NFBC recap part one

411 host alumnus Pat DePirro and I joined forces again today for our third annual crack at the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. We won our league in 2006, finishing sixth in the country, but barely slipped into third last year to win back our entry fee. With our eyes set on recapturing the magic of 2006, here’s how our first half of the draft went down ("satellite ADP" refers to average draft position in recent NFBC satellite drafts, which is a helpful indicator since many main event contestants warm up by doing satellite leagues):

Round 1

Best pick: A basic 411 adage is that you can’t win your league in
the first round, but you can’t lose it. Still, it’s hard for us to not LOVE
getting Ryan Howard with the 15th overall pick, when our value rankings had him
ninth and satellite ADP had him going 11th.

Worst pick: Albert Pujols went 9th, which isn’t a bad pick
obviously but just a very risky one. Grady Sizemore was a surprised at the 13th
pick, and that’s what enabled us to take Howard.

We wanted: We expected to get Alfonso Soriano and Grady Sizemore
with our first two picks, but we weren’t disappointed with who we got instead.

Our pick: Howard – even if he only hits .275 with zero steals, he’s
a near lock for 45 or more homers and 120 or more RBI’s, and obviously his
upside beyond that is extreme.

 

Round 2

Best pick: We never would’ve passed on Prince Fielder if we didn’t
have a shot at Ryan Howard, so that’s the only reason we allowed him to last to
the 5th pick up this round, 20th overall. Unbelievable mistake by those teams
who passed on him not once, but twice.

Worst pick: Look, I’m a big Corey Hart fan, but is he really the 30th
best player in fantasy baseball this year? Ah, no. But that didn’t stop him
from going to Team 1 with the last pick of this round. Certainly he wouldn’t
have lasted until their next pick, but that’s no excuse for such a big reach
this early.

We wanted: Soriano or Sizemore, as mentioned above.

Our pick: Soriano – if he hits .268 (like he did in 2005) with 28
homers (2004), 70 RBI’s (last season) and 18 steals (2004), this will be a
disastrous pick. Then again, if he stays healthy (knock on wood), he should hit
35+ homers and steal about 20 bags, if not more. Moderate risk but massive reward.

Round 3

Best pick: Debate the value of catchers all you want, but Russell
Martin inexplicably lasted to the 13th pick (43rd overall), late enough that we
thought we might actually get him with our pick, but it wasn’t meant to be.
If he even comes close to last year’s production, this will be a steal.

Worst pick: Maybe Carlos Pena really will hit 46 homers again. Or
maybe he’ll hit .280-36-110 or so, which would certainly validate a pick in the
late 4th or early 5th round. But it certainly doesn’t justify the 12th pick of
the 3rd round (42nd overall).

We wanted: Our original plan all along was to take Garrett Atkins’
power and batting average to complement the speed and runs of Sizemore and
Soriano.

Our pick: Atkins – the first half slump was scary, but his huge
second half, combined with his huge 2006, convinced us that he’s pretty safe to
go .305/25/105 if not more. His high average upside complements Howard and
Soriano very nicely, although our overall lack of speed in our first three
picks would have ramifications later on.

 

Round 4

Best pick: It’s not as great a value as when we took him in the 8th
rounBrandonwebbd in 2006, but I still love getting Brandon Webb (right) with the first pick of this
round, 46th overall. Our rankings were very favorable towards starting pitchers
and had him 30th overall, but even if you think that’s overly optimistic,
consider that satellite ADP had him going 40th, so we got good value by any
measure.

Worst pick: With declining power and average, it’s hard to justify
Michael Young with the 5th pick of this round, 50th overall. My projections,
which I think are more than generous given the recent trends of his career, make
him the 84th ranked player overall, and satellite ADP had him at 76th. So any
way you look at it, this is a reach of at least one full round, if not more.

We wanted: We targeted Webb with this pick from the moment
draft spots were announced.

Our pick: Webb. A very reliable ace who’s still right in his prime,
and might even benefit from the presence of Danny Haren and a resurgence, if it
lasts, by Randy Johnson.

 

Round 5

Best pick: The batting average is scary, but if Chris Young can
even get it up to a very reasonable .255 or .260, he should be a lock for 30-30
with 100 or more runs. That he went with the 3rd pick of this round, 63rd overall,
is a huge bargain… ADP had him at 46 and we ranked him 48th.

