Fantasy Baseball: Fantasy Squads Mock Draft Review
On February 4, 2014 I participated in the FantasySquads.com fantasy baseball mock draft hosted on Fantrax. This was a 12-team mixed Roto league with standard 5×5 scoring categories. The draft order was randomly selected just before the draft, so I was disappointed learning I had the 5th pick which meant I likely would not get Paul Goldschmidt. You can read why I think he is the easy choice for third overall selection here. Sure enough, @FantasyTrade411 agreed with me and did take Goldschmidt after Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout were off the board. Going fourth was the reigning National League MVP, Andrew McCutchen, so I knew I faced a critical decision with where to go. I decided to be bold.
Here are my picks in the order of which round they were selected.
1. Clayton Kershaw (SP-LAD)
With the 5th overall pick, I decided to do something unconventional and take the best pitcher in baseball. After Cabrera, Trout, Goldschmidt and McCutchen were off the board, I wasn’t overly excited about the next tier of hitters because I was skeptical about each of them. So rather than go that route, I decided to build my team around Clayton Kershaw who is as sure a thing as there is in fantasy baseball. I am just glad I don’t have to pay him.
2. Evan Longoria (3B-TB)
There was some uproar in the draft room when I selected Longoria as he was queued up by at least three other teams. Third base is not what it used to be in fantasy baseball, so I wanted to make sure I got a stud there. Longoria always seems to miss a few games here and there, but he should be a lock for 30 home runs and close to 100 RBI as the anchor of Tampa Bay’s lineup.
3. Jose Reyes (SS-TOR)
I was a little surprised to see Reyes fall to me here in the 3rd round. He is coming off a season where he suffered a serious ankle injury which clearly affected his base-stealing after he came back. But he hit extremely well and should be on the move again now that he is 100%. As he enters his early 30’s, we will likely see his stolen base attempts and totals start to decrease. For 2014, I still foresee 40 stolen bases, 100 runs scored and close to a .300 batting average.
4. Matt Holliday (OF-STL)
I surprised even myself by not taking an outfielder yet, so I wanted to grab one here. I must admit I was set on taking Albert Pujols here, but he was snatched up by @cmcbrien two picks before my turn. So I opted for Holliday who is as consistent as they come. I can etch in stone that he will produce around a .290 batting average with 25 home runs and 90+ RBI.
5. Madison Bumgarner (SP-SF)
After taking Kershaw, I figured I was set for awhile before wanting to take another pitcher. But one pitcher by himself won’t win me any categories. I jumped at the chance to take Bumgarner here as he is poised to take that next step towards elite status. He is in line for a 20-win, 200+ strikeout season and should contend for the Cy Young. I like my 1-2 punch in the rotation…a lot.
6. Josh Hamilton (OF-LAA)
Everyone in the draft room kept waiting for someone to bite and take Josh Hamilton. I couldn’t pass him up here in the 6th round. Sure he had a miserable inaugural season in Anaheim, but that doesn’t mean this year will be a repeat. There are serious flaws in his swing so I think his days as an asset for batting average are over. But he should still be good for 25 home runs and 90 RBI.
7. Brian McCann (C-NYY)
As I have said many times, I hate catchers in fantasy baseball. Fortunately this league has only one catcher slot. Normally I punt catchers because I don’t think they are worth a relatively early round pick. But I changed my mind for Brian McCann in the 7th round because he could easily hit 30 home runs with the short porch at Yankee Stadium. Plus, the Yankees will use him as a DH occasionally to keep his bat in the lineup. I loved the value here.
8. Brandon Phillips (2B-CIN)
This was another surprise to me. Phillips isn’t the sexy pick he was a few years ago as his power and stolen based have diminished somewhat. But he is a second baseman who hits cleanup and should hit 15-20 home runs and drive in close to 100 runs again. I’d rather take my chances with him than someone like Jose Altuve (no offense to the Altuve family).
9. Joe Nathan (RP-DET)
The top closers were off the board already (Kimbrel, Jansen and Chapman). This league requires two relief pitchers so I took my first one in Joe Nathan, the current active saves leader. Nathan will be closing for a very good Tigers team so he should be in line for 35-40 saves assuming his almost 40-year old arm, elbow and shoulder can hold up.
10. Jon Lester (SP-BOS)
Apparently I have a thing for left-handed ace pitchers in this draft. Ok so Lester is not on the same level as Kershaw or Bumgarner, but he is still Boston’s ace and will be pitching for a contract this year. He proved that 2012 was a fluke with a nice bounce-back season last year. He looks real good on my roster as my third starter.
11. Alfonso Soriano (OF-NYY)
I can’t seem to stay away from Yankees. I filled my third outfield spot with Alfonso Soriano who enjoyed a career resurgence upon returning to the Bronx last year. He will be hitting in the middle of the Yankees’ deep lineup and should produce another 30+ home run campaign. He will be an albatross for batting average and I don’t expect him to do much stealing, but he should fill my stat line with long balls and RBI.
12. Rafael Soriano (RP-WAS)
For the first time ever, I drafted two Soriano’s back to back. I grabbed my second closer with Rafael Soriano who should once again get plenty of save opportunities on a Nationals team that has a great pitching staff and plays close games. He won’t help the ERA or WHIP much, but another 40-save season is expected.
