Help, my fingers hurt from scratching the bottom of the barrel!
This is the cliché cry of the AL and NL-only league managers. By the 20th round, we are indeed scouring deep into the player pool. With the baseball season two weeks away and most drafts taking place between now and then, this is a good time to take a look at the peculiarities of the 2017 NL-only league player pool.
What follows are conclusions reached during my participation in the CBS Analysts league, innumerable mock drafts and observations of Experts leagues, like LABR. Standard Roto 5x5 format is assumed.
Third Base strategy: Nolan Arenado and Kris Bryant will be selected early in the first round (draft) or cost a pretty penny (auction). Jonathan Villar’s eligibility at third does not help; he will likely go as an SS. Personally, I prefer Arenado to Bryant because he has a longer track record. Be prepared because the battle for third basemen will be fierce.
Corner Infield strategy: In a nutshell, there just aren’t enough full-timers to fill 12 teams with three CI’s each. There are a couple of ways to go about this. One is to pick up a top 1B and 3B and get the CI late (draft) or spend $1 (auction). Since by then, players with a full-time job are likely gone, aim for players who sit behind an injury-prone full-timer. Adam Lind, who is behind Ryan Zimmerman, comes to mind. The other option is to avoid spending on top 1B’s and 3B’s in order to have enough money to compete for mid-level CI players, like Justin Bour or Jose Reyes, both of whom could return a profit.
Multi-positional eligibility: In deep leagues like an NL-only, I particularly like players who qualify at more than one position. As unavoidable injuries start affecting a team, players like Matt Carpenter, Ben Zobrist or Howie Kendrick become more and more valuable. The ability to move players around the lineup is worth an extra couple of bucks. Incidentally, Willson Contreras is the only catcher eligible at more than one position.
Wins consideration: The Wins category is the most ephemeral one. Wins are very difficult to predict on a week-by-week/player-by-player basis. Late in the draft, when we face the dilemma of having to fill the sixth starting pitcher slot, the available hurlers may be MLB teams’ fifth starters. These players may end up destroying your ERA and WHIP. As I wrote previously on these pages, these two categories are essential and should not be ignored. Rather than picking up a starter, look for bullpen arms who may not add to Wins but may help elsewhere. If they provide an occasional save, all the better. Grant Dayton, Blake Treinen and Hector Rondon are all valid alternatives.
Follow Pasko on Twitter @varnica123. His essays about sports in ancient Roman times can be found at SportsInAntiquity.com