Justin Mason’s 2023 Redemption Tour: Main Event

2022 was the worst year I have ever had as a fantasy player. I played in 16 leagues and did not cash in a single one. The hard part is that I didn’t  even know what went wrong. I had teams I really liked coming out of the draft and some that were doing very well throughout the season. I could have easily brushed it off as a bad season or beaten myself up over it. However, I worked my butt off to get better. 

Getting better started with my 2022 Apology Tour. I broke down each one of my leagues in depth to see the common strings between each team. It was an extremely illuminating exercise that helped inform my decisions in terms of my prep and drafting in 2023. It was a fruitful endeavor. I cashed in eight of my 20 leagues this season, including my biggest money leagues which led to a very profitable season.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I will be covering my teams that did well in this series, dissecting what I did right and what I did wrong in order to continue to improve heading into 2024. I will also be covering my teams that did not go so well in another Apology Tour series to examine why they were not as successful. 

In my third article of the series, I will look at my 2023 Main Event draft. This is a 15-team roto draft that was conducted live in Las Vegas on March 25, 2023. It had a number of great players in the draft including NFBC Hall of Famer Lindy Hinkelman, Toby G of the Bat Flip Crazy podcast, Gene McCaffrey of The Athletic, Jason Anthony/Matt Modica, and Don Scott among others. I was able to finish second in what ended up being an extremely competitive league.

 

Justin Mason’s Main Event Standings
Rank Owner Team Overall Rank Hitting Pitching Points
1 Don Scott Overpaid Wimps 66 44 64.5 108.5
2 Justin Salinger MasEvent 152 67 38 105
3 Jason Anthony ctm booms dos 102 48.5 53 101.5
4 Toby Guevin BatFlip Crazy Main 131 59.5 41 100.5
4 Dave Clum Diamondking 111 52 48.5 100.5
6 Griffin Benger Trent Grisham The Independent 150 38 58 96
7 Jeff Campbell Warrior Poets I 208 42.5 48.5 91
8 Dan Kenyon DOUGHBOYS 406 30 46.5 76.5
9 Dustin Wagner Team Never Lucky 418 20 55 75
10 KJ Duke Zefurs LV3 491 59.5 14 73.5
11 Chris Fessler Fessler’s Fire 460 19 52 71
12 Mike Massotto Baseball Furies-Vegas Main 586 46 20 66
13 James Rodriguez No Childs of Mine 727 28 24 52
14 Lindy Hinkelman Bob Enzyte 753 27 19 46
15 Gene McCaffrey McCaffrey 765 19 18 37

 

The Draft
I got my first choice in draft pick at slot 7. I felt like I would still get an elite player in the first round with a lot of options in the second round. My plan was to take the top two hitters available at each pick in the first two rounds and potentially a third one if one fell to me in the third.

Justin Mason’s Main Event Draft
Round Pick Pos Player
1 7 SS Bichette, Bo
2 24 3B Riley, Austin
3 37 1B Goldschmidt, Paul
4 54 OF Mullins, Cedric
5 67 P Bautista, Felix
6 84 P Musgrove, Joe
7 97 P Lynn, Lance
8 114 P Cortes, Nestor
9 127 2B Torres, Gleyber
10 144 P Montgomery, Jordan
11 157 OF Santander, Anthony
12 174 P Singer, Brady
13 187 OF Nootbaar, Lars
14 204 P Flaherty, Jack
15 217 CI Jung, Josh
16 234 OF Nimmo, Brandon
17 247 MI Abrams, CJ
18 264 C Heim, Jonah
19 277 P Kopech, Michael
20 294 UT Paredes, Isaac
21 307 OF Friedl, TJ
22 324 P Puk, A.J.
23 337 2B Garcia, Luis
24 354 P Suarez, Jose
25 367 P Hudson, Daniel
26 384 P Chapman, Aroldis
27 397 P Ottavino, Adam
28 414 OF Taveras, Leody
29 427 C Fortes, Nick
30 444 UT Reyes, Franmil
Red = Injured
Blue = Finished season on team

The draft started off as well as I could have hoped for. Though I hoped one of the top five hitters would fall, I was happy with Bichette in the first. I was pretty excited when I was almost up and both Corbin Burnes and Juan Soto were still on the board though while they both fell in the draft they went in the two picks in front of me and I settled for Austin Riley which I was still happy about. I also felt like I could get a great starter in the third round. However, eight of the next 12 picks were pitchers decimating the elite starting pitchers. I decided to pivot to Paul Goldschmidt who I had as a second round value.

