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Friday 24th Mar 2017

We’re one third of the way through the 2014 National Fantasy Baseball Championship. It’s time to look at the leaderboard and see if those at the top did anything interesting to get there. It’s a long season, but Stephen Fiore sits in the driver’s seat in his quest for ten stacks of high society. One would assume he emphasized bats at the draft table back in March, right? After all, the popular 15- team roto mantra is to fade pitching early because hurlers are too injury prone. It’s too difficult to tally enough Runs, RBI and Home Runs while drafting a lot of arms in the early rounds, isn’t it? Decide for yourself if conventional wisdom is wise. Ironically, the Sultans of Smack constructed their roster focusing on pitching. Their roto stats have lived up to their mashing moniker, totaling 1,934 offensive points and ranking first among all 420 teams. Three of the first six players were pitchers, along with six of the first 12:

1.11 – Prince Fielder

2.5 – Jose Bautista

3.11 – David Price

4.5 – Alex Rios

5.11 – Julio Teheran

6.5 – Gio Gonzalez

7.11 – Pedro Alvarez

8.5 – Jose Altuve

9.11 – Joakim Soria

10.5 – Billy Butler

11.11 – Bobby Parnell

12.5 – Hisashi Iwakuma

Billy Butler and Prince Fielder epitomize fantasy busts. So effectively, only four offensive assets were procured in the first 12 rounds. Some very successful high stakes players that I have tremendous respect for advocate a goal of 70 steals and 70 home runs with your first three picks. Through the first six, this group is on pace for 51 and 34 respectively. Despite the disposition toward mound aces in Las Vegas, Stephen would have been better off focusing on arms even more than his aggressive style dictated. The pitching staff is solid, but there are 56 teams ranked higher. Nothing wrong with the strategy here obviously, but it does expose early hitting dogma. A dogma that will likely gain more traction in the wake of the UCL carnage we have all witnessed. It’s too risky to take a pitcher in the first round! Oh yeah? Tell that to Prince Fielder and Bryce Harper owners.

13.11 – Adam Eaton

14.5 – Miguel Montero

15.11 – Jake Peavy

16.5 – Adam Lind

17.11 – Dee Gordon

18.5 – Jhonny Peralta

19.11 – Melky Cabrera

20.5 – Erasmo Ramirez

Gordon and Cabrera jump off the page. Combined, these late-round steals are on pace for 25 bombs, just under 100 swipes and better than a .290 batting average.

21.11 - Dustin Ackley

22.5 - Gregory Polanco

23.11 - Jesse Chavez

24.5 - Robbie Ross

25.11 – Robbie Grossman

26.5 – Tyler Clippard

27.11 – Alexi Ogando

28.5 – Derek Norris

29.11 – Brian Wilson

30.5 – Will Harris

This last segment isn’t a quiver stuffed with gems, but you never see that in the last ten rounds. You throw some darts and hope a couple stick. Derek Norris fits the mold and is exhibit A of the perfect catcher strategy. The Athletics backstop comes in at number six on the NFBC player rater. For his number two, how’s Devin Mesoraco for a sneaky waiver grab? I love waiting on catchers. There are always serviceable plays to be had late. The premium on catchers on draft day is heavy. They are packaged with excessive opportunity costs. Todd Zola has written some solid pieces on the myth of position scarcity. I have to say that I agree with him. Mr. Fiore doesn’t need hitting reinforcements, but Gregory Polanco will be bringing his swing to the Sultans very soon. I would be remiss if I failed to mention his brilliant waiver work: Juan Francisco, Chris Parmelee, Josh Willingham, Ryan Vogelsong, Francisco Rodriguez, and others.

I applaud the strong pitching strategy. There are bats available late, and on the wire if you are diligent. In my Main Event League, the team sitting in first place took only one bat in the first three rounds. That squad is in first with 69.5 hitting points.

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