Pitcher List’s 2019 Early Mock Draft – Reviewing Dan Richards’ Picks

Photo by Quinn Harris/Icon Sportswire

love drafting.  It’s my favorite part of fantasy sports.  This year, I chastised a friend running one of my fantasy football leagues for changing the time for each pick to 30 seconds.  Why truncate the night that determines how your team is going to look for the entire season?

So, when I found out we were doing a mock draft before the playoffs even ended, I pounced on the opportunity to partake.  Like I do with all of my drafts, I create rankings – or prices in an auction – as a guide, but I adhere to them pretty rigidly.  If I really like Christian Yelich, and I rank him 9th overall, then I’ll do my best not to take him 8th, because I’ve already baked my high estimation of him into my preset rankings.  Instead, I’m looking for value.  I try to avoid reaching above the rankings I set at all costs, such that when I add up each of my picks based on their spot in my pre-draft rankings, it’s lower than the sum of my actual draft positions throughout the draft.

Therefore, if I see a guy that I think has slipped too far based on his potential return, I’ll pounce.  In particular, I like guys that the market values at a discount based on a poor season, with a track record of much better performance.  Your classic buy lows.  I also like guys who don’t have name value, because they often go overlooked.  Likewise, I generally avoid guys coming off of career years, as there’s no value to be had when drafting a guy at his ceiling.  And even if there’s a player I think is overrated, I’ll still take him when the value’s right.  I’m always looking for value in any pick, but in the early rounds, I’m a little more conscious of floor, while I focus more on ceiling later.

That’s, in part, why I rarely draft pitchers in the first two rounds.  They’re more susceptible to their floors due to injury than hitters.  What’s more, as one needs significantly fewer starting pitchers than hitters, and I find I’m about equally able to supplement my rotation as my lineup from the breakouts on the waiver wire, I don’t feel pressure to load up on pitching early.  Take 2018, for example.  Say I found two good starting pitchers off the waiver wire (e.g., Jack Flaherty and German Marquez), and I went with second-tier aces during the draft, like Zack Greinke and James Paxton, and I was able to draft one sleeper that panned out (e.g., Charlie Morton, Blake Snell, J.A. Happ, or Patrick Corbin).  My rotation is set for the season with those five guys, and I never needed to spend early draft capital on a Chris Sale or Corey Kluber to anchor it.  But, say I did the reverse, and I found two good hitters off the wire during the season (e.g., Jesus Aguilar and Adalberto Mondesi).  If I started with two pitchers, then began drafting hitters in the third round, even if I made the best picks, like Christian Yelich, Khris Davis, and Lorenzo Cain, that’s hardly enough to feel good about my entire lineup.  That’s just the nature of rosters in traditional leagues.  Because there are so many more hitter slots, it’s harder to maintain a strong, balanced lineup by supplementing from the waiver wire, so I like to load up on hitting early.  Obviously, reasonable minds can disagree on this point.

A few extra notes: I dislike steals specialists, I love five-category contributors, I don’t worry much about positional flexibility, and I don’t like going all in on closers or catchers.  I will explain why as I go through my picks, but it’s worth noting that I bake these observations into my rankings.

Anyway, here’s what you need to know about the mock draft: 12 teams, H2H scoring, standard 5×5, seventh overall pick.  Check out the draft board and other staff reviews here.  And with that, let’s dive right in!

Round One (7): Jose Altuve (2B, Houston Astros)

I hate starting off a draft feeling conflicted.  On the one hand, I’m getting a top-five pick the last two seasons at pick 7, so he clearly has a ceiling that’s higher than where I took him, and he plays a traditionally shallow position.  In effect, he’s coming at a discount based on a down year.  Additionally, I love five-category contributors, and I try to fill my lineup with them wherever possible.  Altuve accordingly excels in the two most difficult hitting categories to fill: speed, which is rare and therefore extremely valuable these days (Whit Merrifield led MLB with 45 SBs in 2018, the fewest since 1963), and batting average.  In fact, Altuve won back-to-back batting titles in 2016 and 2017, and the MVP last season too.  On the other hand, he was fourth on ESPN’s player rater amongst second basemen in 2018, posting his lowest home run total since 2014, lowest swipe total since 2011, lowest run and RBI totals since 2014, and lowest batting average since 2015.  I think it’s safe to say his years of stealing 35+ bases are behind him, but his peripherals look largely similar to 2017, and he’s still (somehow) only 28.  I hope that Altuve’s 2018 was just injury-marred, that he returns to his MVP form, and that I’ve taken a guy who will be a top 3 fantasy player with the 7th pick.  Worst comes to worst, I get a nice floor across all five categories.

