2019 Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft (10 Teams)
A 10-team draft ought to be a piece of cake, right? Some fantasy managers take pride in challenging themselves with deep leagues, but even a shallower format presents a different string of challenges.
The final product should look much better. All nine other managers, however, will leave the draft proud of their loaded squads. It’s also trickier to exploit a vast waiver-wire pool when your bench is full of top-200 options.
Fresh off partaking in The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational, a 15-team league with 30-man rosters against other writers, I decided to toy with a smaller draft pool. Using FantasyPros’ Draft Wizard, I conducted a 10-team mixed league mock draft against the consensus ADP. If reducing the league size didn’t enhance everyone’s squad enough, I used Yahoo’s standard roster settings. That eliminates corner infield and middle infield with only three starting outfielders in 23 rounds.
It’s impossible to fully utilize your knowledge when drafting just 230 players. That’s actually a detriment to an informed manager, as breakout picks turn into bench fliers while sneaky sleepers become waiver-wire fodder. Despite trying to adjust, I still couldn’t resist loading up on offensive studs.
2.17: Bryce Harper (OF – PHI)
3.24: Trevor Story (SS – COL)
4.37: Trevor Bauer (SP – CLE)
9.84: Zack Wheeler (SP – NYM)
10.97: Nelson Cruz (DH – MIN)
11.104: Kirby Yates (RP – SD)
12.117: Luis Castillo (SP – CIN)
13.124: Aaron Hicks (OF – NYY)
14.137: Yu Darvish (SP – CHC)
15.144: Wilson Ramos (C – NYM)
16.157: Nick Pivetta (SP – PHI)
17.164: Rich Hill (SP – LAD)
18.177: Miguel Cabrera (1B – DET)
19.184: Will Smith (RP – SF)
20.197: Jon Gray (SP – COL)
21.204: Pedro Strop (RP – CHC)
22.217: Shohei Ohtani (DH – LAA)
23.224: Matt Barnes (RP – BOS)
There Is No Bad Draft Slot
While I picked fourth at random, it also seemed like the ideal spot to determine the smaller league’s impact. In a 12- or 15-team draft, managers picking at the top must worry about seeing no second-tier hitting studs last to their next turns.
That certainly wasn’t a problem in this mock. I opened with two outfielders since Martinez and Harper were the best players available, but I could have pivoted to a stud first baseman (Paul Goldschmidt or Freddie Freeman) in the second. I also passed on Trevor Story, only to rejoice at the stud shortstop falling to the third. Pairing Martinez with one of those sluggers from the fourth slot is improbable in a 12-teamer.
In a larger league, I would have likely kissed my chance of drafting an ace goodbye by taking Story over Gerrit Cole. Not in this 10-team simulation, where I still had my choice of Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, and Noah Syndergaard in the fourth round. (Luis Severino and Clayton Kershaw went earlier in the fourth, so I may have had to hope one of those three fell in a real draft.) That’s a dream start, even if it meant forgoing Anthony Rendon.
Shoot For the Stars
My only real strategy for this mock was to take more chances on boom-or-bust players I tend to bypass in deeper drafts. Mondesi simply comes with too much downside to trust as a fourth or fifth rounder. In this setting, however, I already collected three top-20 superstars and two more powerhouse sluggers (Bellinger and Carpenter). If he reaches his ceiling, my offense is unstoppable. If he flops, I simply need to pick up another hitter. This was the perfect spot to roll the dice, but I probably should have backed up Mondesi with a speedy upside pick like Byron Buxton, Garrett Hampson, or Royals teammate Billy Hamilton.
With so few starting hitters, there’s also little point in letting Corey Dickerson fill a bench spot. I wanted late picks with a feasible path to stardom. As a former Triple Crown winner and future Hall of Famer, Cabrera fits the bill. So does Ohtani, who hit .318 with 13 homers and eight steals during the final two months. If more injuries pile up in April, I would have to consider moving on from the Japanese sensation.
After loading up on offense, I swung for the fences with a highly volatile starting staff. There’s no point of drafting Jose Quintana or Jon Lester in such a shallow league where talented streamers will grace the wire. If a healthy Bauer returns to Cy Young Award contention and Wheeler sustains last year’s late breakout, I just need one or two of Castillo, Darvish, Pivetta, or Gray to reach his ceiling. Since it’s easier to locate replacement innings in a 10-teamer, I’ll take 120-130 strong frames from Hill. For this strategy to work, I need to have a quick hook if/when any of these risky starters combust.
Splurge For a Catcher and Closer
A smaller league would usually eliminate the urgency to locate a high-quality catcher. Not this year. With Salvador Perez out for the season, there aren’t even 10 backstops to draft with confidence. While you, sage reader, know better, some leaguemates may even draft two.
Although entering the season with Francisco Cervelli or Welington Castillo isn’t the end of the world, playing the waiver wire is a headache worth avoiding when possible. While Mike Moustakas offered more overall value than Ramos in the 15th round, I’d rather a steady starting catcher than a luxury reserve. When playing around with some other drafts where I kept the difficult position vacant to the end, the weakness was glaring without significantly improving my squad elsewhere.
Paying for an elite reliever isn’t as imperative because it’s easier to find end-game fliers and scour a bountiful free-agent pool. Yet the current landscape creates a limited supply of dependable, top-shelf closers. Don’t feel compelled to spend top dollar on Edwin Diaz or Blake Treinen, but target one or two higher-end options in the Rounds 10-15 range. I went with Yates, who is less of a midseason flight risk after the Padres signed Manny Machado. Jose Leclerc also would have fit this plan. After grabbing one elite option with job security, feel free to wait on speculative bargains. To that end, I regret picking Smith over Jordan Hicks, who is more likely to return a substantial profit if his stellar spring foreshadows a breakout.
So Much Hitting
I like Murphy more than Mondesi, but I sacrificed a stable average for league-winning upside. When he fell to the eighth, there was no way I was going to pass again. And was I supposed to not take Cruz in the 10th round? As much as another starter would have helped, I’m not taking Miles Mikolas over a criminally underrated stud who belted 37 homers in what was considered a down year for his standards.
There’s a ton of hitting to go around in a 10-team league. I made it a point to wait a while on outfielders after opening with two. While doing so caused me to watch countless appealing options (Tommy Pham, Justin Upton, Yasiel Puig, Michael Conforto) fall farther than they should, I still plucked Aaron Hicks in Round 13. As much as I love snagging his .360 wOBA and 100-run upside this late, I could have also honored my “go big or go home” approach by snagging Eloy Jimenez.
Maybe I overdid it. The simulator projects me to place first in hitting and last in pitching. In hindsight, I should have taken Walker Buehler over Bellinger or Zack Greinke instead of Carpenter. After all, Nick Senzel, Max Kepler, and Justin Smoak didn’t even get drafted.
Then again, I don’t particularly dislike my pitching staff. The smaller the league, the more turnover a roster should experience. Last year, I won a 12-team Yahoo Pro league with Carlos Marinez as my only drafted ace. Carried by a stacked lineup and relief corps, I finished second in both wins and strikeouts with the help of Wheeler, Jack Flaherty, and a revolving door of hot hands and streamers.
When going into a 10-team draft, seek a star-studded lineup foundation with one or two aces and a handful of high-upside selections. Despite the projected imbalance, this mock accomplished those goals.