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Why It’s Never Too Early to Mock Draft (Fantasy Baseball)

by Michael Waterloo | @MichaelWaterloo | Featured Writer
Dec 17, 2019

The season is over, so fantasy baseball is over, too, right? Well, for those in keeper and dynasty leagues, you know this isn’t true. The season never really stops, as you’re looking over players you can keep, potential offseason deals, and even who you want to draft in your league’s First Year Player Draft.

But what about for those in redraft leagues? That is, after all, the biggest audience for fantasy baseball. If you don’t play fantasy football, hockey, or basketball, or if you just play them casually, you need something to pass the time. While you’re reading all of the typical offseason pieces from beat writers and fantasy writers, why not start mocking.

No, really. It doesn’t matter if it’s in October or November, join a draft and pay attention to the results.

Practice fast mock drafts with our fantasy baseball software >>

It’s never, ever too early to mock, and what’s fun about it is that you can see a gradual shift throughout the offseason with where players are being taken.

Below you’ll find why it’s never too early to mock draft in fantasy baseball, but first, let’s take a look at the tool that will allow you to do this, our free fantasy baseball draft simulator. That’s right, you can complete mock drafts tailored to your league settings for free with our fantasy baseball mock draft simulator.

When you draft after the season, you’ll see a big trend of “what have you done for me lately” where players who had a big season or, in a lot of cases, players who had a big final month or playoff success get pushed up more in the draft. 

It’s around mid-October to early-November where you’ll see the industry mock drafts taking place all over the place. I’m not saying that fantasy writers or industry members are “experts,” despite the term getting thrown around far too much. It is, however, nice to see the results of players who are truly invested in this at a high level to see how they compare to casual drafters after the season. 

Things you’ll want to look for in your early-offseason drafts are early-round trends with pitchers vs. hitters, how quickly steals are going, where are closers going, and how much of a discount can you get on guys who are coming off a down year but have a proven track record. 

As you move into the December portion of the offseason, you’re going to start seeing the draft calibrate a bit as far as offseason signings go and projected depth charts start to take form. 

When players sign or are traded away, there’s suddenly an opening and an opportunity for someone on another team, which can – and will – elevate their draft stock. Start to pay attention to where these opportunistic players are going, and see if the players who sign in new places are getting overdrafted – or underdrafted – because of their new situation.

Remember when Bryce Harper signed with the Phillies, and we all dreamt about how his numbers would be MVP level in that lineup and that stadium? He still put together a damn good season, but we elevated him too much. 

And now, that brings us to the January and February portion of the offseason. Here’s where it gets interesting. But the good thing is, you’re already prepared for this point, because you’ve been mocking all offseason and have tracked the movements and the different up-and-down trends so far. 

Now is where we start to see a higher volume of drafters getting ready for the new season. Football is over, so they are in their social maintenance pattern of no fantasy for a few weeks before starting their baseball prep. FanGraphs is now everyone’s home page when they open up their browsers, and we start to see where everyone is at as Spring Training starts.

This is where you’ll see a lot of “look at me” picks in the mock drafts from industry people, as they are planting their flag on a player. I’ve been guilty of it. We believe in the skill set, the opportunity, and we want that player on our team. 

I personally call them my obsessions, but no matter what you call them, you can imagine an audible “woah” go through the room when you make the pick too early.

This is also the point in the season where projections come into play. Whether it’s Fantasy Pros, ATC, The Bat, Depth Charts or, most the main go-to projection model, Steamer, these numbers are used a lot in analysis pieces and trying to identify sleepers.

I’m OK throwing shade at myself, so let’s look at Wilmer Flores as a perfect example.

Heading into the 2019 season, Flores was a bench player for the Mets, who performed well when he was in the lineup against both lefties and righties, despite the narrative that he was a lefty masher.

When he went to Arizona, I became very bullish on him because of the opportunity to play every day and the projection models being very high on him, too.

For example, here were the preseason projections on Flores and Gleyber Torres for 2019:

  • Flores: 21 HR, 61 R, 71 RBI, 1 SB, .278 AVG, .328 OBP, .466 SLG, 111 (wRC+), 354 (NFBC ADP) 
  • Torres: 21 HR, 69 R, 72 RBI, 8 SB, .257 AVG, .329 OBP,  .439 SLG, 107 (wRC+), 64 (NFBC ADP)

My thought was that, while Torres was – even at that time – the far superior player, I could get very similar projected value at a much better cost. I preach and preach that drafting is all about your net value, and not necessarily about the players that you acquire. You’re acquiring value.

In this case, it backfired. That’s OK. There were plenty of projected values that paid dividends in 2019, but Flores wasn’t one of them. 

You can’t get married to the projections, nor should you heed the advice of the fantasy writer just off of the projections. They should be used to have you do your own exploration and form your own opinion on the projected player.

If Flores was getting pushed up to a top 100 player, I was out. Hell, even as a top 200 player, I would have been out. See if the projection heroes are still a good value, and scoop up the ones that you believe in. 

If you want to mock to mock just because you’re bored and waiting for baseball season to come back around, that’s totally fine. But at any point in the offseason, there are valuable takeaways from any mock draft that you do.

Mock away, my friends.

Practice fast mock drafts with our fantasy baseball software >>

Michael Waterloo is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Michael, check out his archive and follow him @MichaelWaterloo.

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