‘Tis the season for mocking, and mocking we’ve done. On Sunday night, an A-list of fantasy sports writers, and myself in the role of jester, gathered for a mock draft at Mock Draft Central. Before going any further, I’d like to thank Jeff Erickson and Griffin Lowmaster for setting up the draft room and making the mock possible. The roster format used mirrored that of the NFBC. Finally, 20 games played was the requirement for positional eligibility. Below is the draft order:
And the draft order was as follows:
1. Charlie Saponara - Fantasy Baseball 365
2. Derek Carty – Baseball Prospectus
3. Josh Shepardson – Fantasy Baseball 365 & The Hardball Times
4. Rob Steingall – SNY Guys
6. Tim Heaney - KFFL
7. R.J. White – Fantasy Baseball Café
8. Jeff Gross – The Hardball Times
9. Matthew McMillen – Fantasy Baseball 365
10. Brad Evans – Yahoo!
11. Justin Green – Rotowire
12. Eno Sarris - FanGraphs
My draft results are as follows:
R1P3: Miguel Cabrera-1B: I was quite happy to land M-Cab at pick three. It remains to be seen whether he’ll be able to stick at third base long enough to gain eligibility there in leagues with large games played requirements. Regardless, he’s a top flight option wherever he plays, and in leagues like those hosted at Yahoo! where the game played requirements are low, his value is elevated even higher than it was previously. He’ll set the tone in batting average and counting stats in a big way, and allow those that draft him the flexibility to draft some batting average liabilities later on.
R2P22: Ian Kinsler-2B: I immediately took advantage of the foundation Cabrera laid in the batting average category, and scooped up Kinsler. He fills a scarce position, and is a stat stuffer. Kinsler detractors point to his injury history. I’ll counter by pointing to how productive he has been in spite of his injuries. In two of the last three years, 2009 and 2011, he has gone over 30-30 in home runs and stolen bases. Those same two seasons he was healthy enough to take the field over 140 games. Kinsler plus a replacement player at second base over a full season equals star production at a scarce position. This selection also bought me some stolen bases, giving me nice across the board hitting production.
R3P27: Cliff Lee-SP: Let the follies begin. This was an error on my part. I scrambled to search for Brett Lawrie, but wasn’t able to do so before running out of time. With no players in my queue, I ended up auto-selecting Lee. Thankfully, Lee ranks third at starting pitcher on my personal position rankings, and is an excellent staff ace. While my preference was to wait a couple more rounds before taking my number one starter, I ended up happy with my team, so no harm, no foul.
R4P46: Mike Napoli-C (1B): Freed from Mike Scioscia’s dog house, Napoli had a big breakout in Texas. The Rangers haven’t added a first baseman in the offseason, leaving open the possibility he’ll play there when not catching. I don’t expect him to replicate his batting average, but his strides making contact and whiffing less make an ugly average highly unlikely. If he’s able to sustain most of his gains there, he should finish 2012 with an average in the .275-.285 range. Average aside, Napoli’s real calling card is his power. He hit 30 bombs in just 432 plate appearances. To say Napoli took to his new digs in Arlington would be an understatement. If he’s able to see the field more often in 2012, which isn’t out of the question, he could flirt with 40 blasts. Check off another thin position filled, or at least half filled, on my roster
R5P51: Hunter Pence- OF: Auto-pick reared its ugly head yet again. Because I’d run out of time on my round three selection of Lee, I was placed in auto-select mode. The reason I was able to select Napoli was because I had moved him to my queue before I was on the clock. With no players in my queue, Pence was the top player available by MDC rank, and he became my pick. The player I’d intended to take was Desmond Jennings, so once again, I lucked out with my blunder in that I was planning to take an outfielder anyways. Pence isn’t a personal favorite of mine. His batting average jump last season was BABIP fueled, and I don’t expect him to exceed .300 again. He did see an uptick in line drives, so he could be a .290s hitter. He offers some power, but the speed is questionable. Pence’s stolen base success rate has been bad in his career, and he stole just one base with the the Phillies. At worst, he should steal a handful of bags. However, at best, I don’t see him swiping more than 10-12 bases. Overall, he should help my batting totals across the board at least modestly.
