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Mock Draft From Early Pick (Fantasy Baseball)

by Max Freeze | @FreezeStats | Featured Writer
Feb 24, 2018

Michael Wacha’s youth and improving peripherals make him a late-round sleeper worth watching

Another day, another mock draft using the FantasyPros Mock Draft Simulator. I’ve mentioned how great the simulator is and how quickly you can complete a draft but also the randomness of the system. No draft will be the same, it doesn’t just pick the favorite or most popular player each time, so you’re getting a wide range of outcomes.

In this scenario, I’m drafting with an early pick at number four overall in a 12 team standard 5×5 scoring league. Typically picking this early I won’t be drafting a pitcher first. The uncertainty and depth of pitching is unmatched compared to other positions. 

Along the same lines, the top tier hitters have more depth than in previous years. I could see a scenario where any of the top 25 hitters finish inside the top five overall. Therefore, in a 12 team league, I want at least two top-tier hitters in the first three rounds. 

Being outside the top 20 with my second pick may keep me away from a pitcher until later in the draft. If one of the top four arms falls to me, I’m taking them there, but if they’re gone, I’ll roll with another hitter. Let’s see how this mock turned out.

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1.4 – Paul Goldschmidt (1B – ARI)
There’s not much to say here, Goldy is my third-ranked player and fell to me at four. He contributes in all five categories with four of the five being at an elite level and has a great supporting cast around him. I also considered Mookie Betts, Nolan Arenado, and Bryce Harper, but believe that Goldy has a higher floor than Betts and Harper and the additional steals is the difference for me over Arenado. 

Regarding the humidor, I’m not going to worry about Goldschmidt’s power, he may lose two to four home runs but could steal 20 bases instead of 15-18 and his value is offset. Remember, he hit 36 home runs last year; he’s still a lock for 30+.

2.21 – Freddie Freeman (1B/3B – ATL)
I also considered Jose Ramirez, Anthony Rizzo, and Francisco Lindor all of which I have ranked inside the top 20. Yes, I already have a 1B but Freeman is eligible at 3B in this format. 

Freeman is my pick for NL MVP and at some point is going to have a season where he goes .325, 35-120 with six to eight steals and I want to be part of that. To get an idea how good Freeman has been when healthy, here are his numbers in his last 162 games: .321, 41 HR, 10 SB, 124 runs and 114 RBIs!

3.28 – George Springer (OF – HOU)
I also considered Stephen Strasburg and Jose Abreu but already have my first baseman and Strasburg is just a bit too risky for me at this spot. Springer cut down on his strikeouts in dramatic fashion in 2017 from 24% in 2016 to 17.6% in 2017. That allowed him to hit for a high average without killing his power. 

I don’t see his average regressing in 2018. He doesn’t run much anymore, but I’ll take a .285 average with 32 HRs and 115 runs while he chips in eight or so steals. Springer is one of the top 25 hitters I mentioned in my introduction who could produce top five numbers. At this point, I’ve got a ton of power but where’s my pitching?

4.45 – Jacob deGrom (SP – NYM)
Oh, here it is! At this spot, I also considered Luis Severino, Justin Upton, and Zack Greinke. I needed an ace with three monster bats already, and deGrom is my guy. 

I’ve got him ranked sixth overall for pitchers even though I love Severino’s upside more. I’ll take the 225 Ks with great ratios from my number one. This could be my one regret, but deGrom has less risk than Severino, so I’m happy with this pick.

5.52 – Alex Bregman (SS/3B – HOU)
I considered Rhys Hoskins and Edwin Encarnacion, but again I already have a 1B, and Hoskins doesn’t provide any speed which I am currently lacking. Bregman falling beyond 50 overall is craziness, and it likely won’t happen, but in this mock he did. Bregman only had 19 HRs in 2017, but he didn’t hit his first HR until May 15! 

From that point forward (including the postseason), he hit 23 HRs and had 15 steals hitting .287 in 139 games. That’s more than a small sample; I expect 25+ HRs and 15 or more steals with a similar average in 2018 with over 100 runs hitting second behind Altuve and Correa.