Round Two (18): Aaron Judge (OF, New York Yankees)

Boy, was I excited to get Judge here.  I was shocked he even fell to me.  As with all my picks, I’m looking for value, and I was ecstatic grabbing Judge 18th when I had him ranked right outside the top 12, particularly given that each draft spot near the top is so valuable.  He was going around 18 last season when many (including myself) thought he was going to be a bust based on his strikeout rate and massive HR/FB%.  But Judge proved he could be consistent enough to ensure his power was no fluke, hitting 27 bombs in just 112 games and maintaining another elevated HR/FB%.  I assume he can repeat that feat, which should give him a floor of about 40 homers.  It’s no surprise, either, given that the guy is amongst the leaders in most of the categories on Statcast’s leaderboards.  And with back-to-back seasons of hitting about .280, Judge has shown that he’s not vulnerable to everyone’s fears of batting average collapse, despite the elevated K%.  Couple the power and steady average with bankable triple-digit runs and RBI, and the fact that he even throws in a handful of steals every year, and you’ve got a borderline first round pick.  Between Judge and Altuve, I’ve got a nice foundation in hitting across all five categories.

Round Three (31): Luis Severino (SP, New York Yankees)

Okay, admittedly, this one was the result of inartful drafting (ha-ha).  Despite my opening spiel, I do like to have one pitcher to anchor my rotation, I just don’t like to use one of my first two picks to get him.  However, like our fearless leader, I would have preferred either Trevor Bauer or Gerrit Cole to Severino, both of whom were still on the board.  I just wasn’t paying enough attention, and the system we were using showed the 2018 preseason rankings, so Cole and Bauer were pushed far down the board where I didn’t see them.  Alas, I can settle for the guy many assumed was the best pitcher in the AL going into the all-star break.  Yes, Severino has flashed incredible upside, so I know I’m getting a bunch of innings, strikeouts, and wins.  And for all of my starting pitchers, I target guys who get Ks, because the ratios guys (e.g., Dallas Keuchel, Jake Arrieta, and Kyle Hendricks) have nothing to fall back on when things go south.  Anyway, with Severino, I’m nevertheless concerned about his ratios, which took a huge hit during his 2018 second-half swoon.  I don’t need to get into the nitty-gritty details here, so let’s just say that this was a risky pick.  If everything breaks right, I’ve got an ace to anchor my rotation that can hang with the Scherzers and Sales of the world.  If not, well, to borrow a phrase from a friend, this was an affordable mistake.

Round Four (42): Khris Davis (DH, Oakland Athletics)

Value, value, value.  I want to drill it into your brains.  Yes, I’ve already grabbed power with Judge, and I know that Davis carries no positional eligibility, but let’s not worry about that for now.  If I feel my team is power-heavy, I can always adjust later in the draft.  In a season where power was down across the league, Krush Davis still managed to lead MLB by smacking 48 tates.  He improved on his FB rate by 6.5%, likely explaining the five extra home runs he hit this year.  The remarkably consistent Davis has also played in over 150 games for three straight seasons and, astonishingly, batted .247 for the fourth straight year.  Now that he doesn’t have to play the field, there’s less injury risk, and given his unique consistency and the fact that he’s just 30, you know the bottom’s probably not falling out anytime soon.  I love finding a guy with massive upside and such a high floor in the early rounds.  Contrast that with the riskier picks that went right before me (Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Starling Marte, and Tommy Pham), and the value felt all the more evident.

