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Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft: 12-Team 5×5, Starting Pitchers Early (2022)

by Scott Youngson | @jscottyoungson | Featured Writer
Mar 21, 2022
Corbin Burnes

Finally, we can conduct a mock draft knowing when the season will begin! The previous mocks I’ve done to this point (here if you’re interested) were all done during the lockout. While there are still several fantasy-worthy free agents unsigned, the majority have found new homes so we can feel better about their situations.

But I digress. For this mock draft, I wanted to test going after starting pitching early. This strategy is not one I typically employ, so I was curious to see how it would go. FantasyPros Draft Simulator makes it easy to test ideas with their “Set Draft Strategy” feature in the draft room. I set mine to the “Pocket Aces” strategy – which focuses on starting pitchers in the first two rounds. The other parameters for my draft were as follows:

  • 12-Team Snake Draft with the 9th overall pick
  • Standard 5×5 scoring
  • Yahoo positional eligibility
  • Yahoo default roster: C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, 3 OF, 2 Util, 2 SP, 2 RP, 4 P, 5 BN

Yahoo has a default cap of 1400 IP, so my plan was to draft six or seven starters and two or three relievers. The results were as follows:

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Pick Player Pick Player
1.09 Corbin Burnes (SP – MIL) 13.09 Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (1B,OF – TOR)
2.04 Max Scherzer (SP – NYM) 14.04 Ryan McMahon (2B,3B – COL)
3.09 Aaron Judge (OF – NYY) 15.09 Daulton Varsho (C,OF – ARI)
4.04 Teoscar Hernandez (OF – TOR) 16.04 Taylor Rogers (RP – MIN)
5.09 Corey Seager (SS – TEX) 17.09 Logan Gilbert (SP – SEA)
6.04 Pete Alonso (1B – NYM) 18.04 Eduardo Escobar (1B,2B,3B – NYM)
7.09 Logan Webb (SP – SF) 19.09 Adolis Garcia (OF – TEX)
8.04 Bryan Reynolds (OF – PIT) 20.04 Hunter Renfroe (OF – MIL)
9.09 Tommy Edman (2B,OF – STL) 21.09 Dylan Floro (RP – MIA)
10.04 Shane McClanahan (SP – TB) 22.04 German Marquez (SP – COL)
11.09 Sean Manaea (SP – OAK) 23.09 Raimel Tapia (OF – COL)
12.04 Chris Taylor (2B,3B,SS,OF – LAD)

Some quick thoughts on the roster:


The idea behind this strategy was to try to dominate starting pitching. As such, I grabbed two high-end starters with my first two picks. Corbin Burnes (SP – MIL) was a no-brainer for me at nine, especially with Gerrit Cole (SP – NYY) off the board. He’s been the best pitcher in baseball the past two seasons – outside of a healthy Jacob deGrom (SP – NYM) – and his advanced analytics indicate he’s no fluke. Max Scherzer (SP – NYM) with my second pick was a tougher decision due to his age. If he stays healthy, I like him better than Walker Buehler (SP – LAD), whom I also considered.

I stayed pretty aggressive with starters even after taking the two aces at the top of the draft. In the 7th round, I grabbed Logan Webb (SP – SF) and followed with Shane McClanahan (SP – TB) in the 10th and Sean Manaea (SP – OAK) in the 11th. After drafting five starters with my first eleven picks, I felt I was in good shape and decided to fill out my rotation with players I perceived as good values. Namely, I took Logan Gilbert (SP – SEA) in Round 17 and German Marquez (SP – COL) in Round 22.

As for relievers, I opted to wait since I was more worried about my offense in the early rounds due to all the starters I drafted. The first reliever I grabbed was Taylor Rogers (RP – MIN) in the 16th round and followed him with Dylan Floro (RP – MIA) in the 21st. This team could struggle in the saves category, but saves can be found off the waiver wire throughout the season, and I didn’t punt the category entirely. The “Draft Analyzer” projected me to finish 7th in the category, better than expected. As it turned out, several teams punted saves altogether.

Regarding the other pitching categories, The Analyzer projected me to finish 2nd in WHIP, 3rd in ERA, 5th in Wins, and 7th in K’s. The forecast for K’s was the most surprising to me, but looking at the draft board, I believe it was because several teams took more pitchers than I did. Thus, their counting stats project higher. My K-rate was excellent as my player average was rated second best. I’m fine with this as I know I can add or stream pitching throughout the season to keep my numbers up.


By drafting so many starters early, my biggest fear was what the effect would be on my offense. Surprisingly, though, I acquitted myself quite well. In fact, the Draft Analyzer projected my offense to be better than my pitching overall. My team was projected to finish 2nd in HRs / RBIs / Runs, 3rd in SBs, and 7th in BA. Granted, some of this was elevated by my choosing to stock my bench with more hitters than some teams. However, my averages look good too.

After drafting pitchers with my first two picks, I loaded up on hitters in Rounds 3-6. The best player available to me in Round 3 was Aaron Judge (OF – NYY), and I followed him up with Teoscar Hernandez (OF – TOR), Corey Seager (SS – TEX), and Pete Alonso (1B – NYM). In the 8th round, I selected Bryan Reynolds (OF – PIT), and after that, I started drafting for need and versatility.

Several of the players I drafted after Round 8 had multi-position eligibility, including Tommy Edman (2B,OF – STL), Chris Taylor (2B,3B,SS,OF – LAD), Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (1B,OF – TOR), Ryan McMahon (2B,3B – COL), Daulton Varsho (C,OF – ARI), and Eduardo Escobar (1B,2B,3B – NYM). I love having a lot of guys who can slot in at different positions as it helps my roster generate as many at-bats as possible. Even my Catcher, Varsho, qualifies as an outfielder should I decide to add another catcher later in the season.

I focused on bolstering specific categories with my three remaining offensive picks. Namely, I grabbed Hunter Renfroe (OF – MIL) and Adolis Garcia (OF – TEX) for power; Garcia and Raimel Tapia (OF – COL) for speed; and Tapia for batting average. Overall, I was pretty pleased with how the offense turned out, considering it lacked an extremely high-ranked player.

Final Thoughts

You could say the strategy worked as the Analyzer gave my draft a score of 94 out of 100, an “A” rating, and a projected 2nd place finish. Even so, it’s probably not one I’d use very often as I passed on some players I had ranked higher. In the end, though, this mock proved the strategy can work if the draft lays out in a way that your best pick is a starting pitcher in the early rounds.

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