Fantasy Baseball Draft Review – 2017 OBFBL

On March 19, 2017, the Old Bridge Fantasy Baseball League had its 19th annual draft.  I have run this league since 1999 and, while the cast of league members has changed over the years, the traditions have been maintained.  The league is still a non-keeper, head-to-head points league comprised of 16 teams (some years were 18 teams).  Starting lineups consist of one catcher, one first baseman, one second baseman, one third baseman, one shortstop, three outfielders, two utility players, and six pitchers of any designated.  There are also five bench slots.  Given the structure of the scoring system, the league heavily favors pitchers over hitters due to both wins and saves being worth ten points and strikeouts being worth two points.  As such, it should come as no surprise that ten of the 16 first round draft picks were pitchers and then nine more pitchers went in the second round.  Here is a breakdown and analysis of the team I drafted which was out of the 9th spot in this snake draft.

  1. Noah Syndergaard (SP-NYM)Noah Syndergaard

I was targeting Madison Bumgarner at this spot but I did not expect him to last to me.  Bumgarner ended up going fourth overall so it became a no-brainer once Thor was available.  It is critically important in the OBFBL to have a dominant ace pitcher who can carry your team during weeks where they have two starts.  Syndergaard had a stellar 2016 season and is expected to be even better now that he has developed a change-up to go along with his electric fastball and devastating slider.  He will be a Cy Young Award candidate assuming he can avoid injuries.

  1. Kenley Jansen (RP-LAD)

Since saves are worth ten points, dominant closers are just as valuable as dominant starting pitchers.  Jansen’s numbers were spectacular in 2016 and he is arguably the best closer on the board.  He was a better option than any of the starting pitchers still available at this point so I was very happy to pair him with Syndergaard giving me two dominant pitchers to build my roster around.  I expect over 40 saves and at least 100 strikeouts which makes him an extremely valuable commodity.

  1. Josh Donaldson (3B-TOR)

I was hoping Aroldis Chapman or Zach Britton would fall to me in the 3rd round but they both got taken within five picks before me.  With no other pitchers, I was targeting, I decided to take the best hitter available which was Donaldson.  Even though he doesn’t run out home runs in minor league spring training games, he is an elite third baseman which is a position that dramatically falls off after the top few options.  Donaldson has been banged up a bit this spring but he will be fine by Opening Day and should be a lock for 35 home runs and 100 RBI.

  1. Xander Bogaerts (SS-BOS)

I had briefly considered taking Carlos Correa over Kenley Jansen in the 2nd round so the fact Bogaerts was available here in the 4th round helped validate my decision.  Bogaerts had a breakout season in 2016 and should only get better as he gets stronger.  Francisco Lindor was also available here but I went with Bogaerts who is hitting a deeper lineup and has the benefit of poking balls off the Green Monster for half of his games.

  1. George Springer (OF-HOU)

I hadn’t taken an outfielder up until this point so I was deciding between Springer and Starling Marte.  I went with Springer thanks to his better power numbers and the fact that Marte has had an injury history thus far in his young career.  I couldn’t have gone wrong either way but I felt that Springer has a better upside in a points league as compared to Marte who has more value in a Roto league.

  1. Gregory Polanco (OF-PIT)

I was really hoping Andrew McCutchen would fall to me in this round but he was taken three spots before my turn.  After passing on Marte and losing out of McCutchen, I selected the third Pirates outfielder in Polanco.  He has such a huge upside with a great combination of power and speed, and with the experience he has under his belt he is ready to take the next step towards elite status.  This is one of the picks I am most excited about.

  1. David Robertson (RP-CHW)

I strayed away from pitching for the last four rounds so it was time to go back and add to my staff.  Again, there were no starting pitchers I really liked in this spot so I opted for a second-tier closer with Robertson.  Even though the White Sox are in a rebuilding phase, they will still win their fair share of games and Robertson will be the one to close them out unless he is traded.  He doesn’t put up dominating peripheral numbers but he should still accumulate over 30 saves which is worth at least 300 points on its own.

  1. James Paxton (SP-SEA)

Some GMs in the OBFBL have attempted filling their pitching rotation solely with closers, but that has never proven to be a recipe for championship success.  You need starters because you know they are going to pitch and have a chance to win (assuming they are healthy and active).  Closers are not guaranteed to have save opportunities, let alone get into games.  Paxton has a big upside with his strikeout potential and I did not think he would make it back to me in the 9th round.

  1. Chris Davis (1B-BAL)

Having punted first base to this point, it was important that I grab one now with the options remaining being less than desirable.  Davis obviously has huge power potential, but the problem with him in a points league is that batter strikeouts are worth -1 points.  He is likely going to strike out more than 200 times which equates to at least -200 points.  This will offset his offensive output so Davis will not be relied upon to carry my offense.

  1. Justin Upton (OF-DET)

Upton signed a huge free agent contract with the Tigers before the 2016 season and was highly coveted in drafts last year.  I should know because I took him in the 4th round of last year’s OBFBL draft.  He slipped all the way to the 10th round and is coming off a better second half of 2016, so I grabbed him to be my 3rd outfielder.  He is a streaky hitter so I will have to endure the ups and downs throughout the season as he somehow winds up with 30 home runs and 90 RBI.

