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Main Event Tracker: Week 1 review

Opportunity gives Mitchell a solid fantasy outlook
With some roster moves breaking his way, Garrett Mitchell looks ready to make the most of his increased opportunity as the regular center fielder with the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2024 MLB and fantasy baseball seasons.

Main Event Tracker: Week 1 results and FAAB

Greetings fantasy baseball enthusiasts. As I mentioned at the bottom of the review that I posted of my NFBC Main Event team (which can be found here), I was toying with the idea of writing a weekly update to track how this team is performing in the standings and against my categorical goals and to recap the FAAB decisions that were made or not made in a given week and provide my insight and thought process behind them.

It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do and gives me an extra layer of accountability in my own decision making, so I figured that I would give it a shot this season. Hopefully you can take a journey with me to the top of the overall leaderboard.

The four-day period for the first scoring week was actually split into two parts at the NFBC, as they allow mid-week changes for hitters on Fridays, while pitchers are locked for the entire week. That meant that Thursday was its own scoring period, and the weekend was a separate scoring period in which you could swap out hitters if you chose to.

I rolled out everyone that I could for the Thursday games in an effort to maximize at-bats, there were no real decisions to be had on the hitting side. Same thing on the pitching side, I made sure to draft my team in a way that meant I had nine active pitchers who would be pitching during the first weekend of the season, even if it meant using speculative closer play John Brebbia as my ninth arm.

When it came to the weekend though, I did have some hitter decisions to make – which ultimately went the wrong way for me. If you read the draft review article, you’re up to speed on my roster construction, but for those that didn’t I went into the first week with two extra hitters on my bench. Both of them were outfielders – Mark Canha and Brent Rooker. The fringe players in my lineup that I could have chosen to swap out for the weekend were Jarred Kelenic as my fifth outfielder and Joey Meneses in the utility spot. Meneses was likely to play all three games, hit in the middle of the Nationals’ lineup and he got the added benefit of playing in Cincinnati. That was an easy start. The other decision wasn’t as easy. The A’s and Braves were scheduled for three games each, while the Tigers would only play two. The Braves were also taking on a left-hander on Sunday which meant that Kelenic would not be in the lineup. On its face, Rooker seemed like the easy play for three games versus two from Kelenic or Canha.

However, when lineups started to roll out for Friday, Rooker was nowhere to be found despite the fact that there was a left-hander on the hill for the Guardians. Not only did that make Rooker an easy sit for me, it also made me start to question his playing time outlook for the rest of the season. So it came back down to two games of Kelenic against two games of Canha. I drafted Kelenic higher and valued him higher coming into the draft, he plays in a much more explosive offense and was much more likely to contribute in power or speed. Plus, Canha had already started for me on Thursday and stuck me with an empty 0-for-3. The Tigers were facing a pair of solid right-handers for the White Sox (Michael Soroka and Erick Fedde) while the Braves would tangle with Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler. Hindsight being 20-20, the pitching matchups should have probably led me to Canha. Unfortunately, I went the other direction. Kelenic didn’t have a bad weekend at all – in fact he went 5-for-7 (.714) with a pair of runs scored and two RBI. That’s terrific production for a two-game weekend. The problem is that Canha went bonkers – going 4-for-8 (.500) with a homer, three runs scored, three RBI and a stolen base. Every fantasy manager is going to be tasked with making hundreds of tiny decisions like this over the course of the season and all you can do is try to make the best possible decision at the time and hope that in the long run you come out on the right side of it more often than not.

Hitting Review

NFBC Week 1 Hitters

Here’s the breakdown of what my hitters were able to get done over the first weekend of the 2024 season. Randy Arozarena led the charge out of the gate on offense, smacking a pair of home runs and swiping two bases over the first weekend of the season. My 14th round selection, Tyler O’Neill, came through in a big way as well with a pair of dingers and a swipe of his own. Jarren Duran added a pair of stolen bases to the mix while Jake Fraley stole a base as well. Paul Goldschmidt, Jose Ramirez and Ezequiel Tovar each left the yard to surpass our power target for the week.

Speaking of targets, here’s what I’m tracking to on the chart above. To have a shot at the top prizes in overall competitions such as this, most fantasy managers are shooting to finish in the top 80% or 90% in each statistical category. If you’re able to achieve that, it should at least put you in the mix at the end of the season. For the first few weeks of the season, I’m going to be using the 90th percentile target for each category to track against to see how I’m performing. Doing this exercise weekly is a terrific way to be able to spot any potential categorical deficiencies that you may be experiencing before they become too big of a problem to overcome.

To start the season, my 90th percentile targets on offense are: 1,109 runs, 315 homers, 1080 RBI, 200 stolen bases and a .2634 batting average. If you divide that by 26 full weeks over the course of the season, 42.7 runs, 12.1 homers, 41.5 RBI and 7.7 stolen bases. Cut those numbers in half for this first week since it’s only a half week of games, and you get to the numbers that you see above.

