PL Staff Dynasty Mock Review: Nate Handy

Nate shares his strategy navigating a dynasty draft.

This was a mock… practice, so I wanted to get in and play with some strategy. Initial dynasty drafts are similar to auctions, in that having a plan is a must, but sticking to a plan may be easier here than there. This review will focus on strategy rather than individual player assessments. Things may be said about a player you don’t agree with, and that’s totally fair, fine, and debatable. This is more about the line of thinking constructing your roster.

Winning now or later isn’t anything I’ve ever asked myself playing dynasty. I may have focused a little heavier on one year later, but those teams have made playoffs off the bat too or came real close. It has always been both for me and I’ve never had the bottom fall out. I understand the thought process of those not wanting to be a middling team, stuck in the middle class of their leagues, but building doesn’t have to mean destroying first.

You have to have a good sense of the value of assets in dynasty terms; the ability to compare the value of an established vet to a prospect or young player is essential. We went to great length in Using MLB and NFBC Draft Histories To Make Informed Mistakes trying to better establish the truth of this exchange rate. Pulling out one set of data from there is all we really need to steer us here:

 

 

This gives a pretty good sense of the most we should pay for a prospect. And in a 12-team, 30-round mock draft, we aren’t going to get real deep with the prospects. Don’t take these numbers literally—fade some guy’s likelihoods, increase some, but cap your logic. I’m capping myself valuing these top guys as no more than 20-30% shot at becoming top-10 players, maybe no more than 40% shot at top 25, 60% chance at top 50, and a 75% chance at top 100, decreasing these rough estimates as prospects get plucked off the board.

So with these thoughts in mind, of course, dependent on my draftmates’ strategies, my picks tend to get younger as we move along, taking more established players early and taking my shots at youth with upside later, when the actual present value decreases. In my experience, the young MLBer (post prospect, not yet 800ish PA, and yet to “breakout”) is the most undervalued dynasty asset.

This data doesn’t tell us anything about sustainability. (Haven’t gotten there yet.) So we will have to use our guts, reasonably making some guesses when comparing youth/prospects to established players we may be considering and the limits of a vet’s longevity production-wise.

The general “future” will be on my mind throughout, but I’m going to mostly concern myself with now and maybe next year, as too many things change, and too many opportunities exist in trade-happy dynasty leagues to go beyond that in my opinion, much like it’s kind of silly to worry about a prospect’s position and constructing your roster’s look in three to four years. Making choices thinking one can have that clear of a crystal ball takes a lot of gusto, and, frankly, no one is possibly good enough to do that well.

 

Here’s how it went down:

 

The only way you can play for now and later, the only way you can ever build, whether a constant endeavor or one after destruction, is trying to maximize the value of every roster slot you have. That will be at the forefront of our choices.

 

Round 1, Pick 7: Jose Ramirez (28), 3B Indians

Prospects likely to contribute in 2021 off the board: 0

Prospects likely contributing post 2021 off the board: 0

 

I’m generously putting a 20-30% chance Wander Franco & Co. ever become first-round caliber.  It makes sense to select one of these guys early if you are after a darn safe go at an asset capable of a half-decade or more of top 100-200 value, but that’s not what I’m after in the first round when I’m surrounded by the tip-top of the prospect’s dream, and many with plenty of time left producing as such. Put this way, drafting Wander in the first round would be an extremely conservative choice. Of course, he could pop and produce… but just like the player immediately available to me. We will essentially have this same thought process as we go. When I feel good about a prospect becoming more than the established asset available to me, then we go prospect.

Having done several dynasty mocks prior, I knew after pick 5 or 6, things really open up. (Ronald Acuna, Fernando Tatis Jr., Mookie Betts, Mike Trout, and Juan Soto have been the first five picks in every one of them.) I don’t need to have the 7th “best” player with my pick, but I do want a 5-category stud I feel will be a top 20-25ish asset for a good chunk of time to come. Add Jose Ramirez‘ unicorn-like production at his position, and he was the choice over Francisco Lindor for me. Ramirez and Lindor trumped Bellinger for me because I felt the added SBs were worth losing out on what Bellinger could maybe out-produce in other categories.

