This past Tuesday, some of the writers at PL participated in a 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 think I had a passable, not terrible but not great, draft.
There are a few things to note for context. I’m very much in the middle of working on my own rankings, this was my first real speed draft of the off-season (I’ve done several slow mocks) and last and perhaps most importantly, I did not set a queue for this. I kind of just wanted to fly by the seat of my pants, so to speak, and see what I ended up with. Without further ado let’s take a look at the picks.
1.3 Jose Ramirez
Fairly standard here. Jose Ramirez was a revelation last year, hitting 39 home runs and stealing 34 bases. And oh yes, he nearly doubled his walk rate from 8.1% to 15.2%.
2.22 Anthony Rizzo
A lot has been said already about the state of first base this year. It’s a tricky spot to fill. I think there is merit in paying up and securing a top-three option at the position, and Anthony Rizzo is a pretty phenomenal hitter. His 12% K rate was good for 11th among qualifiers last year. The power dipped off last year, but prior to that, he hit 30+ in four straight years. If you take a look at his 2019 projections via THE BAT, he’s pretty darn close to… Alex Bregman. That plays at first base, I think. I suppose the more conventional route here may have been grabbing an ace in Justin Verlander or Aaron Nola, but I’ll go the somewhat contrarian route and reach for the incredibly high floor at a shallow position, even if I get some groans from Nick. Keep in mind Rhys Hoskins went two picks after this at 24. The crunch for first base is real.
3.27 Giancarlo Stanton
Number 27 at Pick 27: some good correlation here. After capturing the N.L. MVP and tallying a league-leading 59 home-runs, Giancarlo Stanton was traded to the Yankees and immediately flew up everyone’s rankings. He was a relative disappointment, as he hit only 38 home runs. The funny thing is that was actually the second highest total of his career. That may be obvious to some, but I didn’t realize it myself until looking back. I think Stanton is a guy who, without looking, you may assume cranks out 40+ home run campaigns with regularity, but that has not been the case. Maybe expectations were set too high last year, especially after the monster career year and a trip to the Bronx. Regardless, at pick 27, the floor is excellent and we can always dream of the upside that was 2017.
4.46 Luis Severino
The 12th pitcher off the board here and one pick after Clayton Kershaw. He had a pretty horrid seven-game stretch that put a damper on his 2018 campaign as a whole, but the skills were still there. It helps to know that there was nothing inherently wrong with Severino, though I thought maybe he lost some feel for the changeup. That third pitch was certainly a key to his breakout in 2017. His pitch breakdown from last year shows that he threw the changeup at exactly the same rate as in 2017 at 13.6%. However, it lost a little in chase rate from 33.6% to 25%, and it also allowed a much higher .308 wOBA and .260 batting average, compared to a .203 wOBA and .156 batting average in 2017. Clearly, the pitch wasn’t quite as effective, as it logged a -1.9 pVAL compared to 9.8 in 2017. To what extent this played in Severino’s struggles last year is really tough to say, but it’s interesting to note. Whatever the case may be, he struggled mightily for a stretch, but in the end, we’re still talking about a guy who posted a wonderful 22.3% K-BB% across 191 innings. He’s not the safest choice to lead your pitching staff, but I’ll take the risk here.
5.51 Patrick Corbin
I doubled down here on pitchers. It feels like I’m buying high on Patrick Corbin, but I think the improvements he showed are absolutely legit. The K potential is too enticing for me to pass up. And now he’s in the NL East. Giddy up.
6.70 Aaron Hicks
Aaron Hicks has shown remarkable improvements in both walk and hard-hit rate the past couple of years. The floor/ceiling combination for counting stats as the potential leadoff hitter for the New York Yankees makes him a coveted commodity for me in 2019. I love Aaron Hicks, but this is quite honestly not good value for him. I reached here for sure. For me, it’s just one of those spots in the draft where I didn’t love anything in particular, so I’m OK with reaching to secure something I really wanted, in this case, Hicks.
