2022 Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft: 12-Team, Middle Pick
Every slot in the draft order has its advantages and disadvantages. Selecting near the front of the draft allows for the opportunity to take one of the top players in the game — or, at least, one of your top-ranked targets. Picking at the end of the first round allows you to see how the draft is unfolding early and react with two picks in a short amount of time.
The middle of the draft order, not surprisingly, allows for some balance between the two. Some fantasy managers always want a “middle pick” so that they are never too far away from their previous selection.
This year, it appears as if hitters are locked in for the first few picks of the draft — in past seasons, it was a consideration to take a pitcher with a top-three or top-four pick. The end of the first round typically leads to at least one pitcher and the decision if you want to start your roster with two — neither of which will be the top arm in the draft. Therefore, to differentiate this Mock Draft from the rest that I have completed, I will target my top pitcher in the middle of the first round and adjust accordingly.
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.
I wrote the introduction of this article fully intending to draft Gerrit Cole in the middle of the first round. Thankfully, my opponents played along, and five hitters went off the board before my selection. Cole will undoubtedly be challenged at the top of the pitcher rankings throughout the season, but he’s as stable a target as any, and he gives me the ace I wanted to start my team.
Others Considered: Corbin Burnes (SP – MIL)
Already, I am seeing a major difference in what I can build using a middle pick as opposed to starting on either end of the draft order. Freddie Freeman never makes it too deep into the second round and, with a few other starting pitchers being selected after my first pick of Gerrit Cole, I can easily target a hitter without concern. Freeman is currently unsigned — and that may change by the time this article publishes — but his value isn’t going to plummet. If anything, the hype surrounding his eventual landing spot might push him higher up the draft board.
3.6: Manny Machado (3B – SD)
Unlike the aforementioned Freddie Freeman, I have been able to add Manny Machado to some of my teams, regardless of draft position. That’s because the perception around Machado varies enough where he is usually available through the third round. He shares the similarity with Freeman where both players have extremely high floors. The difference is that Machado’s ceiling is slightly lower. I don’t mind. It gives him enough of a discount where I can now have both on my roster.
Others Considered: Tim Anderson (SS – CWS)
Once again, I have the opportunity to go in a different direction as opposed to my other Mock Drafts, and I am starting to like the “Middle Pick” starting point better than any other. Normally, I try to look for a top-tier closer in another round or two, only to find that the upper echelon is starting to get thin. I can finally alleviate that risk by selecting Josh Hader here and not worrying about how to find saves for a long time.
The first four picks of this draft have been among the easiest I have made. That changes in the fifth round. We finally start to see some deviation between the obvious – either value or projecting ahead for a future need — and it feels like a pivot point. Because I won’t have to wait too long for my next pick, I can justify almost anything — once again, this is why many fantasy managers like drafting in the middle of the order. Still, I’m forfeiting some value with hitters by leaning on a starting pitcher. I’m doing it mainly because the prospects of a different SP2 in another few rounds frighten me — whereas a few hitters will fall to my next pick. Chris Sale has the upside of an ace, even though he carries plenty of risk.
Others Considered: Lance Lynn (SP – CWS), Byron Buxton
I miscalculated. Now that I see the bundle of starting pitching options who are likely to get selected in the next round, I realize that I should have taken a hitter with my last pick and then found my SP2 here. That’s my current thought, anyway, but I truly don’t know how my team will unfold — I am writing this as I draft, so I’m not cheating to see how the final picture looks. I won’t ignore the arms in front of me, and I now have an elite pitching staff where Jack Flaherty slots in as my third starting pitcher.
7.6: Ketel Marte (2B/OF – ARI)
The only player on the draft board that gave me any pause before selecting a pitcher in the last round was Ketel Marte. I am buying into him heavily this year, and the eligibility at second base adds plenty to his fantasy value. I clearly won’t have to think about pitching for some time now, but it helps when my preferred target wasn’t lost because of a decision I made earlier.
Others Considered: Christian Yelich (OF – MIL)
8.7: Christian Yelich (OF – MIL)
Make that two consecutive picks where a prior decision didn’t sink what I was trying to accomplish. Just like Ketel Marte one pick prior, Christian Yelich is a player I am looking to add to as many rosters as possible, and he was still available in the eighth round. That’s an easy pick for me in that range.
Others Considered: Carlos Correa (SS – FA)
I keep referencing prior Mock Drafts because they directly serve the purpose of practicing what we eventually want to utilize. I keep seeing the same pattern unfold, where power-heavy hitters are targeted early, and then there is a lull, and another crop appears in the middle of the draft. The problem with the latter group is that they offer almost nothing in terms of batting average. Therefore, I want to preemptively help my team’s batting average by adding Bryan Reynolds now and finding the power my lineup sorely lacks in the coming rounds.
Others Considered: Jared Walsh (1B,OF – LAA)
10.7: Jared Walsh (1B,OF – LAA)
When I wrote about my team needing power in the previous round, it was with the understanding that I was bypassing Jared Walsh and taking the risk that I could eventually find home runs. To my pleasant surprise, Walsh lasted another round. There is no hesitation on my part, especially since he is eligible in the outfield as well as first base.
11.6: Nelson Cruz (DH – WAS)
I am clearly prioritizing power at this point in the draft, but I will admit to being slightly disappointed that Joey Gallo (OF – NYY) was selected before my pick. Gallo carries the risk of destroying my team’s batting average, but he was also outfield eligible. Nelson Cruz is not. The positive spin is that Cruz has a higher floor in that his batting average should easily surpass Gallo’s, even if Cruz loses the home run battle.
