It’s not often that I come away from a draft (or a mock draft) actually liking my team a whole lot. More often than not, I come away going “Man, I made some mistakes,” but I usually feel ok because the team you draft is not the team you’re stuck with.
We had our second mock draft last week, the first one I’ve participated in, and I actually came away liking my team quite a bit (I’m kinda bummed it’s not an actual fantasy team I drafted). I ended up with the fourth pick in the draft and I feel like I drafted a fairly balanced team.
Before I review my picks, I should talk a brief second about my typical draft strategy. Usually, if the draft works out right, I like to grab one (preferably two) stud pitchers early as the anchors of my staff, and then not look at pitching until later in the draft. If I end up with just one stud anchor, I might grab one more pitcher a little earlier, but generally, I’ll wait on pitching because I’m a big proponent of streaming pitchers and finding value late in the draft.
Also, make sure you check out the draft stream on Twitter and the final draft board.
So here we go:
Round 1: Nolan Arenado (3B, Colorado Rockies)
With Jose Altuve, Mike Trout, and Trea Turner gone (in that order), I felt like drafting Arenado here was a no-brainer. I had considered drafting Mookie Betts (I’m higher on Mookie than I am on Giancarlo Stanton or Bryce Harper), but I thought the production I’d get out of Arenado was just too good to pass up.
Round 2: Aaron Judge (OF, New York Yankees)
It’s funny because all of last year and all of this year I’ve been someone who’s been saying “Yea, Judge is great, but let’s slow down a little, he’s not the second coming of Christ” and then here I am drafting him. Honestly, in the late second round, I felt like the value was good. Judge is still going to be awesome, even if the average regresses (and I expect it to), he’s still good for loads of home runs and RBIs.
Round 3: Luis Severino (SP, New York Yankees)
It was at this point that I said “I have too many Yankees and I hate my team.” Still, despite the fact that drafting Severino put another Yankee on my team (shudders), he was hard to pass up. Like I said earlier, I like grabbing an anchor pitcher early and that’s exactly what Severino is. I was hoping to draft Noah Syndergaard, but unfortunately he was snagged two picks before me, though I’m not complaining, Severino is still awesome.
Round 4: Daniel Murphy (2B, Washington Nationals)
I’ll be honest, I’m not all that worried about Murphy’s knee. They’re targeting him to start on Opening Day, and even if he doesn’t, we’re talking about losing, what, a week maybe of Murphy? I can live with that considering I still expect him to do what he does and hit above .300 with 20+ home runs.
Round 5: Starling Marte (OF, Pittsburgh Pirates)
Honestly, I was amazed I was able to grab Marte here. I’m fairly high on Marte in general, but the fact that he was drafted after the likes of Justin Upton and Marcell Ozuna seems a little nuts to me, but maybe I’m the crazy one being too psyched about Marte probably stealing 40 bases with double-digit home runs and a good average.
Round 6: Billy Hamilton (OF, Cincinnati Reds)
Speaking of stolen bases, I thought it would be cool to just dominate stolen bases in this draft, and that was a strategy that kind of popped up right here (I wasn’t planning on it). I saw Hamilton was available and I felt like the sixth round was pretty fair value for him, so I snagged him. I’m liking the idea of basically 90 stolen bases from two players.
Round 7: David Price (SP, Boston Red Sox)
I typically like to try and grab one more anchor pitcher, and while I would’ve preferred to have been able to grab someone like Chris Archer or Robbie Ray, they were gone well before this pick (I decided to go offense instead with the previous pick). But I like David Price this year, and I feel like I should be able to rely on him as my second anchor. He’s not as reliable as I would typically like as a second anchor pitcher, but I still think he’s going to be a top-20 pitcher this year, and he’s being drafted way too low, going at pick number 113 according to NFBC ADP.
Round 8: Chris Taylor (2B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers)
This pick was partly due to me being tricked by Couchmanagers (the platform we used to do this draft). Couchmanagers had Taylor listed as a shortstop, as well as an outfielder and second baseman, and in the 45 seconds I had to pick, I thought that Taylor was shortstop-eligible in more leagues and I drafted him as my top shortstop. He only played 14 games there in 2016, so he won’t be eligible in some leagues (like ESPN), but I think he still works great as a middle infielder, outfielder, or even second base fill-in if Murphy is out for a significant amount of time.
Round 9: Eric Hosmer (1B, San Diego Padres)
I’ve been kind of anti-Hosmer this entire offseason. I’ve been constantly saying he’s overvalued, he’s not worth the contract he signed, going to San Diego will hurt his fantasy value, and then I drafted him. The reason being, I needed a first baseman and I thought round nine was solid value for Hosmer. I was initially planning on grabbing Miguel Cabrera but he got snagged a few picks earlier and I liked Hosmer better than the other first base options out there.
Round 10: Adrian Beltre (3B, Texas Rangers)
I love Adrian Beltre. I’ve loved Adrian Beltre for a very long time and I continue to love him, so of course I had to grab him as a utility option. I know Beltre’s old, but as long as he’s healthy, he’s shown he’s still going to produce at a high level. He’s basically the latest version of David Ortiz, the old guy no one wants to draft cause they’re afraid of how old he is, yet he keeps producing. I maybe reached for Beltre a bit (his ADP on NFBC is 158), but I’ll happily take a near-.300 average and 20+ home runs in the 10th round.
Round 11: Chase Anderson (SP, Milwaukee Brewers)
I believe in the changes Chase Anderson made last year, the increased fastball velocity, the improved changeup, all of it. I don’t think he’s going to have an ERA under 3.00 again, but I do think he’s going to be a very valuable pitcher. I would’ve preferred to grab Michael Fulmer, but he was grabbed in the previous round. Still, I’m perfectly happy with Anderson, I believe in him this year.
