10-Team Mock Draft: Late Pick (2021 Fantasy Baseball)
Spring Training is underway, and drafts everywhere are either starting or being scheduled. March is draft month, and don’t ever let anyone tell you any different. I usually make the mistake of going on vacation in March, usually something like a cruise where I don’t have access to the internet for a week right before I draft multiple leagues. Due to COVID, that isn’t the case this year.
Which brings us to Mock Draft SZN. TGFBI kicked off their slow drafts today, and I have been simulating countless mock drafts while I wait using the FantasyPros Draft Wizard to try and predict how things are going to go. But industry drafts are always early. Most leagues are going to take place over the next few weeks. So, let’s take a look at a common format.
While many leagues are 12-teamers these days and others have expanded to the 15-team format, the 10-team format is still a popular one. This is especially true for friends and family leagues that are just trying to field as many competitive teams as possible. Rather than trying to find additional teams/managers that may or may not last, they end up cutting down to 10 teams.
Some fantasy analysts look down on 10-team leagues, but I think they present their own unique challenge. One of my longest-running home leagues is a 10-teamer, and it’s one of the most competitive leagues I’m in. Shallower leagues mean you have less room for mistakes because nearly every team is going to have a good roster. In this space, we’re going to follow a mock draft in a standard 5×5 league with the following rosters:
- 4 OF
- 9 P
- 5 Bench
I randomized the draft order and ended up with the 8th overall pick. Here are the results and analysis.
1.8: Christian Yelich (OF – MIL)
In deeper leagues, I have been focusing on pitchers early because there is a clear dropoff in pitching in 2021 after the top couple of tiers. But in a 10-team league, I decided to bet on the bounce-back from Yelich and get 5-category production in the first round. I considered Trea Turner here and feel many fantasy managers would have pulled the trigger on that speed, but I like Yelich’s upside more.
Other players considered: Shane Bieber, Trea Turner
2.3: Cody Bellinger (1B/OF – LAD)
Bieber, Turner, Jose Ramirez, and Trevor Story went with the next four picks, leaving me with a choice between Freddie Freeman, Bellinger, Bryce Harper, and Francisco Lindor. I debated going with Lindor because he has more upside with stolen bases, but I’m happy pairing Bellinger with Yelich to start my lineup.
Other players considered: Freddie Freeman, Bryce Harper, Francisco Lindor
3.08: Bo Bichette (SS – TOR)
I probably should have gone with a pitcher here, but I couldn’t resist pulling the trigger on Bichette and adding another 5-category producer to my lineup. And in a 10-team league, I’m confident that I still can grab a top-tier pitcher on the way back down in Round 4. But with Yelich, Bellinger, and Bichette to start off my lineup, I have three foundational players who will contribute across the board, so I don’t have to worry as much about chasing stolen bases later.
4.03: Clayton Kershaw (SP – LAD)
I was already long overdue to take a pitcher, and Jack Flaherty, my preferred target, went at 4.02 right before me. There were some other arms I was interested in still available, but Kershaw felt like the safest pick. Am I going to get 200 innings from him? No, probably not. But if I can get 160 elite innings, I’ll take that to anchor my staff. There were still a ton of good bats available, but if I didn’t take a top starter here I was risking missing out on an entire tier.
5.08: Tyler Glasnow (SP – TB)
I debated Glasnow and Blake Snell here, but the tie-breaker went to Glasnow because of strikeout upside and because I have Snell in a bunch of other leagues and wanted to limit my exposure. Does the latter really matter here? No, but it went into my thinking. I love Snell in San Diego, but Glasnow is going to post elite strikeout numbers even if he misses a few starts. I have now paired two pitchers I have in my top tier with three excellent foundational pieces to my lineup, and I feel great about where things stand after five rounds, even in a 10-team league.
