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Saturday 20th Jan 2018

15 teams, 50 rounds, 750 picks, no in-season pickups. It sounded way too intimidating at first, but the more I thought about it the more I was intrigued. How many pitchers would I need to draft to cover myself in the likely event that at least a few of my hurlers miss some time due to injury? Would I really have to know the answer to the question, “Who is the Astros’ fifth starter?” Of course.

So on Tuesday at precisely 5 PM ET, I officially made my NFBC Draft Champions League debut. And once I selected Justin Upton with the 11th overall pick, I began the process of filling a football-sized team roster with baseball players. How long would this draft take? Owners are allowed eight hours to make each pick, but that’s flat-out ridiculous. I figured that an average time of one hour per pick was reasonable given that the long intermissions to allow for sleep would skew up the average. Let’s see, 750 hours comes out to just over 31 days. But one hour per pick is a rather generous estimate. We should be able to wrap this up in three weeks, which would be perfect. As long as I have around a week to focus solely on Tout Wars prep, I’ll be fine.

OK, enough of this time talk. While it’s a popular topic in our draft chat room, you the reader, could care less. I understand. What you might care a little more about are the early results, so I thought it would be a neat exercise to compare this slow NFBC draft through 11 rounds to the slow mock that I discussed in last week’s column and look at a few players whose draft position differed significantly.

Erick Aybar

Slow Mock: 6.8 to Lawr Michaels

NFBC: Still available

Maybe it’s Lawr’s well-documented Zen approach where he isn’t afraid to draft a certain player he likes a round or so earlier than expected. Maybe it’s the NFBC default rankings inexplicably burying Aybar so far down that I needed to type in his name to find him. The bottom line is that Aybar’s a solid player who will contribute in the batting average and stolen base departments and who is coming off a monster second half last season (.326 AVG, 15 SB, .845 OPS). He’s a borderline starting shortstop in a 12-team mixed league and an excellent starting shortstop in a 15-teamer. If you can draft him as your MI in a 15-team mixed, the value there is through the roof.

Adam Dunn

Slow Mock: 19.7 to Steve Gardner

NFBC: 10.12

Personally, I’m done with Dunn. I did own him in a couple of leagues last year and yeah, the 41 homers were nice, but he’s such an enormous batting average liability to the point where it’s virtually impossible to finish in the top half of the category if Dunn is on your squad. In our slow mock, it was a case of who would blink first, and the stare down lasted all the way until the 19th round. I’m sure that a big reason for this was the thought that Dunn could just as easily revert back to his 2011 form as post a 40-plus home run encore. His NFBC price tag, on the other hand, reflects the belief that he will not only duplicate his 2012 power numbers but also raise his AVG to at least the .240 range. I’m not counting on it, and I’ll be steering clear of Dunn on draft day.

Ian Kennedy

Slow Mock: 11.15 to Cory Schwartz

NFBC: 8.5

I was all set to take Kennedy in the slow mock but Cory snatched him up a mere four picks before my turn. I’m very high on him this year as a major bounce back candidate. While expecting him to repeat his 2011 Cy Young caliber year is unrealistic, Kennedy continues to rack up plenty of strikeouts while limiting the free passes. All this suggests that his 2013 ERA will be far lower than 4.02. And guess who took him in the NFBC draft? I know, it’s a bit of a reach, but hey, I decided to give Lawr’s Zen approach a try!

Jon Lester

Slow Mock: 8.2 to Nando DiFino

NFBC: 11.12

Lester is another guy with big-time bounce back potential. If he was still there at 12.5 in the NFBC draft, he would have been mine, but I decided to address my offense with my 11th round pick. I have no idea what the problem was with Lester last year, but maybe a fresh start sans Bobby V and reuniting with new manager John Farrell, his old pitching coach, will do him some good. Lester in the eighth round of a 15-teamer is a quality pick with plenty of upside. Lester in the 11th could turn out to be the best value pick of the entire draft.

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