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

Mar 13, 2022

Fantasy baseball auctions offer the perfect combination of uniqueness and similarities. No two auction results are alike, yet the approach used in each one individually can overlap.

The reality is that auctions deviate wildly as they unfold because of two factors: human nature and the order in which a player is made available for bidding. Logic would dictate that the former would be lost in a mock auction using FantasyPros’ system, but that’s actually not the case. “Human” thoughts are relatively easy to predict in this format precisely because of the latter. When Fernando Tatis Jr. is on the board, everyone pays attention — human or computer.

This article, like all of the mock auctions I complete, is intended to highlight the possible combinations of players by following the mantra I always preach: patience. Be patient in an auction. The players will come to you, and you want to have money ready to spend when the time is right.

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My Pre-Auction Strategy

  • Don’t overpay for high-end pitching — there will be bargains later.
  • Conversely, overpay for some high-end hitting — use the savings from pitchers on the upper tier of hitters.
  • Save money as a whole — it’s early enough in the Draft Season that some players are still going overlooked.
  • Build for stability — there are currently no spring training games to overhype a player.

This 12-team auction lineup is C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, 3 OF, Util, 5 SP, 3 RP, 5 BN and was conducted using FantasyPros’ Auction Simulator.

Results

Willson Contreras (CHC): $9
I am never one to pay up for a premium catcher, but by the time Contreras was on the board, I could easily see where my team was lacking: power. Contreras won’t battle for the home run title, but I had a void in both the catching position and the slugging categories. He fulfills both needs, and since I had the most money available and fewest positions still to fill, he was worth the investment.

1B Kris Bryant (FA): $8
I was willing to overspend for Bryant, even though he currently doesn’t have a team. Bryant will obviously land somewhere, and we will see the perception of said landing spot drive his value. For now, we have to add or ignore Bryant based on his past numbers. I’m still targeting the potential return toward his better seasons — even if he can’t fully reach them — but I also acknowledge that he can’t be the starting first baseman on this roster without a viable backup.

2B Whit Merrifield (KC): $15
My plan of using my projected savings to overspend for hitters has not exactly played out, but I can’t complain. I landed Merrifield for $15 simply because others had to slow down their bidding. The irony? I didn’t particularly want Merrifield, but only because he has been carrying a premium. Without said premium, he still brings stolen base potential and can’t be overlooked if the price is right.

SS Wander Franco (TB): $14
The shortstop position has been deep for quite a few years, but there is no denying that a player like Franco is being added to teams largely due to hype. “Hype,” however, is not a problem in the sense that Franco has earned it. He delivered on tremendously high expectations last year, and he will be highly targeted in the encore. A handful of solid shortstops had been taken prior to Franco, and I was willing to pay a little more to add him. I didn’t have to go too high with the bidding, which was a nice bonus even with the money I had saved.

3B Manny Machado (SD): $34
Machado was the second player added to my team, and he followed plenty of high-priced options going too far out of my range. I paid slightly over his projected value, but largely because of the timing of the bids. I viewed Machado as the last of his tier in terms of expected production. He’s among the most stable assets in fantasy baseball, and he fills an infield position; there are usually plenty of outfielders to be added later.

OF Mike Trout (LAA): $42
I always mention patience when I write about an auction, and patience paid off here. There were 12 players taken before I added one to my roster, and when it happened, it was at a relative bargain. Fernando Tatis Jr. went for $86. Shohei Ohtani finished at $82. Juan Soto — on whom I bid aggressively — landed at $67 (not a bad price). But I took Trout for $42. I mentioned in my pre-bid strategy that I would be willing to overpay for high-end hitting, and I continue to argue that Trout is worth the investment this year as one of the greatest hitters of a generation who still has plenty left to give.

OF Christian Yelich (MIL): $15
At one point, I had to fully realize my pre-bid strategy of willingly overpaying for a hitter, and it came to fruition when Yelich was available. I’m buying into Yelich as a whole based on his pedigree and what we know he could provide. In this particular auction, I knew he wouldn’t go for a tremendous premium — he was the 86th player nominated — but I happily met the asking price.

OF Cody Bellinger (LAD): $4
My outfield is now complete with players who would have been top-20 selections just two years ago, and I absolutely love the price I paid for all of it. Bellinger has taken a large step backward since winning the MVP Award in 2019, but do we really believe that he is going to be a sub-.200 hitter for a second consecutive season? No way. Could it happen? Clearly, it’s possible. I’m just not expecting it, and I am taking Bellinger wherever can find him at a discount.

UTIL – Franmil Reyes (CLE): $6
I wrote about it with Willson Contreras, but I sorely needed power, and I had the money to spend. Reyes is an easy pick at that point, and I was willing to pay a premium to add him to my roster.

SP Julio Urias (LAD): $25
It took 46 other players to get selected before I landed my first pitcher, and it was partly because of my pre-auction strategy to not overpay for arms. I went a little higher than I would have liked for Urias, but that’s mainly because the auction has played out in the reverse direction from what I expected. This is the nature of the beast, and the goal is to adapt accordingly. As long as I had money to spend — and I did — I could still fill a team with players like Urias at decent prices.

SP Sandy Alcantara (MIA): $18
I had the exact same mentality with Alcantara — a former favorite of mine — as I did with the aforementioned Julio Urias. That is, I didn’t exactly get a discount when adding him, but I did strengthen my team at a moderate cost. Alcantara stepped up in a big way last year with his first career 200-inning season, and he has as much potential to improve his game as he does to regress — where said regression is not likely to be overly dramatic.