 

Round 2, Pick 18: Francisco Lindor (27), SS Mets

Prospects likely to contribute in 2021 off the board: 1 (Wander Franco)

Prospects likely contributing post 2021 off the board: 0

 

I didn’t even look around, didn’t need to. Done deal. Starting off with two great 5-category core pieces putting me in great shape in 2021 and beyond, and the rest of the draft.

 

Round 3, Pick 31:  Zac Gallen (25), P D’Backs

Prospects likely to contribute in 2021 off the board: 1 (Wander)

Prospects likely contributing post 2021 off the board: 0

 

Feeling great about all 5 offensive categories after two picks, I wanted the best pitching option here. Surprised Trevor Bauer was still on the board, and wanting a pitcher producing at an elite level now and as much later as possible, I pushed the dynasty envelope. Gallen is as good a bet there is to be a fantasy ace for the next decade, and if I lose something in the short-term going him over Bauer, I feel good about the longevity of Gallen’s value.

 

Round 4, Pick 42: Trevor Bauer (30), P FA

Prospects likely to contribute in 2021 off the board: 2 (Wander, Kelenic)

Prospects likely contributing post 2021 off the board: 1 (Julio Rodriguez)

 

My 2nd choice made it back to me again, and a chance to stabilize the risk I may have taken with Gallen at 31.  You don’t even have to look at the board now to know what the room’s doing.  30 year-olds are getting the cold shoulder.  Bauer is the top 4-5 pitcher going off boards in redrafts, and we just got him 42nd.  I wonder if Gallen would have made it back to me had we gone Bauer last time?  I’m thinking not.  At this point, “winning now” feels very doable, and its isn’t like I have a bunch of dinosaurs.  Feeling like owners are paying premiums on youth in the bigs now.  If a prospect appeals to me, I’m not out on them.  Only an owner completely selling out on maximizing 2021 value can make gains on me if I sneak a prospect in.

Ironically enough, the owner going the oldest so far, Andy Patton, selected one of these prospects: Kelenic, who isn’t far away.

 

Round 5, Pick 55: DJ LeMahieu (32), 2B, Yankees

Prospects likely to contribute in 2021 off the board: 3 (Wander, Kelenic, Sixto Sanchez)

Prospects likely contributing post 2021 off the board: 1 (JuRod)

 

This was really the first time I took a big look around.  The Bauer pick looked more interesting to me, as the first 41 picks only involved a handful of really notably different selections than redrafts and one of those may been my Gallen selection.  Are there 30-somethings out there slipping too far I can get at a great price?  LeMahieu seemed like the greatest value and player I feel has a lot of meat left on the bone.  The Yankees did too, signing him to a 6-year deal.  Yu Darvish was also considered here, but I didn’t feel as good about the meat left compared to DJL.  The discount here was far too much for me to consider any prospect, and the young in the bigs options weren’t enough for me to pass on the batting champ at 55.

 

Round 6, Pick 66: Jose Abreu (33), 1B, ChiSox

Prospects likely to contribute in 2021 off the board: 4 (Wander, Kelenic, Sixto, Randy Arozarena)

Prospects likely contributing post 2021 off the board: 1 (JuRod)

 

The field is still laying off prospects (Randy is more a technicality), which I commend them for.  I’m just looking best player available here giving the nod to youth if it’s close.  Abreu, the RBI machine the last two years, did it for me.  The premium the field has been paying on youth left me a early 30s ADP at 66.  My infield is the foundation of my team, With Abreu, DJL, Lindor, and JRam.

 

Round 7, Pick 79: Josh Hader (26), P, Brewers

Prospects likely to contribute in 2021 off the board: 8

Prospects likely contributing post 2021 off the board: 4

 

The prospect flood gates opened with 7 going off the board, 4 with proximity.  The only one of the seven I was considering in this spot was Spencer Torkelson.  I would have sacrificed to pick up a player I feel as good as you can about a prospect being an elite fantasy asset for a long time here, and a very good chance at maintaining the ADP I’d be selecting him, but the others, I’m not losing any sleep.  We are starting to get into the prospect range where things open up a lot.  You can cast a large net of prospects without much disparity in regards to chances becoming really nice fantasy contributors.  The field isn’t going to be able to gobble them all up, and I’m not gonna press.

I decided to take my own risk here and jump on my #1 relief pitcher while others looked toward the future.  I have varying results going closer early, but if you are going to do it, I think you have to get two elite closers to make it really count and I think a dynasty draft like this is a great time to do that.  I have my first little to-do list of the draft: Get another top-shelf closer.

