Some quick notes on my strategy before I break down the actual picks.
I focused strongly on winning this year, with an eye toward the next couple of years. Personally, I don’t find the idea of “rebuilding” that enjoyable. I expect to go into every single year with the expectation that I’ll be placing in the top 3. I spent the first 10 rounds looking for young major league players entering or in their primes. The rest were a mix of shooting for upside and filling in minor role players.
As a result, I don’t place a heavy emphasis on prospects. I like guys who are major league-ready, or on the cusp. Prospects who are more than 1 to 2 years away, to me work best as trade chips. I’d prefer to take my bets on guys who are going to build or kill their value in the majors.
I went heavy in hitting, but this has more to do with the way the draft took shape. I wasn’t willing to pay for the pitchers in the middle rounds and had to settle for some players I likely won’t be keeping on my roster for more than a year or two.
I’m going to try and spend most of my time talking about why I took a player at that draft position and how it relates to my draft process. Rather than breaking down a player’s numbers.
1.11 Trea Turner, SS, WAS
Typically in drafts, I’ve preferred to pick a little bit closer to the middle, in part because I typically wouldn’t expect to get a player like Turner with the 11th pick. Franco going 10th overall though ensured that I would get to pick either Degrom or Turner, and ultimately went with the hitter. One round in, I planned to still go heavy on hitting early, and while DeGrom is my #1 pitcher in dynasty, Turner’s floor, age, and speed made the choice fairly straightforward. It felt especially straightforward when you consider that Turner’s best full season may still come.
He’s slowly improved his barrel rate every year since 2015. He cut his K-rate by 6% from 2019 to 2020. He also went for much more of an all fields approach, dropping his pull% a good bit in the process without sacrificing any power. And of course, none of this even mentions his blistering speed, which at just 27 years old seems poised to stick around for at least a couple more years.
Turner’s combination of high contact, great plate control, good power, and top-of-the-charts speed gives him one of the highest floors AND highest ceilings in all of baseball. That this is a H2H league, that I get to keep him next year, and the fact he may lead MLB in steals this year sets a foundation for the rest of my draft that allows me to go in any number of directions. Turner at the end of round one just feels like a no-brainer.
2.14 Cody Bellinger, OF, LAD
This is not a pick that I was expecting to make. I would have gladly taken either Degrom or Yelich here, but Andy Patton snagged both and left me looking for a fallback. That’s not to say I’m not happy with this pick though. After all, this is a player many people had in their top 5 dynasty players just last year. A combination of 2019 late-season decline, a down 2020, and an offseason shoulder surgery have no doubt contributed to a slow drop back down the rankings. At 25 though, there is still a lot to like from Cody Bellinger.
All signs point to him having successfully recovered from the procedure on his shoulder. Whether that means Cody can get back up to his 2019 levels has yet to be seen. Even with a bad shoulder though, he was still on pace for 30 home runs and 15 steals. The .239 batting average is concerning, but it is also accompanied by a .245 BABIP that is close to .60 points below his career norm.
2021 Bellinger doesn’t have to be 2019 Bellinger to return value at this spot though. If he can reach his projections and hit something like .275 with 37 home runs and 15 steals, hitting in the middle of that stacked Dodgers lineup is going to ensure he is a counting stat monster. A Turner/Bellinger 1-2 punch feels like a pretty nice start to a draft. That it’s a dynasty draft probably leaves me feeling even happier.
3.35 Corey Seager, SS, LAD
One of the reasons I dislike picking near either turn is the wait between picks. I watched target after target go between the 21 picks from my 2nd round pick to this one. I had my fingers crossed Gallen would somehow make it to me. My eyes were then set on Eloy, only for me to watch him get taken the pick right before this one. With Turner as my first pick, Seager didn’t really fit my team that well. This league has a MI spot though. So even though taking Seager here would hurt some of my flexibility, he was the best player on my board. I shot for the upside.