Worst pick: This round was an utter train wreck. It’s hard to
decide which pick was more inexplicable, when you compare the overall pick cost
to the satellite ADP for Matt Kemp (ADP 89 vs. pick 61), Howie Kendrick (102
vs. 72) and Josh Hamilton (99 vs. 74). I promise you they all look even worse
compared to the rankings we were using. And it’s not like Jorge Posada (95 vs. 73)
was such a huge bargain, either. Maybe everyone thought it was the 7th round,
not the 5th?  Yes, you can lose your league in the fifth round, too.

We wanted: We would’ve jumped all over Chris Young or Brian McCann had
they slipped, but that was probably overly optimistic. Still, we got close enough to think about it.

Our pick: Francisco Rodriguez – DePirro is no fan of Young’s, but
we would’ve had a fistfight over him had he lasted to our pick. Fortunately
that crisis was averted, so we took a top three closer to anchor our bullpen.

 

Round 6

Best pick: Our pitcher-friendly rankings had Aaron Harang at number
49 overall, and satellite ADP pegged him at number 71, but he lasted to the 88th
overall pick to Team 3, so that’s a pretty good bargain by any measure.

Worst pick: This round was a pretty good rebound from the numerous mistakes
that littered the 5th, so it’s hard to pick on anyone here. But based on our
rankings, it’s hard to see Brad Hawpe earning the 86th overall pick (11th in
this round). To be fair, satellite ADP makes this look like a bargain, since
that pegged him at number 69, so obviously we have a big disagreement on this
one.

We wanted: Shane Victorino or Rickie Weeks would’ve been nice fits
given our early needs for speed, but neither fell to us. DePirro was leaning
towards Harang, but I swayed him on this one.

Our pick: Daisuke Matsuzaka – we passed on Harang’s reliable
production to go for what we believe to be the bigger upside. Given a full
season to adjust to the U.S. and a Major League workload, not to mention that he’s entering his age 27
season, we think Dice-K could give us ace-quality value (66th in our overall
rankings) with the 76th pick.

 

Round 7

Best pick: Maybe people were still concerned about Ryan Zimmerman
because of his wrist surgery, but our rankings placed him at 67th overall. Even though satellite ADP had him much lower, at 84,  he’s still a bargain by any measure with the
98th overall pick. Wish we had gotten him.

Worst pick: I’ve got nothing against Fausto Carmona, John Maine or
Ben Sheets, but all three went at least a round too early. Our projections, satellite
ADP and actual picks for all three: Carmona (128, 122, 94), Maine (111, 127, 95), Sheets (127, 118, 102).

We wanted: We had originally targeted Zimmerman, but getting Atkins
made that miss easier to take. James Shields or Adrian Beltre would’ve fit
nicely also, and Beltre went with the pick immediately before ours, so we had
to make a quick decision.

Our pick: Francisco Cordero – This pick essentially started a run
on the second tier of closers, as six went in the very next round. We like his
great strikeout potential and think his fastball/slider combo will enable him
to post excellent numbers even in homer-happy GABP; with K-Rod and him we got the power closers we always like to build around.

 

Round 8

Best pick: Given how many closers went in this round, Billy Wagner
was a very good value at the 107th overall pick, compared to both our ranking (71)
and satellite ADP (94), too.

Worst pick: I can understand to a certain extent why Alex Gordon (119th
overall) and Orlando Cabrera (120th) went with the last two picks of this
round, and by ADP both are reasonable selections. But our rankings had them
both 30 or more picks lower, a full two rounds.

We wanted: Speed, and we thought we had a good solution, tooP1jacobyellsbury

Our pick: Jacoby Ellsbury – earlier this week, WFAN radio in New York reported that Coco Crisp had been traded to the Mets,
which would make Ellsbury (right) the everyday CF for the Red Sox. That report was
refuted by both teams, but with an intensity that suggests to me a deal is
actually imminent once Crisp gets healthy. So when we were told by a “friend”
before the draft that the trade had gone through, we thought we got a steal
here, only to find out that our legs were being pulled. I won’t name names, but
I thought that “friend” showed particularly bad taste and judgment in giving us
false info. like that only minutes before we were set to draft. We still expect
Ellsbury to see significant playing time, and probably enough to steal 30 or 35
bags and justify this pick, but the misinformation we were given made this a
much riskier pick than it needed to be. Trust me folks, I won’t forget how this
one went down… I won’t forget and I won’t forgive.