Round Five (55): Eddie Rosario (OF, Minnesota Twins)

This was another pick I felt great about.  Like guys who had down years and come at a discount, I also look for guys with less name value that go overlooked in drafts.  Think guys like Rosario, Eugenio Suarez, Mitch Haniger, etc.  In any event, let’s bear in mind that we’re still in the early rounds, so while I always want to make sure there’s a higher ceiling than the price I have to pay for a player, I also need to be concerned with floor.  Let’s start with ceiling – Rosario’s got plenty of it.  In the first half of 2018, he hit .311 with 19 homers.  Assume that represents his ceiling, and you’ve got a .300+ hitter with 35 home runs.  How about his floor?  You could look at his horrible second half from last season, or you could consider the fact that, like Davis, Rosario’s year-end numbers were remarkably consistent the last two seasons.  In 2018, he hit .288 with 24 home runs in 138 games, and in 2017 he hit .290 with 27 home runs in 151 games.  That makes me confident he’s got the floor I’m looking for in an early pick, and, coupled with the fact that he contributes across all five categories, I saw value here in the fifth round.

Round Six (66): German Marquez (SP, Colorado Rockies)

Marquez was my second mistake.  Yes, I like him a lot more than the pitchers that followed (David Price, Jack Flaherty, Madison Bumgarner, Masahiro Tanaka, and Jose Berrios).  That said, I contravened my own value mantra.  I was hoping James Paxton would fall to me, because I like his upside and felt he was the last remaining ace on the board, but we can’t all have nice things.  There was a rush on pitching and, accordingly, a huge dropoff in quality fast approaching.  I felt that, if I didn’t take a pitcher now, I’d be stuck with a middling rotation.  So, I went with Marquez.  I think his ceiling is a lot higher than all of the pitchers that went after him, and even some of the ones that went before (Jameson Taillon and Mike Clevinger, for example), but the floor is very real, and it’s a lot lower than both of those guys.  That also means that there’s less value taking Marquez so early.  And what do I mean by that?  I mean that I passed on taking three perennial top 75 guys, Josh Donaldson, Justin Upton, and Xander Bogaerts, who were still on the board and, particularly Donaldson in my opinion, undervalued.  Hopefully, Marquez is what he was during the second half of 2018 (2.61 ERA, 28.4 K-BB%), and I’ll look like a genius.  I do love big strikeout pitchers after all.  But the more likely result is that he’s somewhere in between that and the old version of himself, and I missed out on the value of some overlooked hitters that should have gone earlier.

Round Seven (79): Wil Myers (3B/OF, San Diego Padres)

Myers is kind of like Rosario in that he plays for a bad team and, consequently, flies under the radar.  And Myers only played half of the season, so he’s going to be even more overlooked, as fantasy owners will have 11 homers and 13 steals burned into their brains.   So there’s a confluence of factors making me think Myers is undervalued.  I mean, how many 30/20 guys are available at this point in the draft?  I actually felt this way about Myers last year, too.  His NFBC ADP was 65, and I thought it was odd that a 30/20 player was going so late.  Now, he’s going even later, and I love soaking up all the resulting value with this pick.  If Myers does what he did in 2016-17, he’s definitely more valuable than Rosario.  He’s also possibly more valuable than Khris Davis, as he provides a slightly better average, a combined 50 steals/homers (which is more valuable than Davis’s 48 homers), and he actually offers positional flexibility (but he offers fewer runs/RBI).  And I get him 24 picks later than Rosario and 37 picks later than Davis?  Now that’s value.

Round Eight (90): Roberto Osuna (RP, Houston Astros)

At this point, I’ve got five hitters and two starting pitchers, and I’m happy with the balance I’ve struck, but I still need a closer.  As with starting pitching, I typically like to anchor my closers with one that’s likely both to get me strikeouts and keep his job.  That said, I don’t want to spend a high draft pick for one, and I won’t follow this up with any other great closers, because they’re always available at different points of the season on the waiver wire.  Closers lose their jobs so frequently that it’s not worth investing so much draft capital in one (or more), so I just want one that I think will hold his for the season, and I’ll take a flyer or two later on other guys.  As for Osuna, I think his depressed K% this year was likely due to his suspension and the ensuing trade, but that’s, of course, mere speculation.  What’s more important is that for years he’s been a much better strikeout pitcher, and that, pitching for one of the best teams in baseball, he’s going to get a lot of save opportunities.  I think an argument could be made for Kenley Jansen here, too, but I like how that Osuna’s only 23, so he could really find another gear, whereas Jansen’s already 31, but it’s really just a matter of preference.

