10-Team American League Only Mock Draft (Fantasy Baseball 2020)
Pitchers and catchers are on the verge of reporting to Spring Training; which means Spring is in the air! Yes, the baseball season is right around the corner and it’s time to begin (or continue) preparing for your upcoming MLB drafts. After you’ve done your research, scoured the expert’s consensus rankings, and identified “your guys,” it’s time to start mocking. Our mock draft simulator is legitimately the best in the business, and I use it non-stop. Every draft is different, so it provides the most authentic draft room experience short of participating in numerous live drafts throughout the spring.
For the sake of this exercise, I completed a 10-team mock, consisting of only American League players. Standard settings across the board, so no gimmicky setup causing the consensus ranks to be inexplicably out of order. For me, personally, I go into every draft with only one concrete plan. I know who my 1.01 would be; that’s it. After that, it all comes down to what everyone else is doing, where the runs are, where the tiers break, etc. Sure, I have a general idea of what positions I’d like to attack in the first few rounds, but there’s nothing set in stone. I generally prefer to wait a couple of rounds to select an outfielder, due to the depth at the position, but if I have the 1.01, I’m taking Mike Trout. Additionally, I’d like to wait a couple of rounds to take a starting pitcher as well, but if Gerrit Cole is sitting there at 1.09, I’ll gladly take him. But without further ado, let’s dive into it!
1.05: Alex Bregman (3B – HOU)
I’m not too concerned that the MLB punishments for the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal will reach individual players, so I felt comfortable taking Bregman in this spot. He has become one of, if not, the premier third basemen in Major League Baseball. It’s very cliche to say, but he’s getting better with each and every season. In his four years in the big leagues, he’s annually improved his AVG, OBP, SLG, OPS, R, HR, RBI, and BB. In addition, he also improved his strikeout rate, as well as his hard-hit ball percentage. He keeps getting better, and the floor/ceiling is too high to overlook at this draft slot in a limited player draft.
2.06: Gleyber Torres (2B/SS – NYY)
This was a tough decision early on for me. Mid-second round and Mike Clevinger and Chris Sale were still available; both bonafide aces when healthy in a limited starting pitcher group. However, the consistency that Torres has shown early in his career is what sealed the deal. The middle infield is the most top-heavy position (outside of catcher) in fantasy baseball, so it only made sense to grab one of the best, who was also eligible at both positions. Add in the ability to hit 40 home runs, and possibly exceed 190 R+RBI in a stacked Yankees lineup, it wound up being a no-brainer for me.
3.05: Charlie Morton (SP – TB)
I was close to still being able to steal Chris Sale after eyeing him in round 2, however, he was selected 2 spots ahead with the 3.03, so I was left to look elsewhere for pitching. Top-end starting pitchers were quickly beginning to disappear, so I wanted to get one solid, consistent starting pitcher to lead the rotation in an AL-Only league. Charlie Morton has shown the ability to be a true 1b with Blake Snell in Tampa. He’s had four straight seasons with a sub-3.60 FIP, and three straight seasons with a 10.0+ K/9.
4.06: Eloy Jimenez (OF – CWS)
As I stated in the intro, I generally prefer to wait on outfielders unless I’m getting Mike Trout. Well, I didn’t have the 1.01 here, so my thought process was to wait a couple of rounds. However, I believe I got one of the steals of the draft here in Eloy Jimenez. Drafted as the OF13 in a limited player pool just seems wrong to me. Jimenez should be an elite run-producer in the middle of what should be a much improved White Sox lineup in 2020. His numbers looked great a season ago, finishing with 31 home runs, 79 RBI, a .343 wOBA, and 116 wRC+. However, the finish to his rookie campaign is what stands out; in his last 52 games, he had 66 hits, scored 33 runs, hit 14 home runs, and drove in 40 runs.
5.05: Gary Sanchez (C – NYY)
I am one of the fantasy baseball players that finds top-end catchers to be very valuable. As with baseball, the teams that have above-average offensive catchers, it completely changes the team’s lineup. Taking Sanchez made a lot of sense for me. I can live with the fact that he may miss 30+ games, knowing that even in limited time, he will still likely surpass 30 HR and 75 RBI out of a position that you can count on one hand how many guys are capable of that. His career 162-game averages equate to 98 runs, 46 home runs, and 114 RBI. Give me 80% of that, and I’m a happy Sanchez owner. Between picks 4.06-5.05, five pitchers were selected, so it was difficult to not fall prey to the run, but I simply didn’t like the pitcher value at this spot.
6.06 Eddie Rosario (OF – MIN)
Steady Eddie. I could have elected to go with more ceiling here as both Nicholas Castellanos and Jose Abreu were still on the board, however, I wanted the floor. Rosario has cemented himself as one of the more consistent offensive outfielders in the American League. Last season, he saw a dip in his batting average, as well as his walk percentage, however, he set career highs with 91 runs, 32 home runs, and 109 RBI while striking out just 86 times in 590 plate appearances. Following the addition of Josh Donaldson, the Twins lineup should also be a bit more explosive than the home-run record-setting 2019 group, which should add to Rosario’s potential run production.
