10-Team Mock Draft Categories (2020 Fantasy Baseball)
You may not think it if you’ve never played in both, but 10 and 12-team fantasy baseball leagues have a lot of differences. It’s amazing how much faster the quality hitters come off the board in a 12-team league. That is due in part to having more picks per round, but also due to the fact that hitters become more valuable commodities. It’s much easier to find a replacement-level starting pitcher from the waiver wire than it is a replacement-level hitter. Pitchers with ERAs around 4.00 float about waiver wires across the country, being claimed and dropped haphazardly like we pick up and put down our cell phones. It’s far from impossible to plug and play a pitcher off waivers who has a Gerrit Cole-esque day; in fact, all good managers will do exactly that more than a few times throughout the season. It’s much harder to try and guess, pick up, and start a hitter who has as good of a day as Mike Trout often has.
So, it’s no surprise that my strategy for this 10-team mock draft categories-based league was to load up on hitters early. My goal was only to take pitchers in the first 10 rounds when there were no hitters I liked or needed enough to select. And in a 10-team league, I really like where that put me. FantasyPros’ ECR helped guide me throughout this draft to know that enough pitchers would be there for me in the later rounds to still draft a somewhat balanced squad. Let’s check out the results!
1.07 (7th overall): Francisco Lindor (SS – CLE)
If Francisco Lindor hadn’t been hurt at the beginning of last season, he would at least be going higher in drafts than Mookie Betts. Most people don’t realize that Lindor was banged up and missed the first few weeks of the season; when he did return, he struggled mightily until May after getting nearly no action in Spring Training. Had Lindor replicated his 74 second-half game numbers for the entire season, he would have hit 39 home runs, stolen 19 bases, and hit .274. Fully healthy, Lindor is a five-tool monster, and 2020 is going to be his best season yet. I was stoked to get Lindor at seven.
Other players considered: Trea Turner, Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story
2.06 (14th overall): J.D. Martinez (OF – BOS)
Martinez took a step back last season from his brilliant 2018 campaign. I’ll gladly take his 2019 numbers this season, though. The only concerning part about Martinez this year is the Red Sox’s lack of desire to compete. There’s no doubt Martinez’s RBI numbers will take a hit without Mookie Betts setting the table in front of him. Still, Martinez reduced his K% to the lowest in his entire career last year and hit the ball as hard as ever. While he might not turn in career highs in 2020, Martinez, for maybe the first time in his career, actually seemed like as safe of a pick as any here.
Other players considered: Fernando Tatis Jr., Jose Ramirez
3.07 (27th overall): Jack Flaherty (SP – STL)
Flaherty’s critics argue that his second-half surge last season wasn’t legit. They say that his fielder-independent ERA numbers were much worse than his actual numbers. I say that the Cardinals will be playing even better defense behind him in 2020; so, why can’t his numbers even improve upon last year’s? Flaherty has the stuff to be an ace and the defense to back him up. Even though I was trying to load up on hitting, I didn’t like anyone else enough to reach for them here. Everything about Flaherty says he should be able to hold down the number one spot on my staff.
Other players considered: Yordan Alvarez, Blake Snell
4.06 (34th overall): Ketel Marte (2B, SS – ARI)
Ketel Marte is a player who I am shocked isn’t being selected higher than he typically is. Let’s not forget, Marte was only 25 during his breakout season last year. Marte actually feels like he’s been around a lot longer than that, and maybe that’s part of the reason why people seem skeptical about his breakout. Upon examining his numbers, however, there isn’t a single stat Marte can’t repeat from last season. Furthermore, Ketel Marte should be hitting in a much better lineup than last season after the D-Backs added another Marte (Starling) and Kole Calhoun. I think Ketel could easily be going much higher than this next year.
Other players considered: Austin Meadows, Giancarlo Stanton
5.07 (47th overall): Anthony Rizzo (1B – CHC)
Not only do I love Rizzo’s consistency, but I loved the idea of snagging a first baseman here. First base is not a deep position in 2020. Considering all the first basemen who have dual eligibility, guys like Joey Votto and Eric Hosmer will be your only options if you wait too long to select one. In the middle rounds of drafts, I like selecting players who I am certain to receive consistent production from. Rizzo is a perfect model of that, as his worst line since 2014 was .283/.376/.470.
Other players considered: Eugenio Suarez, Luis Severino
6.06 (54th overall): Eugenio Suarez (3B – CIN)
I welcome you to player number two that I am flabbergasted is getting taken so late in drafts. Eugenio Suarez was a dark-horse MVP candidate last season! The man hit 49 home runs, and it was really only his RBI and run totals that held him back from garnering true MVP consideration. I know, I know, Suarez recently had shoulder surgery and could miss the very start of the season. Here’s the thing; whatever short time Suarez might miss at the start of the season should be offset by how much better his RBI and run totals will look this year hitting in the vastly improved Cincy offense. Even if I were to only end up with a healthy Suarez from May onwards, I would still take him in this spot every single time.
