Early 2021 Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft: Categories
It’s January. You know what that means.
Baseball is right around the corner, and while we are year-round here at FantasyPros in our coverage, we are really getting you ready to dominate your draft and season with our daily content leading up to the first pitch of the season.
One of the cool features that we have here that we’ve really highlighted the past few years is our mock draft simulator. It’s straightforward and quick to use, so check it out.
I used the simulator to put together a 12-team mock draft for categories, using traditional 5×5 scoring.
I randomized the draft order, and I ended up with the sixth pick, which was … fine. There is a clear top 5, so I could have gone in any direction.
You’ll see how my team ended up, and you can view a complete pick-by-pick breakdown of the entire draft here.
1.6: Jacob deGrom (SP – NYM)
There is a clear top 5 in fantasy drafts this year. Not in any order, but the players you’ll see there are pretty planted in. That made the pick at six difficult because a handful of players would have been a fine pick here. Since it’s a mock draft, I wanted to try a different strategy from what I typically do, so I started with not only an ace pitcher but the ace pitcher that you want this year. deGrom was the pick, as he’s been the most consistent pitcher over the past four years for fantasy.
2.7: Walker Buehler (SP – LAD)
If we are going in a different direction with our first pick, why not continue it with pick No. 2? Buehler has had workload and injury concerns, but he has No. 1 overall pitcher potential, and he’s a top 5 pitcher for me on the season. He and deGrom give me the best 1-2 punch in the league, and they allow me to focus on hitting with my next few picks.
3.6: Ozzie Albies (2B – ATL)
I knew I was going hitter here, and while positional scarcity is mainly a myth, I still wanted to get my top second baseman on the board with Albies. We still haven’t seen the full potential of Albies come to fruition yet.
4.7: DJ LeMahieu (1B/2B/3B – NYY)
LeMahieu, in the second round, I can’t get behind. LeMahieu in the third round, I’m fine with. LeMahieu in the fourth round, I’m in love with. He just signed a fresh contract that will keep him in New York (it won’t age well, but who cares about that), which should keep his production at the near-MVP level. The multi-position eligibility is huge, too.
Other players considered: Corey Seager, Yordan Álvarez
5.6: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (1B/3B – TOR)
MVP Vlady is going to be so fun. No, one picture shouldn’t change your mind, but it’s nice to see him taking his offseason conditioning seriously. Guerrero has best-player-in-the-league potential still, and he just has to get the launch angle up. He still hits the piss out of the ball. The breakout is happening, so sit back and enjoy.
6.7: Brandon Woodruff (SP – MIL)
Two aces just aren’t enough, so I wanted to add the somehow still overlooked Woodruff to my team. Woodruff utilized his changeup more in 2020, and the continued improvement with that pitch and limiting runs the third time through will allow him to be a clear-cut top 10 pitcher.
7.6: Trent Grisham (OF – SD)
While I love my hitters and my team so far, not having an outfielder when I need five of them at this point in the draft puts me behind there. Still, this is lower than Grisham should go, as the 2020 breakout was completely legit. Hitting in that San Diego lineup will only boost his counting numbers more.
8.7: Hyun Jin Ryu (SP – TOR)
I should have taken another bat here instead of my fourth pitcher, but I couldn’t pass up the value here of Ryu, who is still somehow being underdrafted even after showing he can dominate the American League East. I like this pick for Wins, WHIP, and ERA, and my other three pitchers will more than makeup for the lack of strikeouts for Ryu.
Other players considered: Zach Plesac, Edwin Díaz
9.6: Tommy Pham (OF – SD)
While I was out on Pham last year, I’m fine with him here in the ninth round. Let’s face it – I’m lacking in speed so far, so I need to get some stolen base potential so I don’t have to punt it purely. Pham is healthy and should bounce back to being an OF2-3 for fantasy managers.
10.7: James Karinchak (RP – CLE)
Want to know how this is a mock draft? I took a closer. Want to know why this is a mock draft to help the readers? I took a closer. Look, usually taking a closer in a regular draft turns out to be a wasted pick, but we need saves eventually. This is a fine spot to take your top closer, and Karinchak actually fell further than expected.
11.6: Jeff McNeil (2B/OF – NYM)
No fantasy sport shows recency bias like fantasy baseball. And it’s been on full display after a third of a regular season in 2020 like never before. Getting McNeil in this spot is a fantastic value, and it gives me the average boost I need.
12.7: Carlos Correa (SS – HOU)
Look, Correa may not be the Alex Rodriguez clone that many projected him to be, but he’s a damn good player still when he’s healthy. This feels like a pure steal here.