7.75 Daniel Murphy
I actually liked this pick. Now in Colorado it’s hard not like Daniel Murphy‘s potential to produce a stellar batting average. I suppose I could have started the closer run here but I saw more value in securing a shallow position in second base.
8.94 Aroldis Chapman
At 94th overall, I felt like this was a solid spot to take Aroldis Chapman, the fourth closer off the board. I’m never excited to draft a closer, but this seemed as good of a spot as any to take the plunge.
9.99 Nick Castellanos
Not exciting, but I think this is a pretty solid value here. It’s hard to believe, for me at least, that Nick Castellanos is still just 26 years old. So it is still very possible that we haven’t seen the best from him yet. As is though, he’s still an impressive hitter. Per Statcast, last year’s xwOBA of .371 put him in the top 9% of the league and his expected batting average of .294 put him in the top 5% of the league.
10.118 Eloy Jimenez
The second coming of Frank Thomas. I kid, but seriously, it’s hard not to be excited to watch another young talent emerge this upcoming season in Eloy Jimenez. We all know the power is legit, but the really impressive thing to me was that he was able to cut his K rate to just 13.2% when he jumped up to AAA last year.
11.123 Jose Peraza
I’m not a huge fan of Jose Peraza. The batted-ball data is thoroughly unappealing, with a hard hit rate in the bottom 4% of the league and an xwOBA under .300. Yikes. Well, thankfully he has speed and he fills a need for me at SS. I liken him to a poor man’s Jean Segura. Okay, more like a dead man’s Jean Segura.
12.142 Eduardo Rodriguez
He’s improved his K-BB% three straight years now from 13.1% in 2016 to 18.3% last year while also lowering his xFIP and SIERA. Now can we finally get 150 + innings from Eduardo Rodriguez? Who knows, but I’d love to find out.
13.147 Chris Archer
I don’t think it’s an egregious spot for Chris Archer. But having owned him the past couple years in H2H, ugh. He’s a total pain in that format and he can easily tilt your ratios any given week. The interesting thing to note here is that he actually threw his slider more than his fastball in 2018 for the first time in his career, but a career-high 1.38 WHIP and a drop in K rate to 25.4% doesn’t exactly enthuse me. Seems more like shades of mediocrity. Yeah, I wouldn’t mind having this pick back. He didn’t exactly fit my team at the time since I already had four outfielders, but I would have liked to have grabbed Andrew McCutchen here in hindsight. He would have been an excellent value here and I’m intrigued to see what he can do now finding himself in a really favorable home park.
14.166 Tim Anderson
I already had Jose Peraza, so this pick seems redundant looking back. Tim Anderson, at best, is a mixed bag. Last year’s .270 xwOBA doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, but the 26 steals well that’s why we are here pretty much. And hey, he did double his walk rate last year too to a still sad mark of 5%. Yep. I’d have probably been better off grabbing a second closer in Corey Knebel.
15.171 Jimmy Nelson
A bit early here, but Jimmy Nelson showed some stellar improvements across the board in 2017 including a huge jump in K-BB% from an ugly 6.7% in 2016 to a lovely 20.8%. That was fueled by marked improvements to his curveball in both swinging strike rate (8.7% to 14.3%) and chase rate (25.7% to 40.2%). There’s some risk here considering the injury and a possibly limited workload, but here’s to hoping for the full Nelson and not Slippin’ Jimmy.
16.190 Peter Alonso
Mets’ prospect Peter Alonso features what you’d call light tower power. I mean no disrespect to Dominic Smith, but there’s not much standing in Alonso’s way from claiming the first base job outright. What he does with it is anyone’s guess. Succeeding at the MLB level is, of course, not to be taken for granted. Though I have to be honest here, if I could take this pick back and grab Kyle Schwarber, who was taken just after this pick, I might do so. Really, I’m drafting Alonso for power and Schwarber has already shown it at the major league level.
