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After an offseason of dynasty “slow drafts” with 4+ hours per pick, this mock came hard and fast.
In drafts, I typically adhere to the notion “if you want someone, go get him!” If you love a player, don’t sweat it if you reach 12-15 spots ahead of their ADP. That’s how you land 2013 Paul Goldschmidt, 2014 Anthony Rendon, 2015 A.J. Pollock, and 1953 Al Rosen. However, aside from my Chase Anderson and Luiz Gohara picks, I drafted more conservatively than usual. Part of that is the public stage: I’m in no rush to make “look at me” picks. However, what I found is that if you don’t snag your targets when you feel comfortable, they will get snatched up, especially in a mock with the shrewd cats at Pitcher List.
Round 1: Paul Goldschmidt (1B, Arizona Diamondbacks)
The news about the Arizona humidor led me to drop Goldschmidt one spot in my rankings, but I was ecstatic when Goldschmidt fell to pick #9. I clicked “draft” without thinking twice. Goldschmidt is a high-floor, high-ceiling beast in the back end of his prime and the best all-around first baseman in baseball.
Round 2: Kris Bryant (3B, Chicago Cubs)
In round 2 I was equally jazzed to land Kris Bryant, whom I believe has become slightly overlooked due to his flukey counting stats in 2017. While his Triple Crown numbers dipped last season, he raised his BB% (10.7% to 14.3%), lowered his K% (22% to 19.2%), and lowered his Infield Fly Ball Percentage by 6.6%. While Bryant‘s hard hit% dropped from 40.3% to 32.8%, I believe it was the result of his outwardly vocalized goal of using the whole field, which is evidenced by his roughly 3% gain in hits to center field and right field. Kris Bryant is a monster, and he is just getting started. Right off the bat, a pairing of Goldschmidt and Bryant is about as good as it gets.
Round 3: Jose Abreu (1B, Chicago White Sox)
In round 3 my fortune took a turn for the worst when I didn’t get my pick off in time (shot clock expired!). I wanted Madison Bumgarner but was auto-drafted Jose Abreu. The fact that we have two Utility slots made this more palatable, but I am generally not one to draft three corner infielders with my first three picks. But as they say, “Jose Abreu may actually be 36.”
Round 4: Andrew Benintendi (OF, Boston Red Sox)
A little pop, a little speed, a lot of upside. Benintendi’s impotence versus lefties is concerning (.232 average, 1 home run), but I am willing to buy stock in a 23-year-old with elite pedigree who is entering year three. Not to mention, J.D. Martinez recently signed on (shocker!), which in theory gives a slight counting stat boost to each Red Sox hitter. Benintendi‘s 20-20 season in 2017 felt oddly underwhelming, but if that is the baseline, I’m more than happy to snag Andrew in round 4 (though in retrospect, I’m not sure what makes him more appealing than Christian Yelich). For comparison, the three outfielders that went after Benintendi were Marcell Ozuna, Justin Upton, and Domingo Santana.
Round 5: Carlos Martinez (SP, St. Louis Cardinals)
Round 5 came along and it was time to draft a pitcher; wait any longer and you are playing a dangerous, dangerous game. This pick came down to Martinez versus Aaron Nola, and while I love Nola, Carlos Martinez is straight filth, and I’m a subscriber of straight filth. No disrespect Aaron, your two-seamer makes me blush.
Round 6: Willson Contreras (C, Chicago Cubs)
In round 6 I landed a personal favorite at a comically shallow position, Willson Contreras. He is a natural hitter on a strong offense, and the gap between him and the rest of his position (after Posey) is like the gap between broiled Maine lobster and canned tuna (to be fair, I can see Chance Sisco performing like a blackened shrimp in OBP leagues). As much as I like Contreras (he is my NL MVP pick) I was torn between drafting him or pairing Chris Archer with CarMart. In the end, PTSD from 2015 when Archer sank my fantasy squad was enough to take the catcher.