A year ago, this pick would have been bonkers. Three years ago, it might have seemed like a steal. It almost feels like we’ve forgotten just how good Seager was at a young age before TJ derailed him. After last year though, close to a .300 average with 30 home runs feels like a lock. The upside here is also staggering. Seager posted a career-high max exit velocity while also putting up an absurd 15.8% barrel rate and 55.4% hard-hit rate. And of course, his fantastic 2020 numbers don’t even include his even better playoff slash line.
To me, value in dynasty isn’t just about how high I am on a player. It is also about how high I think my league mates will be on a player. If Seager is crushing it the first month and my offense is looking great, he’s an obvious trade chip. His value isn’t where I value him, it’s where the person highest on him in my league values him. And I’m willing to bet that if Corey Seager has a 150 wRC+ someone else is gonna value him higher than I do.
4.38 Aaron Nola, SP, PHI
This was one of the hardest picks I made in this draft. As mentioned, given the format I had considered going heavy on hitters early and then splurged on elite RP in the middle. While my team was lining up for that strategy, I had a feeling the draft would not. Feeling confident in my offense, I decided to go with a pitcher instead (and I’m glad that I did). I have a feeling this pick might be seen as a reach by some. Especially given that at the time I was picking from a pool that still included Bauer, Castillo, Glasnow, and Woodruff. From a dynasty perspective though, I like Nola better than any of those guys.
For starters, Nola has been durable. After back-to-back 200 innings seasons he was again on pace to get there in 2021. With pitchers, I am particularly interested in durability in dynasty. I want to know that I can count on my top arms year over year and not be forced to scramble for mid-season aces.
There are plenty of other good qualities to Nola outside of durability though. His K-rate has been slowly on the rise and spiked to 33.2% this past year. He brought his ERA back down after what felt like a 2019 blip, and his FIP, xFIP, and SIERA all followed. His curveball is still fantastic and I think the command is borderline elite with it.
Even if he lacks some of the upside of the players who went later, I think Nola is going to be good longer. So I diverged a bit from who I thought had the highest present value to who I thought would give me the more value in 2-3 years.
5.59 Brandon Lowe, 2B/1B, TB
Brandon Lowe is still underrated. I was tooting this horn in 2019, I was tooting it in 2020, and even with a redraft ADP now of 69 I’m still gonna toot it. There is some volatility to Lowe’s profile. The range of outcomes here is wide. I think we’re about to witness Lowe’s prime though, and I think it’s going to be better than we think.
Lowe has hit .270 the past two years and has been on pace to hit 30-35 home runs in each of them, too. At 2B that plays up huge, especially when the other young 2B around Lowe (Lux, Hiura) each come with a lower floor. And quite frankly, I’m not convinced either of those guys has higher upside either.
Even in redraft leagues, Hiura is going a couple of picks before Lowe. I know some people will mention Hiura’s stolen base upside over Lowe, but I’m not really convinced that’s even real. Lowe’s sprint speed has been 10 percentiles higher than Hiura’s each of the last two years. We’re hoping Hiura can overcome the horrendous swinging strike % to hit .270 with 35 home runs. Lowe has already shown us he can do that. For me, Lowe is the consensus 3rd best option at 2B behind Albies and LaMahieu.
6.62 Luke Voit, 1B, NYY
I’ve found myself ending up with Voit a lot more this year than I thought I would. After a monster 60 game season, I figured his price would go through the roof. While he certainly is not in the bargain bin, he has been at a price I’ve been willing to pay. I realized by this point in the draft I could build a strong contender for 2021, and I decided to lean into that.
As a result, this is probably my first pick that doesn’t have a particularly long-term focus. I think there is still a lot to like moving forward past 2021 for Voit though, too. The power needless to say is legit, and the Yankees offense is going to continue to give him plenty of counting stats going forward. He did a fantastic job this past year of both increasing his zone contact, while simultaneously inching the swinging strike rate down.
I think the floor here is safe, and given health (which is far from a given) includes 30+ home runs and 175+ runs/RBI. Voit is older but he’s also a late bloomer. And he has the kind of profile and tools that I think will allow him to be a productive player into his early 30s.
