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Tuesday 19th Sep 2017

Last week we looked at the most accomplished player in the fantasy industry.  If we narrow the focus to strictly fantasy baseball accomplishments our attention shifts to an Idaho pig farmer.  It would take too long to list all his accomplishments, but over $350,000 in career earnings and two NFBC Main Event Overall Championships should tell you all that you need to know.  If I wasn’t able to draft a team myself and I had to select one person to draft a team for me, Lindy Hinkelman would get the call.  Lindy’s team is currently ranked 40th overall and 2nd in his Las Vegas Main Event league.  Let’s examine the master’s draft and see what we can uncover:

1.14 Hanley Ramirez
2.2 Justin Upton
3.14 Zack Greinke
4.2 B.J. Upton
5.14 Madison Bumgarner
6.2 Billy Butler
7.14 Andre Ethier
8.2 Gio Gonzalez
9.14 Brandon League
10.2 Edwin Encarnacion

Lindy took three starting pitchers in his first ten picks.  Déjà vu.  Last week we saw that Chad Schroeder did the exact same thing.  The difference however is that Lindy secured his aces earlier.  He rostered two elite pitchers in his first five picks.  I love this approach and I always try to secure AT LEAST two elite starters within my first six picks.  On occasion I’ll even push the envelope and make it three.   A few times I’ve kicked things off by taking three Cy Young candidates out of the shoot in rounds one through three and I’ve had success using that strategy.  It is essential to lay an ERA, WHIP, and strikeout foundation.  The importance of this cannot be overstated.  Many fantasy players are much too flippant about their pitching staffs and assume that they can just draft an R.A. Dickey in the 20th round, as if those types of pitchers grow on trees in the later rounds.  If you don’t have at least two ERA/WHIP anchors stabilizing your staff, finding enough quality pitchers with high strikeout rates in the later rounds and on the waiver wire before destroying your ratios is an extremely difficult task.

It’s also worth mentioning that the two cornerstones to his staff were pitchers who had FIPs that outperformed their ERAs in 2011: Zack Greinke (3.83 ERA/2.98 FIP), Madison Bumgarner (3.21 ERA/2.67).  I love what he did here.  He took two pitchers with 2nd round upside.  Laying the ERA/WHIP foundation and locking up 400 K’s.  At the same time he didn’t sacrifice offense, at least not in theory.  Sure, Hanley Ramirez and Justin Upton have had disappointing seasons.  That doesn’t change the fact that these were excellent picks.  You’re not going to hit on every player you select.  That’s impossible.  All you can do is play the percentages, lay a good foundation and build in enough realistic upside picks as part of your roster construction.  That’s exactly what Lindy did.  It was reasonable to expect 20-30 from Hanley and 30-20 Justin Upton.  Throw in BJ Upton in round four and you have a 70 HR, 90 SB start with your first three bats, juxtaposed with two Cy Young caliber hurlers.  Gio Gonzalez’s 220 K’s rounds out a formidable top end with 620 K’s.

Andre Ethier is another good pick that just hasn’t paid the dividends one would have hoped for.  Lindy has an excellent eye for talent and a keen sense for identifying those players that have a decent chance of going much higher in 2013 drafts.  Hanley Ramirez is historically an early first rounder.  Billy Butler is in his age 26 season with five years of experience under his belt, poised to take the next step.  Andre Ethier is a proven 30+ Homer veteran who was slowed by injuries in 2011 and needed only a dose of good health to generate a profit. Gio Gonzalez switched from the AL to the NL to deliver an improved ERA, WHIP and a boost in K’s, and Edwin Encarnacion, the sabermetric darling finally broke out after what seemed like 15 years in the majors.

11.14 Sean Marshall
12.2 Justin Morneau
13.14 Mike Minor
14.2 Torii Hunter
15.14 J.P. Arencibia
16.2 Zack Cozart
17.14 Nick Hundley
18.2 Jonathon Niese
19.14 Chase Utley
20.2 James Loney

Noteworthy here is that he didn’t take a catcher until the 15th round.  We’ve discussed the wisdom of waiting on catchers before in the NFBC zone.  Position scarcity is not a driving force in his drafting decisions.  Zack Cozart at 16.2 represents just his second middle infielder.  He took three outfielders in his first ten picks.  In the later rounds Lindy found a jewel in Josh Reddick (21.14) and an underrated Chipper Jones in the 26th round.

If Vegas books post a line on NFBC Las Vegas League One, I’m putting my money on the man from Idaho.

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