Hey-o, and a hearty Happy New Year! You know what that means, it’s January, and it’s time to scuff up your balls and rub your wood down, because fantasy baseball season is back again. If you’re like most of us around here, you’ve been buried in dynasty league research or drafting the past few weeks or months. But now it’s time for something a little different though. It’s time to prep for re-draft leagues — whee! What we’re all here for, of course, is the granddaddy of all re-draft leagues: The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational.
The 2020 season brings us the 3rd iteration of The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational, and anyone who is anyone in the fantasy baseball industry will be part of these leagues. Last season there were 21 leagues, each with 15 teams scoring a standard 5×5 Rotisserie (Roto) format. For the uninitiated, 5×5 scoring is: R, HR, RBI, SB, AVG, W, SV, K, WHIP, ERA for a total of 10 scoring categories. The goal of Rotisserie (Roto) leagues is to accumulate the most/best stats in each category for the highest score at the end of the season. So, with that out of the way, each team in these leagues has 23 active players and 7 bench spots. The roster setup is as follows: Cx2, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, CI, MI, OFx5, UT, Px9, and then the 7 man bench. Two catchers can be intense, but what makes these leagues extra ridiculous, is the fact that THERE IS NO DL, NA, OR TRADING ALLOWED. That’s right, zero room for error! Before we stress out about that in real time, it would probably behoove us to mock draft this insanity so we are prepared for the main event.
We had a bit of a false start with our first mock draft attempt. There were a few slapdicks who didn’t quite understand the concept of basic managerial courtesy. You know, stuff like, not letting the clock run out multiple times, not setting a queue and turning on auto-pick if they were unable to make a pick. If you’re consistently outside the league norm for draft times, or people seem frustrated with you, it might be worth paying attention to that rather than becoming truculent when others have to repeatedly tweet you to get you back into the draft room! (See the @Rotobvious article here) But that’s a podcast or Red Light Ragecast for another day.
Circling back to our mock, #FSAATGFBIMockery
#1 #1b is beyond stacked with industry names, so let’s meet the players in order of their draft position, shall we?
A formidable group of managers to be sure, and some pretty epic “gets” for an industry plebeian such as myself. But as the cornfield voice says in Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come…” Feel free to follow each of these experts and industry voices on twitter, or reach out for their individual perspectives on this draft.
Since things are already underway, let’s examine the first 50 picks or so to highlight any patterns, major risks, or great values. As you look at the graphic below, keep in mind this is a snake draft, so the grid should be read left to right for the odd rounds and right to left for the even rounds.
The mock kicked off about as you’d expect for the first 5-8 picks, all good power/speed combination players, though admittedly it will take me some time to adjust to seeing Mike Trout not being taken #1 overall. The first big “surprise”, if you can call it that, is seeing Gerrit Cole take the greasy slide from his ADP/Rank at #6 overall to the 10th pick. I passed on him at #6, because I simply can’t help being a power slut. I thought Trea Turner was a bit of a surprise at #7 given his lack of power, but you don’t draft Trea for power, you’re drafting him for that 30+ stolen bases. Trevor Story at #8 is particularly fascinating to me. Steamer has Lindor and Story projected almost identically, so one could make the case that Lindor is potentially overvalued. For example, Fantrax has Story projected for 92.6 fantasy points, placing him ahead of Trout, Betts, and Lindor. That’s pretty nice value for #8 overall. The rest of the first round finishes virtually to chalk. Juan Soto’s ADP continues to drop, and Fernando Tatis Jr. doesn’t get the respect he probably deserves. Matt may have a draft day steal on his hands at #14.
At the first turn of the draft between rounds 1 and 2, we see a starting pitching/first base combo for Brant. Can’t argue that start, Freeman is probably the “safest” 1B on the board in this range, and sets Brant’s team up with a nice batting average to build on. Moving along, we had two teams select back to back starting pitchers, which is somewhat unusual, but depending on your strategy, can be a good way to go. The hitting lanes are now wide open for Jorge and Andrew. Speaking of unusual, my sluttiness for the dong shines through again, with back to back first basemen no less. Cody Bellinger moves to the OF, Pete Alonso takes over at 1B, and my pitching lanes are now wide open.
At the second turn of the draft between rounds 2 and 3, Bubba tripled down on stolen bases, and fluffed his batting average pillow with Jose Altuve anchoring a relatively weak position. We had a bit of a run on second basemen in the 3rd round, and for good reason. I passed on Ozzie Albies with the 36th pick, because I was getting nervous about pitching quality and depth. You’ll notice we have three teams remaining without a starting pitcher. That’s a little scary to me in a TGFBI/NFBC format for the reasons stated above. I like to have two pitchers within my first five picks, selecting one of which during or before the third round, but that’s just personal preference. I was somewhat surprised to see Charlie Morton taken by John ahead of other starting pitchers still available like Luis Castillo, but there are good reasons for that. Morton is a machine, even if he is retiring at the end of the 2020 season. He’s durable and reliable, he gets you the counting stats you want, and his ratios are impeccable.
On the third turn of the draft between rounds 3 and 4, Brant selected Luis Castillo and Yoan Moncada, whom I think is poised for a monster season on the south side of Chicago. The first of our two pitcher startup teams is beginning to take shape quite nicely after being followed up by two power/speed combo outfielders, Austin Meadows and Ketel Marte. You’ll also notice there were dongs aplenty rounding out the top 50, with names like Giancarlo Stanton and Eugenio Suarez to be had.
I feel like the top 50 went by chalk for the most part, with relatively few surprises. We’re starting to see some interesting strategies forming, which you’ll see become even more interesting in subsequent rounds. Overall, I am thrilled with the pace of this mock so far. That’s what you should expect from a quality group of knowledgeable managers, instead of a bunch of slapdickin’ around. I will be updating the progress of our mock in 50-100 pick blocks, so be sure to check back for subsequent articles, as well as our final overall “ranking” when the draft has completed.