Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Fantasy Baseball 2021


For the first time ever, I get Bryce Harper in Fantasy Baseball. Photo via Phila Inquirer

We have a small break this week in news, thanks to the essential finalization of the active roster days ahead of opening day. So lets talk Fantasy baseball. As always, this is a niche post so feel free to move on if you’re not a player.

It didn’t look like my league was going to get its act together for Fantasy Baseball this year, since we bailed last year and the momentum was lagging to have someone organize again, but once we actually got the right cell number for the commissioner, we got our act together and drafted last weekend.

I had the 10th draft spot out of 10 teams, which I’ve come to believe absolutely sucks as a draft position for two main reasons:

  • there’s a finite number of really top end players in the sport now so you miss out in round 1
  • More importantly … you go nearly 20 picks between selections, meaning if there’s a run on a position, you cannot participate. This comes into play literally in round 3 for me. Read on.
  • On the bright side … i didn’t have to really focus on availability and strategy for large chunks of time, which allowed me to freely insult the picks of my competitors, always the best part of any draft.

My drafting strategy is basically this:

  • Focus on middle infielders first
  • do not overpay for a 1B; there’s plenty of them.
  • Do not overpay for SPs; there’s value in the middle rounds
  • Focus on NL starters. Preferably from the NL west
  • Get 5 closers and stream them
  • Draft a catcher last since there’s only like 2 worth drafting.

Our categories:
– Hitting: Runs, HRs, RBI, SBs, OBP and OPS. No Batting Average.
– Pitching: Losses, Ks, Saves, ERA, Whip, QS. no wins.

So, here’s how my team went. I’ll just group the picks in pairs since that’s how I ended up evaluating them.

1-2: I went with JP Ramirez and Bryce Harper 10 and 11. Two solid hitters, somewhat of a flier/upside guy in Harper. In all the time Harper played for the Nats, I never got him. Lets see if he can build on his pretty solid 2020 season. Ramirez fills a pretty decent position (3B) which, If I had been more in the middle, maybe I reach for Machado in the mid-2nd round to get 3B/SS eligibility. The top 6 go Tatis-Acuna-deGrom-Betts-Soto-Trout; I tell you what, if I was in the #6 spot and I got Trout i’d be ecstatic.

3-4: I got Clayton Kershaw and Bo Bichette. A mixture of old and new-school; there was a huge run on starters in the middle of both round 2 and 3, so Kershaw was the 10th starter selected. Maybe I should have picked Snell over him, but my rankings didn’t pop him into my brain. As for Bichette … he was the 8th SS picked and I like his upside just a tad more than Corey Seager (who went 2 spots afterwards). Not terribly happy with these players, but what can you do.

5-6: I wanted a 2B and it was a little early for Altuve, so i went with Gleyber Torres, who also has SS availability. That’s nice. Then I didn’t like the looks of some of the alternatives in the area; round 5-6 has a lot of 2nd tier infielders but i was already full up. So I grabbed rookie phenom Randy Arozarena. We’ll see if the hype matches the performance from last off-season.

7-8: still need hitters, still don’t like the starters here. I look up and one of the guys I was looking hard at for round 5 as a 2B is still sitting there: Cavan Biggio. That’s a sign; if you wanted the guy 20 picks ago and he’s still there, then he’s a steal. He’s also got 3B and OF availability. Like that. Then I grab BPA outfielder, who turns out to be Austin Meadows.

9-10: I now need some pitchers; I basically have my entire hitting lineup set. But that’s ok; its part of my strategy. So I grab the next best pitcher available at this point in Zack Greinke, then notice a pretty solid 1B guy in Matt Olson. Not bad. I’m a little worried about Greinke being in the AL and being old, but he is a Quality Start machine (which we have as a category instead of Wins).

11-12: At this point I now have just 2 starters and zero relievers. I’m going to start grabbing almost entirely Arms here out.. I get Charlie Morton and Julio Urias, two solid NL starters for good teams.

13-14: I get two closers: Rafael Montero and Jake McGee. Closers for Seattle and San Francisco, two crummy teams. Sometimes that’s a good thing (bad teams desperately depend on closers to get them to the finish line), and sometimes that’s a bad thing (if the team is *too* bad, they’ll rarely be in a position to use their closer).

15-16: Two more closers: Emilio Pagan and Alex Colome. Closer for San Diego (which should be good) and for Minnesota (though oddly Colome is not listed as the slam-dunk closer for the Twins despite excellent numbers last year). We’ll have to keep an eye out here.

17-18: From here I want one more closer, 3 starters and a catcher. So I grab Two starters here: Jose Urquidy and David Price. Price is a crapshoot, but at least he’s in the NL West. Urquidy could be a steal; he really could be Houston’s ace. Post drafting, we find out that Price got beat out by Dustin May for the 5th starter spot … so i’m quickly hitting the waiver wire.

19-20: I get a starter crapshoot in Framber Valdez, who was supposed to be a top starter for Houston but has a finger injury and will miss a bit of time (but I do get DL spots; once he hits the DL I will hit the waiver wire). I also grab a 5th closer in Anthony Bass from Miami. I now have 3/5ths of Houston’s rotation; interesting.

21: with the last pick in the draft, Mr. Irrelevant I get BPA catcher in Sean Murphy, who actually seems to have really good numbers. Hmm; maybe i’ll actually start a Catcher this year (I’ve gone with stretches before where literally i’ve had no good C options and have just left that position blank).