6.69 – Khris Davis (OF – OAK)
I would have gone with Anthony Rendon if not for Freeman at 3B; I love Rendon this year. I also considered Yelich, but this was before the trade to the Brewers. Oh well, I’ll take another 40-homer, 100-RBI season from KD at this spot. 

The average won’t be great, and the steals will be minimal but I’m good with that, but speed is something I will need to address later in the draft. At this point, I have an insane amount of power (probably 165 home runs total) but am lacking in speed and pitching…

7.76 – Aaron Nola (SP – PHI)
Oh, there we go! If you’re asking me to name one pitcher outside of the top 15 that could end up in the top five, I’d say Aaron Nola! This guy has three plus pitches with a ton of sink and movement, and he’s only 24 years old (he turns 25 in June). 

There’s still risk but a 200-inning season could yield 225 Ks with an ERA in the low-threes and 1.10 WHIP. I’m not concerned with wins, I want talent and Nola has loads of it.

8.93 – Rougned Odor (2B – TEX)
I’m not sure how this one will be received but as bad as Odor’s 2017 was, he still hit 30 HRs and stole 15 bases. He’s only 24 years old and won’t repeat a .224 BABIP again. The power is legit and the speed is there. 

Yes, there were negatives like an increased strikeout rate and high pop-up rate but the changes in the second half where Odor increased fly balls but decreased popups makes me think he can produce a .250 average to go along with the combination of power and speed.

9.100 – Chris Taylor (2B/SS/OF – LAD)
Taylor came out of nowhere in 2017 to become the Dodgers leadoff hitter. I love the position flexibility and since my infield is complete, I can throw him in the outfield or if Odor fails, he can slide right into 2B. I’m a believer in Taylor, the average should come down some due to an insanely high .361 BABIP but his change in approach makes me confident that he can hit 15-20 HRs and steal 15-20 bases while hitting .260 to .265. Again, with a need for speed, Taylor is a nice addition who won’t hurt me in other areas.

10.117 – Masahiro Tanaka (SP – NYY)
Anytime Tanaka falls outside of the top 100, I’m all over it. Tanaka throws about six different pitches and has great command of most of them. His fastball is actually his worst pitch but he only throws that 30 percent of the time. He’s coming off a career-high 9.79 K/9 with SwStr rates to back it up and a 2.07 BB/9. 

The near 50% ground ball rate makes me think the 1.77 HR/9 rate form 2017 is an outlier. Tanaka should post great strikeout numbers, limit walks and post top 15 ratios.

11.124 – Edwin Diaz (RP – SEA)
We are well into the middle rounds and I have yet to grab a closer. Diaz to me is one of the top closers in the second tier. 

His strikeout rate was over 12.0/9 last year and he should get plenty of opportunities. Here’s a great stat that shows how un-hittable Diaz was last year, his batting average against was .181!

12.141 – Manuel Margot (OF – SD)
Here’s another one of my crushes and I may be reaching a bit but Margot is only 23 years old and showed power and speed. The increased fly balls in the second half looks to be a positive change for his value, check out one of my recent posts. His speed is what really helps my current team though, he had seasons in the minors with 40 steals and I don’t think 30-35 steals as an upside is out of the question with Margot.

13.148 – Sean Doolittle (RP – WAS)
Now I can feel confident with my closers, Doolittle has a great strikeout rate and closes for one of the best teams in the National League. For me, he’s in the back end of my second tier and 35 saves is achievable. 

His 26.4% K-BB rate ranked sixth among closers last year. His 0.86 WHIP from 2017 was even more impressive as it ranked fourth among closers.

14.165 – Jameson Taillon (SP – PIT)
Taillon was a top prospect way back when he was drafted number two overall in the 2010 draft. Injuries have derailed him and to make matters worse, he was diagnosed with cancer (which he overcame and came back after only six weeks post diagnosis) in 2017. All things considered, the results were encouraging. 

The ground ball rate is good, the command is solid, he doesn’t give up many home runs, and his strikeout rate is above average. The .352 BABIP last year made his surface numbers look bad but as that returns to normalcy and his walk rate drops, he should yield solid returns for a pick at this point in the draft.  