Round Nine (103): Robbie Ray (SP, Arizona Diamondbacks)

In keeping with my strikeout pitcher theme, I picked Robbie Ray, who had a 12.01 K/9 in 2018 (5th among all SPs with 100 IP).  I finally felt that the starting pitchers on the board represented their true value, so I was happy taking Ray at this point.  Here’s a guy going in the top 50 only a year ago, and taking a steep discount this year going outside of the top 100.  It’s likely due to the fact that his ERA was much closer to 4 in 2018 and he only pitched 123 innings.  Still, his peripherals were pretty similar to 2017, and I expected him to take a step back based on the 2017 peripherals anyway, which is why I avoided him in drafts last year.  But again, it’s not because I disliked him as a pitcher, I just thought there was no value to be had.  In order to be worth a top 50 pick, he had to outperform his FIP and SIERA by an entire run for a second straight season.  As for 2019, even if Ray’s what his FIP and SIERA suggest, there’s value to be had going outside the top 100.  The guy pitches for a decent team that can get him Ws, and he’ll get a ton of strikeouts with his elevated SwStr%, while pitching to about a 3.50 ERA.  For these reasons, and the discount that he has finally realized, I imagine I’ll be grabbing a lot of shares of Ray this year.

Round Ten (114): Tim Anderson (SS, Chicago White Sox)

It’s possible I could have waited a bit and taken Anderson later, but I’m higher on him than most, and I didn’t want to miss out on the incredible value he represents.  Indeed, it may surprise you, but this was my favorite pick.  Now that we’re outside of the top 100, I’m primarily concerned with upside.  In that sense, Anderson is pretty similar to Wil Myers.  He plays on a bad team and has little name value, but also is easily capable of a 20/30 season (30/20 for Myers, but I prefer the steals anyway) and comes at a huge discount.  There’s a ton of value here.  This season, Anderson set career-highs in runs (77), RBI (64), HRs (20), and SBs (26).  Yet, he sold out contact for power, batting a career-low .240 with a career-low .289 BABIP because of increases to his FB% and Pull%.  Still, he was able to maintain a serviceable batting average because of slight improvements to his plate discipline, which helped his OBP and consequently gave him more opportunities to run.  With that in mind, let’s do what we did with Myers.  If Anderson goes 20/26 like he did this year, and bats even .250, he’s as valuable as Myers, more valuable than Rosario (taken 55th), and more valuable than Khris Davis (taken 42nd).  He’d have a similar batting average to those guys, with a combined SB/HR number higher than Rosario, and almost identical to Davis and Myers, but with a larger share of steals.  He would likely, however, provide fewer runs and RBI than those guys, though I do expect the White Sox to roll out a better lineup that includes Eloy Jimenez next season.  And with upside for 25 homers and 30 steals, he’ll be a huge steal (pun intended) at 114th in the draft.  I mean, Andrew Benintendi went 25th overall and hit only 16 homers with 21 swipes in 2018…

Round Eleven (127): Yu Darvish (SP, Chicago Cubs)

Hopefully you know by now what I’m about to say, but here’s another guy that, I believe, represents a great value.  I used my earlier picks to take guys with high floors that I believe will likely be top 75 picks in 2020 no matter what (Altuve, Judge, Severino, Davis, Rosario), now I want to use my ensuing picks on guys that won’t necessarily be top 125 picks next year, but definitely have top 50 upside (Myers, Ray, Anderson).  Which brings me back to Darvish.  He’s maintained a K/9 over 11 most of his career, and he’s only 31, so I don’t expect him to fall off a cliff.  He’s flashed the ability over multiple seasons to be an ace, which is why he used to be a perennial top 50 pick, but I think fantasy owners have been burned one too many times by his injuries.  So let’s address the injury elephant in the room.  In my mind, therein lies opportunity, I don’t see the scary injury monster other drafters fear.  This year, by going 127th overall, represents the first time Darvish’s injury risk is actually baked into his price, and I’m okay with taking that risk, especially this late in the draft.  If he goes for another Tommy John surgery, I just drop him and I’ve still got three studs to anchor my rotation.  But if he doesn’t, and he’s back to his old 21+ K-BB%, mid-low 3’s ERA self, then I’ve just grabbed an ace in the mid rounds of the draft who’s capable of anchoring my rotation by himself.