Looking at the table above, we can see that I bested my runs total by 5.7, had one surplus home run and 2.2 extra stolen bases. I fell 0.8 RBI short of my goal in that category. I felt coming into the season that if I had any deficiency on offense it would be in HR/RBI, but the first half week hasn’t shown me anything that needs to be addressed just yet.

As the season progresses, and we have say a month’s worth of actual data, I’ll shift from using my preseason categorical targets and start using the actual 90th percentile for my benchmarks.

Pitching Review

NFBC Week 1 Pitching

Oh, what could have been. The pitching week started out so promising. In my first start of the season, Corbin Burnes threw an absolute gem – allowing just one run on one hit while striking out 11 in a victory over the Angels. Later that evening, SP2 Shane Bieber fired six scoreless frames with 11 strikeouts to earn a victory over the A’s. You can’t dream of a start much better than what I got from my top two arms. Over the next two days though, things got worse.

Michael Soroka was drafted with the sole expectation that I’d roll him out against a middling Tigers’ offense over the first weekend. He didn’t pitch well – allowing four runs over five innings and failing to record a single strikeout – but he did at least leave his game in line for a victory. That’s until the White Sox’ bullpen failed him. Kutter Crawford was much better Saturday evening, as he racked up seven strikeouts and didn’t allow a run over six innings against the Mariners, but he too was denied a victory. Alexis Diaz came on for this squad’s first save chance on Saturday and proceeded to destroy my ratios while blowing his first save of the season. John Brebbia gave some hope that he could potentially be the White Sox’ closer – working in the top half of the ninth inning in a tied game against the Tigers – and he needed just five pitches to navigate a scoreless inning there.

On Sunday, Erick Fedde looked sharp against the Tigers and punched out seven over 4 2/3, but once again, wins are very hard to come by in this game. Nick Martinez, another pitcher who was drafted solely for his first weekend start against the Nationals, provided middling ratios while adding three strikeouts to our total. Josh Hader pitched twice over the weekend – taking a loss against the Yankees on Sunday – and didn’t see a save chance. Brebbia got into Sunday’s game as well, in the sixth inning, and may not be the leading man for saves there. Who knows what exactly Pedro Grifol is thinking at the moment.

As far as our season category goals on the pitching side – at least for the first month while we’re using these numbers – we’re tracking to 1,453 strikeouts, 95 wins, 80 saves, a 3.71 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. Breaking those down into weekly goals, we’re shooting for 55.9 K’s, 3.7 wins and 3.1 saves while hitting the ratio goals.

Over this first period, we built up a nice early surplus in strikeouts, going 20.1 over the number. We also made our wins target (barely) while finishing woefully short in saves. Even with some blowups over the weekend, our ratios are in a nice place as well after the first weekend.

Overall after the first weekend, we’re sitting in fourth place out of 15 in our league with 90.5 league points. That’s 11 points back of the top spot and 2.5 back of a spot in the money. It’s a marathon, not a sprint though. We just need to finish on top. We’re 220th overall out of 855 teams through week 1.

FAAB Review

While there was a FAAB run before the season (the day after I drafted this team in Vegas), Sunday night’s run was the first real one of the season. Most fantasy managers are willing to spend big early on, trying to land impact players who will make a difference on their team for the remainder of the season. In the NFBC, you get a budget of $1000 to spend on free agents over the course of the season and there are no $0 bids. Over a 26-week season, that comes out to just over $38 per week that you can spend on free agents. Keep in mind, that if you’re competitive and near the top of the standings you’re going to want to have a good portion of your budget available for the final two months of the season, you need to be careful not to overspend foolishly early in the season.

That being said, over the first few weeks we tend to see some of the biggest impact additions of the season plucked from the waiver wire. Whether it’s a change in role or situation, some players may have been undervalued or overlooked on draft day and now could be the piece(s) that put your team over the top.

Whenever I start my FAAB prep for the week, I first scan my roster to see how many players I can realistically drop without hurting my team overall. I then look for positions or categories where I may be weak and try to find ways to potentially upgrade those spots. I’m also always on the lookout for two-start pitchers for the coming week with good matchups that could start over fringe one-start guys that are on my current roster. On the hitting side, we’re looking at how many games each player on our roster and on the waiver wire are going to play next week, where those games are being played and what the pitching matchups look like.

When looking over my team this week, here’s what I saw. Soroka and Martinez had been drafted solely with the intention of streaming them for the first week. Neither one of them pitched well or did anything to show me that they’ll be a viable rotation piece for me over the next few weeks. I could upgrade those spots. As I noted in the hitters section, Rooker is a player that I now had concerns about. Not only did he sit out on Friday against a left-hander, but he was absent from the A’s lineup on Sunday as well with no news that he’s dealing with any sort of minor injury. If he’s stuck in a logjam of outfielders and designated hitter types and is only going to play in half of his team’s games, he’s not someone that’s worthy of a precious bench spot at the moment.