R6P70: Jimmy Rollins- SS: My round six selection got back to address position scarcity. Rollins was my top shortstop, and also the last before what I perceive to be a big drop off in talent. He isn’t an elite option at the position anymore, but he offers mid-to-high teens home run power and healthy stolen base totals. He is an incredibly efficient base stealer, and doesn’t look to be slowing down.
R7P75: Matt Wieters- C: Charlie joked in the draft that in order to write for Fantasy Baseball 365, one must believe in, and love Matt Wieters. He was spurred to make the crack not only because of my selection, but also because of complaints from Matt, who had intended to take him with his pick that round. He may not have lived up to the lofty expectations heaped upon him after ripping up the minors right away, but he looks like he may be well on his way. He hit 22 home runs in 2011, and could see a spike in his average this year if he’s able to turn things back around against right-handed pitchers. After two years of hitting righties significantly more effectively than southpaws, he struggled mightily against right-handed pitching in 2011 while clobbering left-handed pitching. At this point in the draft, I’ve addressed catcher, second base, and shortstop. I’ll eventually need to fill my middle infield position, but I am thankful that I won’t have to own any of the dregs at the thinner positions.
R8P94: Matt Moore- SP: He may have his stumbling points as a rookie starter, but Moore’s stuff is electric. Expect him to break camp in the Rays rotation even if they retain both Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann. After befuddling minor league batters in Double-A and Triple-A, he flashed what excited prospect enthusiasts so much with excellent play down the stretch. He was at his best in the bright spotlight of the the American League Division Series opener against the Rangers. There aren’t many starting pitchers that can threaten to best 10.0 K/9. Moore is one of the few that can.
R9P99: Cameron Maybin- OF: It may feel like Maybin has been around forever, but he’s still just 24 years old. He enjoyed a career year in his first as a member of the Padres organization. After years of being undone by an unsightly strikeout rate, he cut back in 2011 and reaped the rewards. Maybin stole 40 bases and was cut stealing only eight times this past season. That mark tied him with four others for fourth place in all of baseball in stolen bases. In addition to his steals, he chipped in nine home runs, and has the raw power to build on that if he lofts the ball even a bit more frequently. Don’t be fooled, PETCO isn’t as power sapping as it is made out to be, well, not on right-handed hitters anyways. I’m now in really good shape in stolen bases, and have filled my second outfield spot.
R10P118: David Ortiz- UTIL: Here’s hoping this isn’t Big Papi’s cliff season. The possibility is certainly there, but doesn’t seem likely after a 2011 season that was vintage Ortiz good. He never struck out less frequently in a season than he did in 2011, and he destroyed left-handed pitching. Not only does Ortiz offer cheap power, but it doesn’t necessarily come with the obligatory ugly batting average of his contemporaries drafted outside the top-100. I loved this pick, and his RBI contributions should help offset the low-ish totals of Maybin and Rollins.
R11P123: Ubaldo Jimenez- SP: What appears to be a horrific follow up to a stellar 2010 season isn’t as bad as meets the eye. Jimenez is much the same pitcher he has always been, good strikeout rate, high groundball rate, below average control. If you split the difference of 2011 and 2010, you end up with his 2009 season. That’s the type of production I expect from Jimenez, and as a third starter, I’ll take it.
R12P142: Kenley Jansen- RP: Two mock drafts I’ve participated in, and two I’ve reached to secure the rights to Jansen. Sure, Javy Guerra remains in the saves mix, but I’m moving all-in on Jansen. It took him just 53.2 innings to get within ear shot of triple digit strikeouts for the season in 2011 (he struck out 96 batters). He saved five games last year, something that should alleviate the concerns of even the most devout believers in a closer’s mentality. If he wins the closer job outright in spring training, he could easily be the top fantasy reliever. If he has to share save opportunities, he’ll lose some luster, but remain an elite strikeout artist and ratio booster. Let’s gamble!
R13P147: Brandon Morrow- SP: Notice a trend? I love me some eye popping strikeout rates. Morrow’s propensity for allowing flyballs, and his below average walk rate will bite him in the rear end on occasion. All-in-all though, I expect him to get his ERA below 4.00 for the first time in his career as a full time starter. Add in more than 200 strikeouts, and I’m delighted to call him my fourth starter.
