10-Team Mock Draft (2020 Fantasy Baseball)
One of the main recommendations I can make to people looking to get into fantasy baseball would be to try the smallest league possible. As we’ll soon see with a 10-team fantasy league, almost every roster is loaded with talent. As a newcomer, you simply won’t fall behind as quickly because of a bad roster. And the math should remove any doubts.
Six rounds into a 10-team draft, the top-60 players — at least, as valued by those in the draft — have been taken. The same 60 players would comprise of exactly five rounds in a 12-team draft. Carrying this math forward essentially leads to an extra handful of rounds being tacked onto any draft larger than 10 teams.
There’s a catch, though. And it is actually a negative to the aggressive fantasy player, such as myself.
Those of us who like to take risks will be at a disadvantage in a 10-team league. For every risk we take, there are nine other teams almost certainly filling one roster spot after another with a contributing baseball player. This means that stashing soon-to-be-rookies will do more damage than good in this format.
The small league size forces our hand to not miss talent when presented to us. But it does allow for depth to be ignored for a large portion of the draft. Specifically, third base is an absurdly deep position in 2020 and, with only 10 starters directly in the third base slot, it is almost foolish to take one early. Granted, some value is too good to ignore, but do not simply take the best third baseman available if you have other needs and comparable projections.
In preparing for this article — mocking the mock draft, if you will — I found that draft order had a much larger impact on my final outlook than it would in larger leagues. I suspect this is because of the argument I previously made regarding the necessity to take solid production round after round. The major benefit was that I could almost always expect a target of mine to be available in the following round. I could reasonably project with only 15 or so picks between mine, but the drawback usually came from my first-round selection.
If I draft toward the back of the first round, I always target Trea Turner for his stolen base potential. The only other options were the top pitchers. I was constantly stuck in the fifth or sixth round staring at some arms I’d love on my team, but couldn’t justify taking over a bat I needed. Therefore, the ideal position through my practice efforts was somewhere in the top three. This isn’t earth-shattering, but it made it unavoidable to select an outfielder in the first round, which set the stage for the rest.
With that, my plan for this official mock draft was to draft fifth or later. I would still aim for either Turner — a tough sell in the sixth slot – or possibly Gerrit Cole. I can stomach the pain I’ll feel in a few rounds for one of the elites of the elite and force some difficult decisions down the road. After all, my goal is to limit risk in this format.
The lineup of this 10-team draft is C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 3 OF, 2 UTIL, 2 SP, 2 RP, 4 P and was conducted using FantasyPros’ Draft Simulator.
1.6: Gerrit Cole (SP – NYY)
This pick would define the rest of my draft, and it was a serious debate between Cole and Turner. My concern with missing out on Turner is that I will be chasing stolen bases for a fair portion of the draft. Passing on Cole, meanwhile, pressures me to take a pitcher in the second round. The latter is where I found my decision made. I can’t guarantee that the few drafters between this pick and my next won’t load up on arms, leaving me with a less-than-ideal option as my ace. Conversely, I can take the top-ranked pitcher for this season and never truly feel like I need to grab both quantity and quality. Depth will do after Cole. If Cole regresses, I still expect him to be a major contributor to strikeouts and wins.
Others Considered: Trea Turner
2.5: Fernando Tatis, Jr. (SS – SD)
I talked about forcing myself to make difficult decisions, and I hit one right away. I’m talking nail-biting level in a mock draft. By taking Cole in the first round, I couldn’t justify Walker Buehler in the second. A reasonable start to this draft could have been Turner and Buehler. Not bad. But not a guarantee, and I wanted the ace. This pick was a debate between Trevor Story and Fernando Tatis, Jr., which isn’t a debate to anyone with industry rankings. The answer is clearly Story. That is if he steals bases. And that’s where I waver. The word “if.” Tatis can give power just as Story can give steals. Yet if I’m looking for a baseline in one of the two statistics, I want the speed locked in and the power as a bonus. I know I’ll find power later. Speed? Not so much.
3.6: Yordan Alvarez (OF – HOU)
Remember when I mentioned getting power later? It happened in the next round. Projecting ahead, it was likely that either Aaron Judge — my preferred selection — or Alvarez (my actual selection) would be available. Do I expect regression for Alvarez? Of course. But he’ll hit for power, and that was the target.
