MASTER NOTES: Top picks for FEEBL drafts

We’re smack in the middle of draft season, so what fantasy baseball needs right now is another game format. And since Ron Shandler is probably tired of inventing them, I am boldly stepping up to the plate with an exciting new idea: Fantasy Egregiously Execrable Bizarro League. Let’s call it FEEBL for short—an even worse acronym than “HQ-WONK.”

Actually, I already invented a FEEBL-ish format for daily fantasy three years ago, which led to such lavish financial rewards that I’m now typing this in my very own basement (not my mom's) and driving an ultra-luxurious 2015 Nissan Sentra. (It has built-in GPS! And heated seats!)

A FEEBL league (and yes, I know the acronym already includes the word “league,” so saying “Fantasy Egregiously Execrable Bizarro League league,” is like saying “ATM machine” or “GOP party,” but if that bothers you, please seek professional help) is based on a style of hockey fantasy drafting that my friends and I invented in university—or, more precisely, in the university bar right after our real hockey draft. Somehow the idea of drafting a team made up of plodders, penalty-prone punchers, defensive defensemen and the like sounded like fun.

As I recall it, through the haze of memory and many pitchers of Labatt’s Blue, the league had two categories: fewest points and most penalty minutes (PiM). Early picks included Montreal wrecking ball winger Chris Nilan, whose unfortunately prolific 26 points in the previous season were more than offset by his whopping 338 minutes in the “sin bin,” as we Canadians like to call it; Pittsburgh defenseman Marty McSorley, who had an impressive 224 PiM with a mere 9 points; and the inaptly named Buffalo defenseman Larry Playfair, who had amassed an impressive 211 penalty minutes while logging a paltry 16 points.

Oh, the memories.

Back to the present... First, let’s set the rules. After all, a league without rules is a league with no long arguments, no owners threatening to quit, no endless lawyering ... hmmm, maybe let's not set any rules...

So let's not call them "rules," but "guidelines." As you have likely sussed, the first guideline is that FEEBL is the antithesis of regular fantasy. The worse the player is, the more valuable he is on a FEEBL roster.

Speaking of rosters, the second guideline is that a FEEBL roster should have fewer players than the standard 23. That keeps the drafts shorter, so owners can get to the bar sooner. As well, it makes articles like this one shorter, and we’re all in favor of that. Especially me, since I have to write it, and you even more, since you have to read it.

The shorter FEEBL roster will include:

  • Two catchers, because in FEEBL, they’re gold
  • One each at the IF spots
  • Three OFs
  • Three starters
  • and two relievers

Meanwhile, the categories reflect contributions to losing baseball. For hitters:

  • Runs Produced (RS+RBI-HR, more is worse)
  • Strikeouts
  • Caught Stealing
  • and OBP (lower is better)

I wanted to include GIDP, but nobody projects them and they’re pretty scattered. And BTW, guess who the 2018 leader was? Answer later.

And for pitchers:

  • ERA
  • WHIP
  • Blown saves
  • and Strikeouts

And since we want to discourage drafting rosters made up entirely of bench hitters and 14th pitchers, we will include ABs and IP and give them double points.

With the groundwork exhaustively laid, here are my picks for the first annual FEEBL league draft.

Catcher 1: Sandy Leon figures to pick up 250 AB or so behind the dish in BOS. He did have a dangerously useful season in 2016 (64 RP-.369 OBP in 252 AB), but as the Forecaster pointed out, his career otherwise has 745 AB, during which he’s managed 199 RP with a .288 OBP. Even counting that weirdly productive 2016, Leon’s career HCtX is 71, 29 points lower than league average. His 2019 BHQ projection is 49 RP, .254 OBP—the kind of FEEBL stuff we need!

Catcher 2: While Leon is putting up some reliably FEEBL stats, his 69 pK leave something to be desired. To get the whiff total up, we turn to DET, where the rebuilding includes Grayson Greiner. Greiner projects to a very useful 400 AB, with a modest 78 RP and a .300 OBP, and 112 beautiful strikeouts.  

1B: Chris Davis of BAL or Ryan O’Hearn of KC. Both around 440 pAB, both around .290 pOBP, both around 95 pRP. We give the edge to Davis on his 186-145 pK advantage, but O’Hearn could chip in a couple of CS on the runnin’ Royals.

2B: Alen Hanson of SF projects to 53 RP and 53 K, but only in 260 AB. He does offer 5 pCS and a nifty .280 OBP, though. 58 RP-.307 OBP in 358 AB, with 2 valuable CS. If you need more AB volume, consider David Fletcher of LAA, who projects 400+ AB with pK close to Hanson’s, but you’ll pay a premium with 90 RP.

