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Early Mock Draft with Early Pick (2022 Fantasy Baseball)

by Andrew Gould | @andrewgould4 | Featured Writer
Jan 19, 2022
Trea Turner MLB

Trea Turner is the perfect five-category star to build your team around in a 2022 fantasy baseball draft.

FantasyPros’ Draft Simulator is up and running for the 2022 fantasy baseball season. With that, drafters have found their new best friend for the next two months.

Some managers crave the real thing, chasing tangible stakes to test their wits against motivated competitors. Those drafters have already jumped into the NFBC waters, providing the offseason’s first ADP reference point. Of course, not everyone has the time, patience, interest, or money to test their strategies in multiple high-stakes leagues.

That makes the Draft Simulator an indispensable tool for offseason prep. While a week-long slow draft pushes managers to truly dive into the player pool, they can also push out rapid reps by drafting against the AI in minutes. Since you’re drafting against FantasyPros’ Expert Consensus Rankings, these mocks will still challenge users plenty before putting their observations to good use against a league of meager humans.

Having often fallen into the fantasy industry’s NFBC bubble, I decided to conduct my first 2022 mock draft using Yahoo’s default settings. That means a 12-team mixed league with three outfielders, no corner and middle infielders, and only five bench spots. Since it’s the first one of the year, I treated myself to the No. 1 pick. This early in the game, I went in fairly blind without any concrete plan.

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1.1: Trea Turner (2B/SS – LAD)
If he stays healthy, Fernando Tatis Jr. is the best player, but I couldn’t shake off the shoulder issue after he opted against offseason surgery. Although Turner isn’t a feasible 40-40 candidate like Tatis, he’s a five-category stud who will spend an entire season in a stacked Dodgers lineup. Turner is the only player with at least 40 homers and 40 steals in the last two seasons, and he did it with an MLB-high .330 average. He could chase a 30-30 campaign while batting over .300 and leading the majors in runs scored.

Others Considered: Fernando Tatís Jr.

2.12: Zack Wheeler (SP – PHI)
Going into the draft, I knew I wanted an ace in the second or third as long as one of my top seven was there. Wheeler was the last man standing in that group, making him a clear choice. He paired an MLB-high 213.1 innings with a 2.78 ERA and the second-lowest FIP (2.59) among all qualified starters behind Corbin Burnes. I’m thankful one of the simulated squads took Jacob deGrom and spared me from a difficult decision.

Others Considered: Shane Bieber

3.1: Yordan Álvarez (OF – HOU)
This wasn’t an easy choice between Álvarez and Manny Machado. Although the cool kids aren’t taking four-category sluggers early anymore, Álvarez pairs perfectly with Turner. The big bopper returned from a lost 2020 to bat .277/.346/.531 with 33 home runs and 104 RBIs in 598 plate appearances. He also played enough outfield (41 games) to regain eligibility in all formats. A juicy .570 expected slugging (xSLG) and .390 xwOBA suggest room for growth from the 6’5″, 225-pound masher.

Others Considered: Manny Machado

4.12: Aaron Nola (SP – PHI)
Cover up his 4.63 ERA, and Nola still profiled as an ace last season. He posted an identical 3.37 FIP, xERA, and xFIP with a 3.26 SIERA and the fifth-highest K-BB% (24.6) among qualified starters. Drafters shouldn’t ignore his inconsistencies and long-ball woes, especially if forced to invest a third-round pick anyway. But as my second starter to end the fourth round, sign me up.

Others Considered: Freddy Peralta, Lance Lynn

5.1: Paul Goldschmidt (1B – STL)
The Draft Wizard identified Goldschmidt as the top lift, and I agreed. Following yet another sizzling second half, the first baseman returned to his glory days with a .294/.365/.514 slash line, 31 home runs, and 12 steals in 158 games. The highly durable Goldschmidt hasn’t missed more than seven games in any of the last seven seasons. He only batted below .290 in one of those seasons. Excluding 2020, he’s also topped 30 dingers in his last four full seasons. It’s hard to find a steadier stud than Goldschmidt …

Others Considered: Nick Castellanos, Trevor Story, Eloy Jiménez

6.12: Nolan Arenado (3B – STL)
Yet you’d come close by looking across St. Louis’ infield. Removing 2020, Arenado has played at least 155 games in each of the last five seasons. As expected, he regressed outside of Coors Field. Not to worry, as investors got plenty of use from his 34 long balls and 105 RBIs. Third base isn’t too pretty this season, so it’s nice to lock up the hot corner with a set-and-forget All-Star.

Others Considered: José Abreu, Corey Seager, Carlos Correa

7.1: José Abreu (1B – CHW)
If this was an NFBC draft or a deeper format, I would have snagged José Berríos, Frankie Montas, or even reached for Raisel Iglesias. Securing my third pitcher this early didn’t feel vital in a shallow 12-team draft, so I plucked another boring, but productive veteran slugger. Abreu fills my first utility slot with a reliable 30-100 line. While I don’t need him to raise last season’s .261 batting average significantly, it’s certainly possible from a career .290 hitter who also produced a career-high 9.3% walk rate in 2021.

