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2019 Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft (12 Teams, Early Pick)

by Carmen Maiorano | @carmsclubhouse | Featured Writer
Feb 21, 2019

Giancarlo Stanton is especially intriguing for drafters who can pair him with a five-category stud late in the second round.

After a good-not-great mock draft with a late-round pick, I’m back to visit drafting strategy with an early pick. My drafting strategy from the three-slot (picks 1 and 2 are too easy for the first round, so figured I would show you how the third slot can work) is to take a five-category contributor, and then hopefully double-tap aces in the second and third round. My long-view consisted of three top-36 outfielders, a top-10 shortstop, two full-time closers, and then value at first base and starting pitching.

You’ll see that my hitters look fantastic, which allowed me to nab bounce-back veteran starting pitchers. If I can hit on one or two of those guys, my team looks poised to be the best in the league. If not, I can cut them and look to stream off waivers. Not ideal, but there are plenty of starters who weren’t drafted (Kyle Gibson, Joey Lucchesi, Dylan Bundy for starters) that I can scoop up off of waivers. Overall, I ended up with the top team in the league, so follow along as I give some tips.

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1.3: Jose Ramirez (2B/3B – CLE)
To me, this is a clear-cut selection. Even with his ice-cold August and September (sub-.225 average), J-Ram still had a 30-30 season. With the way he has been able to change his swing, I expect him to make adjustments to get his BABIP and average back up to the high .280s. In roto, it’s important to get a piece of all five categories early, so J.D. Martinez and Nolan Arenado were not in play here. I also prefer the safe floor of Ramirez in the first round to a guy like Ronald Acuna. I planned on slotting Ramirez at second base and finding a mid-tier third baseman later in the middle rounds.

2.22: Giancarlo Stanton (OF – NYY)
But Carmen, you said you were double-tapping aces! An important part of your pre-draft strategy is to tweak it to find additional value. I thought I was going to grab an ace here, but Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo, and Charlie Blackmon went early in the second round, leaving me with fantastic options such as Trevor Story, another five-category contributor, or Mr. Stanton’s massive upside. I stand behind the non-statistical data that says players perform better in their second years after joining a new club, and Stanton fits that mold. With the potential for 50+ homers and 120 RBI, I can focus on four/five-category contributors with my next few hitters. I also could’ve gone with a premium first baseman in Paul Goldschmidt or Freddie Freeman, but I think the mid-tier of first baseman is sneaky good, which you will see later. It would have been tough to accomplish my goal of getting three top-36 outfielders without taking Stanton here.

3.27: Gerrit Cole (SP – HOU)
Welcome to Ace Town, Gerrit. This pick started a run of most of the remaining aces (Aaron Nola, Blake Snell, and Clayton Kershaw went in successive order). Of all those guys, Cole is my favorite due to his track record of pitching 200 innings with an insane 34.5% K rate and 2.88 ERA last season. If Cole had gone, I would have had no problem with taking Snell or Nola. Justin Verlander is getting drafted just ahead of Cole, and admittedly, I would have taken JV if he was not already drafted.

4.46: Anthony Rendon (3B – WAS)
In my previous mocks, I felt like I had been missing a stud third baseman and shortstop, so I went into this one targeting those upper-tier hitters available in rounds four through six. The remaining aces (Carlos Carrasco, Luis Severino, Noah Syndergaard) went in the back end of the third, meaning that my hitter strategy gained clarity. Rhys Hoskins has been one of my targets, but he was selected right before my pick. I’m glad I didn’t have that temptation. Rendon contributes in more categories than Hoskins, even though he’s not quite as top tier in homers and RBI, and Hoskins is a similar player to Stanton. I also prefer Rendon’s floor in four categories over Eugenio Suarez’s upside in three/

5.51: Xander Bogaerts (SS – BOS)
I did it! I was sitting in a distressed position, glaring at my computer, hoping that Bogaerts would make it back to me. Luckily enough, he did, and my strategy for the fourth and fifth round worked. Bogaerts is young enough to combine his best stats over the past three years to attain first- or second-round value. If you put all of his career highs in one season, you would get 23 homers, 103 runs, 115 RBI, a .320 average, and 15 stolen bases. He probably won’t do that, but I liked pairing Rendon and Ramirez’s floor with Stanton’s and Bogaerts’ upside.

