Eleven of our best dynasty writers—and Trevor Hooth—got together to do a little dynasty mock draft. Here are the results:
My “resume” reads as that of an average to above-average fantasy player: I do 1-3 leagues a year, I win occasionally, I usually finish in the top half, if not the top 3-4. I read a few baseball websites, know a few of the TOP prospects, or guys who are right at the edge of breaking out. I can explain WAR or FIP or UZR to the average person.
But I’ve never done a dynasty league before. It’s just one of those things that my groups of friends have never been interested in. Much like how the spring brings hope and a new start, so do my fantasy teams. Every year I have a clean roster sheet, and a short memory for what happened last year (although inevitably, whoever won the league will bring it up a few times on draft day–I’m looking at you, Chris Edelman). When presented with the opportunity to try something new, I jumped at the chance. I’ve always been that way.
My strategy was to go with what I knew: build around young guys who were going to be around for a while, fill in with players whose floors were pretty high, supplement at the end with guys who are on the cusp, and then see what’s left. I generally love going hard on some pitching early on. I pay close attention to depth at a given position, and take a player’s division and how well his team is going to do into serious consideration. I’m also petty and don’t like rooting for players on teams I dislike. I’m a Cubs fan, so I’ll let you figure out who those players might be.
The major caveat of course was 2020. Looking at stats from last year and trying to gauge how a player would do moving into 2021 and beyond in a 60 game sample size, during a pandemic, it just seemed dangerous. I think we all found a guy at some point and thought “How is he still available?” or “How is he ranked this low?” And more often than not, you took a peek at his 2020 stat line, and it made sense.
I tried to pick up on trends as much as possible. The first five picks seemed pretty obvious, no matter what type of league this was. Some combination of Mike Trout, Juan Soto, Ronald Acuna Jr., Fernando Tatis Jr., and Mookie Betts. So that left me in a unique position. The obvious players were gone, how do I want to build this team to both win now and keep an eye on the future?
1.6 Gerrit Cole, SP, NYY
I’ve probably already messed this up. Cole is 30, not exactly the youngest guy in the majors. That being said, picking the best pitcher in baseball is never really a bad decision. He’s on a team that’s clearly trending upward. For the last three years, his ERA has been under 3.00, his K% has been over 30% (and a ridiculous 39% in 2019), his BAA has been under .200, he’s finished in the top five in Cy Young voting, and was an all-star twice, not including 2020. I mean he’s Gerrit Cole. Yes, I’d love a guy who will be around longer, but he’s too good to pass up. SP1, checked off the list.
2.19 Walker Buehler, SP, LAD
Hate is a strong word, so I’ll just say I strongly dislike picking sixth. The advantage of a snake draft is everyone has an equal playing field, but I like having picks close together. I don’t mind waiting for a pick to come up. It’s hard to balance the anxiety of wanting a player and your pick still being 1-2 away, and the lull of knowing your pick is far away. It’s always the same. People who like picking in this slot, explain it to me.
Ok, thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.
Walker Buehler! I’m an LA native, so watching this guy go from prospect to ace has been fun. At 26 and the best pitcher on a team that just won the World Series and is heavy favorite to do it again in 2021, I’d say this is another safe pick in any league. Players that I love like deGrom, Trea Turner, Vlad Jr., and Cody Bellinger were off the board, so it felt like a great pick. Definitely the best pitcher available. Moving on, SP 2 in tow.
3.30 Adalberto Mondesi, SS, KC
My strategy of “watch what the other guys are doing” was starting to pay off. I saw guys who would never go this early in leagues I usually participated in start to disappear very quickly. And at this point, you start to rely on a term that I’m going to coin now, Mental Muscle Memory. I think everyone has a story of picking up a guy off waivers who you heard something about in an article or on a podcast or maybe your friend picked him up in another league. You scan through waivers and oh look, he’s there, let’s put him on the bench and see if he does anything.
Mondesi was one of those guys for me in 2019. Mondesi is Billy Hamilton—when he gets on base, there’s a very good chance he’ll steal the base in front of him. He gets a lot of steals, runs, he’s young, plays a premier position, and is on a team that I think is a year or two from being really good. If he can bring his on-base percentage up to league average, he’ll be really dangerous. Future leadoff hitter.