Others Considered: Raisel Iglesias, José Berríos, Frankie Montas, Corey Seager, Carlos Correa

8:12: Ryan Pressly (RP – HOU)
I passed on Iglesias in hopes of Pressly or Emmanuel Clase remaining available at this turn. Both were still there, presenting a surprisingly grueling choice for a January mock draft. I would have taken both if I didn’t want two starters available. Second in FIP (2.06) with a 2.25 ERA and 0.97 WHIP over the last four seasons, Pressly doesn’t get his proper recognition as an elite reliever.

Others Considered: Emmanuel Clase

9.1: Charlie Morton (SP – ATL)
Dylan Cease is a trendier pick, so much so that it’ll probably be impossible to snag him this late by spring. Morton, meanwhile, is an ace in hiding because nobody wants to trust a 38-year-old who didn’t break out until 2017. Morton has tallied over 200 strikeouts with an ERA below 3.35 (and xERA below 3.40) in each of his last three full seasons. Attach those numbers to a 28-year-old, and he’s going in the third round, not as my third starter.

Others Considered: Dylan Cease, Emmanuel Clase

10.12: Dansby Swanson (SS – ATL)
None of my top-100 players remained available at pick No. 120. With nobody I had to have, I selected a shortstop who can offer 25 homers and 10 steals in his age-28 season. The experts prefer Jake Cronenworth to Swanson, but I have a strong enough hitting foundation to sacrifice some batting average for more power and speed.

Others Considered: Jake Cronenworth

11.1: Chris Bassitt (SP – OAK)
A handful of intriguing starters beckoned, and maybe I should have chased more upside by grabbing Zac Gallen. Instead, I took yet another unheralded veteran in Bassitt, who followed an exceptional 2020 (2.29 ERA in 11 starts) with a 3.15 ERA and career-high 25.0% K rate. Even when the strikeouts likely regress, the Oakland righty is a steady SP4 with a 3.47 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 555.2 career innings. Grouping Bassitt with Wheeler, Nola, and Morton will enable me to take some riskier pitching fliers in the back half of the draft.

Others Considered: Zac Gallen, Tyler Mahle, Nathan Eovaldi, Framber Valdez

12.12: Jarred Kelenic (OF – SEA)
My New Year’s resolution is to take more chances in fantasy drafts (and life). Assembling such a dependable hitting nucleus gave me the flexibility to swing for the fences with Kelenic. It’s a steep price to pay for someone who batted .181/.265/.350 in an underwhelming debut, but the 22-year-old flaunted his immense upside by tallying seven homers, three steals, and a .361 wOBA in his final 29 games.

Others Considered: Avisaíl García, Chris Taylor, Kyle Schwarber

13.1: Chris Taylor (2B/3B/SS/OF – LAD)
Taylor does everything and is eligible everywhere. Although a terrible summer swoon could send some drafters fleeing, he’s crafted an impressive portfolio worth trusting. Over the last five seasons with the Dodgers, Taylor has hit .265/.343/.461 with averages of 18 homers, 12 steals, and 82 runs scored per 150 games played. Come to think of it, he’s just an older, but more versatile Swanson available rounds later.

Others Considered: Avisaíl García, Kyle Schwarber, Giovanny Gallegos, Jordan Romano

14.12: Justin Turner (3B – LAD)
Turner kept falling, so I had to pounce. Like Morton, his age (37) conceals a stalwart. Over the last five years, Turner’s .379 wOBA and 139 wRC+ ties José Ramírez for third among all third basemen behind Alex Bregman and Anthony Rendon. Health has been the veteran’s only roadblock, but Turner quietly matched a career-high with 151 games last season. Even if he misses a little time, it’s easier to fill in the gaps with strong replacement value in this format.

Others Considered: Avisaíl García, Yasmani Grandal

15.1: Yasmani Grandal (C – CHW)
I planned on taking another pitcher, especially with Jordan Romano and Shane Baz still on the board. But Grandal also stuck around, and there was a huge drop at catcher after him. Grandal led all catchers in OBP (.420), wRC+ (159), and xwOBA (.414) on the strength of a stellar 23.2% walk rate and .280 ISO. Playing only 93 games didn’t stop him from exceeding 20 home runs in his fifth straight full season. Hopefully I don’t regret neglecting pitchers for two turns.

Others Considered: Jordan Romano, Mark Melancon, Shane Baz

16.12: Luis Severino (SP – NYY)
Yes, I regret it. A whopping 17 pitchers went since my last selection, taking all of my targets off the table. Instead, I jumped my rankings and took a fun flier on Severino. This is precisely the type of draft to take that high-risk, high-reward gamble. If he’s not healthy, I move on. If he is, I may have spiked another ace. There are plenty of pitchers buried down the ECR I hope to steal later.

Others Considered: Triston McKenzie, Patrick Sandoval, Corey Knebel, Lucas Sims, Matt Barnes

17.1: Myles Straw (OF – CLE)
I was deciding between Dylan Carlson and another pitcher before I noticed Straw hiding down the ECR. Straw was one of just six position players with at least 30 stolen bases last season. He’s not necessarily a one-trick pony either, as the outfielder displayed an impressive approach with a 10.5% walk rate and 88.6% contact rate. Those skills should give him a chance to spend the year atop Cleveland’s lineup, which could yield another 30 steals with 90 runs and a favorable batting average. That’s a hard profile to find beyond the opening rounds.

