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Early 2019 Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft

by Carmen Maiorano | @cmaiorano3 | Featured Writer
Jan 16, 2019

Despite the injury risk, Yankees SP James Paxton may be one of the safer options earlier in the draft

#BryceWatch/#MannyWatch is almost over! That means that mock drafts can officially begin. This is secretly (or not so secretly) one of my favorite times of the year — mock season. If you start early enough, like say, January 15, you can closely track how average draft positions (ADPs) rise and fall throughout the offseason. By doing mock drafts regularly, you will be able to see who you like more at their ADP, and also who you like less.

Lucky for us, FantasyPros has a mock simulator in which you can do a full mock draft within minutes. You can customize the categories, position you draft in, how many teams, and even the ADPs you prefer to use. For example, if you play exclusively on ESPN, it might make sense to ensure that you are using a draft list directly from ESPN to give you a gauge on where players are drafted.

For this particular mock, I used the standard 12-team, 5×5 settings using the ECR on FantasyPros. This is not the best mock draft I’ve ever had, but I will give you a breakdown of my squad below.

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1.11: Manny Machado (SS/3B – FA) 
I am shocked that Machado dropped to 11. He was a top-10 player last year and has hit at least 35 homers, driven in at least 86, and scored at least 84 runs since 2015. He is expected to sign with the White Sox, and he will likely hit in front of Jose Abreu and behind other young talent that will give him the ability to keep those stats going. I briefly considered Alex Bregman, but his most recent surgery is enough for easily to pick Machado. I will easily take him over Trevor Story and Christian Yelich, who surprisingly went before him in this mock.

2.14: Jacob deGrom (SP – NYM)
I was between him and Chris Sale, but Sale’s injury risk in combination with deGrom likely to have much better luck in the wins category this year is enough for me to take deGrom over Sale. Even if Sale does not go to the DL for a real injury, he will probably get Dodgeritis and have a phantom injury to monitor his workload. Scherzer was already off the board, and in order to get an ace, I knew I needed to take one here. Otherwise, I’d be left with Carlos Carrasco as the ace of my staff, which is fine, but not desirable.

3.35: Anthony Rizzo (1B – CHC)
I wanted to nab a top first baseman prior to the position falling off a cliff. All Rizzo does is post 30+ homers and 100+ RBIs in most years to go along with a .275+ average. I briefly considered Blake Snell here, but in a possible range of outcomes, last year was likely Snell’s career-best season, and I didn’t want to pay up for that. If he made it back to me around the turn (which he didn’t), I would have taken him there.

4.38: Starling Marte (OF – PIT)
All of a sudden, there was only one top-15 outfielder left on the board, and I knew I had to nab him before I didn’t have a top outfielder. Marte does a little bit of everything, but will especially help in steals, which I do not have much of given that Machado rarely steals nowadays. I also considered Carrasco and Severino here, but I didn’t like how Sevvy finished his second half/postseason, and the need for a top-15 outfielder outweighed having a second ace. You’ll see how I made up for it shortly.

5.59: Jean Segura (SS – PHI)
Shortstop is one of the deepest positions, so I knew I could dip back into the well and play Machado at third if need be. Segura provides a steady dose of average, steals, and runs, and I am excited to watch him in Philadelphia around big bopper Rhys Hoskins and potentially some guy named Bryce. I considered taking Jose Abreu here for a potential White Sox stack, but given that I already took Rizzo, I didn’t feel the need. However, if Machado signs with the Sox, I’d likely take Abreu here instead, and find another guy to play short or third. You can read more about how Segura will likely fare in his new ballpark here.

6.62: James Paxton (SP – NYY)
There were three starting pitchers who I was waiting on to see who would fall to me after the turn. There was Stephen Strasburg, Paxton, and Zach Greinke. Paxton’s ECR, or expert consensus ranking, is actually lower than the other two. However, I think there is too much risk with Strasburg for injury (and yes, I know that Paxton presents the same, but Strasburg’s injuries have been less fluky). Greinke figures to be fine, but this Diamondbacks team is all things terrible. Read more about Paxton here.

Given the injury risk, I planned on taking starters with a good health record later in the draft. In hindsight, I should’ve considered Patrick Corbin a bit more here, as he has a track record of pitching 200+ innings and saw a huge increase in strikeouts last year. Also, don’t worry about him throwing his slider more, there is research that shows fastballs are actually the most stressful pitch to throw.

7.83: Jameson Taillon (SP – PIT)
Taillon and I haven’t been best buds in fantasy after his rough start last year, but he certainly turned it around. He has a ton of upside to make the leap onto ace island, and I liked him better than the guys who followed him (German Marquez and Jack Flaherty). I also considered Aroldis Chapman and Daniel Murphy here, but I don’t like Chapman’s injury risk, and I think the experts are overcompensating for Murphy’s ADP being too low at the start of the offseason. He probably won’t start more than five times a week, even if he is making half those starts in Coors.

