Last week, I was fortunate to take part in a Mock Draft Army fantasy baseball draft put on by Howard Bender of Fantasy Alarm. This was a 12-team mixed league mock draft, with two catchers, corner/middle infielder, five outfielders, and nine pitcher slots. There were no bench/reserve rounds.
I would have gone earlier for a decent catcher, but by the 8-9 turn, only Buster Posey, Jonathan Lucroy, and Devin Mesoraco were off the board. Barring a big catcher run in the next 22 picks, I should have been able to get another good one. Also, I was trying the Two Elite Closer strategy for the first time, just to see what it would do to the rest of my roster.
Here’s how the next chunk of my draft went in rounds 10 through 17.
I have no particular interest in David Wright, and already had Ryan Zimmerman at third base. At pick 120 overall, though, I couldn’t let Wright keep sliding. Even as someone who is down on him this year, having him as my corner infielder in a 12-team league is pretty much a luxury. I had planned to take my first catcher here but both Brian McCann and Matt Wieters went in the four picks before me. There weren’t any catchers I was targeting left, so I just kept putting them off.
All the talk about Washington’s rotation is with Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Jordan Zimmermann. Before last year, though, Gonzalez had three straight seasons of at least 195 innings and 190 strikeouts. With health, there’s no reason he can’t be a top-25 starter again this year. Also, he’s a guy that has had ERA and WHIP concerns in the past, but with the two elite closers giving me great ratios, they can help mitigate this risk (a by-product of this strategy).
Over the last three seasons, there have been two second basemen to average 17 home runs, 65 runs scored, and 65 RBI per year: Robinson Cano and Neil Walker.
Walker is clearly an inferior option to Cano, and there are other players who offer different skill sets at the position (Altuve, Rendon). It does show how hard it is to be consistently productive in the Majors, and how rare that consistency is at a thin position like second base. For those fantasy baseball owners that miss on the elite options, I have no problem waiting and drafting guys like Walker or Daniel Murphy.
Like Wright, Molina just kind of fell to me. I have no particular love for Molina this year, but if I let him go and someone else took him, we were getting into the Russell Martin-Travis d’Arnaud-Miguel Montero range for my first catcher. Molina shouldn’t hurt my batting average, and should finish as a top-12 catcher.
This is a pitcher that I am targeting heavily in redraft leagues. He’s coming off a year where he struggled with injury, but was still just one of 27 starters (minimum 16 starts) with an ERA of 3.25 or lower and a WHIP of 1.16 or lower. With a healthy season, I have hope that his strikeout rate rebounds as well. The move to Miami should help stabilize his ERA, and Latos looks to be providing a lot of value at the draft table this year (his NFBC ADP is a low-end SP4 in a 12-team league).
Getting Matt Carpenter at pick 169 was a nice value for me. It was another third baseman, which I didn’t particularly need, but he should be a good bet for a solid batting average given his elite line drive rate, and seems to be a pretty good bet to get to 90 runs again. Outside of Jose Reyes and Mike Trout, I hadn’t drafted a hitter that should easily crack 90 runs, so he filled a need in my utility. He’s also a safety net for Zimmerman and Wright.
I was in desperate need of steals at this point of the draft, and Davis leads all of baseball in steals over the last three seasons with 127. This position is probably a bit early to draft him, but given my team needs, and the options left on the board to help immensely with steals, I was a bit handcuffed. I actually had both Lorenzo Cain and Adam Eaton in my queue for this pick, given that I think they get more plate appearances – but both went in the round preceding Davis.
This is a pitcher I’m finding myself with a lot. There’s nothing real “sexy” about this pick, but he’s a guy who has pitched back-to-back 200 inning seasons now, and has improved his strikeout and walk rates every year he’s been in the Majors. Hopefully with an improved, and healthy, lineup, Quintana can manage more than nine wins this year, something that held back his value last year.
Roster to this point
C- Yadier Molina
1B- Freddie Freeman
2B- Neil Walker
SS- Jose Reyes
3B- Ryan Zimmerman
CI- David Wright
OF1- Mike Trout
OF2- Matt Holliday
OF3- Jay Bruce
OF4- Rajai Davis
UTIL- Matt Carpenter
P- Craig Kimbrel
P- Aroldis Chapman
P- Jon Lester
P- Gio Gonzalez
P- Mat Latos
P- Jose Quintana
At this point, I didn’t hate my team, but I was not a big fan of what drafting two elite closers did to my roster. It really does seem this might be better suited for deeper leagues, where the closer advantage would be greater.
I will have the rest of the draft write-up in the coming days.