7.83 Michael Conforto, OF, NYM
I had my fingers crossed one of Alec Bohm or Ke’Bryan Hayes would fall to me in the 7th. That clearly didn’t happen, and Bohm went 77 with Hayes going two picks before this one at 81. I think Conforto leaves me with a better team for 2021, though.
Admittedly, I do believe the upside here is a little limited. I’m not expecting Conforto to repeat his 2020, but I also don’t need him to be worth the price here. Conforto will be 28 next year and has been remarkably healthy since the start of 2018. I’m not going to be surprised if he has 3 more seasons of a .250-.270 average with 30 home runs and chip in steals. If he pops another .300 season from an inflated BABIP along the way, that’s the icing on the cake.
This pick leaves me feeling like I have a stacked offense, that should be able to do it all over again in 2022. My counting stats in particular seem great, and I haven’t had to take on a huge batting average drain to get it. It also means I have a lot of flexibility with how I want to attack the rest of the draft.
8.85 Sonny Gray, SP, CIN
If I were to do this again, I probably would have taken Alcantara here (who went 5 picks later at 8.91). I think they present similar enough floors and ceilings that the age difference should have made me lean Alcantara. Gray has been consistently great in Cincy though. Before a two-start blow-up in early September (in which he allowed 11 ER in 4 innings) he looked uninhabitable. He also gets to face the same weak NL central for at least another year.
Gray is 31 but he is also durable. He hasn’t been an iron-man, but he hasn’t been prone to major injuries (though he has certainly been prone to inconsistency). This is a win-now move. Nola is going to anchor my rotation, but it is also clear I’m going to be filling out the back with risk. Gray lets me swallow some of that risk for this year. And since I’ve already strongly committed to competing, fits my plan of attack.
9.107 Starling Marte, OF, MIA
I guess people don’t like Marte because he is old? Because that’s the main reason I can think Marte would slip to the 9th. Marte’s best years may be behind him, but he still can contribute. And most importantly, he can still contribute in steals, which has arguably become fantasy’s rarest category (though I think you could certainly argue for saves instead).
Marte still posted an 89th percentile sprint speed last year and was on pace to put up 25+ steals. If he can match his ATC projection of .277 with 19 home runs and 25 steals I could do backflips over this pick. I’ll be curious to see what the 3 years Zips projections say about Marte for 2023. Given the way steals have played out, even if he’s only a .250 hitter then with 13-16 home runs and 18-22 steals he could still be a keeper.
As far as I’m concerned, there is always time in the back half of drafts to take young upside plays. If my league mates are going to de-value players too much based on age, I’m going to take advantage of it.
10.110 Dylan Bundy, SP, LAA
I’m still not sure what to think of this pick. In large part because I’m still not sure what I think of Dylan Bundy. If he’s now 2020 Dylan Bundy, this pick will be a steal. If he puts up something closer to his projections, I’ll be kicking myself. Looking at the pitching that was available at this pick, I’m not sure if I would do something differently. I wanted a mix of current value without taking on too much age.
From a dynasty perspective though, there is a good bit to like on taking a chance on Bundy. Though he hasn’t been great at going deep into games, he’s made (or been on pace for) at least 28 starts every year since 2017. I like that his inconsistency isn’t also accompanied by health problems. Wheeler might have been an interesting pick here instead. Overall, I think Bundy’s longer track record of health combined with his higher upside and younger age makes me glad I took him here instead though.
11.131 Kris Bryant, 3B, CHC
I think this pick — along with the Bundy one before it — are the two picks where I felt forced to reach for a player because I prioritized 2020 early on. This one though was also implicated by the fact Adam Lawler sniped me and took Suarez the pick beforehand. Had I known I would be able to get Gio Urshela in round 21 or Brian Anderson in round 23, I might have pivoted here. The 3rd base landscape looked bleak though at this pick, so I jumped.