I knew I needed to take a pitcher in the fourth round. I was very high on Zac Gallen, Alek Manoah and Luis Castillo who were all still available to me in the third and I hoped one would make it back. Castillo was taken which left Gallen as my highest rated starter available when my pick came up. However, there was one problem facing me: Cedric Mullins was still on the board. I knew I needed a starter, but Mullins was a second round value according to my ranks and I thought Manoah, Gallen or Zach Wheeler would be available in the fifth.

Of course that was not the case. All three starters went leaving me with a choice to either take the best closer on the board or reach on a guy like Framber Valdez. I decided to take Felix Bautista and then load up on pitching. I took four starters with my next five picks grabbing Joe Musgrove, Lance Lynn, Nestor Cortes and Jordan Montgomery. By the break after the 10th round, I knew I had made a huge mistake in roster construction. This would be the thing I had to attack through FAAB the rest of the season.

While that mistake put me behind the eight ball, I made some really great offensive picks. Josh Jung was great until he got hurt. CJ Abrams was a huge target of mine in the draft this season and he paid huge dividends. Brandon Nimmo and Jonah Heim were really nice value picks that paid off for me. Isaac Paredes and TJ Friedl were sleepers of mine that were huge for me. Finishing the season with 14 of my original 30 was a pretty great start to the season. Even guys that ended up getting dropped like AJ Puk were vital for me.

While I poorly constructed my draft, I had enough hits that the misses didn’t hurt me too much. It is clear where I made mistakes and had I taken a guy like Gallen in the fourth over Mullins, I might have had an even better team. I also might have ended up with a guy like Manoah which could have completely ruined my season. While I see the mistakes, I am happy with the outcome.

 

My FAAB Strategy
In 2022, one of the things that I really noticed in my Apology Tour series was that I struggled with FAAB. There were too many big bids that ended up just being wasted dollars. As a part of my preparation for 2023, I looked at the players who were much better at FAAB than me, namely Scott Jenstad of Rotowire who was in both my Main Event leagues in 2022. Scott used a more conservative approach to FAAB. Spreading his money around in smaller increments and giving himself more opportunities to hit big. My plan was to incorporate this strategy in my leagues in 2023. I knew I needed pitching more than anything, but I wanted to be careful. I was mostly successful with it and while it didn’t always work, when it did, it was massive for my teams, including this one.

 

April
April started out how one would expect with how my draft went. My offense was on fire and strong in every category while my pitching ratios were set on fire. By the end of April, I had a 5.147 ERA and a 1.400 WHIP. I was getting strikeouts and wins but hemorrhaging in the ratios as a result.

Justin Mason’s Main Event April FAAB
Date Team Add Drop Bid Runner-Up
4/2 MasEvent Will Smith Aroldis Chapman 53 39
4/2 MasEvent David Peralta Adam Ottavino 11
4/9 MasEvent Matt Manning Daniel Hudson 11
4/16 MasEvent Zach Jackson Matt Manning 17
4/16 MasEvent Scott McGough Franmil Reyes 17
4/16 MasEvent Max Kepler David Peralta 3
4/23 MasEvent Jeurys Familia Zach Jackson 7 6
4/30 MasEvent Hayden Wesneski Scott McGough 187 92
4/30 MasEvent Zach McKinstry Leody Taveras 7
Total Spent Total Left
313 687

My first good FAAB pick up of the season was Will Smith. I made a last minute bid on him when he got a Sunday save. He would end up registering 19 saves for me in spite of a bad ERA. That pick up alone was one of the reasons I was able to cash in the league. The rest of my pickups did not help me in August. However, one pick up hurt me tremendously. At the end of the month I spent big on Hayden Wesneski who someone had dropped. I really needed the pitching and Wesneski was a hot sleeper late in draft season. I went against my FAAB strategy to take a big shot. I would do this twice in the season with wildly different results. I would drop Wesneski three weeks later having blown almost 20% of my FAAB in order to acquire him.