Others Considered: Josh Bell (1B,LF – WSH)
12.7: Sonny Gray (SP – MIN)
It has been nice to only think about one side of my fantasy roster for the past handful of rounds — hitters only — but it’s time for me to build out my pitching staff. Sonny Gray has already been moved during this condensed preseason, and he remains a solid option in the middle of the draft with a track record of success.
No hesitation. I needed a shortstop and, as the options became thin Gleyber Torres started to slide onto my radar. He was a massive disappointment after his breakout campaign a few years ago but said breakout is also a reminder of what he could be. I’ll take the chance and add him here.
Others Considered: Craig Kimbrel (RP – CWS)
14.7: John Means (SP – BAL)
I continue to write about it, but John Means is a “must-draft” for me in 2022. His ADP is too low for his talent, and the fact that his home ballpark now includes a deeper left-field than it did last year should lead to fewer home runs. I would be aggressive in adding Means, as I expect his asking price to increase when others see the upside.
Others Considered: Hyun Jin Ryu (SP – TOR)
15.6: Scott Barlow (RP – KC)
Nothing fancy here. There was never a doubt that I had to find some more closers later in the draft, but the only question was, “When?” This feels like the right time to start adding some depth to my bullpen, and I’ll start with Scott Barlow since he is in-line for saves with the Kansas City Royals.
Others Considered: Lucas Sims (RP – CIN)
16.7: Lucas Sims (RP – CIN)
It was, indeed, the right time to take Scott Barlow. In the twelve picks that followed, ten were pitchers. Now, I can pair Barlow with another — and, most likely, my final — closer in Lucas Sims. I doubt we see another batch of pitchers follow, but the point is that only two hitters were off-the-board since my last pick, which means that I didn’t miss anyone important.
Others Considered: Joe Barlow (RP – TEX)
17.6: Trent Grisham (OF – SD)
If there were a downside to the back-to-back closer selections of the last two rounds, it’s that a “catcher run” took place. I don’t mind entirely, as I have no issue waiting until the end of the draft to fill that slot. It is only noteworthy because any hitter I add otherwise will go straight to my bench. For that reason, I will target my offense’s biggest need and select Trent Grisham for the potential stolen bases that he brings to the table – double-digit totals in each of the last two years.
Others Considered: Ryan McMahon (2B,3B – COL)
I hit quite a snag in the 18th round, where I can see potential holes for my roster, but not the right fits for them. I still need some starting pitching, and I’m a little lighter on home runs than I thought — I have a great base, but not necessarily enough to win a league. Eugenio Suarez will sink my team’s batting average, but he’s shortstop-eligible and would only slide into my starting roster if he outhits Gleyber Torres. I can take that chance.
19.6: Gary Sanchez (C – MIN)
While I had planned to wait for a few more rounds to select my catcher, I am most likely ending my draft with at least two pitchers in the final four rounds. There are plenty of options, and the catcher pool, already shallow from the start, was not getting any deeper. Gary Sanchez is essentially the same pick as Eugenio Suarez from last round — power potential but at the expense of batting average — but he will be a starter for me.
Others Considered: Carson Kelly (C – ARI)
20.7: Alex Wood (SP – SF)
I wrote that I wanted to use a few of my final picks on starting pitchers, and Alex Wood was an easy selection with that gameplan. He should provide decent numbers across the board and blossomed with the San Francisco Giants last year. He’s a 20th-round pick that carries little risk.
Others Considered: German Marquez (SP – COL)
21.6: German Marquez (SP – COL)
There’s no secret as to the narrative behind German Marquez. He pitches for the Colorado Rockies in a hitter’s haven of a ballpark, and it scares away potential fantasy managers. I get it, but I also love the talent. He has a career 4.28 ERA and has already started 138 games over six seasons. He’s not going to lead the league in ERA or WHIP, but he holds his numbers in check enough for him to remain a fantasy asset.
Others Considered: Aaron Civale (SP – CLE)
I love how my team has come together so far, but I’m still chasing stolen bases to make it complete. Robbie Grossman isn’t necessarily known for his stolen base prowess, but he’s one of the few players available who has speed and can provide numbers in other areas as well.
Others Considered: Garrett Hampson (2B,CF – COL)
Of the three Mock Draft articles I have written based on draft position — early, middle, and late selections in the first round — this is easily my favorite team. Statistically, it falls just behind the “Early Pick” draft – according to FantasyPros’ analyses – but that team is also carried by starting with the first overall pick: Fernando Tatis Jr. This roster, by comparison, was the perfect mix of value when a player fell to me and aggressiveness when I could foresee the possibility of missing out on someone I wanted.
There is also no denying that building a team with Gerrit Cole simply makes the chase for starting pitcher that much easier. I never felt like I needed to find another arm and, when the right pitcher became available, I made a move and continued with my draft. Of course, the opposite was also true, as I did put forth a massive effort to make sure I never fell too far behind with my hitters.
The numbers reflect this, as my pitchers rank second in the league, hitters rank seventh, and my overall team scored a 91 out of 100 — a grade of A- — and is projected to finish third.
By the end, I found it quite easy to see why so many fantasy managers like picking in the middle of the draft order.
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