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Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft: Spencer Strider, Nico Hoerner, Teoscar Hernandez, Marcell Ozuna

Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft: Spencer Strider, Nico Hoerner, Teoscar Hernandez, Marcell Ozuna

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 1: Spencer Strider (SP – ATL)

In my opinion, the worst thing you can do in a 15-team draft is to be short on starting pitching. Workhorses are largely a thing of the past and quality pitching thins out quickly. This is even more the case now, as Gerrit Cole is out for a significant period. In a format where 15 teams are starting nine pitchers, each fantasy manager will use a minimum of five starters every week. That is a total of at least 75 starting pitchers. This does not account for pitchers who become injured. It also does not account for pitchers who fantasy managers bench based on unfavorable matchups. Most managers start at least one or two ugly starts each week. Many of these pitchers do more harm than good. This is especially true in an era where they may not even pitch five innings to qualify for a win. The handful of strikeouts they may gain often does not make up for the ratio damage that comes along with it. I want to try to minimize my exposure to bad starts. Enter Spencer Strider.

I would argue Strider currently provides the biggest positional edge in fantasy baseball. The other premier candidate would be his Atlanta Braves teammate, Ronald Acuna, Jr. When you account for the fact most teams are starting more starting pitchers than outfielders in a given week, I give the edge to Strider. Would I take Strider with the first overall pick? Probably not. However, once Acuna is off the board, I have no issue taking Strider in a deeper league with so many starting pitching spots to fill. The only other player I would want in that spot is Mookie Betts. Betts is eligible at two relatively thin positions (second base and outfield) and should become eligible at shortstop sometime in April.

P.S. Corbin Burnes and Zack Wheeler were both off the board by the time my second-round pick came around, so I am even more happy I got Strider when I did.

Round 4: Nico Hoerner (2B , SS – CHC) 

Welp. The pitching run happened. Twelve of the next 20 picks after my Garcia selection were starting pitchers. That includes Gerrit Cole, who should not be going in round 4 after this week’s news. At this point, my top two overall hitters available are Nico Hoerner and Matt McLain. This is an interesting position to be in for a couple of reasons. Both players are eligible at second base and shortstop. Mutli-positional eligibility can be a bonus in deeper leagues, so these players are highly coveted. However, I already drafted Albies, who plays second base. That reduces the attractiveness of Hoerner and McLain’s dual eligibility. But when looking at how Hoerner can balance out Albies and Garcia with his high batting average and speed, I decided to pull the trigger.

Many fantasy managers are iffy about taking low-power guys early in drafts but Hoerner is a good fit with my early build. He puts the bat on the ball like few in the sport can. Hoerner is a career .279 hitter, with his only sub-.280 season coming in the shortened 2020 campaign. Hoerner should score a lot of runs and steal plenty of bases hitting atop the Cubs lineup. His dual eligibility may not help me as much as it would have if I had not drafted Albies but it certainly doesn’t hurt. And while there are several shortstops and a few second basemen I will like later on, there is an MI spot and a UT spot to fill. Therefore, I do not mind going back to that well when the time is right.

Round 8: Teoscar Hernandez (OF – LAD) 

There was a bit of pain here, as I was hoping to grab Lane Thomas, who I like a lot this season. He was selected with the 8.07 pick. Yandy Diaz is another favorite of mine, who went in the eighth round, though that sting was reduced by my Walker pick. Yainer Diaz was also selected. I do not like any other catchers to justify an eighth-round pick. Evan Carter is another popular pick who was taken in this round. Teams 2-4 are still light on starting pitchers, with a combined two selections through seven rounds. However, I do not see a “must-have” pitcher on the board and I have quite a few clustered together in my rankings. It is better to take a second outfielder here and decide on the catcher/pitcher conundrum in the next round.

There are a couple of reasons to like Teoscar Hernandez since his move to the Los Angeles Dodgers. First and foremost is the lineup itself. Los Angeles has three of the best hitters in all of baseball — Mookie Betts, Shohei Ohtani and Freddie Freeman. Hernandez may not hit directly behind that triumvirate but he should still see plenty of RBI opportunities — “see” may be the operative word in that sentence because Hernandez has stated he never felt comfortable hitting in Seattle during his tenure as a Mariner. He hit just .217 with a 19.4% soft-contact at T-Mobile Park last year compared to a .295 mark with a 12.4% soft-contact rate on the road. A .295 average is a bit lofty considering Hernandez still strikes out at a high rate. But even a .250 batting average should result in a boatload of RBIs for Hernandez.

Round 11: Marcell Ozuna (UTIL – ATL) 

Three more catchers are off the board, making eight total. They include Salvador Perez, Cal Raleigh and Willson Contreras. Team 4 double-tapped Raleigh and Contreras, which I like in theory. That team will have a huge advantage in its C2 spot over the rest of the competition. But as with all things draft-related, everything is relative and everything has a price. That team also has Sonny Gray as its only starter through 11 rounds. They will need to hit on several late pitchers for this strategy to make sense. As for me, I can take a catcher now, or I can try my luck in Rounds 12-13. If Ozuna was off the board, I might have done that. But there are five catchers who I have clustered together. So as long as all five don’t get drafted (fingers crossed), I should be ok.

Marcell Ozuna was a top-30 fantasy hitter last season without stealing a base. That speaks to how much opportunity arises when hitting behind some of the best hitters in the game. To his credit, Ozuna took advantage by driving in 100 runs, 40 via the home run. If Ozuna had outfield eligibility, he would be long gone by round 11. Tying up my UT spot isn’t ideal but I cannot pass up the value here.

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