Hi, I’m Kyle Bishop. You might remember me from such appearances as whatever the episode numbers were of the On The Corner podcast. Did you enjoy listening to me provide explanations of varying quality and cohesion for these picks in that medium? Well, have I got a deal for you! 1,800+ words on those very same picks, but slightly more organized and thought out! No need to thank me, just doing my job.
To read the analysis of other teams in the draft, head to our Mock Draft hub page here.
Round 1: Trea Turner (SS/OF, Washington Nationals)– We’ve heard quite a bit over the last couple of years about the scarcity of stolen bases in the current environment, and somewhat less about the increasing rarity of high-average hitters. Looking back on my overall fantasy performance during that time, I noticed an apparent lack of appreciation for these two categories. So, I went into the mock knowing I wanted Turner with my first pick. There just aren’t many players who can be a huge asset in steals without hurting you elsewhere. Turner has yet to play a full, continuous MLB season, and that’s certainly not something I can usually say of my early picks. But prorate his production thus far to 650 plate appearances and you end up with a .304 AVG, 106 R, 20 HR, 69 RBI, and 65 SB. That’s incredibly valuable. I might not have gone this way in a draft that counted, but I wanted to see how things would play out if I made sure to address speed early.
Round 2: Corey Kluber (SP, Cleveland Indians) – It’s not all that often that things go exactly according to plan with your first two picks in a snake draft, so I was thrilled to land Kluber here. He’s among a quite small group of reliable, durable aces. Among qualified starters over the past four seasons, Kluber is second in innings (averaging 219 per year), fifth in wins, third in strikeouts, and fourth in both ERA and WHIP.
Round 3: George Springer (OF, Houston Astros) – I had been hoping that Noah Syndergaard would make it to me here, but Andrew Todd-Smith wisely prevented that from happening with the first pick of the round. I settled for Springer, a rather excellent consolation prize. In his fourth season, the Astros’ leadoff man was better than ever, achieving career bests in batting average (.283) and home runs (34) while trimming his strikeout rate to a tidy 17.9%. He also scored more than 110 runs for the second straight year; Kris Bryant and Charlie Blackmon, both consensus first-round picks, are the only other players who have pulled that off. Springer has also managed over 80 RBI in both seasons despite hitting at the top of the order. He’s just 14-for-31 on stolen base attempts over that span, but I don’t need him to run much.
Round 4: Rhys Hoskins (1B/OF, Philadelphia Phillies) – Even though this gave me two players with limited track records in the first four rounds, I couldn’t resist grabbing Hoskins. Especially not after Max Posner made sure nobody would pay attention to my pick after shocking the room by taking Byron Buxton two picks earlier. 50 games isn’t a huge sample, but Hoskins looked fantastic in those 50 games just as he had while mashing his way through the minor leagues. He displayed a terrific understanding of the strike zone and a combination of power and contact ability that few hitters possess. No, he’s not going to hit a third of his flyballs over the fence again, but he doesn’t need to do that to rack up 30 – 35 bombs in a full season.
Round 5: Brian Dozier (2B, Minnesota Twins) – There’s a strong argument that Dozier is the best second baseman in fantasy after Jose Altuve, so I was happy to snap him up here as the fourth 2B off the board in the mock. He’s no longer a batting average liability, having hit .268 and .271 the last two seasons. During that time, he’s also averaged 37 HR, 105 R, 96 RBI, and 17 SB.
Round 6: A.J. Pollock (OF, Arizona Diamondbacks) – Pollock isn’t without risk. After all, he’s played just 124 games over the past two seasons, and hasn’t come close to replicating the beastly numbers he produced in his 2015 breakout campaign. Still, he managed 14 homers, 20 steals, and 73 runs in only 466 plate appearances last year. If he can stay healthy (admittedly a significant qualifier), .280 with 100 runs and 50 HR+SB doesn’t seem like a crazy projection. Only Jose Altuve hit all those benchmarks last year.
Round 7: Jose Quintana (SP, Chicago Cubs) – After the deluge of pitcher injuries and ineffectiveness that plagued me throughout last season, I’m prioritizing reliable arms this time around. They don’t get much more reliable than Quintana, who has averaged 200 innings of 3.50 ERA ball over the last five years. True, his 4.15 ERA last year was a career-worst, but he pitched significantly better after being traded across town from the White Sox to the Cubs. Quintana isn’t a sexy pick by any means, but along with Kluber he gave my pitching staff a rock-solid foundation.
Round 8: Jake Lamb (3B, Arizona Diamondbacks) – I ain’t afraid of no ghost humidor. Lamb gave me a second piece of the Diamondbacks’ high-quality lineup and a solid three-category contributor at the hot corner. Despite collapsing after the break for the second year in a row, he hit 30 homers, scored 89 runs, and drove in 105. If he can avoid a second-half swoon and/or get a little better at hitting lefties, great, but even if not he’s a good value here.
Round 9: Jon Lester (SP, Chicago Cubs) – Like his teammate Quintana, Lester has been a durable and reliable pitcher for most of this decade, but is coming off a down year. I’m betting on their respective track records and a quality team behind them. Again, stability on the pitching side is my focus here.