 

Round 9

Best pick: Given how he’s thrown this spring, you’d have to say that Francisco Liriano
was a very nice gamble with the 126th overall pick, and both our rankings (105)
and satellite ADP (112) agree with that.

Worst pick: He wasn’t a truly terrible pick, but since everything
went pretty much by the book here so for lack of an alternative I’ll go with J.J.
Hardy. He went 124th overall, compared to a satellite ADP of 143 and our
ranking of 177. Yeah, I guess that is a pretty bad pick.

We wanted: Orlando Cabrera would’ve been a perfect fit and we
thought we would get him even though we knew it would be a round too early, but
as mentioned above, he went even earlier than we were willing to reach for him.

Our pick: Kelly Johnson – we didn’t get the speed we wanted out of
our first middle infielder, but Johnson is a valuable package of decent power,
a little speed, solid average and a potentially high runs total atop an
improved Braves lineup. We ranked him 144th overall and got him 135th overall,
so it was a slight but reasonable reach; we think satellite ADP (154) underrates
him.

 

Round 10

Best pick: Tim Lincecum went 141st (compared to our ranking of 114
and satellite ADP of 120), and Brett Myers went 148th (110 and 117). Two
excellent bargains at this point by any measure.

Worst pick: Jeff Francis went 150th overall, though satellite ADP
had him at 177 and we ranked him only 218th. No excuse for this one. Maybe it was an overreaction to missing out on Myers and Lincecum.

We wanted: DePirro wanted Lincecum here, and in hindsight I
probably should’ve been on board with that given the great value he would’ve
represented. But with Webb and Dice-K already onboard, and enough depth of number
three and four starters left to satisfy my tastes, I fought hard for who I
thought was one of three or four best available bats remaining…

Our pick: Edwin Encarnacion – like Johnson, he was a slight reach
with the 136th pick, since we ranked him 143 and satellite ADP was 145. But if
Dusty Baker doesn’t screw him up, I think he’s a lock for 22/80/10 if not more, and his
batting average upside could be considerable. A somewhat risky pick, but we
needed bats.

 

Round 11

Best pick: On pure value, Aaron Rowand was a pretty solid pick at 154th
overall, since we ranked him at 115 and his satellite ADP was 149. If he steals
more as promised, this could be a very nice pick. Or he could stink in that
ballpark. Good upside here though.

Worst pick: I know he’s a closer and all, but we and satellite ADP
both agreed on George Sherrill as exactly the 213th ranked player, but he still
went 161st overall. That’s a full three-round reach, friends. That’s not good.

We wanted: We hoped, we prayed, we dreamed, that one of Chad
Billingsley, Dustin McGowan, Adam Wainwright or even F*&^#$’ing Ted Lilly
would get to us here, but none did. McGowan and Wainwright went back-to-back
just three and two picks before us. I promise you that made the  Lincecum vs. Encarnacion decision that much more painfule, since both Longoria and Kouzmanoff lasted into the 12th round.

Our pick: Lastings Milledge – by his satellite ADP of 228, he’s a
ginormous reach here at number 165 overall. However, we think that
significantly undervalues him, and our rankings had him at 137 overall, so if he
makes good on his potential to approach 20/20, this might end up being a huge
bargain.

 

Round 12

Best pick: Our rankings smile on the selections here of Carlos
Marmol at 176 (vs. our 87, based on the big assumption that he’s the Cubs
closer) and Oliver Perez at 166 (vs. our 108, based on the assumption that he doesn’t
su*k).

Worst pick: Sure, closers were going fast, but there’s no
justification for Troy Percival at 169, compared to satellite ADP of 211 and our
ranking of 275.

We wanted: Billingsley, McGowan or Wainwright. Not getting one of
the three of them in the 11th round might be our single biggest disappointment
of the entire draft.

Our pick: Jered Weaver – at worst, he’s a decent innings eater as
our #3. If he improves even somewhat from last year, which we think he will
since he’s only 26, he’s a very reasonable pick here at 166th overall. Our
ranking of 146 says decent bargain, satellite ADP of 173 says fair value. Still, would you rather have Lincecum and Kouzmanoff, or Encarnacion and Weaver? That’s how the math ended up for us.