SP Clayton Kershaw (FA): $17
I have prioritized Kershaw in so many leagues over the years that it was frightening to see his name appear on the draft board and not know what to do with it. The reality? I don’t love my starting pitching, and I had enough money to force Kershaw onto my team. I overpaid, but I did so because of the state of the draft and the money others had already spent. I won’t be able to add too many more players near Kershaw’s price range, which puts pressure on him to deliver a season worthy of the acquisition cost.

SP Zac Gallen (ARI): $4
It should never be a surprise to see Gallen on my roster, as I have become the ultimate fanboy for the Diamondbacks’ starting pitcher. He constantly goes overlooked — his pathetic 4-10 record probably has something to do with it — but he is still developing at just 26 years old. His strikeout rate helps raise his floor, while his ceiling remains extremely high if he were to take the proverbial “next step” as a pitcher.

SP Yu Darvish (SD): $12
I’ve now performed two mocks — this auction and a 10-team mock draft — and I have landed Darvish in both of them. I am quite happy with the move, too. He regressed hard after an impossibly great 2020 season, but he is no longer being treated like a top-notch ace for fantasy baseball. He probably won’t get back to that level, but he easily strikes out more than one batter per inning and has plenty of upside.

RP Aroldis Chapman (NYY): $12
Between the amount of money I had, the lack of a closer to that point, and the premium that had been added to relief arms in this particular auction, I was not going to be outbid for him. Chapman remains one of the best options at a position that is filled with volatility, and while there are certainly a handful of closers who will pass him in the season-long standings, he should easily remain well above average.

RP Kenley Jansen (FA): $5
In all honesty, Jansen probably wasn’t worth the money I spent on him. He was, however, a necessary risk. I still need to fill out my relief pitcher roster slots, and while Jansen is currently unsigned, he’s one of the few speculative picks who will likely slide into a closer’s role somewhere. If not, then I wasted $5 near the end of an auction while I still had a need for his position.

RP Mark Melancon (ARI): $5
Same song, different chorus. I needed another closer — especially with the lack of confidence I have in Kenley Jansen — and Melancon is currently slotted to save games for the Diamondbacks. Is that comforting? Absolutely not. But is it a necessity for my roster? Indeed, and with the rest of my eventual adds serving as bench spots, I could afford to push the maximum bid a little higher than I would have liked.

BN Julio Rodriguez (OF – SEA): $2
I actually had no interest in drafting Rodriguez, but I simply won’t let a good bargain go if I have the money and roster space. Rodriguez will occupy a spot on my bench for now, but he also helps in adjusting the average amount of money I have left to spend on players. For $2, he can easily be a bust and not damage my team, or he can deliver on his hype and be an absolute steal.

BN – Rhys Hoskins (1B – PHI): $3
Money finally started to restrict my options, but I knew that I had to spend some of it on a bench bat that would bring power. Enter Hoskins. I was hoping for him to slip past at the minimum price, but I was willing to throw another dollar — $2, really, since I had to outbid someone else — to make sure that I had another power source waiting to slide into my first base slot if Kris Bryant can’t serve as a regular for me.

BN – John Means (SP – BAL): $4
I was hoping to have Means slip by the masses at the minimum price, but two other computerized managers snuck into the bidding. That simply forced Means to be the last player I could afford to bid more than $2 on, and I happily went a little higher to add him to my team. The reality is that this increase in price is likely to take place across the industry as we get closer to the eventual Opening Day. The Baltimore Orioles moved back their left-field fence, and even if we can’t gauge the impact it will have on pitchers right now, we know that the auction and draft market will react positively for someone like Means. That probably leads to an inflated price in the end.

BN – Triston McKenzie (SP – CLE): $1
I’m always targeting strikeouts and upside at this point of an auction, and if I can get McKenzie — who carries the potential for both — at the minimum price, I’m thrilled. It happened. I am indeed thrilled.

BN – Myles Straw (OF – CLE): $2
There may be no player whose perception varies more wildly than Straw. He is widely viewed as one of the best sources for stolen bases in a year in which there aren’t many viable options. The problem? He carries incredible hype because of it. If Straw doesn’t deliver on those high expectations, he will damage any fantasy manager who paid up to get him. I only added him because I had enough money to close out my auction if he stayed under my remaining $3. He did, so I took the chance.

Final Thoughts

I never hide how much I love fantasy baseball auctions, and it’s because it’s generally possible to mold your roster however you want. That was not the case here. I do not love this team.

The roster is mediocre at best. The rankings concur. The good news is that this was not a wasted effort. If anything, the takeaway from this mock auction was invaluable.

Basically, my pre-draft strategy was a flop. My computerized opponents refused to let a pitcher go for a discount, which meant that, by comparison, the hitters were less expensive. We will have to make sure to prioritize the pitchers we want so that we know where we can spend the money and stay aligned with how players are currently valued.

LINK TO RESULTS: https://draftwizard.fantasypros.com/baseball/draft-analyzer/post-draft/?draftKey=mlb~f3b8aa4e-c714-4981-812c-f150a299963b&partner=mmergola

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Whether you’re new to fantasy baseball or a seasoned pro, our Fantasy Baseball 101: Strategy Tips & Advice page is for you. You can get started with our Sabermetrics Glossary or head to a more advanced strategy – like How to Make Custom Fantasy Baseball Rankings with Microsoft Excel – to learn more.

Mario Mergola is a featured writer at FantasyPros and BettingPros and the creator and content editor of Sporfolio. For more from Mario, check out his archive and follow him @MarioMergola.

 

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