 

May
May was filled with the makings of the rest of my season. It started off with much of the same, good offense and bad pitching. However, by the middle of the month my pitching was getting better and my offense continued to roll. By the end of the month, I was in third place in spite of my ratios still being torched. I also had big FAAB pick ups that propelled me into contention the rest of the way.

Justin Mason’s Main Event May FAAB
Date Team Add Drop Bid Runner-Up
5/7 MasEvent Jhony Brito Jeurys Familia 27 11
5/7 MasEvent Leody Taveras Zach McKinstry 17 16
5/7 MasEvent Sam Moll Jose Suarez 3
5/14 MasEvent Eury Perez Jhony Brito 340 315
5/14 MasEvent Adbert Alzolay Sam Moll 47 4
5/14 MasEvent Peyton Burdick Max Kepler 7
5/21 MasEvent Gavin Sheets Hayden Wesneski 1
5/28 MasEvent Hayden Wesneski Peyton Burdick 1
Total Spent Total Left
443 244

I first picked up Leodys Tavares, who I had drafted but dropped quickly when he started the year on the IL. He would hit 11 home runs and steal 12 bases for me in 362 plate appearances. I then picked up both Eury Perez and Adbert Alzolay. The Eury Perez pick up was the most impactful one I made all season. While I went away from my FAAB strategy in order to get him, I was at a point in which I was going to need to make a decision on whether I could rehab my ratios or punt those categories. Spending on Perez was my last gasp at rehabbing them. Alzolay would have been a great pick up if I hadn’t dropped him a few weeks later before he took over the closer role full time for the Cubs. However, the Perez and Taveras pickups were enough to keep my team in contention.

 

June
June was pretty uneventful for me with the exception of dropping Alzolay as I described above. I didn’t make any major FAAB pickups as I was trying to save as much FAAB I could for the stretch run.

Justin Mason’s Main Event June FAAB
Date Team Add Drop Bid Runner-Up
6/4 MasEvent Will Brennan Adbert Alzolay 1
6/4 MasEvent Manuel Margot Brady Singer 1
6/11 MasEvent Trevor Williams Manuel Margot 3 1
6/18 MasEvent Tylor Megill Trevor Williams 1
6/25 MasEvent Luis L. Ortiz Tylor Megill 27 2
6/25 MasEvent Mark Leiter Hayden Wesneski 7 3
6/25 MasEvent David Hamilton Gavin Sheets 7 1
6/25 MasEvent Chad Wallach Nick Fortes 1
Total Spent Total Left
48 196

By the end of the month, I had fallen to fifth, but my ERA and WHIP were improved and I was within striking distance of other teams for the first time in those categories.

 

July
July was a good month for me. I tried not to spend too much money so I had the hammer for the last couple of months.

Justin Mason’s Main Event July FAAB
Date Team Add Drop Bid Runner-Up
7/2 MasEvent Brandon Lowe Will Brennan 37 23
7/2 MasEvent Nick Madrigal David Hamilton 3 1
7/9 MasEvent Will Brennan Nick Madrigal 5 1
7/9 MasEvent Michael Grove Luis L. Ortiz 1
7/16 MasEvent Graham Ashcraft Mark Leiter 5
7/16 MasEvent Tony Kemp Will Brennan 1
7/16 MasEvent David Fry Chad Wallach 1
7/23 MasEvent Sal Frelick Tony Kemp 58 46
7/30 MasEvent Robert Suarez Michael Grove 13 5
7/30 MasEvent Trevor Gott A.J. Puk 3
7/30 MasEvent Freddy Fermin Jonah Heim 1
Total Spent Total Left
128 68

I made a great stream that helped rehab my pitching in Graham Ashcraft. He would go on to throw 58 innings for my team with a 2.95 ERA, a 1.09 WHIP, 48 strikeouts and three wins. I also picked up Sal Frelick, who ended up registering me 148 plate appearances with mediocre numbers for the most part, but did steal my seven bases which was enough to gain me three points in the standings. By the end of the month, I was in third place and I was starting to believe that I could at least cash, if not win.

