to address the need for a middle infielder. I do not love this pick, but to win at this level, you need to take a chance or two, so this was as much a roll of the dice as anything. I will likely back Espinosa up later, just in case.
R17 Matt Capps: Joe Nathan is still the guy, no question. But Capps should get some early saves as the Twins ease Nathan into back-to-back duty. And his ratios are good enough to use as a fill in when my starters have tough matchups.
R18 Michael Pineda: I know, I preach not to be “that guy”, the one that wants to show everyone they read Baseball America. But Pineda is likely to break camp with the Mariners. His Minor League pedigree is outstanding, he throws in a favorable park and is backed by a very good defense so I have no problem showing the group I know who Pineda is.
R19 Seth Smith: Putting my money where my mouth is, I took a guy I expect to get more playing time and do something with it. I know there is talk that Eric Young Jr. needs a place to play and with Daniel Herrera around, Dexter Fowler and Smith may get squeezed out of some at bats, but this is still Colorado and the ball still travels so I expect the more powerful Smith will ultimately see plenty of run.
R20 J. P. Arencibia: Jose Molina is supposed to catch two of every five games, but that still leaves almost 100 games for Arencibia. He is pretty much Mike Napoli-light, which means my average is even more at risk, but of all categories, I will let that play out and continue to bully up the power.
R21 Placido Polanco: We are at the point where there are a ton of similar platoon type outfielders, so I took Polanco who I can use at utility for most home games, helping my batting average while still being able to use a more powerful or speedy option plenty of times as well, taking advantage of the Friday substitution rule in the NFBC.
R22 Jason Bartlett: I made the decision several rounds ago that I was going butt-ugly at shortstop, feeling this position was likely to have some slightly more callipygian choices remaining. I ended up with Bartlett for the steals.
R23 Brian Duensing: I like streaming starters with good home parks and Duensing fits that mold just fine.
R24 Ben Francisco: This could actually be a key pick. There is no guarantee Domonic Brown is going to be handed the keys to right field when he is recovered. Francisco makes a nice partner for Bourjos and Smith, making sure I maximize my Monday through Thursday at bats.
R25 Dallas Braden: Another possible pitcher to stream in. While pitchers like Duensing and Braden do not have very high K-rates, when you deploy them in two-start weeks, they can provide a decent strikeout total for the week.
R26 Luke Gregerson: Part Bell insurance, part an arm to use when my starters have poor matchups, Gregerson will not hurt me even if he is not getting saves.
R27 Juan Rivera: I will take a near full time bat to rotate into the 5th OF/UT spot at this point every time.
R28 R.A. Dickey: How often do you get to say “I want Dickey because Bush stinks” and get away with it?
R29 Mark Ellis: Channeling Lawr. Plus, remember when I suggested I may need Espinosa insurance?
R30 Chris Narveson: You can never have too much pitching and Narveson showed some promise.
- C: Napoli, Arencibia
- 1B/3B: Konerko, Wright, LaRoche (Polanco)
- 2B/SS: Phillips, Bartlett, Espinosa (Ellis)
- OF: Holliday, Hunter, Torres, Bourjos, Smith (Rivera)
- UT: Francisco
- SP: Weaver, Carpenter, Bumgarner, Lewis, Pineda, Duensing (Braden, Dickey, Narveson)
- RP: Bell, McGee, Capps (Gregerson)
There you have it, my 2011 entry into the National Fantasy Baseball Championship Classic. I am a bit nervous about batting average but have a pathway to improve that by using Polanco and possible replacing Arencibia. In order to compete for the overall title, I am going to need some more saves if McGee does not close right away. As always, I welcome all comments and criticisms.