A mock draft with people who don’t phone it in after the first 3 picks! Be still my heart. There was strategy! There was sniping! There were reaches! It was lit.
So, let’s get to MY strategy coming into Tuesday night. Generally, I like to load up on safe, high-floor bats at the top, grab an ace, then build depth with a focus on pitching in the middle rounds. Spoiler: I did not adhere to that strategy here. Time to try out new things, I guess. What ended up happening was my value-hunter brain overrode the system. I don’t care if I’ve already got two third basemen! I’ll grab the guy who falls a few rounds and sacrifice a mid-range closer. How did this all turn out for me? Let’s dive in and find out…
Details: 12 team, H2H, 5×5 standard categories. Here’s a link to the live stream and full draft board for reference.
Round 1 (10): Kris Bryant (3B, Chicago Cubs) – Some drafters are letting him slip to the second round, which is crazy to me, so I knew Bryant would most likely be available to me at pick 10 overall. He’s actually in my top 5 overall, and I’ll take advantage of some punishing him for the dip in counting stats a year ago. As Tim Acree pointed out last week, his numbers may have gone down, but he made big strides in BB/K rate and admitted that he started hitting to all parts of the field. He’s a beast, and I’m thrilled to land a guy here who I project for 35 HR and over 100 R and RBI with a fantastic average in a great lineup.
Round 2 (15): Max Scherzer (P, Washington Nationals) – I’m back on the clock quickly 4 picks later, and now is the perfect time to grab my ace. If I take another bat here, I have to wait 18 picks and see what ace or almost ace is still around. That’s just too long and too risky for my blood. Kershaw went right after my Bryant pick in Round 1, so Scherzer was the obvious choice here. I toyed with picking up Votto here as that would have given me a ridiculous core to build off of. However, some have Scherzer as their number 1 pitcher overall, so I’m content.
Round 3 (34): Jose Abreu (1B, Chicago White Sox) – The early rounds of your draft should be full of reliable stat producers, and no one encapsulates that more over the years than Abreu. The floor is 90 R/30 HR/100 RBI/.290. Yes, please. 2016 is an outlier, and last year was the Abreu we can expect moving forward. He’s been remarkably consistent, played in at least 145 games each of the last 4 seasons, and he posted career-best numbers in contact percentage and hard-hit rate last year. Excellent value in Round 3.
Round 4 (39): Justin Upton (OF, Los Angeles Angels) – This was the first pick where I had to really decide between best available in my rankings or addressing a need. I really like Anthony Rendon at this spot and could have filled my UTIL in Round 4, but I saw that OF was thinning out really quickly. Although I like them all, I felt it was too early to reach on guys like Christian Yelich, Wil Myers or Khris Davis here. However, when consistency and a high floor is what you’re seeking early like me, Justin Upton fits the bill. He’s put up 6 consecutive years of at least 25 HR, 80+ R and RBI, a fair amount of steals, and an average that won’t kill you. I expect big things from the Angels lineup this year, and although he won’t repeat last year’s career year, the floor is very high compared to the others available here.
Round 5 (58): Yu Darvish (P, Chicago Cubs) – I really wanted Robbie Ray here, but Henry Still sniped him 2 picks in front of me. I guess I had it locked into my brain that I was going to take a pitcher here, so I went with the next guy down on my list. In hindsight, I think I would have rather taken Khris Davis here and just stocked up on power. That would have given me an ace and 4 guys with 30 HR potential and high floor counting stats. But alas, I end up bucking my usual strategy and taking my second pitcher in the first 5 rounds. Darvish provides a pretty safe K/9, and as long as he can stay healthy again, I’m confident in his ability to produce SP #2 stats on a very good team. Think double-digit wins, 200 Ks, 3.50 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP.
Round 6 (63): Elvis Andrus (SS, Texas Rangers) – Besides Abreu in the 3rd, this was one pick where I really thought “good job, Jake!” Elvis Andrus exploded with the power last year recording more homeruns than he had the last 3 seasons combined. He’s got a floor of about 20 SB and has recorded near .300 batting averages each of the last two seasons. It’s fair to factor in quite a bit of regression from what feels like a power peak a year ago, but I am drafting Andrus confidently here as one of the safer options at shortstop.