  1. A.J. Ramos (RP-MIA)

Following the same rationale as when I drafted Robertson, I wanted to add another closer because the starting pitcher options were not appetizing here.  Ramos is far from a sure thing, but assuming he can keep the closer’s job in Miami he should easily surpass 30 saves.

  1. Carlos Beltran (OF-HOU)

This pick was a bit of a stretch but my instincts told me that I had to make this move now otherwise he would not make it back to me in the next round.  My instincts were correct because when I selected Beltran a few other GMs moaned and groaned that he was queued up next for them.  At 40-years old, Beltran should still be able to produce 20-25 home runs and 80-85 RBI serving primarily as the designated hitter in a deep Houston lineup.  He fills one of my two starting Utility player slots.

  1. Jose Peraza (2B/SS-CIN)

Second base was still vacant for me so this pick came down to a choice between Pereza and Javier Baez.  Both players are eligible at multiple positions which is very valuable in the OBFBL, but I opted for Peraza whose starting position is more secure than Baez.  The Cubs will likely use Baez as a super utility player, and while his power and run production output will be better his propensity to strike out will offset that advantage.  Peraza will be one of those players that annoys the hell out of opponents by accumulating points here and there with multi-hit games, runs scored and stolen bases.

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury (OF-NYY)

I was targeting Michael Brantley with this pick but he was selected just two spots before me.  I wanted Brantley as my second Utility player and was banking on him returning to his 2015 form.  However, I had to adjust and decided to bank on a bounce-back season from Ellsbury.  At this point in his career, he will never live up to his contract or approach the elite statistics he put up on a couple previous occasions.  But the fact that I found a starting outfielder of his caliber in the 14th round makes him a good value and I can always use him as trade bait for GMs that are Yankees fans.

  1. Drew Smyly (SP-SEA)

I had one more slot to fill in my pitching rotation and went with another Mariner in Smyly.  He has bounced around the past couple years in Detroit and Tampa Bay, but hopefully he is given a chance to settle in Seattle and stay healthy.  I like Smyly’s potential as he can rack up strikeouts in a pitcher-friendly ballpark.

  1. Matt Wieters (C-WAS)

Normally I wait until the last round to select my catcher, but I had the rest of my starting roster drafted and liked Wieters much more than the options that were left.  Wieters showed he was healthy after recovering from Tommy John surgery and now gets a fresh start batting in a deep Nationals lineup.  I’ll be very satisfied to get 15 home runs and 60 RBI from my catcher at this point in the draft.

  1. Raisel Iglesias (RP-CIN)

It was now time to start selecting my bench and accumulating some depth.  Iglesias was sitting there and I pounced on him at the thought of him being the Reds closer.  Cincinnati is not expected to be very good this year, but Iglesias is one of the few bright spots on their team.  It isn’t clear yet on who will get 9th inning duties for Cincinnati, but I have no problem stashing Iglesias on the chance that he is given the opportunity to close.

  1. Dellin Betances (RP-NYY)

Speaking of solid relief pitchers, there are few better than Dellin Betances who will be setting up Aroldis Chapman again this year.  Betances likely won’t get many save opportunities, but in the event of an injury to one of my starting pitchers he can safely put in my lineup and is a lock to accumulate positive points thanks to his holds and strikeouts.

  1. Josh Bell (1B-PIT)

I am admittedly not enamored with Chris Davis as my first baseman, so I wanted to make sure I at least had another option.  Bell is a promising young player with some pop, and he will be given a chance to play every day for the Pirates.

  1. Jurickson Profar (SS/OF-TEX)

In terms of multiple position eligibility, there aren’t many players with more flexibility than Profar who qualifies at all infield positions and outfield as well.  He may be the Rangers starting left fielder which would give him a chance to finally prove the hype surrounding him his whole injury-riddled career.  Profar is simply insurance but if he produces then he could become my starting second baseman over Peraza.

  1. Mike Foltynewicz (SP-ATL)

I didn’t want to end the draft without another starting pitcher so I went with Foltynewicz who has some good upside after winning nine games and striking out 111 batters in 123 innings last year.

Here is my roster broken down by position:

C             Matt Wieters-WAS

1B           Chris Davis-BAL

2B           Jose Peraza-CIN

3B           Josh Donaldson-TOR

SS           Xander Bogaerts-BOS

OF          George Springer-HOU

OF          Gregory Polanco-PIT

OF          Justin Upton-DET

UT          Carlos Beltran-HOU

UT          Jacoby Ellsbury-NYY

P             Noah Syndergaard-NYM

P             Kenley Jansen-LAD

P             David Robertson-CHW

P             James Paxton-SEA

P             A.J. Ramos-MIA

P             Drew Smyly-SEA

Summary

Overall I am happy with the team I drafted and would not go back and change many picks.  There were a couple instances where I was sniped and had to make adjustments, but nothing overly critical.  My pitching staff contains two elite studs in Syndergaard and Jansen, but after that is mediocrity.  I will need my offense to carry the load in weeks where Thor only pitches once.  I think this roster should compete for a playoff berth but I don’t think it is good enough to win the league.  I’ll have to use some of the depth I have to try and negotiate a trade (and yes, as per the precedent from Fantasy Judgment I will recuse myself as commissioner) and upgrade my pitching and potentially first base as well.

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