Mock Draft #1: Colin Charles’ Picks
On February 4, the Pitcher List team took part in the first post-4.0 mock draft. Here’s a quick recap of the format: 12 team H2H, 3 OF, 2 UTIL, 4 bench spots, and 9 pitchers. A total of 23 rounds at 60 seconds per pick. Overall I am pretty happy with the way this draft played out.
Let’s get into it!
1.9 – Christian Yelich (OF, Milwaukee Brewers)
I’m going to be honest here. This was a poor choice for my first pick in the draft. I had my sights set on Ronald Acuna or Manny Machado, but they got taken in the 2 spots right before me. In hindsight, I should have taken Alex Bregman or Trea Turner, and sitting here thinking about it, Turner should have been the pick. Now, Christian Yelich is certainly a fine player, he’s still only 27 which means he should just be entering his prime and coming off his 2018 season where he swatted 36 long balls and swiped 22 bags, but I cannot expect him to do the same in 2019. Here is a table showing his 1st and 2nd half splits compared with league average.
That second half HR/FB rate scares me a lot. Considering he hits FB at a rate well below league average, those home runs could come down. However, he does hit the ball hard, he’s in the 94th percentile for exit velocity and 98th percentile for hard hit %, so if that launch angle comes up he could actually improve upon his breakout 2018.
2.16: Trevor Story (SS, Colorado Rockies)
This is who I had in my mind for my second round pick before we even started. But when the time came, Aaron Judge was still on the board and and I had an internal dilemma of who to take. Obviously I went with Trevor Story, who showed significant improvement from his 2017 season. The most impressive thing about his 2018 season was that he decreased his K% to 25.6%. Now even though that is still above league average, it is a significant improvement on the 34.4% from 2017. I was more than happy to grab a guy in the second round who can flirt with a 30/30 season. And don’t forget folks, the Coors Effect is real.
3.33 – Anthony Rendon (3B, Washington Nationals)
I don’t think we can consider Anthony Rendon underrated for too much longer. He doesn’t strike out much, can take a walk, oh, and smash the ball. He is in the 82nd percentile for exit velocity and the 85th for hard hit %. I don’t think anyone should be surprised if he hits 30+ home runs this season and while he’s not a big runner, he’s still above average in Statcast sprint speed. His wOBA over the last 2 years has been 0.394 & 0.383, so yeah, I guess I’ll take an elite hitter in the 3rd round.
The pitcher run was on and I couldn’t risk waiting another round to grab my #1. Yes, there is a ton of injury risk here, but when he’s healthy he can lead any staff. With a fastball that regularly clocks in above 97 mph he’s got an electric arm and there are few pitchers out there with this upside. He only threw 154.1 innings last year and he’s only 2 years removed from striking out 218 batters so I will gladly take some risk on him.
5.57 – Mitch Haniger (OF, Seattle Mariners)
Rule #1 – Don’t avoid good players on bad teams. Mitch Haniger was traded to the Mariners before the 2017 season and immediately became one of the top fantasy sleepers. Unfortunately, injuries limited him to just 410 PA and he came into 2018 with much lower expectations. He was nothing short of fantastic last year hitting 26 home runs and putting up a 138 wRC+. I think he’s a guy that is being underrated right now, and while the 5th round might be early for some, I was glad to get him here.
Seeing Mike Clevinger still available here was very surprising. A lot of the PitcherList staff are very high on this guy and I thought this was good value to get my #2. Nick Pollack put him at #16 of his top 20 starting pitchers for 2019, saying he might have a shakier floor than some, but he also has a higher ceiling. If he can improve upon or at least sustain his BB % (8.3%) from last season. Another reason I took Clevinger here was because he tossed 200 innings last season. After grabbing Thor in the 4th round, I decided to try and get a guy who can be a little more reliable with the innings.
7.81 – Jose Abreu (1B, Chicago White Sox)
Aw yeeaaaa. I was pretty stoked about this pick, even with a disappointing 2018 season. I took Jose Abreu as the 9th first baseman off the board in this mock draft, and I am very pleased that I didn’t jump any earlier than the 7th round. Abreu just turned 32 at the end of January and with the addition of Yonder Alonso, it is likely that he will see more time at DH. I think that will help his value as he may not have to focus on the fielding aspect as much and maybe he’ll be able to lock in at the plate. If some of the young White Sox hitters are able to take a step forward with the bat this year, it could provide some extra RBI opportunities.
8.88 – Michael Conforto (OF, New York Mets)
I think Michael Conforto was out to prove something last season after rushing back from a torn posterior capsule in his left shoulder suffered in late 2017. He was expected to be out until May but somehow was able to make it back into the line-up in early April. He was basically a league average hitter from April to August and then tore up the league in September with a 165 wRC+, hitting 9 HRs and driving in 29. Last September he hit fly balls at a 38.6% rate with a not unfathomable HR/FB of 26.5% which would put him in the company of Giancarlo Stanton, Ian Desmond and Mike Trout if he could keep it up for an entire season. He had 4 months last season where he posted HR/FB rates north of 21%, so there’s no reason to think he can’t build upon his successes next year.