4.43 Max Fried, SP, ATL
Noticing a trend here? Young pitchers, especially ones with such high strikeout numbers, are always going to be valuable in fantasy baseball. Fried has been in the league since 2017, and only a consistent fixture in the rotation since 2019. Fried throws a standard four-pitch mix: four-seamer, curve, slider, change. The curve is a big, looping, breaking ball that plays well at 74 mph, especially combined with his 93 mph fastball. There’s a lot of mileage left on his arm, and Atlanta looks to be in a position to compete for several years to come.
5.54 Trent Grisham, OF, SD
Tell me if this sounds interesting to you: 24-year-old outfielder who won a Gold Glove in his first full year in the majors, shows early signs of a great understanding of the strike zone, and projects as a 20-20 guy. Sounds like a great guy to have at the top of the order for years to come. Trent Grisham was a steal by all accounts for the Padres, acquiring him from the Brewers before the 2020 season in a trade. Grisham can clearly handle center field, but can also slide around to the corners, if necessary. He’s a smart baserunner, and he hit a surprising 10 home runs in last year’s shortened season. The Padres and I are lucky to have this guy hitting in front of Tatís Jr., Maldonado, and the rest of the San Diego lineup for years to come.
6.67 Teoscar Hernández, OF, TOR
There’s so much about advanced analytics that I don’t understand, but what I do know is advanced analytics guys love Teoscar Hernández. At this point int he draft, the Trouts, Judges, and Harpers of the world are long gone, and guys like even now-infamous Jarred Kelenic, who was taken just a few picks before, have been gobbled up. I looked around at the board and it was all about opportunity. There was a drop in outfield talent, so I started digging into these advanced stats, not wanting to be stuck with a bottom of the barrel outfield. To start, some website named PitcherList has him ranked as the 25th best outfielder in the game. He fits the mold of the average MLB player: high power, high strikeout guy. But I’m buying into the 2020 season version of Hernández, who had a 39.5% hard-hit rate, had a .423 BACON (batting average on contact, and is coincidentally my new favorite statistic), and was FIFTH on barrel percentage last year, behind only Tatís Jr., Seager, Soto, and Eloy Jimenez. Oh, and his exit velocity was also fifth, behind Tatís Jr., Sano, Yelich, and Trout. I’ll take the upside here.
7.78 Ian Anderson, SP, ATL
This is another buy low, stash, and see what he can do guy from another league I did. I picked up Anderson after his infamous debut against the Yankees, where he one-hit them in the first game of a doubleheader. From there, he went on to have a 55% GB rate, ranked in the 99th percentile for hard hit rate, and only gave up two home runs in 32 innings pitched. At one point it looked like Atlanta’s season was over as it was getting started when several injuries and ineffectiveness hit their starting rotation. Anderson turned out to be the savior they needed. He started two playoff games as well. All of this, keep in mind, at just 22 years old. Not bad rook. Keep it up.
8.91 Sandy Alcántara, SP, MIA
The Marlins’ 2020 season looked like a dumpster fire in the early days of the season, and it had the sports world as a whole wondering if sports could be played during a pandemic. There were conversations, loud ones, about safety and whether or not baseball should just pack it in or move to a bubble. At one point, it was reported that the Marlins organization had 17 players, coaches, and personnel test positive for COVID-19.
The team started calling up prospects from their alternate site in an effort simply to field a team, but what came from that was a surprising roster that made it to the playoffs and advanced to the second round after sweeping the Cubs in two games. Alcántara was the opening day starter on July 24th, but his next start wouldn’t come until August 30th. It was worth the wait. Alcántara had a 22% K-rate and .222 average against. In his first post-season start, he limited the Cubs to three hits and one run in 6.2 IP, and, at just 25 years old, he has a lot of room to grow. He’s under the radar for a lot of baseball fans, given other big names like Sixto Sánchez, but Alcántara is going to be someone to watch in 2021 and beyond.
9.102 Dustin May, SP, LAD
To put it simply, Dustin May is young and has nasty stuff. His fastball averaged 98+ and routinely goes over 100, but his true bread and butter is his sinker that moves like a two-seam fastball, goes over 100 mph, and May feels comfortable throwing it in all counts and situations. MLB Pipeline had him ranked sixth among fellow right-handed pitching prospects coming into 2020, and he earned that spot and more. He made 12 appearances in 2020, 10 of them starts, and had an additional seven times in the playoffs. Dave Roberts utilized him mostly as a high-velocity reliever in the playoffs, and opposing teams struck out 14 times in 10.2 IP. May figures to bounce back and forth from starter to reliever again in 2021 in a loaded Dodgers rotation, so this may be a pick for 2022 and beyond, but his future is as red-hot as his hair.