6.70: Tommy Pham (OF – TB)
Remember that strategy of targeting three top-36 outfielders? Here’s outfielder number two. Pham went off in the second half. Don’t believe me? Check the below table.

Average OBP% BB% K% ISO wRC+
First Half .243 .326 10.8% 25.5% .153 99
Second Half .331 .433 13.4% 23% .249 177

Many think the turnaround was due to his vision problems going away when he was traded to Tampa, which has an indoor stadium. Pham will contribute in five categories, which continues my theme of finding these guys that chip in everywhere.

7.75: Jose Abreu (1B – CWS)
Boom, check mid-tier first baseman off the list. When I drafted Pham, I was hoping Abreu would be waiting for me on the other side. Let’s just say that I was getting pretty testy waiting on the turn. Some people aren’t high on Abreu this year, but he’s good for 30 homers, 100 RBI, and a .290 average if he stays healthy. Given that his injuries in 2018 were a bit fluky, I am willing to bank on that. And if Manny Machado joins the lineup, his value jumps even higher. I also would have considered Nelson Cruz here if he hadn’t been selected just before my pick.

8.94: Zack Wheeler (SP – NYM)
Carmen, you’re pretty light on pitching. Ha! Not when you can get a guy who was on the come up in the second half. I don’t believe you. Let me show you:

First Half 23% 14.3% 3.75 4.05
Second Half 25.7% 20.4% 2.53 3.47

Zac-with-a-K certainly upped his, well, K rate, and his 84.7 mph average exit velocity finished in the top three percent of all pitchers. He has the ability to jump into the top-20 pitchers in 2019, and I am jumping on board before it happens.

9.99: Felipe Vazquez (RP – PIT)
You need a top-10 closer to compete in saves, but you need to know when to dive in. Don’t overpay for guys like Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen, who have diminished velocity and heightened injury risk. Rather, dip in after those guys to take guys like Vazquez and Sean Doolittle. Yasiel Puig was awfully tempting here, but I knew I had another round or two to nab my final top-36 outfielder.

10.118: Robinson Cano (1B/2B – NYM)
I really thought about taking my third starter or my second closer here, but I think Cano is a top-five round talent and an absolute bargain. All of his peripherals were as good or better than before his PED suspension, and in a vastly improved Mets lineup, Cano can contribute in four categories. I’ll happily slot him into my first UT spot.

11.123 Andrew McCutchen (OF – PHI)
Top-36 outfielder quest-accomplished! McCutchen is slated to bat leadoff, according to Roster Resource, but with the Phillies expected to sign a megastar, I see McCutchen batting third of fifth, giving him tons of opportunities to reach a combined 170 runs and RBI. He also will chip in double-digit steals and not kill you in batting average. Not bad for your third outfielder. I planned on nabbing Kirby Yates, Jose Leclerc, or Wade Davis later. Let’s see how I did…

12.142: Kirby Yates (RP – SD)
Get two top-12 closers, check. With Davis and LeClerc falling off the board prior to this pick, I was left to scoop up Yates. He was the last full-time closer left, and I don’t like Cody Allen or Ken Giles at their sticker prices.

13.147: Yasmani Grandal (C – MIL)
Scooping up a top-eight catcher is imperative if you want a balanced lineup. The remaining catching options are like the band Coldplay: depressing, sad, avoid at all costs. With Yadier Molina, Buster Posey, and Wilson Ramos all going in the 12th round, I had no choice but to take Grandal here.

14.166: Cole Hamels (SP – CHC)
I was hoping guys like Kyle Hendricks, Yu Darvish, Josh James, and Kyle Freeland would be on the board here, but they all came and gone. So, I’m hoping that the second-half version of Hamels is the real deal. With a 2.99 ERA fueled by a .236/.315/.369 slash line and nearly a strikeout per inning, Hamels is a fine SP3. My plan is to back him up with plenty of other starters and hope to hit on one or two of them.

15.171: Mike Moustakas (3B – MIL)
He might platoon. Fair point, but with the track record that he has, how could you platoon him? Assuming he plays every day, you can almost bank on 30 homers and 90 RBI in a great Brewers lineup. While Moose didn’t play all that well in his first stint in Miller Park, he should regress to the mean. The mean being that Miller Park is a great place for lefty power bats to launch home runs. With an oft-injured team (Ryan Braun and Lorenzo Cain are not pillars of health, if you haven’t noticed), Moose should find regular playing time easily. You still need pitching. I know, it’s coming! I thought long and hard about taking Tyler Glasnow here. I also just solidified the draft’s top offense.

