Fantasy Baseball 2019 Expert Mock Draft
A month ago, Nick Pollack of PitcherList.com brought together some of the finest fantasy baseball analysts in the industry from Paul Sporer, Eno Sarris and Justin Mason to Al Melchior, Steve Gardner and many more. I was extremely fortunate to be included in the group and today, I’ll tell you about the roster I built and a few of my other favorite teams.
Nick built a 12-team league with standard 5×5 scoring and standard roster sizes and positions. We drafted 23 rounds slowly over 4 weeks, so some of these picks may have varied slightly if the draft were done today, but for the most part, what you see is what the experts across the industry will be recommending for your fantasy drafts in two months. You can check out the entire draft board here
Who had the best team?
If you complete a draft and don’t believe you have the best team, I’m not sure what to tell you. Did you not pick the player you thought was best every single round of the draft? Of course, I think my roster is the best! With that said, there are a few others that stand out from the rest of the league in my opinion. Brent Hershey of Baseball HQ has a terrific roster that balances pitching and hitting as well as safety and upside. I especially loved his 8th and 12th round selections where he drafted David Dahl and Tyler Glasnow. Likewise, Steve Gardner of USA Today built a great club. I remember because he stole my picks a handful of times, grabbing Jose Altuve at 1.9, Blake Snell in the 3rd, Tommy Pham in the 5th, Josh Hader in the 11th and Julio Urias in the 21st. My favorite roster (other than mine own), however, was Razzball. I’m assuming Grey Albright was the one making the selections, but whoever it was absolutely killed it. There were a few players I wanted to pass me by in the draft just to see how high they would be taken. Those players were Adalberto Mondesi (4.5), Jonathan Villar (8.12) and Yusei Kikuchi (15.1). I want all three of them in every draft this year and Grey ended up with both Villar and Kikuchi. He also had the benefit of drafting first which afforded him Mike Trout then Paul Goldschmidt and Javier Baez at the turn. What a team! Now let me tell you a little about mine.
Corey Kluber (2), Luis Severino (3), Sean Newcomb (14), Alex Reyes (15), Josh James (17), Freddy Peralta (18)
It is rare for me to pick one, let alone two pitchers within the first six rounds, but when the right guys fall to you, your best bet is to pull the trigger and adjust your strategy. Kluber and Severino are both safe workhorses giving me the top 1-2 punch in the league. I felt safe waiting on the bullpen with these two anchoring my ratios, and safe waiting on high-upside arms toward the end of the draft since I have such a guarantee with both wins and strikeouts. All four of the young arms I added to round out my rotation are pitcher’s you’ll hear me talking about plenty this year. Newcomb’s front-end numbers weren’t ideal after the break, but the peripherals suggest that he continued to improve. We could be looking at this year’s Trevor Bauer with him going in the middle of drafts. Reyes, meanwhile, comes with a ton of risk as he is not only injury-prone but has an uncertain timeline and may end up in the bullpen. With that said, he also has some of the best stuff in the world and could be an annual award contender. James is my favorite pitcher for this year’s drafts assuming Houston doesn’t re-sign Dallas Kuechel. He shredded minor league hitters last year, striking out 13.46 per nine innings and allowing just a .189 batting average. Both of those numbers topped the minors. Peralta, meanwhile, accomplished similar things in a limited MLB sample. His dominator index (K/9 minus H/9) was second best in MLB history last year among rookies with as many innings. Like James, I intend on getting 100% exposure this season.
Aroldis Chapman (10), Seranthony Dominguez (13), Dellin Betances (19), Trevor May (23)
I find it wise to not make too big of a stink out of the bullpen. There are options galore for ERA and WHIP with loads of volatility for saves. Taking the value as it comes is the name of the game. In this case, I landed Chapman a good five rounds after his likely 2019 ADP. Dominguez is a favorite of mine with the Phillies improving and a first half last year that showed he can be one of the elite closers in the game. His FIP was behind only Edwin Diaz and Aroldis Chapman! Betances is a virtual lock for 100 Ks and great ratios while Trevor May might soon join him. He struck out 13.3 hitters per nine with a 41.2% GB-rate and just 1.85 BB/9. No other reliever in baseball did those three things last year and he seems to be the favorite to win the Twins’ closer job.
Alex Bregman (1), J.T. Realmuto (5), Gleyber Torres (6), Jean Segura (8), Rougned Odor (9), Nick Senzel (16), Josh Bell (21), Ryan McMahon (22)
There are a few notable takeaways from this group. First, I wholly recommend anyone reach for Realmuto this year. He was lightyears ahead of the rest of the pack at catchers and did it despite playing in the worst park for right-handed hitters. With a trade looming, he could return second-round value. You’ll also notice that I didn’t take my first basemen until the 21st round. There may not be as many elite options as there used to be at first base, but you can still find a competent four-category hitter late in drafts to plug the position so I focused on filling those difficult middle infield spots earlier. Bregman qualifies at shortstop and is above average in all five categories. Torres is a Bregman-lite type of asset and both qualify all over the diamond. Segura and Odor were a case of high-floor guys falling to me. At the very worst, you can expect 10/20/80/50 from Segura and 25/10/75/75 from Odor if he stays healthy. Segura’s consistent .300 batting average will more than cancel out Odor’s .250-range mark. The other two here are Senzel and McMahon, who you’ll remember last year were some of my favorites. I’m still a believer in both of them after injury-riddled seasons.
Cody Bellinger (4), A.J. Pollock (7), Andrew McCutchen (11), Gregory Polanco (12), Ian Happ (20)
Oddly, I was able to get five guys here who contribute from a power perspective and on the bases. Pollock has had some injury issues but is among the most complete fantasy assets in the game when he is healthy. It is my goal to enter the season with him manning the vast majority of my rosters. Likewise, Bellinger is oozing potential. It would surprise no one if the 23-year-old exploded for a 45 homer, 15 stolen base MVP-type season. behind that duo, I landed Cutch and his former-teammate, Polanco. I don’t imagine I’ll have a ton of either this year, but when you can get them outside the top 100, I think you’ve got to pull the trigger. This was one of the primary benefits of grabbing my middle infielders early is that there were so many quality outfielders to chose from toward the middle of the draft. My team is rounded out with another high-upside youngster in Happ. The batting average may never come around and the playing time isn’t guaranteed, but if an injury takes place in any number of positions ahead of him on the depth chart, we could be looking at 35 homers, 15 steals and a ton of RBIs and runs. You can sign me up for that potential all day in the 20th round.