You wouldn’t go for your drivers’ license test without practicing behind the wheel, and you should never jump into a fantasy baseball draft without first doing a few mocks.
And so you’ll find your favorite Chinstrap Ninjas attacking the mock draft module at places such as ESPN.com. In fact, ep and jzak recently both took part in the same 12-team mock serpentine draft.
These are our rosters, thoughts on our picks and our take on what went down:
Jzak: The view from slot 1.02
I drafted second overall, one of my favorite places to draft considering how players are currently going off the board in standard draft settings. My team was (draft round in parentheses):
C: Geovany Soto (8)
1b: Mark Teixeira (3)
2b: Ian Kinsler (4)
3b: Alex Rodriguez (2)
SS: Hanley Ramirez (1)
1b/3b: Ian Stewart (12)
2b/ss: Jimmy Rollins (6)
OF: Hunter Pence (5), Jay Bruce (7), Carlos Quentin (11), Jason Kubel (18), Jose Tabata (20)
Utility: Mitch Moreland (17)
Pitchers: Max Scherzer (9), Brett Anderson (10), Jeremy Hellickson (13), Chris Perez (14), Craig Kimbrel (15), Trevor Cahill (16), John Lackey (19), Javier Vazquez (21), Carlos Zambrano (22),
Bench: Nate McLouth (23), Nyjer Morgan (24), Brett Cecil (25)
I personally love this team. There were a few things I’d do differently, but the end result helps illustrate my stance that the second overall pick is the one to have as long as you can get Hanley Ramirez there. Guys like A-Rod, Prince Fielder, Josh Hamilton and others have fallen to me numerous times at that slot in the second round.
In this case, I had a choice between Teixeira and A-Rod. While A-Rod isn’t what he once was, he was a steal at that point in the draft, and since the guy drafting both slots between my second and third already had a first baseman (Albert Pujols), I was able to get both A-Rod and Teixeira.
This team, obviously, is very heavy on offense and could have some issues with the pitching end of things. I typically wait on pitching, but not all the way to the ninth round. I need some of my later-round sleeper/value picks to pan out if I want to dominate all season.
Soto in the eighth was a bit of a reach since I could have gotten similar production from Mike Napoli, who went in the 16th round of this draft, and instead taken another pitcher in the ninth.
EP: Weighing in from 1.08
Statistically, the lower you pick in the first round the less statistics you get out of your players. It’s good to be the king. But somebody has to be the king’s, err, bucket holder. From eighth overall, this is my team (round drafted in parentheses):
C: Chris Iannetta (23)
1B: Joey Votto (1)
2B: Kelly Johnson (9)
3B: Adrian Beltre (4)
SS: Jose Reyes (3)
MI: Ian Desmond (12)
CI: Prince Fielder (2)
OF: Delmon Young (8), Angel Pagan (10), Travis Snyder (14), Denard Span (15), Cameron Maybin (22),
UTIL: David Freese (19)
Pitchers: Dan Haren (5), Jered Weaver (6), Francisco Liriano (7), Daniel Hudson (11), John Axford (13), Ian Kennedy (16) Edinson Volquez (17), Brandon Lyon (18), Hong-Chih Kuo (20)
Bench: Chris Sale (21), Aroldis Chapman (24), Danny Espinosa (25)
I went for the jugular from the start, drafting both Votto and Fielder with my first two picks. You typically want to be balanced to start, but in a 12-team league I added a four category stud in Votto and, in Fielder, a 40-homer threat. That particular animal has become endangered the last couple of years.
Picking Beltre fourth, I had three players who I expected to hit at least 30 homers each. Knowing that outfield specialists were available, and that I had Reyes at SS, I felt comfortable enough with my core hitters, to take my pitcher around pick 60 (Round 6 for 10-team leagues and round 5 in a 12-teamer) as planned. I actually went back-to-back pitcher with Haren and Weaver.
I wouldn’t recommend going back-to-back-to-back like I did, but when every one of my hitting targets (Jay Bruce, Shane Victorino, Chris Young and B.J. Upton) went off the board, I shifted gears and took a risk/reward pitcher in Liriano.
So, I didn’t draft my first outfielder until the eighth round (almost 90 players were already off the board). I still managed to maintain a competitive team average (based on ESPN projections) and get specialists like Angel Pagan and Travis Snyder to fill up my other categories.
I would have liked one more starting pitcher, but it was hard to pass up Chapman (who will be the Reds closer by midseason) in the 24th round. Also, I recommend adding setup guys like Kuo over closer disasters waiting to happen like Fernando Rodney. WHIP and ERA = two categories, saves = one category. One bad outing by Rodney could kill you in H-2-H, even if he manages to earn a save or two later in the week.
Top value picks (not including Ninjas’ selections)
Jzak: Napoli in the 16tj: I realize he is going at a good value in many drafts, but the 16th is just sweet considering he’ll put up solid numbers in Texas this year.
Ep: Gordon Beckham at the end of the 12th. I let “position scarcity” get the best of me and reached for Johnson in the 9th. Bet Beckham outplays him by a lot.
Jzak: Aaron Hill in the 10th round: In ESPN drafts, Hill is pegged at the 105th spot, so getting him another round later than that, and considering the rebound I expect he’ll have, this is a great slot for him.
Jzak: Jake Peavy in the 17th round: Peavy has been an injury magnet for quite some time, but he’s allegedly looking better than ever this spring, and if he can stay healthy most of the season, he’ll be a steal this late in the draft.
Ep: James Shields in the 18th: He was a lot better than his numbers showed last year. Hitters BABIP’d .350 (league average is .300) against him last year and he stranded only 68% of runners (for reference, he stranded 73% each of the previous two seasons). Players like Shields and Peavy, not Jesus Montero or Brandon Belt, will probably be the steal of your draft.
Jzak: Chase Utley at fourth overall: He’d be a reach here even if he was fully healthy. However, he has a potentially major knee situation going on, and could miss substantial time. A good example of why you need to double check player news before you draft.
Jzak: Ubaldo Jimenez in the second round: The pitcher pool is deep enough that you can easily wait until the sixth round or later to snag your first pitcher. If you do take one this early, he should be a bonafide sure-fire stud, such as Roy Halladay. Jimenez doesn’t qualify, especially considering all the good talent taken after him.
Ep: I’ll take the above note three steps further: There were four SPs taken in the second round of the draft. That is absurd. Pitchers contribute once every five days and hitters play every day. In the second round, there are hitters that will help you win all five categories. Starting pitchers can, at best, only help you win four.
Jzak: Jayson Werth in the fourth round: This isn’t a real stretch for Werth, but more a personal opinion that Werth won’t live up to his lofty new contract and won’t live up to a draft selection this high.
Ep: Joe Mauer in the fourth round: Let’s talk bottom line. Mauer gives you .330 with 90 runs, 10 homers and 75 RBIs. You know what happens if Mauer gets 500 at-bats and has just 15 expected hits taken away by jumping shortstops or diving outfielders? He goes from .330 to .300. Just 15 fewer hits. One hit every two weeks. Even still: Last year, Billy Butler hit .318 with 77 runs, 18 homers and 78 RBIs. But Butler, who gives you double the power at a cost of just .012 of average, was drafted in the eighth round of this mock.