 

Round 13

Best pick: Kosuke Fukudome at 188, a big drop from our ranking of 154
and satellite ADP of 153. Should provide double-digit homers and steals for a
bargain price.

Worst pick: Austin Kearns at 192, compared to our 224 ranking and
his 247 satellite ADP. Why reach for this guy, even if they’re moving to a
better stadium? Did he start taking HGH?

We wanted: Fukudome or Zack Greinke, who went the pick right before
ours, just like McGowan and Wainwright.

Our pick: Bronson Arroyo – he rebounded in the second half last
year and should end up with similar numbers to Greinke, but obviously without
as much upside. We took him at 195 compared to satellite ADP of 210, but our
rankings had him at 149, so it’s a good gamble in our view.

 

Round 14

Best pick: Chien-Meng Wang went at 204 vs. our 176 ranking and
satellite ADP of 158. He better win 18 games again though.

Worst pick: I wouldn’t have gone for Tom Gorzelanny at 196 (us 257,
ADP 226), Chris Duncan at 201 (us 248, ADP 245) or even Jay Bruce at 198 (us 311,
ADP 271), not with DustTowlesy Baker and Corey Patterson in town.

We wanted: A catcher and/or speed. Or maybe both!

Our pick: J.R. Towles – Kevin Goldstein will kill me for passing on
Geovanny Soto, but I wanted the few extra steals Towles (right) will get, and at 196th overall,
he was a reasonable pick compared to his satellite ADP of 200, and especially since
we had him ranked at 163.

 

Round 15

Best pick: I still have playing time concerns about Joba
Chamberlain and Jared Saltalamacchia, but by any reasonable standards they were
bargains with the 212th and 218th overall picks.

Worst pick: Scott Baker (221st overall), Jason Giambi (222) and Carlos
Gomez (224) all have their merits, but all went three rounds too early.

We wanted: A middle infielder and/or speed, or Geovanny Soto if we
got a second chance at him, which we didn’t. Stephen Drew went a few picks
before us too; he’s not great but should get 10 or so steals.

Our pick: Jhonny Peralta – I don’t stardom is a realistic
expectation any longer, but he should go .270/20/70 again and that’s well above average
for a shortstop. He was also a fine bargain at 225 overall, compared to both satellite
ADP (178) and our ranking (191).

* * *

So that’s how the first half of the draft went. I’d love to type more tonight but I’m exhausted! I’ll recap the second half tomorrow, with projected standings and some final thoughts. Enjoy!

–Cory

15 Comments

Nice work, this is great stuff!

According to PFM on BaseballProspectus.com, Milledge ranks as having the 40th highest value in a league that I’m drafting for on Sunday – I’ll be all over him with my 163rd pick (14th round). I’m not saying that the target isn’t a healthy reach or that he’ll prove to actually be in the top-40 at season’s end, but I think that he’ll at least prove to put up top-100 worthy numbers. I love it.

I was disappointed that you didn’t come out of your first wheel with Crawford/Tex (like you forecasted on Friday’s show), but it looks like you had a very nice day nonetheless.

Looking forward to the second half analysis…

– Adam in Saint Louis

Great Stuff can’t wait to here the rest. Having acsess to this info with your comments is priceless. It helps a ton.

Thanks

Sam in ND

You look solid so far Cory, but you guys are going to need to get some OF help in the second half of this draft. You’ve got a set of guys who are going to get your 20 HR (Encarnacion, Peralta, Johnson, Soriano, Milledge) and 10+ SB (Pretty much the same list), and two anchors in Ellsbury and Fielder. It hurts getting screwed over by “friend,” but getting .300/10/100/60/40 from him isn’t out of the question.

Just an update for seeing your team:

C – Towles

1B – Fielder

2B – Johnson

3B – Atkins

SS – Peralta

OF – Soriano

OF – Ellsbury

OF – Milledge

OF –

OF –

CI – Encarnacion

MI –

UT –

P – Webb

P – Matsuzaka

P – Arroyo

P – Jer. Weaver

P –

P –

P – Rodriquez

P – Coco Cordero

P –

You’ve got some good value here. Out of curiosity, what OF were there when you took Atkins? Had you gone Howard/Fielder/OF/Webb, Encarnacion becomes your 3B instead of CI, but you get the huge bump from Atkins to Fielder. Just wondering.

Can’t wait to see the next rounds.

