Major League Baseball should have been creeping on our doorstep this next week however we will wait in vain. Earlier this month; my colleague, fantasy overlord and co-skipper Alan Harrison summoned my fantasy prowess to prepare a band of misfits that will qualify as one of the best squads in the circuit. The league and challenge, 2020 RazzSlam which is put on by the peeps over at Razzball and is comprised of 18 different leagues, each twelve deep.
Owners are made up of fantasy industry warriors as well as some fans who get to try their luck. It is a points-based Best Ball league designed to separate the rugged from the feeble.
Starting Lineups will consist of 14 hitters and 9 pitchers (same positions and position eligibility of standard NFBC leagues): One first baseman, one second baseman, one third baseman, one shortstop, one middle infielder (2B or SS), one corner infielder (1B or 3B), five Outfielders, one Utility Hitter and nine pitchers counting toward that teams points. And since this is NFBC’s Cutline format, there are only two FAAB periods throughout the season.
Every team’s optimal scoring lineup will be automatically tallied each week (Monday-Sunday) from the 23 starting roster positions.
Scoring format is as follows:
Home Run: 6 points
Stolen Base: 5 points
Hit: 4 points
Run: 2 points
RBI: 2 points
At-bat: -1 point
Win: 6 points
Save: 8 points
Inning Pitched: 3 points
Strikeout: 1 point
Hit or Walk Allowed: -1 point
Earned Run Allowed: -2 points
The NFBC is hosting the event and this was my first time drafting on that platform. Here is a rundown of our draft out of the six spot (League 13) and strategy molded by the rules set therein.
Bombs, Bags, Wins and Saves gather the most points as you can see from the landscape above. We had three main strategies that we were employing on this Mission: #1 – Wait on arms, #2 Eat up guys who get bags and also pair it with a good stick & #3 Get middle infielders early and stay away from outfielders until around the 70th pick or so. Outfielders and pitchers are so deep this year and we feel you can accumulate enough value later on in drafts, so spend early picks on middle infielder bag/bomb combinations. This was our game plan, lets see how it played out.
Our first pick was between Story and Lindor. We have done a few drafts together and didn’t have a Story share yet, this helped our decision as well as Arenado still being a Rockie. We both favor bats who play in Denver and were delighted to select him with #1. Pick Two was pretty easy for us (since we both live in San Diego and were blessed with watching El Niño play nightly in 2019), we decided to double tap on the SS position and start our day flying, in two top scoring categories, bags/bombs… Motto catching steam.
Pick #3 was value at it’s greatest. We both checked with each other a few times to try to understand what we were missing. Scoring José Ramírez at pick 30 was absolute burglary. Now we have three dudes, all infielders, all can hit 25+ bombs, all can steal 20+ bases. Pick Four we followed up with another infielder, Brew Crew’s Keston Hiura. We selected him before the likes of Guerrero Jr. and Eloy Jimenez because he… wait for it… steals more bags. Vladdy Jr. and Eloy don’t even try to swipe left, now we have been following the script which was sown. At this point we are very happy with our start and we haven’t even thought about adding an arm. Round five approached quickly and both of us stated one name, Adalberto Mondesi. We discussed the amount of potential bags and the format and decided, what the hell. Let’s hoard some shortstops and grasp as many bags as possible. We are now stealing the show and have major greed for speed. One thing that does dry up quickly in fantasy baseball drafts are the fleet of foot. This strategy might not work well in other formats, but we will stick to our guns.
Speaking of trusting our arsenal, we knew it was time to go get our City’s Sheriff, Chris Paddack. Last year we planted a flag on Paddack and are doing the same again. We are spoiled to get to watch his starts and know he is magic and will be good for some time. We appreciate his value and also understand we must reach a bit to add him on rosters. Getting a top 25 starting pitcher is important with the landscape and we lusted for the mullet from Texas.
Here is our start through six outta the sixth…before we continue into our outfield surplus and pitching reinforcements.