You only have seven bench spots in this league, and there are no IL spots. If you read the draft review, then you know that I’m already holding two zeroes on my roster in injured stashes Justin Verlander and Eduardo Rodriguez, making roster flexibility a real problem for these first few weeks. Luis Rengifo is also a person of concern for me. He has tremendous flexibility, qualifying at 2B, SS, 3B and OF, but right now he’s my starting middle infielder and he only started one of the Angels’ first three games. I’m hoping that they’re simply easing him back into action after dealing with a hamstring strain at the end of spring training, but I’m eyeing potential replacements on the wire. The other spot that I’m looking for an upgrade – or at least another option – is at corner infielder. Right now, I’m deploying Jose Abreu in that spot, but I can’t suffer through another brutal first half like he had in 2023 and it would be nice to have other options to fill in there or play matchups until his bat shows signs of life.

I was also interested in the two closers that were available – Jason Foley and Kevin Ginkel. Foley had entered in the ninth inning twice for the Tigers over the opening weekend and looked dominant while recording a pair of saves against the White Sox. A.J. Hinch hasn’t specifically named him the closer, and I expect Shelby Miller, Andrew Chafin and Alex Lange to still factor in, but Foley looks like the guy to own in that bullpen at the moment. Ginkel is the clear favorite for saves on the Diamondbacks while Paul Sewald is sidelined, but he’s not going to keep the job for the remainder of the season so his useful life is limited. I was willing to place bids on both of them – and even placed a competitive bid on Foley – but I came up short on both of them as Foley went for $179 (runner up bid of $165) while Ginkel went for $189 ($121), both to the same manager in this league.

The big prize in FAAB this week was Victor Scott II – the Cardinals’ speedster who unexpectedly cracked the Opening Day roster due to injury. If I felt like I came out of the draft short on speed and needed a difference-maker in the category, I would have made a play for Scott. The expectation is that he would land somewhere in the $150-$250 range, and he wound up going near the higher end of that at $238 ($111).

Brady Singer looked terrific in his season debut on Sunday, racking up 10 strikeouts in a dominant victory over the Twins. He also draws a nice matchup with the White Sox next week which made him an attractive target – both as a streaming option and as a potential long-term hold. I did put a bid in on Singer, but wasn’t anywhere near the $111 ($57) that he ultimately went for.

I also had a bid in on Oswaldo Cabrera, falling just short of the runner-up bid on that one. He wound up at $44 ($34). He’s a player who had a terrific opening weekend and looks like he has secured a regular role in the Yankees’ lineup. He has outfield eligibility and is well on his way to gaining third base as well. He’s a player that would have been a nice bench addition for my team. J.D. Davis was another interesting third baseman available. He started all four games for the Athletics over the weekend, hitting in the middle of the lineup and slugging a pair of home runs. There isn’t much competition for at-bats at third base in Oakland, so he should continue to have a regular role there as long as he’s healthy. Though the supporting cast isn’t great, the lineup spot should lead to decent RBI numbers at least, making him an intriguing option for my team specifically, since I was looking to add power preferably at a corner infield spot that I could sub in for Abreu. This time, we came away with the winning bid of $42 ($33) with the drop being Rooker.

I had interest in Jared Triolo as a player who has third base eligibility and will soon add second base to the mix. That, combined with his everyday role in the Pirates’ lineup and solid speed made him look appealing as a bench addition. Unfortunately, we came up short there as well as he went for $19 ($12).

As far as potential two-start pitchers for the upcoming week, my top target was Emerson Hancock. Thrust into a rotation spot with the injury to Bryan Woo, the former first-round pick draws a terrific first start with the Guardians in Seattle and then has to travel to Milwaukee for his second start on Sunday. It’s a little more than I would have liked to pay for a double at this time of the year, but he’s a player that I believe could have some staying power if he pitches well over his first two starts. We won the Hancock bid $16 to $13 with the drop being Soroka. We had conditional interest in a few other doubles who wound up going much cheaper in Alec Marsh ($2) and Matt Waldron ($1). My bids on both would have been higher than the winning bids, so now we have to hope that Hancock outperforms them this week.

