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NFBC Main Event
I knew this would be a hard draft, especially after three 12-teamers. The 15-team Main Event is a much deeper player pool, and the league you’re in is always loaded with great players. But this was one of the hardest ones I’ve done.
For starters, I screwed up the KDS. I chose 14th because I wanted Fernando Tatis (and you’ll see I got him), but picking near the end in a league this tough was torture. I foolishly let myself hope players would make it back to me, only to be disappointed round after round. It was especially crushing when they got close — one or two picks away, and you actually start to hope again before getting rugged.
The other insane thing — and I should have known this, but I was surprised by the extent — was the pitching inflation. It persisted throughout the entire draft, and once I got behind, there was no digging out from under it. I decided instead to lean into and take the hitting values, knowing whoever ends up running this team would have work to do. I actually like the pitchers I did get, but they’ll have hit the higher end of their ranges to make it work.
Here’s the team.
1.14 Mookie Betts — I knew I didn’t want Corbin Burnes or Vlad Guerrero. I don’t like Burnes’ second half, and Guerrero’s huge year came in a little league park. So if they were the two top ADP guys on the board, I was going Tatis and coming back with Spencer Strider or Gerrit Cole. But both went ahead of me, and Betts slipped to 14, so I knew Tatis, Cole or Strider would be there on the way back. (I talked myself into Strider after realizing he’s already had his Tommy John surgery in 2019.) Betts is a floor pick, but a good one in that lineup.
2.2 Fernando Tatis — I love Tatis this year and think he’ll be worth a top-five pick if he stays healthy, but in the 15-team Main those missed games are more costly than in the 12, and once I passed on a pitcher, I put myself behind the eight-ball for the rest of the draft. (There was no way to know this at the time, though, as only one pitcher went in the first round.)
3.14 Corbin Carroll — Having picked two hitters, and seeing pitching fly off the board, my fallback plan at 44 was Zack Wheeler (ADP 50 though yesterday’s five Mains.) But he went at pick 38, and my fallback to my fallback plan, Julio Urias (ADP 60) was also gone at pick 42. I don’t like Kevin Gausman or Shane Bieber this year, so I leaned into it and took Carroll narrowly over Randy Arozarena.
4.2 Matt Olson — Arozarena went at the turn, but I was happy to grab Olson who I expect to have a monster year. But I knew pitching would be a problem. I just didn’t realize how much.
5.14 Kenley Jansen — I waited 26 picks for Zac Gallen, but there he went, two picks ahead of me, so I went with my top closer instead. I also liked Alec Manoah and Yu Darvish too, but Team 3 (I won’t dox the guy, but he’s a good player) took both of them, a theme throughout this draft. It was as though he were looking at the highlighted guys on my cheat sheet.
6.2 Wander Franco — I considered an injured Carlos Rodon, but Franco has first-round upside, so ultimately I leaned into the hitting side even more. I also already had Tatis who’s out 20 games, and starting with two unavailable guys wouldn’t be ideal.
7.14 Lance Lynn — I was set to take Chris Sale and Lynn, but Sale went ahead of his ADP too, so I just grabbed Lynn, a horse of a pitcher who’s been just under the ace level when he’s healthy.
8.2 Luis Severino — Don’t say Jeff Erickson didn’t warn me, because he did. But I wanted Clayton Kershaw who went at the turn, and Severino seemed like the guy with the most ace upside left.
9.14 Freddy Peralta — I was hoping for Jesus Luzardo, but Team 3 snaked him again, so I went upside with Peralta instead.
10.2 Dustin May — I had the premonition about Chris Bassitt, but there was a chance I could squeeze him in the following round, so I swung for the fences again with May. The theme was pitchers who were aces for a short time before getting hurt.
11.14 Miguel Vargas — Of course Bassitt didn’t make it back to me, so I settled for Vargas, a top prospect slated for regular playing time in a great lineup.
12.2 Andrew Heaney — Yet another pitcher with upside and an even briefer showing of ace-like potential who gets hurt all the time. It was one of those drafts where you just had to keep taking somebody at the position because it was flying off the board so quickly.
