NFBC Satellite League Results
I'm excited to be back in the NFBC Main Event fold this season. I'll be drafting in the second Main Event weekend in Las Vegas, on March 31. To help get ready for that, I participated Monday night in a Satellite event that essentially lays out the same as the main, at least in terms of format. It's a 15-team mixed league with 30 roster spots (14 hitters, nine pitchers and seven reserves), with no trades allowed. You'll see a wider variance of draft strategies in the satellites, as the teams are just competing amongst each other and not also part of the greater overall pool. For those of you unfamiliar with the NFBC, one unique aspect is that you get to set your draft slot preferences ahead of time, and a lottery is then performed according to everyone's preferences ahead of time. My top four choices were the 12-through-15 spots, in deference to what appears to be a steep cliff in the hitter pool after the 18-20 range, and my preference to build my teams with hitters in the first three-to-five slots. I got my first choice - the 12th slot.
The first round wasn't especially remarkable; there were all the same names that you see in most mock draft results, though with some different ordering here and there. Once again, nobody reached for a pitcher, though I think you might be able to make a case for a couple of them. The first round unveiled as follows:
1. Miguel Cabrera
2. Matt Kemp
3. Albert Pujols
4. Ryan Braun
5. Troy Tulowitzki
6. Joey Votto
7. Jacoby Ellsbury
8. Jose Bautista
9. Carlos Gonzalez
10. Justin Upton
11. Prince Fielder
12. Adrian Gonzalez
13. Robinson Cano
14. Evan Longoria
15. Hanley Ramirez
I anticipated that I would be taking the residual from the two Gonzalez's and Upton - I didn't anticipate I'd have the choice between Adrian Gonzalez and Robinson Cano. I ended up taking Gonzalez, hoping to get one of Hanley Ramirez, Dustin Pedroia or Ian Kinsler on the way back. All three were selected before my next pick however - which became a theme to this draft, and an important takeaway for the Main Event. I'm probably going to prefer the 13-to-15 slots, maybe even in reverse order, and anytime I have a gap between picks that doubles my short list of desired players, I won't count on getting one of them.
Without listing each round, here are the remainder of my picks, and my rationales for them when appropriate.
2.4 Jose Reyes - The debate was between Reyes and Curtis Granderson, but ultimately I sided with Reyes because of his higher batting average, scarce position and speed, given that my first-round pick doesn't run.
3.12 Alex Gordon - In short, I'm a believer in his pedigree and his 2011 numbers, and I seem to be an outlier. He provides something in all five categories.
4.4 David Wright - I didn't target Wright, but felt the value was there. I would have taken Brett Lawrie, but he went at 3.5. Ryan Zimmerman and Adrian Beltre went in the second round, and Pablo Sandoval went at 3.7. By this point seven starting pitchers had been drafted, including Cole Hamels immediately before me.
5.12 Shin-Soo Choo - Choo is going to bounce back this year - most of his problems last season were largely predicated on injuries and his DUI. And though at #72 overall Choo should outperform his draft position, taking him here was a mistake, because of what it left me. I had planned on the comeback to take one of Yovani Gallardo, Jon Lester or Stephen Strasburg, or failing that, Miguel Montero (one of the last two catchers in the top two tiers). Alas, all four players went in succession two picks after my Choo choice, putting me in a tough position with my pitchers for the rest of the draft.
6.4 Alex Avila - Because there is a drop-off among starting pitchers after the three that went before me, I didn't want to reach for the next one. Instead, I elevated the last catcher in the second tier - which is probably just as bad of a decision. I like Avila, and he wouldn't have made it back to me, so this wasn't an egregious error, but I didn't like how it left me tactically.
7.12 Daniel Hudson, 8.4 Cory Luebke - Hudson was the top of the next tier of pitchers available after passing on starting pitching the previous round. I'm a believer in Luebke's breakout last season, particularly in that he didn't really benefit from pitching in Petco last year. Yu Darvish and Gio Gonzalez went between my two pitchers and Matt Garza immediately after.
9.12 Jason Motte, 10.14 Brandon League - The closer run in these two rounds was breathtaking - 14 closers went in these two rounds. This was similar to my last NFBC experience in 2009, and I got left on the outside looking in that day.
11.12 Jason Kipnis - One of the reasons why I passed on Cano in the first round is that second base is pretty well-stocked. I'm happy to get Kipnis here.
12.4 J.P. Arencibia - Conversely, catcher isn't all that deep, and Arencibia provides more power than the remainder.
13.12 Derek Holland - Holland was the best available starting pitcher on my board at this point.
14.4 Vernon Wells - Even in an otherwise horrific year, Wells hit 25 homers. He won't be as bad this year, and he'll hit for power with some speed.
15.12 Austin Jackson - I was a little light on speed, and Jackson has 30-steal potential.
16.4 Marco Scutaro - I had hoped to get one of Adam Dunn, Carlos Pena or Brandon Belt to fill my corner slot, but the three went in a row immediately in front of me, so I decided instead to fill my MI slot with a guy who should qualify at both second base and shortstop in short order.
17.12 Wandy Rodriguez - Rodriguez was the best available starter and his situation could improve with a trade midseason.
18.4 Mitch Moreland - Filling in the corner slot I missed out on two rounds prior.
19.12 Michael Brantley - Again, another cheap speed option and someone who should get a lot more playing time this year - though Monday's hamstring injury certainly was inconvenient.
20.4 Grant Balfour - I took Balfour over Jonathan Broxton (Greg Holland had gone a couple of picks before Brantley in Round 19).
21.12 Brian Fuentes - I might rue getting the A's handcuff when Fautino De Los Santos takes over in July. I'm hoping one of the two takes the job outright early in the season, so that I can release the other for another free agent if need be.
22.4 Bryce Harper - Having secured all but one active hitter slot, I took Harper here as an upside gamble for the second half. He'll begin in the minors, but I look at him as a “what can go right" proposition. I don't think I missed out on all that much in “safe" production for the slot. In fact, both Mike Trout and Anthony Rizzo were among the guys selected before my next picks.
23.12 Luke Hochevar - I'm buying into the notion that Hochevar's improved second-half last season was meaningful.
24.4 Lonnie Chisenhall, 25.12 Pedro Alvarez - With a weaker corner slot than most, I resolved to take multiple high-risk, high-upside guys among my reserves, focusing upon corner infielders.
26.4 Jarrod Parker - Parker also had a rough day Monday, but he should be up when the A's first need a fifth starter on April 17. Again, I'm buying into potential, which is mostly what was left in the player pool at this point.
27.12 Marlon Byrd - Byrd is the exception to the high-ceiling late picks - but he'll suffice until Harper is promoted or I find another good hitter on the waiver wire.
28.4 Domonic Brown - He's buried now, but the Phillies' aging hitters are already starting to crumble and even if he doesn't get his shot in Philly, they may be at a point where they're willing to trade him.
29.12 Gerardo Parra - Parra is a hedge against Jason Kubel's health and Chris Young's struggles against right-handed pitchers.
30.4 Felipe Paulino - There's something to Chris Liss's notion that a high BABIP isn't necessarily bad luck, but Paulino's strikeout rate (8.59 K/9IP) last year is good enough to gamble that he'll lower his ERA enough to make him viable.
Overall, this team is going to be competitive if not dominant in the hitting categories and should do well in saves, but probably is light in starting pitching. That still might be good enough for this satellite league, but I'd need some waiver wire good fortune to be more competitive in the main event. I think I've learned a few more tactical hints for that main event, however, and hopefully if you're also participating you gained something along the way.