Michael Augustine recently wrote a fantastic article on why Kyle Freeland could be the next great ace. He attacks hitters up and in with his fastball, so it doesn’t matter if he plays his home games in the launch pad of Coors Field. By throwing his fastball there the Effective Velocity of the pitch likely gives batters a tougher time. However, I’m not as high on him as most. His SIERA last season was 4.35, which comes in 42nd among qualified SPs. I didn’t take him to be an ace, I took him to be a #3. This was another pitcher coming off a 200+ IP season and although it was great to see his second half K% increase to 22.1% from 19.3%, he also saw his BB% increase slightly as well (8.7% from 8.0%). Still, even with regression, if I can get a guy who’ll throw 200 innings with a sub 4 ERA it is incredibly valuable.
10.112 – Charlie Morton (SP, Tampa Bay Ray)
So after all my talk about getting my #2 and #3 SPs who will hopefully throw 200 innings next season, I decided to grab a pitcher who has averaged roughly 155 IP over the last 2 seasons making 25 and 30 starts in 2017 and 2018 respectively. He may not be the guy who’ll get deep into games, but chances are when he is on the hill, he will deliver some quality numbers. And if you build your bullpen correctly, you can easily account for the decreased inning total.
11.129 – Robinson Cano (2B, New York Mets)
Yes yes, he got busted for PEDs and yes he is 36 years old. But this is fantasy baseball and I’m gonna take players that are going to contribute. He’s still showing fantastic plate discipline and the dude can still hit. He was 31st in the league in Z-contact% (min 250 PA) and in the top 30% for SwStr%. Unfortunately, the move from Safeco to Citi shouldn’t do much to help his production at the plate as they are both pitchers parks, but as he was able to put up a 0.364 wOBA last season. I’ll roll the dice.
12.136 – Raisel Iglesias (RP, Cincinnati Reds)
This was likely my last chance to grab a quality closer before all viable options were gone. He’s had two solid back to back seasons notching 28 and 30 saves in 2017 & 2018 respectively. It sucks that his home park isn’t very pitcher friendly, but good pitchers will get batters out regardless of the hitting environment. In the last 2 years, he’s tied for 10th in saves and he’s firmly entrenched in the third tier of closers. This is a guy who can get the job done and not kill your ratios.
13.153 – Gregory Polanco (OF, Pittsburg Pirates)
To be honest, I had my sights set on Andrew McCutchen here, who was taken immediately before my pick. This is exactly the reason you have a plan B, aaaaand a plan C (and often a plan D). The low avg is not ideal, but last year he almost doubled his BB%. This makes Gregory Polanco a very interesting player in OBP leagues, but he’s also coming off a not so insignificant injury (dislocated should in September). When I drafted him, I figured he would likely miss the first month of the season, but I just read that he may be out until June. If that’s the case then this pick was not great. If you plan on drafting him this spring, keep and eye on his health updates.
14.160 – Jose Alvarado (RP, Tampa Bay Rays)
I didn’t draft him with the expectation that he will accumulate a lot of saves. I drafted him because he throws smoke, averaging over 97 MPH. He all but abandoned his 4-seam usage last season (39.3% in 2017 to 1.5% in 2018), and instead used his 2-seamer as his main pitch (68.9% in 2018). His out pitch is the curveball where he threw it 77.4% in 0-2 counts and 77.3% in 1-2 counts. His used that curveball for good reason as it had a 47.7% whiff rate and a wOBA of 0.171. He should be in line to accumulate some saves this season, and if not, well I still have a guy with some upside. I hope he can figure out his command issues and get back to his 2017 BB% of 7.3% instead of the 2018 version of 11%.
15.177 – Cesar Hernandez (2B, Philadelphia Phillies)
Nick did not like this, so I thought this would be a great example of my thought process. I had already filled my 2B slow with Cano in round 11, so I could see why this pick could be a bit puzzling. However, I still had both of my UTIL slots to fills and this not only gave me a backup plan for Cano should something go awry, but it also filled my aforementioned UTIL slot. Want to know another reason for this choice, I’m a sucker for speed. What you are getting out of Cesar Hernandez is a league average hitter (100 wRC+ last year), a 15/15 candidate, and a guy who isn’t going to kill you in OBP (0.356 in 2018). I think getting all of that in the 15th is pretty good value.
16.184 – Yadier Molina (C, St. Louis Cardinals)
I thought it was about time to take a catcher. Yadier Molina was the 7th catcher off the board and is about as steady as they come for playing time. Having the ability to draft a catcher and know that they should be able to give you 500 league average at bats is incredibly valuable. I didn’t want to pay a high price for a catcher, and I also didn’t want to gamble on playing time and this solved both problems.