Like the Bundy one, I’m taking a big risk here. If Bryant is somehow done at age 28, I wasted my 11th pick. Of course, if Bryant can even get back to 2019 levels I just secured another 30 home run hitter. This is another pick I can see myself moving early though. If Bryant recoups his value early, I’ll flip him for pitching as soon as I can. This is an upside play with risk. I think my team is strong enough that at pick 11 that I can take it. Looking back, I probably should have doubled up on pitchers at this turn. Strasburg went two picks later, and I think he is actually a safer bet with a higher upside to boot.
12.133 Tony Gonsolin, SP, LAD
Luckily this is a dynasty draft! This draft took place before Bauer signed with LA, removing any hope we had of Gonsolin securing a starting spot out of the gate (barring an injury). That doesn’t bother me too much though, not even at pick 12, because I think Gonsolin is legit. He’s a mid-rotation starter right now in my eyes. He knows how to pitch, he knows how to locate, and he’s got the stuff to go with it.
The main concern with Tony is going to be the innings. The Dodgers haven’t let him go deep in games, and I don’t expect that to change even when he is a full member of the rotation. In 3-4 years though, that is going to be the norm anyway. Every dynasty owner should be prepared for the majority of their starters to continue throwing fewer and fewer innings each year. I don’t think Gonsolin’s innings are going down to everyone else’s, because I think the Dodgers are already ahead of that curve.
13.155 Nick Anderson, RP, TB
This might sound crazy, but I think Nick Anderson is underrated. You can’t fully appreciate Nick Anderson until you have seen him pitch. Unfortunately, I think for a lot of people that exposure didn’t come until the World Series, where he was decidedly not himself. I know he isn’t going to get the bulk of Tampa Bay’s saves. But he is going to get some, and last season he was on pace for 18, which in today’s game could end up putting him in the top 13-18 anyway.
I didn’t draft Nick Anderson for the saves, I drafted him for the strikeouts and the ratios. In a H2H format, I think this kind of pitcher is extremely underrated. I don’t need him to give me 2-3 saves every week to return value. Most of the other teams I face are going to hurting for saves too, and not many of them are going to have a reliever as good as Nick Anderson too.
14.158 Luis Patino, SP, TB
Personally, I think certain aspects of drafting from specific teams are still a huge market inefficiency in fantasy. Tampa Bay’s excellent player development isn’t just a resource for them, it is a potential resource for us too. I was in on Luis Patino before his trade, but now I’m in on Luis Patino.
Patino is still a work in progress, there is no denying that. He’s still only 22 though. Yes, the Rays are going to heavily manage his innings every year, not just this one. But they should also be able to harness Patino’s elite stuff and turning into a five-inning machine. The majority of my lineup was set at this point and I had my first three starters and my “closer”. It felt like as good of a time as any to take my first gamble on super future value.
15.179 Joe Musgrove, SP, TB
16.182 Franmil Reyes, UTIL, CLE
I feel pretty good about Franmil in the 16th round. Utility only or not, Franmil is going to bring you late power and he isn’t going to kill your batting average to do it. He doesn’t have the same batting average upside as Alvarez, but he is also coming 150 picks cheaper. Reyes is still only 25 too. He swung less last year and started to see few pitches in the zone. If he can continue to hone his plate skills, there’s a good chance we haven’t seen the best of Reyes as he enters his prime power years.
17.203 Jared Walsh, 1B, LAA
Walsh is the kind of player I could be cutting in August. That’s not ideal, but if the Angles are winning and he’s excelling as the large side platoon at 1B, he could get a regular starter’s worth of games. I want players who are on the cusp of the big leagues though. If Walsh is a wash I can cut bait and pick up someone else. If he comes out strong that I have another major league contributor to plug in some weeks.
18.206 JJ Bleday, OF, MIA
I’ve been picking up a lot of JJ Bleday shares this offseason. I think after the big three outfield prospects we aren’t giving Bleday enough credit. His swing is sweet and to the point. He’s also not on a great team, and assuming he’s sharp could be an easy lock to join up with the Marlins early in 2022.
To me, JJ is something akin to a Michal Conforto light. He’s a polished college hitter with a refined enough bat that his thump will give him a quick ascent rather than a sky-high ceiling. I’m betting on that quick call-up here, but I think the team context could make that happen.