13.14 David Roberston — I imagine he’ll get the first crack to close for the Mets, and if so, he’s got a chance to lead the league in saves.
14.2 Kelbert Ruiz — I wanted to have two quality catchers, and it was time. Of course, Team 3 had taken Jonathan India and Anthony Rendon, my two hitting targets off the board on the previous turn.
15.14 Josh Jung — He was my fallback third baseman when Rendon was gone. A top prospect who’s been derailed by injuries, but healthy now.
16.2 Jurickson Profar — It was he or Anthony Volpe, but I went Profar because he got paid $7.75 million by the cheap-ass Rockies, so I imagine he’ll play every day in Coors.
17.14 Yasmani Grandal — I landed my second catcher, another full-timer who I expect to bounce back now that he’s healthy again. I got snaked out of Luis Urias (who I needed for second base) three picks earlier.
18.2 Michael Fulmer — I have a feeling he’ll emerge as the Cubs’ closer, something I might need if Robertson doesn’t get or keep the job.
19.14 Taijuan Walker — He’s a good pitcher that can get me some strikeouts. I needed some volume to make up for my lack of an ace.
20.2 Spencer Torkelson — I considered D.J. Lemahieu, but he went at the turn, so it was Torkelson who has elite pedigree and still has time to figure it out.
21.14 Luis Rengifo — It’s a sad state of affairs when Rengifo is a player you have to have, but he was the last second baseman I wanted. Maybe Profar will qualify there soon, though.
22.2 Jared Shuster — He’s battling for the Braves’ fifth starter spot and is having a strong spring. He also dominated in Double-A last year before struggling in a brief stint in Triple-A.
23.14 Dylan Carlson — Another must-have for me in this draft. Carlson was a big-time prospect who more than held his own in the majors at 22 two years ago.
24.2 Michael Wacha — He was actually good last year, and now he’s pitching in a much better park in San Diego.
25.14 Mike Clevinger — He was once good, and he’s healthy again. I needed pitching volume to make up for the lack of an established ace.
26.2 Corey Kluber — He was useful last year because you played him against weak opponents and sat him against tough ones. Old pitchers, young hitters.
27.14 Nolan Gorman — I needed a middle infielder (though Tatis could move there if I wanted), and Gorman is one. The middle infield really dried up in the 15, I found out. Gorman might struggle for playing time, but he’s having a good spring and has a chance to play almost every day.
28.2 Juan Yepez — If Gorman doesn’t play, Yepez probably will. The Cards tend to develop young players well too.
29.14 Michael Grove — He has a chance to start off in the Dodgers’ rotation, and who knows? Kershaw is always hurt, and May and Noah Syndergaard are hardly paragons of durability themselves.
30.2 Mike Moustakas — He’s raking in camp and could make the Rockies. They have a young third baseman prospect (Elehuris Montero) who was available when I took him, but it’s the Rockies, so giving Moustakas a role just seems like something they’d do.
Roster By Position
C Kelbert Ruiz/Yasmani Grandal
1B Matt Olson
2B Luis Rengifo
3B Josh Jung
SS Wander Franco
CI Miguel Vargas
MI Nolan Gorman
OF Mookie Betts/Fernando Tatis/Corbin Carroll/Jurickson Profar/Dylan Carlston
UT Spencer Torkelson
SP Lance Lynn/Luis Severino/Freddy Peralta/Dustin May/Andrew Heaney/Taijuan Walker
RP Kenley Jansen/David Robertson/Michael Fulmer
Bench: Jared Shuster/Michael Wacha/Mike Clevinger/Corey Kluber/Juan Yepez/Michael Grove/Mike Moustakas
If you don’t like this team, you’re not alone. FantasyPros (which may or may not have updated its projections for Robertson or Profar) gave me the worst grade I’ve ever seen for a team:
I was heartened to see Team 3, who stole so many of my players, got a D+ at least.
And don’t get me wrong — I don’t really care at all what some projections nerds think of my team. Those projected standings are done under the assumption your team makes no moves all year long, and so they reward guaranteed playing time over players with wide ranges of outcomes I like to draft.
But it is funny how horrendously they graded it.