Other players considered: Manny Machado, Paul Goldschmidt
7.07 (67th overall): Marcell Ozuna (OF – ATL)
Ozuna had to settle for a one-year deal this offseason because his defense has been brutal, and he has been injury-prone. What MLB teams might regret, however, is that Ozuna’s offensive tears can easily make up for any of the other problems his game might have. If Ozuna hadn’t gotten hurt last season, he very well might have found himself with 40 home runs and 15 stolen bases. Don’t believe me? Go look at how where his numbers were and how hot he was when he went down. Ozuna is going to put together another full, successful season soon. I predicted Jorge Soler to do the same last year, and the two cases are very similar. Take a look at this:
Both hitters are close to the same. Ozuna even had slightly better contact numbers in 2019, yet finished with a BABIP 71 points lower than Soler’s number in 2018. If Soler busted out for 48 home runs with a .265 AVG last year, what could Ozuna do this year?
Other players considered: Jorge Soler (ironically enough), Tyler Glasnow
8.06 (74th overall): Gary Sanchez (C – NYY)
With the vast majority of my offensive positions looking good, I really wanted to grab one of the top-four catchers. Thanks to playing with the FantasyPros’ draft simulator before, I was convinced Sanchez would not be available with my next pick. This seemed like the best spot to jump on him before other teams had the opportunity. Sanchez was extremely unlucky last season and ended up rocking a BABIP of just .244 when all was said and done. There’s definitely room for improvement in the AVG department. And even while missing over a third of the season last year, Sanchez still hit 34 bombs. His upside at the catcher position in the eighth round is completely unmatched.
Other players considered: Aroldis Chapman, Michael Brantley, Nick Castellanos
9.07 (87th overall): Josh Donaldson (3B – MIN)
Josh Donaldson is moving from one good lineup to another. Obviously, health is always the issue with him, but the ninth round seemed like the right time to take a chance. Plus, looking at the rest of my lineup, I could afford to lose Donaldson for a stretch or two throughout the season and still be okay. When healthy, I know exactly what I’m getting here: a .250 AVG, 35 HR, and quality RBI and R totals.
Other players considered: Mike Soroka, Taylor Rogers
10.06 (94th overall): Liam Hendriks (RP – OAK)
I needed a closer in the worst way. Hendriks is going to regress somewhat from his otherworldly 1.80 ERA last year. Still though, I’ll gladly take a Liam Hendriks with even a full point worse ERA as my No. 1 closer in the 10th round. Even Hendriks’ worst projections show him racking up around 30 saves. To have not taken a closer until the 10th round and be able to snag someone like Hendriks makes me ecstatic.
Other players considered: Brad Hand, Kyle Hendricks
11.07 (107th overall): Hyun-Jin Ryu (SP – TOR)
Death, taxes, and Hyun-Jin Ryu not getting the respect he deserves yearly in fantasy baseball drafts. Ryu scored a 4-year, $80 million deal this offseason, yet the fantasy community still neglects him. Did you know Ryu had a 1.97 ERA in 15 starts in 2018, too? Like Josh Donaldson, I’m not counting on Ryu for the entire season. But let’s be honest, that’s more than factored into his 11th round value.
Other players considered: Eduardo Rodriguez, Mallex Smith
12.06 (114th overall): Mallex Smith (OF – SEA)
I’ve found myself taking Mallex Smith in every single mock draft I complete. Why? He can single-handedly win steals every week, and he comes at such a small price tag. Smith is the only player in the entire league who can impact a team the way he can who is getting drafted outside of the top 150 in the FantasyPros’ consensus ADP. Even though he’s a one-trick pony, Smith’s value in a categories league is significant.
Other players considered: Max Fried, Brandon Workman
13.07 (127th overall): Raisel Iglesias (RP – CIN)
I want as much of the Cincinnati Reds as I can acquire this year. Iglesias unluckily pitched to a career-high 4.16 ERA last season, but he is set to bounce back much closer to his career average of 3.17. In fact, even in his poor year last year, xFIP suggested Iglesias’s ERA should have been in the mid-3.00’s. And forget his ERA for a bit, because Iglesias could very well push for 40 saves this season. The Reds are much improved, and the NL Central is extremely balanced (minus the Pirates), meaning Cincinnati should play in a lot of close games. I’ll gladly take Iglesias as my second closer.
Other players considered: Hector Neris, Keone Kela
14.06 (134th overall): Carlos Martinez (RP – STL)
I’m selecting Carlos Martinez, the SP, with this pick. Martinez is competing for a starting gig in St. Louis this spring, a position he’s wanted to be in. The best-case scenario with my roster? Martinez wins a starting spot, pitches to the 3.36 career ERA he owns, and wins a bunch of games for the Cardinals. The worst-case scenario? Martinez gets moved back to the bullpen and closes for the Cardinals to start the year and potentially longer. Bottom-line, Martinez should be going higher than the 14th round.