10.102 Willson Contreras, C, CHC
2016 had a lot of special moments for Cubs fans, but the debut of Willson Contreras is one that often gets overlooked. A converted third baseman, Contreras was often overlooked by baseball fans in the first half of the 2010s because of the other star prospects the Cubs had in the wings. Since fixing himself as the everyday catcher in 2017, Contreras has been well known as one of the best hitting catchers in the game, but that’s not the whole story. The trend in baseball has been getting catchers who focus more on their defense in the last few years, so Contreras has become more of an outlier. But he may be on of the most athletic people to ever play the position, sometimes playing the outfield under Joe Madden. If you miss out on J.T. Realmuto, don’t miss out on Contreras, or you might find yourself without much offense from your catcher slot.
11.126 Devin Williams, RP, MIL
Here’s a stat for you: in 2020, opposing hitters hit .032 against Williams’ change-up. Read that again. He compliments that pitch with a 95 mph fastball, and that combination lead him to win the Rookie of the Year award. The Brewers continue to find stud relievers, and after rumors of the team not being able to afford Josh Hader for much longer, Williams may be the closer sooner than many expect. For now, he racks up holds and strikeouts. A great pickup if your league does advanced stats, or if you just want a guy to get you low ERA and high strikeouts a few days a week.
12.139 Michael Kopech, SP, CHW
Having a 24-year-old who can throw 105+ mph never seems to be a bad idea, fantasy or otherwise. If you don’t know Kopech, this is your official wake-up call. The White Sox acquired Kopech from the Red Sox in the Chris Sale trade, and while he was a known entity, the biggest prospect at the time was Yoan Moncada. Kopech also suffered from the White Sox having a ridiculous farm system in recent years, and after Tommy John surgery in 2018, he fell off many peoples’ radar. Kopech was set to return in 2020 but opted out of the season.
When we last saw him, Kopech started four games and had 15 Ks in 14.1 innings. All reports are that he’s healthy and might compete for a rotation spot in 2021. If not, he’ll most likely be another flame-throwing option in the bullpen on the South Side of Chicago with a ton of upside and a bright future.
13.150 Edwin Rios, 1B/3B/OF, LAD
I’m not quite sure what to make of Rios. On one hand, in just 76 at-bats, he hit eight home runs in 2020, seeing spot starts here and there. He made the postseason roster and started two games in the World Series. He’s been a consistent riser in the Dodgers system, bats left-handed, and has some versatility defensively.
On the other hand, he’s 26, which isn’t old for your first full season in the bigs, but it isn’t young. The Dodgers decided to resign Justin Turner instead of giving Rios the full-time job. I think that says a lot about Rios’ ability to play the hot corner more than anything, and first base is usually taken up by Max Muncy or Cody Bellinger. If and when the National League adopts the DH, I think you’ll see Rios get a lot more playing time. The bat certainly is intriguing, and for a 12th round pick, the upside was worth the risk.
14.163 Jose Altuve, 2B, HOU
At this point in the draft, it starts to become about team composition instead of best player available. You don’t want to end up too late in the draft scraping the bottom of the barrel for starters. Second base isn’t as deep as other positions for fantasy, and I was shocked to see that Altuve is only 30.
Altuve’s resume speaks for itself: 2017 MVP, 6x All-Star, 5x Silver Slugger, and one Gold Glove. He’ll always be associated with the cheating scandal in Houston, and the at best odd way he didn’t want his shirt removed after hitting a series-clinching home run in 2019. He had a down 2020, but his track record has shown that he’s a great hitter.
15.174 Jeimer Candelario, 1B/3B, DET
Quick: name five current Detroit Tigers players outside of Candelario. Can you do it? If not, I don’t blame you. The Tigers have finished in last place in the AL Central the last two years, and finished third in 2018 due to the Royals and White Sox being that much worse. They only had 65 wins in 2018. One intriguing player is Candelario. Acquired from the Cubs in 2017, Candelario was projected as a 20ish homer guy who could play solid third base but would probably never win you a Gold Glove. He’s played a lot of first for the Tigers and last year quietly hit .297 and had a .369 OBP. He still only projects to have about 20 home runs, but he’s entering his prime, and Detroit has a bright future.
