Hi guys, Jeff Davis here reporting in with a review of my team from the Pitcher List mock draft on 02/27/2018. I came into this draft with a few thoughts that ended up shaping my team pretty significantly:
- Speed is hard to come by. Grab it while you can.
- Starting pitching is going to feel very shallow (I normally play 10 team leagues), so don’t be shy about stocking up when quality SPs are still on the board.
With that said, let’s jump into the action. At each pick, I’ll try to give you a bit of insight into why I chose the player I selected, what other options I considered, and how I strategized at that point in the draft.
Mock Draft Details: 12 team, H2H, 5×5 categories with the 7th overall pick. Check out the live stream and the full draft board here.
1st Round (7) – Mookie Betts (OF, Boston Red Sox) – In round one I wanted to pick a quality hitter who could realistically help my team in all 5 categories. Betts does that, and I truly believe he will have a strong rebound after a disappointing 2017. He’s projected for a season of approximately .300/100/25/100/25 and I love how balanced this line is – it allows me a lot of flexibility later in the draft. I considered Paul Goldschmidt and Charlie Blackmon in this spot as well, and really any of the three would’ve been a solid choice. I also considered Clayton Kershaw, knowing that I’d likely not have another chance at a Tier 1 SP. I decided to keep with my initial plan of taking a quality hitter in the 1st and hoping I would be able to grab my SPs later.
2nd Round (18) – Chris Sale (SP, Boston Red Sox) – And I couldn’t be happier with how that went. It seems that most of the draftees decided to wait on SPs and I was fortunate enough to have a shot at one of the Tier 1 guys. While there were quality hitters available at this point (Jose Ramirez, Aaron Judge, Freddie Freeman, and Anthony Rizzo) I couldn’t pass up a top SP.
3rd Round (31) – Dee Gordon (2B/OF, Seattle Mariners) – Sticking with point one, I jumped at the chance to grab Dee Gordon. Between him and Mookie Betts, I feel I’m in an excellent position in what I anticipate to be the shallowest offensive category. Gordon doesn’t hurt my average, which will let me grab guys who sacrifice average for power later in the draft. Jose Abreu and Madison Bumgarner were additional players I considered. I love Abreu, but he ended up behind Gordon due to position and the chance to acquire SBs. I opted to not pick Bumgarner as I already had an ace in Mr. Sale.
4th Round (42) – Justin Verlander (SP, Houston Astros) – I didn’t anticipate taking a pitcher in this slot. I wanted Anthony Rendon, but Henry Still grabbed him the pick before me. There were decent OF and 2B options available at this point, but I had 2B covered and a plan to target some high-upside OFs later in the draft. I simply cannot complain about Verlander as my #2 here as it gives me two aces of two ‘super teams’. At this point, I’m the only team with two SPs and I’m feeling very comfortable.
5th Round (55) – Willson Contreras (C, Chicago Cubs) – This was a difficult pick for me with a number of options that just didn’t feel right. I perhaps weighted a thin catcher position too heavily as J.T. Realmuto ended up going nine rounds after this pick. The SPs available around this ADP were Chris Archer and Robbie Ray, neither of whom I very fond of. I considered picking Billy Hamilton but I felt like I was already saturated at the one category Hamilton provides. I considered Nola, but it felt like a reach and I had hoped he might make it back to me the next round… that didn’t happen. I wish I grabbed Aaron Nola and waited for a catcher.
6th Round (66) – Jean Segura (SS, Seattle Mariners) – I grabbed Segura a full round later than Grayson Blazek was able to last week from the same draft position, so I love this pick here. I get to further pad my SBs while not detracting from average which will allow me to target some HR heavy options later in the draft. I also considered Xander Boagaerts at this pick as I feel he is due for a nice season – I don’t think I could’ve gone wrong with either of these shortstops and I didn’t like many of the other options available.
7th Round (79) – James Paxton (SP, Seattle Mariners) – This draft got a little silly at this point, as SPs started flying off the board. Myles Nelson started things off with a double dip of Zack Godley and Luis Castillo on the turn, and a run of 5 SPs started after. I had hoped David Price would end up with me as I think he is an excellent value this year and he has that sweet SP/RP eligibility – which would’ve been amazing to have. Instead, I ended up with my countrymate James Paxton whom I adore. I value Pax higher than many SPs that were already off the board at this point (Godley, Castillo, Chris Archer, Dallas Keuchel, and Luke Weaver). The injury concern is there, but that argument could be made for a majority of pitchers and I know that I’ll get quality when Pax is healthy enough to toe the rubber. The injury risk is also mitigated by having two aces already on the staff. If Paxton does manage to have an injury free season, I may have just picked my 3rd AL Cy Young contender in the 7th round.
