12-Team Mock Draft (Middle Pick) (Fantasy Baseball 2020)
One of the biggest benefits of repeatedly conducting mock drafts is in determining how to handle the first and second-round picks. As we get deeper into the draft, we can deviate from the average draft position with greater frequency, but many of our opponents will stick to a script early. In a 12-team league, it’s important to practice from each draft slot.
I have written about drafting early, with the third pick — where I take the remainder of Mike Trout, Ronald Acuna Jr., and Christian Yelich — and I have conducted both a 10-team mock draft and a fake, “Perfect Draft,” from the sixth slot. Here, I’ll be staying in the middle, but falling one slot to the seventh pick. I will also force myself to not take a pitcher in this position, as I have that outcome covered in the aforementioned articles.
Drafting seventh, the pre-draft strategy I would like to utilize is as follows:
- Force myself to not jump at the top pitcher in the first round. I have to trust that a good SP will be available in the second round.
- Draft a catcher if one falls to me, but don’t reach for one.
- Take the top closer, if possible.
- Assuming my first pick has speed, I have to target power in the next few rounds.
- Because I won’t be selecting a pitcher in the first round, I might move my sleeper pitcher targets up a little more than I would normally.
The lineup of this 12-team draft is C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 3 OF, UTIL, 5 SP, 3 RP, 5 BN, and was conducted using FantasyPros’ Draft Simulator.
1.7: Trea Turner (SS – WSH)
By all accounts, Trea Turner is a reach at seven. This doesn’t mean that it’s the wrong pick. He’s a reach in the sense that he should be selected a few spots later, but it’s quite clear that I wouldn’t be able to draft him at that point. If I’m passing on a pitcher — as I’m forcing myself to do here — then I want someone who is elite at something. That Turner is arguably the best base-stealing threat who also contributes elsewhere is the perfect use of that “something.” There’s also the possibility that Turner erupts into one of the league’s better hitters. He has been bursting with potential for quite some time.
2.6: Walker Buehler (SP – LAD)
In my other mock drafts, I mentioned how tempting it was to take a hitter in the first round and Walker Buehler in the second, but I couldn’t trust that Buehler would be available to me. Here, I took the chance, and I am thrilled with the outcome. Even before Justin Verlander’s injury, I was including Buehler in the upper tier of pitchers for this upcoming season — and I quietly rank him third behind Gerrit Cole and Jacob deGrom. Inning-for-inning, Buehler is one of the best in the game, and, with age on his side, it’s possible that we haven’t yet seen his best.
Others Considered: J.D. Martinez
3.7: Yordan Alvarez (OF – HOU)
I wanted power, and Yordan Alvarez has it. In other drafts in which I have drafted Turner, I often pair him with Alvarez. Indeed, we might be looking at a regression, but it’s unlikely that the power disappears — it was his calling card in the minor leagues as well. There was concern that he wouldn’t be fully healthy for Opening Day, but the delay of the year should give him extra time to recover. Even if the season were to start on time, there’s too much of a bright future for the second-year player.
Others Considered: George Springer
4.6: Clayton Kershaw (SP – LAD)
I used to advocate for taking Clayton Kershaw with a top-five pick in each of the last few years, but it’s clear that his health has caused a decline in production. The good news is that it has also caused a decline in the cost to acquire him. Kershaw may have limited appearances — or, at least, not go as deep into games as he had in the past — but he remains outstanding on a per-inning basis. I keep promising that I will wait on pitching, but it becomes too scarce too quickly and Kershaw sliding in as my fourth-best player is a gift.
5.7: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3B – TOR)
This was an unintended victory. I refused to pass on the value of Kershaw in the fourth round, and I knew that it might cost me an important bat. Not true. I landed on Vladimir Guerrero Jr. who, after a relatively disappointing rookie season, still has the potential to become a superstar at any minute. It’s also key to note that the aforementioned “disappointment” was due to the hype attached to Guerrero. It’s still there, but it’s severely decreased. As was his price.
6.6: Josh Hader (RP – MIL)
I have not landed on Josh Hader in a single draft until now, and it’s simply a matter of value in the right places. I wanted to take the top closer, and I normally target Aroldis Chapman. Hader is basically a clean swap for Chapman, and I’ll never argue with the strikeout potential he brings. The only trepidation is in the fear that the Milwaukee Brewers move Hader around a bit more than another team would with their closer, but it hardly matters. Hader will deliver no matter where he pitches.