16.174 Andrew Benintendi, OF, BOS
Benintendi was once a guy that prospects were compared to. He was penciled in for 20-25 home runs, had good speed, could play all three outfield positions well. After two down years, including a 2020 where he hit–and you’re reading this correctly–.095 and struck out nearly 31% of the time, he was traded to the Royals this offseason. The Royals hope he has some post-hype in him, and a change of scenery will do him some good. Two things still give me hope for Benintendi: he’s 26, which means he’s still young enough to make changes and figure things out, and he walks at an elite rate (20%). There’s clearly something wrong with his mechanics, as he grounded out 57% of the time last year (career average is about 40%). I’m still a believer.
17.198 Kyle Schwarber, OF, WAS
Ok, I’ll admit it, I’m a stan for Kyle Schwarber. I went to Indiana University at the same time he did and I was lucky enough to watch him play a few times. When he was drafted by the Cubs, I was ecstatic. When he became a hero and legendary tale in the 2016 World Series, taking his first at-bats since going down to an ACL tear in the first week of the season, he became a favorite player.
A quick look at Schwarber’s stats tells you he’s a left masher who hits a good amount of home runs, takes his walks, doesn’t hit lefties very well, and doesn’t have much speed. But what Cubs fans will tell you is that he has the potential to do and be much more. At different times, Schwarber has shown the ability to go to the opposite field for contact and power a good chunk of the time. The scouting reports have always said Schwarber is a great hitter, not just a masher. I hope he taps into that more in D.C.
18.211 Cristian Pache, OF, ATL
Considered by many to be the Braves best prospect coming into 2021, Pache is known for his defense and his speed. The glove is MLB-ready, and it earned him a promotion to the bigs in 2020. The bat leaves something to be desired. Stop me if you’ve heard this before about a prospect: he has power, but strikes out too much. While not an elite base stealer, many think Pache has the potential to steal 20 bases a year, if not more. Pache’s floor seems to be Kevin Kiermeier, and his ceiling is yet to be determined. I love him at this spot–I’ll stash him for a year or two and hopefully be very glad that I did.
19.222 Garrett Hampson, 2B/SS/OF, COL
This pick is pure scouting report and need. I wanted a guy on my bench who had upside and could play a few positions. But I’d imagine Hampson won’t be high on many people’s draft boards in non-keeper leagues. Hampson is competing for the starting CF job for the Rockies, and has elite speed. He lacks consistency on offense but has shown a knack for going the other way and has some power. I hope he develops into a 15-20/20 guy. He’ll certainly be given a lot of opportunities in Colorado this year to show what he’s got.
20.235 Josh Staumont, RP, KC
I saw Staumont pitch a few times last year out of the Royals’ pen and picked him up after the first appearance in a league where holds is a category. He throws two pitches, a four-seam fastball and curve, but both are plus pitches. The fastball averages 98 but gets as high as 102, and he counters it with an 82 mph power curve. This was about the eye test–he just made opposing batters look silly. His 33% K-rate last year was great, but he needs to lower the 14% walk rate. Do that and you have a future closer.
21.246 Jorge Polanco, 2B/SS, MIN
In 2019, Polanco hit 22 home runs, had 108 runs, and stole seven bases with a .330 OBP. While never mentioned with the elite shortstops, Polanco projects to be available lower down in many draft boards and is a solid bench or backup plan. In an era where a strikeout rate under 25% is good, Polanco consistently averages around 15%, even in a down 2020. I still think he has some projectability in the bat. The Twins signed Andrelton Simmons this offseason, so expect Polanco to see the majority of his playing time at second.
22.259 Rowdy Tellez, 1B, TOR
You may not have heard much of Rowdy Tellez. You’ve probably heard of the guy he’s competing with for playing time, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. And that’s the biggest challenge facing Tellez–the guy ahead of him is a potentially elite bat without much of a defensive home. The Blue Jays will try out Vlad Jr. at first base and DH this year. When he’s not at that position, Tellez is expected to fill in there, although the DH will be spread out a bit more. Tellez only plays first, so you can see where the complications are.