This one was a little bit of a reach, but 26 GS and 130 IP in his first taste of big league action ain’t bad. Joey Lucchesi is mainly a 2 pitch pitcher (sinker & curveball) and that usually doesn’t make for a high ceiling SP, yet Lucchesi made it work for him. He was just below average in ERA- (105) and FIP- (107), which obviously isn’t great, but there is also a lot of value in getting 130+ innings of league average pitching. The big surprise for me was his 26.5 K% given he mainly threw 2 pitches. With the pitcher friendly confines of Petco and going into his sophomore year, I thought there could be some decent potential for improvements in 2019. If you wanted to go another route here, I would suggest taking a high quality reliever because like I said, there is value in league average pitching, but there is definitely a point where a high quality reliever can out-produce a league average starter, Where that point is, I’m not sure, but I would suspect that inning limit to be somewhere around 150 for the SP and 60 for the RP.
18.208 – Will Smith (RP, San Francisco Giants)
This guy one of the headliners in my top 5 RP by pitch value article from last month. He’s had a pretty solid 5 year run and is probably as steady a reliever as any. Not only did I snag a sick reliever here I also made two enemies in Travis Sherer and Scott Chu. You know you’re doing something right when your fellow draftees declare you as their enemy. Smith is a 3 pitch pitcher (fastball, curveball, and slider) who won’t come in and blow you away with his fastball (92.6 MPH). In 2014 to 2016 he accumulated 73 holds, under the knife in 2017 for TJS and returned in 2018 to get 14 saves and 6 holds. So this is a man who can get it done and even if Melancon gets the closer role back can still be valuable in SV+HLD leagues.
19.225 – Nick Markakis (OF, Atlanta Braves)
I have no idea how he fell this far, well maybe I do. He posted 2 consecutive below average seasons in 2016 & 2017 (98 & 93 wRC+) before posting a 114 mark last year. If you are in an OBP league you should definitely target this guy. Over the last 4 seasons here are his OBP marks: 0.370 in 2015, 0.346 in 2016, 0.354 in 2017 and 0.366 in 2018. Even in his down years he still had no problem getting on base. I’m sure we will see some regression this year, but he is still in a potent line-up and should still have no problem getting on base and accumulating stats.
20.232 – Dellin Betances (RP, New York Yankees)
This was my favourite pick of the draft. Dellin Betances is downright filthy. What’s that? Oh you’re coming in here with your 42.3 K% and your 14.5 SwStr% (league average is 10.7%). There are a couple red flags about Betances namely his BB% and his workload over the last 5 years, but relief pitchers are fickle enough year to year without worrying about their past workloads. Using a comparison tool, the 3 most similar pitchers to Betances are; Edwin Diaz, Aroldis Chapman, and Ryan Pressly. That’s some pretty good company especially with 2 of those 3 being the top 2-3 closers off the board.
21.249 – Eric Hosmer (1B, San Diego Padres)
Eric Hosmer has always been a one good season one bad season sort of player. I honestly think this is a very low risk pick if you can get him this late in a draft. The worst part about the NL West is that there are 3 pitchers parks, but maybe that doesn’t matter. In 2018 Hosmer put up some interesting home and away splits where at home he had a 0.345 wOBA and 122 wRC+ while on the road he numbers sagged to a tune of 0.274 wOBA and 69 wRC+. Take a look at his performance in the NL West parks.
|AT&T (San Francisco Giants)||40||0.318|
|Chase Field (Arizona Diamondbacks)||34||0.158|
|Coors Field (Colorado Rockies)||27||0.485|
|Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles Dodgers)||35||0.162|
|PETCO Park (San Diego Padres)||294||0.355|
22.256 – Ryan Pressly (RP, Houston Astros)
BAM! Another awesome relief pitcher. Now keep this between the two of us, but Pressly outperformed Betances in some key xStats peripherals last season; bbFIP (2.54 vs 2.78) and VH% (6.9% vs 8.1%) to name a couple. Now I can’t tell you in good faith to go out and choose Pressly over Betances, but I wouldn’t fault you if you did. Just to be safe grab both guys and then you don’t need to worry. He probably won’t reach the K% of Betances, but does he really need to? His K% sat at 34.2% last season and could be a valuable source of holds again this year (last year he had 21). I should also mention he’s been a workhorse for the last 3 years, not throwing less than 60 IP, and twice being over 70 IP. Pair that with some good bullpen management and this guy will be deadly again in 2019.
23.273 – Tony Watson (RP, San Francisco Giants)
My final pick of the draft and my second reliever out of the Giants ‘pen. You can’t discount the fact that AT&T Park **ahem**, I mean Oracle Park, is a notorious pitcher friendly park. There is a lot of space in that outfield. As it stands right now, I believe Steven Duggar is slotted in the CF position for 2019. I honestly don’t know much about him, but if off the CF who played at least 300 innings he ranked 18th with a UZR/150 of 4.2 (Trout ranked 15th at 5.6 for whatever that’s worth). So it looks like the Giants have at least a capable CF behind their pitchers. But back to Tony Watson, his slider ranked as the second best pitch among relievers using pVAL/C (pitch value per 100 pitches). His splits vs LHB and RHB aren’t all that different with a 0.248 wOBA vs LHB, and 0.263 vs RHB in 2018, suggesting that he won’t come in to face a single hitter and thus give you valuable innings.
(Photo by Quinn Harris/Icon Sportswire)