TGFBI stands for The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational, a large charity-driven fantasy baseball industry competition created by Justin Mason. This is my first year competing, and the second year for our own Chris Spencer.
The format is similar to NFBC, which is 15-team leagues, 5X5 roto with 30-man rosters starting 14 hitters (2 catchers) and 9 pitchers. The pitchers are any combination of starters and relievers.
All 26 league drafts started this past Monday. I got the 7th pick in league 13. Here are my early TGFBI draft picks – who I drafted and why through four rounds.
This draft followed NFBC ADP pretty much to the letter through the first round. In fact, when I set up Draft Buddy to prep for TGFBI, I copied the ADP into the draft report tab to figure out possible pairings from my 1st and 2nd round picks. After the draft started, I didn’t have to change a thing until pick 9.
Why the first round ace, and why deGrom? deGrom may have got the call even before Gerrit Cole (drafted 6th overall), due to concerns of Cole changing ballparks and the transition involved in that. Although, Cole would seem to have more win certainty on the Yankees than deGrom on the Mets. Going pitcher, it had to be one of these two, a tier ahead of Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander due to the age gap (29 Cole, 31 deGrom versus 35 and up).
Francisco Lindor was the other strong consideration at the 7th pick. The team getting an instant speed contribution is enticing, but ultimately decided the top tier ace + 2nd round hitter felt more advantageous than Lindor + next tier starter. Possible 2nd round pitchers were (a) unlikely to be Walker Buehler (drafted 14th overall), (b) possibly Jack Flaherty (he didn’t make it, drafted 23rd overall) and (c) Stephen Strasburg (er…, not comfortable with that). So desiring an ace in the first two rounds, picking 7th, better to start with the ace and leave Lindor.
A guy without a lot of MLB experience is generally a red flag for an early-round draft pick. Devers receives extremely high praise from two highly respected former players, and that counts for something. Losing Mookie Betts in the lineup doesn’t help. Ultimately between a youthful Devers and, say, Aaron Judge, who hasn’t cracked 500 PA either of the prior two seasons, or maybe teammate J.D. Martinez, I’ll go with the strong four-category contributor who chips in a handful of stolen bases. Plus, we may not have seen the best of him, yet.
I really did not think I would draft Chris Sale this year. A number of projection systems, such as THE BAT (250 K in 181 IP, 3.08 ERA) and Chris’ as-yet-not-really-named projections (sub-1.00 WHIP) are very high on Sale. In our Draft Buddy head-to-head points league last year I drafted Sale, and while he ultimately was fine overall, the early season struggles and then season-ending injury in August tainted me.
As sharp fantasy players know, but often have difficulty following, don’t overreact to last season. Don’t discount players who you feel like they burned you in the past. This season is a new season. Basically, don’t get emotional, be analytical.
Once we got past my 2nd round pick, shockingly few pitchers were taken. I did not expect Sale to fall to me. He did suffer the flu to start spring training, but it appears he is already getting over that and expects to be ready Opening Day. A mid-3rd round pick for a player capable of producing among the best pitchers in the game. Okay, I am back in on Sale.
This is a slow draft – mine a little too slow – which allows for an opportunity to discuss each pick with Chris as it approaches. Looking at the draft board, I am right in the middle. At this pick, 54th overall, there are 11 SP taken to the right of me, only 4 to the left, plus I have two myself. Fourth round, the draft is moving right to left. I said to Chris, “it is tempting to take another SP here and squeeze the owners drafting one through six.” He said, “you should take a hitter.”
And at the time we discussed this, there were some exceptional hitters available. Namely, Giancarlo Stanton and Manny Machado. If Sale was a mild burn last year then Stanton was an inferno. Is he appropriately discounted here for the power potential? Seems like it, but it didn’t matter as he got snagged right before my pick.
On to Machado, thankfully SS eligible since I already own Devers for 3B. Projected for about a .270 average is the mid-point between last season’s .256 and 2018’s .297. Blasting 30+ homers each season since 2015 avoids question about his home run output vis a vis concern about whether the juiced ball is in play this year, or not.
Starting thin at hitter makes taking a more reliable bat such as Machado a good fit at this point. Stanton would be tempting if available but certainly a much higher risk profile.
TGFBI draft boards are open to the public. Look at the league 13 draft board to check the latest picks.