That being said, Tellez projects to be a solid bat option as well. He strikes out at only a 15% clip, while still projecting as a strong power hitter. He could stand to improve his walks, but he should hit his way on base enough to offset that. There are many in Toronto who believe Tellez will show even more in 2021 and earn a full-time starting role. Toronto manager Charlie Montoya may have a problem on his hands if Tellez continues from his solid 2020 showing.
23.270 Brad Keller, SP, KC
Keller is in the Kyle Hendricks mold, and just like Hendricks, the advanced data hasn’t quite figured him out. He doesn’t strike guys out at an elite rate (16%), he doesn’t throw the ball particularly hard (92 mph average fastball), but what he does do is induce weak contact (averages 12% weak contact and 66% medium contact), and he keeps the ball in the park (5% HR/FB). Like Hendricks, he’s consistently outperformed his projections. For a Royals team that might be very good in two years, this is an interesting pitcher to keep an eye on.
24.283 David Fletcher, 2B/SS/3B/OF, LAA
Batting average is still a standard category in most leagues, and that is something that Fletcher excels at, coming in at a .314 clip in 2020, and a .284 mark in his sophomore season in 2019. He strikes out only 11% of the time while walking at a solid 8% clip. He brings a ton of versatility to your lineup as well. With Andrelton Simmons and Tommy La Stella gone, expect Fletcher to get a lot more playing time.
25.294 Isaac Paredes, 3B, DET
I said up front that I was a Cubs fan, so my knowledge at this point in the game is coming from guys who were former or current Cubs prospects. Paredes was part of the same trade that brought Jeimer Candelario to Detroit, but Paredes was in single-A at the time. 2020 was his first crack at the majors, and well, it didn’t go great. Paredes still projects as a high contact, high on-base guy who won’t strike out a lot and has solid speed. He still has some things to work on, but could be a useful utility player, similar to David Fletcher, in a year or two.
26.307 Kenley Jansen, CL, LAD
For all the bad press that Jansen has gotten in the last 2-3 years, and all the young, electric arms that the Dodgers have, Jansen is only 33 and still knows how to get guys out in high leverage situations. I’ll ride with him until his arm falls off, and I imagine the Dodgers will too. I was honestly surprised to see him still available and figure he’ll last at least a few more years as a closer, if not longer.
27.318 Adbert Alzolay, SP/RP, CHC
Oh hey, another pitcher, another Cubs prospect! I love Alzolay, and I love his potential. 2021 is a big year for him, but given the Cubs talent and depth in the rotation (or lack therof), Alzolay should get plenty of opportunities to show what he can do. I believe he can earn a rotation spot, but if not, he could easily become a high-leverage reliever. He throws two fastballs, has two very different breaking balls, and has a nasty changeup. The biggest thing is consistency and staying healthy, two big ifs. I’ll be watching very closely in 2021.
28.331 Taylor Trammel, OF, SEA
Taylor Trammel was ranked 11th by Baseball Prospectus in their pre-2019 rankings after winning MVP at the 2018 Futures Game. Since then, he’s been traded twice, his stock has fallen a bit but he still shows up on most major prospect rankings. He struggled a bit when he reached AA. Where he stands now is up in the air after not having a season in 2020, but he’s expected to compete for an outfield spot in 2021. Color me intrigued, certainly worth a flyer in round 28.
29.342 Aristides Aquino, OF, CIN
“The Punisher” had an incredible debut in 2019, becoming the fastest player ever to hit nine home runs. Since then, he has hit only 11 home runs in 281 at-bats and has struck out at a roughly 25% clip, including an eye-popping 32% rate in 2020. The power is something to dream on, he walks at a good rate, and can play defense. Can he put it all together?
30.355 Bobby Bradley, 1B, CLE
Well, we made it, and it all comes down to Bobby Bradley. Bradley is your prototypical first baseman in 2021: he hits it hard and hits it far and he strikes out a ton. He might be able to stick at first base but will definitely spend some time at DH as well, two positions that have been covered at the major league level. With Carlos Santana gone, Bradley should get a shot in Spring Training to prove he can hit major league pitching at a consistent level.
Photos by Rick Dikeman | Design by Quincey Dong (@threerundong on Twitter)