This week's NL-only fantasy thoughts will be a mix of some NL only discussion as well as details from my NL-only auction keeper league draft from Sunday. I will start out with my thoughts on a few players that appear to be in the midst of having a break out season.
Is Dexter Fowler having a breakout season?
Last offseason we read where Fowler had bulked up in an attempt to stay stronger throughout the season and to add a little power to his game. He responded by hitting 13 home runs last season, more than doubling the five home runs he hit in 2011. His extra base hit total actually dropped from 55 in 2011 to 42 last season, yet his SLG and ISO both increased. This season, it appears he worked on building his strength a bit more as he has launched four home runs and a double in his first 27 at bats. Granted, he has benefitted from hitting in two of the more homer-friendly ball parks in the National League thus far - Miller Park and Coors Field. I will be interested to see if he can continue the power breakout in parks like Petco Park and Dodger Stadium, where he will play 18 games this season.
Jim Henderson: Brewers new closer
We have been all over the Brewers change at closer, with Kevin Nielsen breaking down Henderson in his player profile on Sunday afternoon and I mentioned there could be a change in my Roto Roundup this morning. Henderson was impressive in his first save opportunity today, as he allowed on inherited runner to score on a single, and then escaped a bases loaded, one out jam by getting a strikeout and a fly out to preserve the Brewers three run lead. It appears he will get a few more save opportunities after that performance.
My Sunday morning NL-only auction draft results
I went into my last draft of the season, a 5 x 5 NL-only, two catcher auction keeper league, on Sunday morning with just four keepers on my roster:
Giancarlo Stanton ($28)
Jay Bruce ($34)
Ryan Howard ($14)
Anthony Rendon ($1)
I may have overpaid for Bruce here, but put my money where my mouth is, as I drove the Bruce bus this offseason, telling everyone to target him. I got Howard in a straight up trade for a $34 Andrew McCiutchen. I also traded for Stanton this offseason, giving up a $5 Aroldis Chapman, a $7 Kenley Jansen and a $11 Jordan Zimmerman. Yeah, I love power hitters and Stanton is the best. There is no minor league draft in this league, but the league constitution states we can draft off of the 40 man roster, so that explains my owning Anthony Rendon.
I went into the draft with $183 to spend on 19 players, including 9 pitchers. My strategy was to grab guys like Zack Wheeler and Yasiel Puig at the end of the draft for a buck or two, and to target at least one ace-level starter to anchor my pitching staff. Well, the problem with that strategy was that the top NL starters, Clayton Kershaw, Stephen Strasburg, Cole Hamels, Matt Cain, and Cliff Lee were all kept, so that left me bidding on starters like Zack Greinke, Jeff Samardzija, Yovani Gallardo and Kris Medlen, who are all very good, but were targeted by the other 9 owners in the league as well. I was in on the bidding on all four starters, and even went to $25 on Greinke, but another owner went $26, and I dropped out with the hopes of winning the bidding on one of the other three starters left. Like Greinke, I was in on the bidding on each of them, but dropped out when the bids hit $20. I just don't like spending that much on a starting pitcher, so I switched my focus to some of the younger starters in the National League, and here is what my pitching staff looks like after changing my strategy once the top starters were gone:
Matt Harvey ($18)
Wandy Rodriguez ($8)
Dillon Gee ($8)
Jose Fernandez ($7)
Shelby Miller ($6)
Zack Wheeler ($2)
All of these starters will help me in 2013, but to what extent remains to be seen. I see Wheeler providing value by mid to late May. Harvey and Fernandez were dominant in their first starts of the season, but Miller was wild, as he walked 4 and struck out 4 in 5.1 innings in his first start. The veterans on my staff, Wandy and Gee, were both solid in their first outings of the season, and they should provide some stability on my young staff this season.
To fill out the rest of my pitching staff, I focused on the bottom of the barrel closers, as I didn't want to spend too much on my two closers. I was in on the bidding on most every closer, but dropped out of the bidding on most of them when they reached the $13-14 level, as there were plenty of closers in the draft, including:
J.J. Putz ($16)
Bobby Parnell ($10)
Rafael Soriano ($22)
Sergio Romo ($19)
Steve Cishek ($10)
Jonathan Papelbon ($21)
Jason Grilli 9$14)
Brandon League ($14)
Kyuji Fujikawa ($9)
Mitchell Boggs ($3)
I was able to grab Fujikawa for $9, Boggs for $3 and Trevor Rosenthal for $1 late in the draft as I had more money left than anyone at that point.
The rest of my roster of hitters looks like this:
C - Brian McCann ($12)
C - Rob Brantly ($5)
1B - Ryan Howard ($14)
2B - Donovan Solano ($1)
SS - Hanley Ramirez ($21)
MI - Dee Gordon ($2)
3B - Anthony Rendon ($1)
CI - Chris Johnson ($5)
OF - Giancarlo Stanton ($28)
OF - Jay Bruce ($34)
OF - Shin-Soo Choo ($33)
OF - Andre Ethier ($22)
OF - Chris Heisey ($8)
U - Tyler Colvin ($2)
So, my offense is top heavy with Stanton, Bruce, Choo, Ethier and Howard, and hopefully I can get McCann back by the end of April and Ramirez back by mid to late May. I took the $2 risk that Dee Gordon will eventually figure things out at the plate and become the stolen base threat I envisioned he would be last season. Other than Hanley and Choo, I don't have much speed on my roster, and need Gordon to take the next step in his career.
Once the auction was completed, I picked up Eric Chavez for Rendon, Clint Barmes for Gordon, Alex Gonzalez for Hanley, Eric Young Jr for Colvin, and Luke Gregerson for Wheeler. Gregerson should provide some value when Huston Street eventually makes his annual visit to the disabled list or is traded at midseason. Gonzalez won't kill me until Ramirez returns, and Rockies manager Walt Weiss wants to give EYJr more playing time this season, so he should help in the runs and stolen base categories when he plays. I just worry that Chavez and Barmes will be batting average killers.
I need a lot of help to compete this season, but I will work the waiver wire and the trade market to see if I can build a team that can end the season in the money.
So, how did I do? Lots of question marks, but plenty of potential and it will be fun to watch them perform this season.