Here at Prospects Live we’re proud to tout that among publications that had at least five members play in The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational, we were the best finishing with an average ranking of 90.8 overall.
The 2019 overall ranking breakdown were as follows:
Eddy - 20
Ralph - 27
Smada - 73
Lance - 82
Matt - 252
Us prospect guys aren’t half bad, right? Alas, none of us won our leagues and clearly we didn’t take home the overall which means there’s room for improvement.
It’s always important to take some sort of lesson away from a league that you can improve on the following year, and we think hearing from guys who had strong success might be interesting to you. So here’s a brief breakdown from each manager.
What Went Right: Contrary to my 2018 TGFBI (where I finished third in the overall 😏) when I completely botched my pitching, I absolutely nailed it here. I drafted Max Scherzer in the first round and followed it with Stephen Strasburg, Robbie Ray, Hyun Jin Ryu, Caleb Smith and later Lance Lynn through the wire. I led pitching for a good chunk but some fading at the end saw me fall to third in pitching with 61.5 points. As usual in the roto leagues I did a good job of bouying my average with Michael Brantley, Javy Baez and then getting lucky with big seasons from Trey Mancini, Jonathan Villar and Danny Santana.
Overall, I think I executed my plan of a balanced team coming from the draft well enough without taking into consideration lost seasons or unexpected regression.
What Went Wrong: Above anything else, I felt I mismanaged my FAAB. I never had enough for the big names, but always had too much for those that didn’t matter. For example, I was runner up on Yordan Alvarez (went for $508 of $1000) and he would have been a massive boost to my team, whose ultimate demise was a lack HR and RBI. I was a touch bit too conservative when I shouldn’t have been.
Conversely, I can’t count the number of times I would bid significantly on periphery players only to see the runner up was five percent of my bid. I’d estimate I threw away $200 in excess bidding. And they were all paper cuts, too. It wasn’t like I bid $250 on a big prospect and the runner up was $75. It was more $25 to a runner up for $3.
I also underestimated just how vicious saves were chased. Remember in July when Eovaldi was supposed to come back as closer? He went for a whopping $259. Funnily enough, the winner of that bid was Kenyatta Storin who won the Champs League. It was a similar story all season long. When I thought I was bidding enough, I ended up being way short. In the second half I was jaded and I’d overbid anyone that would sniff a closer role and ultimately be left with a bad relief pitcher that I could have had for a couple of dollars.
What I’ll Do Differently in 2020: I’m confident in my drafting strategy: chase well-rounded players early with an emphasis on average and take two strong SP and one strong RP. But I need to improve my FAAB bids. It’s an area I excelled in 2018, but in a Champs League with very savvy owners I learned my lesson. Be more aggressive in areas of deficiency, especially when I can tell in June it’s an area I’m hurting in.
What Went Right: Mostly everything, particularly in the second half. My first four draft rounds provided me a nice baseline with Turner, Verlander, Rendon, and Springer. Followed by strong rounds in six through nine with Nelson Cruz, Aroldis, Matt Olson, and Robbie Ray. The remaining rounds only produced a handful of players that stuck, but the trio of Alex Colome, Trey Mancini, and Grichuk provided me with some needed value in the later rounds. I tried to jump on players a week or two before they became wavier wire darlings and I bagged Hunter Dozier, Mitch Garver, and Jackie Bradley Jr at opportune times.
What Went Wrong: Daniel Murphy. Of my first 10 picks, Murphy in the fifth round is the only to go terribly wrong. I work off of projections in a war room format provided courtesy of Razzball’s Rudy Gamble, and adjust depending upon my personal preference. Murphy was a player that both Rudy and I were overly exposed to.
As for other issues, I could have done a better job down the stretch of eyeing another arm or two off of FAAB, as Ryan Yarborough, Cole Hamels, and Jose Quintana had an adverse effect on my ratios the last few weeks, leading to a drop of 3-4 pitching points.
What Will I Change In 2020: Not much, I lost my league by a single roto point and finished two steals, three RBI, and .0029 batting average points from taking another three roto points to finish in first. I’ve worked off of Rudy Gamble’s projections for two years and have finished 14th in 2018 and 27th overall in 2019. I’m disappointed I didn’t win my league, but the process has been sound.
What Went Right: After finishing second in my league and 10th overall in 2018, I ended up finishing sixth in the Champions League and 73rd overall in 2019. I consider the finishes for this year to be respectable, but they ultimately came up well short of my goals. My hitting was great as I finished with the highest point total in the league, but my starting pitching was more than subpar.
I received the first overall pick in the draft and took Mike Trout. Some of the other bats that paid dividends were Juan Soto (30th overall), Nelson Cruz (reached at 61), Matt Chapman (121), Jorge Polanco (180), Elvis Andrus (211), Shin Soo-Choo (241), and the crown jewel Fernando Tatis Jr. (301).