Others Considered: Gleyber Torres
4.5: Blake Snell (SP – TB)
In my introduction, I mentioned wanting too many pitchers in the fifth and sixth rounds. There was one exception. I wanted Snell, too, and he generally wasn’t around in the fourth. He was here. I couldn’t pass up the strikeout rate, volume, and overall potential for a massive bounce-back year. As an aside, if we’re pretending I doubled down on pitching and went with Cole and Buehler, I could have filled my stolen base craving with Adalberto Mondesi. It’s tempting in hindsight.
Others Considered: Adalberto Mondesi
5.6: Keston Hiura (2B – MIL)
The powers-that-run-the-mock-draft must have heard my hypothetical and punished me for it. Mondesi was still available for my fifth pick. I couldn’t do it. Not with shortstop already filled and, surprisingly, more stolen bases on the horizon. With speed somewhat under control, I went with a different need at second base. It’s arguably the thinnest position outside of catcher, and there was no reason to wait with Hiura available. I also had a player in mind for my next pick, so I needed to keep third base clear.
Others Considered: Kris Bryant
6.5: Yoan Moncada (3B – CHW)
No debate here. Moncada is one of the many third basemen I’d love to have this year, and he was highlighted as a possible breakout in one of my other articles. Indeed, third base is overloaded with talent — Manny Machado was also a consideration here — but Moncada can do it all. Maybe he won’t, but he could. I like that relative risk.
7.6: Noah Syndergaard (SP – NYM)
This was another no-brainer. I keep finding Syndergaard available in the seventh round, and I refuse to pass on him. He easily has the talent to be one of the best pitchers in the league, and he’s now the third starting pitcher on my roster. That’s exactly what I wanted in terms of balance.
Others Considered: Aroldis Chapman
8.5: Aroldis Chapman (RP – NYY)
This worked out well. I’d like to secure at least one closer whose job isn’t in jeopardy and then fill in with volume in later rounds. The only fear I had with my Syndergaard pick is that it would cost me an elite closer. It didn’t. Chapman, it is.
Others Considered: Jose Berrios
9.6: Nick Castellanos (OF – CIN)
It did cost me Jose Berrios. He would have been a strong target with this pick, but such is the penalty for buying other pitchers earlier. The good news is that I could move back to hitting, and Castellanos was kindly waiting for me. He fits the same mold as Moncada in terms of breakout potential, and it remains unfathomable that he is only 27 years old. If he only gives batting average, it’s probably still worth the investment at this stage of the game.
Others Considered: Corey Kluber
10.5: Trey Mancini (1B/OF – BAL)
I have a rule. If I’m not in love with the players available during my current pick, I move down the list and take the player or position I want. Period. Again, I can’t overdo it given the talent each roster will have in this draft, but I simply had too many questions or doubts with the top options. I am thoroughly concerned that first base is going to be a problem for my team — and, actually, many teams — so I’ll fill the role with someone who can contribute in one category with ease. Mancini can regress elsewhere, but I’m banking on him not losing the power.
11.6: Liam Hendriks (RP – OAK)
I almost took him with my last pick, so I’ll make the move now. Hendriks carries the same risk as almost any other closer, but he’s flat-out talented enough to help my pitching staff. He’s my second closer, and I have no qualms about it.
Others Considered: Kenley Jansen
12.5: David Dahl (OF – COL)
I assume I could have gotten him one round later, but I have been driving the David Dahl hype train for too long to disembark now. While we all know the injury history, I needed an outfielder, and he’s in the ideal hitting environment. Even if he proves me wrong again, I didn’t pay enough for it to cripple my team.
13.6: Max Fried (SP – ATL)
I’m bitter. I’m actually mad at my mock draft counterparts. I wanted Zac Gallen here, and I was sniped. Serves me right. My two options, especially because I’d like a starting pitcher after four consecutive rounds without one, were Madison Bumgarner and Max Fried. I’ve always been a fan of Bumgarner, but Fried is actually the name value here with his hype slowly building. If I couldn’t get Gallen, I’d like the next best trade chip. Value can be found in many forms.
Others Considered: Madison Bumgarner
14.5: Lorenzo Cain (OF – MIL)
Once again, it looks like I’m prioritizing batting average and stolen bases, but I don’t see why Cain couldn’t be one of the top fantasy players. He’s clearly been battling injuries, but it hasn’t stopped him from running. At this point, he’s either destined for my injured list or is contributing to key categories.