Round Twelve (138): Wilson Ramos (C, FA)

I’m not a huge believer in taking a catcher early, but I also don’t necessarily consider this early.  Ramos, the #3 catcher on the ESPN player rater despite only playing 111 games, has shown that he can be the best catcher on a per-game basis when healthy.  Ramos has hit 15, 11, and 22 homers in 111, 64, and 131 games, respectively.  What’s more, he can even hit .300, as he did in 2018 and 2016.  There’s that value I love, a mid-round pick on arguably the best player at his position with top 50 upside.  Like Darvish, however, Ramos is susceptible to injury, which is certainly the reason why he’s going so late, but you have to also factor in the production you get from your waiver wire catcher while he’s on the DL (and that’s assuming Ramos even goes on the DL in the first place).  Ramos was a target of mine last year, and he remains one this year, never getting the top 100 love he’s shown he can produce when healthy.

Round Thirteen (151): Cole Hamels (SP, Chicago Cubs)

Uh oh, I’ve gone and taken another old Cubs SP.  Upon first glance, Hamels’s 2018 looks awfully mediocre: 3.78 ERA, a scary 4.49 FIP, 8.87 K/9, and only 9 wins.  However, Hamels seemingly found himself after joining the Cubbies, posting a 2.99 ERA, 3.71 FIP, and 23.9 K%.  Now, he’s on a better team with a much higher win expectancy and he’s pitching in a better park.  Already having high strikeout arms in Severino, Marquez, Ray, and Darvish, I like taking the safer Hamels as my SP5, who still strikes out a batter per inning while also contributing in ratios and wins.

Round Fourteen (162): Ian Desmond (OF, Colorado Rockies)

Surprisingly, another 20/20 guy fell super far in our draft, so I saw opportunity and I took it.  Sure, Desmond’s old, and yes, he batted .236 last year with a 62% GB rate, but he’s shown the ability over the course of his career to hit for power even with so many ground balls, and the peripherals are actually better than 2017.  Don’t forget, this was a guy everyone was excited about when he went to Colorado.  The reason is that playing in Coors should allow him to maintain that elevated 24.7 HR/FB%, which mitigates the fantasy impact of hitting so many ground balls, and I love that Desmond still swipes 20 bags every year.  My concerns are either he falls off a cliff, or the Rockies wisen up to his negative WAR in each of the last two seasons and finally bench him.  If they let him play, however, he should be a pretty nice value this late in the draft.

Round Fifteen (175): Will Smith (RP, San Francisco Giants)

After Hunter Strickland‘s little episode this season, Will Smith was handed the closing gig in San Francisco, and acquitted himself nicely by accumulating 14 saves and posting a 12.06 K/9.  Here’s a little tip: I once heard Eno Sarris say on a podcast that the best predictor of closer success and retention of the role is strikeouts.  And Smith accumulated plenty of them, with 71 in just 54 innings.  Of course, Smith could lose his job to Mark Melancon or Strickland if he falters, or if the Giants want to return him to his former LOOGY role.  But my goal here is not to spend significant draft capital on the best closers in the best situations, because I expect there will be a lot of turnover at this position, so not only will I be able to acquire closers midseason, but I also don’t want to spend heavily on someone who loses his job.  And I like how the Giants will provide Smith with plenty of opportunities by playing in a lot of low-scoring games, as they roll out the lovely combination of a decent rotation and terrible lineup every year.

Round Sixteen (186): Mike Soroka (SP, Atlanta Braves)

Now we’re getting pretty late in the draft, and, accordingly, I’m looking for high-upside flyers.  Look no further than Mike Soroka, the 21-year-old Braves number two prospect who made a splash in his five starts with the team before getting shut down by a shoulder injury.  His numbers were dragged down a bit by his last start, which was impacted by injury, but otherwise he had a nice debut, showcasing four nice pitches, including two excellent fastballs.  You can read more about it here.  In any event, I’ve already got five SPs at this point and I feel good about my rotation, so with the picks I use to round out the backend of my rotation, I like to shoot for the stars.  For example, last year I took Blake Snell everywhere, even though I could have taken guys like Gio Gonzalez, Jhoulys Chacin, or Taijuan Walker.  I love filling the final spots on my team with younger, high-upside guys, and that’s exactly what Soroka represents.