8th Round (90) – Gerrit Cole (SP, Houston Astros) – This is the point where the draft took a major turn on me. I wasn’t very high on many of the hitter options available (Whit Merrifield and Chris Taylor), so I set my sights on adding to my staff of aces or drafting my first reliever. With only two RPs taken to this point I felt like I could wait – boy was I wrong. I drafted Cole, excited for a change of scenery in Houston, and almost immediately a run of RPs occurred beginning with Jay Dunbar taking my beloved Felipe Rivero. As I’m watching this unfold I realize that I’ve lost my chance at a top RP to anchor my relief corps, and I have three ways to respond: I could jump at the next tier to ensure I have a solid option at RP, I could wait and try to scrape value near the end of the draft, or I could target SP/RP options and punt steals in an effort to bolster W and K categories.
9th Round (103) – Joey Gallo (1B/3B, Texas Rangers) – I considered reaching for Edwin Diaz here, but Gallo was too tempting. He is a perfect compliment to my team of high-average guys. I was very happy to grab him and slot him at 3B as I like him more than the 3B options that came after this pick.
10th Round (114) – Eddie Rosario (OF, Minnesota) – I once again considered Edwin Diaz in this slot but I couldn’t resist pulling the trigger on Rosario. I was absolutely thrilled to pick up a five category contributor in the 10th round. I suppose he fell to me as some feel a regression is coming, but even if the average dips towards his .274 xAVG from 2017 I still think I got a steal at this draft slot.
11th Round (127) – Garrett Richards (SP, Los Angeles Angels) – Much like my Paxton pick, I’m able to grab SPs with injury risk and high upside due to the stable floor created by Sale and Verlander. At this point, I figure I’m going to the bottom of the barrel for RPs so I need to have a very strong group of SPs to pick up the slack. Richards is also going to benefit from an incredible infield defense this year.
12th Round (138) – Greg Bird (1B, New York Yankees) – In the 12th round I felt like I wanted a power contributor. I debated between Bird and Adam Duvall, but I felt I would have better options in the OF later in the draft – and I already had some targets in my queue. Bird has the potential to have a monster season as the power lefty in a line-up with Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez. If, for example, the lineup is set up as Brett Gardner, Judge, Bird, Stanton, Sanchez, this pick could be the steal of the draft.
13th Round (151) – Jameson Taillon (SP, Pittsburgh Pirates) – At this point in the draft I decided to hoard as many pitchers as I could get my hands on. My next two targets were Taillon and Mike Clevinger, and I was extremely worried about Nick taking one or both of them at the turn if I grabbed a hitter. I decided to pick Taillon as Clevinger’s ADP was much later. I hope 2018 is the year where it all comes together for Taillon. He has immense talent and I was high on him to start 2017. This man crushed cancer and I have no doubts he’ll crush the 2018 season.
14th Round (162) – Mike Clevinger (SP/RP, Cleveland Indians) – I reached here, but with good reason. I was starting to move ever closer to the idea of punting saves, and Clevinger was the top SP/RP still available. Securing him meant I had the flexibility later in the draft to hoard SP/RP options. I also think Danny Salazar’s recent injury trouble will ensure that Clevinger gets his turn in the rotation. I love his repertoire, and I don’t think he’ll lose his starting gig once he has it.
15th Round (175) – Blake Snell (SP, Tampa Bay Rays) – For my 15th round pick I had my eye on Kevin Gausman and Jake Faria, and both were taken a few picks before me. Since I’m forfeiting a pitching category, I want to make sure that I have enough depth to win W and K each week. With my top two targets taken, I settled in on Snell who had a fantastic end to the 2017 season. I’m taking a bit of a flier here, and I won’t hesitate to drop Snell (or any of the SPs I draft after him) to pick up someone pulling a 2017 Alex Wood to start the year.
16th Round (186) – Jose Martinez (1B/OF, St. Louis Cardinals) – At this point I’ve decided that it’s late enough to start drafting the late OF targets I’ve been alluding to. The first is Jose Martinez. If you sort players by 2017 xwOBA you end up with a very impressive list of players: Aaron Judge, Mike Trout, Joey Votto, J.D. Martinez, Jose Martinez…. Wait. One of those isn’t like the others. Jose Martinez put up similar xwOBA to 4 players taken in the first two rounds of this draft, and I get to pick him in the 16th. There are definite track record and play time concerns, however I will gladly gamble on the Martinez we saw last year. I’m excited to see what 2018 holds.
17th Round (199) – Scott Schebler (OF, Cincinnati Reds) – My second late OF target is Scott Schebler. I could attempt to tell you why I picked Schebler, but I’ll defer to a more talented author as Jon Metzelaar recently did a fantastic deep dive on Schebler. I can tell you from an injury standpoint I’m not concerned about any residual effects from his July 2017 shoulder injury.
