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Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft: Ozzie Albies, Justin Steele, Bailey Ober, Nick Pivetta

Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft: Ozzie Albies, Justin Steele, Bailey Ober, Nick Pivetta

There are several iterations of LABR drafts. Using the trusty FantasyPros Draft Wizard, I went with a 15-team, 29-round snake draft, using classic 5 x 5 Rotisserie scoring. The offensive categories are batting average, home runs, runs scored, runs batted in and stolen bases. The pitching categories are wins, saves, strikeouts, ERA and WHIP. Each team is required to start two catchers and one other player at each infield position. Teams are also required to start a corner infielder (CI) and a middle infielder (MI). Each team starts five outfielders along with one utility hitter (UT). On the pitching side, each team starts nine pitchers weekly. There is no designation between starters and relievers, though there is a minimum inning requirement to keep in mind.

I chose my draft position at random and was given the fifth selection. While that takes Ronald Acuna off the table, I am confident I can make this work. Here are the results of the draft along with my notes throughout. Below we dive into a few notable picks.

Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit

15-Team LABR Style Mock Draft

Round 2: Ozzie Albies (2B – ATL) 

Ozzie Albies is a prominent fixture in Atlanta’s lineup, which is one of the most potent in recent memory. They scored 947 runs as a team last year, the most by any team in baseball since 2007. Albies is a major contributor and a consistent player. He has recorded at least 96 runs scored, 24 home runs and 13 stolen bases in four of the last five full MLB seasons. Albies also plays a position that is a bit thin when it comes to fantasy production. Betts, Marcus Semien and Jose Altuve are the only other second-sackers I have in my top 50 overall. While Albies is not the sexiest pick, I am quite happy to grab him here.

Round 6: Justin Steele (SP – CHC)

I like to target an elite catcher in two-catcher leagues, especially 15-teamers. That is because the position can get pretty ugly when you are trying to fill your C2 spot. However, in this case, the “big four” were gone, as three of them were taken since my last pick. I think there is enough of a drop-off between those four and my C5 (Yainer Diaz) that reaching for the Astros’ new starting catcher in round six would be a mistake. There are only so many holes you can plug. In leagues this deep, you will start some non-flashy players. Some of them may not even be particularly good. The trick is to mitigate the damage, especially at certain positions.

The top player on my overall board at this moment is Christian Walker. But there are a couple of other first basemen I like later. Meanwhile, the top 23 starting pitchers (including Cole) are gone. Furthermore, Team 2, Team 3 and Team 4 have taken no starting pitchers yet. They are all likely to take at least one starter as we approach the 6-7 turn. That means I cannot afford to wait on my SP2 here. I have Justin Steele ranked ever so slightly ahead of Joe Ryan, with a few others not far behind. I took Steele because his perceived lack of strikeouts (he still struck out 176 hitters last year) is less worrisome with Strider in tow. Steele avoids hard contact and free passes. I am quite comfortable with him as my second starting pitcher.

Round 9: Bailey Ober (SP – MIN) 

I need a starting pitcher here for a couple of reasons. I only have two and the top 30 starters are off the board. As much as having Strider should give me a leg up on the competition, that does not mean I can ignore starting pitching throughout the draft. My issue is I have quite a few pitchers clustered together in my rankings. Among them are Chris Bassitt, Hunter Greene and Bailey Ober, so it is a matter of personal preference. I decided on Ober primarily because he is another pitcher with elite control. Again, we are starting nine pitchers every week. That often includes up to six or seven starters each week. Start a bunch of pitchers every week who are constantly allowing eight baserunners and three earned runs and watch what happens to your ratios.

Ober has a career 1.11 WHIP, including a 1.07 mark in 2023. He does not have overpowering stuff or post huge strikeout totals. But because of the extension he gets off the mound, as well as his 6-foot-9 frame, he gets hitters to chase. Ober has ranked in the top nine percent each of the last two seasons in chase rate. He interestingly had reverse splits, as right-handed hitters slugged 16 home runs off him, compared to just six lefties in roughly the same number of plate appearances. If Ober can better navigate the landscape against righties, he should be in for a huge season. Like Duran, he should also benefit from facing teams in the American League Central, which could lead to more victories.

Round 12: Nick Pivetta (SP – BOS) 

I am a firm believer in getting your guys. And Nick Pivetta is one of my guys for 2024. Pivetta was one of 12 pitchers who threw at least 120 innings, had a K/9 of over 10.0, and an xFIP and xERA below 4.00. Two of the pitchers on that list are Shohei Ohtani and Kodai Senga. One won’t pitch this year and the other is likely out until June at the very least. Pivetta is one of six hurlers with a strikeout rate of 30% or better after last year’s All-Star break. Only one of the other five is readily available after round five in 15-team leagues. He is one of only three pitchers with a SIERA below 3.00 in the second half last year. Neither of the other two are available after round five.

Pivetta developed a sweeper after a brief demotion last year and the results were outstanding. Hitters went 5-for-44 with 26 strikeouts in at-bats ending in Pivetta’s sweeper. That gives him another weapon to put away right-handed hitters with. His curveball was much improved and is designed to keep lefties off-balance. With this retooled repertoire, the sky is the limit for Pivetta from a fantasy perspective. His ADP has risen recently, as sharps have begun to catch on. He should be going higher. And with several teams in front of me (particularly Team 4) twiddling their thumbs instead of grabbing pitching, I won’t let Pivetta fall into any of their grubby little hands.

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