SIMPLY THE BEST (BALL): Reviewing My First Ever Best Ball Draft

While I very much enjoy in-season management, nothing in fantasy baseball competes with the adrenaline of a draft and frankly, I’m not sure why I didn’t tap into “Best Ball” before this season, but I might now be hooked.

You can skip this paragraph if you know what Best Ball is: Best Ball involves drafting your team (usually a rather deep one) and then at the end of each week, the computer retroactively selects the best of your players at each position to give you stats for the past week. Using my team from below, I have two 1B eligible players, Pete Alonso and Bobby Bradley: at the end of each week, Fantrax will give me the points for whichever of those two earned the most. Essentially, you draft a team and that’s it – no waivers, no IL, no trades. As with any draft, you’re looking to balance safety and upside, but here, like in a Draft & Hold, you have to make sure you have backups at every position since you can’t pick up anyone new. 

Our league is points based with a formula meant to simulate roto:

Scoring Category Points

At Bats (AB)-1Earned Runs Allowed (ER)-2
Hits (H)4Hits Allowed (H)-1
Home Runs (HR)6Holds (HLD)4
Runs Batted In (RBI)2Innings Pitched (IP)3
Runs Scored (R) 2Saves (SV) 8
Stolen Bases (SB)5Strikeouts Pitched (K) 1
Walks Allowed (BB)-1
Wins (W)6

I’ve heard lots of talk about stolen base scarcity this season and an added weight seems to have been given to Tatis, Turner, and Ramirez because they immediately give you a jumpstart in that category, BUT in most points leagues, home runs get you more points not to mention the additional runs and RBI that aren’t guaranteed with a stolen base. In this league a HR is a Hit (4) + HR (6) + R (2) + RBI (2) = 14 points vs 5 points for a SB. Also note that hitter walks do not get you any points so batting average/hits are more important than many points leagues. An added snafu is that Fantrax only has single-position eligibility in this league, so I couldn’t grab someone like Josh Rojas to back up multiple positions.

Disclaimer, this was first draft of the season, so it was also my first look at ADP and the 2022 landscape. 

To prep, I made my own spreadsheet calculating projected points based on two of my favorite statistical projections, The Bat X for hitters and ATC for pitchers. Elite bats score way more points than elite pitchers and because of the Best Ball scoring, so I decided to go bat heavy and attack pitching with quantity later knowing that I would be protected from being Gombered (see 4/26/21 – 9 runs in 1.2 innings destroying ratios) if I had enough GOOD starts to keep Austin out of my lineup that week. 

Here’s my team (greenestman, pick 9) and the full our draft board. 16 teams, 40 rounds, points scoring to simulate roto.

Draft Observations: 

Personally, I either want to be in the top 6 or the bottom few picks in a draft and I think you can see why here…picks 7-12 all have question marks around their health or sustainability (Harper at 11 is probably the safest of them IMHO). I gambled on Acuna because of positive rehab reports and the fact that if healthy, he’s easily a #1 pick. In round two, most people grabbed their first SP, but I chased HR with Pete Alonso who I dream will marry his plate discipline from last season with the truly monstrous power he showed in 2019. I made the executive decision to eschew my usual catcher distaste and tap into the Sal Perez HR boost until he got sniped two picks before me, so I swerved and addressed the wasteland at 3B and while I don’t expect Austin Riley to reach his 2021 heights, I do feel confident he can hit .280+ with 30+ dingers and give me value there. Corey Seager and Ketel Marte should pile on hits when healthy and might even chip in some pop and I love Franmil Reyes in round 6 for that sweet sweet power. 

Then I finally took my first pitcher in round 7 and it was…Nathan Eovaldi. I’m sure a healthy portion of readers are falling off their chairs in shock, but Eovaldi was incredibly steady for the Sox in 2021 and while he may not have quite as much upside as Darvish who went the pick before, in this Best Ball Universe I’ll take the steady hand to kick off my staff and then take some risks. Rounds 7-18 I only took two hitters, Brendan Rodgers when 2B got sufficiently thin and Andrew Vaughn because I couldn’t resist, and ten pitchers counting on Best Ball to cherrypick the best/healthiest of Verlander, Kershaw, Marquez, Megill, Luzardo, and Rassmussen as well as Will Smith (RP) and Corey Knebel plus an accidental autodraft of Joe Barlow that I shrug at and hope for the best. Saves net 8 points vs 4 for the unpredictable Hold, so if those three all have closer gigs, I’ll be thrilled. 

The rest of the way I leaned into a mix of power and average for my backups and UT’s while choosing pitchers I believe will have enough good games to help and I’m pretty happy with my team. Any picks you love or hate? Let me know and I’ll keep you posted on my progress when the season finally gets underway (can’t wait!)!

Featured image photo of Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr. by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Published by David Greenman

Writer/ Actor / Baseball Enthusiast (Red Sox Nation) and Fantasy Writer / Neighborhood Councilmember / Both Radical and Leftish.

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