Round 7: Roberto Osuna (RP, Toronto Blue Jays)
In round 7 my thought process was as follows: “Wow, Aroldis Chapman is still around!” “People are shying away from him after last year… but I’m still fully on board.” “Schoop is interesting… I don’t have a second baseman yet…” “I sure hope I can snag Chapman!” “Paul Sporer is watching this? Cool. I like watching his Twitch. It’s meditative.” “Yikes, I am completely devoid of speed, A.J. Pollock would be a great fit.” “Crap, there goes Pollock.” “Must. Have. Chapman.” “Nooo, there goes Zack Godley! I love Godley. God, why did you reach for him, Austin Bristow!? I wanted to be the one to reach for him!” “Chapman is still available! The dream is alive!” “How would you describe color to a blind person?” “Crap! There goes Chapman!” “Oh jeez, it’s my pick.” “Why is this clock going so fast!?” “Why am I watching the clock!?” “Activate PANIC MODE –> FULL PANIC MODE ENGAGED –> Oh jeez should I just draft Roberto Osuna even though the Blue Jays stink and Brad Hand will be available much later!?” “Clock at 8 seconds — TURBO PANIC MODE ENGAGED — Welcome to the team, Roberto.”
Round 8: Robinson Cano (2B, Seattle Mariners)
Having missed out on A.J. Pollock, I sorted the player pool by projected steals. Three targets stood out: Ozzie Albies, Manuel Margot, and Jose Peraza. Most fantasy pedants will tell you that it’s incredibly difficult to win in rotisserie if you punt a category 100%, so I made a mental note to snag Margot and Peraza slightly before their ADP to ensure I didn’t completely botch the steals category. But first things first: a second baseman. In my heart, Ozzie Albies was the pick here. Albies is a tremendous all-around baseball player, and in addition to that he is fast and would have done wonders for my speed problem (don’t quote me on that). But I thought “Even though I value him as a top 100 player, I doubt anyone else does.” Robinson Cano was available too, and while he is clearly on the down, it was only two years ago that he put up a .298-39-103 line. Enter, the Voice of Reason: “Don’t get crazy here, take the safe pick in Cano.” And so I did. And when Ozzie Albies was selected nine picks later, the pain was real.
Round 9: Miguel Sano (3B, Minnesota Twins)
Miguel Sano is still available in round 9? Am I missing something? Oh, it must be the abysmal strikeout rate, the looming suspension, and the injury risk. As a fantasy owner, I am not sure which of those three is scariest. But do you know what else is scary? Miguel Sano‘s nearly unmatched power upside. We are talking legitimate 50-homer power (disregard his career high of 28). In round 9, that kind of power is hard to resist. With an offense sporting Goldschmidt/Bryant/Benintendi/Abreu/Contreras, drafting Sano was a “go for the kill” kind of pick. If Sano finally goes bonkers and Benintendi elevates to another tier, this offense is going to be rocking. If Sano fizzles out… well… Matt Adams, here I come.
Round 10: Andrew McCutchen (OF, San Francisco Giants)
It feels like yesterday that Cano and McCutchen were first-round picks: stars in their prime who anchored fantasy squads. How quickly they became boring, safe-ish middle round picks. Maybe we all become boring middle round picks, eventually. Sigh. (I’m on The Twitter though, so my youth is intact)
I could have gone a few routes here:
- Draft my second starting pitcher (gee, what a concept!)
- Draft Manuel Margot (I need steals like frozen fruit needs a stick)
- Draft Cody Allen. He is underdrafted every year, and every year he produces the same strong (but not quite elite) statistics. Andrew Miller must really freak people out.
Then I was struck by a thought: I’m always quick to draft the up-and-coming youths (the “hipster” picks if you will). It’s an Achilles Heel, and I often find myself drafting trendy sophomore-year-Jorge Soler types over safer, more proven players. But not today! For today is the day for Cutch!
