Mock Draft From Middle Pick (Fantasy Baseball)

Feb 10, 2018

It’s finally February and fantasy baseball draft and auction season will soon be in full swing for re-draft leagues. While the formats and scoring categories may differ, there’s always something to be learned from walking through a mock draft and analyzing your thought process along with using hindsight analysis to determine where you could have improved.

To that end, I’ve completed a 12-team mixed league mock draft using our Mock Draft Simulator. For the purposes of the mock draft I used standard league scoring (HR, RBI, AVG, SB, R / WHIP, ERA, K, W, SV) and assumed I was competing in a roto-style league, but I likely wouldn’t have changed much of my strategy for a weekly head-to-head setup.

I placed myself smack dab in the middle of the auction, just past the elite options of Trout, Altuve, Turner, and Goldschmidt and leaving only one mystery pick before my sixth slot. This will also force a slightly more interesting way of obtaining stolen bases rather than knowing I’ll maintain some advantage in the category with one of the aforementioned studs. With this in mind, let’s walk through this mock and break it down.

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The First Two Picks

Pick 1.6 – Carlos Correa (SS – HOU)
My thinking at the time: With a lot of very similar players on the board and all the major SB+HR players off the board I opted to lock down the SS position with Correa early. Correa is a lock for 30HR over a full, healthy season, and the broken thumb was a bit of bad luck last year. I expect 30-40 HRs with 15+ SB an a solid .285 AVG – perfect for a standard league scoring setup.

Hindsight: The pick is really between Arenado and Correa here because you have that option. A couple spots further back and you have to start weighing OF options more seriously. I could have taken Betts, Stanton, Harper or Judge (I’m going to pass on Charlie Blackmon as his steals have dried up considerably and he’s the oldest of the crew).

Pick 2.7 – Anthony Rizzo (1B – CHC) (2B in some leagues)
My thinking at the time: Regardless of your league’s eligibility rules, Rizzo represents a very safe pick here and even better if you can slot him at second base. 30+ HR, 10SB, 200 R+RBI and a .270-.280 average. The shift has stolen some of his batting even as he’s been able to drop his strikeout rate and put more balls in play.

Hindsight:  I really wanted Freddie Freeman and his 1B/3B eligibility, his new hitter-friendly home park, his new fantastic batted ball mix, and his high average. I think I continued to draft as though I’d still banked his .300+ average, though it likely would have only improved my AVG a few points, from .273 to .276 over what I got with Rizzo.

I could have taken Freeman/Lindor at the expense of some SBs to gain a little in AVG. Or Stanton/Lindor. Or Stanton/Seager. In the end, I’m happy with the 25 SBs, .285 average and 400 R + RBI that I’m going to get from these two picks.

Early Roster Construction: Picks 3, 4 and 5

Pick 3.6 – Dee Gordon (2B – SEA)
I like to lock down stolen bases with one anchor and shoot for having a lineup with ~100SBs in a 12-team mixed league. Dee Gordon allows me to focus solely on pitching and power from this point forward. If I need more speed than 100SBs to compete, I’ll manage my roster in-season.

Hindsight: I could have easily done Bumgarner or Strasburg and might have in other situations and chose to grab Billy Hamilton or Byron Buxton later as my main source of steals, but I like to make picks with a near-term strategy in mind.

Pick 4.7 – Christian Yelich (OF – MIL)
My thinking at the time: One batting average solidifying player with speed and home run upside before I begin my assault on HRs and SPs.

Hindsight: Yelich is a top-5 outfielder for me in any format, even in a standard league, because I view his ability to hit the ball so hard as a skill you can’t teach. I do believe the Brewers will continue to improve his launch angle distribution, raising it, and his homer count. There’s a 10-20% chance of a 30HR season in there, and you know Counsell is going to run him more than 18 times. He’s only been caught in 18 of 90 career attempts. 30 SBs is a real possibility in Milwaukee.

Pick 5.6 – Khris Davis (OF – OAK)
My thinking at the time: 40 more HRs locked down.

Hindsight: At this point, I knew I had ~.290 AVG locked up in four of my starting nine slots. I was willing to take a batting average drain to bulk up my HR count. Joey Gallo, Khris Davis, and Matt Olson were at the top of my list as 40HR guys left on the board.

Improving the Roster, Finding Pitching Anchors & More Flexibility

Pick 6.7 – Aaron Nola (SP – PHI)
My thinking at the time: My main target, Robbie Ray, was taken before it got back to me, but Nola will suffice as my ace.

Hindsight: This round I knew I was taking my first SP. I’m not an Arietta fan and not really a Darvish fan. Keuchel was another option and the lesser picks here were Quintana and Cole, but I feel their upside is less than what Nola offers. Darvish is probably the pick a majority of the time for a majority of players.

Pick 7.6 – Joey Gallo (1B/3B – TEX)
My thinking at the time: Another 40HR bulk pick. I can take the AVG drain with my lineup construction.

Hindsight: I can’t tell you how badly I wanted Devers at this pick. Bad enough that I wanted to take him in the sixth round where I took Nola. I probably should have, as my AVG ended up being lower than I wanted if I end up having to play Gallo and Khrush Davis. Still happy with another 40HR bat, but I’ll have to figure how when and how to play him. Love his position flexibility as well.