Round Seventeen (199): Mychal Givens (RP, Baltimore Orioles)

This is by no means a perfect pick.  Here, I’m just looking for a third closer, and most of the non-committee guys are gone.  The Orioles are terrible, and save opportunities will be few and far between, but Givens has strikeout upside and is actually a decent pitcher.  I’d take him over the other remaining closers, like Drew Steckenrider, Jeurys Familia, and Yoshihisa Hirano, who either have no closing gig, or are in extremely tenuous situations.

Round Eighteen (210): Miguel Sano (3B, Minnesota Twins)

I got a little sidetracked these last few picks, so I want to get back to my theme of finding value.  Here’s a guy that’s been a trendy fantasy pick for years, and all of a sudden he’s as rosterable to most people as big Bart?!  That ain’t right.  I know that his K% ballooned this year, and that he got demoted to the minors, but the power is clearly for real.  Sano hit 28 home runs in just 116 games in 2017 and 25 in 116 games in 2016, and ranked 18th and 38th in barrels/PA in those years, respectively (and in the top 15 in average exit velocity both years too).  It’s not a stretch to say he’s a big, strong guy.  If Sano can find some semblance of consistency at the plate, and stop getting injured, he can return top 10 value at 3B.  See what I mean?  There’s value to be had here.  If not, I drop him and move on no worse for wear.  That’s the beauty of late round picks!

Round Nineteen (223): Carlos Santana (1B, Philadelphia Phillies)

Just like Sano, Carlos Santana is another guy that is getting overlooked because of a down 2018.  I can’t say I’m crazy about him, but realizing late in the draft that neither Wil Myers nor Ian Desmond carry 1B eligibility into 2019 (thanks 2018 draft board!), I needed a first baseman.  I don’t think 2016 is repeatable for the 32-year-old, but his plate discipline is so excellent (Santana walks more than he strikes out!) that I do think there’s room for growth in the batting average department, especially considering he hit .259 in both 2016 and 2017, then suddenly .229 in 2018 despite improving his BB% and K%.  I also expect the Phillies to sign one of Manny Machado or Bryce Harper given how much cash they’re sitting on, so if Santana returns his average to .260 and hits his usual 25 tates, he can improve upon the 82 runs and 86 RBI from this season and maybe go .260 AVG/25 HR/100 R/100 RBI/2 SB.  I’ll take that at 223rd overall.

Round Twenty (234): Odubel Herrera (OF, Philadelphia Phillies)

Sticking with the Phillies theme, I grabbed Herrera next, and actually felt that this was probably my worst pick in the draft.  Herrera’s kind of the opposite of some of the other guys I’ve taken, in that he was so hot at one point in 2018 that his name value exploded.  Unfortunately, that’s probably the helium with which I drafted him in the heat of the moment.  Well, that and wanting another OF to supplement Judge, Rosario, and Desmond.  Herrera stopped running in 2017 and never picked it back up, which worries me because I’ll have to rely on his contact and power.  And he’s got arguably the worst contact profile of any hitter in baseball.  Oh well, if this were a real league and Herrera went cold in the early going, he may have found himself on the waiver wire in short order.  Affordable mistakes.

Round Twenty-One (247): Nathan Eovaldi (SP, FA)

There’s been talk of the Red Sox extending Eovaldi’s contract after this year, particularly since he’s been so great since joining the club.  Posting his best ERA, FIP, xFIP, and SIERA since 2013, and a career-high K/9, Eovaldi found another gear in 2018 by emphasizing a new, fantastic cutter (6.0 pVAL in just 111 IP).  Perhaps the Red Sox figured out how to maximize the potential of one of the hardest throwing pitchers in baseball (and I’ll note that I love that he has a 100 mph fastball to fall back on).  If Eovaldi returns to the Sox, he could be a total steal this late in the draft, and I’ll happily take him to round out my rotation.

Round Twenty-Two (258): Justus Sheffield (RP, New York Yankees)

At this point in the draft, I’m just throwing stuff against the wall and hoping something sticks.  Sheffield’s stickiness is, in large part, going to depend on winning a rotation spot.  With C.C. Sabathia and Sonny Gray likely not returning to the Yankees, there should be at least one open spot, and hopefully Boone does the right thing by giving it to Sheffield (if I have to watch Luis Cessa start one more game…).   Still, the Yankees might also be buyers in the pitching market this offseason.  So there are hurdles for Sheffield to overcome.  But the Yankees #1 overall prospect is likely to make his starting pitching debut at some point during the season, whether by way of winning a spot in the rotation outright or injury to another starter, and I’m excited to see what he can do.  Maintaining low ratios and about a strikeout per inning throughout his stops in the minors, Sheffield could be one of those late round stashes that winds up being a league-winner.  Or he might not make the rotation.  Or he might flop big time.  Either way, it’s pick 258, so he’s worth the risk.