Other players considered: Blake Snell
6.03: Yordan Alvarez (OF/DH – HOU)
Alvarez is only going to be eligible at UT in most leagues, but that’s fine. I’m drafting him for this elite upside at the plate, so I’ll stick him at UT most weeks. And if he gains eligibility at 1B at some point this season, even better. That will give me some flexibility with Bellinger possibly moving to my outfield some weeks. But Alvarez presents legitimate 50 home run and .300 average potential here in the sixth round. If he can prove he is healthy, this is a first-round bat at pick 53. I thought for a brief moment about getting out ahead of the run on closers by taking Josh Hader, but I’m confident that I can find plenty of closers in the later rounds in a shallow league like this. And I was intrigued by the thought of Alvarez taking groundballs at first base this Spring.
Other players considered: Josh Hader, Stephen Strasburg
7.08: Stephen Strasburg (SP – WAS)
I debated taking Strasburg last round, so I was happy to find him here in the seventh. There are some real injury concerns here because of the nerve issues he dealt with last season that eventually required surgery, but that’s baked into the price here. As with Kershaw, I’m not expecting 200 innings here. But if I can get another 160+ innings and 200 strikeouts with a solid ERA, I could have three Top 15 starting pitchers that I was able to grab in rounds four, five, and seven.
8.03: Keston Hiura (2B – MIL)
As with Strasburg, I debated taking Hiura the round before and was happy to see him fall to me here. Hiura is falling in drafts because of an awful 2020, but he still managed to hit 13 home runs last season despite batting .212 and striking out a ton. I’m not banking on him batting .303 again, as he did in 2019, but I think he bounces back in a big way and provides 30 HR/10 SB potential with a solid average. And he is going to be eligible at both 2B and 1B this season, two of the shallower positions in 2021.
9.08: Paul Goldschmidt (1B – STL)
This feels like a boring pick, but it also felt like a safe pick after taking a couple of big swings. With Nolan Arenado in the same lineup and Dylan Carlson poised to take that next big step, the Cardinals should have a deeper lineup in 2021. 2020 was a mess, especially for the Cardinals. It felt like they were shut down forever at one point in 2020, and it was impressive that he was still able to bat .304, even if he only hit six home runs. This move also gives me even more depth at a weak position and allows me to slide Bellinger to the outfield.
10.03: Ryan Mountcastle (1B/OF – BAL)
This is early for Mountcastle, but I don’t care. I want him on my team. I need him on my team. And I wasn’t sure he would make it back to me. A handful of closers have already gone, and I’m expecting a run that I am going to sit out. I debated going Ian Anderson here, who I also love this season, but I really wanted to add Mountcastle’s bat to my lineup. I’d rather be a round early than a round late, so I’m shooting my shot and taking my guy.
Other players considered: Ian Anderson, James Karinchak
11.08: Chris Paddack (SP – SD)
I considered going with Alec Bohm or Matt Chapman to fill my third base hole here, but I felt that the likelihood of an arm like Paddack coming back to me next round was less than a decent bat. I have some concerns about Paddack after last season, but I’m comfortable taking him as my SP4 here. The Padres are deep and are going to win a lot of games, and I’m betting on Paddack turning things around after he looked off in 2020.
Other players considered: Alec Bohm, Matt Chapman
12.03: Matt Chapman (3B – OAK)
Both Bohm and Chapman made it back to me in this round, but I decided to go with power upside in Chapman. I love Bohm as a prospect, but I worry in redraft that he is a year away from his true breakout, at least in terms of power. And with how I have built my lineup so far, I’m happy to grab the 30+ home run potential.
Other players considered: Alec Bohm, Alex Verdugo
13.08: Kirby Yates (RP – TOR)
Yates is getting up there in age and is coming off an injury, but he’s the closer in Toronto. I have sat out the run on closers for this long, but I don’t want to wait any longer and have to worry about chasing saves too much throughout the season, so I’ll grab my first reliever here.
14.03: Trevor Rosenthal (RP – OAK)
I have some concerns about Rosenthal, but we’re in the 14th round. I have concerns about everyone here. The important thing is that he appears to be the undisputed closer in Oakland, so I double-dip on closers here after sitting out the initial run.
Other players considered: Marcus Semien, Alex Verdugo
15.08: Tommy Edman (2B/3B/SS/OF – STL)
Tommy Edman is the perfect utility bat to add here in the 15th round, as he has a ton of eligibility and offers legit 15/20+ potential and should hit for a decent average. Guys who can chip in 20+ steals are hard to find, especially in the 15th round and especially if they won’t hurt you in other categories.