13. Ryan Howard (1B-PHI)
Here is my biggest risk of the draft. I was going to take Justin Morneau but he went right ahead of me. I had gone this long without a first baseman so I had to make a decision. I opted for Ryan Howard on the premise that he has to be healthy one of these years. He supposedly lost weight and is in good shape. That doesn’t mean he learned how to hit lefties or won’t strike out every other at bat. I gambled here, so if it pays off then I am loaded. If not, then I have some wheeling and dealing to do.
14. Carl Crawford (OF-LAD)
Still feeling the need to take chances, I took Carl Crawford as my fourth outfielder. He hasn’t been the same since leaving Tampa Bay, but hopefully by now his injuries are behind him. He makes an awful lot of money to sit on the bench, but with four outfielders and three spots someone won’t be happy in LA. Crawford may not swipe 40 bases anymore, but he should hit near .300 and score over 100 runs leading off for Dodgers.
15. Nick Swisher (1B/OF-CLE)
The primary reason I took Swisher here is because of his first base eligibility in the event Ryan Howard doesn’t work out. Swisher was underwhelming in his debut season in Cleveland, but he is still consistent with his power and run production. At the worst he should hit 20 home runs and drive in close to 75 runs.
16. Tim Lincecum (SP-SF)
This is yet another high risk pick for me. Lincecum has not been the same over the past two years. But the Giants believed in him enough to re-sign him to a two-year contract. He still managed to strike out almost 200 batters in a poor 2013 season. If he can regain his past form, then The Freak is going to help freak out my fellow GM’s as my fourth starter.
17. Jhonny Peralta (SS-STL)
I really liked this pick to fill my middle infield spot. There are a lot of questions surrounding Peralta after being suspended for 50 games due to PED use, but the Cardinals still gave him a four-year contract. I think his batting average will take a dip, but he still provides above average power and run production for a shortstop.
18. Zack Wheeler (SP-NYM)
I am hopeful of this pick for a few reasons, including the fact I am a long-suffering die-hard Mets fan. With Matt Harvey out for the year and Noah Syndergaard likely starting the season in Triple-A, all eyes will be on Zack Wheeler for his first full season in the big leagues. His rookie campaign was a mixed bag, but he showed enough to give some confidence that he can be a big time pitcher. I don’t expect a lot of wins from him, but he should pile up the strikeouts. His WHIP could be a problem if he doesn’t work on his control.
19. Michael Brantley (OF-CLE)
Here is another steal for me. Brantley had a very solid season in 2013 driving in over 70 runs with double digit stolen bases. He will continue his growth and possibly increase his home run total from 10.
20. Yovani Gallardo (SP-MIL)
After being a consistent fantasy performer for years, Yovani Gallardo took a big step backwards in 2013 batting injuries and some personal demons. Hoping that he put all that in the past, Gallardo could be a great value pick this late in the draft as he is quite capable of striking out over 200 batters while also posting solid ERA and WHIP.
21. Avisail Garcia (OF-CHW)
Garcia is a big part of the White Sox’ rebuilding process as they have redone their roster with an impressive youth movement. He has great power potential but must stay healthy in order to demonstrate it.
22. Josh Johnson (SP-SD)
It is hard to imagine a pitcher having a worse season than Josh Johnson in 2013. After being traded to Toronto, he was expected to be a big part of a revamped and deep pitching staff. Instead, he was an unmitigated disaster complete with multiple injuries and an ERA higher than Snoop Dogg. Johnson was forced to sign a one-year contract to try and re-establish his value. He has a great opportunity to do just that returning to the National League and pitching in a great pitchers’ park in San Diego. Do I think he can stay healthy? No. But he should be more effective when he actually does take the mound.
23. Derek Jeter (SS-NYY)
I had Jeter in my queue for the longest time, but I kept finding a reason to pass on him. There were several comments in the draft room from people who forgot all about him. What can we expect from a 40-year old shortstop coming off a lost season and recovering from a broken ankle? Probably more than you would think because he is Derek Jeter. Yes, I said. I acknowledge that Jeter is a gamer and will probably still be productive even at his age.
24. Ike Davis (1B-NYM)
With my final pick of the draft, I took a chance on my fellow Hebrew, Ike Davis. It has been tough times for Ike who was supposed to be traded this winter but it never happened. After having a great second half of 2012, Davis regressed quickly in 2013 and struggled to keep his batting average above .200. He will have to prove himself in spring training and the leash will be very short for him. But if he can somehow figure things out, he could be a 24th round pick who hits over 30 home runs. Or, he could be dropped by the end of April. Either way, it was worth the gamble with my last pick.
Here is what my roster looks like by position:
C Brian McCann-NYY
1B Ryan Howard-PHI
2B Brandon Phillips-CIN
3B Evan Longoria-TB
SS Jose Reyes-TOR
CI Nick Swisher-CLE
MI Jhonny Peralta-STL
OF Matt Holliday-STL
OF Josh Hamilton-LAA
OF Alfonso Soriano-NYY
OF Carl Crawford-LAD
U Michael Brantley-CLE
U Avisail Garcia-CHW
SP Clayton Kershaw-LAD
SP Madison Bumgarner-SF
SP Jon Lester-BOS
SP Tim Lincecum-SF
RP Joe Nathan-DET
RP Rafael Soriano-WAS
P Zack Wheeler-NYM
P Yovani Gallardo-MIL
B Ike Davis-NYM
B Derek Jeter-NYY
B Josh Johnson-SD