15.6: Miguel Sano (1B/3B – MIN)
My first base plans hinged largely on drafting Sano in exactly this position. He could lead the league in home runs. Of course, he could lead the league in strikeouts, as well, but we’re thinking positive here. And the power he brings is a major positive. For the record, I would have been fine if he were my starting first baseman.
Others Considered: Julio Urias
16.5: Sean Manaea (SP – OAK)
I’d like another moment of silence, as my mock enemies sniped Julio Urias from my clutches. It hurts more because I wanted another pitcher here. I’ll go with another left-handed pitcher with an excellent prospect pedigree in Manaea. Still, I settled. Don’t tell Sean.
Others Considered: Luke Weaver
17.6: Franmil Reyes (OF – CLE)
I drafted Reyes in nearly every league last year. This time, I’m finding myself surprisingly opposed to investing heavily in the power bat. The Cleveland Indians disagreed with my current stance, and they could be the perfect fit for Reyes. He costs almost nothing and has as much potential this year as he did in 2019, so there’s no reason to pass on him.
18.5: Giovanny Gallegos (RP – STL)
Despite my early investment in pitching, I still find myself seeking more. I would have liked a clear-cut closer here and, while I can’t justify digging for one, I’ll take the support that Gallegos gives to my team anyway. If he closes, it’s a win-win.
19.6: Mitch Keller (SP – PIT)
I’m not getting burned again. I missed out on Gallen and Urias, but Keller is the true “sleeper” I want to own in every league. Although his bloated ERA has people ignoring the underlying metrics, I suspect that won’t last much longer. The savvy computers against which I am currently competing have already proven themselves worthy opponents. I wasn’t going to let them break my heart again.
20.5: Mychal Givens (RP – BAL)
I sighed heavily before settling on Givens with my next pick. Not only is his job always in jeopardy, but his team may never have a lead to save. Too harsh? Fine. Both games his team are leading in the ninth should go to him. There’s no guarantee he will deliver, but this is the depth I seek at the closer position.
21.6: Jon Gray (SP – COL)
It’s never easy to make the case for a Colorado Rockies pitcher, but Gray remains a high risk-reward option who is always undervalued. If he’s a complete disaster, then he’s an immediate candidate for release. If he can keep his strikeout rate high, he’s a nice sleeper.
22.5: Brendan McKay (SP – TB)
The prior few rounds were all about securing pitching depth, and this pick was no different. I continue to look for high upside arms that can’t hurt my team too severely if they fail. McKay is one of my key targets this year, even if he doesn’t deliver a full workload. He’ll be the last pitcher I draft — I need a catcher and some sort of backup middle infielder — so I’m looking purely for rate statistics.
Others Considered: Mike Foltynewicz
23.6: Dansby Swanson (SS – ATL)
In the same article that identified Moncada as a potential breakout, I also named Swanson. At nearly a 200-pick discount. This league is actually too shallow to roster Swanson and start him on a regular basis, but he’s both a depth piece and stash for the potential value I expect him to return. I don’t want to race to the waiver wire if he does blossom, and he provides some relief for Tatis.
24.5: Robinson Chirinos (C – TEX)
Nothing special to see here. The only two catchers I would have considered at any other point during the draft were Gary Sanchez and J.T. Realmuto, and neither were available at a time when I’d look to fill the roster spot. Especially in a 10-team league — where almost no one would carry a backup catcher — waiting until the last round is an easy decision. Best of the available options? Chirinos.
Others Considered: Any other catcher with a pulse
Not surprisingly, considering how I took a pitcher in the first round and tried to target high-rate contributors on the mound, my team ranks much higher in pitching than hitting. This also aligns with some of the individual picks I made that were solely focused on a player’s expected breakout. If Moncada, Castellanos, and Dahl give any more than their baselines, my team should only improve.
I did, however, continue to view my picks in pairs and compare what I had in a two-pick set to what ended up actually being available. This is the undeniable trend of a 10-team league. Even though I was picking in the middle, I would constantly couple consecutive picks together and determine if I made the right or wrong decision ( i.e. Cole and Tatis vs. Turner and Buehler) but always felt like I could recover.
Therein lies the beauty of a 10-team draft. As long as you budget the roster space properly — don’t load up on third basemen or other positions you can fill later — you can always find talent. The pool is that deep.