16.03: Marcus Semien (SS – TOR)
I’m not usually a huge fan of taking players without a spot in the lineup before filling out most of my roster, but I’ve been staring at Semien for a few rounds now. His price is cheap after a down year, but a potential bounce-back and SS/2B eligibility have me intrigued. Add in the fact that he is moving to more hitter-friendly confines, especially with the Blue Jays opening the year in Dunedin, and this is a worthwhile gamble.
17.08: Triston McKenzie (SP – CLE)
Needed to add another arm, and I love McKenzie’s upside. Most projections have him penciled in for an ERA above 4.00, but I see him being closer to 3.50 to go with a K/9 of above 9.00. I’m probably not getting 150 innings out of McKenzie, but I should get 150 strikeouts.
18.03: Jordan Hicks (RP – STL)
This is a big swing, but I’m banking on Hicks returning to form and claiming the ninth-inning job in St. Louis. If both of those things happen, this is a steal and a potential category winner. I considered safer picks like Rafael Montero or Matt Barnes for early save opportunities, but I wanted to take a bigger swing here.
Other players considered: Rafael Montero, Matt Barnes
19.08: James Paxton (SP – SEA)
Paxton is out of New York and back in Seattle, but injury concerns remain. But if he is back to form, there is 200 strikeout upside here. Is that likely? No. But Paxton is just a year removed from a season in which he threw 151 1/3 innings and struck out 186 batters with a 3.82 ERA despite pitching in the AL East. Paxton is someone I am taking late in a ton of leagues this season because of the built-in discount thanks to his injury concerns.
Other players considered: Jorge Soler, Sean Manaea
20.03: Victor Robles (OF – WSH)
I love getting Robles and the potential for stolen bases on my bench here in the 20th round. The Statcast data for Robles hasn’t been great, but this is a former top prospect who is turning just 24 years old this season. Even if he never reaches his full potential as a 5-category star, he still possesses the ability to steal 20+ bases and hit 15 or so home runs. That’s free money at 20.03.
21.08: Nate Pearson (SP – TOR)
This is another late-round dart throw at a player with upside. Pearson touches 100 MPH with his fastball, and he has the potential to be a legitimate power pitcher in the league. If this is a miss, it’s a minimal cost to me. But if this is a hit, it’s a potential league-winner.
Other players considered: Justin Turner, Griffin Canning
22.03: Max Kepler (OF – MIN)
Kepler is another player who had a down 2020, but he hit 36 home runs in 2019. Am I expecting that kind of production again? No, but he did swat nine home runs in 48 games in 2020, even if it did come with a .228 average. But as a reserve outfielder, this was an easy decision in round 22.
Other players considered: Justin Turner, Trey Mancini
23.08: Yadier Molina (C – STL)
At some point, I have to draft a catcher, and that time is now. Even at his age, Molina is still the perfect replacement-level catcher. I am probably going to replace him or stream someone else at some point during the season, but that’s fine. And if Molina plays the entire season for me and bats .260 with 15 home runs, 100 combined RBI and runs scored, and a couple of stolen bases, that’s fine too. I’m looking more for a catcher who won’t hurt my team, and Molina fits that mold.
Other players considered: Trey Mancini, Nick Madrigal
24.03: Trey Mancini (1B/OF – BAL)
Keeping with my general theme, Mancini is a late-round lottery ticket. He missed the 2020 season after being diagnosed with cancer, but he’s back and looking to build off of his breakout 2019 campaign. If he can get anywhere close to that production, this is a slam dunk pick. And if he looks lost through the first two months, then I’ll just drop him and move on.
Other players considered: Nick Madrigal, Jose Leclerc
I was likely penalized in these standings because of some of those big swings I took, but that’s fine. Anyone can play it conservative and hope to end up in the middle of the pack. Hitting on a couple of those big swings late in a draft is how you win a league.
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy baseball, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Baseball Tools as you navigate your season. From our Lineup Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy baseball season.
Mike Maher is an editor and featured writer at FantasyPros and BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive, follow him on Twitter @MikeMaher, and visit his Philadelphia Eagles blog, The Birds Blitz.