After years of jealousy sitting at home, I finally was able to attend First Pitch Arizona earlier this month. Quick Plug: if you have the opportunity to do go, it is a fantastic experience that is well worth the money. First Pitch has amazing panels and seminars that will really sharpen your game, but more importantly than that, the discussions you have with some of the smartest people in the industry are invaluable.
Now, every year there are drafts that occur at FPAZ. I thought it would be a fun experiment for me to try a new strategy I have been game planning for the 2020 season. The draft was a NFBC style 15-team 50 round draft and hold. We drafted the first 21 rounds in Arizona and then will draft the rest in January.
My hope was to get an early pick. Luckily, I drew the third choice in KDS and was able to grab the third pick. Knowing I would end up with one of Mike Trout, Ronald Acuna, or Christian Yelich made me think that my plan would be viable for this draft. Looking at the landscape of starting pitcher this year, I have been hypothesized that instead of jumping into the fray for one of the early guys, I could still put together a strong staff starting in the sixth round. So, I planned to load up on hitters for in rounds 1-5 and then attack pitching in rounds 6-10. This would stack my offense while grabbing enough of SP2/3 starters to still be able to keep pace with the majority of the field.
This was a very tough group with such industry pros like our very own Shelly Verougstraete, The Athletic’s Derek Van Riper, Arbour Pro’s CJ Kaltenbach, and Friends with Fantasy Benefits’ Bruce Cagle and Andy Ferdinand. You can see the whole draft board here.
1.3: Christian Yelich, OF, MLW
I already can tell that I am going to have a ton of shares of Yelich. The third pick is going to be my preferred slot to draft from in 2020. It allows you to get one of the top three talents off the board and I think there is an argument to be made that any one of them could be the top pick in drafts for next year. Yelich will go third most of the time because of the amount of games he missed with injury, but there was talk he could return sometime in the playoffs due to being way ahead of schedule. In spite of only playing in 130 games, he hit 44 home runs and stole 30 bases with a .329/.429/.671 triple slash. He is a monster and if he can stay on the field more next season, he will likely be the best player in fantasy.
2.28: Fernando Tatis, SS, SD
If it hadn’t been for his season ending injury, we might be talking about him as a backend first round pick. There is likely some regression coming, but he still hit 22 homers and stole 16 bases with a .317/.379/.590 in just 84 games. Even if he hits .260-.270, the counting categories alone should be worth the price reduction.
3.33: Yordan Alvarez, DH, HOU
There are reasons to fade Alvarez this early in a draft. He enters the season as UT Only and has struggled mightily in the postseason. However, there was a reason he was fourth best hitter in the Major Leagues according to wRC+ from the date of his callup. Yes, there will be regression, but he is a patient hitter in one of the best lineups in baseball. If there is a postseason discount, I’ll grab it.
4.58: Matt Olson, 1B, OAK
Usually when you come back from hamate surgery, there is a bit of a power outage for a while. Olson was the exception to that rule, hitting 36 home runs after returning on May 7th. He also hit for an improved average in the second half giving him an impressive .282/.368/.530 triple slash after the All-Star Break. First base (and third base) is shallow this year, so I will be addressing those positions early on, especially in draft and holds.
5.63: Max Muncy, 1B/2B/3B, LAD
One of the things I am starting to really do in draft and holds is grab guys with multiple positional eligibility early and often. Too many times in these leagues I have found myself not being able to field a complete lineup because of injuries/demotions. Muncy can fill a ton of spots including two of the more thin positions on the corner.
6.88: Josh Hader, RP, MLW
Ok, so I got my five hitters and now it’s time to take a starting pitcher, right? I was salivating at the prospects of Luis Severino or Yu Darvish falling to me, but it was not meant to be. I was very torn on taking either Glasnow or Charlie Morton, but I couldn’t decide, so I figured why not help start the closer run by grabbing Hader. Closers appear to be really being pushed down coming into this season, which is an interesting change of pace, but at this point, Hader is a steal.
7.93: Tyler Glasnow, SP, TB
Ok, I know on the FPAZ podcast I said “someone will take Glasnow as their SP1 and that will be a mistake,” but I figured that he’d go much earlier than this. Waiting this long on a starter, I wanted some upside and Glasnow has it, if he can stay healthy.
8.118: James Paxton, SP, NYY
Paxton definitely regressed some with the move to Yankees Stadium, but he was still very good. A little of regression back to the mean and this will feel like some nice value.
9.123: Jose Berrios, SP, MIN
We are also still waiting on the upside of the former top pitching prospect, but that doesn’t mean we should forget about the floor either. Berrios has thrown two straight seasons of at least 192 innings with over a strikeout an inning and a 3.76 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. Don’t forget, he is still only 25 and there is plenty of room for growth.
10.148: Domingo German, SP, NYY
I finished my barrage of starting pitching with another Yankee. German was up and down most of the year and this was probably a reach, but I still believe in hit stuff. If the ball is less bouncy next season, he and his inflated home run rate could be major beneficiaries. I was impressed with his gains with his command and his change up. I think this will likely be one of his higher picks during draft season, which could make him a steal.
Tomorrow, I will post the second part of this draft.
Justin is the co-host on The Sleeper and The Bust Podcast and writes for Rotographs covering the Roto Riteup as well as random topics that float into his juvenile brain. In addition to his work at Rotographs, Justin is the lead fantasy writer/analyst and co-owner for FriendswithFantasyBenefits.com, owner of The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational, and a fantasy football and baseball writer for Fantasy Alarm. He is also a certified addiction treatment counselor. Follow Justin on Twitter @JustinMasonFWFB.