7.05: Frankie Montas (SP – OAK)
Montas was rolling prior to being hit with a suspension in the 2019 season. In 15 starts, he went 9-2, with a 2.70 ERA. He was legitimately a top-3/4 pitcher in the American League up until the suspension. He did his time, now he should back in full force ready to pick up where he left off. He’s got filthy stuff, and the Athletics are known for out-producing projections and expectations. His 3.00 FIP does suggest he may have benefited a bit from an excellent defense, but who wouldn’t benefit from having Matt Chapman and Matt Olson behind them?
8.06: Taylor Rogers (RP – MIN)
In a limited player pool, and seven rounds into the draft, it was time to get a reliever. Why not get the closer for a team that could potentially win 100+ games for the second year in a row. Rogers has made it evident that he wants to be considered among the best closers in Major League Baseball. Give me the guy that strikes out over 11.5/9, and walks less than 1.5/9, while stranding over 85.0% of his baserunners. His ERA, FIP, and xFIP were all within 0.2 points of each other, which tells me that his numbers reflected exactly how well he was pitching which is promising for his ability to repeat his incredible 2019 season.
9.05: Mike Minor (SP – TEX)
As you approach the middle rounds, consistency and availability are key. I strongly considered David Price in this spot (for the second round in a row), but I want someone who I know will make 25+ starts. Since 2012, he spent five of those six seasons as a starter and made at least 25 starts in each season. The other season he spent as a reliever and made 65 appearances. He stays healthy and provides solid value on any fantasy team due to his availability alone. It doesn’t hurt that Texas could also be on the upswing this year, especially if they find a way to bring Nicholas Castellanos to town on a free agent deal (update: they didn’t).
10.06: Luke Voit (1B – NYY)
In my mind, this was the ultimate value pick. I was eyeing Voit for two previous rounds before ultimately landing him in the tenth. First base depth can become extremely scarce when you’re looking at a limited player pool, so it was necessary to grab one soon. Not to mention, he can play, too. His 2018 run in New York was legendary. He hit 14 home runs, drove in 33, finished with a .458 wOBA, and 195 wRC+ in just 39 games. Extend that to 140 games, you’re looking at the AL MVP. He followed it up in 2019 with an impressive .360 wOBA and 126 wRC+ in 118 games. He needs to figure out a way to stay healthy, but if he can give you most of a season, you’re looking at a steal in the tenth round.
11.05: Brandon Workman (RP – BOS)
I love the value of getting a good team’s closer in the eleventh round. Workman established himself as the best reliever in Boston’s bullpen last season and looks to be the Opening Day closer heading into 2020. His stuff is downright filthy, evident by the 13 K/9 he posted a year ago. He does need to work on walking fewer batters, as his 5.65 BB/9 is exceptionally high for a late-inning reliever. The fact that he allowed just a single home run in 71.2 innings in 2019 is most likely to be unsustainable, but with a 1.88 ERA, we have some wiggle room so I felt comfortable enough taking him with this selection to solidify the second relief pitcher spot in the lineup.
12.06: Hunter Renfroe (OF – TB)
I struggled with this pick, as I had my heart set on selecting Lourdes Gurriel, Jr., whom I had had my eye on for the previous two rounds. He ended up being selected one pick ahead of me at the 12.05 slot. So, I had to do a little digging into what I needed for this selection. I decided to chase power here, as I had my eye on a high-OBP, speed-type player with my next pick, but we’ll get to that in a bit. Renfroe is joining a solid lineup in Tampa this year and should bring some serious power with him. While playing in a pitcher-friendly park, he has hit 26, 26, and 33 home runs respectively over the last three seasons. He has also posted a .236, .256, and .273 ISO over those same seasons, which shows his raw power is at the top of the league.
13.05: Brett Gardner (OF – NYY)
As I mentioned previously, I needed a guy that has the potential to steal 15+ bags for me, considering I really didn’t have anyone that is capable of doing it. Gardner is the guy in New York that is not supposed to be playing every day but ends up playing every day. With injuries, rest days, etc., he seemingly makes his way into the lineup every single night; and what a lineup to make your way into. If you can get on base, which Gardner can, your scoring opportunities should come in bunches. With injuries to Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks in 2019, Gardner played in 141 games, turning that into 28 home runs, a .344 wOBA, and 115 wRC+. I’ll take that in the thirteenth round.
14.06: Dallas Keuchel (SP – CWS)
Not the name he once was, but he’s still very solid. Outside of a bad 2016 season, Keuchel has gone 66-41, with a 3.10 ERA since 2014. Sure, he’s not as devastating as he was when his 2-seam fastball was one of the best in baseball during his Cy Young-winning 2015 campaign; but as a fourteenth round value in a limited player pool, I was shocked he was available. He is also joining a White Sox team that should be much improved this season, which will help the all (un)important win total, and a more “home run-dependent” ballpark which should be beneficial for a groundball-dominant pitcher.