I also wanted to add another bat to add further flexibility to my bench and give me more options during the next couple of weeks. Unfortunately, the way that my bids played out this week, both of the hitters that I wound up adding were third basemen. That’s after plucking Trey Lipscomb with a perfect bid of $13 against $13 with Martinez as the drop. He’s going to be the Nationals’ regular third baseman while Nick Senzel is sidelined (once again) and he crushed a homer and swiped a base over the weekend which furthered my interest in him. He can be used as a spot play to cover corner infielder for Abreu and can also be used at utility in place of Meneses if I want to add some speed from that spot. It’ll be interesting to see how much the Nationals move him around, as he has played second base, shortstop and first base pretty regularly in the minor leagues and in the Arizona Fall League as well, and any extra eligibility would be a boon to his value for me. It’s probably a mistake on my end to add two third baseman and not force a middle to give me coverage for Rengifo this week, but that’s where we ended up. Maybe one last look over the bids before 10 PM on Easter Sunday could have saved me in that situation.

Tyler Freeman is another player that I had interest in on the offensive side, and he’s only third base eligible as well, though he’ll gain outfield within the next two weeks. Had I landed him instead of Lipscomb I’d be in the same predicament, so I don’t feel too bad about it, that’s just the way things happened to work out this week.

Looking Ahead

When looking to set a lineup for the upcoming week, some things are going to depend on how each team’s lineup looks when they start rolling in on Monday. My early lean is to have Abreu, Kelenic and Lipscomb on the bench to begin the week with Canha, Davis and Meneses filling those available spots. Abreu is off to a slow start and sat out Sunday’s game with a sore hand after being hit by a pitch on Saturday. He draws three tough right-handers from the Blue Jays (Bowden Francis, Chris Bassitt and Jose Berrios) and seems like the worst of the three options at corner infield. Lipscomb gets the Pirates at home – facing Marco Gonzales, Mitch Keller and Martin Perez. I’ll admit that’s appealing. J.D. Davis meanwhile gets three tough right-handers from the Red Sox in Tanner Houck, Bryan Bello and Nick Pivetta. If Lipscomb is in Monday’s lineup, he could wind up being the play over Davis for this particular period. We’ll see how it goes.

For the outfield spot, we’re kind of back to the same dilemma. Kelenic gets one left-hander in Garrett Crochet and won’t start in that game while Canha should start all three. He even gets two southpaws in the period (Sean Manaea and Jose Quintana) and gets the added motivation of it being a revenge series against the Mets in New York. What’ll probably end up happening, is I’ll roll Canha in this spot and he’ll go an empty 1-for-12 in the series while Kelenic will homer and steal a base in two games against the White Sox.

On the pitching front, five spots are automatically locked in from week-to-week right now with Burnes, Bieber, Crawford, Hader and Diaz never coming out of my lineup. That leaves four spots to play with and six potential options. We drafted Kyle Gibson with the intent of using him for his double in the first full week – against the Padres in San Diego and home against the Marlins. We’ll stick to the plan and trot him out there. We picked up Hancock to use his double, so he’s in as well. Ryan Pepiot was drafted as our SP3 and didn’t pitch during the first weekend. The problem is that he now lines up for as difficult of a double as you will see – home against the Rangers and at the Rockies at Coors Field. That’s not ideal. You want to trust the guy that you drafted to be a fixture in your rotation, but the potential ratio damage from that double is high. We also have another double in Michael Wacha – at the Orioles and home against the White Sox. He has been dealing with a minor finger injury, but as long as it sounds like he’s good to go for Monday, he’ll be in the lineup.

That solidifies eight of the nine spots with Pepiot still being up in the air, so what are our alternatives? We are still holding Brebbia on the off chance that he’ll function as the White Sox’ closer. Even though they aren’t going to win many games, anyone getting saves has value and we may have a bigger need in the category than we originally anticipated with the early struggles of Diaz. He gets a seven-game week which is somewhat appealing, though the first three are against the Braves with the final four coming against the Royals in Kansas City. He also pitched on both Saturday and Sunday so he probably won’t be available if somehow a save situation did arise on Monday. He’s worthy of holding for this week, but I don’t think I can start him over Pepiot unless I’m that terrified of the ratio damage. The other option is Fedde. He’s a player that I have rostered on nearly every team that I have this season and was a target of mine in this draft. He pitched well in his debut against the Tigers on Sunday and draws a nice matchup taking on the Royals in Kansas City. He’s the safer of the two options when looking at Pepiot, as he’s unlikely to damage the ratios and should provide a handful of strikeouts with a shot at a victory. You don’t win titles by always being safe though. Right now I’m leaning toward Pepiot for that final spot, but this one will probably come down to the wire.

Thanks for following along. I thoroughly enjoyed laying out this thought process and hope that you were at least able to glean some valuable insight or information from it. If you’re not participating in the Main Event and don’t have a dog in the fight, but want to have a rooting interest in the competition for the duration of the season, I welcome you to adopt this team as your own. I plan to provide weekly breakdowns like this throughout the season, highlighting all of the highs and lows, the trials and tribulations and at the end hopefully we can raise a banner together.

As always, I would love to hear your feedback on what you think of the article, the team, my poor decision making – anything. Just drop me a line on X (@DaveShovein) and I would be happy to discuss.