2022 Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft: 12-Team, Early Pick
One of the best reasons to partake in a Mock Draft is for practicing specific situations. Indeed, some leagues announce their draft order far in advance of the actual event, but the strategy remains the same whenever your draft position is officially announced. That is, experiment with how your team might form when starting in different slots of the first round.
For the sake of this article, the Mock Draft will take place using the first overall pick. After all, if we are practicing with an “Early Pick,” why not allow ourselves the opportunity to start the draft with anyone?
The lineup for this 12-team draft is C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 3 OF, UTIL, 2 SP, 2 RP, 4 P, 5 BN, and conducted using FantasyPros’ Draft Simulator.
Like so many other elements of predicting sports outcomes, making the first overall pick in a given draft is usually the decision between the “top choice” and “the field.” This year is no different. In past seasons, the argument centered around Mike Trout and everyone else — where you could slot in other names who competed for the title in a given year such as Ronald Acuna, Jr. or Bryce Harper. This time, it’s Fernando Tatis, Jr. The main argument against him is the lingering effects of last season’s injury, but he still delivered an absurdly great campaign over 130 games. The reality is that he simply may regress from his perch atop the National League home run leaderboard. That shouldn’t sink his value too dramatically, as he easily has one of the highest floors — and, obviously, ceilings — in the league.
Others Considered: Trey Turner, Juan Soto
2.12: Shane Bieber (SP – CLE)
The obvious downside to picking so early in the first round is that the second selection I can make is almost forced to be a pitcher. If I don’t add one now — or in the second of these back-to-back picks — then I will go another two full rounds before an opportunity arises. While I’m not convinced it is the best strategy, I’m actually going to be bold and add two pitchers with my next two selections and open my potential opportunities in later rounds. Shane Bieber, the Cy Young Award winner from just two years ago, is my preference.
Others Considered: Zack Wheeler
I detailed it in the prior blurb, but my plan here was to land two starting pitchers, and Zack Wheeler is the latter of the two who will be joining my squad. There is a risk with pitching, in general, but the strategy of pairing two high-end arms together for the exact same acquisition cost should lead to the positives outweighing the negatives. The immediate concerns would revolve around how the rest of the draft unfolds.
Others Considered: Julio Urias
4.12: Pete Alonso (1B – NYM)
More importantly than how we see others react, mock drafts often give insight as to what we learn about ourselves. For the first few mock drafts that I have completed, I felt forced into taking a first baseman at a specific time. Now, I know that I have to push the position higher up my list of priorities. Pete Alonso has the potential to carry my lineup on a regular basis.
Others Considered: Paul Goldschmidt
Having the ability to draft Wander Franco in the fifth round is exactly why I took Tatis in the first and back-to-back pitchers in the second and third rounds. It wasn’t all built around Franco, per se, but the key is that I would allow the draft to come to me and take the best players available without regard to their position. Indeed, it’s an added bonus that he is eligible for a position I have not yet filled, but I would have strongly considered him and his high ceiling anyway.
Others Considered: Eloy Jimenez
6.12: Jack Flaherty (SP – STL)
For the second time in the early part of this draft, I am opting to go with two starting pitchers with my back-to-back selections. Once again, this allows me to play the odds that one delivers as expected, even if the other is a relative disappointment — of course, we don’t want that, but we have to be fair to the possibilities. Jack Flaherty rebounded in a big way from a disappointing 2020 campaign, and it’s easy to see his path to another solid campaign. The only risk here is a potential innings limit.
Others Considered: Jose Berrios, Ketel Marte
Jose Berrios has become the poster child for consistency, and I’m always buying in with the potential for a higher ceiling. Of Berrios’ six seasons, he has finished with an ERA between 3.50 and 3.90 four times. The two outliers? His rookie year and a 12-start season in 2020. He’s as stable as it gets.
Others Considered: Ketel Marte, Edwin Diaz
I’ve made it a priority to add Cody Bellinger in as many teams as possible this year, and I might be willing to overpay as the season draws closer. He had an irrationally bad season in 2021, but he’s still a 26-year old former Most Valuable Player who is eligible at two positions and bats in an deep lineup. I don’t want to miss the potential rebound.
Others Considered: Jesse Winker, Kris Bryant
Jesse Winker is not a typical pick for me, as he is in the opposite setup as the aforementioned Bellinger. Winker put together his best season in Major League Baseball, and the threat of regression looms large. In fact, if I’m targeting Bellinger because he should return to his norm, then why aren’t I doing the same with Winker? The reality is that I am, but I’m also hedging against myself by acknowledging that either Bellinger or Winker might have shown their true colors with last season’s numbers. If Winker is the answer, then he’s a steal in the ninth round.
Others Considered: DJ LeMahieu
10.12: Will Smith (RP – ATL)
I forced my own hand here, as I had built such a strong starting pitching rotation that I could not afford to miss out on some bullpen arms as well. Will Smith was arguably the most “secure” closer available at this point — as “secure as anyone can be at this point of the offseason and without a single Spring Training game being played — and he slides onto my roster for that reason.