19.227 Alejandro Kirk, C, TOR
Roster resource currently has Kirk starting the year at AAA. That would be unfortunate to say the least, especially given he is the only catcher I took. Even with how loaded the Blue Jays are though, I think Kirk should get a good amount of plate appearances.
There’s some intriguing upside with Kirk. He’s going to be catcher eligible this year and hopefully at least next. If his bat is as good as it seems though, he’ll get plenty of playing time at DH too. Kirk came into camp in very much the best shape of his life. He only just turned 22 this winter, if Alejandro makes his way to some more power, his great plate skills are going to play up. I’ll probably have to prepare for catcher some other way closer to the start of the season. But I’m betting Kirk can be getting everyday at-bats by mid-season.
20.230 Jose Urquidy, SP, HOU
I’m a little surprised Urquidy managed to fall this late. Houston has had great success in squeezing the most out of SP, and I don’t think that will stop with Urquidy. We’ve already seen how good he can be from start to start. Some consistency and a healthy normal season should do wonders for him after an up-and-down 2020.
His command and stuff are both above average, and I think the floor here probably isn’t lower than where I drafted him. Urquidy is the type of pitcher who could be in the top 30 pitchers by the end of the year. I’ll take the 25-year-old top 30 SP with pick 230.
21.251 Gio Urshela, 3B, HOU
I’m not as high on Urshela now as I was when I made this pick. I think the new deadened ball could end up hurting some of New York’s fringe power righties the most. He makes a great bench player though, should still have at least a few more good years in him. He’s the kind of player I can see helping my team in a couple of ways. Either someone goes down and he helps plug a hole for me, or one of my league mates has an injury and I flip Urshela to them.
22.254 Mauricio Dubon, SS/OF, HOU
I’ve realized as the offseason has gone on that I’m one of the higher people on Dubon. There are certainly playing time concerns right now in San Fransisco. The Giants have done a good job the last couple of years squeezing the most out of their players. I think Dubon has some sneaky upside to go with a very safe floor.
Worst case scenario, he spends most of the year in a part-time role. It’s also not hard to imagine Dubon upping his line drive rate and adding an extra tick or two to his exit velocity. If Dubon can turn into a 15HR/20SB type player I’ll be happy here. And in the 22nd round, I don’t have to worry about him developing in my starting lineup. His multi-position eligibility means I can plug him in across the diamond when one of my players goes down.
23.275 Jordan Montgomery, SP, NYY
With these late-round starting pitcher picks (Musgrove, Urquidy, Montgomery, and Means) what I’m really shooting for is upside. While I don’t think Montgomery’s upside is boiling over, I think that a solid pitcher is hiding out here.
The increase in fastball velocity really has me sold on Montgomery. That, parlayed with his ability to put pitches where he wants to, makes me very hopeful the Yankees can get a lot out of his above-average pitch mix.
If Montgomery was 4 years younger he might be going 50 picks earlier around Clark Schmidt. I’ll take the lottery ticker on the older guy with similar upside who is on the verge of putting it together.
24.278 Tanner Rainey, RP, WAS
This pick was made before the Nationals signing Brad Hand. Prior to that, I had been all-in on the “Rainey as closer” train. I still think there is a chance he makes that happen, but even as a setup man, he is going to provide value.
I care about Ks and to a lesser extent ratios when looking at RPs. Team roles are fleeting, and especially in dynasty, I want to take shots at relievers who I think have long-term closer viability. I think Rainey has that.
The stuff is off the charts, and he showed an increased ability in 2020 to harness that stuff in the zone. He will still pick up some saves and wins at the backend of the Nationals bullpen. This pick is aimed at the future though, too.
25.299 Dylan Moore, 2B/OF, SEA
It’s funny; I went into this offseason thinking I was going to be completely out on Moore. Yet, I somehow keep ending up with him in redraft and dynasty. At pick 300, I feel pretty happy about getting him here.
