I'm on a group text among NFBC drafters that is wonderful. It is 95 percent baseball and five percent of jabbing each other, politics, or whatever else we deem worthy to talk about.
We especially talk about drafts this time of year.
Yesterday, a drafter was criticized for going offense in his first few picks and winding up with Kyle Hendricks as his 'Ace'.
But really, what is an 'Ace'?
Unless we go back to 1950 and Jim Konstanty, a pitcher cannot be called a 'five category player' in our game.
We have to settle for four categories.
Back when fantasy baseball was flourishing, it was deemed stupid to draft a pitcher, ANY PITCHER, in the first few rounds.
The reckoning was that we get five categories from early offensive players, only four from pitchers.
Over the years, that thinking has changed.
Drafters realizing that pitching being just as important as offense.
That brings us back to the 'Ace'.
An 'Ace' has to fill four categories. We want the most bang for our buck.
He has to be the rock or foundation of our roster.
He must be counted on.
This means that he has to have a limited injury history.
It also means that he has to have a history of being an 'Ace'.
So, lets look at the pitchers who are listed in front of Kyle Hendricks by early ADP reckoning....
1 Gerrit Cole
2 Shane Bieber
3 Jacob deGrom
4 Trevor Bauer
5 Yu Darvish
6 Walker Buehler
7 Lucas Giolito
8 Aaron Nola
9 Clayton Kershaw
10 Max Scherzer
11 Jack Flaherty
12 Luis Castillo
13 Brandon Woodruff
14 Zac Gallen
15 Kenta Maeda
16 Tyler Glasnow
17 Blake Snell
18 Max Fried ATL
19 Zach Plesac
20 Dinelson Lamet
21 Sonny Gray
22 Corbin Burnes
23 Lance Lynn
24 Josh Hader
25 Hyun Jin Ryu
26 Liam Hendriks
27 Mike Clevinger
28 Stephen Strasburg
29 Carlos Carrasco
30 Zack Wheeler
31 Ian Anderson
32 Jose Berrios
33 Edwin Diaz
34 Aroldis Chapman
35 Framber Valdez
36 Julio Urias
Wow! That seems to be a lot of 'Aces'. 36.
So, by our thinking above, let's try and whittle this list down.
First, relief pitchers simply don't throw enough innings to move the needle in being called an 'Ace'.
We eliminate Hader, Hendriks, Diaz, and Chapman. 32.
Now, let's eliminate the Starters who have too much of a recent or history of injury to be called an Ace...
Kershaw's drafters have to have their fingers crossed every year.
Dinelson Lamet has a history of injury and left us hanging with an injury at the end of last year.
Stephen Strasburg threw two innings last year. We have no idea if making it back for the start of this year.
Carlos Carrasco is a cancer survivor who has battled injury since being diagnosed.
Now, an 'Ace' must have a history of, you know, being an 'Ace'....
We are sold on Trevor Bauer because of recency bias.
But really, this will be the first time, Bauer will see the upper part of our drafts.
Yu Darvish seems to be an Ace one year, not the next. He is an inconsistent Ace. It doesn't count.
Walker Buehler is a head scratcher. He has never been an 'Ace'. We only think he can.
Jack Flaherty has been an 'Ace' for two months.
Brandon Woodruff has won more than three games just once in his career.
Zac Gallen has only risen to single digit rounds this year.
Same for Maeda. Same for Fried. Same for Plesac. Same for Framber.
Glasnow and Burnes have the 'Blowaway Effect'. We love pitchers who blow away batters. Never been 'Aces' though.
Blake Snell had a helluva year, one year.
Sonny Gray, the weatherman, has seen both sunny and gray years.
Lance Lynn was never an 'Ace' for years. Now, he's an 'Ace'? C'mon.
Ryu, like Maeda, escaped the fantasy clutches of the Dodgers (take note Buehler drafters) and gets to throw more innings.
Do we trust those innings? Not fully.
Mike Clevinger had kind of an Ace year, but injury is his favorite skill lately.
Zack Wheeler has never been an Ace. Not even on his own team.
Ian Anderson? This one makes me laugh.
Jose Berrios has been 'kind of an Ace'. We think he can be better. He shows signs. But last year, took a step back.
Julio Urias is an 'Ace'....If only counting playoffs.
That leaves Cole, Bieber, deGrom, Giolito, Nola, Scherzer, and Castillo.
We could nick some of them for being short timers or aging, but we have to have some 'Aces'. Right?
We all have different standards.
For some, Plesac is an Ace. For others, he is not.
Same for a bunch of others on this list.
Is Maeda better than Kyle Hendricks?
He hasn't been drafted higher than Hendricks.....until this year.
Is Glasnow better than Hendricks?
He strikes out more fellas and has the blowaway effect. But, Hendricks has beaten him like a drum in the other categories.
We are enamored with the Strike Out.
That one component that really makes an 'Ace'.
It is only one category like the other categories, but we give it more meaning.
We love the blowaway effect. It makes us feel cool when watching 'our guy'.
From Shandler to every current podcaster, the K is revered.
Kyle Hendricks will never have the blowaway effect.
He'll never be considered an Ace.
Even if winning three of four categories against pitchers called 'Aces', he'll never be an 'Ace'.
I like to call them 'Paper Aces'.
Glasnow looks like an Ace on paper. So does Flaherty. So does Buehler.
These fellas have NEVER been Aces over a full year.
But they sure look good at the top of our pitching lists on paper, don't they?
I'm comfortable with Kyle Hendricks. I know what I'm getting.
Other 'Aces' fall short in that non-category.
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