Others Considered: Dylan Carlson, Corey Knebel, Lucas Sims, Matt Barnes

18.12: Scott Barlow (RP – KC)
I waited too long on Corey Knebel and Lucas Sims, thinking they’d slip because of their low ECRs. Oh well, it’s not the end of the world with some enticing alternatives still available. Barlow seized Kansas City’s closer role late last season, registering 10 saves with a 1.85 ERA from August 1 onward. The lefty has a 30.0% strikeout rate over the previous three years and should get first dibs on the closer’s gig to start 2022.

Others Considered: David Bednar, Patrick Sandoval

19.1: Matt Barnes (RP – BOS)
Barnes was a top-shelf closer before unraveling with 10 runs and a .510 wOBA allowed in 6.2 August innings. He still finished with 24 saves and the seventh-highest K rate (37.8%) of all qualified relievers. He also had a breakthrough COVID case in late August and sliced off the tip of his left thumb while making an omelet in September. There’s nevertheless major bounce-bounce upside if the Barnes that dominated from April through July returns. But in hindsight, I’m not sure why I didn’t take David Bednar with one of these two picks.

Others Considered: David Bednar, Patrick Sandoval

20.12: Patrick Sandoval (SP – LAA)
I rank Sandoval higher than Severino, but I knew I was far likelier to get him later. Behind a devastating changeup and wipeout slider, Sandoval has immense strikeout upside for a late-round starter. His 15.3% swinging-strike rate and 67.0% contact rate are better than Gerrit Cole, who was surprisingly drafted before the 20th round. Sandoval also posted a 3.39 ERA and 50.7% ground-ball rate as a starter.

Others Considered: Huascar Ynoa, Alex Cobb

21.1: Dylan Carlson (OF – STL)
Four rounds after I almost picked him, Carlson was still there. He didn’t make much fantasy waves in his rookie season, but the outfielder held his own with a 113 wRC+ in 619 plate appearances. Carlson also tapped into more power by batting .277/.343/.505 with 11 homers in 61 games after the All-Star break. With a 73rd-percentile Sprint Speed score, the 23-year-old could still swipe a few bags if given the chance. He’s only stolen three bases in the majors, but he tallied 20 in the minors three years ago. I’m in good shape if either he or Kelenic unlocks their potential.

Others Considered: David Bednar, Huascar Ynoa

22.12: Devin Williams (RP – MIL)
Williams remains an elite middle-reliever weapon in leagues with daily lineup changes. Unlike last year, however, he’ll go at a reasonable price because of a rocky start to the 2021 season. Despite struggling mightily with his command early, the righty submitted a 2.50 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 54 innings. He looked like the unhittable pitcher from 2020 when returning from a brief IL stint in late July to tally 25 strikeouts to four walks across 16 scoreless innings. Williams expects to be ready for spring training after breaking his pitching hand when punching a wall. Speaking of pitchers who got hurt hitting an inanimate object ….

Others Considered: Andrew Kittredge, Joe Barlow, Jake McGee, Ken Giles

23.1: Huascar Ynoa (SP – ATL)
Ynoa looked like one of 2021’s best waiver-wire finds when registering a 3.02 ERA and 21.8 K-BB% before fracturing his right hand by punching a dugout bench. (I guess I have a type?) Although he delivered some solid starts after a three-month hiatus, the Padres ruined his breakout campaign by clobbering him for seven runs on September 26. That’s the only reason a 23-year-old with a 1.11 WHIP, 3.62 SIERA, and 13.1% swinging-strike rate is available this late. I also have Ynoa ranked higher than Severino.

Others Considered: Noah Syndergaard, Alex Cobb

24.12: Alex Cobb (SP – SF)
Sure, I’ll take Cobb’s 2.92 FIP in the final round. His strikeout rate jumped to 24.9% behind an improved sinker, and he signed with a Giants organization that just finagled superb seasons out of fellow sinkerballers Logan Webb, Alex Wood, and Anthony DeSclafani. I’ll draft Cobb everywhere if the price doesn’t inflate (which it absolutely should) by March.

Others Considered: Gavin Lux, Enrique Hernández, Jesús Luzardo, Tylor Megill

Draft Summary

The Draft Wizard gave me a 91 out of 100, projecting a third-place finish. To my surprise, I’m expected to finish just eighth in batting average. However, a .275 average should be worth more points these days. I’ve often erred in the past by neglecting steals after securing an elite speedster early. The ability to sort projections by all drafted players or only starters also tells me that I nearly made this mistake again before snagging Straw.

Kelenic, Severino, and Carlson are the wild cards capable of transforming this A-minus squad into an A-plus champion. That said, any success isn’t entirely contingent on them. This should be a balanced, competitive team as long as the old geezers don’t all hit a wall.

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Andrew Gould is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Andrew, check out his archive and follow him @andrewgould4.

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