Best Ball (Draft & Hold) on Fantrax. 15-team league with 40-man rosters. Players are only eligible in their primary position (no multi-eligibility).
The top-scoring players at C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, CI, MI, 5 x OF, 6 x SP & 6 x RP count towards the team’s weekly score.
40-man roster. Positional limits of a maximum of 5 catchers. 5 in each infield position. 13 outfielders, 11 starters, and 11 relievers
Playing time is key. At-bats and innings-pitched are crucial. I will need to temper my desire to grab exciting prospects in favor of steady (aka boring) players with regular jobs. Although the best ball format means hit-or-miss players like Miguel Sano or Bobby Bradley have increased value.
The scoring system demands a revaluation of player ranks. No penalization for hitters striking out will push up players who generally drain batting average. Three points for a stolen base (the same as a home run) will throw some interesting names into the mix.
On the pitching side, innings and strikeouts are vitally important. Two-start pitchers, with the possibility of two wins, are invaluable, so a depth of SP options looks necessary. SPARPs (starters with RP eligibility) will be pushed up the draft board.
Picks 15 & 16 mean four picks in the first 50, but only two picks in the next 50.
According to FantasyPros consensus ADP, Mookie Betts, and Max Scherzer are 15th & 16th, but that depends on how keen my fellow league mates are to take starters in the first round, and how much they want to avoid players with injury questions like Ronald Acuña Jr..
A Betts and Scherzer combo sounds a fine way to start, but that means missing out on players between 16 and 45 (the third pick) who rank highly according to our projections.
The Top 15 hitters are ranked as follows (according to a combination of ATC and Steamer projections, and based on this league’s points system).
|RANK (hitter)||PLAYER||ADP (hitter)|
|1||Fernando Tatis Jr.||1|
|3||Vladimir Guerrero Jr.||6|
|10||Ronald Acuna Jr.||10|
FIRST FOUR ROUNDS
There is something about points leagues that sends people SP mad. I was happy to take Bryce Harper with the first pick and then I “trusted the process” and reached for Aaron Judge. It was unlikely he would make it back.
Pete Alonso was my third pick – although Rhys Hoskins, Joey Votto, Josh Bell, and C.J. Cron were still available in round eight. In this format, Alonso was the highest-projected point scorer available… and he wasn’t an outfielder – I already had two.
With a run on shortstops, I took Tim Anderson with the next pick, the last of the premium tier.
ROUNDS FIVE THRU EIGHT
Having missed out on the elite starters, I took Kevin Gausman and Yu Darvish. Both have the potential to finish as Top 10 starting pitchers. In a format that rewards innings, strikeouts, and wins, maybe quantity over quality is the key.
Despite Salvador Perez going with the 23rd pick of the draft, the rush for elite catchers was short-lived, so I was pleased when Yasmani Grandal was still available. On a two-catcher roster in a 15-team league, getting at least one of the top regulars seems a good move… and it means I don’t have to worry about that position for a few rounds.
Working from our rankings rather than Fantrax’ ADP or their point projection means that I have been lucky that the players at the top of my queue are usually there when it’s my turn. The only exception was RP-eligible Luis Severino, who has just gone. With most of the elite RPs off the board, I was hoping no one would take the RP-eligible starters. I might have to move Ranger Suarez up my queue now. To be honest, I’m unclear what strategy I should adopt for a six RP roster when two-thirds of the closer jobs are undecided.
ROUNDS NINE THRU TWELVE
Hmmm. One of David’s Deep League Roto tips is “stay flexible”. The line between staying flexible and throwing the plan out of the window is blurry.
In a two-catcher best-ball league, the idea of one elite catcher and a mediocre one seemed fine, until that is, the idea materialized of backing up Yasmani Grandal with Willson Contreras.
Then, Drew Rasmussen’s RP-eligibility (in an era of closer chaos) proved too irresistible.
In effect, I was now two rounds behind building the main part of my roster, so I opted for the high-risk/high-reward of Clayton Kershaw and Justin Turner.
ROUNDS 13 THRU 16
Thankfully, I filled third base in the last round, but I still had a void at second base, three OF slots, and MI & CI to fill. And I only had three starters.
Noah Syndergaard was next. Click here if you want to know why.
Despite Kolten Wong and a couple of other second basemen still available, I took my preferred choice of Jean Segura at also his ADP. I knew I had that long wait until my next pick, so filling second base gave me the security that the roster had no holes.
I could now relax and “enjoy” the rest of the draft.
Next up, Eugenio Suarez. The Venezuelan is second in homers over the last three seasons combined, and despite 2021 being a disappointment, he finished the season with 1.268 OPS. In this format where power is rewarded and strikeouts are not penalized, this looks like a good pick.
Cleveland’s Aaron Civale was next. He doesn’t have a great strikeout rate, and his 3.84 ERA flattered him, but only the 26-year-old tossed at least seven innings on seven occasions last season; a figure only exceeded by 16 pitchers. He seemed a solid choice in a league that rewards innings eaters.
ROUNDS 17 THRU 20
I didn’t really want a first baseman now, especially as I had my eye on Brandon Belt in a couple of rounds, but Anthony Rizzo’s points projection was so much higher than anyone else on the board, I had to take him. His ADP is 145; he fell to 245.
The beauty of having constructed a roster with no holes meant I could now just take the best available player as a backup. Amed Rosario should hit in the two-hole for Cleveland, just ahead of Jose Ramirez and Franmil Reyes.
I might have got ADP value with the two previous picks, but taking Carlos Hernandez (ADP 470) with pick 270 was a stretch. With six RP slots to fill and only 10-12 defined closers, Hernandez’s RP-eligibility and Royals’ rotation spot suggested he would not last for much longer. I now had half of my RP slots filled.
With OF so deep, I left it until Round 20 to take my third outfielder. My prediction of Max Kepler as MVP candidate failed miserably last season, but I still rate his skills. If he replicates his 36-homer, 123 OPS+ season of 2019, then this will seem a prescient pick
ROUNDS 21 THRU 24
I have a bit of a man-crush on Zack Greinke, so I am optimistic he will negotiate his way out of the end-of-season slump. Up until 25 July, Greinke had a 3.48 ERA (on the back of 2.80 FIP season in 2020). He is younger than Charlie Morton, so perhaps Greinke’s cerebral pitching will rebound in 2022.
Nationals Cesar Hernandez seemed a great high-plate appearance back up to Jean Segura at second base. Hitting at the top of the order, ahead of Juan Soto and Josh Bell, Hernandez should score plenty of runs, but he also has understated power – as shown by 21 homers in 2021.
Former Mariners starter, Yusei Kikuchi, was pick 23. Over the last two seasons, the 30-year-old Japanese left-hander has tossed a little over 200 innings covering 38 starts with 4.31 FIP. I like the confidence Kikuchi had in declining the qualifying offer. He will offer valuable innings for one team when free agency activity recommences.
Despite outfield being so deep, the quality dried up quicker than I expected. I like Rafael Ortega – a .373 wOBA in the second half of 2021 is always appealing – but his struggles against left-handed pitching makes him more of a bench outfielder rather than OF4.
Feature image photo by Quinn Harris