Pick 8.7 – Corey Knebel (RP – MIL)
My thinking at the time: I like to have one relief ace and then target saves late or in-season. Knebel provides excellent strikeout totals as well.

Hindsight: I wanted a relief ace, and he was the last one left that was going to nail down a ton of saves that I could trust. No regret here.

The Middle Round Picks Where I Ignore & Stop Ignoring Pitchers

Pick 9.6 – Matt Olson (1B/OF – OAK)
My thinking at the time: More bombs. Olson is a better OBP play, but he’ll work in an AVG league too with the correct roster construction. Another 35+ HR with whatever the Oakland offense affords me in the R+RBI department.

Pick 10.7 – J.T. Realmuto (C – MIA)
My thinking at the time: Bolstering my AVG and SB profile while I still see a lot of SPs I’d be comfortable with drafting while taking the last catcher left before it really drops off.

Pick 11.6 – Jake Lamb (3B – ARI)
My thinking at the time: So much for the SP depth I liked here, there was a heavy run with Ohtani, Lester, McCullers, Castillo, Hendricks, and Samardzija. Since I’m at the top of a lot of tiers I’m going to take the best player available and that’s Jake Lamb.

Hindsight: Perhaps I should have taken someone from the Quintana, Ohtani, Price, Castillo, Berrios, McCullers, etc. tier here, but I really liked the bats. I had some dialogue just days earlier which ended up being pretty serendipitous.

Pick 12.7 – Luke Weaver (SP – STL)
My thinking at the time: He was still on the board and I was considering him last pick. This is why I’m glad to have taken the best player available. I have options across the infield with a solid range of skills plus I get to add one of the better young pitchers. The only concern with Weaver is innings limits imposed on his arm, but the strikeouts and ratios will be there.

Pick 13.6 – Trevor Bauer (SP – CLE)
My thinking at the time: My favorite value bat, Nick Castellanos, is off the board, so I had to pivot. I’m going to lock down one more SP before getting into more of my middle-round value picks on the hitting side.

Pick 14.7 – Chase Anderson (SP – MIL)
My thinking at the time: chACE. Believe it. I do.

The End Game: Get Your Guys, Get Upside, Win Titles Here

Pick 15.6 – Greg Bird (1B – NYY)
My thinking at the time: He’ll win people leagues if he stays healthy. I won’t leave drafts and auctions without him this year – his cost is ridiculously low for a 35HR 180 R+RBI upside player. You heard me, 35! It’s his floor in a full season.

Pick 16.7 – Paul DeJong (SS – STL)
My thinking at the time: Another of my favorite value picks. Marwin Gonzalez and DeJong were the two players I was eyeing up before I went back in for more pitching.

Pick 17.6 – Blake Treinen (RP – OAK)
My thinking at the time: Last RP left in my tier of guys I’m comfortable drafting. I’ll likely speculate in-season on saves at this point or take a couple flier setup men late in deeper bench drafts. I have the ability to use Trevor Bauer as a reliever in some eligibility formats as well.

Pick 18.7 – Jose Martinez (OF – STL)
My thinking at the time: This simulator, as well as many of your opponents, don’t realize the value here. He hits the ball hard to all fields, and I mean HARD! On top of it, he gradually raised his launch angle, hitting more balls in the home run zones as the season progressed. There’s a lot of value here and he’s one of my starting outfielders from the 18th round.

19.6 – Ronald Acuna (OF – ATL)
My thinking at the time: How can I say no to the potential NL ROY and one of the highest-upside players in the majors, even if he’s still really young. Pitching isn’t calling my name THAT loudly yet.

20.7 Kevin Gausman (SP – BAL)
My thinking at the time: Meh. I like the second half, but I’m a cautious believer. My pitching staff is built on high variance risk and reward. This is a strategy I employ in redraft leagues because I’m an active in-season pitching hound. A 12-team league with a four-man bench is going to afford me the ability to be very active on the waiver wire. Any of the arms that don’t pan out will open up a spot to stream or pan for pitching gold.

21.6 Luiz Gohara (SP – ATL)
My thinking at the time: Aaron Sanchez has blister woes. Alex Cobb has a messy changeup and FA status. I’ll take a healthy youngster with an electric arm.

Overall Results (C-)

You can take a look at the full results of my draft here and see that I scored 72/100. I didn’t expect to score very high with the pitching strategy I took. I view Aaron Nola as a low-end No. 1 this year. I view Chase Anderson as a low-end No. 2. I believe in buying guys with major profile changes when no one is believing yet (14th-round pick for Chase).

I believe Weaver and Bauer could both end up being low No. 2, high No. 3 types, but acknowledge they have risk with many outcomes. They were 12th- and 13th-round picks. The second halves of Gausman, Bau, r and Treinen were really good, but I’m only cautiously optimistic. However, I feel like Blake Treinen is Corey Knebel 10 rounds later. I’ll take the 200K out of those 120-140IP.

It’s important in shallow leagues to make sure you have the hitting categories covered and be diligent on the waiver wire for pitchers. If you hit on enough of your early hitters plus some hitting sleepers, you’ll also have the depth to trade in-season with that team that decided to take Kershaw, deGrom, Quintana, and Hendricks. Who’s going to say no to an Acuna breakout or Anthony Rizzo when you hit the Greg Bird lottery?

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Jim Melichar is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Jim, check out his archive and follow him @JimMelichar7.

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