Others Considered: Noah Syndergaard
7.7: Yoan Moncada
Suddenly, selecting Vladimir Guerrero Jr. as my starting third baseman isn’t as perfect. It’s not because of Guerrero, but because I have Yoan Moncada sitting on the draft board, and I can’t fight the urge to take the plunge. I am drafting Moncada wherever possible, even if he becomes my utility player. He has all the makings of an important fantasy piece, regardless of where he’ll slot into my lineup, and I’ll gladly make room.
Others Considered: Tyler Glasnow
8.6: Marcell Ozuna (OF – ATL)
I’m drafting solely on need here. I have found myself lacking power in too many drafts in which I pass on the home runs early. I have Alvarez, but it won’t be enough. Of the available options, Marcell Ozuna isn’t my favorite target, but he should provide enough pop in a solid Atlanta Braves lineup to cover my weakness. My other strong consideration was Shohei Ohtani, but filling my utility position with either Moncada or Guerrero leaves my options limited. If this were a real draft in which Ohtani operates as both in a daily league, he would be long gone. Probably to me.
9.7: Rhys Hoskins (1B – PHI)
I’ll be sticking with power, even though the pull to take another pitcher is strong. I am, however, finding myself in the group of pitchers I don’t normally love, and this pocket forms after the premium has been paid for the top arms with the sleepers on deck. By nature, discounts are starting to become more common, and they first appear with hitters. Rhys Hoskins had a sophomore season to forget, but I’m targeting him for the power that was still respectable. The home runs will be there, and any boost in his batting average will make him well-worth the ninth-round investment.
Others Considered: Zack Wheeler
10.6: Zac Gallen (SP – ARI)
I was having heart palpitations letting so many pitchers go over the past few rounds, and I had to stabilize my heart rate by also stabilizing my pitching staff. And, on the topic of “heart,” Zac Gallen has mine. He’s the sleeper I have been targeting earliest in drafts, and I have no hesitation taking him in the tenth round. My team eventually needs starting pitching, and it will start to fill with high-end upside arms. Gallen is the first.
11.7: David Dahl (OF – COL)
Like so many of the viable hitting options from the Colorado Rockies, David Dahl simply has to stay healthy long enough for us to see if he can develop into the high-end hitter many of us believe is possible. It’s only a matter of time before he falls off the map entirely, and he is already suffering greatly in the world of perception by sitting undrafted in the eleventh round. He’ll be my third outfielder and has tremendous potential. Unfortunately, I’ve written about Dahl’s “potential” for too long to be comfortable. I’ll quickly forget these concerns if he hits.
12.6: Matthew Boyd (SP – DET)
This mock draft is starting to look vastly different from the rest I have done. Normally, I have my pitching staff locked in with two solid arms and can build around them with risk-reward options. Here, I find myself passing on the high-risk players in lieu of a higher floor. Enter Matthew Boyd. Drafting Boyd essentially translates to giving up the possibility of wins from one starting pitcher, but it also locks in strikeouts — hence the high floor. I’m also carefully targeting a higher ceiling with Boyd. If the Detroit Tigers surprise in any way, or if Boyd becomes the coveted arm at the Trade Deadline, he might also contribute wins. That would be nice from a pitcher likely to deliver at least one strikeout-per-inning.
13.7: Nick Anderson (RP – TB)
If my team has one area under control, it’s the rate statistics for my pitching staff. My ERA and WHIP should be excellent, but this now puts me in a position where I don’t want to sacrifice it for other categories. I do need a closer, though, and this forces my hand. I would normally like a more stable role than Nick Anderson’s, but he is currently the closer for the Tampa Bay Rays and has the ERA and WHIP I would like to maintain. I’ll trade a lower number of saves for better ratios.
14.6: Giovanny Gallegos (RP – STL)
I can basically copy-and-paste everything from Nick Anderson’s writeup and apply it to Giovanny Gallegos. Gallegos might get even fewer save chances than Anderson, but I have to focus on the areas in which he would contribute. I am soon going to turn back to chasing wins, so I want my rate statistics in as good a place as possible. Gallegos helps me achieve this will also adding some saves.