Moore’s projections are all over the place. Some of that is playing time-related, some of that is performance-related. But regardless, the upside here is pretty huge. Moore has 20/20 potential, and given how Seattle’s season is likely to play out, the 90th percentile outcome could even be something closer to 30/30.
I don’t think Moore will do that, but unlike most players left at this point, I think there is the upside of something like that. The average is going to be bad, but I’ll buy a MLB lottery ticket that I can drop in May if I need to.
26.302 John Means, SP, BAL
The last of my starting pitchers, and a player I’m pretty happy to get this late. Means is pretty much the embodiment of pitchers I’m looking for at this point in the draft. Pitchers who are in the majors, are still young, and haven’t shown us their true upside yet.
Means may not have true ace potential, but a Baltimore Ace can still be another team’s number 2-3. I have enough pitching depth in the back of my rotation that I feel comfortable enough I can play matchups while I wait and see how each develops through the season.
In Musgrove, Urquidy, Montgomery, and Means, I feel pretty confident I have four guys who could build big value in 2021. These are all guys who have a path to jumping into the top 30-40 SP next year, and that’s the kind of safe upside I’m after.
27.323 Ryan Pressley, RP, HOU
I was expecting closers to get pushed down, but I was a little surprised Pressley was still available here. Age and injury are no doubt a big reason why. Despite that, Pressley is one of the few closers who seems to actually have a full-time role going into next year. Whether or we will be able to say the same thing about Presley going into next year has yet to be seen.
With my fourth-to-last pick, I’m willing to take a player who is going to help me mostly (if not exclusively) this year. I didn’t have a true closer yet, and surveying how the position had come together, I figured the combination of Presley, Anderson, and Rainey should be able to get enough saves to out-compete most of the teams each week.
28.326 Brandon Marsh, OF, LAA
I’m still not sure how to feel about this pick. I like Marsh, but I have some worries too. His ascent as a prospect includes swing adjustments he made in 2019. The Angels outfield felt a little less crowded when I made this pick, and now I think it’s unclear if Marsh will debut in 2021. I like his proximity to the majors, but I’m a bit worried it’s actually farther away than it seems. To an extent, I think Marsh could end up a better real-life player than fantasy player. Particularly if the speed doesn’t transfer over and he’s more of a 10 SB guy at his peak.
I’m also worried that the Angels didn’t bother to call him up last year after it was clear that Adell wasn’t ready. There is a little more risk here in a prospect that I would like, but that comes with the late spot in the draft. Marsh has the tools and the ability though, and if his new swing is legit this will look like an easy win.
29.347 Kris Bubic, SP, KC
Dynasty players need to start becoming more aware of the swarm of pitchers the Royals are about to set loose. The first group already debuted — namely Singer, Bubic, and Keller — but Kowar, Lynch, and Asa Lacy are not going to be far behind.
While I have Singer ahead of Bubic, I’m not sure I have them 140 picks apart in dynasty. And a lot of that is because I don’t think we’ve seen the best of what Bubic has to offer. The walk rate was poor, but based on what he had shown in the minors and the opinions of those who have seen him, I think it can be fixed. Bubic doesn’t have ace potential, but he’s 23 and already has 50 MLB innings. I can see him reaching a flattish peak pretty quickly where he turns himself into a solid mid/backend starter.
30.350 Adrian Morejon, SP/RP, SDP
I’m pretty ecstatic with the upside I was able to get with my last pick. There is a chance Morejon flounders for the next 1-3 years before finally getting shuffled to the bullpen. He’s still a useful big leaguer if that’s the case.
This is all about the upside though, and the upside is a frontline starter. It was great to see he stopped walking guys, but that’s going to be hard to swallow if it means his HR/9 is now going to be through the roof. If it’s mostly just poor luck resulting from an almost 40% HR/FB rate, then Morejon could be ready to break out this year.
Morejon is the type of player though who could very well need an extra year. You might find yourself holding him for 2022 after a poor 2021, but the upside is worth the minimal risk at pick 30.
Photos by Rick Dikeman | Design by Quincey Dong (@threerundong on Twitter)