Tom in Boston

Can’t wait to see the second half. Its like “who shot JR” from the old dallas series. Have to come back tomarrow to find out the ending.

I was wondering if you will be posting your ranking anywhere now that your draft is over. Would love to see them.

Thanks,

Jersey Hitman

Fantasy Baseball Mafia

I think I did a good job this year following the 411 convention. I went after SP a little more than usual and my bullpen suffered. I also felt 3rd base was very deep and ended up getting caught with a run of 4 thirdbasemen / CI going before me leaving my 1B, 3B / CI weak.

Here is my team. Thoughts?

R Martin C

M Jacobs 1B

E Longoria 3B

R Sexson CI

BJ Upton 2B

J Rollins SS

K Johnson MI

C Lee OF

N Swisher OF

S Victorino OF

J Ellsbury OF

T Hafner U

C Sabathia SP

J Lackey SP

O Perez SP

R Harden SP

R Johnson SP

B Wilson SW

B Jenks RP

E Gagne RP

Reserves

J Lugo

CJ Wilson

B Hall

N Robertson

J Guthrie

J Bruce

F Gutierrez

BTW – 12 team mixed vanilla

Hey Cory,
Some comments: Soriano is a shock to me since you generally rip him on air!

I think you reached too early with both Encarnacion and Johnson. In our 13 team Paul C Smith league drafted today (I realize we’re rank amateurs) Eddie went at 203 and Johnson 213. I think even with your fellow experts around, you could have waited an extra round on each at least.

Peralta was a great value where you got him.

Four picks in a row with Pitchers? I realize two were Closers but still a surprise.

I can’t wait to see the rest of your squad and hear your thoughts on air throughout next week.

Good luck.

Hi Cory,

I had a friend (Mitch) pull a shenanigan during a draft a few years back in a friends league. One of our owners (Pat) wasn’t terribly prepared for the draft, and it was one of those years where someone who wasn’t well prepared wasn’t sure if John Smoltz was still closing or not.

My friend (Pat) posed the question during the draft, wanting Smoltz as a starter. I said Smoltz is a starter. My other friend (Mitch), who wanted Smoltz, said he was a closer, and he was sure.

Smoltz was of course a starter that year, and Pat passed on Smoltz thinking he was closing, and Mitch took him immediately thereafter. Mitch just said, “I had to have him.”

We won’t ever let him forget that one, it wasn’t a classy move or particularly a good one, given we all know each other. Mitch didn’t win the league that year, so all is well, but I understand the frustration. Confront the friend, embarrass him even to teach him a lesson, but try to forgive him. It’s not worth losing a friend over.

I enjoyed the post a lot, thank you for the tips.

Jarek in San Diego

Jarek, I was a little shaky on this guy to begin with and I have a big problem when someone “jokes” with you at a time when they know you are going to act on what they’ve told you, and you don’t have time to verify what they’ve told you, and you say three times “wow, really? Is that really true?” and they say “yes” every time. That violates trust, etiqutte, ethics and pretty much whatever else you have in mind and I don’t have time for that. I’m moving on.

–CS

I have to agree with Tom In Boston… taking Garrett Atkins in the third round is a little early for me.

Atkins at the end of round 3 (45th overall) was only a few spots earlier than our ranking or satellite ADP, so in that respect he was fair value at that point. But in hindsight, that’s the pick that killed us, since a) it filled up the 3B spot early even though there was a ton of depth there and b) we didn’t get enough speed even though we already had our first-3-picks HR goal met with Howard and Soriano. Taking Atkins there put us on the slippery slope that led to Ellsbury, Milledge, Pie, Maybin. Yes, you can lose your draft in the 3rd round.

–CS

Very good read, thanks.
Man, you can feel the pain when you kicked off today’s (3/17) show.

It’s not the worst I’ve seen…and a ton of upside if the chips fall right.

Thx, Alan

Tell you what, one thing made me feel a little better as the day went on… the Marlins had another young trade centerpiece make the jump from Double-A to an RoY season back in 2006. Anyone remember Hanley Ramirez? Here’s hoping Cameron can make lightning strike twice!

–CS

Too bad you couldn’t have verified the Crisp trade on your blackberry, if so, I’m sure I would have spread that rumor as well….

What happens now that Houston signed Pudge and Towles will most likely be relegated to the minors?

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