Is McCutchen on the downswing? Oh yes, most definitely. Will he play half his games in the hitter-unfriendly confines of AT&T Park? Yup. Are his stolen base wheels mostly gone? … probably.
And yet… I think he can be solid. Not a star, not a dynamic fantasy player, but at this point: almost like a more powerful Ender Inciarte, as odd as that sounds – trade some pop for speed. I still think McCutchen is a good hitter and having spent a lot of time at Giants games, I believe in the magic of AT&T. It elevates people. Not to hit home runs, because no one (sans Bonds) can hit home runs 430 feet through heavy, fog-laden air. But it elevates the spirit. There’s a magic with those fans and that city and that ballpark, and as cooky and subjective as that sounds, I believe in it. Maybe I am out in left field… but hey so is Andrew McCutchen!
Round 11: Chase Anderson (SP, Milwaukee Brewers)
In round 11 I snagged Chase Anderson. The other starting pitchers on my radar were Hendricks, Richards, Taillon, Duffy, and Morton. Lester was around too, but I think he is toast. I knew some of the Pitcher List staff is smitten with him and I couldn’t get the film review of Anderson out of my head. It wasn’t just the 1.090 WHIP that drew me to him, nor the 2.74 ERA – it was how awesome he looked while doing it. Still, I’m not sure what propelled me to take Anderson over Kyle Hendricks. If there was a mulligan button I’d take Hendricks here and hope Chase is still there 1-2 rounds later. On the bright side, that’s what mock drafts are for: it is a dress rehearsal for the big show. Perhaps reaching for Anderson in round 11 is like tripping on stage during the rehearsal. Come showtime, I’ll make sure to secure my footing.
Round 12: Javier Baez (SS/2B, Chicago Cubs)
I’ve always disliked Baez for fantasy purposes due to his hyperaggressive approach, but in round 12 I was allured by his 25+ home run upside. I would have loved to draft Miguel Cabrera here, but my Utility slots were already occupied. Joe Maddon’s roster tinkering warrants some caution, but Baez is versatile enough that he should walk into plenty of at-bats. Note to self: try not to use “walk” and “Baez” in the same sentence.
Round 13: Jon Gray (SP, Colorado Rockies)
In terms of available pitchers, we’ve now entered the rounds known as “Upside Hunting™ + Tanner Roark“. I took Jon Gray, Coors factor be damned. He reminds me of Gerrit Cole: really good stuff that the production doesn’t quite match. Still, Gray is the most talented Rockies hurler since prime Ubaldo, and I think the best is yet to come. In 2017 Gray notched an excellent 9.1 K/9 along with a 3.18 FIP. The limiting factor was innings – otherwise, it’s unlikely his value would be suppressed to round 13. I don’t love this pick, but I don’t dislike it. It just is.
Round 14: Blake Snell (SP, Tampa Bay Rays)
I watched Blake Snell closely toward the end of 2017. I genuinely believe we saw a high-pedigree pitcher starting to put it all together. Then the season ended, and that was that.
But I didn’t forget. Don’t ever forget! (people don’t forget?)
Optimistically, Blake will continue that ascension and make his 2018 ADP look insulting. To most, he is an afterthought, but I won’t be shocked if he ends 2018 on the periphery of the Cy Young conversation. Be on the lookout for a significant Snell breakthrough.
Round 15: Blake Treinen (RP, Oakland Athletics)
In my eyes, a healthy Michael Conforto equates to a third-round talent. He is a monster of a hitter. In 2017, Conforto produced a robust .939 OPS, .555 Slugging Percentage, and 27 home runs in only 109 games. What would his home run total have been in 145 games? How about 155? The question with him, clearly, is health (okay fine, and platoon splits). But the talent is immense and even with the shoulder recovery, the discrepancy between his ADP and upside is massive.