3B: Hunter Dozier of KC is close to 500 pAB, with a modest 80-ish RP and a very solid .280-ish OBP. Like O’Hearn, Dozier figures to run, with excellent inefficiency: p3 CS in 7 attempts.

SS: Like regular fantasy, the SS situation is replete with FEEBL candidates. The best choice is in PIT, where Kevin Newman projects to 322 AB with a mere 62 RP, .286 OBP. Not a lot of K potential here, but 6 luscious pCS. Hello, Newman!

OF1: Also plenty of FEEBL choices in the hay, but our strategy is to get lots of ABs. So we’ll start with Adam Engel of CHW, who projects to a whopping 500+ pAB, with a relatively tame 83 pRP, a very solid 173 pK, and a positively intoxicating .254 OBP. Throw in 10 pCS, and it’s draft-day eve for Adam.

OF2: Chris Shaw of SF also projects 500+ pAB in the newly enFEEBLed Giants outfield. No pCS, but a .270 pOBP, sub-100 RP and nearly 200 pK means we won’t say “pshaw” to Shaw.

OF3: For our last OF, we take our search for lack of talents to South Beach and the Marlins (surprise!). Our pick from among the low-hanging fruit in MIA is Lewis Brinson, a risky pick because of much-touted upside, but worth the gamble if he comes close to his projections: 475+ pAB, just 90 pRP, 131 big pK, 4 pCS and a tremendous .273 pOBP.

SP1: Andrew Cashner will get 160 pIP in the ravaged BAL rotation, with a pERA over 5.00 and a pWHIP near 1.50, and barely 100 pK. When they say he’ll anchor the rotation, in this case it’s true—and this is the kind of anchor you need to sink your stats—and keep ’em sunk.

SP2: Brad Keller of KC should get 150-ish IP, but a 6.2 K/9 across his MLB and minors career should mean a very good chance of not cracking the 100-K mark. Keller also gives up plenty o’ hits and substantial walks, so he looks “good” for his 1.50-ish pWHIP as well. There’s some danger in the 4.22 pERA (based in part on a 4.18 career xERA).

SP3: We already have DET catcher Grayson Greiner on the roster, so we’ll complete the discharged battery in Motown with Tyson Ross. Ross had dangerously productive seasons in 2014-15, but returned to form with a 7.71/1.84 in an injury-plagued 2017 before being completely average last season (4.15/1.30, 122 K in 150 innings). We’re betting on regression to the norm: a 4.72 pERA/1.48 pWHIP in 145 big innings, but with barely over 100 pK.

RP1: The key in this category will be the Blown Saves (BS), which are actually harder to come by than Saves and Holds by quite a margin. And finding a truly FEEBL BS guy is harder because the biggest totals accrue to guys who get into high-leverage situations, namely good pitchers. For that reason, the #1 RP target for 2019 is Kyle Barraclough of WAS, who has 16 BS in his career and 12 pBS (pledge now!) in the BHQ projections. Interesting factoid: Of the top 25 relievers in the BS category from 2015-18, Barraclough is the only one with more BS than Saves! Throw in a relatively low 72 pK and 4.57/1.55 projected decimals, and Barraclough is a clear top choice.

RP2: Only 4 pBS on the 2019 sheet for Miguel Castro of BAL, who was actually somewhat decent last season as a multi-inning reliever, posting a 3.66 ERA. Don’t be fooled, though—on a skills basis, he was reliably FEEBL out of the pen, with a 1.45 WHIP, a Dom of 5.9 K/9 and a Ctl of 5.1 bb/9. BHQ has Castro down for 4 pBS, and “down” is the keyword.  

Of course, we remind you: do due diligence before committing to the projected FEEBLness of any of these players. Past performance does not guarantee future results. BaseballHQ and I disclaim any responsibility for any financial losses you suffer as a result of heeding our advice on these and other matters, although I personally would be glad if you send me a share of any winnings.

The guy with the most GIDP in 2018? Nine players killed 20 or more rallies. Number two through nine were Miguel Rojas, with 23; Yuli Gurriel; Ryon Healy; Adam Jones; Stephen Piscotty; Yangervis Solarte; and Wilson Ramos and Eugenio Suarez, with 20. And your leader? None other than newly minted multi-zillionaire Manny Machado, who grounded into 26 twin killings. But you can bet he hustled on every one of them.

Happy drafting!

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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.