Trevor Story, Fernando Tatis, Jr., Jose Ramírez, Keston Hiura, Adalberto Mondesi & Chris Paddack.
Now we start to grab our outfield targets here in Seven through Ten: Tommy Pham, Ramón Laureano, Franmil Reyes and Andrew Benintendi. Remember the motto, “Bags and bombs” still on target.
Take a look again at the format of scoring; saves are important, super duper. Imagine a closer who gets three saves in a week, limits his WHIP and accumulates saves… we thought of Taylor Rogers who will be closing the door for one of the most potent offenses in the game, the Minnesota Twins. The next three picks were all pitchers: Zack Wheeler, Edwin Diaz and Max Fried. We have a great mix of players now through Fourteen rounds. Time to start gathering players who we feel garner too much value being left on the board as well as starting to gap fill our roster.
We waited on two positions that could potentially bite us. Catcher being one, as you start two. We just felt that others were better picks than deciding to snag up a guy who always gets less at bats during the week. We also grabbed our First baseman CJ Cron in round 16, pick 187. Our first backstop was taken in round 19, Francisco Mejía.
I will spare you the pick by pick for the remainder of the rounds, but do want to discuss a player who I feel could be Fantasy Gold. Twins second baseman Luis Arraez is that guy and he is an old school hitter. We gobbled him up in round 22, pick 259. I am a big fan of guys who limit the amount of strikeouts and simply put the ball in play when faced with two strike counts. “If you put the ball in play, good things happen” was a formula I used as a player and try to coach into all the players I am lucky enough to teach. My reasoning on Arraez is that if he is on base, he will get knocked in. I believe so much in that offense in 2020, that he will either be scoring or knocking in runs until the cows come home. I want Arraez rostered everywhere, magic jelly beans.
After 42 rounds in the books, here is our squad:
(26 Bats and 16 Arms)
Catchers: Mejía, Chirinos, Flowers
1st Basemen: Cron, Votto, Tellez
2nd Baseman: Hiura, Arraez, Long, Bote
3rd Baseman: Ramírez, Diaz
Shortstops: Story, Tatis Jr., Mondesi, Franco
Outfielders: Pham, Laureano, Reyes, Benintendi, Dahl, Grisham, O’Neill, Cordero, Kelenic
Starting Pitchers: Paddack, Wheeler, Fried, Richards, Lopez, Stripling, Kikuchi, Roark
Relief Pitchers: Rogers, Diaz, Iglesias, Melancon, Pagan, Pomeranz, Karinchak, Lugo
Giant fan of this team and one of my favorites that has been selected up until now. Make sure you enter drafts prepared and with a tactic to assist your chance of winning. Remember that you are going for that top spot, finishing second is not in the cards. Give yourself as many opportunities to drive home the win. We ended up drafting two bats that could be top in each of the two scoring categories that mean the most. Franmil Reyes could lead MLB in home runs and Mondesi could lead in stolen bases. Yeah, I know that they also have a chance to not exceed expectations, I did my homework and believe in my findings.
After stepping back and analyzing our formation of fantasy fighters preparing for battle, there are some flaws in the mainframe. The blemish that radiates ultimately is our need for another top arm to eat up more strikeouts and potentially deliver more dubs to the dinner plate. We did however employ a different dance which was to stockpile Relief Pitchers as Saves are worth more than Wins in this format. Many times projections will deviate from what you envision, we believe that the bullpen core will elevate those weekly numbers enough to facilitate the failure to procure one more starting arm in the draft. We also should have snagged another Catcher earlier, but heck if that is a big failure so be it as the rest of the squad is Dy-No-Mite. “If the moon was made of BBQ spare ribs would you eat it then? It is a simple question… Heck, I know I would, I’d have seconds and polish it off with a tall cool Budweiser.”
Trust your gut and enjoy the ride. Lets all hope the baseball season gets here quick, for all of our sanity! Thanks to everyone over at Razz Ball for the spot in the RAZZSLAM!
Todd D. Clark
Follow me on Twitter @Lunchmade