I’m not enamored of my team this year. I think i’ve got too many veterans who might be a season past their fantasy prime. kind of like the Nats. I may be hitting the waiver wire early and often for SP and RPs. I have 5 closers, but they’re relatively weak. I dunno; not my best draft. Team Summary:

Hitters: Ramirez, Harper, Bichette, Arozorena, Torres, Meadows, Olson, Biggio, Murphy

SP: Greinke, Kershaw, Urias, Morton, Urquidy, Valdez (DL), Price (soon to be dropped)

RP: Montero, Colome, McGee, Pagan, Bass

Written by Todd Boss

March 31st, 2021 at 9:08 am

Posted in Fantasy

10 Responses to 'Fantasy Baseball 2021'

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  1. Massive story breaking with at least four Nats about to be quarantined for 10 days at the start of the season. The only one known in the clear so far is Max. Players affected will miss at least three games with Mets, three with Braves, and one or two at Dodgers, depending on whether today counts as day one of the quarantine.


    31 Mar 21 at 5:08 pm

  2. Known call-ups thus far to replace COVID quartet are Luis Garcia and Sam Clay. Let’s hope one affected is Perez or Mercer and not Harrison. Presumably it tagged one of the lefty relievers, too: Hand or Avilan. Max and Soto are said to be readying to play, so they should be good.


    31 Mar 21 at 7:38 pm

  3. 2021 predictions:

    NL: I don’t totally believe the Met hype. I think the East is the Braves’ to lose. If the Nats can hold it together, they will compete to the end with the Mets for the second wild-card slot. My prediction right now would be that the Mets will edge them out, but of course that’s not my hope. Phils and Marlins will stay around .500 and keep it interesting in the East.

    It will also be interesting in the NL West, at least between the Dodgers and Padres. I’m really not sure about that Dodger bullpen, particularly for the postseason. Bauer is a huge bet for them, both because of his personality and his mediocrity every other season. Kershaw is always a crap-shoot to stay healthy. So there is a path to the top for the Padres, although the better bet is the the Dodgers take the division and the Padres the top wild card, benefiting from three tanking teams in the West.

    Is anyone in the NL Central really trying? I know the Cards took on an outrageous contract at 3B for a guy who is mediocre at sea level, but they did little to fix pitching and OF. It’s possible that the Central gets won by a .500 record or below. It’s the NFC East of divisions. I’ll take the Brewers by a hair over the Cards.

    AL: Lots of preseason love for the Yanks . . . so I would REALLY love to see the Jays steal the division from them. The Rays can’t lose as many key pieces as they did and still stay at the top, but don’t completely write them off, either. The Bosox look like an expensive mess.

    I haven’t a clue about the rest of the AL. Lots of touting of the Chisox in the Central, but I’ll pick the perpetually underrated Twins to win the division. In the West, Astros and A’s seem likely to vie at the top, although it would be fun to see the Angels finally contend. Or rather not see the Angels. When does anyone on the East Coast ever get to see the Angels? I don’t think they have quite enough to pull out a wild card, though. Should be a heck of a wild card race among the Jays, Rays, White Sox, and Astros/A’s loser.

    I just hope the World Series doesn’t end up Dodgers-Yankees. Maybe it will be Padres-Jays. I know the networks would hate it, but those would be fun teams to see.


    31 Mar 21 at 8:08 pm

  4. Fantasy: Morton, Urias, and Valdez were nice late picks. Perhaps Valdez can pick up when Kershaw inevitably goes on the DL.

    That ugly beast in the photo likely will keep piling up stats in the Philly bandbox, but it still won’t do his team much good. He doesn’t have the greatest lineup around him, so it will remain to be seen how many good pitches he sees. Ramirez is a quiet stud, and Bichette, Torres, and Biggio all have another level that they could possibly step up to.


    31 Mar 21 at 8:17 pm

  5. COVID call-ups: Garcia, Clay, Berrera, and Yadiel. Berrera (.083) and Garcia (.225) were not good in the spring, so they’re really desperate measures at this point, particularly Berrera.


    31 Mar 21 at 9:10 pm

  6. Presumably they would have brought up a CF-capable OF if it was Robles or Stevo, and Soto is acting like it’s not him, so it would seem to be Schwarber by process of elimination. It would be fun to see Yadiel get the start against deGrom.

    INF would figure to be Harrison, Perez, or Mercer, as they would have brought up Kieboom if it was Castro. Obviously Gomes (please not) or Avila as catcher, and Hand or Avilan as pitcher.


    31 Mar 21 at 9:18 pm

  7. Although I guess there’s a possibility that Garcia is up for Trea. So worst-case COVID casualties: Turner, Gomes, Schwarber, and Hand. Ouch.


    31 Mar 21 at 9:22 pm

  8. And speaking of “fantasy baseball,” I wake up to find that a guy who hit .258 last year with a 102 wRC+ is getting 10/$341. I don’t mind seeing the Mets get stuck with a stupid contract, but that also probably just destroyed any reasonable extension talks with the same-aged Trea Turner, who is coming off a 158 wRC+, 26 points higher than any Lindor has ever posted.


    1 Apr 21 at 7:58 am

  9. Now Opening Day postponed. That’s probably to the Nats’ benefit, as their match-ups with the Mets will go a long way toward determining their playoff viability. Still a bummer, though. They’re said to be not playing on Friday, either. They may not have any games this weekend.


    1 Apr 21 at 12:00 pm

  10. new posted for the covid stuff

    Todd Boss

    2 Apr 21 at 1:57 pm

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