2022 Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft: 12-Team, Late Pick
Earlier in what has become the Mock Draft frenzy of this abbreviated preseason, I put together an article detailing my draft process if I had the first overall pick. In this article, I will flip the script completely and start from the opposite end of the draft order.
Drafting first has the major advantage of planning and knowing what you want to do before it’s officially time to make your selection. Conversely, sitting at the backend of the first round puts us in a position of reacting to what has happened already.
The good news is that we’ve been down this road before. We have a decent approximation of what we can expect. That is, a few — not many, and maybe just one — pitchers will be off-the-board, while plenty more will follow in the second and third rounds. Therefore, the first decision we have to make lies in how to handle the first two picks of the draft, where we know that they will serve as the only two selections we will make out of the first thirty or so players.
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.
1.12: Max Scherzer (SP – NYM)
I mentioned that “a few” pitchers were likely to be selected before my first pick. The actual total was three — and they were the three consecutive picks that preceded mine. Even if it hadn’t happened, I would have forced myself to select at least one pitcher with one of my two picks. Therefore, in reacting to the situation in front of me, I will choose between the two New York Mets teammates and land on Max Scherzer. I have the utmost confidence in Jacob deGrom (SP – NYM) as well — and I might have gone as far as selecting both with these picks, but another player is locked in for me with the first pick of the second round.
Others Considered: Jacob deGrom, Mike Trout (CF – LAA)
2.1: Mike Trout (OF – LAA)
I’m never allowing Mike Trout to make it to the second round. Period. The only reason why he wasn’t my first pick is that I wanted to piggyback my commentary from the introduction into this selection where I explained how I planned to handle pitchers. Had Trout gone earlier, I may have gone with back-to-back arms. He lasted to the end of the first round, and that makes him a clear add for me on this roster.
Others Considered: Jacob deGrom
3.12: Aaron Nola (SP – PHI)
Highlighting the need to use one of the first two picks on a pitcher, I just made the 36th selection of the draft and, including my earlier acquisition of Max Scherzer, ten starting pitchers are gone. The best available — according to ECR — is Aaron Nola, and I will move forward with him mainly to alleviate the need to chase pitchers later in the draft.
Others Considered: Francisco Lindor (SS – NYM)
4.1: Francisco Lindor (SS – NYM)
The more mock drafts I do, the more I learn about when and where certain players will probably be selected. In my prior mock drafts, I passed on Francisco Lindor, only to later learn — mainly through the FantasyPros’ summary — that he would have provided my team with a much-needed boost. I’ll use that knowledge to my advantage here and target the expected positive correction after Lindor’s disastrous debut season with the New York Mets.
5.12: Byron Buxton (OF – MIN)
In prior years, I joked about my love for Byron Buxton and how I can’t avoid drafting him wherever possible. I finally started to back off that commitment, but then the Minnesota Twins went out and extended Buxton for seven years and $100 million. The Twins aren’t giving up on him, so neither can I. We remain waiting for both the breakout and health of Buxton to align, and it’s certainly possible for him to over-perform his late-fifth round landing spot.
Others Considered: Jose Berrios (SP – TOR)
Jose Abreu couldn’t quite match his MVP season from 2020, but how can we be disappointed with 30 home runs, a .261 batting average, and 117 runs batted in? The short answer: we can’t. Abreu is not the flashiest pick because we know where his ceiling is. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. He generally approaches that ceiling.
Others Considered: Adalberto Mondesi (SS,3B – KC)
For as much emphasis as I placed on starting pitching early, I couldn’t afford to go too much farther without drafting a closer. The reality is that a “closer run” — when a series of closers go off-the-board in succession because people are afraid of missing out on a viable one — is going to happen eventually and, with my back-to-back picks sitting at the end of a round, I couldn’t risk being behind the pack. Aroldis Chapman joins so that I don’t have to scour through “closers-by-committee” for my top relief arm.
Others Considered: Giancarlo Stanton (OF – NYY)
By the time this article publishes, Kris Bryant may have found a home. It doesn’t matter. I’ve been a buyer of Bryant’s stock for quite some time, and the former National League MVP is largely overlooked. Certainly, if he ends up in a hitter’s ballpark or a deep lineup, he will gain attention, but Bryant carries his value both for his home run potential — he averages 31 per 162 games plated — and multi-positional eligibility.
Others Considered: Jonathan India (2B – CIN)
It was about time for me to select another starting pitcher, and I loved what I saw from Shane McClanahan last year. How could I not? He started 25 games as a rookie and pitched to a 3.43 ERA in the American League East. He averaged well over one strikeout per inning and, even if he regresses slightly in his sophomore campaign, we should get upwards of 140 innings from one of the best young pitchers in a rotation.
Others Considered: Alek Manoah (SP – TOR)
It’s always about versatility and batting average with DJ LeMahieu and, with so much uncertainty in how my roster will fill out based on where I am picking, I loved both assets that he brings to the table. I know that I’ll need an influx of power later — I have my eye on LeMahieu’s teammate — so I’ll take the rebound potential of his batting average here.
Others Considered: Justin Verlander (SP – HOU)
11.12: Nelson Cruz (DH – WSH)
As I just wrote for DJ LeMahieu, I knew that my team was lacking power. Ironically enough, the power of Nelson Cruz is lacking a team. This is a tough predicament, as Cruz is 41 years old and still looking for a landing spot. If he can’t find a team, then this is a wasted pick. That’s unlikely, especially given that 15 new DH spots were just added to the National League. If you can stomach the risk, Cruz is a great buy-low candidate before he signs somewhere.