Round 7 (82): Shohei Ohtani (P/DH, Los Angeles Angels) – A perfect example of letting the draft come to you. Before this draft, I did not say to myself “I need to get Ohtani.” I have him pretty high in my rankings, and when he was still on the board in the 7th, I jumped at the opportunity. This now gives me 3 pitchers in my first 7 picks, and this really goes against everything I believe in usually. This is why we do mocks though, right? Let’s see what happens. Ohtani is the ultimate unknown quantity as we have no idea how often he’ll be pitching or how the Angels will really use him, but the skills are there for him to have 7th round value or higher.
Round 8 (87): Andrew McCutchen (OF, San Francisco Giants) – After nabbing yet another pitcher, I knew I wanted to grab whatever relatively high floor bat was still out there. I like Devers, but even if he had fallen to me here (he didn’t), it felt too early. I considered Whit Merrifield, but I feel the possible regression in everything but steals is a thing I don’t want to mess with. With McCutchen, I get that floor I was looking for despite the downgrade in ballpark. McCutchen is certainly not the player he was a few years ago, but the second half last year showed he has plenty left in the tank. 20 HR/10 SB and a .270 average is a little short of what I’d want from OF #2, but I can live with it.
Round 9 (106): Rougned Odor (2B, Texas Rangers) – Tons of pitching started flying off the board, but as I already had 3 arms on the roster, I wanted to focus on other positions. I really wanted Gallo here despite already having the corner infield set, but I settled for Gallo-lite with speed. Last year’s triple slash from Odor is the stuff nightmares are made of, but it gets better, right?! He’s never even been close to the poor marks he put up last year, so you have to think he comes back to the mean. 30 HR/15 SB feels is the floor. I’ve got some high average guys to absorb the hit I take here. I’m in.
Round 10 (111): Miguel Sano (3B/OF, Minnesota Twins) – This was really the first pick where I felt I panicked. I didn’t need Sano. There are major questions about his playing time with off-the-field issues brewing. He’s also yet to play a full season, but I saw the power and upside and pulled the trigger. In hindsight, though, the names that came off the board right after don’t make me kick myself all that much. Sano still has tons of upside, and if he misses no time, the potential for 30 HR+ is there in a good lineup.
Round 11 (130): Cody Allen (RP, Cleveland Indians) – Over the last three years, Allen has averaged something in the realm of 30 SV, 12 K/9, 2.70 ERA, and a 1.15 WHIP. Allen is about as safe as they come if you don’t grab one of the elite guys. Good team, good stats, and a safe hold on the job. I feel really good about Allen being my top RP.
Round 12 (135): Nomar Mazara (OF, Texas Rangers) – I have a theft to report to the authorities. On the night of February 27th, at approximately 9:45 PM EST, Brennan Gorman stole Manny Margot from my fake team exactly one pick before me. In cold blood. So ruthless. However, Mazara is a fine consolation prize. In his first two full seasons in the big leagues, he’s posted back-to-back 20 HR seasons. Sure, everyone can do that now, but he’s 22. He also gained about 40 RBI to go along with his decent triple slash of .253/.323/.422 a year ago. That’s not eye-popping stuff, but we are just scratching the surface of what he can do. Massive upside here with my #3 OF.
Round 13 (154): Ryan Zimmerman (3B, Washington Nationals) – Well, I guess I’m buying in! After taking Mazara last round, I thought Raisel Iglesias would fall to me in round 13, but Ben Chang had other ideas. I wasn’t a big fan of the other closers left, and so many of the starters have their warts at this point, so I stuck with my gut and grabbed another bat. I don’t love the pick, and who knows how far he will regress after his incredible renaissance last season. However, if he produces anything close to last season, I’ve got Sano and Zimmerman as a dynamic 1-2 punch in the UTIL slots. In a perfect world, that works out for me. Still feel I should have grabbed a pitcher here.
Round 14 (159): Yoan Moncada (2B, Chicago White Sox) – Top prospect pedigree, post-hype type who falls to the 14th round? Sign me up! Last year’s Ronald Acuna stumbled out of the gate in his debut, and it has some owners overlooking the uber-talented middle infielder. However, I feel I passed on pitching depth for the third straight round, and I feel that really hurt my team overall. Names like Kevin Gausman, Jacob Faria, Blake Snell, Archie Bradley and Arodys Vizcaino all came off the board soon after this pick. All names who could have helped my staff build some much needed depth.
