Draft Thoughts from the Mock Draft Army’s First Mission

by Howard Bender on January 29, 2014

Where is this leaving Cano in fantasy drafts this year?

Where is this leaving Cano in fantasy drafts this year?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — one of the best ways to prep for your upcoming fantasy baseball season is to participate in as many mock drafts as you can right up until your league enters the draft room. There’s no better way to garner public opinion on players than to see how your competition views them. And such was the reason for the formation of the Mock Draft Army. You don’t need me to go back and recite its purpose again, so I’ll just link that piece right here. Today, we’re going to take a quick round-by round look at Tuesday’s first draft for the Army and see if we notice a few things to help you along the way.

If you missed who took part in Tuesday’s 12-team, mixed league, 5×5 roto mock, click here for the list.

For a full look at the draft board, courtesy of Real Time Fantasy Sports, click here.

I can’t say that I had a specific strategy walking in to this draft, something I always recommend having, but in a 12-teamer like this, I was using it more as a way to learn what others were thinking. I did my usual wait on pitching (although I could/should have waited longer), bulked up on some power, splashed in some speed and just went with it the rest of the way. I probably paid more attention to everyone else’s roster than I did my own, and spent a fair amount of time reading the comments in the chat room more than I did studying the remaining player pool. For me, these late-January mocks are more of an educational tool than anything else. I’ll detail the first 10 rounds here and then cite some random thoughts on players for the remainder of the draft as well as some general draft thoughts too.

Round 1

My Pick: Andrew McCutchen, OF — An outstanding power/speed combo, for sure. A bit of a drop-off from the 2012 totals but still a perennial threat to hit .300 and go 20-20. I do love me some Paul Goldschmidt, but with such depth at the first base position, I had to go outfield first.

Other Round Thoughts: The biggest surprise for me here in the opening round was how much value Robinson Cano has lost in the eyes of some of the experts. Personally, I don’t think the drop-off is going to be as bad as many think and I feel that he’ll still see some excellent RBI opportunities, but this group did not share my sentiment as Cano drops to the 12th pick. I would have taken him ahead of any of the three picks that went before him.

Round 2

My Pick: Evan Longoria, 3B — I’m a total sucker for Longoria, and why wouldn’t I be? He’s the most complete power-hitter at a position that thins out real fast.

Other Round Thoughts: I am not a Jacoby Ellsbury fan. Never have been, never will be. I will gladly pass on him in the second round. For me, he’s a good base-stealer with some power, but he’s a huge injury risk. I’ll save the real rant for something else I am currently working on, but for now, here are my latest Ellsbury musings. Yasiel Puig in the second round doesn’t do anything for me either. Call it a gut feeling but I don’t see him producing second round value this year. Not with that attitude.

Round 3

My Pick: Matt Carpenter, 2B — Aside from the crazy runs scored and the sweet-ass batting average/OBP, it’s the position flexibility I love so much. Having him allows me to wait on a late-round 1B option for my corner infield while other people fight for third basemen. I can also play around more with different middle infield options.

Other Round Thoughts: Not sure if Nick Shlain’s selection of Starling Marte was his actual choice or someone he got saddled with as he was having connectivity issues throughout the draft, but a third-round pick on him was a bit too high for my liking.

Round 4

My Pick: Mark Trumbo, 1B — I announced to the draft room that I knew this was too high, but he was the second-highest ranked first baseman on the site at the time of selection, so he wasn’t coming back around to me in the fifth. The strikeouts and average are a burn, but he could seriously hit 40 bombs in Arizona with Goldschmidt batting in front of him.

Other Round Thoughts: No real surprises here, but this might be the lowest I’ve seen Jose Fernandez go in the last few mocks I’ve done.

Round 5

My Pick: Wil Myers, OF — Continuing my quest for power, Myers can also bring the batting average here as well. Thought about Matt Holliday and even Shin-Soo Choo, but I think Myers swings a bigger bat.

Other Round Thoughts: Josh Donaldson was a little high for my taste, but given the lack of depth at third base, I can’t condemn the pick. I can condemn Billy Hamilton in the fifth round, but considering it’s a late-January mock, a little fun is allowed. Hamilton definitely has a ton of speed; there’s no denying that. But a .308 OBP in Triple-A last year makes me a little nervous about his ability to consistently hit big-league pitching. He’s penciled in as the starting center fielder and leadoff hitter, but unless he shows something during the spring, the Reds could easily turn to Chris Heisey to open the year.

Round 6

My Pick: Mike Minor, SP — My first starter of the draft and while I love Minor and all that he has to offer, in hindsight, I probably still should have waited another round or two. I thought it was an appropriate time given the number of teams that were starting to take a little pitching off the board, but like I said, this was an exercise in learning and that’s just what I’ve done. He’s a great starter and a solid cog in a good fantasy pitching machine, but the depth at the position is massive.

Other Round Thoughts: Albert Pujols slipping to the sixth round is always noteworthy, it was the mini-catcher run that I noticed more. Carlos Santana and Willin Rosario were good picks and I’m a fan of both, but Jonathan Lucroy seemed to be a bit of a reach here. Last season a few catchers went early, but the mainstream catcher run, where Lucroy usually goes, started around the eighth round and not much has changed about the position this year.