16.190: Jake Arrieta (SP – PHI)
While news just broke that Arrieta had been pitching with a torn meniscus in the second half, I have hope that he can be a top-35 starting pitcher again in 2018. I expect him to get back up to close to a K per inning with a 3.75 ERA. I’ll also take the over on his projected 11 wins, given the Phillies’ much-improved lineup (with possibly more to come). The odds of Hamels or Arrieta being an SP3 are high.

17.195: Alex Wood (SP – CIN)
How many former veteran All-Stars can I take to fill out my rotation? While the move for Wood seems to be bad, he is a ground-ball pitcher (53%, 53.5%, and 49% from 2016-2018). Furthermore, he should blow away his projected 140 innings this year, given that the Reds don’t have much going on in the bullpen until Raisel Iglesias, and their starters don’t typically get a case of Dodgeritis. These last two picks are solid floors to my upside pick of Wheeler.

18.214: Adam Eaton (OF – WAS)
I always end up with Eaton. Every. Single. Time. He dropped over 50 spots from his ADP, and I needed average and runs to round out my hitting. He does both of those (when healthy) in bunches. Given that the Nationals likely aren’t resigning Bryce Harper, Eaton figures to play every day and hit near the top of the lineup. The draft assistant had Eaton as my “top lift,” and I was happy to oblige.

19.219: Hyun-Jin Ryu (SP – LAD)
I wanted a pitcher who can chip in all starting pitching categories, and that is Ryu’s calling. In limited innings, he had a 27.5% K rate and a FIP of 3.00 in 2019. He also has two pitches that registered above six (his fastball and changeup) on the pVal charts. While he hasn’t had a full season since 2014, Ryu is slated to be the number three starter and should stay in the rotation as long as he is healthy. While I am not banking on that health, I am comfortable taking Ryu as my SP6 and hanging on for the ride. Plus, as I mentioned in the intro, there are plenty of starters options available on the waiver wire if need be.

20.238: Jon Gray (SP – COL)
Gray presents an enormous risk, but that was in 2018 when he was drafted as an SP3/4. Now, as my SP7, the risk is baked into his price, and I love the strikeout potential. I plan on starting him in only non-Coors starts. This pick also felt justified since I got him about 50 spots past his ECR.

21.243: Pedro Strop (RP – CHC)
With guys like Adam Ottavino, Trevor May, and Strop still on the board, I felt great knowing that one of them would be my RP3. I chose Strop since he is guaranteed the closer role for at least a month, and I have severe doubts about Brandon Morrow coming back by June. Strop has been an elite reliever for several years now.

22.262: Shin-Soo Choo (OF – TEX)
Talk about an ADP and ECR drop. Choo provides a great source of runs hitting atop the Rangers’ lineup, and he also chips in 20+ homers. With my league-leading hitting and infielders in the utility spots, I could afford to take just two outfielders in my bench spots. In daily leagues, I prefer to load up on pitchers anyway.

23.267: Tyler Skaggs (SP – LAA)
While many fantasy owners go for high upside with their final lottery ticket, I felt that getting Skaggs in the last round was a steal. With a 24% K rate, 11% swinging-strike rate, and a solid 16.7% K-BB ratio, Skaggs has the potential to jump Gray and Ryu as my SP6. Truthfully, Skaggs could end up as my SP3 if everything breaks right for him.

Final Grade

All in all, I received an A grade (93 out of 100). I have the league’s top hitting team and am squarely in the top half of pitching. Clearly, devising a strategy for an early-round pick is a bit easier than a late-round pick.

Other Notes

  • Kris Bryant went at the back end of the third round. As drafts approach and we here more about how he is progressing, I expect his ADP to rise into the late second round. If you’re drafting him now, getting him in the third is a steal.
  • Corey Seager dropped a round later than I thought he would. I could have taken Votto instead of Bogaerts and then got Seager a round later.
  • Aaron Hicks and Michael Conforto went before Yasiel Puig. Let’s relax, people.
  • There is a clump of hitters going in rounds 14-17. Make sure you pick wisely.
  • Guys that I would expect to get drafted in most leagues-Didi Gregorius, Jake Bauers, and CJ Cron-went untouched. Make sure that doesn’t happen in your league.

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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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