 

August
August was a big month for me in terms of FAAB. I made some big pickups for cheap that ended up being huge for me in propelling me into second place and almost into first.

Justin Mason’s Main Event August FAAB
Date Team Add Drop Bid Runner-Up
8/6 MasEvent Curtis Mead Luis Garcia 5 1
8/6 MasEvent Yonny Chirinos Trevor Gott 3
8/6 MasEvent Adrian Houser Robert Suarez 3 1
8/13 MasEvent Emerson Hancock Nestor Cortes 7 4
8/13 MasEvent Samad Taylor Josh Jung 2
8/13 MasEvent Luis Campusano David Fry 1
8/13 MasEvent Zack Littell Joe Musgrove 1
8/13 MasEvent Alex Faedo Adrian Houser 1
8/20 MasEvent Javier Assad Yonny Chirinos 7 2
8/20 MasEvent Allan Winans Emerson Hancock 7 4
8/27 MasEvent Parker Meadows Curtis Mead 10 3
8/27 MasEvent Tanner Scott Allan Winans 10 7
8/27 MasEvent Lawrence Butler Samad Taylor 1
Total Spent Total Left
58 10

My biggest pickups were Luis Campansano who hit .333 with three home runs for me as a second catcher, Javier Assad threw 39.1 innings with a 2.29 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 41 strikeouts and three wins, and Tanner Scott who registered nine saves in 18 innings with a 1.50 ERA and a .61 WHIP. These pick ups along with strong pitching performances from other members of my team pushed my ratio points up enough to be in second place just four points behind first.

 

End of the Season
September was a crazy month in this league. On September 8th, there were seven teams competing for the league title which included a three way tie for first place.

I didn’t make any major pickups that changed the landscape of the league necessarily.

Justin Mason’s Main Event September FAAB
Date Team Add Drop Bid Runner-Up
9/3 MasEvent Jose Leclerc Michael Kopech 2 1
9/3 MasEvent Nolan Schanuel Lawrence Butler 1
9/3 MasEvent Danny Coulombe Felix Bautista 1
9/3 MasEvent Austin Wells Luis Campusano 1
9/10 MasEvent Luis Campusano Freddy Fermin 1 1
9/10 MasEvent Trevor Megill Jose Leclerc 1 1
9/10 MasEvent Cal Quantrill Graham Ashcraft 1
9/17 MasEvent Jorge Soler Parker Meadows 1
9/24 MasEvent James McArthur Eury Perez 1
Total Spent Total Left
10 0

I did make some mistakes in my starting pitching. Trying to stream Trevor Megill and using Zack Littlell in bad spots cost me a bit in the WHIP department, but it probably didn’t change where I would have finished. I was able to do enough to stay in second place, but my earlier mistakes from the draft and poor FAAB allocation prevented me from moving into first place.

In the end, I was happy with my finish. I obviously would have liked to win, but considering I could have easily not finished in the money considering how tight the league was late into the season and how poorly I originally constructed my team. I took a team that I hated my draft and made enough good moves in FAAB to double my money. I also learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t. Next season I will be better about fixing the mistakes I made in this league.





Justin is the co-host on The Sleeper and The Bust Podcast and writes for Rotographs covering the Roto Riteup as well as other periodic articles. In addition to his work at Rotographs, Justin is the lead fantasy writer/analyst and co-owner for FriendswithFantasyBenefits.com, and the owner of The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational. He is also a certified addiction treatment counselor. Follow Justin on Twitter @JustinMasonFWFB.

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Benmember
6 months ago

Love reading the recaps. And thanks for the great articles and pods this year!

Does your Main Event experience this year encourage you to deliberately wait on pitching again next year?