Round 10: Jon Gray (SP, Colorado Rockies) – The city I now call home is infamous for its inhospitality to pitchers, but Gray is talented enough to succeed despite pitching half of his games at Coors Field. Perhaps unsurprisingly for a draft full of guys who write for a site called Pitcher List, the SP ranks were really starting to thin out by this time. I wanted a high-upside arm, and Gray fits the bill. Among starters with at least 200 innings over the last two seasons, Gray’s 77 FIP- ranks 11th. He needs to prove himself over a full season and tame the beast that is his home park, but I’m happy to roll the dice on those things happen as we move into the middle rounds.
Round 11: Cody Allen (RP, Cleveland Indians) – I’d put off grabbing a closer long enough at this point. While I strongly considered longtime personal favorite Felipe Rivero (who went to our fearless leader Nick Pollack with the very next pick), Allen’s longer track record swayed me. Incredibly, only three relievers have saved at least 30 games in each of the last three seasons – Kenley Jansen, Craig Kimbrel, and Allen.
Round 12: Ronald Acuna (OF, Atlanta Braves) – A reach? Quite possibly, considering Acuna isn’t even guaranteed a starting job. But it’s hard not to be excited about what the game’s top prospect did in 2017. As a 19-year-old, he went from High-A to Triple-A in one season, and got better as he moved up the ranks. Across those three levels, Acuna hit over .300 while totaling 21 homers and 44 stolen bases.
Round 13: Ian Happ (2B/OF, Chicago Cubs) – Happ was impressive as a rookie, smacking 24 homers to go with 130 R+RBI and eight steals in just 413 plate appearances. His 31.2 K% certainly isn’t ideal, but he ran respectable strikeout rates in the minors and had only 26 games above Double-A before getting called up. There’s reasonable expectation for improvement.
Round 14: Bradley Zimmer (OF, Cleveland Indians) – I continued to collect players who I felt could provide both power and speed by taking Zimmer, who looked great in his rookie year before a slump and a hand injury put a damper on things. Like Happ, he had some trouble making contact, but eight homers and 18 steals in about a half-season’s worth of trips to the plate is some intriguing category juice.
Round 15: Ozzie Albies (2B, Atlanta Braves) – Obviously, I needed more speed on my roster. /s Being honest, I probably should’ve gone for Evan Gattis here, but where’s the fun in that? Instead, I grabbed another precocious Atlanta hitter. Albies acquitted himself well in the majors at the tender age of 20, putting up a .286-34-6-28-8 line in 57 games. Unlike Acuna, he’s essentially a lock to play every day from the jump in 2018.
Round 16: Kelvin Herrera (RP, Kansas City Royals) – I still needed a second closer, and there weren’t many of them left on the board. In fact, Herrera might have been the last reliever taken who has a clear grip on the ninth inning. 2017 was a step back for him, but Herrera’s 2.30 ERA over the prior three seasons ranked 12th among qualified relievers.
Round 17: Kenta Maeda (SP, Los Angeles Dodgers) – Maeda fell victim to the Dodgers’ pitcher manipulation chicanery last year, getting shuttled between the rotation and bullpen on multiple occasions and often getting pulled from starts early. Despite that, and some issues with the long ball, Maeda still won 13 games, struck out a batter per inning, and posted a tidy 1.14 WHIP. Teammate Rich Hill is going several rounds earlier on average in early mocks (including this one) and there frankly wasn’t enough separating them last year to justify that.
Round 18: Taijuan Walker (SP, Arizona Diamondbacks) – My third straight NL West pitcher! Totally unintentional, mostly irrelevant. Bizarrely, despite his move to a hitter-friendly home park and the leaguewide power surge, Walker managed to get his home run problem under control last season and posted a solid 3.49 ERA as a result. He still hasn’t cracked 180 innings, but he’s only 25. Had you cracked 180 innings when you were 25? I’m betting not.
Round 19: Mike Zunino (C, Seattle Mariners) – I waited longer than all but one other owner to draft a catcher, and when you do that, you end up with somebody like Zunino. Moving on.
Round 20: Vince Velasquez (SP, Philadelphia Phillies) – Velasquez needs a third pitch if he’s going to succeed as a starter. I know it, you know it, the American people know it. But hey, remember that time he straight-up murdered the Padres? That was cool. He should just try to do that every time!
Round 21: Nick Senzel (3B, Cincinnati Reds) – Andrew Todd-Smith sniped me again this round, this time taking Ryon Healy. Since Honovich took all the other damn third basemen, I went with Senzel. Probably my worst pick, but if my biggest brain fart is in the 21st round, I’m okay with that.
Round 22: Felix Hernandez (SP, Seattle Mariners) – Sure, by all appearances it looks like over a decade of heavy workloads has robbed Felix of his former dominance. But the Mariners are reportedly going to manage him a bit differently in 2018, so maybe that’ll help. What was I gonna do, take Marco Estrada instead? C’mon.
Round 23: C.J. Edwards (RP, Chicago Cubs) – If the Cubs don’t re-sign Wade Davis, it’s not hard to see Edwards ending up in the ninth inning.