Other players considered: Mike Foltynewicz, David Price
15.07 (147th overall): Lance McCullers Jr. (SP – HOU)
I welcome you to my sleeper pitcher of the year. McCullers is ready to get back to the 3.22 ERA, 3.06 xFIP, and 11.78 K/9 ratio he left in 2016 before getting injured for parts of two seasons and requiring Tommy John surgery in 2018. Obviously, innings pitched will be something to monitor with McCullers, but knowing that he is coming into 2020 fully healthy is plenty enough to get me excited about his upside. I only selected one SP before the 11th round, and I ended up having Flaherty, Ryu, Carlos Martinez, and McCullers Jr. to headline my staff. All things considered, I’ll absolutely take that upside.
Other players considered: Jose Leclerc, Giovanny Gallegos
16.06 (154th overall): Giovanny Gallegos (RP – STL)
Assuming Carlos Martinez starts for the Cardinals, that leaves Giovanny Gallegos as the logical closer. Manager Mike Shildt likes to use one player to close rather than a committee, which is good news for Gallegos. He has a nasty wipeout slider that he began throwing much more often in 2019. Hitters struggled even to make contact with it, which led him to a career-high 33.3 K%. As my third and final closer, Gallegos should excel in the role.
Other players considered: Ross Stripling, Mark Melancon
17.07 (167th overall): Caleb Smith (SP – MIA)
Smith is my least favorite pick of this draft. He has upside, which is the only reason why I selected him. To get to that upside, however, Smith must pitch more like his 2018 self, where he limited the home-run ball and threw his fastball much more often than 2019. If he can’t do that, Smith might find himself on the waiver wire quickly.
Other players considered: Yonny Chirinos, Griffin Canning
18.06 (174th overall): Joey Lucchesi (SP – SD)
Now, I really do like Joey Lucchesi’s upside heading into 2020. It’s a gut call, but the Padres are going to be much better in 2020 and hit the high expectations they missed out on for 2019. Lucchesi should be at the center of that. He does a good job of keeping the ball in the park, and Petco should continue to help that. If Lucchesi can improve his K/BB ratio, it would go a long way to helping him win significantly more games.
Other players considered: Jose Quintana, Seth Lugo
19.07 (187th overall): Ryan Yarbrough (SP, RP – TB)
Ninety percent of Ryan Yarbrough’s stats make him look like an ace. He doesn’t walk many, keeps the ball in the park, and had a 1.00 WHIP last season. Largely, it was his lack of strikeouts that forced his ERA a little higher than it could have been in 2019. Yarbrough threw his fastball a quarter of the time, and it wasn’t effective. I’m banking that Yarbrough throws his slider and cutter much more in 2020 and increases his strikeouts immensely. He also should have a starting job on lock this year rather than being “the guy who gets brought in after the opener.” Combine all of that, and it could very well be a breakout year for Ryan Yarbrough.
Other players considered: Johnny Cueto, Dallas Keuchel
20.06 (194th overall): Johnny Cueto (SP – SF)
Did you know that Johnny Cueto is only 33? Here are just a few pitchers older than Cueto: Justin Verlander, Charlie Morton, Mike Fiers, and Adam Wainwright. Oh yeah, all of those pitchers recorded 14 or more wins last season, too. You can’t solely base fantasy value on things like this, but Cueto has had a great season at least every other year since 2010. 2020 is set to be one of those years. Cueto just recently was quoted as saying, “I feel like my arm is a baby,” whatever that means. He’s got more in the tank, and he’s a great late-round flier for my team.
Other players considered: Dallas Keuchel, Steven Matz
21.07 (207th overall): Lorenzo Cain (OF – MIL)
No idea how Lorenzo Cain hung around this long on the board for me to snag him in the 21st round. I didn’t yet have a bench batter. While I like to roll mostly with pitchers on my bench, it’s nice having a bench bat or two early in the year with all the days off. Speaking of age, Cain shouldn’t be completely written off at age 33, either. Seeing Cain get back to 30 steals and a .300 AVG one more time wouldn’t be a bit of a surprise; what a great value that would be with my 21st pick.
Other player considered: Kyle Gibson
If you play in a weekly-lock league, this roster might not be for you. If you don’t like consistently managing throughout the season, this roster definitely isn’t for you. If you play in a daily-lock league and enjoy the constant grind throughout the season, this is about as good of a roster as you can possibly construct. There’s no arguing that this roster will take daily adjusting to compete for categories like strikeouts and wins, but good managing will do exactly that. I would much rather be a heavy-hitting squad like this than the other way around. Let FantasyPros help you construct a roster like this in your 12-team league; you’ll be set up beautifully for season-long success.
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