Round 12: Salvador Perez (C, Kansas City Royals)
I believe that if you don’t draft Gary Sanchez or Buster Posey, you might as well just wait at the catcher position, and I was pretty happy to grab Perez here. I almost drafted Evan Gattis instead (and turns out I could’ve waited because he went in round 16), but I like Perez’s consistency and I believe in the power increase from last year.
Round 13: Hector Neris (RP, Philadelphia Phillies)
I’ve always liked Hector Neris, in fact I liked him so much that I included him in my bold predictions last year saying he’d save more games than Craig Kimbrel. Obviously that turned out to be very wrong (though in my defense, Jeanmar Gomez had saved more games than Kimbrel the year before), but that’s beside the point. I feel fairly confident that Neris has the closer gig in Philadelphia, and while the Phillies might not be winning a bunch of games this year, they’re a better team than I think people give them credit for. Neris has a nice fastball/changeup combo that I think will likely translate to a good number of saves and strikeouts.
Round 14: Adam Jones (OF, Baltimore Orioles)
I mean, I had to grab me an Oriole at some point. Honestly though, getting Jones in round 14 surprised me, though that’s about where his ADP is right now so I guess it shouldn’t be too surprising. Still, Jones should be able to hit for a good average with 25 or so home runs and a good number of RBIs. He’s not the player he once was, but he’s also not dead which is how some people seem to be treating him.
Round 15: Jacob Faria (SP, Tampa Bay Rays)
The official pitcher of Pitcherlist, Jacob Faria should be a better pitcher than he’s being drafted as, but there’s one very legitimate concern, and that’s his health. He missed some time last year with an abdominal strain and I totally understand the hesitation in drafting him because he could very easily be hurt again. But the potential is great, he’s got a really good repertoire and looked great while he was out there last year, so if he’s able to stay healthy, I don’t see any reason he can’t outperform his draft position fairly significantly.
Round 16: Blake Parker (RP, Los Angeles Angels)
There was a great piece in The Athletic (subscription required) about Blake Parker and his changeup that he learned from Tyler Clippard and how Parker is altering the way he uses his arsenal (specifically his curveball) this year. I’m optimistic that he can be pretty awesome and I’m pretty sure he’s got that closer job and should keep it. Certainly Cam Bedrosian is there and could challenge him, but I anticipate Parker being good enough to lock that role down.
Round 17: Patrick Corbin (SP, Arizona Diamondbacks)
Corbin has always been a pitcher whose potential I’ve always really liked, but who’s been very inconsistent. I’m hopeful that he can gain control of his pitches and really become a good pitcher this year, and I think a late pick like this is a pretty low-risk investment. Plus, Corbin’s got the humidor (drink) coming in, which should help.
Round 18: Brad Brach (RP, Baltimore Orioles)
I anticipate Brad Brach being the Orioles’ closer while Zach Britton is sidelined with an injury for a few months, and Brach has shown that he’s a perfectly capable closer, as he grabbed 18 saves last year with a 3.18 ERA (which was actually a pretty high ERA for him given that he’s had a sub-3 ERA the two seasons prior). Even once Britton is back, I’m betting that the Orioles end up trading Brach at the deadline to a closer-needy team, which means there’s a decent chance that Brach is still closing games even after Britton returns, making him a nice grab this late in the draft. At bare minimum though, I’ll at least get a handful of saves at him while Britton recovers.
Round 19: J.A. Happ (SP, Toronto Blue Jays)
Happ’s peripherals suggest that he’s probably due for some regression in the ERA department, but I think he’ll still be a fairly worthwhile pitcher to have. Looking back, I think I probably should’ve drafted Luiz Gohara or Anthony DeSclafani instead just because I like their upside a bit more than Happ, but I went with what I saw as the somewhat higher floor option. Typcially, I like going for high-upside guys late in drafts, but with this pick, I went with Happ and I think he’ll be good enough to justify the pick.
Round 20: Corey Dickerson (OF, Pittsburgh Pirates)
I know Corey Dickerson moving to Pittsburgh isn’t ideal, but it’s not like he’s moving away from some really hitter-friendly park to a pitcher-friendly one. Both Tropicana and PNC are similarly pitcher-friendly, and I think Dickerson still has a good shot at 25-30 home runs. Yes, I know his second half was awful last year, but I’m anticipating that happening again.
Round 21: Mallex Smith (OF, Tampa Bay Rays)
I love Mallex Smith, I’ve loved him for years, and now I think the Rays are finally going to give him a steady, full-time gig, or at least I hope they do. If that’s the case (and that’s what I’m assuming), Smith could easily be discount Billy Hamilton. He’s not going to give you any power nor will he give you many RBIs in a relatively weak Rays lineup, but he will give you an average that won’t kill you and potentially 30-40 steals. I love that value this late in the draft.
Round 22: Avisail Garcia (OF, Chicago White Sox)
I actually do believe in what Avisail Garcia did a bit last year. He’s not a .300+ hitter, I do think there’s regression in store there, but I think he could easily hit in the .280s or so with good power. I’m willing to take the chance that he repeats a more toned down version of last year with my second-to-last pick, it’s a fairly low-risk investment.
Round 23: Chris Stratton (SP, San Francisco Giants)
If Stratton has a consistent spot in the Giants starting rotation (and I think he will), he’s got the potential to actually be a fairly decent pitcher. He’s got to use his curveball more and his changeup less, but if he’s able to progress forward some with his stuff, I think he could easily out-perform his draft pick, and that’s exactly the kind of good-upside player I’m looking for with my last pick in the draft.