Round 7

My Pick: Craig Kimbrel, RP — Some people say that you never want to be the first guy to take a closer. Me, I thought it was an appropriate time to grab the top closer in the game and hopefully start a closer run here. It didn’t really work for the duration of the round, but coming back through the eighth, we saw some peel off the board.

Other Round Thoughts: Great pick-up by Nick Minnix from KFFL with a seventh round selection of Elvis Andrus. Great value this far down and when he grabbed him I sat and stewed for a few moments, wondering where the hell my head was at. Even in the sixth round instead of Minor, Andrus would have been a solid value.

Round 8

My Pick: Salvador Perez, C — Well, it is a two-catcher league so I didn’t want to get stuck sifting through the also-rans. Perez is a great backstop with mid-level power and a great batting average. He should also sit in a good RBI slot again for the Royals.

Other Round Thoughts: Again, thankful the closers starting to come off the board, but the kudos in this round go to Steve Gardner for grabbing Carlos Beltran at the turn. I was hoping he’d slip back to me with my next pick, but his power and the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium are just too alluring.

Round 9

My Pick: Leonys Martin, OF — Another potential reach, but with the outfield thinning worse than the top of my head coupled with the “fear” that he wouldn’t make it back to me for my next pick, now was the time to grab him. His 30-odd steals will mesh nicely with McCutchen’s speed to give me an adequate base.

Other Round Thoughts: Danny Salazar, Sonny Gray and Gerrit Cole all went here in the ninth and in that order. It immediately sparked the debate as to which one of the three you’d rather have while leaving Shelby Miller and Michael Wacha, both usually included in this discussion, out this time. The bottom line though is that the fantasy pundits loves these young arms and the more they write about them, hype them, and bump up their ADP, the harder it is going to be for you to get them at a legitimate value. They are currently the trendiest of the trendy picks and each of them are likely to start going higher in drafts as we move closer to spring.

Round 10

My Pick: Jordan Zimmermann, SP — It was time now to start building up my pitching staff and now that everyone fawned all over the youngsters, I was able to bargain shop for an “old-timer” like Zimmermann who, in my opinion, will prove to be a lot more reliable this season.

Other Round Thoughts: Another solid pick for Minnix with James Shields, but Jeff Zimmerman’s Anthony Rizzo grab should prove to be the best value in this round. I like the growth from 2012 to last year and am not worried about his .233 average while he’s sporting an unlucky .258 BABIP. The power is legit and he’s about to start putting it all together. I just wish he played for a better club with a better surrounding lineup.

As for the rest of the draft…

New York Yankees starter Masahiro Tanka went in the middle of the 12th round to Nick Shlain. He was going somewhere around the 10th round before he signed anywhere and now the Yankee-haters have run him down so much that he’s already fallen two rounds; at least in this draft. These same guys were touting him as an elite a month ago, but now that the Yankees grabbed him, they’re all about the sour grapes. Yes, the short porch in right is there and no, he doesn’t strike out guys like Yu Darvish, but if you think you’re scaring me off with your comparisons to Hisashi Iwakuma, then you’re sorely mistaken. Wake up and smell the coffee, Mrs. Bueller. The anti-Yankee contingent is just leading you down the primrose path to no good. I’m not saying take him earlier; let him fall. But don’t be afraid to grab him because a bunch of guys who root for small-market, crybaby teams tell you he’s no good all of a sudden.

Wacha and Miller go in the 13th, four rounds later than the law firm of Cole, Gray and Salazar. I took Andrew Cashner just afterwards, a guy who has the potential to out-produce all five of them.

Brad Johnson takes Oscar Taveras in the 14th round, though he doesn’t have a big league job yet and will only play if either Matt Adams doesn’t hit or Allen Craig gets hurt. I’m banking on the latter, along with an expectation of 300 ABs for Taveras, but I’m still waiting for Brad to give me his estimate on potential playing time. I suppose my constant sarcasm is partially to blame, but in the chat room at the time, I think he thought I was running down his pick more than actually asking a legit question regarding his thoughts on Taveras’ potential playing time.

Jose Veras in the 17th? If it wasn’t Zimmerman making that pick, I’d probably question/make fun of it a lot more.

Michael Pineda in the 22nd round? Boom or bust pick, but this late in the draft, there is zero risk.

So that’s how it all went. All in all, it was a fantastic exercise and one definitely worth doing many more times in the coming weeks. What am I taking away from this? Well, again, the outfield, third base and even first base run pretty damn thin even in a 12-team league. In an NL or AL-only format, the middle infield is rough, but in a mixed league, it’s definitely not so bad. There are several players out there who never got drafted, so you’re looking at a very plentiful waiver wire. And most of all, starting pitching is craaaaaaaaaaaazy deep. There is certainly no rush to grab starters this year.

Thanks again to all who participated and be sure to look out on Twitter and Facebook for upcoming events from the Mock Draft Army.

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