Other players considered: Will Smith, Víctor Robles
13.6: Willson Contreras (C – CHC)
Like closers, drafting a catcher before my last pick is something I don’t often do – especially in one-catcher leagues. The value with Contreras here made too much sense, though. Plus, barring injury, I won’t have to play the streaming game there, and I get plus-production at the position.
14.7: Joe Musgrove (SP – PIT)
There’s no doubt about it. I’m ready to get hurt again. Musgrove does just enough each year to pull us back in on him. The foundation that I built with my rotation early on allows me to take some chances with high-upside picks in the middle rounds.
Other players considered: Sandy Alcántara, Dustin May
15.6: Nick Solak (2B/3B/OF – TEX)
Are you looking for this year’s Trent Grisham? Look no further than Solak. It’s the last chance to acquire him for a low price in dynasty leagues.
16.7: David Price (SP – LAD)
Truth be told, I’ve done about 20 drafts so far – mocks and real – and I have Price in 80 percent of those leagues. He’s been a forgotten man after sitting out the 2020 season, but he’s a consistent veteran to add to the staff and gets a boost leaving the AL East.
17.6: Dylan Moore (SS/2B/OF – SEA)
There’s a lot to like about Moore’s profile, but we have to be skeptical of a late-career breakout. But we need speed on this team, so we’ll roll the dice at this point in the draft.
18.7: Marcus Stroman (SP – NYM)
Another pitcher being overlooked after sitting out last season is Stroman. He’s more valuable in points leagues, but in 2021, we need pitchers who can give us innings. Stroman will do that, plus he’s added a new pitch that we need to keep an eye out for.
19.6 Clint Frazier (OF – NYY)
The Yankees have always found reasons not to play Frazier, but he broke out last year in a big way. The lineup is loaded, and as long as he can be respectable in the outfield, Frazier should have regular at-bats. We’ll take that gamble in the 19th round.
20.7: Mark Canha (1B/OF – OAK)
Old man Canha was a late-career breakout in 2019 who carried over positive value in 2020. Yet, he’s still going later in drafts than he should. Even if he regresses (it’s likely, given his age), there’s positive value in the 20th round.
21.6: Jameson Taillon (SP – PIT)
Taillon is on track to start Spring Training on time as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery. He has SP2-SP3 upside, but you’ll have to be patient with him in the first couple of months of the season.
Other players considered: Jo Adell, Elieser Hernández
22.7: Elieser Hernández (SP – MIA)
Death. Taxes. Leaving the draft with Hernández. Hernández is my favorite sleeper pitcher this year, thanks to his lights out slider. Will he be an ace this year? No, not at all. Will he be a top 50 pitcher? I’m buying into it.
Other players considered: Austin Hayes, Wander Franco
23.6: Austin Hays (OF – BAL)
Hays finally got his shot in Baltimore last year, and he impressed in a big way. He was a highly-touted fantasy prospect a couple of years ago, so this could be the last chance to acquire him on the low.
Other players considered: Wander Franco, Willie Calhoun
24.7: Wander Franco (SS – TB)
In a regular draft without a minor league spot, you can afford to take one prospect depending on your team’s makeup. Franco is the top prospect in the league, and he has Mookie Betts upside.
Other players considered: Willie Calhoun, Archie Bradley
25.6: Jordan Hicks (RP – STL)
I really wanted Bradley here after he signed with the Phillies, but I was a round too late. Hicks is a good consolation prize, though.
26.7: Nate Lowe (1B – TEX)
#FreeNateLowe is finally a thing, as the Rangers acquired him this offseason to give him everyday at-bats. He’s the ideal corner infielder with top 12 potential at the position. Expect his cost to rise as we get closer to March.
Other players considered: Richard Rodriguez, Taijuan Walker
27.6: Taijuan Walker (SP – FA)
Walker was really, really good last year in his one-year redemption season after coming back from Tommy John surgery. He was a consistent starter for the Blue Jays down the stretch, and it will be interesting to see which team signs him.
28.7: Nick Senzel (OF – CIN)
Injuries have really derailed the promising career of Senzel, but the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 draft still has the potential to be a fantasy difference-maker. He’s a nice end-of-draft lottery ticket.
Other players considered: N/A
In all, I’m really happy and excited about this team if I were to play it out. The draft analyzer gave me a B+ (88/100), which I think is fair, given the lack of steals I have on my team. They projected me third overall, which is fair.
There were few instances where I regret taking one player over the other player, but looking back, I could have taken someone like Turner or Trevor Story in the first round to give me a steals boost, seeing how my rotation ended up.
This team can compete, and there are few true risks on it. Being able to stream or acquire steals would be a must for me to win the entire league.
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