The 2017 NFBC draft season is in the books. We hit the Big Apple for the first time, and returned to the Windy City the following weekend. The Main Event in New York bucked the trend of obsessing over elite starting pitching, as the elite and potentially elite arms went later than I expected. It allowed Andy Saxton, drafting from 1.6, to start off with: Nolan Arenado, Joey Votto, Johnny Cueto and Chris Archer, giving him probably the strongest team foundation in the league. It remains to be seen if Archer can repeat the level we saw him display after the All-Star break, when he improved his K/BB ratio from 2.7 to 5.4, and lowered his ERA from 4.66 to 3.25. A full season of the latter would make Team Saxton the early favorite.
It was a small turnout in Chicago this year, but there’s something special about this group. You can sense a strong sense of camaraderie among the regulars, along with a fierce competitiveness, and a depth of baseball knowledge that rivals scouts I’ve talked with. These aren’t merely stat nerds. These guys know baseball. This made it impossible to execute my plan. I had to pivot more times than a politician at a fake news conference. The most interesting plan was Rotowire’s Derek Van Riper from 1.15:
1.15 – Madison Bumgarner
2.1 – Noah Syndergaard
3.15 – Kenley Jansen
4.1 – Aroldis Chapman
Instantly envious, I wondered why I didn’t KDS 1.15 and do the same thing? ERA, WHIP, K’s, Saves are all a slam-dunk, locked up. No chasing saves on FAAB. Just sit back and construct your offense and grab an occasional pitcher that slips. Of course he’s got power and speed issues that will have to be fixed on the wire, but nobody leaves the draft table with enough stats to win the national. You will have holes; you just get to choose where they will be.
Switching gears to the NFBC Rotowire Championship and potential waiver pieces for this weekend:
Jeremy Hellickson – The market was heavily influenced by spring training stats, more so than I’ve ever seen before, despite the fact that there’s little correlation between spring training stats and regular season stats over large sample sizes. A poor spring is the only explanation I can come up with for Hellickson being available in some leagues.
Ariel Miranda – Excelled at Safeco over a small sample size last year (3.16 ERA, 1.03 WHIP) and will be rounding out the Seattle Mariners rotation while Drew Smyly is on the shelf.
Brett Anderson – Theo Epstein raved about the former Dodger this spring. The southpaw is more of a streaming/matchup option in 12-team leagues, and will take the mound for the defending World Champions.
Wily Peralta – Made some adjustments during a demotion in 2016 and returned a different hurler, posting a 2.92 ERA and a 7.4 K/9. The arsenal includes a fastball that averages 94.8 mph but at times straightens out, making it easier for hitters to square him up. Still, he's worth a stash on the cheap to see if the improvements stick.
Tyler Anderson – Yes, the Brew Crew did a number on his ERA, but I’m looking at the 8 K’s, 1 BB in 5 IP. Don’t give up on him yet.
Shelby Miller – Longtime readers know that I called last year’s implosion. When is moving to Chase Field EVER a good thing for a pitcher? And yet, he’s shown increased velocity this spring along with more life and movement on his pitches. I’m willing to pay a buck to park him on my bench and see what happens. He might be a valuable piece to plug in for road matchups.
Ryan Schimpf – Homered off Kershaw this week. If you need 30-homer power from a middle infielder, the Padres third baseman is your huckleberry. He currently qualifies at 2B but should add 3B eligibility in a couple of weeks.
Pablo Sandoval – Yes, the new, improved, leaner Kung-Fu Panda went undrafted in some leagues. He should be a useful hitter for fantasy purposes this year.
Yangervis Solarte – 20+ homers and .280 AVG at the hot corner.