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Friday 24th Mar 2017

I drafted two NFBC Mixed League auction teams at the Bellagio back in March.  In the first auction I drafted Jacoby Ellsbury(60-day DL shoulder), Cory Luebke(Tommy John surgery), Brett Gardner(elbow), Sergio Santos(shoulder), Doug Fister(two DL stints for a costochondral strain), Justin Morneau(wrist), Vernon Wells(thumb surgery) and Scott Rolen(shoulder).  If you have a MASH unit even half the size of mine, you may be excited to know that the NFBC is offering you a second chance by offering mid-season leagues once again this year.  The leagues will be offered in early July during MLB’s three day All Star Break.  That gives you a full month to prep and take advantage of your mulligan.  Taken from the NFBC website, here are the current dates the drafts will be offered along with available time slots:

Monday, July 9
$125 Pay Top 3 League, 7 pm ET
$500 Pay Top 3 League, 8 pm ET
Tuesday, July 10
$250 Don Mathis Pay Top 3 League (uses first half stats), 7 pm ET
$125 Pay Top 3 League, 8 pm ET
Wednesday, July 11
$250 Pay Top 3 League, 7 pm ET
$125 Pay Top 3 League, 9 pm ET

In the coming weeks we’ll examine potential targets and possible busts.  Should you discount the first half busts?  Or do they present buying opportunities? But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  The most difficult thing about drafting is not player evaluation, but knowing the market; knowing when other teams will target the players you want to draft.  That challenge is never more difficult than in mid-season leagues when the industry is generally void of cheat sheets, draft guides, and reliable ADP rankings.  A good starting point is to examine ADP rankings from this spring.  What follows is taken from NFBC satellite leagues during March, so at least they aren’t skewed with January and February draft data.

1.1 Matt Kemp
1.2 Albert Pujols
1.3 Miguel Cabrera
1.4 Troy Tulowitzki
1.5 Ryan Braun
1.6 Adrian Gonzalez
1.7 Jacoby Ellsbury
1.8 Joey Votto
1.9 Robinson Cano
1.10 Jose Bautista
1.11 Carlos Gonzalez
1.12 Justin Upton
1.13 Hanley Ramirez
1.14 Prince Fielder
1.15 Evan Longoria
2.1 Curtis Granderson
2.2 Dustin Pedroia
2.3 Ian Kinsler
2.4 Clayton Kershaw
2.5 Jose Reyes

Starting at the top, how far Matt Kemp falls will be interesting.  He will probably be back from his hamstring injury, but one has to wonder just how much he will run.  He earned his #1 overall ADP by being a 40-40 threat.  In 36 games he has stolen two bases and has been caught thrice.  With two stints on the disabled list with an injury to the same hamstring, I wouldn’t assume any speed production from the elite slugger.  It’s difficult to justify a #1 overall selection from an OF with no guaranteed speed, no matter how much they mash.

Then there is the Albert Pujols problem.  How much will he be discounted, if at all?  He has hit 5 HR’s and batted over .300 over the last two weeks.  Maybe he just had more trouble than the average hitter adjusting to all the new pitchers in the American League.  In spring training he looked lighter that I’ve ever seen him before.  He still looks lean to me.  Perhaps he has lost some strength?

Miguel Cabrera could easily go number one with 1B and 3B eligibility, putting up the stellar numbers we’ve come to expect from him.  After a slow start Ryan Braun turned on the jets and is now flirting with a 45-35 pace.  Carlos Gonzalez is en fuego with stats that prorate to a 45-25 season to go with a .333 batting average.  We haven’t even mentioned the best hitter in all of baseball yet.  Josh Hamilton is on pace for a phenomenal 65 bombs and 175 RBI’s.  Hanley Ramirez is blazing at a 30-30 clip.  Everyone we have mentioned thus far could be taken at or near the top.

Jacoby Ellsbury and Evan Longoria are obviously not in the picture this early.  One has to wonder if Adrian Gonzalez has staying power in the first round.  I think not.  Then there are the breakouts such as Adam Jones, who is in the midst of his best season at age 26, cruising just below a 50-30 clip.  He’s out producing Ryan Braun.  I’m just sayin’….  Robinson Cano has righted the ship after a chilly April and will probably go right around where he usually does towards the end of the 1st.

With Paul Konerko hitting like Albert Pujols, and the latter looking more like Mark Belanger at the plate until just a couple of weeks ago, the fantasy world has been turned on its statistical head.  In this type of drafting climate I would submit a KDS preference of 1.15.  Without a well defined early 1st round ADP it’s not worth sacrificing an early 2nd round pick (moving down in the 2nd round) just to move up in the 1st round pick.  The one exception to this is Hanley Ramirez, who is worth taking #1 overall to lock up a (.300/100/30/100/30) type of slash line at shortstop.

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