17.195 Hunter Renfroe
More power. The interesting thing to note here is that Franmil Reyes went nearly 50 picks earlier. Initially, I valued Reyes a little more, but the more I think about it, I think the reason that Hunter Renfroe is being undervalued is what I liken to Next Best Thing Syndrome. Renfroe has been around for a whopping two years now and he’s become the odd man out in favor of the newer commodity. But don’t forget, Renfroe was a big prospect entering 2017. He showed some really nice improvements across the board in 2018 including a drop in K rate from 29.2% to 24.7%. In particular, I like that he cut his whiff rate on fastballs from 31.1% to 25.2%. That also came with a nice bump in hard-hit rate from 34% to 43.5%. If you’ve been playing DFS for any length of time, you’ll know that Renfroe has a reputation of a “lefty masher,” in that you’d want to avoid him against Right-handed pitching. Well, he showed some nice improvement on that front too, improving his wOBA against RHP from .270 in 2017 to .335 last year. I’m very interested to see some continued growth potential for Renfroe as he enters year three. I’ll also be very interested to see in the next PL mock if Reyes will continue to go well ahead of Renfroe. Taking a quick glance at the NFBC ADP to date, Renfroe is at 180 and Reyes is at 210.
18.214 David Robertson
If you were chasing saves in Philadelphia last year, chances are you were left with a Gabe Kapler-induced migraine. Seranthony Dominguez emerged as a stalwart in the Phillies pen last year, but he also had his share of blips. Hector Neris came and went, then came back again and actually ended the year on a strong, though brief note, to his credit. Signed to a 2-year, 23 million dollar deal, I suspect David Robertson gets some closing opportunities for the Phillies this year, but to be perfectly honest, if a time traveler from the year 2020 (seriously how odd does the year 2020 sound?) were to tell me Robertson finished with five saves in 2019, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised.
19.219 Archie Bradley
Another speculative bullpen pick. Full disclosure here, I had forgotten that the Diamondbacks had signed Greg Holland. Though I don’t think it’s too hard to forget Holland, especially considering the year he had in 2018. I’m sure he’d prefer if most people forgot about that too. Anyways, his presence does at least muck up the bullpen situation in Arizona. Hunting for saves. Oh, joy.
20.238 Mike Zunino
Yep. I was one of the guys who waited and waited on catcher. I’ll take Mike Zunino, now in Tampa, and hope he clanks his way to 20 home runs again.
21.243 Garrett Hampson
The situation in Colorado isn’t exactly clear. Otherwise, I think Garret Hampson would have gone earlier. He’s got a really intriguing set of skills. Our very own Adam Garland wrote a wonderful article on him this past November. If you’ve got a moment, I’d really recommend giving it a read.
22.262 Touki Toussaint
A dart throw to round out the rotation. I should point out here that Mike Soroka went nearly 100 picks earlier. Anyways, Touki Toussaint showed some nice K potential last year in both AAA (28.1% across 50 IP) and in an abbreviated major league stint (26% across 29 IP). His calling card is a nasty 65-grade curveball. You can see it in action here. But there is for sure a big potential problem here: the walks. Yikes. They could easily be Toussaint’s downfall. He showed an 8.5% walk rate in AAA and an unsightly 17% mark in his brief MLB stint last year. Needless to say, that’s going to need to come down for him to succeed. We are very late in the draft here though, so that mitigates the risk substantially.
23.267 Josh Bell
Strictly speaking, I could have used another arm for my bench, but rather than draft a Rick Porcello or Matt Boyd type, I went with Josh Bell. I think the general consensus is that he’s a rather boring CI option in OBP formats. It’s true he get a bump in OBP leagues, but he’s a very interesting post-hype target to me. He upped his walk rate from 10.6% to 13.2% last year while also dropping his K rate to a nice and tidy 17.8%. Very, very nice. Yes, the power was disappointing last year, but don’t forget he cranked out 26 home runs in his first full year in 2017. He’s worth keeping an eye on for sure late in drafts.
(Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire)