TGFBI, part two

The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational drafts have wrapped up, with 465 fantasy baseball analysts in 31 leagues with 15 teams drafting 30 players each. At 66 years old, I’m no spring chicken, but I felt like a kid in TGFBI draft. I am pleased to report that my draft grade was A+ (97), according to the software at FantasyPros. I am projected to win my league and finish 98th overall. 

As I shared last week, TGFBI assigns the draft order based on the Kentucky Derby System (KDS). Managers select their draft preferences in any order, prioritizing where they want to pick from in the first round. The teams are then drawn randomly. I wound up with the 13th pick. The good news is that I didn’t wind up with the second pick and take Fernando Tatis, Jr.  

Everyone came into TGFBI with a different draft strategy, and mine was simple. I would let the draft come to me and let players that I liked fall to me. Many hours were spend reviewing NFBC ADP for each player in the top 500. I am a respecter of ADP and wanted to recognize and take advantage of value in the draft. I didn’t find much early, but there was some available late.

Last week, I detailed the first half of the draft. The biggest surprise was my ability to snag five starting pitchers that I liked in the first 15 rounds. Four of the five were taken in the first seven rounds – Max Scherzer (2nd), Sandy Alcantara (3rd), Jose Berrios (6th) and Charlie Morton (7th). Morton was the icing on the cake when he fell to me with the 103rd overall pick in the draft.


You didn’t really think I was done acquiring starting pitchers, did you? DeSclafani, 31, had the best year of his career with the Giants in 2021, posting a 3.17 ERA and 1.09 WHIP with 13 wins and 152 strikeouts in 167 2/3 innings across 31 starts. During the offseason, he inked a three-year deal with the Giants and also enjoys a favorable pitching park. What’s not to like about this guy?


Trivino was my third relief pitcher drafted, and he wasn’t on my draft board. However, this value was too good to pass up. Trivino started 2021 sharing the closer role with Jake Diekman but took over later in the season as the ninth-inning pitcher on his way to 22 saves (a career high). He seems to have a strong grip on the closer job with Jake Diekman about to sign with the Red Sox.


At this point in the draft, I knew my team lacked speed. Tapia was a no-brainer since he had a track record for 20 plus steals. Lacking power, has lowered his strikeout percentage, scores runs and hits at the top of the Rockies lineup. He also hits for a relatively high average (.280 lifetime). Last season, he had just a .699 OPS, but half his games in Colorado, where everyone hits better.


There’s nothing quite like finding someone you can get excited about at the end of the 19th round. Tellez, found new life in Milwaukee after being traded from Torondo in early July. He hit .209/.272/.338 in 50 games with Toronto, but with Milwaukee he slashed .272/.333/.481 with seven home runs. He’s been in the 94th percentile in exit velocity in each of the past three years.


As a lifelong Cardinals fan, this pick smacks of hometown sentiment. But Molina, who will turn 40 years old in July, still gets in his time behind the dish. In 2021, he had 473 plate appearances. He’s not the same player that drove in 82 runs in 2017, but he still had 66 RBI. A plus defender, hitting in the middle of a solid Cardinals lineup, I believe he will return value as my second catcher.


Margot was another no-brainer for me with my 21st round pick. Not only is he an outfielder (there are five of them needed), but he has produced double-digit steals in each of the last five years. He had 20 bags in 2019. Margot is not known for his power, but he has flashed signs of it, including last year’s playoffs. I’m counting on him for double-digit home runs and steals.


Speaking of outfielders, it did not escape my attention that Naquin had 19 home runs and 70 RBI last season for the Reds. That came in spite of getting only 454 PA. With Nick Castellanos likely to sign elsewhere, I’m hoping Naquin will get more playing time and be a cheap source of hitting in the heart of a good Reds lineup. 


The Mariners have already announced that Crawford will be the team’s starting shortstop in 2022. He had a career-high 687 PA last year, demonstrating strong contact skills, with a strikeout rate below 20% on his way to a career-high 89 runs scored and .273 BA. Crawford is no power hitter, but if he can maintain the leadoff role, he should be a strong source of runs for my team.   


How about two Mariners in a row? I felt like I was buying low on Frazier, selecting him in the 24th round. He has a career .281 batting average and has scored more than 80 runs in his last two full seasons (2019 and 2021). I’m also counting on him to swipe double-digit bases. Another player with limited power, he should get a lot of playing time in the infield alongside Crawford.  


Lowe’s MLB batting average was 1.000 last year, with two plate appearances, one hit and one walk. The 24-year-old minor league sensation also stole a base, so it’s fun to project what that would look like in a full season. He could easily go 20/20 with over 500 plate appearances. But the reason his ADP is outside the top 350 is the challenge of finding a clear path to playing time.


I was surprised to find Alfaro still on the board this late in my draft because Alfaro should also see plenty of playing time with the Padres this season. Neither Austin Nola, nor Victor Caratina ran away with the backstop job last year in San Diego. Alfaro, who only appeared in 92 games in 2021 with Miami, is also eligible in the outfield which is why I drafted him as my third catcher.  


One of the mysteries heading into the season is why no one is interested in Pineda. I found nothing on the internet as to where the free agent might wind up. Pineda began the 2021 season as the Twins third starter, but three IL stints limited him to 21 starts. When he was on the mound, he earned nine wins and a 3.62 ERA. Injuries are an issue, but I’ll take a chance at this price.


Speaking of cheap, I took Houser as my eighth starting pitcher in TGFBI. He may be the forgotten man in the Brewers rotation but I didn’t forget that he posted 10 wins and a 3.28 ERA in 2021. His 1.31 WHIP gave me pause, and his K-BB% declined for the second straight season (17.3% to 9.3% to 6.8%). But he had a career-high 142.1 IP and a groundball rate of 59.0 GB%.


I don’t normally get excited about someone outside the top 400, but I like De La Cruz. He was called up by the Marlins last summer and made a strong first impression with his defensive abilities and contact skills. He started at each of the outfield spots, while hitting .296 in 219 PA. He’ll get off of my bench is if he is able to get off the Marlins bench in 2022 and get his at bats.  


Hours after I completed the TGFBI draft, I found out that my final draft pick was undergoing Tommy John surgery after feeling discomfort in his throwing arm in January. So much for Heuer having a shot at becoming the Cubs closer in 2022. This is the risk of drafting early when MLB news is in a blackout period. I’m glad the first casualty of my 2022 team was a 30th round pick.

Follow Thomas L. Seltzer, AKA Doubting Thomas, on Twitter @ThomasLSeltzer1.

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