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12-Team Early Mock Draft: Pitching Heavy (2021 Fantasy Baseball)

Feb 20, 2021

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In this mock, I will hammer pitching early and often. Then I’ll see what kind of offense I can piece together after taking care of my pitching staff.

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Positions: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 3 OF, UTIL, 7 SP, 4 RP
Categories: R, HR, RBI, SB, AVG, W, SV, K, ERA, WHIP
My pick: 5th of 12

1.5: Jacob deGrom (SP – NYM)
The top four players drafted were all hitters, leaving me to pick whichever starter I liked best. That man for 2021 is deGrom after Gerrit Cole showed a bit of trouble controlling the home run in his first year with the Yankees. The Mets have bulked up their offense, which is great news for deGrom, so he’s a small step ahead of Cole in my book.

Others Considered: Gerrit Cole (SP – NYY)

2.8: Yu Darvish (SP – SD)
Snagging Darvish in the second round gave me two of my top-five starters, which sets me up amazingly in all pitching categories. Darvish has been an elite ace since the middle of 2019, and pairing him with deGrom gives me an awesome chance at banking the NL Cy Young Award winner.

Others Considered: Walker Buehler (SP – LAD)

3.5: Adalberto Mondesi (SS – KC)
I plan on taking four starting pitchers with my first seven picks, which will absolutely put me behind the pace in offense. Drafting Mondesi immediately sends me to the top of the list in stolen bases, which is 20% of the offensive categories, so that makes a lot of sense with this team build.

Others Considered: Alex Bregman (3B – HOU)

4.8: Brandon Woodruff (SP – MIL)
Man, I love Woodruff this year. He was one of the best pitchers in the league last year, and he gets a ton of strikeouts and ground balls, which is awesome for his floor. This felt like a complete steal in the second half of Round 4.

Others Considered: Zac Gallen (SP – ARI)

5.5: George Springer (OF – TOR)
To piece together a somewhat competitive offense, I’m focusing on hitters who significantly stand out in one category. Springer fits that bill for runs, as the Blue Jays should score a ton this year with Springer at the top of the lineup. He also has the potential to hit 40 homers if he can stay healthy, as he’s hit 53 homers over 173 games in the last two seasons.

Others Considered: Aaron Judge (OF – NYY)

6.8: J.D. Martinez (DH – BOS)
The DH-only eligibility is tough to take, but I’m potentially getting a top-10 fantasy hitter in Round 6 if Martinez can bounce back. With this strategy, it’s important to get hitters like Martinez who can crush their draft price.

Others Considered: Yordan Alvarez (DH – HOU)

7.5: Hyun-Jin Ryu (SP – TOR)
I have a ton of strikeouts already with deGrom, Darvish, and Woodruff. That made it sensible to take a lower-strikeout, but safe option for wins and ERA. Ryu fits that bill well, though it was tempting to go for the huge upside of Corbin Burnes.

Others Considered: Corbin Burnes (SP – MIL)

8.8: Teoscar Hernandez (OF – TOR)
I may be a bit over-exposed to the Blue Jays now, but I love Hernandez’s raw power and RBI upside if he slots into the four or five-spot. He’ll also steal some bases, which is nice to find this late in the draft.

Others Considered: Matt Chapman (3B – OAK)

9.5: Matt Chapman (3B – OAK)
My last pick was between Hernandez and Chapman, and I was lucky enough to bank both of them. Chapman should be a solid homer and RBI contributor while hitting for a decent batting average.

Others Considered: Edwin Diaz (RP – NYM)

10.8: Jesus Luzardo (SP – OAK)
Two picks without an SP had me feeling nervous, so I went back to the well with Luzardo here. He is probably one of the worst bets for 180 innings this year, but I’ll take his upside with whatever innings he can give me this late in the draft.

Others Considered: Carlos Correa (SS – HOU)

11.5: Nick Madrigal (2B – CHW)
I’m a bit of a Madrigal truther, and this might very well have been too early to take him. However, I was in desperate need of a batting average boost, and I had yet to grab a second baseman.

Others Considered: Dominic Smith (1B – NYM)

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12.8: Nick Anderson (RP – TB)
Given my light hitting, I probably need to project well in saves. A bunch of relievers had already gone off the board. While Anderson isn’t the best option for saves, he feels like a super safe pick to dominate out of the bullpen.

Others Considered: Dominic Smith (1B – NYM)

13.5: Dominic Smith (1B – NYM)
You can see I’d considered Smith in the last two picks because of my need for a first baseman, and he fell to me here in Round 13. He likely won’t play 150 games this year, especially if the NL loses the designated hitter, but he should be a solid contributor in an improved Mets lineup.

14.8: Michael Brantley (OF – HOU)
I’m well behind in homers and batting average, but I elected to go with average here. Brantley seems slightly undervalued this year, even though he’s done nothing but get base hits his entire Astros career.

Others Considered: Franmil Reyes (DH – CLE)

15.5: Rafael Montero (RP – SEA)
It’s time to spend a couple of picks on boring closers. I don’t like to do it, but I really need to be competitive in saves with this team build.

Others Considered: Matt Barnes (RP – BOS)

16.8: Franmil Reyes (DH – CLE)
Reyes is another DH-only hitter, which locks up my two utility spots, but he may re-gain outfield eligibility during the season. He can absolutely hit 40 bombs, which catches me up a bit in that category.

Others Considered: Josh Bell (1B – WAS)

17.5: Triston McKenzie (SP – CLE)
McKenzie is a high-upside starter on a team that knows how to develop pitching. He’s a pretty strong SP6 for my squad.

Others Considered: Richard Rodriguez (RP – PIT)

18.8: Hector Neris (RP – PHI)
All of the set-in-stone closers are gone, but I think Neris will get a good share of the Phillies’ save chances despite the Archie Bradley addition.

Others Considered:

19.5: Sean Murphy (C – OAK)
There aren’t many catchers with raw power like Murphy has. When taking a catcher, I try to get someone who can excel in one category. Murphy fits that bill.

Others Considered: Christian Walker (1B – ARI)

20.8 Christian Walker (1B – ARI)
I needed another 1B with Smith likely to sit one or two days per week. Walker is a great value this late in the draft.

Others Considered: Josh Donaldson (3B – MIN)

21.5 Griffin Canning (SP – LAA)
I really like Canning’s stuff, even though this looks like a six-man rotation, and he’s struggled to stay on the field. I’ll nevertheless take the strikeout upside here to finish out my rotation.

Others Considered: Sean Manaea (SP – OAK)

22.8 Archie Bradley (RP – PHI)
Why not pair Neris with Bradley and get all of those Phillies saves?

Others Considered: Jose Leclerc (RP – TEX)


My offense grades out terribly, projecting to finish fifth in steals and ninth or 10th in everything else. I come in nicely in pitching, ranking first in WHIP, second in ERA, but dead last in saves. All of that earned me a weak C+ grade, a team not projected to finish in the top half.

It does feel nice to have a few aces on your team, but it puts a lot of pressure on you to find breakout hitters. I wouldn’t recommend this strategy this year since starting pitching is sure to be a bit weird.

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Jon Anderson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Jon, check out his archive and follow him @JonPgh.

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