Others Considered: Austin Meadows (OF – TB)
12.1: Joey Gallo (OF – NYY)
The second of back-to-back power surges, Joey Gallo was the “teammate” I mentioned in DJ LeMahieu’s writeup. Gallo will play his first full season with the New York Yankees and should be one of the best home run sources in the league. He’ll kill my batting average — which is why LeMahieu was an important target — but he should make up for it with his other contributions.
13.12: Marcus Stroman (SP – CHC)
Marcus Stroman opted out of the 2020 season and returned to action with one of his best years on record. He posted a career-high in strikeouts-per-inning to go along with a 3.02 ERA — his lowest in a season in which he started at least ten games. He now joins the Chicago Cubs and can quietly build on last year’s success.
Others Considered: Anthony Rizzo (1B – NYY)
14.1: Taylor Rogers (RP – MIN)
It is almost certainly too early for a second closer, but the dreaded threat of the “closer run” is pushing me to make a move. I don’t want to be scouring the bargain bin for someone who might get saves and, while that is the nature of the beast at this point of the preseason, Taylor Rogers is a little closer to regular save opportunities than most. I’ll admittedly reach here just to be proactive.
Others Considered: John Means (SP – BAL)
15.12: Lou Trivino (RP – OAK)
I was all set on taking John Means, but he was vultured from me and, through the tears that bleared my vision, I made an aggressive — read: foolish — mistake and reached for another closer. Keep this in mind when drafting: the current nature of the league and the condensed preseason is leaving plenty of uncertainty around closers; it’s probably best to pay a premium early or wait as long as possible. I did neither, and I pounced on Lou Trivino in the 15th round.
Others Considered: Hyun Jin Ryu (SP – TOR), Anthony Rizzo
Gleyber Torres’ future with the New York Yankees is somewhat unsettled as the team tries to add a shortstop before Opening Day. Granted Torres slid over to second base and can play there if he can bring his bat back to where it was a few years ago. That’s a big “if,” but it’s also the reason why his draft stock has fallen so low. I’ll take the chance here.
Others Considered: Ryan McMahon (2B,3B – COL)
17.12: Alex Wood (SP – SF)
It’s fair to question how sustainable Alex Wood’s 2021 numbers are after throwing 138.2 innings, 90.1 more than the prior two seasons combined. It’s also fair to argue that Wood is finally hitting his stride, as he is entering his tenth season with a career ERA of 3.50 and a strikeout rate that has ticked up in the latter half of his career. Most importantly, he is regularly available late in the draft, and he’s an ideal depth piece with the possibility to surprise.
Others Considered: Gary Sanchez (C – MIN)
Hunter Renfroe hung around in the draft for a little longer than I would have expected, but I wasn’t the only one surprised to see his name in the 18th round. By the time my pick came around, Renfroe was the consensus answer by 100 percent of the FantasyPros’ experts — as tracked by their system. It’s the right call at this point as, even though he will play on his fourth team in four years, Renfroe has a hitter-friendly ballpark in Milwaukee and a 162-game average of 36 home runs over his career.
Others Considered: Trey Mancini (1B – BAL)
19.12: Noah Syndergaard (SP – LAA)
Noah Syndergaard has thrown a total of two innings over the last two seasons, but he should enter camp with the Los Angeles Angels healthy and ready to start fresh. He does only have a one-year deal with the Angels, so the level of commitment is low, but he’s 29 years old and, when he’s at his best, has some of the most electric pitches in the sport. There are a lot of “ifs” and questions to answer, but he’s certainly worth a flier at this point.
Others Considered: German Marquez (SP – COL)
I continue to draft Michael Brantley wherever possible, and I continue to write about drafting Michael Brantley wherever possible. He’s one of the best sources for batting average, and I haven’t had to pay a premium for him anywhere. I’ll continue to bolster my rosters with him at the end of most drafts and be grateful for the discount.
21.12: Max Stassi (C – LAA)
I often wait until the last round to find a catcher — unless one presents a great value earlier — but I had a reason to take Max Stassi here and not with my next pick. As far as catchers go, Stassi was a decent source of power last year, even though it came at the expense of batting average. If he could balance the two out, he’d be a nice value play.
22.1: Anthony Rizzo (1B – NYY)
The reason why I took Stassi one pick ago and not here was that I wanted to end my draft with an impossible bout of good fortune. Anthony Rizzo fell to me in the final round. To put things in perspective, I listed Rizzo in the “others considered” section in the 13th round but opted against it because I already had three first basemen and my utility slot would be filled by Nelson Cruz. Still, Rizzo — even without a team as of this writing — is way too valuable to be around in the 22nd round. He must have made some enemies with my computerized league-mates.
Others Considered: Adam Duvall (OF – ATL)
What a difference a few picks make.
I enjoy writing Mock Draft articles that can work as groups, and the series on which I am currently working has allowed me to build a team from both ends of the draft order. Compared to the early-pick roster, I was not thrilled with the outcome here.
It’s not overly difficult to see why. I wrote in the introduction before starting the Mock Draft that a decision needed to be made as to how I would handle pitchers in the first two rounds. On top of the forced scenario — that will be common to almost everyone drafting at the back-end of the first round — we simply can’t land a top-five hitter unless a series of mistakes are made beforehand. Granted, it’s a long season, and there is plenty of time for some of our hidden gems to be uncovered, but the initial read is not overly inspiring.
The good news is that moving the pitching priority up because of the draft position helped keep that side of my roster ahead of the pack. My team is ranked fifth overall, but the pitching staff is projected to be the second-best in this league. There’s the path to success from this draft slot, where we simply have to find the right hitters to go with a solid pitching base.
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