As I logged onto my computer at 4:44 PM on Tuesday, I thought about how much I should prep for the mock draft at 7:45.
Then I realized that the draft was at 7:45 ET, and that over on the West Coast, I had 60 seconds to get into the draft room or risk having my first-round pick autodrafted.
Frantically, I pulled up the link to the draft board and signed in, hyperventilating slightly from the last-minute panic.
In my old age, I’m a little out of shape, but what kind of shape was the team I walked away from the mock draft with? Let’s dive in.
(To relive history, here’s the stream on Twitter and the final draft board.)
Round 1.3 (3rd overall): Trea Turner (SS, Washington Nationals)
I couldn’t believe that I was making this pick, but the more I thought about it, the more obvious it seemed. Trout and Altuve were gone, and there was nobody I wanted more. Arenado and Betts would have been fine picks and arguably a whole lot safer. In a 5-OF league, I probably would have gone with Mookie Betts (OF, Boston Red Sox), but the league settings for the mock only required us to start 3 OF, which makes the position considerably deeper.
The greatest argument against Turner is his limited track record, but look at those numbers!
Last 171 games played: .309 AVG, 24 HR, 85 RBI, 128 R, 79 SB
His per 162-game average stands at 23 HR, 81 RBI, 122 R, and 75 SB. He could fall miles from that level of production and still finish as the best overall player in the game by a landslide.
Round 2.10 (22nd overall): Jose Ramirez (2B/3B, Cleveland Indians)
I didn’t really expect Sale, Kluber, Votto, or Freeman to fall to me, but I was vaguely optimistic. Realistically, I thought there was a chance I could get Judge or Rizzo here, but they were selected right before my pick (by Alex Fast and a different Ben). I thought about Gary Sanchez or J.D. Martinez, but I believed that I could get a decent enough catcher later on and that the injury risk from J.D. Martinez and catchers in general was too great to justify the risk. Ramirez felt like a fine pick, with quality 5-category production that gives my team a strong base in AVG, R, and SB. At this point, it will become an increasing priority for me to shift toward HR/RBI, especially since basically all of the well-rounded power guys are already gone at this stage in the draft.
Round 3.3 (27th overall): Cody Bellinger (1B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers)
It’s a homer pick, but not a homer pick at the same time. As a Dogs fan, I know full well that Bellinger has adjustments to make to avoid a sophomore slump. Even if he remains susceptible to the down-and-in curveball, he was still clearly the best remaining power bat on the board. His ability to chip in speed (8 SB) was enough to tip the scales. I considered Severino, Strasburg, and Bumgarner with this pick, but I legitimately believed that Bellinger was the very last player on the board with realistic 40 HR/10 SB potential.
Round 4.10 (46th overall): Carlos Carrasco (SP, Cleveland Indians)
Carrasco jumped out to me as the best remaining SP, the very last of the legitimate top-10 aces. Carlos Martinez was taken two picks after this one, and Zack Greinke, Justin Verlander, and deGrom were all taken earlier in the round. Cookie’s got some warts, as he’s prone to the occasional blow-up, but the bottom line is still ace-caliber, and the overall stat line is all I care about in a roto league. If he comes close to replicating his 18 wins, 226 K, and 3.29 ERA/1.10 WHIP, I’m getting great value for a late 4th pick.
Round 5.3 (51st overall): Edwin Encarnacion (DH, Cleveland Indians)
Not an exciting pick, but I’ll take 35-40 HR and triple digit Rs and RBIs any day. You could argue that he wasn’t the best player left on the board, but with his power profile, he was the best player for my team. With my first 4 hitters (Turner, Ramirez, Bellinger, E5), I have something like 110-120 HR with 80-90 SB and an average of at least .280 or so. The names might not be too glamorous or proven, but that’s a foundation I’ll gladly go to war with.
Round 6.10 (70th overall): Tommy Pham (OF, St. Louis Cardinals)
There’s nothing in Pham’s profile to suggest that his power/speed combo isn’t for real, and while his .368 BABIP is high, he’s a fast runner who had a 22.2% line drive rate, suggesting that he isn’t going to fall off too drastically from his .306 BA last year. He had 23 HR and 25 SB in 128 games at the MLB level, and I think he’s a strong bet to at least match that power/speed production, making him Mookie Betts-lite and a phenomenal selection toward the back end of the 6th. Not a sexy first OF, but looking past the perception, you have to love what Pham is likely to give.