8.86: Roberto Osuna (RP – HOU)
I don’t love that I picked him, but I was between him and Chapman, and I chose the guy with the fresher arm. The Astros are also currently favored by Vegas to have the most wins in all of baseball, so grabbing the closer on that team is a smart bet to make.

9.107: Aaron Hicks (OF – NYY)
Hicks put up a fantastic season in 2018 — just imagine what would happen if he didn’t have all of his injuries! As my team sits, it has a great floor of hitters, but needed some upside, and Hicks provides that in bunches. He scratched the surface of his potential last year with 27 bombs, 90 runs, and double-digit steals. I also considered Michael Brantley here, but I am not banking on him repeating his injury-free 2018.

10.110: Andrew McCutchen (OF – PHI)
I know I just told you that I didn’t consider McCutchen with my last pick, but rounding out my outfield with him as my OF3 was too good to pass up, and provides insurance if Hicks gets injured or doesn’t get as much playing time as expected. If Harper signs with Philly as expected, I expect McCutchen’s ADP to rise another five-to-10 picks simply due to a greater chance of more runs and RBIs and also seeing better pitches to hit.

11.131: Rafael Devers (3B – BOS)
I would probably redo this pick, given who I picked up four rounds later, and failing to realize that I should’ve slotted Machado at third, but this is why we do mock drafts, right? A key point to remember is that position eligibility varies on each fantasy site, so make sure you check each player’s eligibility on the site you are playing prior to draft day. If I could do it again, I would grab Raisel Iglesias or Brad Hand as my second closer, or pick up Travis Shaw and his multi-position eligibility around the infield.

12.134: Jose Peraza (2B – CIN)
I needed average and I needed steals, according to the strength and weaknesses section of the FantasyPros draft board, thus Peraza fit nicely here. I also needed to grab a 2B before the position fell off a cliff.

13.155: Yasmani Grandal (C – MIL)
I know going into drafts that I want to nab a top-five catcher so I’m not streaming the position all year long, pulling my hair out. Grandal gets a boost in Miller Park, and I got him right around his ADP.

14.158: Kirby Yates (RP – SD)
As I stated before, I knew I wanted a sure-fire closer as my second reliever. Enter, not Sandman, but Yates. Yates posted a 2.14 ERA with a 12.86 K rate, so he fits well here. The main risk is that the Padres stink (likely), so he gets traded for prospects at the deadline.

15.179: Mike Moustakas (3B – FA)
I don’t love having two free agents on my roster, but I had to remind myself that it’s still mid-January. I looked at strength and weaknesses and saw that I was pretty far back in power, which makes sense since I haven’t gotten a big-homer guy since Rizzo in the third. The top starters on the board (Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, Jake Arrieta) have minimal upside, so I didn’t want to pursue further. Or so I thought…

16.182: Jon Lester (SP – CHC)
I realized that my team was devoid of wins, and while that stat is as volatile as the weather, I figure that we can count on Lester for 13+ wins since he pitches for a top team. While Lester’s ratios were much better than they should have been, I’m comfortable with Lester as my SP4. His ECR currently is 155, so getting him roughly 30 picks after that was gravy.

17.203: Kyle Schwarber (OF – CHC)
I thought about Schwarber in the 15th round, so I was eager to snag him here. Again, I needed power, and I feel that Schwarber has a ton of untapped upside. Carlos Santana was still on the board, but he isn’t all that helpful in standard leagues and would have been long gone in an OBP or points league.

18.206: Rick Porcello (SP – BOS)
This is such a boring pick, but I was still behind in wins. You may not know, but Porcello averaged about a K per inning last year, and finished with a 3.87 xFIP. FantasyPros identified him as a “top lift” for these reasons. I also thought about taking his teammate Nathan Eovaldi, but I don’t like his injury risk. I was also banking on a certain Yankees reliever to be there when I’m back…

19.227: Dellin Betances (RP – NYY)
I’m all about getting elite relievers (lots of Ks, great ERA and WHIP) with the potential to slide into the closer’s role. Betances is next-man-up if/ when Chapman is sidelined, and I want a piece of that. If Chapman were to get injured for an extended period, Betances is instantly a top-seven closer.

20.230: Adam Eaton (OF – WAS)
I didn’t love this pick, but Eaton was simply too good of value to pass on. He went 65 picks past his ECR, and even 20 picks past his lowest ranking. I already had a ton of corner and middle infielders, so taking an extra outfielder doesn’t hurt me.

21.252: Adam Ottavino (RP – FA)
Make it three free agents. Again, Ottavino is likely to be an elite reliever, and it could be in the closer’s role. His ADP could rise over 100 spots if he signs with a team who needs a closer. Plus, he thinks he can strike out Babe Ruth. He posted an insane 12.98 K rate last year while throwing over 75 innings.