Round 15 (178): Taijuan Walker (P, Arizona Diamondbacks) – Pitching is THIN at this point, and I haven’t taken a starter since Round 7. Whoops! I choose Walker here because I bumped up all the Snakes’ pitchers after the humidor news. Nick Pollack shat on the pick on the live stream. I chatted with him yesterday to get more details, and here’s what he had to say.
“His repertoire just isn’t good…1.33 WHIP, meh K upside that I don’t see getting better without a proper secondary pitch…rising walk rate…yeah not for me.”
He knows way more about pitching than me. In hindsight, Jordan Montgomery or Blake Parker would have been my pick here.
Round 16 (183): Jeurys Familia (RP, New York Mets) – It’s coming off the rails now. After sacrificing pitching in the middle rounds, I’m grabbing at straws. I once again had an opportunity to grab Blake Parker here, who I like more than Familia. I panicked. Trash pick.
Round 17 (203): Brian McCann (C, Houston Astros) – I waited one round too late on Evan Gattis who happens to be my favorite late round catcher. Also, Mike Zunino gets sniped by Alex Fast a few picks ahead of me, so McCann was the next available guy I actually wanted. Improved his strikeout to 14% a year ago while maintaining a walk rate close to 10% and has the floor of something close to 20 HR. Astros lineup will once again be one of the best in baseball. Virtually no upside at his age and position, but one of the safer options this late.
Round 18 (207): Michael Wacha (P, St. Louis Cardinals) – Jimmy Nelson was considered hard here, and had I not been looking for SP #5 at this spot, he would’ve been my pick. However, I’m scrambling to build a staff I can actually use, and Nelson is too risky. Nothing Wacha does is spectacular, but if he can give me at least 150 Ks with a 4 ERA, that’s good enough.
Round 19 (227): Luiz Gohara (P, Atlanta Braves) – I had him queued the round before, but I was feeling like I could hold off at least one more turn before pulling the trigger. He flashed signs of brilliance last year in his 29 innings of work, but he still needs work especially against righties. He’s one of the many high-upside, young arms in the Braves system, but he will more than likely start in the minors. The 19th round still feels right.
Round 20 (231): Kevin Kiermaier (OF, Tampa Rays) – Kiermaier has tons of talent as a 20 HR/20 SB threat…if he could just stay healthy. Limited to just over 400 plate appearances the last two years and never more than 535 in a season, we’re always left wondering what could’ve been with him. Still, he’s a power-speed guy worthy of much higher than a 20th round pick when healthy. Nice bench bat either way.
Round 21 (251): David Robertson (P, New York Yankees) – Ok, so I punted relievers to the point where there’s not a guy with guaranteed save opportunities left on the board. In a real league, I would either make a trade or be the first to the waiver wire when the closer carousel gets going in April. Still, Robertson has great stuff and racks up strikeouts, so he’s not totally void of value.
Round 22 (256): Victor Robles (OF, Washington Nationals) – Upside, upside, upside. 20 years old with a prospect pedigree but nowhere to play. I’m not saying I’m praying for an injury, but the minute one happens in the Nats outfield, Robles should get the first crack at playing time. It’s pointless to analyze his 27 plate appearances a year ago, but the profile is one of someone who has 30-30 upside. #5 OF. Let’s go!
Round 23 (275): Felix Hernandez (P, Seattle Mariners) – The skills are gone, but why not? He’s fallen off the cliff the last two seasons as he has struggled to stay healthy. That’s no surprise as the one-time ace who was good for 30 starts a year has seen all of those innings catch up to him. All the stats have ballooned the last two years, and he would be the first player I cut in April.
Report Card: B-
I love my team at the top. I landed some big targets in Kris Bryant, Max Scherzer, Jose Abreu, Elvis Andrus, and even Andrew McCutchen. On top of that, I felt some nice value pieces fell to me in the form of Shohei Ohtani, Nomar Mazara, Cody Allen, and Yoan Moncada. However, this whole thing fell apart later in the draft. I have some glaring weaknesses at closer as Allen is the only option I trust. Also, I have pretty shallow depth at starting pitcher and should have balanced the squad a little. I slept on the middle tier of starters a little too long. Even though I like the players I got, for the most part, I’d gladly trade Moncada and Zimmerman for decent rotation pieces in hindsight. All in all, I think this team could compete by being active in-season.