Round 7.3 (75th overall): Dallas Keuchel (SP, Houston Astros)
Didn’t love it, didn’t hate it. Price, Weaver, Quintana, and Paxton all went after him, and my gut told me that Keuchel was the last pitcher in the SP2-ish tier. Paxton clearly oozes more upside, but I viewed Keuchel as a more stable choice who is likely to clean up in W, ERA, and WHIP with Houston.
Round 8.10 (94th overall): Aroldis Chapman (RP, New York Yankees)
This felt like an absolute steal, as Kenley Jansen went 44th and Craig Kimbrel went 71st overall. I view Chapman as the #3 closer in fantasy and New York’s collective team improvements means there’ll be plenty of leads for Chapman to protect. Aroldis did have some cracks in the armor and did temporarily lose his job, but I’ll gladly take my chances on a guy who still averages 100 mph with his fastball and has a long history of elite production.
Round 9.3 (99th overall): Jose Berrios (SP, Minnesota Twins)
I honestly have some doubts about Berrios, as most of his production was built around a hot mid-season stretch prefacing a late-season fade. However, I think there’s more profit potential in his 23-year-old right arm than anyone else left on the board, as Masahiro Tanaka, Alex Wood, and Jake Arrieta (the next tier of SP) have all likely shown us the best they have to offer, with substantial warts of their own. In fairness, Tanaka is likely to improve his ratios from last season, but he also has the known UCL damage that you have to keep in the back of your mind.
Round 10.10 (118th overall): Mike Moustakas (FA)
I honestly didn’t really know who to pick, but I believe Moustakas will be employed come Opening Day. I don’t expect a repeat of 38 HR, but 30 HR or so with an acceptable average felt like a pretty decent get for a 2nd utility guy.
Round 11.3 (123rd overall): Kyle Hendricks (SP, Chicago Cubs)
Nick has discussed how Hendricks’ lack of fastball velocity gives him minimal margin for error, and while I agree with that assessment, he’s still found a way to make it work reasonably well for him the past 2 seasons. Doesn’t have much upside, but in a 12-team league where pitchers were flying off the shelves, I loved the stability he provided as my #4 SP. I expect something like the 3.03 ERA and 1.19 WHIP he posted last year and don’t really think he’ll ever approach the 2.13 ERA/0.98 WHIP he flashed in 2016. Despite his lack of elite strikeout ability, this felt like a great get and was one of my favorite picks in the draft. When you draft your actual team, figure out who your stability guys are and embrace the depth they add to your squad.
Round 12.10 (142nd overall): Domingo Santana (OF, Milwaukee Brewers)
I needed a 2nd OF, and although the additions of Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain cloud the playing-time picture for Santana, Ryan Braun gets hurt often enough that I’m not especially concerned. Santana was a phenomenal 4.5 category player last year, with a .278 BA, 30 HR, 85 RBI, 88 R, and 15 SB. If I can get even a facsimile of that, this pick will return tremendous value.
Round 13.3 (147th overall): Raisel Iglesias (RP, Cincinnati Reds)
I’m usually pretty stingy with shelling out draft capital on pitchers, especially relief pitchers. However, I view Iglesias as a borderline top-10 reliever, and he stood out to me as the clear last RP with high-end skills (2.49 ERA, 10.9 K/9, 92 K last season). Cincinnati isn’t a good team, and it’s not realistic to expect much more than the 28 saves he accumulated last year, even if he does transition to being less of a multi-inning Chris Devenski type and more of a traditional closer. There’s a chance, however, and even a repeat of last season made him the #13 overall RP in fantasy last season.
Round 14.10 (166th overall): Gregory Polanco (OF, Pittsburgh Pirates)
As with Berrios, I have my doubts about Polanco. However, it was only a year ago where people were taking him as early as the 4th or 5th round. You could give him a mulligan for injury issues, and he’s still just 26. His 22 HR/17 SB with 86 RBI and 79 R in 2016 hint at his ceiling, and as my final starting OF, I was willing to take the risk that he bounces back. People were down on Yasiel Puig last year, and a similar metamorphosis is a reasonable enough outcome for Polanco.