What Went Wrong : My pitching was wrecked from the start as I took Corey Kluber at 31st overall - I imagine most teams around the 2-3 turn had a tough time. I could have made up for Kluber but I just completely whiffed on SP throughout the rest of the draft. I bought into the German Marquez (60) hype and also took Masahiro Tanaka (150), Andrew Heaney (151), Jake Junis (270) and Kyle Gibson (271). Thankfully, I made an early splash in April by picking up Mike Soroka who ended up being my ace for the entire season.
Outside of Soroka, my FAAB use was hit and miss with my best additions being Zac Gallen, Ian Kennedy and Hunter Pence. Surprisingly, I really didn’t have to chase SB or Saves throughout the year and in the end it was simply the lack of SP talent and depth that did me in.
What I’ll Do Differently in 2020 : Looking to next year I’m going to try and diversify the types of SP on my team. Almost every SP I took in this draft ended up being susceptible to the new super bouncy ball. I’ll also try and have five to six SP on my team prior to pick 200 instead of four in the first 269.
When it comes to FAAB, I’m going to jump on SP who flash improved skills a bit more aggressively. While I didn’t have to chase SB throughout the year, I believe I got pretty lucky and will be trying to get an anchor or two early in 2020 drafts.
What Went Right: The staple of my team was the strength of my offense. I believe I finished with a top 15 team on that side of the ball among all TGFBI participants. On paper, it wasn’t really anything special—save Mike Trout—but I had a ton of great values in Marcus Semien and Rafael Devers mixed with peripheral pieces that added value throughout the year (Joey Gallo, Victor Robles, Shin-Soo Choo). I generally build my fantasy teams around offensive talent and the production of this team affirmed how I generally construct my offense in roto leagues and incorporate projections. 2. Went wrong — As I finished 4th in my league and 82nd overall, it’s obvious that my strong hitting couldn’t entirely support my team. For the first two to three months of the season, my team was solidly a top-15 team amongst all TGFBI participants. This can be attributed to some great early-season value produced by Tyler Glasnow, Luke Weaver, Will Smith and Trevor Bauer.
What Went Wrong : A big bet on Trevor Bauer. I thought he would be able to carry me for the entirety of the year. When he blew up for a 5.89 ERA in the second half, so did my team, especially because I faded strikeouts and wins in favor of ratios and saves. When Edwin Diaz stopped getting save chances, my lead in that category dissipated as well. It was a risky strategy and one I felt great about initially, especially given my investment in ratios and belief in Bauer, but pitching is fickle and I paid the price. Call me crazy, but Bauer in the 6th round next year (according to the 2020 early mocks) is something that piques my interest.
What I’ll Do Differently in 2020 : Some of the sharps were investing in aces early, a deviation from the general philosophy preached over the past few years. I admittedly was wary of this change, but I think this season and parts of 2018 confirmed the appeal of the strategy. I didn’t take my second starter until the 9th round with my TGFBI team and I think I will be more cognizant of this heading into 2020. There’s a reason Gerrit Cole was one of the top four to five players on the most championship teams in this format. Players like Shane Bieber were not far behind. The low-percentile outcome you need to convert on will still require finding a few stud SPs late, but you can manage variability by betting on the high-end SPs poised for greatness.
What Went Right: Not a lot apparently. This was an extremely disappointing outcome, and it all comes from a poor draft. I correctly identified starting pitchers that I knew would out produce their ADP. Guys like Cole, Bieber and Flaherty were on my radar, but I wasn’t aggressive enough in my draft. My pitching staff was anchored by Blake Snell, Chris Paddack and Yu Darvish, which I was happy with pre-season, and I had two solid closers in Kenley Jansen and Jordan Hicks. We all know what happened there. My picks of Whit Merrifield and Tommy Pham gave me strong secondary performers to go with what I thought I’d get from my number one pick. I hit on late rounders Luke Weaver and and Brandon Lowe. My overall process was fine it’s just I didn’t get my initial targets and had to pivot off of them and chose incorrectly.
What Went Wrong : I used the third pick on Jose Ramirez, and he simply didn’t produce enough value for me. I was chasing power and RBI all season because of it. Blake Snell didn’t meet my expectations and then went down with an injury, as did Jordan Hicks. My confidence in Danny Jansen wasn’t rewarded either as the rookie backstop just couldn’t put it together until after he was already cut from my roster. Daniel Murphy missed time, Miles Mikolas didn’t repeat. Injuries hit me hard, and players that don’t typically miss time did.
What I’ll Do Differently in 2020 : Taking starting pitching early is a must for 2020. That seems to be a common thing here as the value of the premiere aces is multiplied with this new offensive landscape. I also want to be more well rounded during my draft. Sounds obvious, but with the stolen base scarcity going around I focused on that too much and had a team that lacked power. This was easily my worst fantasy baseball year of my life, and it was extremely frustrating. I couldn’t get a feel for my leagues FAAB tendencies and lost out on several early targets which forced severe over bids later on (hello Nate Lowe!). All that being said, I’m looking forward to 2020 and already have a draft at First Pitch scheduled for next week!!