 

Round 8, Pick 90: Dominic Smith (25), 1B/OF, Mets

Prospects likely to contribute in 2021 off the board: 10

Prospects likely contributing post 2021 off the board: 4

 

The field seems back on the young and producing in the bigs train, with a few getting some discounted vet pitchers.  I happened to like quite a few of the vet pitchers still on the board, but I also didn’t feel the need to be aggressive on them.  There are going to be some viable older pitching options at this end of this thing.  I went with the young and producing bat I liked most remaining, who could very well still be ascending.

Through 8 rounds, only Andy is older than my team.  I wasn’t aware of these specifics at the time, but I sensed I was older than the field.  I’m not worried though.  Like I mentioned earlier, I tend to get younger as we go in these things.

 

 

Round 9, Pick 103: Liam Hendricks (31), P, ChiSox

Prospects likely to contribute in 2021 off the board: 10

Prospects likely contributing post 2021 off the board: 5

 

Just when I was thinking about a prospect who may really outproduce the ADP I’d be taking him at for a stretch of time, Adley Rutschman was plucked off the board. I felt I had a whole slew of players with fairly equal value to pick here. I didn’t care for a lot players coming off the board, so I got my to-do list done, taking my #2 closer. I’m feeling pretty good about my lineup at this point, checking off saves and not feeling glaring category deficiencies.

 

Rounds 10-16

Prospects likely to contribute in 2021 off the board: 29

Prospects likely contributing post 2021 off the board: 13

 

 

Unintentionally, my outfield was completely empty after 10 rounds, but I was kind of happy it was.  There were a lot of young and currently producing outfielders I covet these seven rounds.  Byron Buxton is a favorite outside-top-100 target of mine this year.  I had no problem being aggressive with him there.

Casey Mize was technically the first prospect I took, but I won’t be waiting long for him to contribute, and I’ve always liked him as a very solid MLB starter capable of some nice longevity in the league producing as such.

Pick 151:  I was about to pull the trigger on Noelvi Marte and take a swing at a potential top 5 prospect. Then I saw Victor Robles and started thinking about Travis Sherer’s 2021 or Bust: Victor Robles piece….why wait for the top 5 caliber prospect? Just get a top 5 talent in the bigs right now and expedite the whole thing.  Still feeling good about some young outfielders I knew would be available later, I took the same risk I would be taking with Marte, but expediting a half decade process to one year perhaps.

J.D. Martinez continuing to slide was just too much to handle by pick 175.

Christian Javier offered me a blend of youth and MLB production I coveted more than any other such SP left on the board.

Roughly 33% of the picks in these rounds were prospects (most with proximity and tastes of big-league experience).  My peers here are obviously some smart fantasy minds, but I didn’t like how we drafted as a whole here. Did we maximize the value of our picks? It felt a little forced/go get your guy to me.  We went from the theoretical top 16-42 prospects, choosing some gambles on prospects with questionable ceilings, bypassing players with big-league experience and only a year or two older with bigger prospect pedigree.  There is a point in these things where the shiny new becomes overly attractive and I this was our range for that.  I may have done it with Mize and to some extent, Robles.

I got younger during this portion, while some got older:

 

 

Rounds 16-30

Prospects likely to contribute in 2021 off the board: 62

Prospects likely contributing post 2021 off the board: 56

 

 

In the back half of the draft I started feeling the prospect value started outweighing the established value more frequently and when it fit well with my current construction, like in the case of Joey Bart, Brusdar Graterol, Lewin Diaz, and Brendan Rodgers, even better.

I feel pretty dang good I’d have a shot at a championship with this team in 2021. It may take some tweaking and fine-tuning as we go, but I also have a healthy dose of near-future here. Coming out of an initial dynasty draft, you don’t have to have it all figured out. If you did well maximizing the value of every slot you filled, you will have the ammo you need to fine-tune and get after it.

Photos by Rick Dikeman | Design by Quincey Dong (@threerundong on Twitter)

Nate Handy

Nate enjoys picking up the prospect scraps, turning over rocks to share what muddy treats he can find. Residing high up the Rocky Mountains with his wife and children, trying to stay cool, getting a broader view. A fan of the underappreciated, overlooked and disregarded. A true mud person trying to make informed mistakes.

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