15.172 – Marcus Semien (SS – OAK)
At this point in the draft I want value. My entire starting lineup offensively is set but injuries happen and Semien fills in one of the weaker positions where it’s difficult to find free agents on waivers during the season. I actually have Semien right around 10th overall for shortstops and at age 27 hitting atop the Oakland lineup can provide 20 home runs, 15 steals, and 85 to 90 runs.

16.189 – Trevor Bauer (SP – CLE)
I love the talent of Bauer who really turned the corner in the second half of 2017. Here are Bauer’s numbers from July 10th on: 3.01 ERA, 10.0 K/9, and a 2.8 BB/9. There are some warts to Bauer’s game but as my number five starting pitcher, I can feel comfortable reaching for some high risk/high reward pitchers later in the draft.

17.196 – Brad Brach (RP – BAL)
Sure Brach may only be a part-time closer but should provide me with saves through the first few month of the season. By that point, several closers have either lost their jobs or have lost time due to injury. 

In a 12-team league, I always want to have three closers to make sure I can compete with most teams in terms of saves whether it’s head to head or rotisserie. This isn’t a ringing endorsement for Brach but there’s still chance he holds down the closer role all season.

18.213 – Wellington Castillo (C – CWS)
It’s after pick 200, time for a catcher; I went with former Oriole Beef Wellington! This is not a sexy pick but Castillo has pop and hitting at Guaranteed Rate field won’t hurt him. At this point in the draft you aren’t getting batting average from catchers so any catcher with 20 homer power with an average around .240 is acceptable.

19.220 – Jacob Faria (SP – TB)
In Triple-A last year Faria had a K/9 of 12.89 in just over 59 innings pitched. He does have some command issues as do most young pitchers but I’m buying in. His strikeout numbers were not as impressive in his 86 inning stint in the majors but he impressed nonetheless. 

The 12.0% swinging strike rate and 74% contact rate, both well above average shows that he’s capable of high strikeout numbers. I’m taking a chance on young talent.

20.237 – Michael Wacha (SP – STL)
With over 650 big league innings under his belt, Wacha is who he is, right? I don’t think so. In 2017 his strikeouts went up, soft contact went up, and fastball velocity went up. 

These are great signs for the 26-year-old in terms of value. His fastball is back to being a plus pitch and his curveball yielded positive results as well. Combined he threw those two pitches nearly 65% of the time in 2017. 

I think that percentage increases in 2018. He also improved his groundball rate and has always limited home runs.

21.244 – Luiz Gohara (SP – ATL)
Gohara may end up on all of my teams as long as his ADP sits below 250 overall. As a late-round flier and my last starting pitcher, he checks all the boxes for upside. 96+ mph fastball, check, elite slider, check, high SwStr rate, check. I’m not worried about Brandon McCarthy and Scott Kazmir taking his spot in the rotation, combined those two might pitch 100 innings in 2018.

22.261 Bradley Zimmer (OF – CLE)
It might surprise you to know that Zimmer posted a top-five sprint speed in the Major Leagues in 2017. The strikeouts are too high and Zimmer did not show the ability to walk like he did in the minor leagues. The underlying skills are there and the fact that his OBP was just a hair north of .300 last year and still managed to steal 18 bases in 332 PA while being caught only once speaks volumes. 

At 6’5, 220 pounds, his power should continue to develop. His defense should keep him in the lineup and I don’t see him having any problem reaching 15 home runs and 30 steals in a full season of at-bats.

23.268 Randal Grichuk (OF – TOR)
The move for Grichuk from a crowded outfield to a hitters park in Toronto is a great one. He now has a starting spot and with 600 PA could reach 30 home runs.

He won’t give much in terms of batting average with his high strikeout rate or contribute on the base paths, but this is my last pick and like the upside. I’ve combined speed and power with my last couple of hitters and since I have flexibility with my infielders, I thought I needed more depth in the outfield.

Overall grade B, Projected finish – fifth out of 12

Mock Draft From Late Pick (Fantasy Baseball)

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Max Freeze is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Max, check out his archive and follow him @FreezeStats.

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