Others Considered: Giovanny Gallegos
11.1: Josh Bell (1B/OF – WSH)
Similarly to the aforementioned Jesse Winker, I was not intending on selecting Josh Bell for my roster. Once again, I could not ignore the numbers and, with the priority I already placed on pitching earlier in this draft, I had to create as wide a base of hitters as possible. Bell didn’t necessarily reach the numbers from his best season — 2019 — but he was a viable fantasy option and gives me depth at both first base and outfield.
Others Considered: Jake Cronenworth
Anytime someone adds Chris Taylor to a roster, it’s hard to argue against the idea that versatility won out over all other options. Taylor is the ultimate utility player, but I actually need to slot him in as my starting second baseman. If anything, that’s the weakest area of my team right now, and Taylor can either help improve it or be replaced with ease later in the draft or season.
Others Considered: Yoan Moncada
13.1: Yoan Moncada (3B – CWS)
Yoan Moncada’s former prospect pedigree will always follow him around, but we are now approaching his seventh Major League season — although he played just eight games in his first — and he will start this year at only 26 years old. He doesn’t offer nearly enough in any category to force him higher in the draft, but the combination of the aforementioned pedigree and his general statistics make him a fine pick in the mid-to-late rounds. He has a chance to be much more valuable in the near future.
14.12: John Means (SP – BAL)
I’ve grown to target John Means heavily in my drafts, and I expect others to follow suit shortly. The Baltimore Orioles pushed back their fence in left field, and Means is likely to benefit from it immediately. Maybe it doesn’t happen. Maybe Means can’t keep the ball from leaving the yard anyway. But if it does, then we have a solid sleeper in the 14th round.
Others Considered: Gleyber Torres
15.1: Keibert Ruiz (C – WSH)
While I mentioned that John Means will probably gain some hype as people connect the dots with his team’s fence moving back, Keibert Ruiz is already one of the most hyped players going into 2022. I didn’t want to fall for the bait, as I usually like waiting until the end of the draft to select a catcher. Ruiz was just too good of value at this point, and why not solidify a roster spot that needs to be filled anyway? It’s hard to view anything as a “reach” in the 15th round.
Others Considered: Mike Clevinger
16.12: Lucas Sims (RP – CIN)
Like most relief pitchers taken at this point in the draft, it’s all about the opportunity for saves. Lucas Sims is currently in-line to get saves for the Cincinnati Reds, and that makes him in-line for a roster spot on my team.
Others Considered: Matt Barnes
17.1: Alex Wood (SP – SF)
I put such an emphasis on starting pitching earlier, that it was easy to forget that I need to add more before it gets too late in the draft. Alex Wood is an interesting risk-reward play, where he finally put together a nearly-full season — 26 starts, where he had a combined nine over the previous two years — and reverted right back toward his career averages. If he can continue along that path, anyone who selects him this late in the draft will be thrilled.
Others Considered: Anthony DeSclafani
18.12: Jean Segura (2B – PHI)
I mentioned the probability that I would add another second baseman to either backup or supplant Chris Taylor, and Jean Segura fits the mold perfectly. The second baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies continues to hold an impressive batting average — especially in today’s game — and, even at age 31, carried the threat of speed last year.
Others Considered: Michael Brantley
It looks like Michael Brantley will be one of my most targeted sleepers this year and, if he continues to be available this late in most drafts, I suspect I will have him on nearly every team. He hits for a high average in a deep lineup for the Houston Astros, and it’s hard to find too many players who can approximate his value in the 19th round.
Others Considered: Robbie Grossman
20.12: Joe Barlow (RP – TEX)
Much like Lucas Sims a few rounds ago, I wanted a pitcher who had the opportunity for saves. If Joe Barlow loses his job in the coming weeks, then this pick would be swapped with any other closer still available late in the draft.
Others Considered: Alex Reyes
21.1: Luke Voit (1B – NYY)
The New York Yankees are never devoid of power hitters, but they clearly have a decision to make with Luke Voit. Will he be their first baseman this season or is he actually a better fit for a National League team that is expected to adopt the Designated Hitter in 2022? Either way, he’s falling way too far for his actual value, and I’d want to get ahead of the curve and draft him before his stock ultimately rises.
Others Considered: Trey Mancini
22.12: Casey Mize (SP – DET)
I wanted to close out my roster with one more starting pitcher, and I love what I saw from Casey Mize in his first full season in Major League Baseball. He pitched a whopping 150.1 innings — “whopping” because he threw just 28.1 for the Detroit Tigers in 2020 — and, at one point, had a five-start span in which he allowed a total of six earned runs. He also completed six innings in four-of-those-five starts. Mize has a long way to go before reaching the high expectations that come from being a former first overall draft selection, but he may be approaching it faster than most expected.
I openly admitted to taking a risk in the early portion of the draft by selecting back-to-back pitchers — and then doing it again a few rounds later — and I couldn’t be happier with how it unfolded. The FantasyPros’ grading system agreed as it ranked it second in the league with a score of 92 — A.
This mock draft definitely highlighted the value of an early pick. If you can secure one of the top bats, it is possible to stagger pitchers and hitters and continue to build out the roster knowing that the initial floor is quite high. That helped, as I entered each pair of picks with a plan to offset one with the other or go all-in with a position, like starting pitcher. Granted, an “early pick” doesn’t mean the “first pick” for everyone, but similar opportunities will arise where you will be making selections close together for each pair of rounds.
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