None of the above matters anymore because Ian Post sniped me! I was one pick too late. Now I need someone to comforto me.
But all is well, because Blake Treinen is available, and Blake Treinen is wicked. He isn’t a household name (who on Oakland is?) but his sinking fastball gets Zach Britton comparisons for good reason. He isn’t officially locked in as Oakland’s closer, but he is the clear frontrunner. Even while Treinen was struggling for the Nats, I watched him pitch and thought, “This. Dude. Is. Nasty.” I also thought the same thing about Koda Glover, so this is either an indictment of my awful scouting or a sign of good things to come for young Koda (No, Dad. Young Koda is not a Star Wars character.) Did I reach around or two for Treinen? Possibly. In fact, choosing between him and Blake Parker is essentially a coin flip. But no one else spoke to me. And in this part of the draft, the bold and brave are rewarded.
Round 16: Luiz Gohara (SP/RP, Atlanta Braves)
What kind of moron takes Luiz Gohara ahead of Montgomery, Wacha, Pomeranz, and Rodon? An Upside Hunter™, that is who!
Technically, Luiz Gohara hasn’t secured a rotation spot. And technically Luiz Gohara weighs 210 pounds. I’m not buying either of those things. But have you seen this guy pitch!? Goodness gracious, 100mph heat with a devastating slider. It’s ace-level stuff. Truly.
There are many question marks: Will he make the rotation? Can his portly frame withstand a full season? If he makes the rotation, what kind of innings limit will be imposed?
I was mocked for this pick. In the chat box my sanity was questioned. In the video feed Nick folded his arms in disgust. But I hope you all remember the day Luiz Gohara was picked “prematurely” in round 16. Lock it into your memory banks so we can revisit it come September. This guy is a monster.
Note: There’s a rational argument to be made, that even if you love a player, it doesn’t make sense to draft them far ahead of their ADP because doing so limits the potential for value. And that’s the exact thinking that led me to miss out on Ozzie Albies. Not this time! Come to papa, Luiz!
Round 17: Danny Salazar (SP, Cleveland Indians)
Danny Salazar is one of the most prolific strikeout pitchers in baseball (unruly 12.7 K/9 in 2017). Danny Salazar also has a home run issue, a command issue, and now, a shoulder issue. Three seconds after my pick I did a quick news search for Salazar: “Indians taking ‘long view’ with Danny Salazar‘s shoulder recovery”
Curses! Why are all my favorite sneaky draft targets getting plagued with shoulder issues? Conforto… Musgrove… Salazar… who is next? Scooter Gennett? Nooooo not Scooter, too!
If Salazar were healthy I’d love this pick. But then again, if he were healthy, he wouldn’t be available here. A player with his strikeout ability is tantalizing: it’s easy to convince yourself he is a tweak or two away from utter dominance. In a mock, it is never fun taking a player who will start the year on the DL… but I believe in Danny Salazar. At age 28, with as lively an arm as anyone, I am far from giving up hope.
Round 18: Kevin Kiermaier (OF, Tampa Bay Rays)
I wonder what it’s like looking like Kevin Kiermaier. You walk into a coffee shop, the barista takes one look into your dreamy blue eyes and starts making your drip coffee. “It’s on the house!” she sings, as you contemplate the 50 million dollars you are set to earn over the next few years. Okay, that probably isn’t 100% accurate. But it must be close. As a fantasy player, Kiermaier has valuable skills and may have some untapped upside. Last year in only 98 games he was on pace for roughly 20 home runs and 25 stolen bases. I selected him here because my team needed both stolen bases and an outfielder. Why can’t Kiermaier be the street-corner, off-brand version of Christian Yelich? Subtract 8-10 homers, 20ish runs and RBI, 20 points from batting average… and voila! Wait, did I just describe Andrew Benintendi? Uh-oh. To be fair, I don’t trust Kiermaier‘s hit tool. This pick was all about the 25+ stolen base potential.