22.255: Josh James (SP – HOU)
A Bobby Sylvester favorite, I wanted to take a late-round flyer on a starter with upside. In a small sample size of 23 innings, he struck out 11.35 K/9. He should earn a starting spot, and on this team, having him as my SP5 is a great risk/reward upside pick.

23.275: Shin Soo-Choo (OF – TEX)
I always forget about Choo, and I even cut him last year. He then went on to be in and out of the top-100 fantasy players. I’m not making that mistake this year. While typically you pick a player with more upside than this, I snagged him 80 picks past his ECR. Too good of value.

Overall

At the end of the day, I received a “B” grade — 85 out of 100. I definitely agree with this ranking, given that I had done previous mocks and thought I scored a better team previously. I didn’t ace in any one category, and did particularly poor in runs (ninth in the projected standings) and average (eight). This tells me that I need to get better at identifying the players I should be targeting with a late pick.

If you have the choice, I would much rather pick early in the draft. In my previous mock, I drafted second and took Mookie Betts, then Giancarlo fell to me in the second, and I turned around and nabbed Justin Verlander in the third. That threesome seems better than my Machado-deGrom-Rizzo start here.

Random Musings

Going through the draft, here’s who I thought went at a bargain:

And, here is who I thought went too high:

Good luck mocking, and check in over the next couple months to see how those ADPs evolve!

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Carmen Maiorano is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Carmen, check out his archive and follow him @cmaiorano3.

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3Christian McCaffrey (CAR)RB
4Dalvin Cook (MIN)RB
5Ezekiel Elliott (DAL)RB
6Nick Chubb (CLE)RB
7Leonard Fournette (JAC)RB
8Saquon Barkley (NYG)RB
9Aaron Jones (GB)RB
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13Alvin Kamara (NO)RB
14Melvin Gordon (LAC)RB
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16Mark Ingram (BAL)RB
17Chris Godwin (TB)WR
18Phillip Lindsay (DEN)RB
19Davante Adams (GB)WR
20D.J. Moore (CAR)WR
21Julian Edelman (NE)WR
22Raheem Mostert (SF)RB
23Julio Jones (ATL)WR
24George Kittle (SF)TE
25Austin Ekeler (LAC)RB
26Joe Mixon (CIN)RB
27David Montgomery (CHI)RB
28Travis Kelce (KC)TE
29Kenny Golladay (DET)WR
30Miles Sanders (PHI)RB
1Ronald Acuna Jr. (ATL)LF,CF
2Nolan Arenado (COL)3B
3Mookie Betts (BOS)CF,RF
4J.D. Martinez (BOS)LF,RF
5Trevor Story (COL)SS
6Justin Verlander (HOU)SP
7Cody Bellinger (LAD)1B,CF
8Trea Turner (WSH)SS
9Alex Bregman (HOU)3B,SS
10Jacob deGrom (NYM)SP
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11Max Scherzer (WSH)SP
12Francisco Lindor (CLE)SS
13Gerrit Cole (NYY)SP
14Freddie Freeman (ATL)1B
15Javier Baez (CHC)2B,3B
16Charlie Blackmon (COL)CF
17Aaron Judge (NYY)RF,DH
18Juan Soto (WSH)LF
19Anthony Rendon (LAA)3B
20Bryce Harper (PHI)CF,RF
21Jose Altuve (HOU)2B
22Xander Bogaerts (BOS)SS
23Starling Marte (PIT)CF
24Walker Buehler (LAD)SP
25Manny Machado (SD)3B,SS
26Anthony Rizzo (CHC)1B
27Kris Bryant (CHC)3B,RF
28Whit Merrifield (KC)1B,2B
29George Springer (HOU)CF,RF
30Paul Goldschmidt (STL)1B
1Anthony Davis (LAL)PF,C
2James Harden (HOU)PG,SG
3Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL)SF,PF
4Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN)C
5Kevin Durant (BKN)SF,PF
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7Stephen Curry (GSW)PG,SG
8Nikola Jokic (DEN)PF,C
9Damian Lillard (POR)PG
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11Victor Oladipo (IND)PG,SG
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13Joel Embiid (PHI)PF,C
14Kawhi Leonard (LAC)SG,SF
15Chris Paul (OKC)PG
16Jimmy Butler (MIA)SG,SF
17Kemba Walker (BOS)PG
18Ben Simmons (PHI)PG,SF
19Kyrie Irving (BKN)PG,SG
20Jrue Holiday (NOR)PG,SG
21Rudy Gobert (UTH)C
22Andre Drummond (DET)PF,C
23John Wall (WAS)PG
24Kyle Lowry (TOR)PG
25Donovan Mitchell (UTH)PG,SG
26Khris Middleton (MIL)SG,SF
27Bradley Beal (WAS)SG
28Kevin Love (CLE)PF,C
29Draymond Green (GSW)PF,C
30LaMarcus Aldridge (SAS)PF,C
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