Greg Ambrosius, founder of the NFBC, induced a cluster of friends — who happen to be among the best fantasy players I know — to complete in a 50-round NFBC Draft Champions League.
Now, I recognize there are tough players out there — probably a lot with more formidable skills than — but, playing against these guys — Ron Shandler, Eric Karabell, Tristan Cockcroft, Jeff Erickson, Todd Zola, blah blah — is bloody hard.
As of now, we are just at the start of Round 20 in the 15-team extravaganza, meaning there are still 450 players to go, and that is a lot.
But, already in this chess match of a draft that more reminds me of of the end of a Tarantino film — via Sergio Leone via Akira Kurasawa — with three guys all holding guns on one another in a standoff.
In fact, when asked about the draft on Tout Wars Hour a week back, Todd Zola called the draft “tied” after six rounds.
When assessing drafts, we tend to focus so heavily on those first three rounds that I thought we would look at rounds 4-11 and isolate an interesting selection in each round.
So, buckle up with the Super Bowl behind us, and pitchers and catchers ready to report in a little over a week, Baseball 2018 is ready for take-off. By the way, you can review the entire draft right here.
Aaron Nola (4.10 ): Doug Dennis nabbed the Phillies hurler in a format where one can never have enough pitching. I love Nola, but the question is whether the fourth-round selection — just after Robbie Ray— was prescient or too much of a crap shoot? Nola might have been drafted before his time, but if Doug targeted a hurler the Phil would have been gone by the time the pick came back to him.
Jonathan Schoop (5.13): Coming off such a monster year — 182 hits and an .841 OPS — and improving upon a pretty good year (.267-25-82) makes Eric Karabell’s fifth-round plucking some kind of thievery. The selection also emphasizes the focus this collection of drafters have placed upon pitching. BTW, Schoop, who has 57 dingers and 187 RBI the past two seasons, has only missed two games during that time.
David Price (6.4): OK, so if pitching is so sought after, why did no one clamor for Price till Ray Flowers grabbed the former top-tier starter last predicated on last year’s surgery. Price is a pro, and his return from the DL was augmented by 76 whiffs over 74 innings last year. Price will know how to push and pace himself and at 32-years of age should put together a year worthy of his prime production age status.
James Paxton (7.9 ): Round 7 featured a mess of interesting crapshoots. Andrew McCutchen and Yoenis Cespedes (7.3/7.4), both selected after Shohei Ohtani. All of these are nice gambles, but Paxton, if he can stay healthy for the 160 innings most starting pitchers are tossing these days, he will deliver a nice bounty.
Ozzie Albies (8.1): Paul Sporer made the Ohtani pick, but this one was great, trusting the young shortstop with 21 walks to 36 whiffs (.354 OBP) on the rebuilding Braves, whose team should start to gel pretty soon now. The 20-year old Albies has as bright a future as any of the 2017 rookie crop.
Marwin Gonzalez (9.11): I grabbed Marwin, whom I am not so much expecting to replicate last year, but half those numbers — say .285-15-70-8 — plugged into the shortstop hole would be just fine. And, well, he can play all over and in this league and that will be a huge deal.
Jon Lester (10.4): Brian Walton gambled that the lefty might not be as good as two years ago, nor as bad as last year. But, again, 180.6 innings were delivered last year with 180 strikeouts, with gopher balls (26) and hits (179) suggesting Lester could not keep the ball down. Again, pitching is everything it seems. The question is could Brian have waited as long as Ervin Santana (14.9) or Marco Estrada (still undrafted)?
Steven Souza (11.5 ): Jason Collette wrangled a guy who hit 30 homers and swiped 16 bases this late? Either hitting really is too plentiful, or Jason wrapped the league up with this pick.