R14P166: Mike Moustakas- 3B: Even if Cabrera sticks at third base long enough to gain eligibility, I’ll need someone to open the year there. Enter Moustakas for that role. He didn’t have the rookie year those that owned him hope for, but he wasn’t completely overmatched either. His strikeout rate was solid, even if it came tied to a low walk rate. His biggest undoing was a sky high pop out rate. Moustakas’s raw power is better than his measly five home runs in 365 plate appearances would indicate. He’s likely a few years away from a full blown explosion into the heart of the order thumper his scouting reports as a prospect called for. That said, 2012 could be a tease of what’s to come, making him a passable option for me to fill my vacancy, and one with upside to boot.
R15P171: Coco Crisp- OF: Speed wasn’t exactly a need, but outfield was, and Crisp was my best available. He should make me a safe bet to challenge for the league lead in stolen bases, and isn’t completely devoid of power either.
R16P190: Kyle Farnsworth- RP: I was still without a “safe,” closer, and Farnsworth looked good to me. He doesn’t come without concern, such as the injury that shelved him late last season, and the lack of a track record of success as a closer, but I was less disgusted by his warts than those of the other closing option left on the board.
R17P195: Kelly Johnson- 2B: Get past the ugly batting average, and Johnson wasn’t a total hack in 2011. He offers a nice blend of power and speed at a bad position, and if his batting average falls in between his 2010 and 2011 campaigns he could be looked upon as a steal at this point in the draft.
R18P214: Bryce Harper- OF: This was a partial goof on my part. I had Wednesday night’s Hardball Times mock draft roster format in my mind, and forgot there was no bench. Even without a bench, I’d have been willing to take Harper with one of my picks on the outside chance he breaks camp with the Nationals. He tore the cover off the ball in the Arizona Fall League, and the Nationals added Gio Gonzalez through trade. If they fancy themselves contenders, they may decide it is worth sacrificing a year of service time to have this generational talent on their active roster to open the year. Unlike some power hitting prospects, especially young ones, the power isn’t just projection. Harper’s power tool grades as an 80 tool on the 20-to-80 scale now. Talent like that is worth speculating on.
R19P233: Michael Brantley- OF: Someone had to fill my last outfield spot, and Brantley looks fine. He’s speedy enough he could crack the 20 stolen base threshold, and has enough pop to hit a handful of home runs. Brantley’s walk rates have historically been good in the upper minors. If it is able to translate to the bigs in 2012, he could be helpful in runs.
R20P238: Justin Morneau- 1B: Oh how his stock has dropped. A concussion in 2010 has derailed a once promising career for the 2006 American League MVP. I’m skeptical Morneau can get the train back on the tracks, which is unfortunate, but as a 20th round pick there is zero downside. I needed a corner infield, and Morneau is one that offers upside the others available didn’t.
R21P257: Luke Hochevar- SP: I have a man crush on Hochevar, and will own him in every league I’m in this year. Increased slider usage appears to be the key that unlocked the door to Hochevar’s potential. As opposed to rehashing what I’ve already written before, I’ll suggest reading this article for more on why I love Hochevar going forward.
R22P262: Brandon McCarthy- SP: I think of Brandon McCarthy as the American League version of Tim Hudson. After re-inventing himself in 2011, McCarthy turned into a pitcher who induces groundballs, doesn’t walk batters, but fails to strike many out. He won’t need to strike many batters out with the group of pitchers I’ve assembled, and is a great glue guy for my roster.
R23P281: Fautino De Los Santos- RP: If my love of the almighty strikeout wasn’t apparent after 22 rounds, my 23rd round selection of De Los Santos served as another reminder. The A’s blew up their core in a full rebuild this offseason, and that included dealing incumbent closer Andrew Bailey. Grant Balfour should probably be considered the odds on favorite for the job, but De Los Santos offers the most upside. He throws hard, misses bats, and, you guessed it, has spotty control. Last round lotto ticket, nothing more, nothing less.
C- Mike Napoli
C- Matt Wieters
1B- Miguel Cabrera
2B- Ian Kinsler
SS- Jimmy Rollins
3B- Mike Moustakas
CI- Justin Morneau
MI- Kelly Johnson
OF- Hunter Pence
OF- Cameron Maybin
OF- Coco Crisp
OF- Bryce Harper
OF- Michael Brantley
UTIL- David Ortiz
P- Cliff Lee
P- Matt Moore
P- Ubaldo Jimenez
P- Brandon Morrow
P- Luke Hochevar
P- Brandon McCarthy
P- Kenley Jansen
P- Kyle Farnsworth
P- Fautino De Los Santos