15.05: Randal Grichuk (OF – TOR)
Ah, the late-round power guys. Once you get to the back half of drafts, you have to decide on exactly what you’re looking for and/or missing. Do you want someone that will hit for a low average, but high power; or vice versa? Here, I went with the power and potential run production of what should be a legitimately powerful offense. Grichuk should be lined up behind the likes of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in the Blue Jays’ lineup creating plenty of opportunities for run production. He had his most powerful season in 2019, hitting 31 home runs, and driving in 80 runs, with just a .307 wOBA (lowest since his rookie 2014 season). If he can get that back up to his .327 career average, we could be looking at a 35/90+ season.
16.06: Nomar Mazara (OF – CWS)
I had been eyeing Mazara for a few rounds, and ultimately decided to pull the trigger here in the sixteenth round. A late-round option that provides consistently average numbers across the board. He’s hit 20, 20, 20, and 19 home runs respectively in each of the last four seasons, while driving in roughly 70 runs per year, outside of a breakout 101 RBI season in 2017. He has a career .261 average, and a career .321 wOBA. It honestly doesn’t get more consistently average, and that’s perfect for a late-round selection.
17.05: Joakim Soria (RP – OAK)
In a league set up to account for saves and holds, getting relievers early isn’t as important; however, you still need to fill the roster spots. Soria has been one of the best closers in the game to a middle-inning reliever struggling to find a place to pitch all in the course of a few years. Right now, he’s found his way back into a late-inning, setup man style of role; which is perfect for this league’s scoring style. The Athletics play in a lot of close games over the course of a season, so holds are pretty easy to come by. At 36 years old come May, Soria is certainly on the back nine of his career, but he’s posted a 10+ K/9 in each of the last three seasons, and has converted at least 20 saves+holds in each of the last four seasons, so I felt confident in the value at this point in the draft.
18.06: Marwin Gonzalez (UTIL – MIN)
In my drafting experience, I always tend to target at least 1-2 guys with some positional flexibility in the later rounds of a draft. It provides the ability to mix up your lineup a bit to account for injuries, rest days, matchups, etc. Gonzalez is the epitome of the valuable flex addition to your fantasy roster. He’s eligible at every position on the field except for CF; while still providing some offensive value. He is a consistent .260 hitter, with a .320 wOBA, while hitting 15-20 home runs every year. He’s also playing in one of the league’s most potent lineups, which should provide ample opportunity to fill the stat line each night.
19.05: Chris Bassitt (SP – OAK)
Continuing my trend of adding as many Athletics’ pitchers as possible, I loved the value of Bassitt here in the nineteenth round. He was finally able to complete a (nearly) full season in 2019, making 25 starts, and performed extremely well. He finished with a 3.81 ERA, while going 10-5 in 28 appearances. His 4.40 FIP is a bit higher than you’d like to see; but, assuming he benefited from some stellar defense a year ago, it’s hard to expect any difference this year with virtually the same defense behind him. His strikeout percentage was the highest of his career, while his walk percentage was the lowest of his career. I have high expectations for Bassitt entering 2020, so seeing him available this late was an absolute steal for me.
20.06: Casey Mize (SP – DET)
This selection is a complete dart throw. It’s possible Mize doesn’t throw a single big-league pitch in 2020, and it’s possible he wins the American League Rookie of the Year. There’s no way to know what the Tigers plan is for him this season, but the talent is undeniable. In 2019, he made 21 starts across A+ and AA and pitched to the tune of a 2.55 ERA with a WHIP under 1.00. He also maintained a sub-3.00 FIP, which shows his ERA was indicative of his pitching ability, rather than extraordinary defense. He’s the #7 prospect in Major League Baseball according to MLB.com and boasts MiLB’s best splitter. He has the makings of a top-end starter; it’s just a matter of when he gets the opportunity.
21.05: Miguel Andujar (3B – NYY)
This one is another dart throw, but what else are you supposed to be doing in the last couple rounds?! Andujar is just a year removed from finishing runner-up to Shohei Ohtani for the 2018 American League Rookie of the Year award. He showed the ability to hit for average, as well as power in that incredible rookie season, finishing with a .297 average, 27 home runs, and drove in 92 runs. His .361 wOBA and 130 wRC+ were also excellent. He may not start the season with a definitive spot in the Yankees’ lineup, but he didn’t start 2018 with a definitive spot, either. It took a Brandon Drury injury for Andujar to get an opportunity, and he certainly didn’t give it up once he got the call. The potential for 20+ home runs and a .280+ average out of the last round of any fantasy draft is a phenomenal value in my book.
All in all, I am thrilled with a team assembled in this draft. I believe I found a good mix of high-floor, high-ceiling players, while also maintaining a consistency level that will bode well over the course of a 162-game season. Using an AL/NL-only player pool also makes things interesting, and it forces you to do some research on some players that you may not generally have to in a full player pool draft. Mock drafting is one of the most important exercises as you prepare for your drafts. Knowing general ADPs and player values is essential to knowing when to make certain selections and when to target specific players. The mock draft simulator here at FantasyPros is a feature that every, and I mean every, fantasy player should be using!
As always, you can find me @joebuttgereit on Twitter for random fantasy sports nuggets and information!
Joe Buttgereit is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Joe, follow him on Twitter @joebuttgereit.