Others Considered: Andrew Heaney
15.7: Andrew Heaney (SP – LAA)
Now I can take Andrew Heaney. Doing so directly speaks to the discounts I mentioned earlier. Enough teams were filling their pitcher slots early, and it means that no one player is a direct need. Heaney is a quiet breakout candidate on a team that might finally compete — with a new manager and the best player in the league. Heaney has had exactly one season in which he threw at least 110 innings, but, if we get an abbreviated year, the starts he would otherwise miss might not be replayed. His per-inning potential being as high as it is, Heaney is a relative steal for a team needing cheap wins. Like mine.
Others Considered: Ryan McMahon
16.6: Will Smith (C – LAD)
I’ll take the chance here. I wrote in my pre-draft notes that I do not want to reach for any catcher, but I do see value in Will Smith for my team that currently lacks enough power. Smith won’t challenge for the home run title, but has developed as one of the better hitting catchers and should not sink my team in any category except batting average. That’s more than I can say about other catching options, who will also drain the batting average of my lineup.
Others Considered: Ryan McMahon
17.7: Mitch Keller (SP – PIT)
It’s time to call upon my other favorite sleeper mainstay. Mitch Keller is now a member of basically every draft I have done, and I don’t see that changing. Since I have to turn back to hitters for the foreseeable future, I wanted to lock up another strikeout pitcher. Keller was almost certainly not going to give a full workload for this upcoming season, so, like Heaney, he might benefit if fewer games are on the schedule. If anything, he won’t lose value.
Others Considered: Gavin Lux
18.6: Gavin Lux (2B – LAD)
I would have liked more power than what I expect Gavin Lux will provide, and batting toward the bottom of the order won’t help me fall in love with this pick. Still, Lux has enough upside at a weak position where he can return tremendous value in the eighteenth round. If I can back him up with another decent hitter, I will, but otherwise, I’m relying on Lux to be my everyday second baseman.
Others Considered: Mychal Givens
19.7: Justin Upton (OF – LAA)
I keep writing about how much I need power, so it would be unwise to ignore Justin Upton because of his age. Which is exactly what it seems like other fantasy owners — including me, in the past — are doing. Upton only played 63 games in 2019, but he reached at least 145 in each of the prior seven seasons. It’s difficult to get consistency like that from any player, let alone a bench option in the nineteenth round. The fact that he hit at least 30 home runs in each of the three seasons before last year makes him the perfect fit for my power-hungry team.
Others Considered: Bryan Reynolds
20.6: Khris Davis (DH – OAK)
If it’s power I want, then it’s Khris Davis for my roster. We all know the tradeoff. If I take Davis for his home runs, then I concede the batting average. At this point in the draft, I’m making the trade.
Others Considered: Rougned Odor
21.7: Joey Votto (1B – CIN)
As the phrase goes, I “robbed Peter to pay Paul.” I made the trade of batting average for power and it could hurt my team. Therefore, I’m taking the opposite approach with my next pick in hedging the batting average decline. Indeed, Joey Votto is also a risk — and also a “decline,” in his own right — but Votto and Davis are two of my bench players that will slide into my lineup accordingly. The real value is that Votto could return to prominence with home runs. If that happens, he’ll see my starting lineup more than Davis. I also needed to nab a backup for Hoskins.
Others Considered: Rougned Odor
22.6: Steven Matz (SP – NYM)
I put myself in a position where I had to fill my bench with hitters until I felt comfortable that my team’s holes were filled. That’s going to leave me with only one pitcher on my bench, so it would be wise to land on one with a high ceiling. Therein lies the value of Steven Matz. He had spent the first three years of this career battling injuries, but he has now turned in back-to-back 30-start seasons. He’ll have games in which he is a complete disaster, but he’ll also have enough gems to be a positive contribution over the course of a full season. Matz is a perfect flier with a late-round pick.
Others Considered: Sandy Alcantara
I’ll be completely honest. I don’t love this team. However, that doesn’t mean it’s bad.
I actively like taking risks because I know where I can trade one value for another still within the confines of the draft. I know my sleepers, I know their values, and I know how to offset the risk associated with them. In this particular mock draft, I took fewer risks because of how I started.
Drafting Trea Turner in the first round was the risk. It’s a pick that could pay huge dividends even if the rest of my team is mediocre. But the pick needed help. It needed me to exhibit restraint in other areas. Which I did, and I didn’t like it.
Both the projections and the rational side of my brain have no issues with the overall package of this team. It has a better bench than I normally draft — it was built to offset other weaknesses — and it would be a good problem if I couldn’t get them into my lineup.