Round Twenty-Three (271): Kyle Schwarber (OF, Chicago Cubs)

Like Sano, Schwarber is another post-hype prospect whose veneer has quickly faded with poor defensive play and underwhelming power numbers relative to the hype.  But with my last pick, why not take a flyer on the guy in the hopes that he lives up to his potential?  Schwarber underratedly made improvements to both his K% and BB% this year, which led to a higher average than 2017.  The power’s clearly there, belting 30 homers in 129 games in 2017 and 26 in 137 this year, so if he can continue making improvements to his plate discipline, he might actually be a pretty valuable outfielder.  But man, for fantasy purposes I wish the Cubs would just stick him back at catcher…

Summary

This was a really fun experience for me.  I do think the draft board might have turned out somewhat unrealistic, and therefore might not be the best guide for future drafts.  The reason is that the others in the draft room were baseball writers, so a lot of sleepers and prospects went earlier than they likely will in most drafts, and similarly, veterans slipped down the draft board more than they probably will too.  As for my team, I’m happy with the way it turned out.  I was able to capitalize on a lot of the “boring” veterans and players with little name value that fell down the draft board, and stick by my value maxim.  Additionally, with a few exceptions, I think I was successful targeting floor early and ceiling late.  I didn’t draft any steals specialists, instead finding several guys that contribute across multiple categories including SBs, and I avoided wasting too much precious draft capital on catchers and closers.  I will note, however, that my team’s batting average is suspect, and I might struggle a bit competing in pitching ratios, but otherwise I’m quite satisfied with this team.

Favorite Pick: Tim Anderson

This guy can post 30 SBs and 25 HRs and I grabbed him outside of the top 100.  Need I say more?

Sleeper Pick: Miguel Sano

Not much of an actual sleeper because most fantasy baseball players know his name, but he slipped so far down the draft board and his ceiling is so high that it felt appropriate to label him a sleeper.

Potential Bust: German Marquez

I was tempted to put Odubel Herrera here, but I took him so late that him busting would be almost irrelevant to my team’s prospects.  Instead, I’m definitely concerned about taking the relatively unproven Marquez in the top 75.

Best Value Pick in the Draft: Jesus Aguilar (101 overall)

Austin Bristow II grabbed an absolute monster of a hitter playing an increasingly shallow position outside of the top 100.  Aguilar was better than Rhys Hoskins this season according to the ESPN player rater, but went 53 picks later.  Had I realized he was still on the board, I would have taken him myself with my eighth pick at 90th overall (thanks again, 2018 draft board!).

Dan Richards

Dan is a lifelong New York Yankees and Giants fan. Though a young lawyer, Dan is better known for aggressively bothering his leaguemates about trades. You can follow him on Twitter @drichardsPL.

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Comments


Scott Chu

I loved the Carlos Santana pick. First Base is really thin at the top and gets quite muddled in a hurry. Carlos Santana had a paltry .229 BA, but it was not because he hit poorly — it was because he had no luck.

According to xStats, his 2018 BABIP (.231) was 41 points below his xBABIP (.272), and more specifically, luck robbed him of about 2 triples, 7 doubles, and 10 singles based on exit velocity, launch angle, and a few other advanced measurements. If we do nothing else but roughly credit him for his xAVG (.261) instead of his real AVG, he goes from the 25th overall 1B on the ESPN Player Rater to the 15th. It’s not hard to see him finding top 15 value at 1B if he gets a little more luck this time around.

Nick G

Santana underperforms his xStats every season. His wOBA – xwOBA differential was -.016 last year, which was very similar to the -.019 in 2017, -.018 in 2016 and -.013 in 2016.

I suspect his plodding legs and the shift are to blame.

At this juncture Santana is what he is. I wouldn’t be surprised if his playing time gets cut next year as the Phillies realize that Hoskins in left isn’t justifiable.

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