Round 19: Jose Peraza (2B/SS Cincinnati Reds)
Jose Peraza is about as far from my style as possible: a one-dimensional speedster with absolutely no pop. But there comes a time in every mans life when he must choose: am I punting steals completely, or am I going to make a last-ditch effort to become somewhat relevant in the category? I went with the latter. And I am a better man for it. But you know something? When I take a step back and see the forest for the
Whitley trees, I like this pick. It makes my squad far more well-rounded. Furthermore, I like the idea of Peraza and Javier Baez splitting time at shortstop depending on matchups and off days. Welcome aboard, Jose. We will try to be more accommodating and less insulting about your limited offensive skillset. Weight room down the hall to the left.
Round 20: Julio Teheran (SP, Atlanta Braves)
Julio is an inconsistent pitcher but an underrated innings gobbler. His innings totals over the last five years read 185, 221, 200, 188, 188. I don’t love this pick, but when you’re short on quality pitching, innings become attractive. If the last five years are any indication, Teheran will be good for at least 180 innings. In terms of effectiveness, Teheran has been an every-other-year kind of pitcher. Coming off a down year in 2017, I hope this trend continues.
Round 21: Tanner Roark (SP, Washington Nationals)
Apparently, we have transitioned from “Upside Hunting™ + Tanner Roark” to just “Tanner Roark“. I like Roark for a modest bounce back in 2017. He has decent skills plus solid Wins potential. I’ll take that in round 21, especially with risky upside picks like Snell, Gohara, and Salazar making me question not just my makeshift pitching staff, but the nature of reality and the galaxy beyond.
Round 22: Kyle Barraclough (RP, Miami Marlins)
Kyle Barraclough passes the Eye Test. He is powerful and intimidating. A Kyle Farnsworth type. In 2016 he struck out an absurd 113 batters in 72.2 innings. That equates to a K/9 of exactly 14.0. Who does he think he is, Alec Hansen? 2017 was a different story: high WHIP, high FIP, and a considerably lower strikeout rate. What happened? Was it all just injury related? I think there is a lockdown closer lurking in Barraclough somewhere. With the most manilla closer of all-time (aside from Todd Jones) set to close for the Marlins (Ziegler) it’s only a matter of time before Barraclough gets his shot.
Round 23: Willie Calhoun (2B/DH, Texas Rangers)
Only when I started looking for Minor League stashes did I realize that my favorite prospect and a guy whom I liken to “the next Anthony Rizzo” was sitting there patiently, waiting to be drafted. He also has second base eligibility (presumably just for this season) in addition to immediate .280-30-100 potential. That man is Willie Calhoun, and in short time, the world will finally see him for the offensive star that he is. He was my last pick of the draft, my favorite pick of the draft, and my best pick of the draft.
Report Card: C+
It’s tough to say if I swam or sank or if I’m splashing about in an eddy somewhere. While I fully endorse the “hitting first, then pitching” strategy, this draft made me question those beliefs. I’m not sure if it was my 104º fever (no joke) or my recent Chase Anderson GIF binge, but I wholly regret that pick. I believe in Anderson‘s skillset, but round 11 was too early. With Chase as my “SP2” (notice the parentheses) and Jon Gray as my SP3, a lot has to go right for my team to even be competitive in pitching. Combine that with a shortage of stolen bases, and we are depending far too much on best-case scenarios.
-Team name idea #1: Cano, Sano, and the Two Andrews <– Too long?
-Team name idea #2: OsKiermaier Treinen <– Too forced?
-Team name idea #3: Ruth’s Kris Bryant <– This fever must really be taking hold.
I won’t stubbornly defend each pick as a masterstroke of some grand scheme. Even many years into my fantasy baseball career, I am still trying to find the ideal balance between floor and ceiling. But I do know this: you can’t hide from who you are. For better or for worse, I will always be an Upside Hunter™.
Thoroughly enjoyed the read Tim