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Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft: 12-Team 5×5 Salary Cap (2022)

by Scott Youngson | @jscottyoungson | Featured Writer
Mar 5, 2022
Nelson Cruz

Nelson Cruz is a great source of power that could come at a bargain in Salary Cap leagues in 2022.

Preparing for an auction/salary cap style draft can be a challenge. Even if you feel prepared, it’s hard to simulate the speed and intensity of the draft room. But fear not, FantasyPros has you covered with their Salary Cap Simulator. This little tool is a fantastic way to get ready and experiment before the real thing. 

Thus, I decided to simulate a salary cap draft for my fourth mock of the preseason. If you missed the other three, I started with a generic 10-team 5×5 draft, followed by a Yahoo default 10-team 5×5, and then a 12-team 5×5 with ESPN defaults and a strategy to punt saves and stolen bases. This time around, I set up a 5×5 $260 budget auction draft for 12 teams using combined eligibility and ESPN default positions (C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, MI, CI, 5 OF, Util, 9 P, 3 Bench).

My strategies for the draft were as follows:

  1. Don’t overpay for anyone vs. their projected player value
  2. Be patient, but not too patient. Though you can always find values in the later rounds of auction drafts, you don’t want to have money to spend at the end.
  3. Wait on Catcher and Relief Pitchers. As I only needed to draft one Catcher, I didn’t want to overpay for a weak position. Regarding relievers, I didn’t want to overpay for saves, given how fluid the category can be throughout a season.

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Overall, I feel like I did pretty well. The almighty "Draft Summary" agreed, giving me an "A+" rating, a projected first-place finish, and a score of 98 out of 100. Frankly, I was surprised by the ratings, as I felt like I could have done a better job with pitching. In a 12-team league, though, everyone probably feels that way.

In terms of my strategies, I executed well. I didn't go over my "estimated player value" on anyone and only even matched the value on two pitchers: Logan Gilbert (SP - SEA) and Taylor Rogers (RP - MIN). My draft was one of the first to be completed, so I wasn't overly patient. However, I did much of my damage in the middle rounds, so I think it worked out well.

Most catchers were relatively inexpensive. Only Salvador Perez (C,DH - KC) - $33, J.T. Realmuto (C,1B - PHI) - $17, and Will Smith (C - LAD) - $14 went for more than $10. I was happy to get Tyler Stephenson (C,1B - CIN) for only $3, but plenty of guys went in that range.

As for the relievers, you could argue I was too passive. I only ended up with one surefire closer in Mark Melancon (RP - ARI) and two likely committee options in Taylor Rogers and Gregory Soto (RP - DET). I shouldn't be too hard on myself, though, as the recap projected my team to finish fourth in saves despite this.

My offense looks strong on paper. The Draft Summary projected my team to finish second in runs, third in HRs, RBIs, BA, and seventh in SBs. My highest bids were for multiple-category studs Trea Turner (2B,SS - LAD), Mookie Betts (2B,OF - LAD), and Cedric Mullins II (OF - BAL). I felt like I was able to get power at some reasonable prices, especially in the form of Nelson Cruz (DH - FA), Rhys Hoskins (1B - PHI), Franmil Reyes (OF,DH - CLE), and Eduardo Escobar (1B,2B,3B - MIL). In addition to my three studs and Stephenson, I made sure I offset the power guys with players like Alex Verdugo (OF - BOS), J.D. Martinez (OF,DH - BOS), and Eloy Jimenez (OF - CWS), who should hit for a decent average.

The other members of my offense, Chris Taylor (2B,3B,SS,OF - LAD), Willy Adames (SS - MIL), Kris Bryant (1B,3B,OF - FA), and Alex Kirilloff (1B,OF - MIN), help provide depth to my team. I have multiple options at each position except for catcher, and should I want more depth there, Stephenson is also eligible at 1B.

I opted not to spend big on starting pitching, as pitchers are more vulnerable to injury than hitters. As such, I only spent more than $5 on three starters: Freddy Peralta (SP - MIL), Lance Lynn (SP - CWS), and Trevor Rogers (SP - MIA). All three are excellent pitchers coming off of superb seasons, but none is a true fantasy ace. I rounded out my rotation with upside guys at bargain-basement prices in Chris Bassitt (SP - OAK), Sonny Gray (SP - CIN), Logan Gilbert, and Lance McCullers Jr. (SP - HOU). McCullers is an injury risk and may not be ready to start the season, but at $3, he was worth the gamble.

Overall, the projections rated my staff in the middle of the pack. The computer estimated I'd finish fourth in ERA and K's, sixth in wins, and ninth in WHIP - the one category on my team that looks subpar. If this were my team, I'd probably need to supplement the rotation to meet the starts cap of 200 in ESPN leagues. My current seven starters probably wouldn't get there given the youth of Peralta, Rogers, and Gilbert and injury concerns with McCullers and Lynn. But coming out of the draft, it looks like a solid foundation.

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