Round 15.3 (171st overall): Kevin Gausman (SP, Baltimore Orioles)
This was more of a dart throw than anything else. Gausman found a new gear in the 2nd half, with a 3.41 ERA post-ASB, as he found his splitter. I’m fairly low on Gausman, as the bad times are BAD (5.85 ERA/1.76 WHIP in 19 1st half starts), and the AL East with the acquisitions of Stanton and Martinez is an incredibly unforgiving atmosphere. I recognize the upside latent in Gausman’s arm, but don’t believe strongly in his ability to fully reach it. I went to him because I had nowhere else to go. Jacob Faria, Blake Snell, Charlie Morton, Taijuan Walker, and Jordan Montgomery all were selected later in this round. Gausman was the least of all evils.
Round 16.10 (190th overall): Ian Desmond (1B/OF, Colorado Rockies)
Late-draft fatigue has sunk many a fantasy player. I tried to justify this as a potential upside play, with Desmond having flashed strong power/speed numbers in the past and with Coors Field giving him a better floor for average and power. Desmond could prove me right, but in hindsight, I’m far from enthusiastic about this pick. I wish I had gone with someone like Kenta Maeda instead.
Round 17.3 (195th overall): Andrew Miller (RP, Cleveland Indians)
Pretty happy with this pick. Barring a Cody Allen injury, there’s no reasonable expectation for more than a handful of saves, but the floor of an elite K/ratios arm and the ceiling of a top-3 closer who has actually reached that status before was too intriguing to leave on the table. In roto, ratios are crucial, and I felt that with Carrasco, Keuchel, Berrios, Hendricks, and Gausman, I had a stable enough rotation to begin thinking about my bullpen. If you play in a K/9 league, elite setup men spike in value as well.
Round 18.10 (214th overall): Yadier Molina (C, St. Louis Cardinals)
Not a sexy pick at all, but it was decent value for the always-solid backstop. If I don’t wind up getting Gary Sanchez, I’m likely waiting for either Salvador Perez, J.T. Realmuto, Beef Wellington Castillo, or Yadier Molina.
Round 19.3 (219th overall): Lance Lynn (SP, St. Louis Cardinals)
He’s not that great, but he has shown an ability to consistently outperform his peripherals.
Lance Lynn’s FIP from his past 3 MLB seasons: 3.35, 3.44, 4.82
Lance Lynn’s ERA from his past 3 MLB seasons: 2.74, 3.03, 3.43
Round 20.10 (238th overall): Fernando Rodney (RP, Minnesota Twins)
This pick felt gross. Rodney almost always seems to find a way to rack up the saves, though, and I believed I had drafted enough quality pitching to sustain the damage to my ratios Rodney is liable to inflict. Addison Reed does loom in Minnesota, but a late 20th round pick is a reasonable Faustian bargain to make for saves.
Round 21.3 (243rd overall): Dellin Betances (RP, New York Yankees)
Part of this pick was reactionary, as I wanted to cleanse the feeling of drafting Rodney. The rest of it was rational, as he’s in the same camp as Miller, as someone who has formerly established himself as a top-shelf closer. Since I drafted Chapman, it made way too much sense to take his handcuff and safeguard myself against the risk of Chapman’s rotator cuff issues recurring.
Round 22.10 (262nd overall): Odubel Herrera (OF, Philadelphia Phillies)
If the SB come back, it’s a pretty good pick. No one else on the board really piqued my interest at all. In all likelihood, I’ll drop him for whatever new hotness there is in April, but he was a mid-round talent just last season.
Round 23.3 (267th overall): Austin Barnes (C, Los Angeles Dodgers)
I’m probably not supposed to say it, but this was more or less a homer pick. Barnes could step into some playing time, but I don’t realistically think it will happen until later in the season. The Dodgers were talking about trading Yasmani Grandal in the off-season to find salary cap relief, and Grandal’s defensive skills plus the Dodgers’ motivation to build his trade value means that Barnes is likely to take a back-seat. There’s an outside chance I’m wrong, but all signs point to Barnes getting the short end of the stick in the early going.
C Yadier Molina
1B Cody Bellinger
2B Jose Ramirez
3B Mike Moustakas
SS Trea Turner
OF Tommy Pham/Domingo Santana/Gregory Polanco
U Edwin Encarnacion/Ian Desmond
SP Carlos Carrasco/Dallas Keuchel/Jose Berrios/Kyle Hendricks/Kevin Gausman/Lance Lynn
RP Aroldis Chapman/Raisel Iglesias/Fernando Rodney/Andrew Miller/Dellin Betances
BE Austin Barnes/Odubel Herrera
Thank you, everyone! 🙂