18th Round (210) – Miles Mikolas (SP, St. Louis Cardinals) – Seeing that I had a few rounds before I needed to secure my next OF target (due to his high ADP), I decided to go back to the well and pick up an SP in this slot. I considered Lance Lynn for this pick, knowing that often command is the last thing to return after Tommy John Surgery, which may help to explain his sudden HR issue (1.3 HR/9 in 2017 compared to 0.79 career mark). I stayed away as I’m hesitant to draft a pitcher who doesn’t have a team in late February while other viable options are available. I’ve watched a few videos of Mikolas pitching in Japan and I like what I’ve seen. Mikolas had very similar stats in Japan to Kenta Maeda, who had a fantastic first year in the MLB. If he returns value anywhere similar to that, this pick is a steal.
19th Round (223) – Joe Musgrove (SP/RP, Pittsburgh Pirates) – I reached a bit for Joe Musgrove as he comes with that valuable SP/RP eligibility. I’m extremely excited to see what he can be on a new team and working with Ray Searage. I’m not overly concerned with the shoulder inflammation he’s experienced thus far in spring training – it’s not ideal, but also not a major issue. If it becomes a recurring thing I’d look to fill his RP spot with someone like Chris Devenski or an emerging SP/RP guys with a rotation spot.
20th Round (234) – Willie Calhoun (OF, Texas Rangers) – Willie Calhoun is my third and final late round OF target. It’s easy to forget about Willie until you note the absolutely absurd projections for his rookie year (all projection systems have him around .275 and mid-20s HRs). Willie has done nothing but hit in the minors and is the current favourite to win the Rangers LF job.
21st Round (247) – Alex Cobb (SP, Free Agent) – I begrudgingly took a free agent SP. Alex Cobb’s value could vary depending on where he goes, but if I’m not happy with his destination I won’t hesitate to drop him.
22nd Round (258) – Joe Biagini (SP/RP, Toronto Blue Jays) – After debating taking Joe Biagini in the first round it turns out he dropped to the 22nd for me, so I am thrilled with this value. All joking aside, I have been in love with Biagini since his first outing for the Jays in 2016. I love the curve, and it may be the first thing to catch your eye. But, to me, what makes Biagini special is his command of the fastball. For an example, check out the second fastball gif in Nick’s recent analysis of Biagini on Rotographs (and read the whole amazing piece while you’re there). Notice the location of that pitch. Notice how Raffy Lopez doesn’t have to move at all. That’s what you get from Biagini when he’s on. Biagini looked visibly exhausted for stints of 2017, and while this is subjective, in my approximation those seemed to be the outings where he left the ball up and things got away from him. It’s natural that he’d have periods like this in a season where he nearly doubled his 2016 IP total and was yanked between the bullpen and the rotation all year. I’m extremely curious to see Biagini’s cutter/slider during his next spring training outing. Between absent pitch velocity and the worst camera angle I’ve seen for a televised game it’s difficult to analyze the pitch and compare it to ones thrown in 2017, but it looked different at first glance. A second offspeed offering coming out of the same tunnel as his fastball and change-up despite moving in the complete opposite direction could be devastating. Biagini may be in the rotation to start the year as Stroman works through shoulder inflammation.
23rd Round (271) – Marco Estrada (SP, Toronto Blue Jays) – Marco Estrada had a disappointing 2017. Sleep issues and marital troubles are some theories that have been floated to explain his poor performance. In the last round I chose to take a gamble on Estrada correcting whatever issue plagued him in 2017. If he doesn’t he’ll be the first cut.
Headed into the season my roster is as follows:
1B: Greg Bird
2B: Dee Gordon
3B: Joey Gallo
SS: Jean Segura
OF: Mookie Betts
OF: Eddie Rosario
OF: Jose Martinez
UTIL: Scott Schebler
UTIL: Willie Calhoun
SP: Chris Sale
SP: Justin Verlander
SP: James Paxton
RP: Mike Clevinger
RP: Joe Musgrove
RP: Joe Biagini
P: Gerrit Cole
BN: Blake Snell
BN: Miles Mikolas
BN: Alex Cobb
BN: Marco Estrada
Overall, I’m thrilled with my team. My pitching staff is impressive in terms of both talent and depth, and I think it easily grades out at #1 in the league. My hitters, while not a list of household names are well-rounded and I managed to grab several targets that I truly believe in for 2018 at a fantastic price. I’ve stocked my bench with additional SPs because by the time we got to the late rounds we were really scraping the bottom of the starting pitcher barrel. Meanwhile, players like Kendrys Morales and Yonder Alonso are still available in free agency at this point. If I need hitting depth, it is available there.
The critical point in this draft for me is in Round 14 when I began to commit to a reliever-less team. Reflecting on the reliever picks that came after I grabbed Clevinger, I’m not at all worried about what I’m missing out on. I don’t think trading my SP/RPs for the next 3 RPs drafted (Arodys Vizcaino, Greg Holland, and Juerys Familia) would add value to my team.